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November 20, 2005 - November 13, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005


Answering La Malkin

It's cold on them thar hill.

NOTHING NEW. 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.

The Isolation

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.

Depression

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 secret.

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 Olbermann.)

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 image problems generally.

ERRATA. 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


The I-Generation


MEMORIES. 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 decline.

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 sticker to brand 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.

UPDATE. 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 nations. Here is a post (h/t Hugh Hewitt) 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.


"Some 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 propositions:

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 Congress.

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 unscrupulous smear.

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.




Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Insurgents

Senators Bin Frist, Jahlil Warner, and Muhammed McConnell.

SENATORS. They're selling out the troops, the President, the American people, and the Iraqis who want to be free. Let'em have it. No quarter. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for the following contact information:

Senate Majority Leader Frist, (202) 224-3344, e-mail
Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, (202) 224-2541, e-mail
Armed Services Chairman John Warner, (202) 224-2023, e-mail

How disgusting can things get?




Sunday, November 13, 2005


THE CHOSEN -- Part II

Oh, stop it.

Eire 8 posted a long post in the summer of 2004 -- back when Failed Candidate Kerry was wriggling around with his vote to start the Iraq war. The question Eire 8 wanted answered -- which remains unasked and unanswered -- and the question that should be asked/answered now is this:

Why did they [Congress] cede their constitutional authority to such a man [President Bush] -- a man they speak of as if they never regarded him as fit for the role of commander-in-chief?

And the follow-up:

Why "PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION" seemed like such a great idea in 2002 and is such a dreadful idea now?

To these questions should be added: When will the resignations start?

Like De Niro in Casino said to the local in charge of the slot machines after a particular machine awarded three consecutive jackpots, "Either you were in on it or you were too dumb to see it coming -- either way, you're out." Note: Our memory of the scene plays much better than it does in the movie.

Read Eire 8's entire post for the details -- it's Sunday, afterall. And let's start to hear a cry for the resignations of these admitted incompetents.




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