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May 4, 2005 - April 27, 2005

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


instapunk050305B

That's no lady, that's my wife...

A Lady For All Seasons

SEX. Here we go again. There are, apparently, quite a few conservatives who think Laura Bush was wrong to tell the jokes she did at her weekend outing. According to the Swift Report,:

...not everyone appreciated her jokes and one-liners poking fun at President Bush. At least one organization of conservative Christians quickly lashed out at Mrs. Bush's performance, warning that her remarks at the President's expense were a public refutation of the Biblical command that wives should respect their husbands.

According to an official statement released over the weekend by the Coalition for Traditional Values, an organization that seeks a more flexible relationship between church and state, Mrs. Bush's jokes at her husband's expense amounted to a public emasculation of the President.

Even Michelle Malkin seems disgruntled:

...the stripper and horse jokes were totally beneath her.

Just put it to the other-shoe test: If it were Teresa Heinz Kerry standing up on the dais telling the same jokes, the conservative commentariat would be buzzing for the rest of the year about what a tasteless skank she is.

"Lighten up?" How about cleaning up? The First Lady resorting to cheap horse masturbation jokes is not much better than Whoopi Goldberg trafficking in dumb puns on the Bush family name.

For once, we're going to have to side with the New York Times on this one. Columnist John Tierney, in a piece called Laura Bush Talks Naughty, wrote rather more equably about it all:

Mrs. Bush's performance, and her husband's reaction, wasn't a shock to the reporters who cover the White House. For years they have tried to convince their friends outside Washington that Mr. Bush is actually not a close-minded dolt, and Mrs. Bush is no Stepford Wife or Church Lady. Yes, they're Texans who go to church and preach family values, but they're not yahoos or religious zealots.

The coverage of Mrs. Bush's comic debut may change some minds, but for devout Bush-bashers, it's much easier to stay the course. If you live in a blue-state stronghold, a coastal city where you can go 24 hours without meeting any Republicans, it's consoling to think of the red staters as an alien bunch of strait-laced Bible thumpers.

This feels like a place we've been before. Because it is. Remember all the conservative concern about the performance of the Twins at the Republican Convention on the same night that Laura Bush spoke? We stepped in decisively on that occasion too, first by taking the temperature of the right:

Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, and Mara Liason were mostly faint in their praise of Laura Bush and from mildly to severely critical of the girls. Only Chris Wallace -- memorable for his immediate pan of Teresa Heinz-Kerry's speech -- continued to bolster my respect for his acumen by praising both. I was curious to see what the rest of the geniuses out there had to say, hence the hours of blogging.

Mostly, the bloggers and columnists agree with Fred and Mort. The Twins were terrible, an embarrasment, "cringe-inducing," a Republican mistake. Laura Bush was solid and likable but a letdown after Arnold and far from a homerun. These views are represented to one degree or another by such normally acute observers as Jonah Goldberg, Roger L. Simon, Glenn Reynolds, and many many more bloggers and blog-responders.

Mostly men, of course. And there's the rub. They weren't the target audience and they're not quite imaginative enough (at least today) to understand what they witnessed.

We pointed out that the girls' performance wasn't going to do anything but good for their father's election prospects:

The Twins are clearly not the spawn of some dynastic clan which sits at table with the Illuminati. They are just like millions of other American girls their age -- awkward, corny, goofy, a bit lascivious, intentionally disrespectful, and full-time flirtatious. But they also evidently love their parents, both of them, and their performance was not the one we would have expected if they had a cold and distant father for whom they were doing a public family duty. Who would make sex jokes at a party convention if you had the kind of dad who was going to land on you like a ton of bricks afterwards? The Twins were a HUGE plus for George W.

We gave even higher marks to Laura Bush, who did not tell any sex jokes that night. But this time she did, and the Coalition for Traditional Values (CTV) thinks she's emasculating her husband, while Michelle Malkin thinks the First Lady lowered herself to the same level as Whoopi Goldberg comparing GW unfavorably to her vagina.

Both criticisms are, not to be uncomfortably blunt about it, absurd. We'll dispose of the Coalition first, then proceed to Ms. Malkin's (typically) more plausible argument. Here's the money point for CTV chairman Roy deLong:

"As a believer, President Bush is no doubt familiar with the passage from Ephesians that says 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord,'" says Mr. DeLong. "That means that just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of the wife."

We don't know too many women of any denomination who quote this passage from Epehesians, and we'd speculate that those who do are not above winking at one another as they intone the words. Just as we fail to administer all the capital punishments listed in Leviticus, most Christians (that is, those who permit their women to vote) tend to regard contemporary marriage as more of a partnership than a papal administration in miniature. Sorry, Reverend deLong. The overwhelming majority of those you expect to agree with you on this find your quote funnier than anything Laura Bush said in her comedy routine.

Which brings us to Michelle Malkin. I could be very wrong, but I don't see her as a big exponent of Ephesians either. I won't gainsay her right to be offended or distressed by Laura's jokes, but I will argue that her comparison is flawed. Here's why. It may well be the case that conservatives would pile on Theresa Heinz-Kerry for a similar performance, but that is only because THK has already established a propensity for several boorish behaviors: crude and disrespectful treatment of those who are required to treat her respectfully, a narcissistic obsession with siphoning attention from her candidate husband to herself, a barely concealed personal and political agenda of her own, and a general tone-deafness about how her 'spontaneous' comments might sound to the American public, specifically including the political opposition. Planted on top of this little pile, a less than pristine joke or two might make her seem a member of the jaded and amoral jet set.

The First Lady's public record is devoid of any such gaffes. She is, beyond any possibility of doubt, a lady. Now she has demonstrated what many must have suspected anyway, that she also has a sense of humor and is acquainted with both sex (she has two daughters, for God's sake. Where did they come from?) and the personal foibles for which her husband has been mocked by others and himself. Only she can do it without rebuke. She is his wife. She is participating in an entertainment that has always been cast as a roast, of which the President is always the butt of jokes. There is (supposed to be) an air of good humor about the occasion, as well as the sharp use of humor.

Ms. Malkin may concede all of this while still objecting specifically to references to strippers and horses. Why? Because no one knows what these things are, because we're not supposed to know what they are, because good and religious people never make jokes about these things? Sorry, but these all seem more than a bit preposterous. Go to a horse show sometime and eavesdrop on the bon mots about horse anatomy that fall from the virtuous lips of many fine ladies of spotless reputation. Only the Reverend deLong is going to think ill of them on this account.

What else? Oh. Whoopi Goldberg. Let's wrap this up quick. Not the First Lady. Not a lady, for that matter. Not married to George Bush. Not proving her essential love by an act of teasing fun. Not funny, either.

We frequently agree with Ms. Malkin and always respect her opinion. This time, we disagree.

UPDATE:  Instalanche underway -- thanks Glenn -- welcome to InstaPundit visitors and feel free to take a look around -- Tech Tonic is working on a way to let you switch the audio on and off, until then, your volume control will have to do with our apologies.

UPDATE II:  There is now an ON/OFF switch for the audio at the top of the page.




Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Instapunk050305

Come O-o-o-o-n!

Just look at her.

THE ANSWER. We were going to give this story a complete pass. As far as we were concerned, it was over the minute she turned up alive and well, and the subsequent news coverage has been sickening for its sensationalism of a total non-event. But then two things happened. First, there was the rising hue and cry -- fed by media desperate for any kind of prosthetic limbs on which to carry this trivia in the headlines for another day -- for actual prosecution of the "Runaway Bride." Perhaps not most representative of this vein, but definitely the most annoying was 'libertarian' Neal Boortz (a.k.a. The OxyMoron) giving way once again to his penchant for absolutist authoritarian judgmentalism with this little diatribe:

If Gwinnett County, Georgia has ever prosecuted one single person for smoking one marijuana cigarette, or for any non-violent drug offense, then they can darn sure prosecute the runaway bride. Let's get on with it.

It's hard to resist tweaking the nose of a hypocritical dumbass like Boortz, that legend in his own mind who tries to make himself look smart by reprinting in his blog only those critics who are unable to formulate a sentence without three misspellings, two grammatical errors and a string of cursewords (i.e., marginally more illiterate than the Great Host himself). So when he launches another off-the-top-of-his-pointy-little-head tirade, we feel an almost ungovernable impulse to ridicule him as he ridicules those who disagree with him. But in the case of Jennifer Wilbanks, we were determined to stand firm and silent for a change.

Then Chain Gang entered the picture, as is their wont, pointing out that we are the only ones in a position to comment definitively on this matter. Chain Gang insisted that we do our little part to get Boortz and company to leave the poor girl alone. So, with great reluctance, we agreed to do so.

All the newscasters and morning talk show hosts are beating their drum with a single question: WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? They couch the question variously. Did she have an intent to deceive? How could she put her fiance and family in such a terrible situation? Did she plan the whole caper? How could she have so disrupted her hometown and its citizens with such a gambit? In other words, WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?

The answer is: Nothing. Today of all days, you must click on our first link above. It explains everything. She wasn't thinking at all. She had no intent, to deceive or otherwise. If she had thought of her fiance, her family, her hometown, she wouldn't have done what she did. But she wasn't thinking.

That doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't. Who in the hell would try to escape from the pressures embodied by 8 bridal showers, 14 bridesmaids, and 600 wedding guests via the expedient of becoming the target of a nationally televised 24/7 manhunt? Nobody.

Should she be punished? She already has been. She has received within the past few days a lifetime's worth of humiliation. Should she be prosecuted? Should she be sued for a big wad of cash? Oh, grow up. Women do stuff. We mostly don't hold them accountable in our own lives, so why plaster over our  native good sense with a great public display of unchivalrous loutitude? (Yeah, I know it's not a word. It should be.)

So end this story now, you media whores. Stop blogging about it, Boortz. Stop beating it to death on radio and TV in the name of compassion, Hannity. Fox and Friends -- shut up and cease your giggling and smirking for a change. And everybody else who wants to put in your two cents, drop it in the change tray at the 7-11 instead.

This is the absolute last word on the subject: LEAVE HER ALONE.

Satisfied, Chain Gang?

Update from Chain Gang:  This is just fine -- but, perhaps she went looking for the other earring. Oops. Sorry. Last word.




Monday, May 02, 2005


instapunk050205

Greyhounds in need...

Molly, a recently adopted greyhound, lounging on the couch

PSAYINGS.5A.43-45. In June of last year, InstaPunk posted an entry from a sometime contributor to the site about greyhounds. It was a touching and very personal piece that also introduced me to the terrible plight of racing greyhounds, of whom as many as 20,000 a year are killed by the dogtrack industry. I have since come to learn firsthand how exceptional these dogs are and how rewarding a relationship with them can be. After our most recent checkup, a vet tech remarked to me, "So many people come in with the most popular dogs -- retrievers, terriers, you know -- and they tell me the dog is so hyper, so demanding that it's driving them nuts, and I keep thinking they should have done more homework up front and gotten a greyhound instead."

She was probably right in terms of temperament, though greyhound owners know that not everybody can be trusted to obey the prime directive, which is that a sighthound with a top speed of 55 mph can never be allowed to run free except in a fenced enclosure. They can see for half a mile, and when they launch a pursuit they are at full throttle in a split second, heedless of roads, cars, and trucks. The extra vigilance this requires is a small price to pay for their otherwise calm and easy companionship, but it's a genuine responsibility that disqualifies the careless.

If you're the kind who's devoted enough to accept responsibility, I urge you to consider stepping up to a situation that might well become a crisis. Last week, I received the following email from my local greyhound rescue organization, the Greyhound Friends of New Jersey. It began:

To our Adopters and Friends:

We received word on April 27 that the greyhound track at Plainfield, CT. will be closing down as of May 15- good news and bad. Certainly we are happy to have one less track, especially one that has produced more than its share of broken legs. The bad news:  there are 1200 greyhounds at Plainfield that will need safe places to go.

This is an extraordinarily large number of greyhounds to be in need of placement all at once. There are multiple rescue organizations in the United States, but they are staffed by volunteers, and their websites typically feature about 20 to 30 dogs at a time who are immediately available for adoption. The dogs who cannot find homes are almost certain to be put down. That's why I'm asking every dog person who reads this to do three things.

1. Acquaint yourself with the ugly facts about the lives (and deaths) of racing greyhounds. There is abundant evidence here, very disturbing to look at, I grant, but a vital part of the situation.

2. Learn about greyhounds -- their special attributes and needs -- at this website and any others you can find on the Internet.

3. Read the rest of the email about the 1200 from Plainfield, reprinted below, and consider how you might lend a hand, either by adopting a dog or by helping out with the other resources being requested:

While we’re hopeful that all adoption groups will step forward and help, we know that a large part of the burden will fall on us since we have been one of the primary “safe havens” for Plainfield greyhounds over the last several years.  We need to prepare now to take in more dogs than we normally do and make sure they have temporary places to go.  Hay Hill kennels can accommodate only so many, especially now as vacation season approaches. In addition to housing dogs until they can be placed into permanent homes, we need to expand our available discounted veterinary services so the dogs can be prepared for adoption as quickly as possible.

Here’s what we need you to do:

Volunteer to foster at least one dog, hopefully short-term, until we can get the vet work done and place the dog in an appropriate home.

Speak to your own veterinarian about doing reduced rate work, which would include spay or neuter, heartworm test, and dental. (We are assuming that the track will at least update shots)

Help with transportation from the track to New Jersey as we have space available for dogs.

If you’re unable to do any of the above, dig down and make an extra donation to help with the increased kenneling and veterinary fees we will be facing to accommodate the extra dogs. Any amount will be appreciated.
All of us who love greyhounds will have to pitch in and help until this crisis is over and all the dogs are in safe places.

If you can help with any of these things please call Barbara at 732-356-4370

Feel free to offer additional suggestions through the Comments section here. We will pass on any that might be helpful to the rescue organizations who are leading the effort.

I'll update the situation as I receive news. Until then, I'll leave you with an excerpt from our entry of a year ago -- just something to think about:
 
Since Patrick came to live with us, I realized even more how much I love greyhounds. I thought I already knew this from having Sonny, but Patrick has made this feeling even more intense. I cannot imagine life without one. These retired racers, so poorly treated in their life on the track, are serene, loving, and eternally sweet companions. Their eyes are as gentle as spring rain, and their long faces are as graceful and moving as a dream of angels. I feel honored and privileged to have known them.

If you choose to help out, I'm certain you'll receive a similar reward.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Michelle Malkin for calling this situation to the attention of her readers.





History Just Kind of Happens -- All the Time
Today in 1863 a rifle shot found its target and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson fell. The shot was fired by an unknown member of the 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment as Jackson was returning from a review of his lines. Jackson died just over a week later on May 10th, 1863. If he lived, would it have made a difference? Is the question relevant? We'll leave that up to you.




Saturday, April 30, 2005


Pickin' Time
Believe it or not, it is the end of April. Thanks to our monthly subscribers who have made their contributions, for the others waiting until the last minute -- this is it -- the last minute.

Like what we're doing here? Not a monthly contributor? Well, you can fix that today. Just click here and you will be wisked away to our little Amazon.com tip jar. It is that easy. You don't have to drop much on us -- any amount will be cheerfully received. And, unlike NPR, we don't get millions of dollars from the Federal Government on top of your donation -- we just get your donation.

Want to get something for your trouble? Then, click here and you can get into our store which has all kinds of stuff for you to wear and/or give away as presents -- you can even get an autographed copy of The Boomer Bible or your very own copy of Shuteye Town 1999. In the store, we make a little money and you get something of great value.

Of course, you don't have to be a monthly subscriber, you could just lay a one-time gift on us. Any amount will do here, just fine. Just click here and enter whatever amount you'd like in the little box at the Amazon tip jar.

Remember, Amazon.com doesn't tell us anything about you, so we can't say a personal, "Thank You." This post will have to do -- Thank You. If you'd like to take credit for a donation, just drop me a line at Usher@InstaPunk.com and I'll be happy to thank you myself, directly -- be sure to tell me the date and the amount so I know it is you or, at least, I'll know you're really lucky.




Friday, April 29, 2005


Enlightenment in Danger!
Robert Kuttner is concerned. Concerned that the Enlightenment itself is under seige.

We agree. But the culprits are a bit closer to his Boston home than he might appreciate. Mr. Kuttner seems to think that the seige works have been constructed by "Fundamentalist Christians." He is very frightened.

We would like to suggest he travel over to Harvard to inspect the state of the Enlightenment. All the sons of Kant and continental philosophy have been tenured at the venerable institution where the Enlightenment is regarded as an aborted English project with no basis in fact -- since there are no facts. We'll be writting more about this in upcoming posts, but if you'd like a little primer -- get yourself a copy of Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen R. C. Hicks for a very readable history of the ideas that have brought us to this perilous state of affairs so feared by Mr. Kuttner.





instapunk042905

UPDATE: I'm not kidding.

Out the anonymous haters.

THE MISFORTUNES OF OTHERS. Yesterday's entry was no publicity stunt. I'm serious. Now they're going after Zell Miller. Read here. I'm calling on Instapundit, Michelle Malkin (her contact info is incorrect: it should read mmalkin@comcast.net), Hugh Hewitt, PoliPundit, and everyone else who claims to care about the tone of our political discourse to help with this counter-offensive against the vermin who rejoice at the physical ills of their enemies. Wake up. This kind of nonsense won't stop until we make it impossible to post such poison anonymously. I call on all our readers to pester the big blogs to take a stand. Email them, phone them, do whatever is necessary to make them pay attention. And then go to Democratic Underground to help force the louts out of their comfortable closets. You think you can't make a difference? This is one instance where you can.




Thursday, April 28, 2005


"Try something more worthy of a man."

Thomas Paine

HARRIER PIETY. I knew it would happen. As soon as I heard about Laura Ingraham's health situation, I knew the maggots of the left would emerge from the dank underside of the Internet to wish her ill. Michelle Malkin signalled the beginning of the onslaught with a link to this odious comment (one of many) at DemocraticUnderground.com. It's written by a person who calls himself Tom_Paine, as if he fancies himself a noble champion of humanity rather than a vicious bully. I wondered what the real Tom Paine would have thought, and so I searched out an account of him that included some personal details, including his own response to a sly and dishonest attack upon himself:

Before Paine's arrival in America, the excitement on his approach had tempted a canny Scot, Donald Fraser, to write an anticipated "Recantation" for him, the title page being cunningly devised so as to imply that there had been an actual recantation. On his arrival in New York, Paine found it necessary to call Fraser to account. The Scotchman pleaded that he had vainly tried to earn a living as fencing-master, preacher, and school-teacher, but had got eighty dollars for writing the "Recantation." Paine said: "I am glad you found the expedient a successful shift for your needy family; but write no more concerning Thomas Paine. I am satisfied with your acknowledgment -- try something more worthy of a man."

That's how I'd expect a gentleman to address a personal adversary. The whole chapter is worth reading because every paragraph demonstrates the price that will always be paid by those who express their dissent bravely in the public eye.

I also wondered what the decent-minded of the Internet might do to confront those who creep out of the dark places at such times, and I hit upon an approach that might carry some weight. There is no need for invective, name-calling, cursewords, or scatologies. What I propose is that you and every like-minded friend go to this and similar links to identify specific comments which require acknowledgment. Reply to each with a single demand: Take responsibility for your words by giving your real name. If you can't do this, look into the mirror and see the face of a coward. Then, try to feel the shame you have earned.

Note that you don't have to be a conservative or a Republican to participate in this accounting. If you know of any similar response to the misfortune of Peter Jennings, for example, pursue the perpetrators in exactly the same fashion. (Interestingly, I haven't seen or heard of any such ugliness.) All such people are the equivalent of obscene phone callers, and those of us who congregate in this electronic realm do have a responsibility to maintain some standards. There is a profound difference between combativeness, satire, and ridicule on the one hand and bitter hatefulness on the other. Wishing disease and death on those who disagree with you is over the line, as even the unbalanced Randi Rhodes has lately been forced to concede.

Events like this prove that there is more than one kind of cancer in the world. The cancer that afflicts the Internet may not be organic, but it is -- if left to flourish in the dark -- a potentially fatal pathology. The very least we can insist on is that the carriers stand up like men and identify themselves by name.

Please also take the time to wish Laura Ingraham a speedy recovery. Perhaps a flood of wellwishers can do a little to allay the hurt of the brutes who spoke up before we did.

Thank you..




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