April 26, 2005 - April 19, 2005
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Trying to be a Chosen Nation, Even if it Kills Them
One of the best things about the Cold War was that when Chernobyl blew up last time -- nineteen years
ago today -- the Soviets didn't
want to tell anyone, so everyone got the news when a radioactive cloud drifted into countries that
didn't mind telling people that a nuclear power plant was experiencing a minor meltdown somewhere.
Now, it is completely different. Now, the newspaper in the Ukraine is telling the whole world that
the next disaster at Chernobyl will be worse than the 1986 meltdown -- costing, well, you figure
Balancing the News
It takes fancy footwork and nicely
sports and popular music there's an almost constant generational
turnover. Cal Ripken, Jr., takes his great record into retirement to
make room for youngsters like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, who have
their own assignations with destiny. Bruce Springsteen steps aside from
the spotlight (mostly) so that newer poets of despair like Eminem can
charm and inspire their own peers. But for a long time now, network
news has seemed curiously immune from this natural relay race of the
generations. The anchor
and women seem to have taken their designator literally,
attaching themselves to their illustrious chairs as if they had become
as immanent as Mount Rushmore. Tom and Peter and Dan kept sitting there
year after year after year. At 60
, the crown jewel of the Tiffany network, that obsolete
pocket watch counted seconds but never years as Mike and Ed and Morley
imperceptibly ossified into fright masks. Over at the PBS/NPR fort,
Bill and Dan
held forth and out against all pretenders, secure and invulnerable
behind their rich, fruity, and oh-so-superior voices.
All those graying faces seemed like the Great Wall of Broadcast News.
but now, suddenly, there are cracks in the wall and new hope for rising
stars. This fact was driven home to us by the latest round of Media
Research Council Awards
, published last Friday. Yes, there were
plenty of greybeards among the winners, but even some eye-popping
performances by Dan
, and Bill
could not conceal the fact that these three gentlemen were
delivering their swan songs. Moreover, the recognition accorded to such
giants as Morley
, and Mike
seemed reminiscent of the Motion Picture Academy's Jean
Hersholt Award, a kind of consolation prize for old-timers who are glad
to be remembered at all.
Make no mistake: new blood is surging into the body of broadcast news.
We note with pleasure the attainments of rising network stars like Keith
, and Byron
. And we're positively delighted at the growing corpus of
female talent, including some veterans like Katie
, of course, but more importantly some faces and voices that
were quite new to us.
Two in particular we'd like to single out for special attention,
because they appear to be offering the kind of balanced perspective
that will rebuild the foundation of the mainstream media in ways that
are appropriate for our new century. First up is a member of the print
press, Deborah Horan of the Chicago Tribune. On May 24, 2004, she wrote
this little gem during a visit to Iraq:
The Sami sisters, ages 17, 15 and 11,
listen to Madonna and Britney Spears. They read Agatha Christie novels
and watch movies starring Russell Crowe. They also rarely venture
outside their upscale home in central Baghdad out of fear of explosions
and violence....Their teenage world was simpler when Saddam Hussein was
in power. Back then, they said, they hung out with friends at the
Pharmacists Club, a swanky place with a swimming pool to which their
father, the vice president of Iraq’s Pharmacists Union,
belonged....Iraq’s new freedom — or chaos, depending on your point of
view — has imprisoned the girls.
People have been saying the newspapers can't compete with TV or the
Internet in attracting younger consumers. Well, not unless they know
how to write stories that will touch the hearts of our beloved kids.
That's what Deborah Horan knows how to do. How could anyone capture
more brilliantly the sorrow and the pity of post-Saddam Iraq? Not even
television could give us a more vivid image of the consequences of
American imperialism than this word portrait of fine young women
deprived of the freedom to hang out with their equally cool young
friends at the club. It's more like a cold hand at your throat than
anything. We look forward to great things frm Ms. Horan in the future.
We're even more impressed by our second spotlighted newcomer, Kimberly
Dozier. CBS News had the smarts to snap her up early and put her on the
air in its national newscasts. In her most notable performance, she too
reported from Iraq and found a perspective on the fall of Saddam that
too few Americans have the wit to appreciate. We were especially struck
by balanced insights like this one from her December
16, 2003 report
about the capture of Saddam:
...But Saddam Hussein also gave Iraqis
dignity and pride. He became a symbol of defiance across the Arab
world, never backing down from a fight....
You can view a more extended excerpt here
Like us, you may be bowled over by what you see and hear. It struck us
so forcibly that we did some research to see if we could find any
precedent for such penetrating foreign policy analysis. Amazingly, we
stumbled on a 50-year-old bit of newsreel film narrated by one Virginia
Dozier and filed from the
tragically downhearted nation of Germany just after the American
colonial adventure called World War II. You can (and really should) see
it possible that Kimberley has inherited the mighty torch of
truthtelling from a precocious grandmother? We would like to think so.
For some reason, Virginia never filed another report from Germany -- or
anywhere else -- and we found no explanation for her eclipse other than
intimations and a cryptic reference to footage that had been omitted
from the U.S.
she used as a source in her report. The following still
was cited as representative of that footage.
Thankfully, Kimberley shouldn't experience the ill treatment suffered
by her putative grandmother. As far as we know, there was no film of
massed dead bodies taken in the Saddam regime. CNN and company had the good
to refrain from such sensationalistic journalism. We hope and
believe that Kimberley will go on to enjoy the kind of career Virginia
Party on, Deb and Kim. We salute you.
Monday, April 25, 2005
There Will Be Things
An article in The
Charlotte Observer (Source Archive)
last week seemed to conjure images
of our reading this week in Adam.48. The
favorite? The virtual girlfriend named, Vivienne. And, so it goes.
Lots of Really Big Casualties
Ninety years ago a battle began that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of
soldiers in one of Britain's worst military disasters -- Gallipoli.
thousand people turned out today for a memorial service.
It is said, that at the height of the fighting, the waters around the peninsula were reddened with blood as far
as 50 metres from the shore. We didn't want you to forget.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Big Fisherman, Alias the Pope
"Cardinal Ratzinger's writings, which are full of intellectual nuance and shadings of meaning, show a ready
acknowledgement of the changes in the church's positions over the years -for example, turning away from the idea
that it is a sin to enjoy sex, or that woman are inferior."
The NY Times seems to specialize in incredibly empty-headed statements like this, although the
generally interesting and seems somewhat fair and accurate . . . although they made need to upgrade their
Speaking of editors, I've been sending in just a ton of exceptional material to you guys, why such sporadic use of
Friday, April 22, 2005
The Smoking Gun!
A certain German archbishop at a
recent private party.
. Initially, we
were a bit skeptical about all the mainstream media interest in the new
pope's Nazi connections. Weren't these the same networks and newspapers
who continually held up France and Germany as the models of moral
foreign and social policy during the run-up and aftermath to the Iraq
war? Why weren't they interested then in the possibility that eminent
German decisionmakers might still be tainted by the fact that at one
time they had to accommodate the Nazis or be killed by them? And hasn't
it been the big media position for years now that accommodation is
exactly the right policy for dealing with a murderous dictatorship?
That's why we concluded that the whole story was really nothing but a
way to tar the image of a man who didn't reflect the kind of secular
liberalism smart people are wise enough to want for the Roman Catholic
Church. The way they've got it worked out, it's nothing but pure dumb
luck that the Church has survived for almost 2,000 years without their
help. If they're a bit frantic and underhanded about how they try to
provide their assistance, the day-to-day maneuvers may appear a bit
sordid, but at least one can appreciate their sense of urgency. They
might, after all, be sincere in their motives if not honest in their
So we held back for a while... until we remembered that we are
journalists, and it is our abiding mission to get at the truth,
whatever it is. And being journalists, it came naturally to us to start
connecting the dots. Was it a coincidence that two of the greatest
journalists of all time, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes, had recently
dropped out of sight ? Why would CBS have abandoned them for such
slight cause? Most importantly, what were they doing right now?
After a quick check of prevailing journalistic ethics, we leaped into
action, hunted down the secret Texas office where Dan and Mary had gone to
ground, and invited ourselves in with the help of a cordless drill. In a
file labeled "60 Minutes Super-Special: Nazi Ratzi," we found the
photograph above, as well as the following incredibly damning images:
Joseph Ratzinger smiling with a pair
of Wehrmacht pals
Joseph Ratzinger participating in a
deal with a war profiteer and a
was also a short film clip in a cannister marked "1944," which is
Is it our imagination, or is he helping
to instruct a young SS officer in performing a proper Nazi salute? And
then we found the most shocking evidence of all, a letter written by the
young man himself in the critical year 1941. The image below is an
exact photocopy of the original we found in that 60 Minutes file.
We were so shocked by this discovery that we almost didn't hear Dan and
Mary returning to the office, laughing and giving each other
high-fives. We grabbed what we could and ran, which means that we still
don't have some of their no-doubt conclusive authenticating documents. Still, we did what
research we could. Through lab tests and asking around, we were able to
determine that the signature is a typically German blue, of a
garishness not found in other civilized European countries. Moreover,
the dimensions of the coffee ring correspond exactly to the size mug
that might have been used by a gruppenfuehrer of the period.
Thus, we are compelled to admit that the CBS undercover team has in all
probability got the goods on the new pope.
We are saddened, but the news is the news, and it's our job to bring it
It has been brought to our attention that various “bloggers” in the
“blogosphere” are disputing, in the Comments section, the authenticity
of the Ratzinger letter which XOFF News, in accordance
highest journalistic standards, stole from Dan
and published at InstaPunk.
We have reviewed the sundry charges and discussed them with our
document examiner Fred, who says they’re all “hooey.” We therefore
stand by our reporting on this, because we didn’t even need the letter
in the first place: a picture is still worth a thousand words, which
means we have at least 4,000 words worth of good evidence against maybe
100 words of not-quite-completely-perfect evidence. Besides, just look at him. You
can see he’s a Nazi. Of
course, we will continue to monitor the story, and if anyone can prove
beyond the tiniest shadow of a doubt that we’ve committed fraud or
something, we’ll consider an ambiguously worded partial retraction at
that time. Until then, we remain supremely confident that all this
ruckus is little more than a conspiracy by shady political operatives to
damage our credibility.
P.S. They did so have a superscript “th” on German typewriters in the
1940s. The Germans have always been good at all that scientific and
mechanical stuff. Ask anyone.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
When we read InstaPunk's entry about Harry Shearer, Noam Chomsky, NPR, and Air America yesterday,
we knew we were going to be asked if we had followed his detailed directions regarding listening to NPR's
Le Show. We haven't listened to the government radio station since the first Gulf War where Daniel Schorr
was giddily hoping that Sadaam (remember him?) had something up his sleeve to annihilate the entire
U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. We turned the radio off and that was that. Never again. And, we
do mean never.
So, knowing the question was coming we thought about our answer. Should we lie? "Yea, we heard it -- you
really nailed it, great post!" Or, "Yes, indeed, we did listen to it. What's on your mind?"
But, we opted for the truth. "No. We knew you were going to ask us that question." Knowing what was coming
next we agreed to listen and make a post.
Just finished listening. Convinced now more than ever of our
wisdom during the first Gulf War over ten years ago. After two minutes and 51 seconds, one of us thought
it was over and went for the OFF button -- the rest shouted, "No, we must listen to seven or eight minutes."
At 6:24, three more joined around the computer to insist we turn it off NOW. We perservered until
seven minutes and twenty-one seconds where, by concensus, we turned it off.
In the silence, with the echo of ". . . they can dream of voting . . ." still hazing the air, in unison
we shouted -- "STAIRS!"
We then realized we needed to complete our work in progress -- TODAY.
The Far Side of the Charles River
Of all the wretched things at Harvard, I cannot be alone in thinking that Lawrence Tribe is the worst.
Perhaps, in charity, we can hope that his left-wing crusades have been as phoney as his pretensions to
scholarship, and that he's always been committed to whatever he does just for the money . . .
Sentencing Guidelines: STAIRS!
This is what will henceforth be referred to as, "STAIRS!" It is a treatment option many of us have
prescribed for wayward GenX-ers beginning in the mid to late 90's as these kids started to wonder what they
wanted to be when they grew up -- preferably to be administered by their fathers.
It was designed to be a bracing wake up call to real life and help the recipient focus on things
that are important. Something that particular generation was finding hard to do amidst all the whining and
We have now come to believe that this treatment should become part of the penal code and be administered
in an overwhelming number of cases to offenders of all ages. It is important that this sentence be executed
properly to have its full effect. Accordingly, a bald, muscular man should be chosen to impose the sentence.
White pants, white T-shirt, black S.W.A.T. boots, and -- most importantly -- no hood; the recipient must be
able to see his grin as he gently walks him to the head of the stairway.
The stairway should be long and unforgiving -- although shorter stairs with landings may be appropriate
in some cases where multiple tosses may be viewed to have greater therapeutic value along with the sound of
the S.W.A.T. boots coming slowly down the steps to the landing for the next treatment. In such cases, there
should be no less than two landings and three stairways of at least fifteen steps.
The administrator then says to the offender in a kindly voice, "Come here, I want to tell you something," as
he guides the offender to the head of the stairs; he then places his hand squarely between his shoulder blades,
grins (extremely important) and gives a sudden, manly thrust. This thrust requires great skill. It must give
the body the proper velocity so that any wild flinging of the arms in an attempt to halt the body's descent
of the stairway will only result in a broken wrist or some other injury. The recipient must make it all the
way down the stairway -- ass over tin cup, if you will.
A smaller administrator may find it necessary to use two hands. If this is the case, the administrator stands
on the left hand side of the recipient, firmly grasps the belt of the recipient with the right hand, places
the left hand firmly between the recipient's shoulder blades and then, with a swift lifting thrust propels
the recipient down the steps. The left leg may be used to kick the legs of the recipient out from under him
as he performs this motion if necessary.
If properly administered, the offender will have a new appreciation for life -- and walking down steps. His
cares will be narrowed to those things essential to life and he will henceforth limit his whining and complaining
to things worthy of such attention. In many cases, whining will be eliminated entirely.
You may feel free to try this with your children or grandchildren especially if they have been ordered to
seek counseling or have been given a prescription for psychotropic medications. You will thank us and so
will your kids.
UPDATE: Instalanche underway --
thanks Glenn and welcome to InstaPundit visitors --
if you'd like to know how all this got started, see HERE
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
. Everyone who
watches TV will already have been reminded that today is the 10th
anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Those who watch cable
news programs may know that today is also the 12th anniversary
the David Koresh debacle in Waco, Texas.
A very few may remember that this is the 230th anniversary
of what has been called "the shot heard round the
Almost no one will be observing all these other April
And here's yet another
There are obvious connections between a couple of these events, but are
there deeper patterns of which we should be aware? Some say a date is
only a date, and some
aren't so sure that we see much of anything but the surface of an
extraordinarily complex reality. It may be that our national memory of 9/11
increased the population of Americans who believe there are profound meanings
in numbers. What do you think?
. The first comment
added by one of our readers is quite interesting and instructive. It prompted us to reference the Book of Harrier Brayer's
readings for this week. You can find them here
(Week 41, in context). All we can say is, the punks
anticipated much, and planned much.
We're out traveling and you read different things when you are away from your
normal routine. While reading one of these odd sources, there was a phrase that
stopped us dead in our tracks -- "the proposed E.U. Constitution, some 450+ pages
long." We just stopped. 450 pages? 450 pages! What the hell?
We really don't like Europe so we don't pay all that much attention to what they're
up to -- we did hear they were attempting to ratify a Constitution, but we're
pretty sure that we never heard a page count like that. So, we took a look.
Turns out that is understated -- you can download it all right HERE.
The first link, "TEXT OF EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION," is only 30 pages. Be sure
to get the rest of it, including:
The Constitution's Fundamental Provisions -- 64 pages
Charter of Fundamental Rights -- 27 pages
The Union's Policies -- 247 pages
The Final Clauses -- 14 pages
Protocols and Annexes I and II -- 382 pages
Declarations -- 121 pages
That is a total of 885 pages. To form a union. Take a look at the Constitution
of the United States and make note of its brevity. And, note too that the next
democratic republic to rule Europe for 228 years will be the first. Be sure to
remind yourself of this little exercise the next
time someone starts off with the phrase, "Well, you know, in Europe they . . . "
The Liberals We Love
WAY OF HARRY
You'll learn a few simple tips about
how to dress for success in the
intellectual community, such as
Tip No. 1, which is to dress
like a Kensingtonian
and then just
add a beard and a corduroy jacket for
that little extra
je ne sais
quoi which makes all the difference.
And that's not all you'll get
for your ten dollars...
. Why is it that the people who call themselves
progressives are so predictable and reactionary that their intellectual
output is the verbal equivalent of Nembutal? Since we can't explain it,
we might as well celebrate it and spotlight the outstanding performers
every so often. Today we'll look at two peas who might seem to arise
from different pods -- but no, it's somehow always the same pod. First
up, Harry Shearer.
He's most famous as the voice of most of the characters on The
Simpsons. He also did an extended turn as a writer on Saturday Night
Live, to which he contributed some of the moments that were genuinely
funny in between all the moments that weren't funny. (You see, we're
trying to be fair here.) But he is also the writer and sole performer
of a weekly program on NPR called "Le Show," which I mentioned in
few entries ago
. To save you some digging, I said:
One more thing. I also listened to a
few minutes of NPR yesterday and chanced to hear the most recent Harry
Shearer vehicle called "Le Show." It's banned. Permanently. There's
nothing worse than a comic who's traded his sense of humor for dull,
repetitive sectarian sniping. Adios, Harry.
Afterwards, a variety of people contacted me to ask what the heck I was
talking about. They'd never heard of Le Show, didn't know anybody who
did, and why? Why was I publicizing it if it was so bad, why did I
bother ever listening to it, and why, by the way, was I still listening
Good questions all. I listen to NPR the way a kid who's losing a baby
molar worries it in his jaw, to experience a pain that is in some
curious way exquisitely uniform. It's a pain that rarely rises to the
level of agony, and somehow its constant tingling potentiality of
hitting that one thrumming chord cannot be ignored. NPR is there.
Millions of people lap up its dreary and oh-so-polite
editorializing-without-ever-coming-right-out-and-saying-it style of
propaganda, and it's impossible to ignore all those highbrows listening
sagely in their Bimmers and plowing their way through the ready-made
reading lists that fall out of the not-so-Fresh Air of Terry Gross's
interviews with the cognoscenti. The tone of it all -- from Terry to
Garrison Keillor to 'What Do You Know?' to 'Morning Edition' to 'Wait,
Wait, Don't Tell Me' to 'BBC World' to 'All Things Considered' to Tavis
Smiley -- varies within the same range as that moribund molar, which is
to say hardly at all. Whether the intention is to be informative,
thoughtful or humorous, the demeanor is almost constantly knowing, a
bit weary, pretentiously allusive, and ostentatiously soft-spoken and
indirect, as if we all -- NPR listeners, that is -- share such a huge
set of common convictions and esthetic preferences that almost nothing
in the way of straightforward comment is needed.
I listen to Le Show as part of this experience, and I can't let it go
without comment for the same reasons that I can't stop listening to
NPR. It seems like evidence of a clear sort, although evidence of
exactly what is harder to pin down. Le Show may be ignored by almost
everybody, but it does have a website
which characterizes the program as:
A weekly, hour-long romp through the
worlds of media, politics, sports and show business, leavened with an
eclectic mix of mysterious music, hosted by Harry Shearer.
Why should a 'romp' need to be leavened by, of all things, an "eclectic
mix of mysterious music"? That's one of the reasons I encourage people
to give it a listen, which is also made possible by the website. I can
save you some time in this exercise. Here are my instructions, if you
have the nerve: 1) Click on Le Show for Sunday, April 10th; 2) find the
'forward' button on your media player and hold it down while watching
the minute count; 3) release the button when it reaches Minute 20:00
and listen for just seven to eight minutes. (You can listen longer if
you want to discover the mysterious music, which generally lasts about
five minutes between Shearer's various segments.)
What will you get for your seven to eight minute investment? Mostly, a
carefully selected series of news items read by Harry, interspersed
with brief comments that run the gamut from arch to snide, which we are
meant to consume as a very sophisticated form of satire --
sophisticated in the sense that we are expected to infer both the
context and the punchline from the author's drolly minimalist setups.
During the particular excerpt I've highlighted here, we hear unmade
jokes about the missing WMDs, the Abu Ghraib scandal, a U.N. press
release predicting that contractor fraud in Iraq will "dwarf" the
Oil-for-Food scandal (N.B. Halliburton and Cheney aren't actually
mentioned), a dire innuendo that Kurds in the Iraqi government may speak
Kurdish, a study by somebody claiming that the number of malnourished
children in Iraq has doubled since the invasion, complaints about lack
of bulletproof glass in military vehicles by an Arkansas National
Guardsman, and a report that in Britain there are still "concerns"
about the poor quality of intelligence prior to the war. You'll find
that all the missing punchlines are easier to find than the eggs you
hide for your children at Easter. Context? Forget it. There's no room
in Le Show for anything like the item
recently linked by Glenn
at InstaPundit. It involved a rather startling poll taken
in Iraq, followed by this comment:
"Most of us read, heard and saw the
media's report of the April 9th demonstrations in Baghdad. Most of the
U.S. media portrayed it as a massive anti American demonstration in the
streets of Iraq. I noticed, however, from Iraqi Arabic newspapers that
most the demonstrations were against terrorism & calling for
Saddam’s trial & hanging (all these signs were in Arabic). I called
my father in Baghdad to confirm this and he confirmed it. My father
then confirmed that Al Sadr had asked his followers to demonstrate for
the withdrawal of foreign troops, he also said that this group was very
small and almost insignificant compared to the rest who were calling
for Saddam’s trial & hanging and those against terrorism. My father
said the Iraqi media reported the number like this 'about 200,000
demonstrators of which 8,000-10,000 were Al-Sadr & Sunni
supporters' (strange bed fellows). He also said that when he listened
to the Iraqi elected officials (on live T.V.) in the assembly, that
every one (every one including those Sunnis initially opposed to the
elections), every man and woman assembly member, reiterated the
importance of foreign and specifically U.S. troops staying in Iraq till
Iraq is ready to take over its own security. Most of them expressed
their thanks for the troops being there and freeing Iraqis from Saddam.
This I did not read, hear or see in any U.S. mainstream media outlet.
"These are the people Iraq elected, asking us to stay and thanking us.
The poll shows only 12% want us to leave at once. This makes a complete
mockery of the mainstream media coverage of the demonstrations.
Just as Le Monde would never report such a story, never would (or will)
Le Show. When you think about it, it really is breathtaking. Perhaps
I'm wrong in thinking that people who don't expose themselves to this
mentality on a regular basis are in danger of fooling themselves that
in some way, at some level, liberals really are engaging in a process
of reason. I hope I'm wrong.
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