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April 22, 2004 - April 15, 2004

Thursday, April 22, 2004

instapunk0412204 MRS. KERRY. As super-rich ladies go, I'm sure Mrs. Kerry is a very nice person to meet at a dinner party or ski weekend, but she's beginning to represent a potential problem for her gigo-, er, husband on the campaign trail.

Unlike me, apparently, multiple persons managed to remain awake throughout Kerry's drone-in on Meet the Press Sunday, and they are now reporting that the senator was adamant in defending his wife's refusal to release her tax records to the public. According to Robert Novak, one of the granite tablets that fell from Kerry's mouth during the proceedings was engraved with the words, "My wife is doing exactly what the law requires, I mean, we have laws in America, and the law requires that the candidate release their tax returns." Novak goes on to point out that this particular tablet must have contained a misprint, because there is no law requiring candidates or their spouses to release tax information. In recent elections, they've simply done it in the interest of full disclosure. "Just why she is so reticent is a mystery," writes Novak, "though it hardly could be concern about privacy considering the flood of personal publicity welcomed by the Kerrys." He speculates the couple may be worried about repeating the experience of Al Gore:

That excites curiosity about her charitable contributions (which are not reflected in official U.S. Senate financial disclosures). Release of Vice President Al Gore's tax returns in 1998 revealed an embarrassingly small charitable contribution of $353 on an income of $197,699.
Stunningly, the New York Times has even expressed concern about Mrs. Heinz-Kerry's nondisclosure. Today's NYT editorial says, in part:
We hope the senator realizes that there cannot be too much disclosure by a candidate seeking the trust of the public for the nation's highest office.With this high standard in mind, we urge that the candidate's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, release her tax returns. Limited financial records of Mrs. Heinz Kerry, a millionaire heiress, are available as part of the Senate's disclosure requirements. Beyond that, Mrs. Heinz Kerry points out that she is not the candidate and deserves some privacy... They may file separate tax returns, but the comfort of the Kerrys' assets is a fact of life in the senator's campaign. The public is entitled to more detail, even though nothing nefarious has been alleged.
All this is starting to remind us of Louis Freeh's FBI and George Tenet's CIA. Novak and the NYT are sifting through the available intelligence and forwarding a memo of nonspecific concern. Unless Novak is being disingenuous and the NYT downright untruthful. Nothing nefarious has been alleged? Or did all these media geniuses completely miss this:
Teresa Heinz Kerry has financed the secretive Tides Foundation to the tune of more than $4 million over the years. The Tides Foundation, a “charity” established in 1976 by antiwar leftist activist Drummond Pike, distributes millions of dollars in grants every year to political organizations advocating far-Left causes. The Tides Foundation and its closely allied Tides Center, which was spun off from the Foundation in 1996 but run by Drummond Pike, distributed nearly $66 million in grants in 2002 alone. In all, Tides has distributed more than $300 million for the Left. These funds went to rabid antiwar demonstrators, anti-trade demonstrators, domestic Islamist organizations, pro-terrorists legal groups, environmentalists, abortion partisans, extremist homosexual activists and open borders advocates. (You can read the rest of the article here; it's full of provocative details.)
So what, you say. So the nice lady is a little bit to the left of her husband. What does this have to do with the current election? Remember all that clapping from the gallery when Richard Ben Veniste was doing his Joe McCarthy impersonation with Condoleeza Rice? The clappers were the 9/11 widows. No, not all of them. Some very specific 9/11 widows, members of a political organization called Peaceful Tomorrows. And who are they? According to Little Green Footballs:
“Peaceful Tomorrows” is the anti-war September 11 victim group often seen onstage at International ANSWER rallies, and their representatives have been quoted (usually without any context) in nearly every story about President Bush’s new advertisements [referencing 9/11]. Would you be terribly surprised to discover that, according to their web site, Peaceful Tomorrows is a project of the Tides Center—the far left funding group to which Teresa Heinz Kerry has given millions of dollars?
If the New York Times thinks "nothing nefarious has been alleged," then they can hardly take the position that the Bush administration ever had any actionable intelligence prior to September 11, 2001. The CIA may simply have had the same policy as the NYT -- ignore any intelligence that include unacceptable partisanship or, heaven forfend, invective. Maybe it's time we found a replacement for the word 'intelligence.'

And just where is that evil chuckling coming from? Is that you, Novak?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Instapunk042104 MAWRITES ON PARADE. The feminists should be happy about recent developments in the business world -- see here, here, and here -- though I know they won't be. We'll probably hear a lot of grousing about how the glass ceiling turns into a glass floor for anyone who does manage to break through it, which means that female executives are in continuous danger not only of plunging to the depths after a single high-heeled misstep but also of having male underlings peeking up their skirts.

Still, calmer heads will note that it's real progress to see a single news day in which three highly positioned businesswomen in three different fields are fired or under prosecution for the kinds of mistakes that used to be the exclusive province of men. This has to mean that there are lots and lots of other women out there working cheek by jowl with the old boy network, running companies into the ground, defrauding stockholders, terrorizing helpless employees, missing great opportunities, and taking stupid risks for no good reason. Kudos to them all.

HELL FREEZES OVER. The following quote is straightforward and clear.

In December Mr. Kerry's Iraq policy differed with that of President Bush not in its goals but in its tactics. Mr. Kerry rightly insisted, and still does, that the United States cannot succeed without greater international collaboration and reliance on the United Nations. Now he differs with Mr. Bush on the crucial issue of what the United States must achieve in Iraq before it can safely end its mission. "Iraq," Mr. Bush said at his news conference last week, "will either be a peaceful democratic country or it will again be a source of violence, a haven for terrorists, and a threat to America and to the world."

Mr. Kerry now argues that there is a third option. But what would that be? "I can't tell you what it's going to be," he said to reporters covering his campaign. "That stability can take several forms." True; in the Middle East, there is the stability of Islamic dictatorship, the stability of military dictatorship and the stability of monarchical dictatorship. In Lebanon, there is the stability of permanent foreign occupation and de facto ethnic partition. None is in the interest of the United States; all have helped create the extremism and terrorism against which this nation is now at war.

There is no question that achieving even a rudimentary democracy in Iraq will be tough, and weakness in administration planning and implementation has made it tougher. At best democracy will take years to consolidate; at worst, it will prove unachievable during the U.S. mission. The past weeks of violence have been, or should have been, sobering to any observer. Yet on goals Mr. Bush is right, not only in a moral sense but from the perspective of U.S. security too...

We believe a successful political outcome is still possible; others disagree. But Mr. Kerry's shift on such a basic question after just a few months is troubling and mistaken.

What's not clear is what's gotten into the journalists who wrote this editorial. Their paper is the Washington Post. The Washington Post! Maybe they should consult a physician before writing any more blasphemy of this sort.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Dog that Ate John Kerry's Military Records

Monday, April 19, 2004

instapunk041904 ANNENBURGHERS. I've been watching the news programs, reading the papers, and scanning the internet with a mounting feeling of amazement and disgust. I cannot remember a time when the mainstream media were more blatantly obvious about their political intentions.

If John Kerry were a Republican, the American landscape would be littered with shreds of his dismembered corpse, and the buzzards of ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, et al would still be tearing the last remaining scraps of flesh from the bone. And every scrap would be paraded before us: every item of pork barrel legislation he ever voted for, every bauble in every mansion he ever married for, every ambiguous detail in every purple heart citation he wheedled for himself, every flat-out contradiction in his shamelessly convenient kaleidoscope of policy positions, every instance of rudeness and snobbery with the common folk, every syllable of every sentence in his laughable impersonation of JFK during his push for celebrity as an anti-war activist, and every second of his ugly on-camera contempt for the sitting President he was running against. Each of these would be the subject of editorials, op-ed pieces, talking head interviews with political and media 'experts,' scathing half-witted send-ups by Andy Rooney, punchlines on Law and Order, and cunning innuendoes in a West Wing script.

On the other hand, if George Bush were a Democrat, the same buzzards would be working the ravaged entrails of Clarke, Ben Veniste, Woodward, Kerrey, Gorelick, Kennedy, and all the other nakedly partisan political whores who are determined to drive our political discourse into the hate and filth of the gutter.

In honor of the flagrant self-serving incompetency of the nation's mainstream media, I offer up the following quote from Donald Barthelme, written so presciently more than 35 years ago in the book City Life. These words are part of piece called, aptly, Brain Damage:

I worked for newspapers. I worked for newspapers at a time when I was not competent to do so. I reported inaccurately. I failed to get all the facts. I misspelled names. I garbled figures. I wasted copy paper. I pretended I knew things I did not know. I pretended to understand things beyond my understanding. I oversimplified. I was superior to things I was inferior to. I misinterpreted things that took place before me. I suppressed news the management wanted suppressed. I invented news the management wanted invented. I faked stories. I failed to discover the truth. I colored the truth with fancy. I had no respect for the truth…
It goes on from there. Congratulations to all of you who have earned this accolade.

Sunday, April 18, 2004


HEROES. Back in 1931, James Thurber wrote a short story about a young aviator who unexpectedly flew his single-engine plane nonstop around the world. He landed, after his nine-day odyssey, to a world clamoring to know and admire him. Trouble was, and this was Thurber’s reason for writing The Greatest Man in the World, Jack “Pal” Smurch was not made of the same stuff as Charles Lindbergh and Richard Byrd before him. His one miraculous flight was the only thing great about him. Reporters had learned this about him while he was still enroute. Thurber explains the quandary Smurch posed and the press response thus:

The necessity for printing some account in the papers of the young man's career and personality had led to a remarkable predicament. It was of course impossible to reveal the facts, for a tremendous popular feeling in favor of the young hero had sprung up, like a grass fire, when he was halfway across Europe on his flight around the globe. He was, therefore, described as a modest chap, taciturn, blond, popular with his friends, popular with girls. The only available snapshot of Smurch, taken at the wheel of a phony automobile in a cheap photo studio at an amusement park, was touched up so that the little vulgarian looked quite handsome. His twisted leer was smoothed into a pleasant smile. The truth was, in this way, kept from the youth's ecstatic compatriots; they did not dream that the Smurch family was despised and feared by its neighbors in the obscure Iowa town, nor that the hero himself, because of numerous unsavory exploits, had come to be regarded in Westfield as a nuisance and a menace.
The newly christened hero lives down to the darkest promises of his past. He proves to be a sly, venal, money-grubbing opportunist, and the handlers whose job it is to keep him away from his adoring public quickly become desperate. Fortunately, a solution to the problem is found:
Charles K. L. Brand, secretary to the Mayor of New York City, happened to be standing nearest Smurch; he looked inquiringly at the President of the United States. The President, pale, grim, nodded shortly. Brand, a tall, powerfully built man, once a tackle at Rutgers, stepped forward, seized the greatest man in the world by his left shoulder and the seat of his pants, and pushed him out the window. "My God, he's fallen out the window!" cried a quick-witted editor. "Get me out of here!" cried the President.
It may seem unusual but it’s surely not out of the question that a man can have one distinguishing accomplishment in a life otherwise empty of highlights. I’m taking a long time getting to the point here because I’m embarrassed to admit that what prompted me to recall Thurber’s story after all these years is the presidential candidacy of John Kerry.

I know he’s hardly an uneducated thug like Jack Smurch. But what is he? What have any of us learned to date about who the real John Kerry might be? We know he was a war hero in Vietnam, recipient of the silver star and three purple hearts. (Of course, if you assign the credibility to the 1970s U.S. military that, say, John Kerry did in 1972, then you might have doubts, but that’s not our intention here.) More specifically, what have we learned about him that makes us admire him more? Some may envy his knack for marrying women in the $100 million-plus bracket, but most probably regard this as, at best, a dubious coincidence. Some may be inclined to defend his association with the Jane Fonda set during the days of most virulent opposition to the Vietnam War, but few will regard his derogation of his fellow American troops as something to be proud of. And, yes, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but that’s not quite as impressive an achievement in a man who is descended from the well-connected Forbes family and who hung out with JFK when he was still a teenager. For example, what do his colleagues in congress think about him?

Just last fall, a Boston TV reporter ambushed three congressmen with the question, name something John Kerry has accomplished in Congress. After a few nervous giggles, two could think of nothing, and a third mentioned a baseball field, and then misidentified Kerry as "Sen. Kennedy."
This anecdote comes to us from Howie Carr, a Boston journalist who has not been particularly enamored of Kerry over the years, but then again he’s been watching Kerry longer and more closely than any of us. He also solicits inputs from other Bay Staters:
ONE of the surest ways to get the phones ringing on any Massachusetts talk-radio show is to ask people to call in and tell their John Kerry stories. The phone lines are soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: our junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less (or nothing) or ducking out before the bill arrives. The tales often have one other common thread. Most end with Sen. Kerry inquiring of the lesser mortal: "Do you know who I am?"
In fact, the thread is common enough that Carr has actually converted it to an acronym (of sorts): DYKWIA. When other reporters ruefully declare that Sen. Kerry called the Secret Service agent who bumped into him on a ski slope “that son of a bitch,” we may be pardoned for thinking that a pattern is beginning to emerge.

What if John Kerry is simply an upper class version of Jack Smurch? What if he’s a sly, venal, money-grubbing snob who has just one real personal accomplishment to boast of?

An anomaly that has troubled me ever since John Kerry announced his presidential candidacy is the difference in demeanor between him and every combat veteran I’ve known personally. In fact, I’ve known many, including my father (WWII) and my grandfather (WWI), as well as several close friends and numerous acquaintances who saw action in Vietnam in various branches of service – marines, airborne, air force, navy, et al. None boasts about it. Few volunteer it about themselves, except in rare circumstances with close friends or family. Most tend to shun the label hero, which they apply almost exclusively to those who gave their lives for country and fellow troops.

Yet John Kerry has chosen, if not to call himself a hero, to encourage others to so designate him, and he has made his four months of combat experience the peg on which all of our understanding of his character and convictions is supposed to hang. Why, I ask myself, would a genuine combat veteran so depart from the behavior I have observed almost universally in this breed of men? Is it possible that this is his only admirable attribute? He must announce to us that he is a war hero because he cannot claim to be anything else with equal authority?

My suspicion is increased when he projects his veteran status onto matters in which it is clearly not relevant, as he did this week in defending himself against a nonexistent charge of unpatriotic feeling by ridiculing Cheney and Rove for their lack of military service. No one in the administration has even hinted that Kerry is less than patriotic. Yet he feels entitled to excoriate them in this ungracious, even despicable, way.

If it is the case that Kerry’s entire ego rests upon his identity as a recipient of the silver star, this would explain his paranoid preemptive attack on individual members of the administration. It would also be terrible news for the electorate. For it would mean that Kerry really is locked into a Vietnam-era view of the world, that somehow he has never progressed beyond the troubled twenty-something hero-protester who built his manhood on acts that he nevertheless felt compelled to describe as war crimes to Dick Cavitt and the U.S. Senate. Maybe he’s been waiting to get pushed out a window ever since.

CHICK LIT. This month’s Utne Reader closes in on a Big Question about Chick Lit:

Hanne Blank thinks that chick lit can and should be improved. "The solution to bad chick lit isn't to get rid of chick lit, it's making the effort to produce a chick lit that's more nutritious, more interesting." After all, there's more than a little of the chick lit spirit in the novel-of-manners tradition that produced Jane Austen -- and who's to say that this thriving genre won't produce a modern-day Austen who can turn Prada, martinis, and the quest for Mr. Right into literary gold?
Who’s to say? No one, I guess. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet against it.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Instapunk041504 SWARTHMORON SOS. Like a flak-riddled B-17 over the skies of France, Air America  is on the verge of flaming out before it can complete its mission to annihilate the most unspeakable evil on the face of the earth. The plane has already lost a couple of engines from the look of it, and according to one of the enemy fighters on its tail, the pilot doesn’t know what he’s doing. Neal Boortz volunteers some inside information about this:

Jim Watkins is the program director for my affiliates in Naples and Ft. Meyers, Florida...  Several weeks ago he contacted the people at Air America to inquire about putting Al Franken somewhere on his radio station.  Watkins remembered Al Franken from his Saturday Night Live days and felt that he might be entertaining and could draw an audience... The Air America official asks Jim what other programs they carry. Jim starts rattling off the names.  Boortz, Limbaugh, Savage .... At that point the Air America official says "Stop."  He then informs Watkins that they won't allow their programming to air on [his stations].  And why not?  Because "We don't want our programming stained by being on a station that carries Rush Limbaugh."
This seems odd. Wasn't Al Franken the guy who was happy to use Rush Limbaugh's name to sell his first book of 'satire'? (As in Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.) Whence this new fastidious aversion to recognizing el Rushbo's existence? Boortz thinks it's because Air America fears that listeners who hear both Franken and Limbaugh will start seeing through "the lies, the half-truths and the complete lack of common sense and logic" of the left.

I'm inclined to another explanation. The name Air America really does lend itself to the kind of metaphors that begin this entry. I believe the crew -- Franken, Garofalo, et al -- have become transformed in their own eyes. They may have started by thinking of themselves as comedians with some serious political opinions. Stroked by the mass media intellectuals, they began to believe they were serious thinkers (hence Franken's self-billing as a satirist). And now, with the election approaching and the flurry of liberal clamor for a 'progressive' (read 'anti-Bush') presence on the airwaves, they have become warriors, crusaders, fanatics. And like van Helsing on the trail of Dracula, they can't abide the touch or even the presence of the evil they are sworn to destroy.

Time to wake up, kids. It's not a crusade, and it's not a war. It's business. Allow us to offer some business advice. Air America is in a spot of trouble. No cash is not a sound position, but it's not a hopeless one either. You've got a name, at least, which makes it sound like you're a radio network. The best defense is a good offense. Air America should initiate a leveraged buyout of NPR. Get one of your limousine-liberal friends in investment banking to float several hundred million dollars worth of junk bonds, and use whatever means necessary (Madonna, Sarandon, Streisand, Stone, Roberts, etc) to "market" them to big money guys in New York and Los Angeles. Maybe some of the other Hollywood lefties would invest big amounts, too (though I wouldn't count on it somehow). Presto. NPR is now Air America-NPR.

All that would remain to be done is realignment of the program schedule. Where to fit the Franken and Garofalo programs into the mix? First, the new management could clear some room by firing Juan Williams and Mara Liasson. Does anybody at NPR even know that these two Benedict Arnolds work for the hated Fox News Channel? You could even make a deal with The Donald to come fire their asses right on the air. After that, it's a matter of deciding who else stays or goes. Terry Gross seems to be doing an outstanding Jeckyll and Hyde act, all sweetness and light with Palestinian-terrorist-novelists and all savage attack bitch with putative Republicans. Tavist Smiley has to stay. You know. Garrison Keillor is pretty safe. He's tried more ways to make the word 'Republican' a punchline all by itself, unsupported by even a feint in the direction of a joke setup, than he has yarns left to spin about his dreary hometown.

The best bet would be to deep-six 'All Things Considered.' With the November election only months away, who needs the subtle propaganda of interviewing leftist radicals as if they were mainstream spokesmen, or reporting a left-wing partisan charge as if it were a fact, or soliciting commentary on foreign policy from avowed enemies of the United States? And all done with a straight face no less. Now is the time for the unsubtleties of self-proclaimed geniuses who dribble flecks of foam from their mouths when they rail into the microphone. Now is the time for the likes of Garofalo and Franken. Get Air America back into the skies, and load the bomb bay with the biggest, dirtiest payload you can carry. God bless (Air) America. 

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