February 4, 2007 - January 28, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
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
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
congress will look to voters a year from now. Therefore, much of the
handicapping that's going on presently is worthless, especially the
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
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.
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
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
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
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
to articulate them, defend them, and actually win the debate against
Here's what we can know about Newt for certain. He will pulverize
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
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
counterpunch and mean enough to go for the jugular himself. Mitt Romney
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
Trust our convictions
. What an
odd idea. Give it a try.
Like we said...
never be president.
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
. It is
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.
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
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
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
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
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.