Instapun*** Archive Listing

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April 2, 2007 - March 26, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Case for Fred Thompson

The Diversity King

STAR QUALITY. Today, Robert Novak is reporting that Fred Thompson is indeed serious about running for president. He says, among other things:

In just three weeks, Fred Thompson has improbably transformed the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. It is not merely that he has come from nowhere to double digits in national polls. He is the talk of GOP political circles, because he is filling the conservative void in the Republican field....

His statement to Wallace that he was ''giving some thought'' to a presidential run generated a reaction that surprised Thompson. In the first Gallup Poll that listed Thompson (March 23-25), he scored 12 percent -- amazing for someone out of public life for more than four years...

Thompson's political origin as a protege of Sen. Howard Baker, leader of the Tennessee GOP's more liberal wing, prompted hard-line Senate conservatives to consider him a little too liberal. Actually, his lifetime Senate voting record as measured by the American Conservative Union was 86 percent....

The principal complaint about Thompson concerns his work ethic. The rap is that he does not burn the midnight oil -- the identical criticism of Reagan, before and during his presidency. That carping may betray resentment that Thompson has emerged as a full-blown candidate without backbreaking campaign travel and tedious fund-raising...

I'm sure the political experts will now perform their usual routine of combing through the trivia of Fred Thompson's life -- his two terms in the U.S. Senate, his voting record, his policy positions, his experience as legal counsel in the Watergate investigation, etc. But this is America, and we the people have our own ways of assessing candidates like Mr. Thompson. Forget all that boring inside-the-beltway crap. What is it we can really know about this guy's qualifications and executive potential? Plenty. Here are some of the basics, plus a few unanswered questions we can all research in the weeks and months ahead:


Legal Career. Two terms -- 109 episodes! -- as DA of New York City on Law and Order. That's not even counting the midnight oil he burned on Law and Order: Trial by Jury (13 episodes), Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (11 episodes), and Law and Order: Criminal Intent (2 episodes). His record on successful prosecutions is, by my count, well above 90 percent. Not even Rudy Giuliani can compete with that. And he's no Nancy Grace, either. Before becoming district attorney, he was a brilliantly successful defense attorney named Racehorse Haines (Bed of Lies), who was famous for never losing a case.

Military Career. None of the other candidates in either party can measure up in this category. He served as a U.S. Army captain (Flight of the Intruder) and major general (Fat Man and Little Boy) in WWII , as a lieutenant colonel in Vietnam (China Beach), and as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy (Red October) during the Cold War. Where else could we find a candidate who has been a senior officer in two different branches of the service? Nowhere.

Intelligence Career. Director of the CIA (No Way Out).

Law Enforcement Career. He served both as a police detective (Stay the Night) and as an FBI special agent (Baby's Day Out).

Political Career. U.S. Senator (Born Yesterday), White House Chief of Staff (In the Line of Fire), and President of the United States (Last Best Chance).  That's more than the two Clintons put together can offer.

Business Career. Chief of research & development -- with a PhD. no less -- for a major U.S. auto manufacturer (Class Action). He also participated in a gigantic hostile takeover of RJ Reynolds (Barbarians at the Gate). Before that, he was chief of operations for the Dulles International Airport (Die Hard 2) in Washington, DC. He also had some experience as a business entrepreneur (White Sands).

Executive Potential

The executive who presides over the U.S. government has to be calm and intelligent in crises, and he has to have the ability to work with a huge variety of officials and citizens from every discipline, level, and walk of life. It's hard to imagine a candidate with better credentials of this sort than Fred Thompson. The list above demonstrates that he's worked, and succeeded, in virtually every kind of profession. He's also shown -- particularly in his terms as district attorney -- that he can get along with people of every gender, race, and ethnic background, including obnoxious, humorless feminists and the flaming lefties who write and star in Law and Order.  If you can be nonpartisan in that crowd, you can be nonpartisan anywhere. Moreover, he's proved beyond doubt that he reacts spectacularly well in a crisis. Faced with a ballooning terror plot in Die Hard 2, he recognized almost immediately -- when no one else did -- that the only solution was to put blind faith in Bruce Willis. How many of us would have done the same? Well, okay, all of us, but that's only because we already saw Die Hard 1, which Fred's character obviously wouldn't have. So you can see how smart he had to be.

All in all, we'd have to rate his executive potential as A+++.


You know how politics is. No matter how sterling your credentials and evident character, the opposition and the mainstream press (i.e., the opposition) will work tirelessly to uncover any possible hint of scandal or personal wrongdoing. That's where you guys come in. There are some potentially serious questions that will be asked about Fred Thompson, and his campaign needs you to come up with plausible answers. (No one here knows the answers because that would mean watching all the episodes and movies, which would be a lot like real work.) If you don't, he'll be destroyed as surely as McCain, Giuliani, Romney, and all the other declared GOP candidates are certain to be.

Here are the questions. (Don't show this list to your liberal acquaintances. Please)

1. Didn't Fred fire a female assistant prosecutor on Law and Order? Was he being sexist or what?

2. Was he being kind of corrupt during his senate term in Born Yesterday? What's up with that?

3. The White Sands movie. He was an arms dealer? Whoa.

4. All those episodes on the Wiseguy. Was he mixed up in organized crime somehow? That doesn't sound good. At all.

5. If he finished up as a major general in WWII, why was he busted to lieutenant colonel in Vietnam? Was it related to his arms dealing or his mob ties? And is that why he started his military career all over again in the navy? The whole thing is worrying.

6. Did he really approve making an unsafe vehicle because it was cheaper to settle legal claims than fix a defect in Class Action? It's true that lawyers can be expected to do some dirty things, but Fred just seems better than that. If there isn't a good answer to this one, his goose is really cooked. If there's anything the MSM hates more than Republicans it's hard-hearted corporate executives (i.e., Republicans).

7. Wasn't there a highly placed Soviet mole in the CIA when he was serving as director? Wasn't it Kevin Costner? How could you miss a thing like that? Doesn't that raise some basic questions about competence?

Well, that's all for now. Get to work and post your answers here. Fred will appreciate any help you can provide.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DC Chumps of the Week

Semper fi, anyone?

PSAYINGS.5A.35. Obviously, this could be a weekly feature, but it's more fun to hold it in reserve for special occasions. Like now.

You marines may get upset, but as all of you would probably admit -- at least over drinks -- there are marines who are bullies and self-centered pricks. That's evidently the case with Senator James Webb of Virginia. His public tantrum about wanting to punch the President for inquiring about Webb junior's welfare in Iraq was an alarm signal. So was his haughty and needlessly bellicose interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He also suffers from the unfortunate facial anomaly that at rest, his mouth defaults to a sullen sneer. I won't mention the Nixonian eyes. All this admittedly sketchy evidence made me suspect that he might be wrapped too tight and not quite as admirable in person as his resume would indicate.

Now we know. He's a crumb. Not for carrying loaded weapons around, but for throwing a faithful friend overboard in his hour of need. The gun Webb has not yet officially admitted he owns landed longtime aide and fellow vet Philip Thompson in a DC jail overnight. Where was the former marine officer with loads of DC clout to show up at the police station, roust a judge out of bed for a bail hearing, and get his buddy back home where he belonged? Not there. At the very moment his friend was being arraigned on felony charges in court the next day, Webb was giving a guarded, self-serving press conference at the Capitol building.

I don't need to know any more about James Webb than that.

There's less to say about Chuck Hagel. He just conspired with the congessional Democrats in their desperately urgent attempt to lose the war in Iraq before the President, Petraeus, and the U.S. military can bring off the unexpected disaster of victory. I've noted previously that Republicans are stupid, but this Hagel character has to be the stupidest of all. He actually thinks he has a shot at the Republican presidential nomination. Let me repeat that. He actually thinks he has a shot at the Republican presidential nomination. Right. After single-handedly torpedoing his President's most crucial war-time policy stance -- not giving the enemy a U.S. surrender date -- he shouldn't be able to win the senate primary in his own state, and he certainly won't budge the needle off zero in any Republican presidential primary.

He's a stone loser, in every sense of the term, and if Nebraska Republicans had any character they'd mount an immediate petition drive for a recall election. They won't do it, of course, but if Hagel reads his email today, I expect he'll still get the drift.

Check that. He's too damn dumb to get anything ever.

Enough said.

Another Challenge

It's just art -- see for yourself.

CALLING ALL COMPUTER JOCKS. At the end of February, I proposed a challenge to the more skilled searchers of the Internet to measure the difference between the use of cursewords in blogs by lefties and righties. I offered criteria -- Carlin's seven dirty words -- I believed amenable to search engines.  Those who remember or review my original challenge will be aware that the catalyst was not cursewords per se, but the flood of lefty blog posts and comments wishing a swift and painful death on Vice President Cheney after his last health crisis. (There was a precedent case for this: the lefty response to Laura Ingraham's cancer.) I didn't think at the time that this sort of human indecency could be measured on the Internet, so I proposed a substitute in the belief that extreme rhetoric in a tangible, measurable area might also inform us about the incidence of extreme rhetoric in intangible areas such as the response to a political opponent's ill health. The response to that challenge was quick and overwhelming:. the left is quantitatively more foul-mouthed than the right.

Since then, I've observed that some perseverant lefties continue seeking ways of chipping away at the findings of those who answered my challenge. I haven't kept the links (sorry!) but enough additional searches have been performed by now for the purpose of defending the Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, et al, that I must conclude they were bothered by the initial findings. Still, all they've managed to date is to build dubious arguments for reducing the ratio by which lefty cussing exceeds righty cussing, not for reversing the balance.

In recent days, a lot of new evidence has become available on the original prompt for my curiosity. The Elizabeth Edwards announcement. The Tony Snow announcement. And less known but even more sadly, the fact of conservative blogger Cathy Seipp's death from cancer. Not as dire but just as disturbing has been the experience of an apparently nonpolitical blogger named Kathy Sierra, who is now living in fear because of death threats over the Internet. (I remember but won't reference the equally scary instance of Protein Wisdom's Jeff Goldstein with an Internet stalker who threatened his children because of Goldstein's conservative views.)

My challenge to the technically superior in these matters is to find some means of assessing the left vs. right responses to the past month's news about Elizabeth Edwards, Tony Snow, Cathy Seipp, and Kathy Sierra.

Here are some links and info to jump-start your research:

Elizabeth Edwards: My own post critical of John Edwards, supplemented with a round-up post linked by a commenter at this site who apparently thought I hadn't done my research.

Tony Snow. The first word I heard after the announcement itself was that the Huffington Post had a priori disabled comments on its announcement of the recurrence of his disease. (Why? Huh.) Then came this from Little Green Footballs.

Cathy Seipp. To his credit, Glenn Reynolds has used his talent for terseness to maximum effect in this entry.

Kathy Sierra. If anyone understands Internet threats and abuse (sexual & physical), it's Michelle Malkin the Brave. She proves it again here, but with some qualifications.

The lefties who criticized the first challenge tried first to disprove the quantitative findings. Then they fell back on the argument that there's nothing wrong with using foul language in the pursuit of passionate political convictions. What would they fall back on if the obvious fact can be proved -- that they, in all their enlightened tolerance, wish death and suffering upon their opponents far more than heartless conservatives ever do?

Are you curious? Then find a way to prove it, dammit.

UPDATE. Yet again, thanks to the incomparable Wuzzadem for the link. Even if you have nothing to contribute to this challenge, you have to go see what Mr. and Mrs. Wuzzadem are up to right now, including their entries on the pet food problem and Chuck Hagel, plus the solid-gold discovery of a conservative voice so brilliant that it recalls the history-making speech Ronald Reagan made on behalf of the Goldwater presidential campaign. In fact, Evan Sayet is so astonishingly on-target that we'll devote a post strictly to him when we've assembled the necessary, relevant links to our own past meditations on the state of the contemporary liberal mind. It's possible we'll be nominating Mr. Sayet to run for President. He's that good.

Here's our honest assessment. If you had to choose between InstaPunk and the blog of Mr. and Mrs. Wuzzadem, in all good conscience we'd have to tell you to pick Wuzzadem. They rule.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Dunno, LaShawn

Paradise by a Dashboard Jesus.

FREEDOM! LaShawn Barber is a highly intelligent and perceptive lady of great religious faith, and ordinarily I find much plain-spoken wisdom in her commentaries. Today, though, I found myself instinctively recoiling from this little vision of paradise she posted at her blog:

Have you ever wanted to retreat from the world? Just go someplace where there are no stupid or mean people, where everyone is selfless and thoughtful?

I daydream about living in a gated community town of nice, thoughtful, kind, and smart Bible-believing Christians. We have our own grocery and office supply stores. Christians run and work in the utility companies and gas stations and the DMV. School administrators and teachers are all Christians. The movie theaters, owned and operated by Christians, show Christian-friendly movies. The few people in town who own televisions watch Christian-friendly shows and documentaries that don’t distort the history of Christianity or feature so-called Christian scholars hostile to Christian doctrine and the Bible.

And no unbeliever would be able to enter through the gate.

You see what I’m getting at? I know Christians have their faults. We’re still sinners, after all. But I think about how much better life would be if everyone I met, everyone I heard, everyone I worked with, every writer I read…was a Christian.

When I shared this gated-community-of-Christians fantasy with my sister, she said something like, “You’re not talking about a gated community, Shawn. You’re talking about heaven.”

Indeed! That’s what I want…

Before I even got to the level of philosophical objections to this -- and there are a few -- my first, instantaneous reaction was: "B-o-o-o-o-ring! I'd go mad in such a place."

My next impression was visual, an unfair one perhaps, but one inspired by what seems her desire for uniformity, agreement, and utter acceptance. I see empty, smiling, well scrubbed faces at her grocery store and DMV and movie theaters, a kind of Stepford community of the "Bible-believing," with nary a hint of rowdy Irish Catholics (or Catholics of any variety for that matter), poets who are failed priests struggling with tides of faith and doubt, or scholars who dig through layers of ancient languages, layers of silt and stone, and layers of evolving scientific theory to reconcile faith with our continually expanding universe.

Yes, we all have dreams of escape, but this depiction of a gated community is especially alarming. It's as far as can be from a vision of real peace and serenity, which can withstand much mere human turmoil if they are nourished by the real treasures of creation -- the songbirds, trees, flowers, and streams of the land and its seasons, including the transcendent wheel of the stars and their galaxies above. The one is an infinite source of beauty and unfolding meaning. The other is a drab and sterile hiding place, a prison of stasis.

LaShawn's post sounds like the old plaint, "Stop the world. I want to get off." And perhaps that's so. It's all that turning and turning of things that created the protestant fundamentalists in the first place. They have always wanted the text of the Bible to stop moving around, to become a million word version of the original stone commandments. They want the ideas of man to stop complexifying into dangerous opposites of their origins, thus creating endless new categories of sin. They want the universe itself to return to the immanence of Genesis, with no uncomfortable infusions from the Hubble telescope, Darwin's perceptions of change, or Einstein's bastard spawn of quantum physics. They have even wanted to amputate the 1500 years of Christian history between Christ and the protestant fixers who would finally paralyze the whole mess inside a concrete totem of Jesus himself, cut loose from Judaism, historical ambiguity, and even the generations of non-persons who assembled their infallible, unquestionable [American English] Bible book by book.

Here, courtesy of Boortz(!), is the physical universe that corresponds to LaShawn Barber's gated community. It's modestly titled "The Earth Is Not Moving." Like her vision, this is a closed world that's small, well contained, black and white, and wearing the fixed smile of the unthinking cultist.

I'd like to suggest that it's not just the secularized and corrupted Christian traditionalists who have to find their way back to the basis of their faith if our nation is to survive the test of fanatical Islamic jihad. It's also the arrogant, overly certain exclusionists of the fundamentalist denominations who have to rediscover the infinite variety and vitality of a faith they seem determined to reduce to a lifeless fossil.

Maybe that's not what LaShawn means by her post. But it sure sounds that way to me. And I dare say I've been a "Christian" longer than she has. But if I ever passed through those gates of hers, it would be kicking like a mule and screaming bloody murder. I like to imagine heaven as a bit more colorful and exciting.

How about you?

UPDATE.  It's even worse than I thought. LaShawn has now posted the following "addendum:"

Loyal readers! I’m not “back” two hours, and people already are intentionally misreading a post. Gee whiz. I know such a place doesn’t exist on earth, and it’s not meant to exist on earth. The Bible teaches that my place as a believer is in the world, allowing God to work through me to reach the lost. I’m simply sharing a fantasy, for crying out loud. I have this longing for heaven, and every cell in my body cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus!” And he said he would.

Then again, I suppose I invite contrary-just-for-the-sake-of-being-contrary comments whenever I open a post, so there you go.

My post wasn't "contrary-just-for-the-sake-of-being-contrary." It was a response to the red flag she's raised about herself. Her addendum adds fuel to the fire. She actually believes what I feared -- that her gated community is heaven itself, the place she will spend eternity after God is finished working "through (her) to reach the lost."

She's not just in retreat. She's in full flight. What an impoverished existence she is likely to lead from here on if she doesn't pull her mind and soul out of this "Praise Jesus" coma. Sad. Very sad. Chances are, very very few of the "lost" are going to see any appeal in her vision of heaven. Not many people want to join a hideously strict club nobody interesting is allowed into. The members probably won't have any difficulty getting great tee times at the golf course, though. Small consolation, you say? Exactly what she's offering from the sound of it.

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