Dear Reader (and the hard-bitten cop who was shot in the back by the drug lord Mendoza’s henchman, laying in his own pooling blood, who asks just two things from his partner: 1) “Read me the latest G-File” and 2) “tear the whole mutha down, starting with . . . with . . . with Men . . . Men . . . Mendozzaaaaaa . . .”), Okay, so I’m very busy this week touting Proud to Be Right, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep this light . . . after this one quick point: What the hell?
Now, I know I could be referring to any number of subjects, but the one I have in mind is the fact that a bunch of countries are joining with the federal government to sue the state of Arizona for its dastardly crime of enforcing federal law. Put aside all of the other fascinating questions, moral outrages, and assaults on logic and decency this represents; what I want to know is why more liberals aren’t outraged by this. Yes, yes, I know it’s just a bunch of amicus briefs and not an expeditionary force. But it seems to me that since the invasion of Iraq, liberals have been insisting that we shouldn’t “meddle” in other countries. Who are we to judge? Who are we to interfere? And so on. You know the tune.
Well, here we have a bunch of countries joining the lawsuit against an American state for legally and democratically enforcing the rule of law. Where’s the outrage about their meddling? Now, in fairness, some paleocons and other types on the right have made similar arguments about how we shouldn’t meddle, shouldn’t interfere, shouldn’t impose etc. But you know what? I’m pretty sure they’re outraged by this too. It’s the lefty opponents of American empire and hegemony that seem to find our meddling with evil regimes to be offensive but when foreign regimes meddle with us . . . meh, what’s the big deal? Speaking of Outside Intruders Imagine the following scenario. An extraterrestrial race has been kidnapping American military personnel for decades, probing them for information. Returning again to planet Earth, the green-eyed buggers once again abduct even more American citizens. But now it has a new trick: Rather than steal the humans for reasons we cannot fathom, it brainwashes them so that they want to go with the aliens. Not only do they volunteer, they are compelled to risk their lives to join the aliens and subject themselves to probing. These brainwashed citizens are willing to abandon their jobs, their communities, even their own children just for a chance to satisfy their artificially implanted psychic urges. And now you find out that the U.S. government is in on it. Well, that pretty much describes the plot of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The fair Jessica and I stumbled on it the other night while channel surfing (for reasons that do not defy easy explanation she didn’t want to watch Cheerleader Ninjas on Cinemax. Damn her traditional values!). Don’t get me wrong, I really like(d) Close Encounters. It’s a pretty brilliant movie. But if you take a step back and watch it with a critical eye, it’s kind of nuts. Richard Dreyfuss, a mild-mannered energy-company lineman from Indiana, is literally mind-screwed with a raygun into deserting his wife and small kids, and at the end of the movie we cheer that he successfully got away! Meanwhile, the U.S. Army, which at first tries to stop Dreyfuss, eventually goes along with it. Worse, it seems the military has no discernable objection to the kidnapping of its own men and the stealing of its equipment (during a war!) going back at least to WWII. We never once hear a military official say, “Hey, maybe we should have some artillery ready in case these guys aren’t friendly.” None of the brass is even the slightest bit concerned that the aliens visit in what could easily be described as overwhelming force, with shock and awe to boot. I mean, did they really need all of those ships and the mothership? Oh, and who is basically calling the shots on all of this? A French guy. Now, I know what you’re about to say: ”How on earth does Goldberg get away with writing this crap and get paid for it?” ”Part of the appeal of the movie is that we don’t know the full back story and the scientists and soldiers orchestrating the meet-and-greet have already been convinced of the aliens’ peaceful intentions.” But that doesn’t really work. At the beginning of the movie we learn that the communication between us and them is so rudimentary we can’t even figure out that the aliens are beaming us the address for the rendezvous. Remember that bearded geographer-turned-French translator (played by the guy who played Russell Dalrymple on Seinfeld), the one who explains the signals are longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates? If they couldn’t figure that out, how could they possibly be convinced this wasn’t a huge setup, whereby the aliens not only brainwash the entire military-industrial complex but get away with some vigorous anal probing (what is with aliens and anal probing by the way? With the notable exceptions of Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore, we humans do not store our brains down there). There are two things that really stood out to me. First: Man was this the perfect movie for the Carter era! Clearly the United States president in 1977 had no inordinate fear of alien invaders who snatch our citizens, confiscate our weapons, and brainwash people into loving them. I suppose if the aliens replaced Cleveland with a giant crater, Carter’s response would be to boycott the first interstellar Olympics. I know someone who argues that aliens under Republican presidents are scary and under Democrats they’re friendly. I don’t think that really holds up. But you can be damn sure the Gipper would have more of a “trust but verify” policy to any potential anal probers from space.
But what really stood out, to me at least, was how Richard Dreyfuss did one of the most selfish things in the world – abandon his own wife and children to fulfill a personal desire – and that desire was literally forced on him by alien life forms. I think there’s something interesting to be said about 1970s culture there; The selfishness of “self-discovery,” the glibness of divorce, etc. But it’s time we left this topic for something really important. The 8,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room – Talking to the Super-Intelligent Spider While we’re on the subject of movies, I might as well vent about King Kong again. Okay, so some guys discover an island. It is teeming with giant snakes, dinosaurs – including a real live T-Rex – and the reaction from everybody seems to be that the only interesting creature on the island is the giant monkey. Don’t get me wrong. The giant monkey – sorry: gorilla – is cool. But if you were writing up an inventory of King Kong’s island, wouldn’t you at least be a little psyched to have found a frickin’ dinosaur? And yet if you were to imagine a New York Times page-one headline consistent with the movie, it’d go something like “HUGE GORILLA FOUND ON HIDDEN ISLAND,” and somewhere in the metro section it would mention that the island also had a thriving population of dinosaurs. Then there’s Charlotte’s Web. Everyone’s amazed by the fact that the spider has this great opinion of the otherwise ordinary pig. The spider spells out in its web that this is “some pig”! Wa-frickin’-hoo. Why isn’t anyone impressed by the fact that there’s a spider that can spell!? Speaking of Focusing on the Wrong Thing That reminds of an old joke. I’d tell you to stop me if you’ve heard this one, but to stop me you’d need a time machine. Bwahahah. Anyway, A guy sees a sign out front of a gas station.
“Talking Dog for Sale.” He goes into the store and says to the clerk. “You’re selling a talking dog?” The clerk says, yup. He’s out back. The man goes out back and finds a dog tied to a post. ”Uh, you talk?” ”That’s right,” says the dog. ”Wow! That’s amazing! How’d you end up here?” The dog sighs and says, “Well, I discovered I could talk when I was still a puppy. I wanted to serve my country, so I got in touch with the CIA. Almost right away I was on missions all around the world. Spying on presidents and dictators, working behind enemy lines. After that, I came back to the states, where I worked for a dog-food company telling them what tasted good. They rewarded me with a whole harem of beautiful girl dogs, if you know what I mean. After that, I was a private detective, tracking down kidnapped children, lost dogs. All that stuff. Now I’m just retired. The man was stunned. He raced back inside and asked the clerk how much he wanted for the talking dog. The gas station owner barely looked up from his newspaper and said “Ten bucks.” ”What? Ten bucks? That’s the most amazing dog I’ve ever met. Why so cheap?” The owner responds, “Because he’s just a big liar. He never did any of that stuff.” Boredwalk Empire I hate saying this because I’m a huge Steve Buscemi fan (“Is that literally or figuratively?” — The Couch), but HBO’s Boardwalk Empire is failing to captivate its key audience (that would be me) because Buscemi simply cannot carry the role. For whatever reason, his range doesn’t go where it needs to go. Lonebore Well, that was fast. Lonestar has been cancelled because it wasn’t very good (the same will soon be said about the Parker-Spitzer show).
Media Update I’ll be on Fox and Friends at 7:15 Friday morning. I will be on the next Ricochet podcast with none other than Mark Steyn – if he really exists. The Georgetown panel on PBR will be on C-Span, not sure when (and that’s Proud to Be Right, not Pabst Blue Ribbon or Professional Bull Riding).