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April 22, 2006 - April 15, 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006


The Roman Spring of
Madeleine Albright


Secretary Albright shows the NYT that she can leg press 400 lbs.

UNDERCURRENTS. It's official. Madeleine Albright has been elected to the Democratic Hall of Fame, just as we predicted. The first sign of the elevation was the leaking by Editor & Publisher that the former Clinton secretary of state will be profiled in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine.† Since everyone remembers how effective she was at responding to al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies and the USS Cole, the Times didn't see fit to question her about the past but solicited her criticism of Condoleezza Rice and the War in Iraq, which she was happy to provide. But what's clearest about the interview is the fact that Ms. Albright has embarked on a new life, a kind of post-politics blooming that wiill undoubtedly make her a role model for many American women. She boasted about her exercise regimen and revealed the fact that she can leg press 400 lbs.

She was also eager to assign the credit for her curent fitness to her three office interns, Paolo, Giuseppe, and Antonio, who help her answer fan mail and supervise her workouts. As the Times reporter notes, "she positively glows with joie de vivre" when discussing her day-to-day activities.

Is there any romance she'd like to share with Times readers? To this, Secretary Albright responds with a girlish giggle before saying, "Of course not. I'm a very respectable woman. When I'm not lifting weights, I'm having tea parties and reading the papers. I have a reputation to uphold, you know, so I just carry out my responsibilities as a former secretary of state."


Interns Paolo, Giuseppe, and Antonio

At a later point in the interview, Secretary Albright does turn serious when asked to identify the biggest lesson she took from her years in the Clinton adminitration. "I learned a lot," she says, "but the most surprising thing I learned was just how exciting it is to lie about sex. It's almost as much fun as the sex you're lying about."

Then she lit up a big cigar.

Welcome to the Pantheon of Democratic Gods.




Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Dumbest Talking Head

Science to the rescue: Dynamic Intelligence Monitoring

FIRE WITH FIRE. One of the hottest debates among those who watch cable news programs is the difficult question of exactly which talking head host is the dumbest. Everyone seems to have a personal favorite, and a definitive answer has been impossible to arrive at due to the absence of hard data -- until now, that is.

A new high-tech company named IQuick has just released the first instantaneous intelligence test, capable of measuring intelligence in real time based on audio input. They call it Dynamic Intelligence Monitoring (DIM) and have already made units available to those who begged and pleaded with them the hardest.

We used ours to monitor the likeliest candidates at CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. The field included Jack Cafferty, Chris Matthews, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Rita Cosby, Keith Olbermann, Geraldo Rivera, and some other people at CNN whose names we can never remember. It doesn't matter, though, because there was a landslide winner. One of his DIM samples is shown above. His name is Keith Olbermann.

In retrospect, the findings seem obvious. We've had occasion to discuss him here before, but his most astonishing property is that -- something like one of those infinitely descending Escher puzzles -- he just keeps getting dumber, no matter how technically impossible such a feat appears to be.

For those who do not number themselves among Mr. Olbermann's 265 devoted daily watchers, here's an excellent roundup of† some of his more recent performances on his Countdown show. But all these pale beside his most recent demonstration of idiocy in his standard feature called "Worst Person in the World," in which he decided to set up Michelle Malkin for physical intimidation and assault:

Olbermann chose Michelle Malkin for posting the names and phone numbers of UC Santa Cruz students that recently forced military recruiters off the campus. In Olbermannís words, the students, ďas a result, have been inundated with death threats.Ē

What Keith conveniently failed to inform his viewers was that these phone numbers were actually part of a press release by the organization responsible for the protest, Students Against War. In addition, these names and phone numbers are still available at a number of left-wing websites including this one. I guess Olbermann didnít think it was important to inform his viewers of this.

Another thing Olbermann omitted from his report were the atrocious e-mail messages and threats that Malkin herself has been receiving all day for posting this previously made public information at her website. I guess it might have diminished Olbermannís point a bit to share with his viewers some of the reprehensible comments Malkin has found in her inbox all day for merely sharing the exact same information that those responsible for this protest gave to the press.

Worse, the incitations to assault on Ms. Malkin by Olbermann and like-minded morons at Democratic Underground have led to the internet posting of her home address, satellite photos of her house, and other information designed to help thugs lay their hands on her person and family. She says she's not afraid, and we both applaud her courage and stand with the others (here, here, and here) who are ready to assist her in any way possible. But we're not like the others in one respect. At Instapunk we believe in fighting fire with fire.

To this end, we have decided to publish a satellite photo of Keith Olbermann's home, the place in which he refreshes his hard-headed connection to real life in the terrible fascist country that has rewarded him so well. Here it is:


Most times, you'll find Keith sleeping alone at the castle.

You'll find the exact location and address of the property at the website linked above. Finding Keith there shouldn't be too hard either. He spends a lot of time sleeping at the castle, because it's so darn hard to stay awake when you're barely conscious anyway. When he does wake up, he sometimes takes a stroll out to meet his closest friends Donald and Mick. His route is shown on the map: through A, E, D, G, and F. Don't bother looking for him at the Matterhorn. He's scared to death of heights.

So how do you like it, Keith, when the shoe is on the other foot? And speaking of foot, you better be listening for the sound of footsteps coming up behind you. That's what happens when irresponsible pinheads go out of their way to fan the flames of hatred against you in the media. Kind of scary, isn't it? Think maybe it's time for you to become a man?

And one more thing, Keith. Cornell sucks.

P.S. We haven't forgotten about you, Democratic Underground, either.




Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Laying Out the President


Rolling Stone Magazine is cranking up a stunt by Sean Wilentz.

HISTORY. It may seem unfair to review an essay by "one of America's leading historians" before it is published, and in all but a very few instances I'd cheerfully concede that it is unfair. But not this time. Why? Because the essay I'm pre-reviewing is guilty of exactly the same kind of unfairness and therefore, as an historical analysis, cannot be anything more than a grotesque and laughable exercise in rhetorical political assassination.

Judging "bests" and "worsts" in history depends absolutely upon knowing outcomes, which on the national and world stages can take decades to become clear. Not always, of course. Genocidal tyrants like Hitler and Stalin were obvious worsts while they still lived, but these exceptions highlight the particular role that should (but isn't always) played by historians. While Hitler was in power, all that was required to assess his villainy was accurate reporting of his actions. Historians became necessary after the fact to explore the causes and lasting effects of his barbarism, which they have done wih great gusto. Stalin, too, was self-evidently the nadir of Eastern European history while he still ruled the USSR, but even a half century after his death, far too many academic historians are still making excuses for his regime and its anti-human ideology. The lesson? Historians are as vulnerable to ideological bias as anyone else, and since what we ask of them is objective and unemotional analysis based on research and reason, we cannot trust them when they claim to speak as historians about the present or recent past. At best in such circumstances, they function as (presumably) well informed partisans. At worst, they function as propagandists, misusing their authority in one discipline to cover their dead ordinary opinions in another.

Historical analysis isn't possible in the absence of facts. Long-term outcomes are necessary facts, as are the reams of minutiae that eventually reveal what all parties to a given event knew, guessed, or imagined at the time. Try writing the history of the most recent party you attended. You could record your own recollections of what transpired today. Tomorrow you could hunt down some scraps of gossip that might augment your flawed and incomplete memories. But how long would it take to determine the most important things that really happened -- the argument that led to a divorce and tragic custody fight, the spectacular spats that didn't, the quiet first meeting that became a moving love affair, the one careless word that somehow fathered a lifelong grudge of disastrous consequence between two familes? That could not be done during the party, the day after, or probably for years to come. How much harder to assess Lincoln's absolute worth before he died -- or George W. Bush's before we behold the state of the world in 2036 or beyond?

Yet here in the forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone, we have a highly credentialed historian who is willing to declare, however hypothetically, George W. Bush the worst U.S. President in history. Balderdash. Hubris of this sort immediately permits us to examine whatever personal information we can find about the dissembler who is so willing to tarnish his own reputation thus. He must have a relevant history himself.

I invite one and all to research Sean Wilentz in this way. I've done just a bit of digging myself and it wasn't hard to find a few suggestive facts in his curriculum vitae. He's the Dayton-Stockon Professor of History at Princeton and the Director of Princeton's Program in American Studies. That's very nice, I'm sure, but it might not make him an expert on middle eastern politics or asymmetric warfare, which are likely to figure into the eventual assessments of how good or bad a president George Bush was.

He's written a few books -- and edited others -- which is also very nice, but the titles seem to indicate a focus on the development of democracy and culture in pre-twentieth century America:

with Paul E. Johnson) The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 222 pp.

(with Michael Merrill) The Key of Liberty: The Life and Democratic Writings of William Manning. "A Laborer." 1747-1814 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), 240 pp.

Chants Democratic: New York City & the Rise of the American Working Class. 1788-1850 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), 446 pp.

The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. (New York: Norton Books, 2005)/992 pp.

His essays and articles are listed on the same page, so you can investigate them more closely yourself, but the titles and the publications he wrote them for demonstrate a heavily populist frame of reference, including such subjects as Jimmy Hoffa, the American labor movement generally, class conflicts in America, working class culture, crime and poverty in New York, property and suffrage reform, and in more contemporary contexts televangelism and Ross Perot. One brief excerpt ought to convey the flavor:

Egalitarianism assumes many shapes in contemporary America: equality of opportunity, equality of rights, racial equality, sexual equality, equal justice, equal pay for equal work, and more. One egalitarian ideal is, however, conspicuously absent from most American public discussions: the ideal of equal wealth. Although complaints about economic inequality arise from the margins, the subject passes virtually unnoticed in our political debates. Apparently, most Americans find nothing unjust about gross disparities of economic resources, so long as every citizen is given a reasonable chance to prosper. Discrimination, prejudice, extreme poverty, and other enormities may endanger the stability and prestige of the republic (although there is intense disagreement about how much they do so anymore). Yet staggering inequalities of wealth, in and... [emphasis mine]

Sorry for breaking off in mid-sentence, but it doesn't require a psychic to complete the main thought of the essay. At the very least, Wilentz's populist bent has made him a hard-core socialist. Still, this preoccupation with redressing the inequities of capitalism shouldn't be interpreted to mean that he's spent a lot of time living with manual laborers. His educational background launched him into a different sphere entirely:

Ph.D., Yale University, 1980.
M. Phil., Yale University, 1976.
M.A., Yale University, 1975.
B.A., Balliol College, Oxford University, 1974.
BA., Columbia College, [Phi Beta Kappa] Columbia University, 1972.

Additionally, Wilentz's employment record and his list of academic prizes and awards indicate that he has spent his whole working career in the shade of the Ivy League's beneficent foliage.

Whence, then, his empathy for the poor and oppressed of the capitalist machine? We've already gotten the principal clue. Columbia College, Class of 1972. He received his undergraduate education at the epicenter of the radical sixties, the Columbia University of Mark Rudd's SDS and the riots in Morningside Heights. Would we be going overboard to infer that his love for the working class is complemented by a view of American foreign policy shaped during the darkest days of the Vietnam War? That he was then and is still a charter member of the musico-political counterculture that gave rise to Rolling Stone Magazine in the first place?

When exactly is a picture worth a thousand words?


Sean Wilentz

The photo is part of a promotional piece that verifies the connection between Wilentz and the sixties counterculture:

A 52-page booklet accompanying "Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall -- The Bootleg Series Volume 6" includes a historical and critical essay by Sean Wilentz... Documenting the historic Halloween concert from the vivid memories of attending it as a 13-year-old, Wilentz illustrates the musical and social importance of that night's performance in New York.

"'Live 1964' brings back a Bob Dylan on the cusp of that turmoil," Wilentz writes. "It brings back a time between his scuffling sets at the downtown clubs and his arena-rock tours of the 1970s and after. It brings back a long gone era of intimacy between performer and audience, and the last strains of a self-aware New York bohemia before bohemia became diluted and mass marketed. It brings back a Dylan moment just before something that Pete Hamill (on the liner notes to 'Blood On the Tracks') called 'the plague' infected so many hopes, and destroyed an older America sung of by Guthrie and, in prose, by Jack Kerouac -- and by Dylan as well, who somehow survived. Above all, it brings back a great concert by an artist performing at the peak of his powers one who would climb many more peaks to come."

The piece also includes quotes from Wilentz:

I don't know Bob Dylan -- who really does? but I've been fortunate to be around him for many years. When I was growing up, my father's bookshop was in Greenwich Village and so I have childhood memories of seeing Bob Dylan when he was a very young man and I was a very young kid. I've been around that world for a very long time, which has a lot to do with my interest in music and politics. When he came to Princeton in 2000... I did get the chance to see him and rekindle an old acquaintanceship.

So he was born to the counterculture, raised in Greenwich Village at his father's bookshop (what kind of books, one wonders? Beat Generation? CPUSA dialectics?) and involved deeply enough in the unfolding sixties to have met and conversed with Bob Dylan. He wasn't just there during the sixties; he was the sixties.

None of this disqualifies Sean Wilentz from being a good and objective historian. It does, however, explain much about why he would engage in the folly of pretending to write "history" about a sitting president and from what perspective he is likely to classify George W. Bush as the worst president ever. Who out there is willing to bet that the article, when published, won't embody an absolute prejudice against the use of American military power in Third World countries, a flaming ideological hatred of "tax cuts for the rich," a condescending screed against the religious right and pro-lifers, a series of ruthless indictments of Bush policies on racial, gender, and labor relations, and a lot of general venom in support of contemporary counterculture orthodoxies about the environment, global warming, corporatism, and the super-soveignty of international law.

The piece may turn out to be an eloquent partisan polemic, but it will bear no relation to what you'd call an historical assessment.

The betting window is open in the Comments section. I'm not expecting many takers.





PunkWire

Scott McClellan

HOT FLASHES. Some stories don't require lots of explanation or analysis. Like this first one. We've been asking for a change in press secretary for quite a while now. It's happened. We're thankful and hopeful it means that the Bush administration is planning to fight back at last against the hyenas chewing on his presidency.

Other stuff's been happening too. Does anyone require a lot of comment about this recently unveiled bit of news?


Sami al Arian

Yes, he was acquitted, thanks to the idiotic liberal extension of U.S. citizens' constitutional rights to outright enemies of the United States, but he finally admitted what we always knew was true. It's small comfort to those who didn't want him to get away, but it's also a salve for the much injured truth. Enough said for now.


Joseph Wilson, IV

You're never supposed to hit a political celebrity twice in a row unless he's a conservative. Somebody better tell Christopher Hitchens. Before he stomps Joe Wilson a third time. Valerie wouldn't like it.


Jane Fonda

Interestingly, she conceded at the last that Cindy Sheehan was better equipped to oppose the Iraq War. As close as we'll get to an outright confession by Jane that she's as dumb as we thought. The end of an era? Hardly. Just the end of the first, vilest, and most blatant example of a Hollywood multi-millionaire perverting fame into treasonous acts that killed and maimed brave men at arms who defended the freedom which, in this case, became a weapon against them. She'll rot inside her mansions, facelift scars, and designer gowns for a few more years, and then she'll probably rot in hell.


Geena Davis

And here's a real sad item. Hillary's Hollywood Judas goat for the presidency has failed her. Geena Davis's Emmy-winning Commander-in-Chief turned out to be a total yawn with viewers. Maybe they couldn't manage to suspend their disbelief that Donald Sutherland was an evil Republican. Or maybe Geena wasn't much more convincing as a ballsy executive than she was as a superstar baseball player. Technically, we suppose, the cancellation isn't official yet, but the writing is on the wall of the Oval Office set, as you can see.


John Murtha

It happened on C-Span of all places. Murtha and his fellow traveller Congressman Moran were blathering about how all the troops think the war is unwinnable and have morale as high as a tick's belly when a veteran stood up to call them liars. Cool. And true.


Cynthia McKinney

The Islamist cartoonist who memorialized Cynthia McKinney in the masterpiece shown here is back in the news. He penned a cartoon for an anti-Zionist ad that ran in last week's Sunday New York Times. Some Jews are claiming they're not offended by seeing themselves depicted as apes, but maybe they haven't yet seen this adoring treatment of the U.S. Congress's most visible and unabashed anti-semite. Maybe they haven't seen his other artistic renditions of Jews and Islamists. Maybe they're blind.


Donald Rumsfeld

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. If you want to see the up-to-date score, look here and here.


Robin Givhan

She won a Pulitzer. What a prodigious advance for civil women's fashionista rights. What this country needs is more elitist analysis by inside-the-beltway liberals of the clothing and hairstyles of the political caste, especially the Republican untouchables. That'll make quality happen a lot faster for everyone. Kudos to the Pulitzer Pickers, as usual.


Michelle Malkin

Meanwhile, in approximately the same timeframe, the superior cultural guardians of the left were handing out a less official award to the foreign-looking, non-white, no-account female conservative whose legs aren't quite as long as Ann Coulter's. She's a repeat winner, by the way. At least, they didn't stoop to criticizing her wardrobe. That's Robin Givhan's job.


Andy Garcia

Uh oh. Cuban immigrant son Andy Garcia may not be quite as welcome at Hollywood parties anymore. It appears he doesn't like the ultimate darling dictator of liberals, Fidel Castro. But we suspect he feels great about honoring the travails and sacrifices of his father. That might just outweigh the pain of the social opprobrium levied by the dukes and duchesses of show business.


Karl Rove

That's right. The dark lord has been set free from day-to-day White House responsibilities to recover the endangered ring of power in the legislative branch. Time to hide all those peace-loving hobbits in the House and Senate who thought they could sneak their way through Mordor to a majority in the U.S. Congress. Maybe some tall, beautiful, androgynous elven queen will appear at the last moment to save them. Ah. Here she is:


Hillary

She's got the big bucks. So all must be well, after all. Right?

Back at you later.




Saturday, April 15, 2006


Anniversary

The Shuteye Train -- still the ultimate punk writer band.

DEDICATION. It was 25 years ago this Sunday that the punk writers of South Street formally dedicated The Boomer Bible. If you're a fan of InstaPunk, please take some time this week to examine how it all started. You can do that here, but not in one minute or thirty. This blog is only an outgrowth of a huge prior effort that can take days to explore. The BB website is the product of multiple contributors, including the original author and talented devotees of the book. Specific areas you might want to investigate include thumbnails of MSM reviews, the homilies of the lowly parish beacon, BS, the TBB numerology essays by Henry Elders, Rumors of the Metalkort (a photographic essay on South Street) by Matt Cordrey, the connection between The Boomer Bible and the events of 9/11 (various writers, including a bombshell from Henry Elders), the photographic gallery delineating TBB's Hollywood casting of Harry's followers, the map showing links from one of TBB's 12,000 intercolumn reference citations (Wil.25.5: "There isn't any God"), excerpts from the text content (incomplete and troubled by typos but nonetheless helpful), several essays and expositions that introduce some of the unique aspects of the book (e.g., here, here, and here), the two Psongs of Harry which commemorated his 60th birthday last August, and a listing of other books that can help illuminate this unusual work.

Do what you will. We just thought we'd remind you.

Shammadamma.

UPDATE. An email we had to share with you, from a longtime TBB forum member:

Why would it take me 15 years to figure out the significance of April 19th?

The single act of punk defiance that created everything we are today. The shot heard round the world. Jeez. I bet it's the origin of "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!"

I'm seeing the light, [InstaPunk], I really, truly, am seeing the light.

The Crisis by Thomas Paine,† April 19th 1777.† "America, till now, could never be called a free country, because her legislation depended on the will of a man three thousand miles distant, whose interest was in opposition to ours, and who, by a single "no," could forbid what law he pleased."† This is a quote that should be shoved down people's throats.

April 19th seems to be a day of defiance or mind altering tragedy.†

April 19th, 1943. Germans invade the Warsaw Ghetto, but hey: "Fuck you, and your jackboots." A shot rang out. Isn't THAT a coincidence?

April 19th, 1993. Waco. Defiance,† tragedy.††

April 19th, 1995† Oklahoma City. Criminal tragedy. I'm not condoning this in any way,† but the defiance factor is there,† albeit† psychotic defiance.

April 19th, 2000† Elian Gonzales...

That's all for now. Wish I could leave this on Instapunk... you know I like to make people stop for a second.

Very truly yours,
Null

Now you're posted on InstaPunk. And we thank you for all you've done over the years. Don't underestimate your accomplishments. We don't.

UPDATE 2 (4/20/06). Thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for acknowledging the anniversary, and welcome to visitors. If you've got the time, check out some of our newer entries while you're here. If we can't make you laugh, there's something wrong with you.




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