Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
March 12, 2006 - March 5, 2006

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Little Nightmare

The Alien Exchange Program

PSAYINGS.5Q.52. It shouldn't matter. A new belief system is being born at at a site called It's a present-day phenomenon. Retired members of the Defense Intelligence Agency are incrementally releasing details of the most secret program ever run by the U.S. Government -- a 10-year visit by 12 highly trained U.S. military and scientific personnel to a planet in the Zeta Reticuli star system. The most recent posting was only a few weeks ago, and there are heavy promises of photographs to come. The website has been constructed by literate people who know when not to use an apostrophe in conjunction with the word 'it,' who have amassed confirming documentation from some of the more reputable (i.e., reputedly scientific, military, and intelligence-agency-connected) UFO researchers, and who have already acquired a radio and internet audience via persuasive performances on Art Bell's Coast-to-Coast radio show.

We've been known to listen to Art Bell. It's entertaining stuff. We learned there of the possibility of the death by laboratory-induced supernova of the entire universe, the certainty of a solar "killshot" that would extinguish life on earth by the year 2000, and the existence of a hole in the ground in the southwest where the screams of the damned in hell could be recorded on a cellphone.

Who cares, right? Crazy people like crazy stories, especially when they involve crazy conspiracies that paper over any perceived absence of the meaning of life. Only, we've had occasion to learn that crazy conspiracy theories have the power to wreck the lives of intelligent, curious, and estimable but gulliible people. There was once a site called Zetatalk, which purported to explain everything that had ever happened, including Atlantis and Christ, in terms of the arrival of a tenth planet which would destroy physical life on earth while catalyzing the transition to a fourth-dimensional state of being for those who were in "service to others" as opposed to "service to self." The site was amusing because it offered matter-of-fact explanations for EVERYTHING, including the lowdown on the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations, the fate of Noah's Ark, the truth of the Shroud of Turin, and the final judgment about the relative greatness of the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics versus the 1927 New York Yankees. (Athletics greater, of course.) The most interesting fact was that Jesus Christ was an alien from Zeta Reticuli who ultimately agreed to be put into a state of suspended animation from which he would answer the prayers of all earthlings in perpetuity.

It turns out that Zetatalk convinced lots of people to leave their homes and relatives forever in order to be ready for the arrival of Planet X, home of the aliens who were going to destroy earth and life as we know it -- except for the fact that Planet X doesn't exist, according to every reputable astronomer. Only the leader of Zetatalk, one Nancy Lieder, dared to challenge the pitiless logic of the astronomers, but a great many people followed her nonetheless and were personally annihilated when Planet X failed to show up on the predicted date a few years ago. You can read the unexpectedly moving story of her disciples here. Many of them lost homes, careers, and all their money because of Nancy Lieder's monomania, which still hasn't ended, because Zetatalk is still on the web.

While Nancy Lieder was leading her sheep to ruin, another star was rising. Laura Knight-Jadczyk discovered much the same alien threat, including the impending "fourth dimensional" transformation, by way of a Ouija Board that alerted her to the impending end of our existence and the beginning of her romantic relationship with a Polish physicist named Arkadiusz. Unfortunately, the more Laura learned about human history from the Ouija Board, the more she discovered that multiple alien races in command of time travel technology had destroyed the meaning of human history and existence. Moreover, her expertise at interpreting the Ouija Board, which eventually culminated in her receiving its channelled wisdom without actually consulting the board at all anymore, had made her a target for nefarious alien assassination plans that have to be defended against continuously. It's to Laura's considerable credit that she's been able to rewrite all of human history and culture in terms of her alien experience on the run -- on CDs and videotapes containing hundreds of thousands of words -- without charging more than a nominal fee to the followers of

Which makes it all the sadder that some of her followers came to regard her as something of another Nancy Lieder, although her siituation was never ever similar to Nancy's because Ark possessed more knowledge about the physics of the universe in his left thumb than Nancy ever dreamed of in her twice-mortgaged trailer. And that's a fact.

Too bad there was that terrible scandal about Laura and Ark absconding with funds from such devoted followers.

All right. Now you know why we're concerned. These alien fantasies bother us for several other reasons too. Seriously. We'd like to list them.

o   Scientists act as if they're best at exposing idiocy. It's true the science put forward in the Serpo Hoax is stupid, but the science is hardly the stupidest part of the story.  What IS stupid is having to read some astronomy major objecting to made up planetary orbital data involving equations when no equations and no astronomy are required to debunk the story. It makes science geeks look as dumb as they usually are.

o   The conspiracy nuts who make up these scenarios know nothing about social matters. Here's a description of alien civilization wriitten by a human "witness" whose writings are being published at the new hoax website:

There were leaders, but no real form of government. There was virtually no crime seen by the team. They had an army, which also acted as the police force. But no guns or weapons of any type were seen by our team. There were regular meetings within each small community. There was one large community, which acted as the central point of the civilization. All the industry was at this one large community. There was no money.

Every Eben was issued what they needed. No stores, malls or shopping locations. There were central distribution centers where Ebens went to obtain items of needs.

Right. The universe generally, and high civilization specifically, is inherently a leftist enterprise. Incredibly advanced cultures arise spontaneously from nothing, and (as in this case) even a few hundred thousand entities organized like communists can manage to develop the technology to explore the universe with no competition whatsoever, for no personal gain, without taking physical pleasure in it, and with no evident sign of interest or curiosity. Karl Marx was a lot smarter than we thought (but Darwin has some 'splaining to do). In addition, ALL alien vistors seem intent on taking credit for the life of Christ, as even the Serpo aliens do.

o   Conspiracy-minded hoaxsters (and their dupes) are too arrogant to understand that other people may be more sensible than than they are small-mindedly clever. Here's a sample of the mission log supposedly written by the Colonel who commanded the interstellar exchange program: [Bold-faced emphases are mine]

I was not going to allow the Ebens to counterman my decisions. When Ebe2 heard this, she told me to wait and placed her hand against my chest. I told her to translate that to the leader. Again, there were several minutes of word exchanges between the two. Ebe2 then stated that the leader would bring the doctor here to discuss the situation with us. Ebe2 asked me to please don't send your men for guns. Guns are not needed, we can settle this without guns. Please don't. I told Ebe2 that we would not get the guns but we would not leave until we saw 308's body. The leader did something with the communication device on his belt. About 20 minutes later, three Ebens showed up inside this building. One of the Ebens, who identified himself as a doctor and who spoke very good English. This doctor had a strange sounding voice, almost like a human's voice. This doctor did not have a high pitch accent, like Ebe1 and Ebe2. I was very impressed with this doctor. I just wonder where he has been for these past 18 months. We have never saw him before. This doctor told us that 308s body was not inside the container. The Ebens have done experiments with 308s body because they considered it an honor to have such a specimen to work with. The doctor told us they have used 308s body to create a type of cloned human being. I stopped the doctor at this point. I told the doctor that the body of my teammate was the property of the United States of America, planet Earth. The body did not belong to the Ebens. I did not authorized any experiments on the body of 308. I explained that humans consider a body to be religious. Only I could have authorized the use of 308s body for experiments. I demanded to see the body. This doctor explained the body was gone. This doctor said all the blood, body organs were taken out and used to clone other beings. The use of the word beings really scared me and the others. 899 became extremely angry. He called the doctor curse names. I ordered 899 to be quiet. I then told 203 to take 899 out of the building. I realized this matter could really blossom into a major incident. I could not allow that to happen. There were just eleven of us and we realized that if the Ebens wanted to imprison us or kill us, they could do it very easily. But I didn't think the Ebens would resort to such behavior. I was not going to allow this incident to advance into something worse. I realized there wasn't much we could do about what the Ebens have done with 308s body. Ebe2 looked very upset. Ebe2 told me that everyone should be nice, she repeated the word nice many times. Ebe2 did not want this matter to escalate. I kind of felt sorry for Ebe2. She was trying to mediate the matter. 203 suggested we return to our living quarters and have a team meeting. I told the leader that I did not want any further interference between whatever is left of 308s body and experiments. I pointed my finger towards the leader's face. Ebe2 translated, along with the doctor. The doctor, who was extremely straightforward, told me that nothing further would happen with the body, but advised me very little was left of the body. Ebe2 then told me the leader was concerned that we were upset. That we were their guests. That the leader was upset that we were offended. The leader did not wish to upset us and promised that nothing further would happen to the body. I thanked Ebe2 and had her rely that to the leader. We returned to out huts. Everyone was upset, especially 899. I told each member to calm down. I explained our situation, as if each team member didn't already realize it, that we were only eleven military personnel. We had no way of fighting the Ebens. We did not come 40 light years to start a war with the Ebens. A war we could not win. We could not even win a simple fist fight with the Ebens. Yes, maybe we could beat them up but what then. We have to realize out situation and act accordingly. I ordered each member to reconsider the situation and to except the facts about 308s body. I told 633 and 700 to investigate this cloning procedure with the English speaking Eben doctor. Lets get all the facts about what they did with the body and what we can find out about the body and the Ebens experiments with the body.

Bear in mind that we are talking about a human team consisting of the best of the best of the U.S. military being documented by their commander, a full colonel who is both willing to disappear from the official record forever AND who possesses special expertise in at least two scientific subjects. Obviously, such a man would display the emotional maturity of a 21st century cartoon dude, and he'd write and spell like a high-school drop-out. The only way one could possibly question the credibility of his account would be by nitpicking the details of his technical descriptions.

o   The name of this whole game is paranoia, and it preys on baby boomer generation fantasies about the limitless power and ruthlessness of a federal government that can't hide the stupidity of its illuminati-bred president but CAN conceal from the rest of us, in perpetuity, the existence of next-millennium technology, multiple waves of alien invasions, and the vast global conspiracy which transforms events like 9/11 and the Iraq War into sinister moves in a chess game between black ops fascists and nefarious extra-terrestrial civilizations. And, by the way, if you want the lowdown, send your check to Laura Knight-Jadczyk at the following address.

Did we forget to mention that the revelations about the Serpo Project are being threatened by black ops disinformation specialists? Well, they are. If you can wade through the compelling narration and the quibbles of brilliant scientific minds who can't quite keep up with Zeta Reticuli physics, you will eventually arrive at the page where the most sinister current events are being documented. Here is the terrifying threat that may prevent us all from learning the Truth:

An Important Announcement

On 25 February, this new page was created, featuring as its centerpiece a long, high quality and intellectually honest debate on all the major issues and questions raised by the Serpo disclosures, produced by a team of eight researchers on the Above Top Secret (ATS) Forum.

On 28 February, this was deleted from this page after it was discovered that each one of the many hundreds of links to the excellent debate there had been purposefully redirected by Above Top Secret to a completely different site which has been set up by them purporting to show that Project Serpo is a hoax.

Above Top Secret, as is now widely recognized by many people studying this story closely, have a clear agenda to debunk the story using any means accessible to them. These include the spreading of false information, personal attacks, threats, and withholding of any right of reply to false accusations. This reveals an extraordinary degree of bias and intolerance for genuinely informed debate... which begs an explanation.

At best, it shows up certain individuals in Above Top Secret as possessing an agenda which grossly discredits their intellectual honesty. At worst, Above Top Secret may be a COINTELPRO (Counter-intelligence) project, sponsored by agencies within the United States Government who wish to track, control and influence the thinking of citizens concerned about government secrets and their consequences.

This is a serious possibility, and intelligent and informed visitors are encouraged to do their own research. The connection with Project Serpo is that such has been the irrational vitriol focused against the Serpo story and Bill Ryan personally that many observers have concluded that there is something else going on entirely.

Project Serpo seems to have been instrumental in flushing out this predisposition for foul play in an arena which many had hitherto believed to be unblemished.

For a comprehensive discussion on how and why Above Top Secret could be a counter-intelligence operation, please click here:

Ironically, Above Top Secret's watchword is "Deny Ignorance". Visitors now reading this page, interested in researching the Serpo story, are left to conclude for themselves what motives Above Top Secret may have for denying citizens access to even-handed and intelligent debate... instead deliberately substituting this with information that is false.

Yeah. We know. It's all too stupid to believe. Too stupid for anyone to believe. But there are people out there who do believe it. People a lot like you, who loved Star Trek and the X-Files and the DaVinci Code and the war-for-oil conspiracies elaborated at But it's worth asking, what is our individual and collective responsibility regarding the conspiracy con men of the internet? Is it okay that they suck up the money and lives of countless gullible people? Or is it appropriate now and then for us to take note of their cold-blooded sociopathic schemes to defraud the credulous among us?

We apologize if we've wasted your time. But we'll leave you with the following images. These are people to be avoided, even if you don't have the stomach for participating in their capture and imprisonment.

Nancy and Laura

Ark and the Alien

Sorry for the interruption.

Friday, March 10, 2006

What's the Problem?

Media Bias?

S.O.P. Neal Boortz and Michelle Malkin seem cross about a recent Reuters photo of Vice President Dick Cheney. Honestly, we don't know what they're talking about. He looks like his usual self to us. Maybe more so.

If you know, please explain it to us.

UPDATE. Oh, now we get it. The original backdrop for the pic was about setting money aside for old age, not mid-east foreign policy:

Reuters must have some pretty clever computer graphics editors.

UPDATE 2. We still think everyone should relax. It's not like this hasn't happened before. To Cheney. You'll see. There will be just as simple an explanation for this little mistake as there was last time.

The Odd Couple?

Howard Stern and Sean Hannity

. The self-congratulating conservative prig and the self-indulgent adolescent pig. It's not really the mystery that it seems. Of course, Hannity's most devoted fans are nonplussed to hear him defend and promote Stern after years of  (ugh) self-inflating bombast about his own goody-two-shoes morality. The truth is, Hannity and Stern have more in common than not. The cord that binds them is radio, which is what they both live for in their arrested state of development. One has a demonic schtick, the other a holier-than-thou schtick, but there's no one too low on their personal moral scales for either of them to talk to on the air. Stern at least is honest about his pandering, while Hannity is annoyingly disingenuous. If his moral compass were truly oriented the way he claims it is, there'd be no need -- or even excuse -- for him to continue interviewing Al Sharpton, Charlie Rangel, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and a dozen other corrupt lefties he regularly invites onto his show. Limbaugh doesn't interview politicians except on very rare occasions, largely because he doesn't need to, but also because he despises their song-and-dance routine of lies, misrepresentations, and scripted talking points. Hannity sails in fresh every time, endlessly repeating his own mantra of set phrases (evil empire, etc) while denouncing his guests for theirs. It's political vaudeville. Or is it burlesque? Hmmm.

Hannity and Stern are radio whores. They're very good at it, and they have millions of loyal and affectionate listeners. But nobody should take either of them too seriously or become personally fond of them. It doesn't compute. No matter what they claim to value, today's radio show will always come first. Stern has been through his share of personal scandals, and Hannity has still to experience his. But the clock is ticking. In the studio. Where he lives.

No hard feelings. Long may they wave.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We will survive.

A role model for the right

A MATTER OF TRUST. This isn't about giving up. It's about being realistic. Republicans in Congress and the electorate are turning their backs on the President in droves for what seem to them very good reasons. They're mad about the Dubai Ports deal, either because they're frightened of the Arabs or disgusted by the administration's incompetent PR performance. They're sick of all the excessive spending and the President's very belated and lame request for a bandaid called the line-item veto. They're mad about illegal immigration, which continues in an unabated flood because of the administration's refusal to stop pandering to the Hispanic vote.  They're weary of the war and what appears to be the declining resolve of the Bush administration to answer opportunistic critics or to take the bold new steps needed to defuse the powder keg of Iran. They're embarrassed by all the corruption in Congress, and, yes, the Dems are corrupt too, but so are the Republicans.

All this negative emotion is building to the usual self-destructive behaviors by conservatives. Of all times, now is not the time to pull abortion to center stage and polarize the electorate with a premature assault on Roe v. Wade. So, of course, that's exactly what the social conservatives are in the process of doing. Now is not the time for mainstream conservatives to suddenly start paying attention to the tired old isolationist rhetoric of paleo-conservatives like Buchanan and Buckley. They have nothing new to say, so, of course, bewildered Republicans of all stripes will be finding their antique restatements of the Monroe doctrine incredibly compelling. Now is not the time for Republicans across the country to sit on their hands while the Democrats whale away at the President in order to regain control of the House in the 2006 elections, so, of course, that's what they will do.

Fine. All these are time-honored behaviors and Democrats are much more practiced at putting up with ideological compromises within their own ranks for the sake of being in power. Many Republicans, on the other hand, prefer the convenient ideal of simply being right, win or lose, and especially lose. That's their call.

The only point I'm going to make is that if Republicans do sit on their hands in the upcoming election campaign, the Democrats will win a majority in the House of Representatives. And if they win the House, there is no question whatsoever that they will impeach the President of the United States and paralyze American foreign policy for at least two years. The Iraq war effort and the War on Terror will fall apart. Iran will bluster its way past Europe and the U.N. to realize its nuclear ambitions. And no nation in the middle east or in the broader muslim world will believe the United States has the will to back up its diplomacy with anything but more words.

Is that okay with you? We will survive it all -- the humiliations, the foreign and domestic defeats, the Islamist advances and takeovers, the hideous vindictiveness of a controlling party consumed by hatred rather than ennui. We may eventually undo the decades of damage such a two years will wreak upon us. We'll muddle through it, the way we always do. All I'm asking is whether you're ready yet, or not. It's a lot of fun being mad at George W., and by all means continue, but make sure you're comfortable with the image of him being thrown out of office and possibly into prison as well. When the hate juggernaut gets truly up and running, it has considerable momentum and isn't easy to stop. And most of them won't want to stop until the devastation is complete.

If you're not quite ready yet, here's a little instructional program that will help you. Focus on each little step, and pretty soon you'll quit worrying about everything else. It's really simple and easy when you get the hang of it.

Have fun.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Ace Countdown

Three kills and counting...

PSAYINGS.5Q.78. Three times now in recent weeks, Hugh Hewitt has had one of the guests on his radio show hang up on him. We wouldn't be tracking this statistic for Sean Hannity, who gets hung up on fairly frequently for his loud, blustering style. Hugh Hewitt is a very gentlemanly fellow, though, and when someone bangs down the phone in his ear it's because he has found a line of questioning the guest doesn't want to respond to or can't respond to without giving something vital away. Here at InstaPunk we call that a "kill," and though we're sure Hugh would never approve, we think it would be fun to keep count.

First to dive into the weeds was CNN's Washington correspondent Ed Henry, who thought his Messerschmidt would be more than a match for Hugh's P-51. It didn't turn out that way: Mr. Henry grew more and more distraught at Hugh's questioning of policies and practices at CNN throughout the interview, then finally took a mortal hit in his engine about here:

HH: Okay, let me ask you, Ed. Are you a liberal or a conservative?

EH: I'm sorry?

HH: Are you a liberal or a conservative?

EH: I'm neither. I think my reporting is pretty obvious that I'm independent.

HH: Did you vote for John Kerry?

EH: I, like I say, I'm independent.

HH: Well, did you vote in the presidential election?

EH: I'm strictly independent, and I think my coverage shows it.

HH: But...

EH: Thanks for inviting me on, Hugh.

HH: But Ed, is that not a relevant question to ask?

EH: Again, Hugh, I'm already late for a meeting. We've gone through two segments. I'm sorry that we've continued beyond into a third.

HH: And so, you don't want to answer just that very basic question before you leave?

EH: Again, we were talking about the Alito coverage.

HH: I know, but I think the Alito coverage...

EH: I appreciate you inviting me on.

HH: I think the Alito coverage represents a left of center opinion that you embrace.

EH: Right.

HH: Am I wrong?

EH: Again, thanks for inviting me on, Hugh. I really appreciate the time.

HH: And so you're going to hang up and walk away?

EH: I'm...again, you know, it's unfortunate that you told me it was going to be two segment, and now you've...I'm late...

HH: But Ed, you told me it was going to be the top of the hour, right? You told me from 5-5:30, which is a total of 18 minutes of air time, which we're going to cover in these three segments.

EH: Okay. Thanks again, Hugh. I appreciate the invite.

HH: You don't want to talk about your own political...

EH: (click)

HH: He hung up. He hung up. CNN hangs up. CNN hangs up. And that's CNN. That is my point. Now let me give you the background. We booked him yesterday, and he cancelled. And we booked him today, and he tried to cancel. And so I said wait a minute, you said...and I cleared it, and I promoted it, at 5:00, from 5:00 to 5:30, and Ed Henry said yes. And then today, he said no. And I said wait a minute, you can't say no. I've done this, I've cleared the show. And then I said come back for a third segment, and he didn't say no, and he comes back, and he doesn't want to answer hard questions, because that's CNN.

Second to go down in flames was the admittedly disturbed Helen Thomas, who maintains the delusion that she is regarded as an objective journalist. Trying to defend this absurd pretense on the radio got her into trouble right away, and she began fleeing at top speed. The climax was reached when Hugh swung the P-51 around on her tail and politely gunned her down:

HH: Why don't you like George Bush?

HT: I don't like people who want a war.

HH: And you just think he really just decided to go to war...and is Iraq better off today than it was four years ago?

HT: No. Watch...I want you to read...I want you to look at these pictures of these detainees and prisoners of war. And you will really be so disturbed. Why don't you...

HH: What did we do?

HT: Why don't you look at the pictures and call me back, okay?

HH: No, but Helen, before I let you go, I want to know why do you think Iraq is worse off today than it was four years ago? What was Saddam doing to his people?

HT: Should they be the grateful dead? A hundred thousand dead? Wounded? Should all of the people we have killed, Americans, dead? Should they be happy? I mean, what are you talking about? Did you enlist?

HH: I'm asking...

HT: Are you going to be recruited?

HH: I'm asking, Helen, if you think Saddam was good for Iraq?

HT: Of course not.

HH: Okay.

HT: But I don't think it was right to go in and to kill thousands of people.

HH: Do you think he would have killed even more...

HT: No.

HH: ...and that there would have been any free elections?

HT: No, no. I think that we brought it on, and we have really killed thousands. And I don't know how you can face that fact and look in the mirror.

HH: And what would have happened to the Oil For Food program if Saddam had not been removed?

HT: Look, are you...I'm talking about human beings. Why don't you try to think of the people you've killed. All of us. It's all on our hands.

HH: Helen, again, I think it was a good thing...

HT: I'm so sorry that you don't care about people who've been slained, thousands and thousands. I mean, worry about them.

HH: What about...

HT: They can't vote.

HH: Helen...

HT: Okay, goodbye.


HH: I lost her. Oh, well. Ed Henry and Helen Thomas. We'll return shortly.

The third victim was pollster James Zogby, who was trying to perpetrate a methodologically and ideologically skewed poll result regarding U.S. troops in Iraq. After they both cleared their guns, there was some preliminary ducking and dodging about all the poll particulars Zogby refused to discuss, and then Zogby thought he could stop the whole dogfight in mid-air:

JZ: You know what, Hugh? Where are you going with this?

HH: I'm trying to figure out whether it should be trusted, John.

JZ: I am a very patriotic American, and did a poll objectively...

HH: Of course you are. John...

JZ: I said that there are security reasons that we're not going to get into this.

HH: John, why would a...

JZ: Talk to the Vice President of the United States if you want to.

HH: Why would the identity of the military man who asked you to talk about this be a security issue?

JZ: Because I don't like your attitude, Hugh. Do you want to talk about the results?

HH: No, I want to get...

JZ: Is there something with the poll that troubles you?

HH: Yes, there's a lot. Why were no demographics released?

JZ: All the demographics were indeed released, Hugh.

HH: Okay.

JZ: All of the demographics were released.

HH: How many of these...

JZ: You see, you've got to harden your facts before you harden your mind.

HH: Where is the racial and ethnic...

JZ: We released all of the demographics, all of them.

HH: Where are the racial and ethic groups statistics put forward?

JZ: All the racial characteristics, the know what, Hugh?

HH: Are those on your website?

JZ: I'm going to make an agreement with you right now. You get yourself better informed on this poll, and I'll come back on your show.

HH: John, I've got your entire thing here. You have not released the demographics.

JZ: You are clearly uninformed.

HH: You have not released the demographics.

JZ: (click)

HH: You have not...he hung up. He hung up. That's John Zogby, not a pollster.

Many thanks to the Radioblogger website for posting the complete transcripts. We'll be back at you with more air-to-air combat as it happens.

UPDATE 3/21/06. Helen Thomas has struck again, this time at thw President, and she went down in flames just like she did with Hugh. For those who are marvelling at the moonbattery surrounding the third anniversary of the War in Iraq, you won't want to miss this completely different perspective on "unacceptable" U.S. casualties.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Helping Hand

A former CNN anchor updating his resume

THE AWFUL TRUTH. We can't help feeling bad for Aaron Brown, the brilliant former anchor of CNN's News Night with Aaron Brown. He was perfect for the job, which really couldn't have been adequately hosted by any small sharp-faced mammal whose name wasn't Aaron Brown. He did what was expected of him and yet he still got fired. No wonder he's still agonizing about what went wrong and why he lost his place in the sun. The good news is, he's figured out who's to blame: Fox News, Natalee Holloway, and all of us:

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown has suggested that television viewers are responsible for the deterioration of broadcast news as much as the TV networks themselves.  "In the perfect democracy that I believe TV news is, it's not enough to say you want serious news, you have to watch it," he told an audience in Medford, OR this week. As reported by the Medford Mail Tribune, Brown, speaking to a First Amendment forum, noted that while CNN was spending a fortune covering the 2004 tsunami, Fox News was channeling its resources into the missing teenager Natalee Holloway. The contest, he noted, was won hands down by Fox. The result, he suggested, was not lost on his former employer, CNN. "The news in this country is a business," he said. "You might not like to think of it that way, but it is." He suggested that television, instead of being diverted by scores of late-breaking trivial stories, ought to focus on the 6-10 "really important stories" that occur each day.

It was because CNN spent so much money covering the tsunami that they could no longer afford to pay the greatest newsman in the country his salary, which would have been a lot higher in the first place in the ideal world in which news is not a business, but a kind of priesthood led by a handful of geniuses who have the brains to tell the rest of us what we should think about everything.

When he lays it on the line like that, it makes us feel guilty. We know we should have been soaking up Aaron Brown's wisdom instead of watching Greta slogging through the landfills of the Caribbean looking for headlines and missing blondes. But we were bad. We ignored Aaron, sometimes for years at a time. We'd like to make it up to him. Here's our best shot.

Somebody as drily acerbic and intellectual as Aaron Brown probably doesn't know how to blow his own horn enough. We suspect his resume needs a touch-up, a kind of "greatest hits" roundup of his deftest observations about the news. So we did some googling and came up with an array of material  he might like to incorporate into his curriculum vitae. First up is this brief summary from Wikipedia:

Aaron Brown (born November 10, 1948 in Hopkins, Minnesota to Jewish immigrants from Russia) is the former host of NewsNight with Aaron Brown on the television network CNN.

Aaron Brown is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota. He dropped out after his freshman year to work at a local radio station and never returned.

Brown has over twenty-six years of experience in journalism and was CNN's lead anchor during breaking news. He also hosted "CNN Presents," a documentary series, and was co-anchor during election coverage.

Prior to working at CNN Brown was the anchor for ABC's ABC World News Now, and also did anchoring duties at both KIRO-TV (CBS) and KING-TV (NBC) in Seattle.

That's all you really need in the way of hard facts. The rest of the content should be devoted to illuminating the incredible insight, integrity, and objectivity of his reporting. That's why we (and he) are so lucky that the Media Research Council has been collecting direct quotes by the great man for several years now -- available via their search function. Here are our nominations for topics and punchlines Aaron should set before potential employers in his job search.

About the victims of Hurricane Katrina

“I don’t know if it’s race or class, to be honest....You do get the feeling that poor people in the country get shafted.... Do you think black America’s sitting there thinking, ‘If these were middle class white people, there’d be cruise ships in New Orleans?’...Do you think the reason that they’re not there or the food is not there or the cruise ships aren’t there or all this stuff that you believe should be there, [and] isn’t there, is a matter of race and/or class?”
— Aaron Brown to Democratic Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones on CNN’s NewsNight, September 2, 2005

Yes, of course. Politicians in this country can't wait to not do anything for poor black people. It gets them such great press when Jesse shows up on the doorstep screaming "Racism!" Aaron's Murrow-like sagacity about such low political motives is probably one of the strongest levees we have against a terrible flood of right-wing racism.

Rove criticizes Democrats, Durbin compares U.S. troops to Stalin & Pol Pot

“The Washington Times: ‘Rove’s mockery of 9/11 liberals riles Democrats.’ Karl Rove making, I thought, some silly comments in a week of silly comments, with the dumb Dick Durbin comments for which he apologized. Mr. Rove will not apologize, I guarantee you.”
— CNN’s Aaron Brown going through the next day’s newspaper headlines on NewsNight, June 23. 2005

This one shows that Aaron has mastered journalistic math, which features equations like (2,000 casualties = 60,000 casualties) and (100 million murdered = 535 criticized). Also (100 million < 535) if the Democrat on the lefthand side of the equation mumbles a half-assed apology while the righthand side stands mute.

The WMD Mantra

“Long ago, the principal argument for the war, weapons of mass destruction, proved wrong — they didn’t exist. Everyone knows that now, even if we aren’t exactly sure how the intelligence service and the administration got it so wrong. One answer comes in the so-called ‘Downing Street memo’ written by a British intelligence official who says the WMD threat was deliberately exaggerated to sell the war. Neither the President nor the British Prime Minister would acknowledge that — how could they? — but the memo is out there, along with the two allies today, side by side by side.”
— Aaron Brown on CNN’s NewsNight, June 7, 2005

Here, Aaron produces a pretty little cornucopia of journalistic talents: convenient misremembering of the recent past, restatement of an oft-repeated but debatable supposition as a proven fact, and the presentation of a partisan charge as if there were no reason of any kind to dispute it. All wrapped in the most perfectly superior tone. God, what a talent.

On Mark Felt identifying himself as Deep Throat

“I want to spin that in an absolutely heroic way, that what actually he saw happening was the political side of Washington trying to take control of an institution with enormous power that needs to operate outside of whoever is in government at any given time....I don’t know, ‘hero,’ that’s not a word I throw around. But it just looking at the landscape at the time, what Washington was like, it does make a kind of moral sense to me.”
— Aaron Brown discussing Felt’s role as a Washington Post informant on CNN’s NewsNight, May 31.2005

It's always cool when journalists presume to possess moral sense. It's kind of like snipers and hitmen waxing eloquent about the surpassing virtue of good marksmanship. You're so impressed at the misdirection that you almost forget the underlying question. What would constitute a hero to a Washington journalist? Go, Aaron!

On the Plight of Poor, Poor John Kerry

“Okay, time to do morning papers....Stars and Stripes starts it off: ‘U.S. Troops Control Most of Fallujah,’ the headline. ‘U.S. Officials Believe Most Insurgents Have Fled the City.’ Look at this picture here, if you can. ‘Troops’ Bravery Honored in Iraq.’ These are all Purple Heart winners. Someday, one of them will run for President and someone will say they didn’t earn the Purple Heart. Welcome to America.”
— CNN’s Aaron Brown on the November 10 2004 NewsNight displaying a front-page photo of a line of U.S. troops in Iraq receiving their medals.

Maureen Dowd is the queen of shoehorning large-scale (and frequently tragic) stories  into cocktail party metaphors for the purpose of scoring catty points against her political foes. No one can hope to best her at this signature device, but every  mainstream journalist has to demonstrate basic competence in this skill. Aaron has.

Kerry vs. Bush military records

“One guy went to Vietnam and the other guy didn’t. The guy who went most likely could have avoided going, but didn’t. The guy who didn’t go made it clear he had no interest in fighting a war he says he supported. To the extent that any of this matters all these years later — and I’m not sure any of it does — that’s really it.”
— Aaron Brown on CNN’s NewsNight, September 8. 2004

The artful summation is what broadcast journalists really get paid for. You've got to know what to include (one side), what to leave out (the other side), and how to take credit for the elegant simplicity of your misrepresentations. Nobody can say Aaron doesn't excel at artful summations.

On the Kerry fundraiser at which Whoopi Goldberg compared GWB to her vulva

“I don’t know about this as a front page story, we could argue about whether it’s news or not: ‘Republicans question Kerry’s “heart and soul;” Cite vulgar remarks at concert attended by him.’ There was an event in New York yesterday. Got a little crazy. Anyway, I’m not sure it’s front page. But it’s their paper and they get to do what they want.”
– CNN anchor Aaron Brown previewing the next day’s Washington Times on the July 9 2004 NewsNight, which did not otherwise mention the Democratic fundraiser.

The news is what mainstream journalists say it is. Many simply ignore events they don't wish to anoint as news. A brilliant few actually go out of their way to ridicule events that look like news to their less talented competitors. Aaron is one of those brilliant few. All together now: Whoopi!

Countering the charge of right-wing bias in journalism

“Is it, do you think, I mean this is a criticism that we get a lot, particularly from the Left, that we in the media generally have not been aggressive enough in reporting on bad news and that we have been too willing to accept the administration’s message on good news?”
— CNN anchor Aaron Brown to former CBS and NBC correspondent Marvin Kalb, now a senior fellow with Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, on the May 11 2004 NewsNight.

Playing it straight down the middle is the Holy Grail of journalism. Wait. That's not right. Convincing your audience that you're playing it straight down the middle is the Holy Grail of journalism. Any way you can. In this quest, Aaron Brown is Sir Galahad.

On Bush campaign strategy

“The best defense is a good offense, they say, and the Bush campaign seems to be buying. On a week when the President and Vice President will go before the 9/11 commission, on a week when the Supreme Court will hear a case to open the records of the Vice President’s energy task force and, on a week that will end on May 1, the anniversary of the President’s speech declaring major combat over in Iraq, the Vice President took to the stump today to say John Kerry’s judgment on national security is questionable....It is a somewhat strange set of circumstances that 33-year-old questions are being asked of a candidate who volunteered to go to Vietnam and served with distinction, however briefly.”
– Aaron Brown on CNN’s NewsNight, April 26. 2004

The broadcast journalist lives in the arena of the spoken word, which opens up opportunities not quite as available to print journalists and pundits. One of these is the smooth non-sequitur, that combination of statements in a sequence that seems to make sense but does nothing of the kind. In the example above, Aaron pulls off the astounding feat of using the exact same illogic for his own purposes that he is falsely accusing the President of using for campaign purposes. Don't see it yet? Read it all the way through again. When Aaron declares it "strange" that "33-year-old questions are being asked," he is implying that Bush's stated doubts about Kerry's national security credentials are based on Kerry's Vietnam War record rather than his presidential campaign rhetoric and his votes in the Senate. The Bush campaign never said any such thing. So what is it that's really "strange" here? That it's Aaron who is defending Kerry's national security credentials, not with reference to his contemporary political record, but with an historical artifact he himself has just deemed an irrelevancy, that the senator "volunteered to go to Vietnam and served with distinction." It's beautifully done and proof positive that Aaron belongs in the front rank of broadcast journalists.

On Howard Dean

“The Dallas Morning News leads politics. ‘A New Dean or the Old One? Candidate’s Ultra-Liberal Label May Peel Back to Reveal Moderate Bent.’ In fact, I think Dr. Dean is more moderate than ultra-liberal, and so do a lot of other people. But I’ll probably get in trouble from conservatives for saying that.”
– CNN’s Aaron Brown previewing selected articles from the next day’s newspapers, January 22, 2004 NewsNight.

We've shown you that Aaron is schooled in numerous sophisticated journalistic techniques. But technique must go hand-in-hand with good old-fashioned political acumen. How might our recent history have turned out differently if Aaron hadn't been so perceptive about the essential moderateness of Howard Dean? It sends a chill down your spine, doesn't it?

On Global Warming

“Once upon a time, a scientist named Galileo said the Earth was round, and the political leaders of the time said, ‘No, no, Galileo it’s flat,’ and Galileo got life under house arrest for his little theory. Today, the vast majority of scientists will tell you the Earth is getting warmer and most would agree that industry is at least in part to blame. So far nobody’s gone to jail for saying that, which doesn’t mean the idea isn’t squarely at the center of a political dust up – and not an insignificant one at that because, if the charges leveled against the White House are true, an important environmental question is being twisted or ignored for the sake of politics.”
– CNN’s Aaron Brown on NewsNight, June 19.2003 Galileo was actually punished by the Catholic Church for saying the Earth revolves around the sun.

The casual observer might not think so, but journalists have to know a lot of stuff, even about science and things like that. It's where they get all those brilliant comparisons they make to explain the truth to dummies like you and me. Yeah, Aaron's not going to get an A+ for the Galileo part of his comparison, which didn't come out completely 100 percent right, but he has to know more about Global Warming than he does about Galileo, doesn't he? It's been on TV and in all the papers, and you know he reads the papers. Or the headlines anyway.

On Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction

“Rush Limbaugh has been more than a bit unkind to me more than once. He’s also been unkind to Al Franken, who in turn has been unkind to him. He’s taken shots at Michael Wolff, New York magazine’s media critic and Michael is hardly the retiring sort. So, here we all are, Al, Michael, and me, and the subject is Rush – made worse, no doubt, by the permanent smirk that seems to be attached to my face.”
– CNN’s Aaron Brown on the October 10 2003 NewsNight after Limbaugh announced he was seeking treatment for an addiction to prescription pain medicine.

Goodness and fairness are important too. It wasn't nice for Rush Limbaugh to do things like repeat some of the quotes we've been reviewing here, which means -- if you poseess the exquisite moral sense of an Aaron Brown -- that it's perfectly right and proper to smirk at the very public personal troubles of Rush Limbaugh. In fact, if your'e good enough and fair enough, it's practically mandatory to smirk, and make cruel jokes, and express every kind of delight in your erstwhile adversary's misfortune. After all, everyone's only human. Except Rush Limbaugh, of course.

On Schwarzenegger's repeal of the California automobile tax

“With a stroke of the pen he cost the state tens and tens of millions of dollars in that car tax money.”
– CNN’s Aaron Brown on the November 17 2003 NewsNight.

There are certain inviolable commandments about life. Even for journalists. One of these is that all the money generated by a capitalist system really belongs to the government, which means that personal income is the amount of money the government generously allows you to keep, and any cut in taxes is to be counted an intolerable cost to the government. What can we say? Aaron Brown is a devout journalist.

On the Ten Commandments controversy in Alabama

“A number of things have been is that this is, in some respects, a replay of what we saw in Alabama a generation and a half ago, when the Governor defied a federal court order on segregation, which he said was unlawful. Can you tell me why you view this as different, if in fact you view it as different, from what Governor Wallace did?”
– CNN’s Aaron Brown to to Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who would not remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the state’s Supreme Court building, on NewsNight, Aug. 20.

We said certain commandments. These are not to be confused with the Ten Commandments, which are the last refuge of evil segregationists, as everyone knows. Well, journalists know it anyway. At least, Aaron Brown does. Thank God.

On the heinous murder of Uday and Qusay

“Why not wait ‘em out, starve ‘em out? Try and take ‘em alive as opposed to engaging in this gun battle? Once they had ‘em surrounded and cornered, they weren’t going anywhere.”
– CNN’s Aaron Brown to retired General David Grange on NewsNight, July 23.

Well, one of the Ten Commandments is probably okay. The one about not killing, especially if the ones we're talking about killing are sworn enemies of the United States of America who have raped and tortured and murdered thousands of people under cover of our network's deal to give them favorable press as long as we get to hang out at the palace with them. What ordinary American idiots don't know, of course, is that Uday and Qusay weren't such bad guys when you got to know them, and much more entertaining to dine with than that cowboy criminal in the White House. Uh, where were we? Right. Killing. It's very very bad. And probably just another political cover-up.

On the African uranium deal
Aaron Brown: “There is, as you know, a story that’s been circulating on the Web today that there was at some point a conversation between the President and a CIA consultant where the consultant directly told the President that this African uranium deal was bogus. Do you have any reporting that supports the idea that the President was directly told it was fake before he included it in the State of the Union speech?”
David Ensor: “I have no way to confirm that story, and it is somewhat suspect I would say, but we’ll have to check it.”
– Exchange on CNN’s NewsNight on July 9. The Internet news site which originated the story had acknowledged it was a hoax and published a complete retraction four hours before Brown repeated the charge on his newscast.

Speaking of cover-ups, a journalist always has to be on the alert (a la Dan Rather) for the story that is being suppressed just because it's false when everybody who is anybody knows it's really true, or sort of true, or should be true, because it would make such a damn good story. And that's journalism in a nutshell, which is where you can always find the mind of an Aaron Brown.

On the Wellstone Funeral

“I find myself at exactly the right place for a reporter tonight. I’m annoyed at both political parties, and you can’t be more fair and balanced than that. Last night’s event in Minneapolis – calling it a memorial insults the dead – was totally tasteless....Equally shameless has been the reaction received here. There may in fact be non-partisans upset with the event, they may in fact exist. They did not make themselves known in our in-box today. Instead, what we received was a series of identical letters....I don’t mean thematically identical; I mean literally identical. Word for word....So here is what last night proved: One side can be tasteless and the other side has the computer skills to cut and paste under the guise of genuine outrage. Which is worse? To me it’s a tie.”
– Anchor Aaron Brown’s “Page Two” commentary at the start of CNN’s NewsNight, October 30.2002

Yes, we remember the Wellstone funeral too. No matter how long we live, we will NEVER get over the ugliness of the fact that Republicans objected to it and had the unmitigated gall to communicate their objections to the mass media via boilerplate language. It was unspeakable then, it's unspeakable now, and it represents a permanent dishonoring of the memory of Paul Wellstone. And the Democrats shouldn't have done what they did either, like Aaron pointed out.

On (Saint) Jimmy Carter

“There is hardly a troubled place in the world he hasn’t visited, worked in, in a quest to bring peace and spread democratic values....Jimmy Carter told Larry King today he is slowing down some, cutting back. Age makes globe-trotting especially hard. But in many places, dusty and difficult places, James Earl Carter has brought hope and dispelled, as well as anyone alive these days, the vision of the ugly American.”
– Aaron Brown on CNN’s NewsNight, October 11.2002

Great men. It takes one to know one. And Aaron Brown is one for the ages.

This brings us full circle. We began by imagining journalism as a sort of priesthood instead of a grubby business under the thumb of the entertainment industry, and we've arived at the kind of larger-than-life role model that a man like Aaron Brown has always done his best to live up to. In the process, we've learned much. As the materials we've assembled demonstrate, Aaron Brown is simply too good for the news business as it is practiced by for-profit corporations. That's why we think he should mail his updated resume to the NPR/PBS combine, where they must be seeking a replacement for spiritual leaders like Bill Moyers (retired, awaiting canonization) and Daniel Schorr (awaiting retirement but possibly immortal). He'd be a good fit there. In our opinion. But what do we know? We're only human.

Democrats in Distress

Pelosi and Reid are struggling to figure it out.

WE HAD THE ANSWER IN JUNE 2005. Even the Washington Post has finally noticed that the Democrats don't have any idea what they're for:

The conflict goes well beyond Capitol Hill. The failure of congressional leaders to deliver a clear message has left some Democratic governors deeply frustrated and at odds with Washington Democrats over strategy...

There is no agreement on whether to try to nationalize the congressional campaign with a blueprint or "contract" with voters, as the Republicans did successfully in 1994, or to keep the races more local in tone....

By the time the election rolls around, people are going to know where Democrats stand," Reid said.

But many in the party have their doubts. On Feb. 27, Reid and Pelosi appeared before the Democratic Governors Association. At one point in the conversation, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, noting that the two leaders had talked about a variety of themes and ideas, asked for help. Could they reduce the message to just two or three core ideas that governors could echo in the states?

According to multiple accounts from those in the room, Reid said they had narrowed the list to six and proceeded to talk about them. Pelosi then offered her six -- not all the same as Reid's. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said later: "One of the other governors said 'What do you think?' and I said 'You know what I think? I don't think we have a message.' "

We hate to say we told you so. But we did. We even wrote up a Democrat Contract with America here. It's still the best summary of what they stand for and where they'll take the country if they regain power. And we're still offering it for free. So here it is. Again.

Best wishes from all of us here at InstaPunk.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Boola Boola

The newest Yalie lifts a glass to his beloved Bulldogs.

MORE LINKS IN THE CHAIN. The continuing collapse of the Ivy League into self-hating dementia is chronicled in two good articles today.

John Fund describes the circumstances surrounding the matriculation of Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi at Yale. We'll only quote the beginning, but it's all worth reading.

Are there no limits to how arrogant and out-of-touch America's Ivy League schools can get? Last week it emerged that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former deputy foreign secretary of the Taliban, is now a student at Yale while at the same time the school continues to block ROTC training from its campus and argues for the right of its law school to exclude military recruiters. King George's troops played the music to "The World Turned Upside Down" as they surrendered at Yorktown. Perhaps the Ivy League should adopt that tune as they surrender all vestiges of common sense.

Yale's decision to admit Mr. Rahmatullah is particularly jarring given constant reminders of the Taliban's crimes--both past and present. Last week, as President Bush visited democratic Afghanistan, its TV news aired fresh footage of beheaded bodies being paraded through a street. The men had been murdered because they opposed local Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists.

Last week I described Mr. Rahmatullah's remarkable visit to The Wall Street Journal's offices in the spring of 2001. After a meeting in which he defended the Taliban's treatment of women and said he hadn't seen any evidence that their "guest" Osama bin Laden was a terrorist, I felt I had looked into the face of evil.

And Camille Paglia smacks Harvard around for the Summers debacle and related events.

WHAT went wrong at Harvard?

Tomorrow, Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences will meet for the first time since the resignation of the university's president, Lawrence H. Summers, two weeks ago. The dean of Arts and Sciences, William Kirby, resigned in late January, reportedly after clashing with Mr. Summers. When Mr. Summers leaves on July 1, there will be a serious leadership vacuum at Harvard, which has been torn by strife during his short five-year tenure.

Larry Summers, a former Treasury secretary, assumed the presidency with a high sense of mission. Determined to effect change, he took bold and confrontational positions. He endorsed proposals to expand the campus across the Charles River to Allston, attacked anti-Semitism and rampant grade inflation and laudably argued for the return of R.O.T.C. to Harvard.

But whatever his good intentions, Mr. Summers often inspired more heat than light. His stellar early career as an economics professor did not prepare him for dealing with an ingrown humanities faculty that has been sunk in political correctness for decades. As president, he had a duty to research the tribal creeds and customs of those he wished to convert. Foolishly thinking plain speech and common sense would suffice, he flunked Academic Anthropology 101.

While many issues are rumored to have played a role in Mr. Summers's resignation (including charges of favoritism in a messy legal case involving foreign investments), the controversy that will inevitably symbolize his presidency was the manufactured outcry early last year over his glancing reference at a conference to possible innate differences between the sexes in aptitude for science and math. The feminist pressure groups rose en masse from their lavishly feathered nests and set up a furious cackle that led to a 218-to-185 vote of no confidence by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences last March.

Instead of welcoming this golden opportunity to introduce the forbidden subject of biology to academic gender studies (where a rigid dogma of social constructionism reigns), Mr. Summers collapsed like a rag doll. A few months later, after issuing one abject apology after another, he threw $50 million at a jerrybuilt program to expand the comfort zone of female scientists and others on campus. That one desperate act of profligate appeasement tells volumes about the climate of persecution and extortion around gender issues at too many American universities.

Again, the whole piece is worth reviewing as a reminder that Alan Dershowitz isn't the only American liberal who regards the state of the nation's most prestigious universities with alarm.

What's most interesting about the current hot topics is the absurd contradiction they highlight. Predatory feminists at Harvard drive their university's president into the weeds, while at the rival (and some would say mirror) institution Yale, the same academic mindset results in pandering to the single most concentrated community of woman-haters on the planet, the Taliban. The academics don't see any problem with this. They don't see any contradiction. But all the sneering they do at the rest of the country is rooted in their supposed intellectual and moral superiority over the common folk.

There is no explaining this mentality. There is only a disbelieving description of it. They are suffering from a disease of consciousness, similar to Alzheimer's but darker, which is advanced enough that it does not know what of its essential qualities have been destroyed. It operates in a shrunken, distorted and fragmentary world and beholds nothing but a reflection of its own fancied magnificence. The madness has become a separate universe.

The short term is brain damage. The minds of our universities are rotting and taking a once valuable asset away from us. John Fund is wrong about one thing: even mockery is useless. These mental cripples are too far gone.

Do you care?

You damn well should.

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