November 20, 2005 - November 13, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
Answering La Malkin
It's cold on them thar hill.
. Those of you who read Michelle Malkin's blog know that she has
been away for a couple of days and that others have been posting on her
behalf. She checked in early this morning, though, to explain that
she's on a whirlwind book tour which unaccountably landed her in
Ithaca, New York. The experience
seems to have surprised her:
So, Ithaca is basically the Berkeley of
upstate New York. I had no idea it was that bad. Apparently, the city
has its own politically correct currency (which sports the phrase "In
Ithaca We Trust"). And a police officer described Ithaca to me this
way: "10 square miles surrounded by reality."
Ithaca is also home base to moonbat Rep. Maurice (Rove planted the
Rathergate memos!) Hinchey.
Who cares about Kansas? The real question is: What on earth did they
put in Ithaca's drinking water?
It's not the water, Michelle. It's a bunch of other things that most
people aren't interested in, but since you've been there and now feel a
faint pulse of curiosity, I'll risk boring everyone else to death by
giving you a real answer. It's in three parts.
The Inferiority Complex
The biggest influence on Ithaca is, as you already know, Cornell
University. Cornell is an Ivy League institution but despite the
automatic lustre this affords, the place has serious self-esteem
issues. Why? No other Ivy school is the second
most prestigious university
in its state. Columbia is in New York City, a small undergraduate
school with a large and illustrious array of graduate schools. Cornell,
on the other hand is a large undergraduate school with a smaller and
slightly less renowned array of graduate programs. There are also some
fracture lines in Cornell's identity. Its medical school, for example,
is located not in Ithaca but New York City. Worse, Cornell is partly a
(gasp) state university, the only Ivy with an agriculture school.
There's also a school of hotel administration that's part of the state
system. Should these circumstances make Cornell neurotic? No. But they
do. The Columbia factor has caused Cornell to become obsessively
fascinated with... (drumroll, please) Harvard!!??
No, it doesn't make sense but obsessions rarely do. Is it a
contributing factor that in the Ivies only Cornell and Harvard have school colors in
the red part of the spectrum? No one can say. At any rate, Cornellians
have a long tradition of hating Harvard, to whom they continually
compare themselves with unwelcome results. In all the areas where they
compete -- law, medicine, business, architecture, the arts and sciences, Harvard
is harder to get into, more honored, more famous, and more respected.
And by the laws of perversity that govern such things, Cornell has in
many ways become what it most hates. If Harvard is notoriously left
wing, Cornell must be more so.
Ithaca is hundreds of miles from anywhere, marooned in the snow belt of
upstate New York. Cornell sits on a hilltop overlooking the City of
Ithaca, and thus its students live through a very long winter directly
exposed to the icy blasts that make it hard to trudge to the classroom
and almost unthinkable to undertake long journeys elsewhere. This means
that there is very little interaction with what outsiders might call
the real world, with the result that the leftist atmosphere feeds on
itself, intensifying into a kind of wintry tornado. There's another
pernicious effect as well. Cornell students by virtue of their
isolation frequently begin to identify Ithaca as their home; it's the
only place they've been for years. There's a remarkable percentage of
Cornell students who graduate or drop out and then stay in Ithaca,
perpetual college town residents with everything that implies. Berkeley
may be an apt comparison, but it may not go far enough. The
Cornell/Ithaca community may be worse.
A cold, bleak island of academics suffering from an inferiority
complex. That's bad enough to make anyone blue. But there's more.
Ithaca sits on a glacial lake, and the Cornell campus is trisected by
deep glacial gorges. For many many years, Cornell also had a tradition
of grading harder than any other Ivy school. It was, for example,
really quite easy to flunk out of the engineering school. (Try flunking
out of the undergraduate program at Harvard; just try...) This may no
longer be the case, but today's inflated grading system cannot entirely
undo the long ingrained Cornell tradition of -- suicide. Every incoming
student is shown the gorges and informed by smug upperclassmen that the
real statistics on gorge jumpers at Cornell are a dark and terrifying
Add to this the sad fact that Cornell's otherwise beautiful campus used
to be principally landscaped with elm trees, which mostly perished in
the Dutch elm disease epidemic long long ago. A barren hilltop, wind,
snow, and ice, bad grades, loneliness, deep gorges... you get the
picture. There is nothing blacker than the nihilism of the hard left,
and therefore nothing more emotionally appealing to the castaways of
Ithaca, New York.
Does that help explain what you found on your visit, Michelle? (For the
rest of you, if you're still with us, this entry may also help you
understand what's up with Cornellian Keith
POSTSCRIPT. In her Ithaca entry, Michelle Malkin also included a sly
link to a post she liked but didn't want to openly endorse on her
website. It went here
to a disrespectful commentary about Maureen Dowd's feet. For the
record, InstaPunk noted this peculiar anatomical misfortune much earlier
as well as the possibility that Ms. Dowd suffers from body
It's just been pointed out to us that this is the 666th InstaPunk
entry. In honor of that milestone, we must give a definite nod to Harry
, First Babe of
the Boom, who reached another important milestone this year.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
. I was
struck yesterday by the venom of Tony Blankley's column
about the latest sellout of the Worstest Generation:
It was 30 years ago when Congress last
took the reigns of national war fighting. In August 1974, Richard Nixon
had been scandalized and left office. The November 1974 election
brought forth the "Watergate babies"; Congress filled with young
anti-war Democrats. One of the first actions of the Watergate Congress
was to vote to deny an appropriation of $800 million to pay for South
Vietnamese military aid, including ammunition and spare parts.
Historical records now reveal that five weeks after that vote, the
North Vietnamese started planning their final offensive.
The morale of the South Vietnamese was broken by that symbolic
congressional act of betrayal. The actual dollar cuts forced South
Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to abandon the Central Highland
in March 1975, leading to the collapse of our ally and the onset of
genocide and police-state brutalities that killed more Asians than all
the thousand days of the war did.
Now the Watergate babies have grown old — and age has not improved
them. They plan to finish their careers as they started them — in
defeatism, betrayal and national dishonor. Oh, that America might see
the last of these fish-eyed sacks of loathsome bile and infamy:
unwholesome in their birth; repugnant and stench-forming in their
Cool. It's rare that anyone sees through the illusory screen of
idealism that conceals the ugliness of the time known as the
Vietnam-Watergate era. When someone does penetrate the self-satisfied
mythology of the second American Revolution, it's a shock, even to
those of us who do remember its destructiveness. So much has been
invested in sanitizing its sins and excesses, so successfully, that
it's no wonder the beneficiaries of such a truly spectacular rewriting
of history would feel confident of their ability to do it again on the
fly, as they are doing now with their falsification of the run-up to
the Iraq War.
What's interesting about the current moment in time is that we have two
distinct rivers of nostalgia flowing through the terrain of American
liife. One is an elaborate artifice, artfully and professionally
crafted to flatter the egos of the most affluent and and powerful
demographic in the population. The other is authentic -- not the less
so because it is flagrantly imitative, crude, and nakedly unprincipled.
It would seem that there should be -- out there somewhere -- a
collision of some kind between the two, but that's not necessarily in
the cards. Something special would have to happen, which I can describe
but not confidently predict.
The strain of artificial nostalgia is largely, though not entirely, a
product of Madison Avenue. Who would ever have thought that the rebel
icons of sixties rock and roll would become the soundtrack of old
folks' conspicuous consumption? Cadillac uses Led Zeppelin to attract
bald, pot-bellied Baby Boomers to its 300-horsepower senior citizen
cruisers. Telephone, computer, and mortgage companies use the Rolling
Stones to sex up commodity products that have to be paid for by very
un-jetset parents. Watching commercials anymore is like tuning in to a
classic rock radio station -- a freeze-dried past thawed and re-fed to
us in a form that won't crack our increasingly fragile teeth. "Remember
when you were young and hip and alive? Let's all pretend we didn't lose
our souls somewhere along the way..." And if we take off our glasses,
we can still make believe that Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd and the
Who aren't old old men acting out a sad masquerade of teenage drama.
"Look at how much better they play than the twenty-something stars who
are still borrowing their best licks."
But it's a dangerous game to look too long at the younger generation.
They are versions of ourselves, after all. If the Baby Boomers were the
Me-Generation, it's interesting that their offspring are the
I-Generation ("X," "Y," and other nomenclatures notwithstanding), as
dedicated as their parents to foregoing reading and other
intellectually demanding chores in favor of a private musical universe
-- courtesy of I-Pod -- in which the whole world is a mere visual
montage accompanying their personal soundtracks.
Oddly for the sons and daughters of rebels, these kids aren't rebels.
They aren't even creative. They are shadows of their parents,
consumers, sheep. They still wear the uniform of youth designed almost
half a century ago, differently configured in some respects and more
expensive to be sure, but jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts with risque
writing on the front are only that when all is said and done. Their
affectations of hair and body art are so different from their parents
as to be evidently a pure function of that difference and thus a mere
inverted imitation, a failed attempt to shock those whose closets are
overflowing with shameful skeletons that are past blinking at tattooed
buttocks. They don't even wholly scorn their parents' music, but show
up at the latest McCartney extravaganza in their BMW-built neo-Beetles,
lacking only a McCarthy
them as the conformist children of conformist cowards.
Cowards? Conformist cowards? This brings us to the second great strain
of nostalgia, which has been generated through the anti-Bush anti-war
movement that began with the 2000 election. Anyone who actually
witnessed the public shenanigans of the anti-Vietnam War movement is
lying if he doesn't acknowledge the deadening familiarity of every
aspect of the leftist marches and demonstrations of the past few years.
The signs are the same -- obscene and scatological puns accompanied by
hysterically overwrought and underwhelming graphics. The people are the
same -- over-privileged, underwashed smirking adolescents from 18 to 60
years of age. The politics are the same -- rigid, hateful Marxist
paranoia tricked out as intellectual and moral superiority over those
who are too uneducated to see treason as virtue, cowardice as idealism,
and (now) anti-semitism as tolerance.
And for any kids out there who may have wondered what it was really
like in the days when college students stopped a war and iconoclastic
young journalists made a President resign, this is exactly what it was
like -- except that then there was a draft, which meant that the
streets were filled with a hundred times as many dirty self-centered
sheep, who made exactly as much sense as the followers of Cindy Sheehan
and moveon.org. Watergate was the long-awaited revenge for the fact
that they had ever had to worry about the draft. The political dirty
tricks of Richard Nixon were in this context beside the point. Their
hatred of him was exactly like the hatred you see of Bush, a murderous
tidal wave of pure emotion that needed only one small crack in the dike
to fulfill the dream of annihilation.
For the I-Generation, all this could catalyze an important insight,
even a point of departure. It probably won't, because you are your
parents' children, and those are long odds to overcome. Nevertheless,
the opportunity is there. It requires perceiving that the sixties and
seventies radicals so slavishly imitated by the leftist firebrands of
today don't occupy some zone of forever in the glamorous past. They are
still here with us today. They eventually put down their signs and set
out to make a nice living for themselves, which they are enjoying right
now, with scarcely a thought about the hundreds of thousands of
Southeast Asians who were killed, imprisoned, and tortured so that they
(or their boyfriends) wouldn't have to put on their country's uniform
and give something back. They are driving BMWs and Jaguars, they watch
Desperate Housewives and the Sopranos on TV, they are active
members of the AARP, they are executives, congressmen, the minority
leaders of the House and Senate, the Chairman of the Democratic
National Committee, the frontrunner for that party's next presidenial
nomination. They still listen to the music of their youth. They still
carry irrational hatreds, elaborate rationalizations for their
self-centered schemes, and they are prepared to be every bit as
unscrupulous as they were when they were smoking dope and screwing
strangers in the Woodstock mud. They are the same fat, lazy brats they
were then, and you will be just like them if you don't learn to
recognize that the hopes and dreams of millions of nameless foreigners
really can be worth the violent death of thousands of brave young
Americans. They will never learn that because they are still eighteen
themselves inside their dim sagging faces. But if you do learn it in
spite of them, you may attain to a wisdom your parents can't even
imagine. And you may save your souls to boot.
Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Blankley.
There are incredibly important exceptions to my indictment of the
younger generation, best exemplified by those who have volunteered to
protect our nation and to help realize the aspirations of other
is a post (h/t Hugh
) everyone should read all the way through; it is eloquent in
its simplicity and its images speak volumes about those to whom the
rest of us owe a tremendous debt. I have borrowed the photo below from
that site. I hope Michael Yon will forgive the transgression, but I
thought Instapunk readers might appreciate the reality that undergirds
the book of Forgers
of you are hard cases..."
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
A Reasonable Request
CALL TO ARMS
Democrats keep telling us how
offended they are that anyone would question their patriotism. They say
they love their country. They say they support the troops. A few modest
It's not supporting the troops to rant to the world press that all the
efforts -- and sacrifices -- of American troops in Iraq have been a
waste, an embarrassment, or a crime.
It's not loving your country to side with its enemies at every
opportunity, to root for it to fail, and to compare its mistakes with
the worst crimes against nations and peoples in recorded history.
It's not patriotic to equate a wrong decision, however wrong you feel
it was, with a deliberate deception from which no possible good effect
can result -- particularly when all the evidence demonstrates that the
overwhelming majority of politicians around the world believed the same
data as the supposed deceivers.
Now that the Democrat War Machine -- which is strictly a domestic
appliance -- is at full throttle on its mission to destroy the
nation's president, Republicans have every right to ask patriotic
Democrats to speak up on behalf of the troops, the country, and, yes,
the President. Everyone who paid any attention at all during the
buildup to the Iraq War knows -- deep in his heart of hearts -- that
there was every reason to believe Saddam had stockpiles of WMDs. No
mainstream politician doubted it, whether they agreed with the decision
to go to war or not. The Clinton administration had never doubted it.
And no one at the time ventured to explain why Saddam might be so
resistant to allowing UN weapons inspectors free rein if he didn't have
WMDs to hide. His policy made no sense. And that's how the intelligence
could have been so wrong. In the absence of proof that there were no
WMDs, not overthrowing Saddam was riskier than hoping he was sane. And
ask yourselves right now, with the full benefit of hindsight, is Saddam
sane? Or is he a reckless, cruel, and unpredictable maniac who could
never have been fully trusted or understood?
The current lynch mob mentality in the Democrat Party does no honor to
those of you who do really love our country. It's absurd to suppose
that you really would prefer to put Saddam back in power with all the
resources he once had at his disposal. It's impossible to believe that
the outcome you would most prefer is for American troops to come crawling
home in defeat from a war in which they lost no single battle, leaving
Iraq to the certain horrors of religious civil war and inevitable
tyranny by the most ruthless combatant. It's reasonable to believe that
all things considered, you would prefer to live in a world where
millions of moderate muslims had democratically elected governments
guaranteeing the same kinds of individual freedoms we Americans take
for granted. Yet defeat, humiliation, slaughter, and tyranny, with no real
possibility of the advance of human freedom, is the precise outcome
that is being sought by your leadership -- all for the narrow partisan
purpose of destroying the Bush presidency and Republican power in the
It is no betrayal to stand up against your party leadership when it
goes off the rails and disregards truth in the pursuit of power. It is,
rather, patriotism of a high order. In publicly denouncing the rhetoric
of Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy, Durbin, Schumer, Levin and all the other
Democrats in Congress who favor destruction over national unity, you do
not lose your future opportunity to oppose Bush policies and Republican
candidates. You have abundant room to argue that Republican decisions
have been wrong and damaging without tainting your own integrity.
Indeed, you are far more likely to earn credibility with the American
public by drawing a firm distinction between profound disagreement and
How many of you are there, really? Patriotic Democrats, I mean. Now is
your golden opportunity to show your colors. Write your senators and
congressmen. Tell them to put aside the Big Lie and support the troops
for real. There should be millions and
millions of you, enough to turn the tide. I fear, though, that your
cavalry looks more like this
Time will tell.