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February 4, 2007 - January 28, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007


InstaPunk to Iraq


SAME OLD SAME OLD. Yeah, I want to go. TruePunk wants to go with me. I want to be embedded with a unit of the USMC. I don't have the money, though. So, if you've ever liked InstaPunk, send money. And if you've ever hated InstaPunk and desire him to die, send money.

What I promise is that you'll get a writer's view of what's happening. I'm no journalist. But I am honest. I have a Proustian desire to live the rest of my life alone, and I  fear commercial flying because I spent 20 years doing it. But I want to play some role in the defense of western civilization. Please help. I'm 53 years old and I've never begged for anything. I'm begging now. (TruePunk isn't begging, he wants you to know. He wants to kill terrorists.)

Use the PayPal link on this page to contribute. If something prevents me from going, I'll return your money. If I succeed in getting to Iraq, I'll send personal updates to everyone who made it possible.

I'd also appreciate every possible source of logistical help.




Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Time Out


PSAYINGS.5Q.6. There's a lot of conventional wisdom swirling around out there about the 2008 presidential election, which we're already supposed to believe is underway. Personally, I think it's a false start and it won't be long till the contestants are ordered back into the gate to wait just a bit longer.

Why? Because none of the current jockeying for position means anything yet. It can't mean anything because presidential races are defined by the issues voters care most about -- or can be made to care most about -- in the election year. The MSM, the pundit class, and the blogosphere may think they know how key variables are going to look in 2008, but they don't. No one can say for sure how the economy, the Iraq War, the Islamic terror threat, the immigration situation, the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, or even the Bush presidency vs. the Democrat congress will look to voters a year from now. Therefore, much of the handicapping that's going on presently is worthless, especially the talk about who can or cannot win.

Republicans in particular should cool their jets for a bit. Even more than the Democrats they seem intent on outsmarting themselves by basing their allegiances on which of a bunch of dubious candidates they think can prevail in a general election. Ironically, they do this while lamenting the absence of a Ronald Reagan to lead and inspire them. I'm old enough to remember that the chief argument used against Ronald Reagan as a presidential candidate was that he had no chance of winning a national election; he was doomed to be another Goldwater. I thought that too. Right up to the moment when, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the three networks took to the air on election night and announced an overwhelming victory for Reagan.

There's even more irony afoot. Conservatives can barely contain their outrage about the fact that the remaining Republicans in congress continue to betray party principles and refuse to speak or act like Republicans. Meanwhile, the very same conservatives are tying themselves in knots to explain why they feel obligated to support some particular candidate -- Giuliani, Romney, McCain -- with whom they disagree about numerous fundamental issues. Aren't they doing the same thing they're accusing their party leadership of doing? Yes. They are.

Let's forget about electability for a moment. Think about the candidate base in terms of conservative principles. McCain is twice a traitor -- an accomplice in the McCain-Feingold abomination and in helping the MSM portray the Bush administration as a gang of amoral torturers. Giuliani is a New York City Republican, meaning that he's not a conservative at all, but a kind of JFK Democrat; no matter how much squinting we do to forgive him because he's strong on national security, he's still pro-choice, pro gay rights, squishy on illegal aliens, and inevitably tilted toward the preeminence of city folk over country folk. Romney is a Massachusetts Republican who is suddenly claiming to be a social conservative, and it's painful to read all the rationalizations conservatives are concocting to make his johnny-come-lately conversions seem plausible. Brownback is squishy on the Iraq War. Jeb Bush looks as if he will refuse to run this time around, under any circumstances.

That leaves a only a couple of congressmen whose ability to function on a national stage is still a big question mark. And Newt Gingrich.

Ah yes. Newt. He runs through all the other gobbledy-gook conservatives write like a thread of wistful sorrow. If only he were electable... If only he didn't have so much personal and political baggage... If only he weren't too smart to connect with average Americans...

Then, when he speaks to a convocation of conservatives, the wistfulness becomes a yearning ache. He's so smart. He has real ideas about how to fix what's wrong. He reminds us of why we became conservatives in the first place. What a terrible shame that we can't have him instead of all those others.

Why can't we have him instead of all those others? Yes, he might lose, perhaps even badly. But that might well happen with anyone else, too, and if it does happen with anyone else, the definition of conservative principles will be further eroded and delegitimized. One thing we can be sure of is that a Gingrich candidacy would provide the best opportunity since Reagan to offer the American people a brilliantly clear statement of the difference between conservatism and "progressive" socialism. It would also generate significant new ideas around which young conservatives can rally and establish forward-looking policy positions. No one but Newt has the brains or the balls to take on the U.S. State Department -- that perpetual dagger in the heart of U.S. foreign policy -- and the sheer brokenness of so many huge agencies in the federal government. No one else can make the case in advance -- and memorably -- for why Americans should resist the Democrats' inevitable demand for a national health care system of socialist design.

Conservatives keep bemoaning the fact that the Republican party has lost its identity and betrayed its core beliefs in a vain attempt to compromise with an unscrupulous political foe. How can that identity ever be reestablished and core beliefs recovered if there is no one to articulate them, defend them, and actually win the debate against the opposition?

Here's what we can know about Newt for certain. He will pulverize any Democrat candidate in televised debates. He may not come across as more likeable, but he will certainly be perceived as brilliant, lightning quick on his feet, and in command of the facts. He will be amazingly effective in overturning the liberal mantra that conservatives are dumb, backward hicks with thick tongues and clicheed positions. He will make conservativism new and vital again. That's exactly what Goldwater and Reagan did.

Moreover, despite all my reservations about the vailidity of discussing electability this early on, I suggest to you that Newt is far less unelectable than he looks to conservative power brokers. Yeah, he's had a messy private life, with divorces and affairs. Ditto, though, for Giuliani. And McCain. It may be Clinton's real legacy that he's cleared the way for other bad boys to get a pass on this kind of stuff. It's also likely that Newt will be running against Hillary, whose private life is also spectacularly messy. And, yeah, Newt may also be notorious for having participated in the impeachment of Clinton while he was having an affair of his own, but does Hillary really want to make an issue of hypocrisy, and does she (or any Democrat) really want to dredge up the scandals of her husband's administration, which include her own close calls with indictment for obstruction and/or perjury?

A few other quick points. It's supposed to be bad that Newt is an honest-to-goodness intellectual. But after eight years of "Bush is so dumb he..." jokes, maybe Americans really are ready for a super-smart president. Also, he has a temper and an outrageous ego. Uh, need I remind you again that he's running against Hillary? He's a mean sonofabitch? Uh, Hillary?

And if Hillary is the nominee, we can be absolutely certain that the campaign will be the dirtiest in history. She will stop at nothing to win. Nothing. In that case, we will need a fighter who's tough enough to counterpunch and mean enough to go for the jugular himself. Mitt Romney anybody?

In short, Newt Gingrich's perceived liabilities may turn out to be a complete wash with those of his opponent. Too conservative? That shouldn't concern us. If the ideas are good, we should trust our convictions.

Trust our convictions. What an odd idea. Give it a try.





Like we said...

He'll never be president.

PSAYINGS.5A.13. This is an I-told-you-so entry, with no new insights, but it might be interesting because of its old insights. Joe Biden did himself proud again today, which should have surprised no one, even though Drudge called it a "shock" that the senator would say of Obama, "'I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy..."

Here's part of a post we wrote back in March 2005. It is relevant.

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Diamond State Dimwit

Now for some comic relief from our comic relief. I live about ten minutes away from a tiny state called Delaware, which is a tad larger than Rhode Island in area but populated by fewer than a half million souls. Still, as a state of the union, Delaware has two senators, one of which is named Joe Biden. We once wrote about Mr. Biden in the Year 2000 edition of Shuteye Nation. The entry was fictionalized to show how dead serious it was.

Joe Biting. The most sanctimonious member of the U.S. Senate, Biting represents the most insignificant state in the union, Dullaware, but achieved national prominence via his tour de force performances as a character° assassin in the Senate trials of Supreme Court° nominees Robert Boink and Clarence Remus. Colleagues marvel at the dizzying level of condescension Biting consistently attains in his political and personal discourse, despite being afflicted with the first and worst hair transplant in the U.S. Senate. It is reported by female senate staffers that he can sneer even in his sleep, which is still filled with dreams of a Biting Presdency, though that opportunity disappeared in reality some years ago during a brief campaign which foundered on the disclosure that he had been a devout plagiarist during his academic career. Rumor has it that Bill Broadley’s decision to resign from the Senate was prompted by his inability to wrest the championship from Biting in the chamber’s annual Delusions of Grandeur Tournament.

Now, it seems, Senator Joe may be contemplating another shot at the presidency. The March 13 edition of The New Yorker carried a long piece on Biden, which declared among other things that:

...Biden and Kerry are also rivals—for primacy among the forty-four members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate and, presumably, for the Party’s Presidential nomination in 2008 as well.

Part of the setup for this was the following assessement:

At sixty-two, Biden has a cheerful vanity and an exuberant restlessness that make him seem far younger. Since the election, he has become a leader of a modest-sized faction—“the national-security Democrats,” in the words of Richard Holbrooke, an ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton—that includes the most hawkish members in the Democratic Party. Among them are Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards, Senator Evan Bayh, of Indiana, and Governor Bill Richardson, of New Mexico, along with a number of Clinton Administration foreign-policy officials, now in exile at think tanks scattered about Washington.

The New Yorker piece demonstrates his "muscularity" in matters of foreign affairs with anecdotes like the following:

“The decision to go to war was the right one,” Biden said recently, “but every decision they’ve made since Saddam fell was a mistake.” In particular, Biden blames Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for the troubles of postwar Iraq—for the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, for the failure to anticipate an organized insurgency, and for the difficulties encountered in the training of Iraqi soldiers. He told Condoleezza Rice, at her confirmation hearing, “For God’s sake, don’t listen to Rumsfeld. He doesn’t know what in the hell he’s talking about on this.”

In proof of just how upset Biden was over the Abu Ghraib affair, the official record shows that the senior senator from Delaware voted against the nomination of Alberto Gonzalez as attorney-general, presumably because he regarded it as unconscionable to humiliate known and suspected terrorists in an American theater of war.

We can surmise how impeccable his judgment of such matters is from his remarks about -- of all things -- the subpoenas issued to major league baseball players. Reuters reported on March 17:

The witnesses include ex-slugger Jose Canseco, who alleges widespread use of steroids in the game despite claims to the contrary by Major League Baseball.

Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware acknowledged there was very little Congress could do, but said lawmakers should "embarrass the living hell out of these people."

It's apparently okay for Joe Biden to embarrass "the living hell" out of American citizens, while it's impossible to discover any mitigating circumstances for U.S. troops to humiliate and embarrass enemy combatants who may be conspiring against their lives.

This last, I hasten to add, is not a new point. At least one of Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads pointed up this curious fact on the radio, but it leads to another point that is only obliquely hinted at in The New Yorker piece:

Biden can be eloquent in defense of his party, and in his criticism of President Bush, but his friends worry that his verbal indiscipline will sabotage any chance he might have to win the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008.

Verbal indiscipline. Okay. The piece goes on to cite as an example a convoluted tale of he said/he said regarding Biden's unflattering characterization of Kerry's response to the Bin Laden tape released just prior to the the 2004 election. But here's the funny part. The New Yorker also apparently played accomplice to another episode of "indiscipline" embedded within the Kerry anecdote that says far more about who Biden is as a person than anything else in the article. Here's the quote:

That night, I got off that trip, from Scranton, I got off the plane, Wilmington airport, only private aircraft, get off, pick up a phone, call a local place called the Charcoal Pit before it closes. They have great steak sandwiches and a milkshake. Triple-thick milkshake. And I hadn’t eaten. I’m going to pass it on the way home. They’re literally sweeping the floors. A woman, overweight, forty years old, a little unkempt, had a tooth missing in the side, not in the front”—he showed his flashing white teeth, to demonstrate—“walks up to me to give me my steak sandwich. ‘Senator Biden, I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve got a problem.’ And I take out a piece of paper, maybe Social Security for her mother, and she said, ‘I heard you’re for Kerry.’ And she said, ‘You’re so strong and he’s so weak.’ ”

Biden looked at me, to make sure I understood what he seemed to think was a point of considerable nuance. “I’m gonna tell you why I’m going to vote for someone,” he said, addressing the woman of the story. “Look, you’re working here tonight. If the Republicans have their way, you won’t get paid overtime. When you stay here tonight, you’re already closed. Besides that, what they want to do with your health care.” Then he quoted what the woman had replied: “But you’re so strong, and he’s so weak. And President Bush—he seems strong.”

Once again, I'm going to intervene here with a personal perspective. The Charcoal Pit is a real place, situated just where Biden said it was. Here's a picture of it.



By implication, the woman in the story is also real. "A woman, overweight, forty years old, a little unkempt, had a tooth missing in the side, not in the front”—he showed his flashing white teeth, to demonstrate—“walks up to me to give me my steak sandwich."

Here's the nub. Biden doesn't care who he embarrasses, patronizes, slanders, or humiliates. For the transparency of that, he is a walking joke and he will never become President of the United States. And I hope the good woman of the story puts something nasty in his next steak sandwich.

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It doesn't actually matter whether or not the MSM gives Joe a pass on his latest 'verbal indiscipline.' He'll keep making them, and sooner or later, one of them will do him in for good.




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