Friday, August 31, 2007

The power dance craze

Long before most people were born, an American singer called Chubby Checker popularized a dance number called the Limbo Rock. The object of the dance was to lower yourself, without falling, under a bar set low to the ground. The lyrics of the accompanying tune went like this:

Limbo lower now
Limbo lower now
How low can you go

First you spread your limbo feet
Then you move to limbo beat
Limbo ankolimboneee,
Bend back like a limbo tree
Jack be limbo, Jack be quick
Jack go unda limbo stick
All around the limbo clock
Hey, let's do the limbo rock ...

Don't move that limbo bar
You'll be a limbo star
How low can you go

Watching recent events in partisan politics seems a little like watching the Limbo Rock. How low can you go? Pretty low. On the Republican side you have the Larry Craig incident, where a GOP Senator from Idaho is arrested while playing footsie with an undercover cop in a toilet stall at a Minneapolis airport. You know things are about as bad as they can be when Congressman Barney Frank wants to be your friend.

Frank’s comments came as some Republican lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, called on Craig to step down after being caught in a men’s room undercover police operation. But Frank (D-Newton), one of two openly gay members of Congress and a prominent voice on gay rights, said Craig should serve out the remainder of his term. The third-term senator is up for re-election next year. ... Added Frank: “It’s one thing to say that someone can’t be trusted to vote without being corrupt, it’s another to say that he can’t be trusted to go to the bathroom by himself.”

Tough to beat that, huh? Apparently going lower is no problem in Washington. The counterpart horror show on the Democratic side of the aisle is the Norman Hsu affair. Norman Hsu, a known fugitive who appeared at Democratic fundraisers everywhere (and who has just now turned himself in), funneled $400,000 in campaign contributions to the Democratic party through the family of a mail carrier, William Paw, whose modest means were belied by his hefty contributions -- if indeed they were his. One of Belmont's regular commenters, AJacksonian, compiled this impressive roundup, which you might call the Who's Who of Norman Hsu. As the Righteous Brothers should have sung, "You've got that sinking feeling. Woah that sinking feelin."

It's not very surprising to learn of the unease which people feel when they realize that their property, future and lives are in these people's hands. Rocco DiPippo writing from Iraq says:

Why would Iraqis join with the Americans, risking their necks, if they believe the Americans will leave before the terrorists were defeated? Why should ordinary Iraqis work with American soldiers in hunting down terrorists when prominent Americans like John Kerry, Richard Durbin, Barack Obama, Edward Kennedy, John Murtha and Michael Moore tell them that those soldiers are as cold and as brutal as the terrorists destroying their families, and America’s most publicized civilian activist, Cindy Sheehan, is telling them that the man leading those soldiers, George W. Bush, is the world’s biggest terrorist?

Americans may not be in a much better position than Iraqis with respect to the Limbo Rock men. The Limbo men live in a different universe from the one which ordinary men imagine. And being American confers no immunity from the consequences of their conspiracies and schemes. One of the top DIA analysts on Cuba, Ana Belen Montes, systematically betrayed US intelligence assets in Cuba and may have helped El Salvadoran rebels attack a Green Beret base which she visited, resulting in the death of Special Forces SGT Gregory A. Fronius. Her reason? She disagreed with US policy and decided to embark on her own. There is no evidence she was paid a red cent for her services to Havana. During her sentencing, Montes made this statement:

Your honor, I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. I believe our government's policy towards Cuba is cruel and unfair, profoundly unneighborly, and I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it. We have displayed intolerance and contempt towards Cuba for most of the last four decades. We have never respected Cuba's right to make its own journey towards its own ideals of equality and justice. I do not understand why we must continue to dictate how the Cubans should select their leaders, who their leaders cannot be, and what laws are appropriate in their land. Why can't we let Cuba pursue its own internal journey, as the United States has been doing for over two centuries?

Where have we heard this before?

Jack be limbo, Jack be quick
Jack go unda limbo stick
All around the limbo clock
Hey, let's do the limbo rock ...
Don't move that limbo bar
You'll be a limbo star
How low can you go?

Lower still.


Blogger Bruce said...

Senator *Larry* Craig from *Idaho*.

8/31/2007 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

It often seems appropriate to me in these instances that an alternate definition of "limbo" is "a state of neglect or oblivion, a state of uncertainty".

Certainly anyone engaged in seeing how low they can go must also be in a state of certainty.

8/31/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

oops - above comment should end "UNcertainty"

8/31/2007 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


thanks for pointing out the error. fixed

8/31/2007 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I think castro's legacy will not be cuba. rather it will be miami.

I was in Miami in July. It seemed like all the spanish speakers I talked to inside the hotel and out adopted a tone in their spanish to make me understand that their language and culture is dominant.

all very well and good but to an american ear the staccato spanish dominant has an unbecoming imperial sound to it.

when I hear democrats talking about what a dream team hillary & obama would make...I point out that it would likely make the mexicans vote majority republican for the first time.

8/31/2007 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger Thief said...

And the federal judge who sentenced Montes to 25 years in prison, the Hon. Ricardo Urbina, had this to say in response to this self-justification: "If you cannot love your country, at least do it no harm."

8/31/2007 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I think I characterized the academic Left once as "people who would do everything the guerrillas would if they had the guts". What set Montes apart from a lot of the wannabees you see in "radical" demonstrations is that she had the sand to act on her beliefs.

One reason academics and intellectuals are so enamored of the "romantic guerilla" is that they wish they had the ruthlessness and animal courage to do the same but don't. So they contribute by participating in the "intellectual" and "cultural" struggle. Which is a way of saying "I can't part with my comfortable lifestyle. I can't hack the fear." They are overawed by those with the stain of blood and gunpowder on them. The Marxist pacifist subconsciously worships at the Jihadi's feet. There is strength; there is commitment, they gasp. And they bow down. Those who admire Montes for daring to act on their secret desires are right: they are miserable worms in comparison with her. But I have news for them. She is miserable too. It's just they are more so.

8/31/2007 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

You nailed it, Wretchard.

Utterly nailed it.

Hollywood too btw.

8/31/2007 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Said Frank,“It’s one thing to say that someone can’t be trusted to vote without being corrupt, it’s another to say that he can’t be trusted to go to the bathroom by himself.”

Do no harm? If only that was the intent, despite the reality, there might be compassion spared for Hsu, Hill, Bama and Bill. It is now more about to whom an elected official sells his votes, and no amount of washing of hands after the act, can rinse clean the residue.

9/01/2007 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

"The government of my country snubs honest simplicity, but fondles artistic villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two."
- Roughing It- Mark Twain

"There are many Senators whom I hold in a certain respect and would not think of declining to meet socially, if I believed it was the will of God. We have lately sent a United States Senator to the penitentiary, but I am quite well aware that of those who have escaped this promotion, they are several who are in some regards guiltless of crime--not guiltless of all crimes, for that cannot be said of any United States Senator, I think, but guiltless of some kinds of crime."
- Mark Twain in Eruption

Papa Ray

9/02/2007 07:36:00 PM  

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