Thursday, November 27, 2008

Backpedalling on CF

Priscilla linked to a story yesterday that got a fair bit of notice in the press: Carleton University (10 minutes from where I live in Ottawa) got in the news because their student association couldn't resist giving a pious little PC sermon when voting to stop fund-raising for Cystic Fibrosis.
The Carleton University Students' Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinerama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not "inclusive" enough.
Cystic fibrosis "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men" said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it.
Every year, near the beginning of fall classes, during university orientation for new arrivals, students fan out across the city and seek donations from passersby. According to the motion, "all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve the their (sic) diverse communities."
Well, after 24 hours of non-stop international shellacking, today's paper has a story about rapid backpedalling.
OTTAWA - A fundraiser to help fight cystic fibrosis will be back on Carleton University's frosh-week schedule Monday if the president of the undergraduate student union gets her way.
Carleton University Students' Association president Brittany Smyth said an emergency meeting of the association's council is planned for Monday evening and she'll be trying to rescind a decision to pull association support for the annual "Shinerama" fundraiser.
She said she was "very sorry for the confusion" caused by the council motion to stop supporting a cystic-fibrosis charity -- and especially its preamble, which stated that cystic fibrosis "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men." According to the original motion, the charity would be dropped to allow for other fundraising efforts that served "diverse communities."
Am I happy? Of course not! First of all, there was no "confusion" at all, though everyone who gets in trouble always reaches for that excuse first. What happened was clear: CUSA voted to discontinue funding for this particular charity for odious reasons, which they were too smug and self-righteous even to feel decent human shame at expressing. The victims of CF weren't good enough for CUSA to support, the students were proud enough of their bigotry to proclaim it to the world, and were surprised and discomfited to be answered with scorn instead of applause. So now they're running for cover.

The punk who composed the pious little sermon on the "Lebensunwertes Leben" gives as graceless a quote as I would expect:
Donnie Northrup, the Carleton University student who wrote the controversial preamble to give Shinerama the boot, said he was sorry he misused the term "caucasian," but stood by the intent of the motion yesterday.

"I think it's good to have people willing to take a stand in student politics, and I've admitted I've made a mistake. But I do believe in spreading the wealth, so to speak, as charities go," he said, adding that other charities stood to benefit from the decision.
Isn't he the daring freethinker? I wonder if he scratched his ear with his middle finger while speaking? I think we've just spotted a future Liberal backbencher in the larval stage.

What annoys me the most about this incident is the over-eager "all is forgiven" approach everyone wants to take, especially from the director of the CF Foundation in eastern Ontario.
Nadine Imbleau-Redmond, the Eastern Ontario regional director for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, called the news of an emergency CUSA vote "wonderful."
"We're overjoyed here at the foundation," she said. "We're just happy that the group heard the outcry of the students and population, and felt committed to the cause. They're doing the right thing," she said.

Ms. Imbleau-Redmond said the flap shouldn't strain relations between the university and the charity.

"The vote was based on incorrect information, and now that they've been informed about the correct information and the legacy, they're realizing what it's all about," she said.
To me, this is exactly wrong. It reinforces the prejudices of the crack-brained students, by suggesting that it was only the FACTS that they got wrong. It leaves intact the assumption that a spoils system based on class, race, sex, income or whatever other dividing criterion you want to use, is the correct way to approach charity. "You're wrong about cystic fibrosis! We don't deserve to be punished - look at all our non-white victims!" Instead of telling the students they should be ashamed even to think in such terms, the charity invites them to turn their microscope on some other charity that DOES deserve the reproach of "non-inclusive", and stick it to THEM. We don't fit the description. Our papers are in order.

I can't blame CCFF - it's hardly their job to undertake the moral education of young adults who have somehow gotten to the age of majority with such stunted consciences. But it just means that all they're going to learn from this incident is to keep their mouths shut next time they want to do something mean and inhuman, and that doesn't benefit anyone in the long run.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Father Abraham will have a lot to say to these people

A really appalling bit of self-righteous barbarism from the UK:
Politically correct NHS bosses in Birmingham are battling to ban a smoking room for terminally ill patients – forcing them to be turfed out into the cold to enjoy their final cigarettes. The Sheldon Unit, a palliative care home for patients dying from lung cancer and other diseases, in Northfield, is one of only two health centres in the region that has escaped rigid Smoke Free legislation on ‘sympathetic grounds’. But when board members of South Birmingham Primary Care Trust, in charge of the unit, heard of plans to upgrade the smoking room with a new ventilation system, the whole scheme went up in smoke. Bureaucrat Dr Chris Spencer-Jones, South Birmingham public health director, ranted against the renovation plans, saying he did not care if lifelong smokers were dying, he still didn’t want them smoking indoors. “It doesn’t matter if patients might be terminally ill,” said Dr Spencer-Jones, who also heads the British Medical Association’s (BMA) national committee for public health.

I prefer the words of another, better doctor:
What signifies, says some one, giving halfpence to beggars? they only lay it out in gin or tobacco. "And why should they be denied such sweeteners of their existence (says Johnson)? it is surely very savage to refuse them every possible avenue to pleasure, reckoned too coarse for our own acceptance. Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding; yet for the poor we delight in stripping it still barer, and are not ashamed to shew even visible displeasure, if ever the bitter taste is taken from their mouths." - Dr. Johnson

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This is the liberals' version of 'apostolic succession'

From Newsweek:
The theory is almost too perfect to be true. Barack Obama, the son of politically progressive parents, was born Aug. 4, 1961—almost nine months to the day after John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House. Is it possible Obama was conceived on that historic night?
I've got a great idea for a new novel; I'm going to call it "Holy Blood, Holy Bong".

(Hat tip: Kathy Shaidle)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I name this ship 'Repulsion'

My hopes were raised this summer, when the IMDb message board for 'The Wrong Box' lit up with rumours that the long-awaited dvd of this movie would be available by the end of the year. Alas, it looks like we've been disappointed again. However, I've discovered that a few more clips of the movie have been posted on YouTube, mostly by a Dudley Moore fan, so they focus on his scenes.

I decided to post the opening, which introduces The Tontine, and pretty much sets the tone for the whole movie. After we see the room full of little boys who are the original members of the Tontine, we travel down the decades, with a good overview of The Victorian Way Of Death.


The bodies really pile up during this sequence.  I guess everyone has his favourite, but mine is the duel. Something about the silhouettes of the figures, and the fact that it's all entirely silent, just makes me laugh every time. And we never really know WHY this is happening, so we are free to imagine just what sort of a bastard the victim must have been to bring this about.

Some favourite lines occur in this clip too, which we have incorporated into our household conversation at the Kraal:
Ebenezer Hackett. Went to school with him. An unpleasant name for a dirty little boy and an even dirtier old man - died of the pox, no doubt.

"Oh yes, I see, Sir." "Do you, Sir? Do you? I doubt it! I doubt it! But we're not concerned with YOU, are we, eh? We're concerned with ME! MY thoughts and feelings!" (Pretty much sums up life today, in the Age of Offended Minorities)

Nothing will upset me more than not winning the Tontine, and leaving you with a mountain of debts and a doubtful future as an idiot in a profession of rogues and charlatans. (That's the medical profession, by the way, for Dr. Alice's benefit!)
And of course, the greatest last words ever spoken by an idiot:
Not yet, Toomba! You must learn the white man's code! It is not sporting - it is not done - to fire at rhino until he's actually charging!
Of course, rhino's been charging for about the last 5 minutes. I hope Toomba got away in time.

I pointed out the Dr. Pratt clips in an earlier post, but here are the more recent ones, with Peter Cook (Cousin Morris) and Dudley Moore (Cousin John). All very funny as well:

This introduces the two villains - Morris with his obsession for collecting eggs, and John with his uncontrollable libido. Also Uncle Joseph (Ralph Richardson), who has spent his life collecting facts, with which he proceeds to bore the entire world. Did you know that the word "whip" occurs 174 times in the Old Testament? Well, now you know.

Then there's this one:
Peter Cook is great in this, but the scene is stolen by the choleric colonel, who utters the immortal line:
Sir. I didn't lose my right eye in the Indian Mutiny to have my left eye offended by the youth of England standing around with their asses hanging out. Dress yourself, Sir! Dress yourself! One of the most disgusting sights I've ever seen! Dress yourself, Sir!"

And our other favourite lines:
'Is he dead?' 'What's left of him is very dead indeed.'

'He's not dead until I SAY he's dead!'

'Morris, I beg of you - let's have done with this! Let's get an undertaker. He won't be too expensive, and he'll do a professional job!'

'Crate him in a box? What kind of box?' 'Something of suitable size and robustness for a man in that condition!'

Ah, well, maybe next year will bring us better news regarding the dvd.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I know what I want for Christmas

This:


I love sandal epics, but this one is in a class by itself, and I can't wait to see what it looks like remastered. This is what grand Hollywood movie making was all about: the crowd scenes, the palaces, the costumes, the HAIR! Everything is so lavish and spectacular, especially the masterpiece scene in the middle - the burning of Rome. In my mind, I can replay in real time the scene of Marcus Vinicius racing toward Rome in his chariot, while the sky in the distance glows red in a darkening night.

It's not just the visuals, though - the writing and the actors are terrific, too. Peter Ustinov is really good as Nero - neither a grotesque maniac or a fat buffoon, he plays him with style as an artist wannabe. And Leo Genn as Petronius steals the whole movie - clever, suave, ironic, balancing on a knife's edge and always one quip away from falling and losing his head. These two have some of the movie's best scenes together. I especially liked when Petronius's enemies falsely accuse him of being a secret Christian, and Nero sort of goggles at him and drops his voice to ask "Petronius...are you a Christian?" with a sort of hushed alarm, as if he were afraid to hear about this monstrous new debauchery. And after all of Nero's dreadful poems, there comes the scene when he's singing to the lyre as Rome burns, and for just a moment, he actually sounds...good.

Under the bus!

Among the Wednesday post-mortems in NRO was one post, an email from a reader, who said they should start an "under the bus" contest, to predict which supporter or group will be the first to throw Obama under the bus in disappointment over a welched-on promise. I'm not going to look it up; I've posted too many NRO links recently, and I don't feel like going back again for another dose of squishiness. Anyway, this reader thought that Andrew Sullivan would be among the first.

I thought that the contest was a good idea, but the reader had it totally backward. Judging by past form, all the bus-throwing is going to be on the part of Obama, who has a history of throwing away people once they've served their purpose or grown inconvenient.

And I think I know who the first under the bus will be: the homosexuals! After working their hearts out for Obama, they came up empty-handed on November 4, with marriage amendments passing all over the country. Surprise, surprise, the pro-homosex cause wasn't popular with black voters, and some of the activists aren't taking it too well. Maybe they still think that the King of Kings will come to their rescue, but don't count on it.

Blacks form over 13% of the U.S. population, and went 95% for Obama. Homosexuals are between 1 and 2% - even if they went 100% for Obama, they still are just a feather in the scale in comparison. Do the math, idiots. Why would Obama irritate his biggest voting block for you? He got your votes and your money (and bamboozled you into abandoning Hillary), so now he drops you in the nearest gutter. He's on his way to bigger things.

Unpleasant surprise

So I go downstairs this morning, looking around proudly at my nice neat basement with the filled bookcases and the computer - wow, it looks like a real library down here! - and decide to go into my rarely-used "sewing room", where I keep my sewing machine and fabric. I want some pins so I can hem some 1960s barkcloth drapes I'm recycling.

Open the door; hmmm, doesn't smell too fresh in here. Maybe I should leave the door op--AAAAAUUUUGGGHHH! There's a dead mouse on the floor!

This is freaking me out. Why do I find dead mice? Why dead? Yes, there was a live one last week, but this has happened before; right out in the open, I find a dead mouse. I know they have to die somewhere, but isn't it normal to go hide and do it out of sight? What are they dying from? Old age? I haven't put out any traps or poison, I haven't tried to kill them. The kids walk around the house dropping crumbs everywhere - I'm wondering if the damn mice are EATING themselves to death!

Friends don't let friends vote liberal

I wish Mark Steyn would stop telling us how much he likes Peggy Noonan and Kathleen Parker, and all the rest of the aristos at NRO who've spent the last 8 years with their knee on the throat of conservatism. He's starting to sound like John McCain, intoning "My friends..." as another grinning leftist shoves a boot up his ass.

I remember what he wrote after 9/11:
A few days after September 11th, I called for the resignation of Federal Aviation Administration honcho Jane Garvey and other top officials on the grounds that "what happened on Tuesday was not the odd guy slipping through a few 'cracks in the system', but a completely cracked system, whose failure was total." I didn't expect the President to pay any heed to me, but I assumed hundreds of more illustrious opinion-formers in Washington and New York would also be affronted.

Not a bit of it. Six months on, the only prominent resignation has been that of my old comment-page confrere and Bush speechwriter David Frum, and, as far as I know, David didn't quit because they'd found out he'd issued a green card to Mullah Omar. If he had, they'd make him Director of the CIA.

For some reason, the Administration, Congressional Democrats and the pundits reached an unspoken agreement to wipe the slate clean, and allow every Federal deadbeat and time-server to start afresh.
Well, it looks like David Frum isn't going to be caught a second time. Judging by the Slate.com symposium on "Whither Conservatism" the faux-conservatives who engineered the 2008 debacle are digging themselves in like ticks on a dog's back, and are determined that whoever has to pay for this disaster, it's not going to be them.

All the excuses are coming in: after 8 years of an unpopular president, it was a Democrat year, so obviously there was nothing wrong with their plan, and it should be tried again, only harder, next time. I can already write their excuses for losing in 2010: Obama is still in his honeymoon phase, memories of Bush are too fresh, how can you expect Americans to vote for the party who brought them the Great Depression of 2009? Write off 2010, try the same plan again in 2012. When it fails, say that people don't want to change ships in mid-stream, during a time of terrorist attacks on the U.S. and economic collapse, they want to stay the course and give the Great Helmsman Obama a chance to lead them out of uncertainty, etc. etc. etc. Among all the post-mortems, I've yet to read ONE "moderate" conservative wonder if maybe the old-fashioned red-meat conservatives might have had a point, after all - that maybe they watered down the message TOO much, and went too far to the center. Not one. Just, "Oh, you abortion-obsessed Reagan nostalgists! If it hadn't been for YOUR Sarah Palin, we could have won the undecideds!"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Threadbare hopes

Stupidest conservative silver lining yet:
3. The movies will get better, as the moratorium on patriotism comes to an end. There will still be too many villainous businessmen and evil corporations, but there will also be a new sense of optimism about America's role in the world (see #2, above). Perhaps in his giddiness, some Hollywood bigshot will green-light a war movie about our heroic soldiers—Marines at Fallujah, the sacrifices of Dunham, McGinnis, Monsoor, Murphy, and Smith, etc. The stories are there, waiting to be told.


Oh, and there is also this:
I always thought America's first black president would be a conservative. So much for that theory.
Yeah, I thought that too - in 1991, when Clarence Thomas went to the Supreme Court. So when were the Republicans planning to get around to doing something about it? In 2012? 2016? When? I guess any ambitious black Republicans will have to get in line and wait until the party locates any remaining veterans of the Spanish-American War to take their rightful "turn" running for president.

While the Republicans were drifting along on the memories of the days when conservatives had the ideas and some idea of going places, the Democrats actually took the idea seriously and did it. Oh, but I forget - it was really just a "theory" - something that you daydream about, but never actually get up out of your chair to act on. This is the thing that is annoying me the most today; that so-called conservatives figured they had all the time in the world to get around to doing something smart and exciting, and the world would just wait for them.

They went ahead and did it

The Americans voted for a narrow-minded radical race pimp as president. It really wasn't close. As I said before, to see what's going to happen to the U.S., all you have to do is look at the Episcopal church. Now you're going to discover that this isn't a fluke, but the kick on the door that brings the whole rotten structure down. Conservatives who reassured themselves all along that their country was really strong and sound at heart are going to discover that that was all a facade; the rot has been undermining them for years, and now the full extent of the decay is going to be obvious to all.

My predictions: Like the conservatives in TEC, conservatives (especially the intellectuals) will take a long time to realize the gravity of the situation. They'll spend the next two years crafting elaborate compliments to the other side, for which no one will thank them. and when the next election comes, they'll suddenly discover that their position has been so undermined by legal action and legislative restrictions that they have no chance of winning ever again. Like the ancien regime in France, they'll still be waiting for their valets to come and powder their wigs when the Revolutionary Guard march in to take them away. The Republicans will degenerate into a sauve qui peut scramble of sellouts and cowed dhimmis.

The first order of business will be the Fairness Doctrine. Expect show-trials of big-name conservative media people, like Rush Limbaugh At first it will be on pretexts other than free speech. The "We got Al Capone for mail fraud" strategy, at first. The Martha Stewart and Conrad Black trials show how easy it is, when you've got the federal treasury at your back - a motivated federal prosecutor can put anyone in the country in prison any time he wants. There were already a few practice flights done in Limbaugh's case. It'll happen for real next time. Then expect Hate Speech Tribunals like we have in Canada, to start in on the bloggers. It won't take too many trials before the smaller ones learn to keep their mouths shut.

Churches (I mean REAL churches, like the Catholic Church - not fake ones like Obama's and TEC) will have their tax-exempt status withdrawn, in an attempt to starve them into silence. When that doesn't work, their members will be prosecuted before the federal Human Rights Tribunals, as they are being in Canada, drawing prison terms. Then again, we'll discover that the Catholic Church (and Christianity) aren't nearly as widespread in America as polls during the easy, pre-persecution days led us to believe. The cachet of identifying oneself as Catholic or Christian will dissipate quickly, as the Dear Leader makes it clear that this competing loyalty is not acceptable, and only the genuine faithful will be left. Christians will turn out to be a hated minority after all.

Joe Biden won't survive his term.

America will cut and run in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel will be abandoned. The American military will be turned into a Pretorian Guard to protect the Obama regime.


Well, that's about all I can handle for one morning. Thank goodness it's a beautiful warm Indian Summer day - if it were cold and rainy, I'd just sit in front of the computer reading one dire conservative blog after another. As it is, I've got to bundle up the raspberry canes and get one last lawn-mowing in before the winter closes everything down.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

James takes up skating

I had to go to Canadian Tire today, to get James outfitted for the skating lessons his class is going to be taking over the winter. Ugh - $65 for the skates, $35 for the helmet, $15 for the bag, and a pair of waterproof gloves - almost $130, before taxes! Luckily, Thomas can still wear his skates from last year, so all I had to get for him was new gloves.

I must say, it seems to me a risky thing to be teaching James how to skate. Swimming is one thing, because it's fun and refreshing, but skating? All I can foresee is "Fall down - get mad. Fall down - get mad. Fall down - etc." Well, it's their - "funeral", I was about to say, but maybe "decision" would be more diplomatic.

Speaking of diplomatic, Dean is down in San Diego right now, negotiating water rights with the Americans. He called me from his hotel this morning, to tell me that it took him almost an hour to check his luggage at the airport and get through security. He kept setting off the alarms, and nobody could figure out why. Somehow, his left knee was the attraction, and the bells would go off every time they passed the wand over it. The security guard finally had to physically feel his knee, to make sure there was no metal in it! I said maybe he has a high iron content in his blood, and it's deposited in his knee - something like that happened on a recent 'Fringe' episode, only the character turned into a human antenna.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Monsieur Verdoux

Dean and I watched 'Monsieur Verdoux' last night. My sister had recommended it, and I'd always had the intention of seeing it, so when I saw it on the shelves in the public library, I thought we should give it a try.

As Dean said, 'There were some funny tricks in it,' but overall, I didn't think it was that great. I'm afraid I'm just not a Chaplin fan. I tried 'City Lights' several months ago and had the same reaction - a few good moments, but overall rather blah. He must be one of those artists you either fall head over heels in love with, or else you just can't quite figure out what all the fuss is about. I have a similar reaction to Gene Kelly: great moments, but there's something rather too self-satisfied and artificial about him, which prevents me from really falling for him.

I thought the best part of the movie was Martha Raye, as the indestructible Annabelle. I really enjoyed the scene where Chaplin is staring at her broodingly, as she rattles on about how she didn't listen to him when he told her that she should withdraw all her money in cash because the banks were about to fail - the very ruse he'd pulled on an earlier wife, whom he'd subsequently killed. It was so obvious he was wondering why his tricks worked on everyone else, but not on her, and I felt a sneaking sense of identification with her: "Haha! You're not pulling the wool over MY eyes, either, Charlie! I haven't fallen under your spell!"

What killed the movie for me was the scene where he returns home to his REAL wife and child. The moment I saw she was in a wheelchair I felt the manipulation and was never won back. Awww, he's doing it for the children! He's really a saint! And after all, he only killed ugly, mean women that nobody cared about.

I think this sort of sentimentality runs through Chaplin's movies, what I've seen of them, and they ruin the experience for me every time. 'The Great Dictator' is the only one that I want to watch repeatedly, and I think it's because he divides himself into two roles, so the sentimentality is successfully isolated in the barber character, and I can enjoy the dictator without having to believe in any mawkish emotionalism.

But in 'Monsieur Verdoux' he lays it on really thick - he's not really a murderer, he's a victim! He lost his job, so what else could he do but become a murderer? And then the moralizing at the end - obviously the heavy-handed moral lesson at the end, drowning out the comedy, didn't start with M*A*S*H*. Now, TGD has a big dollop of moralizing right at the end, too, but at least it's confined to the final 5 minutes, and it's delivered with some kind of drama and energy. I think Chaplin saw himself as some sort of "holy fool" in the trial and condemned cell speeches, but they just come across as supercilious and sneering. Once again, it's that artificial persona that just turns me off. I never feel I'm connecting with a real character, just a Chaplin character.

Later on, I began to wonder about the timeline in the movie. There were some things that just seemed off. First of all, why set it in France? Everyone was so brutally American, I had real trouble suspending my disbelief; 'Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo' did a better job of portraying the French, not least because they hired real French actors for the supporting and minor roles. The story seemed to take place in 1932, 3 years after the great stock market crash, which was the reason Verdoux lost his bank job. Once again, I was left wondering why this story wasn't taking place in America - not that France was not affected by the '29 crash, but Europe had its own quite different problems, stemming from the First World War. It felt as if American history was being imported and plunked down on the Continent. Then we get Verdoux's 3-year criminal career, which ends around 1932 because of...another stock market crash! Now I was really getting whiplash. All those scenes of people jumping out of skyscraper windows - that's straight out of 1929. So Chaplin really wanted to make a movie about the dislocation of the financial crisis of 1929, only he couldn't because he'd already used it offscreen as the catalyst for his main character's criminal acts. Solution: invent another crisis, exactly the same as the first one, just set it 3 years later.

Then I realized why he set the story in 1932, and in France: he wanted to make ANOTHER movie, about the rise of fascism in Europe, so he could use scary headlines newsreel footage of Mussolini and Hitler. This would lead nicely to his sermonizing about the military-industrial complex, and the weapons manufacturers who were the REAL criminals. But this led me down a path Chaplin couldn't have intended: the real Crash occurred in the U.S. in 1929, so why didn't Hitler and Mussolini come to power THERE? Why transplant American history to Europe, to explain the rise of fascism, when it didn't produce fascism where it really happened? Maybe the rise of fascism in Europe was a little more complicated than just the machinations of greedy bankers and weapons dealers.

On the whole, the movie wasn't able to support the pretensions that Chaplin tried to load it with. I felt that he saw himself as some sort of visionary with Something To Say, and this overwhelmed the final half hour of the film.

This is the night / That either makes me or undoes me quite

Those were the words of Iago, as his audacious plan to destroy his enemies reached its crisis point, and here we are on the last night of the American election campaign.

I think that Obama will win, tightening polls notwithstanding, because I'm naturally pessimistic, and I heard the same wishful thinking from Kerry and Gore supporters the day before their candidate lost. Also, as I wrote before, I think that this is more than a mere "business as usual" election; I think that there are supernatural forces moving, and it is no accident that the United States is entering its period of crisis, breakdown and refining, just as so many other organizations and institutions are.

But even putting aside such mystical themes, I think that democracy has run its race, and is now faltering, even in the place where it was most powerful and successful. Even if McCain wins, it will only put off the crisis for 2 years, or 4 years. Every contest is now a life-or-death struggle, a desperate battle on the edge of the Reichenbach Falls. How can any party or government or people even spare a moment to think about improving their country, when every moment is perceived as mortal combat with an evenly matched opponent at one's throat?

Elections didn't used to be so important, and it's a sure sign of the way society has decayed that they are now ALL-important. I'm beginning to feel that the situation is the same as the description of fighting terrorists: "We have to succeed every time; they only have to succeed once." No political party can win EVERY TIME - it's impossible. And yet every election is seen as possibly the last one, if the enemy should succeed in taking the walls. And if it WERE possible for Republicans to win every election, then what sort of democracy would the United States be, really? The whole idea of democracy is that there should be a swing from one side to the other. It's based on the idea that your opponent isn't really all that different from you. Once that basic similarity vanishes, democracy goes with it. Now elections are just war by other means, and half the country is convinced that the other half is making war upon it.

It's more than "polarization" - it's two different nations at war, each resolved, once in the ascendant, never to let the other rise, lest he fly at his throat. The dressings of democracy and freedom will last a little longer, but I think the reality is gone forever.