Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
July 31, 2007 - July 24, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Snowy, Icy Stuff

"Who is that other who walks beside you?"

WHO. Well, I'm backward, I guess. I just found out about Christmas in July this week. But I can make up for it. Here are some ice-cold entertainments that are guaranteed to last you till December.

First up, starting on a reasonably light anti-Vick note, is a movie about the relationship between tough dogs and tough men (and one tough woman). It's called Eight Below. Based on fact, according to the background info. Antarctic researchers act desperately to save one of their number who is injured. In the process, they leave behind the team of sled dogs who rescued the stricken man from immediate death. The man whose team it was tries to get back to save his dogs from the fatal Antarctic winter but no one will help. The movie cuts back and forth between the world of dogs and the world of men. They're a lot alike as it turns out. Did I say the movie was light? Sorry. There's some sadness here. The star is the young husky with the deep eyes. We think he's going places. Not that he hasn't already been places. The Antarctic. It's a season in hell. Hopefully, he won't buy a Bentley and start squiring Paris Hilton around. No, he wouldn't do that. We're sure he wouldn't.

Next, the Snow Walker. A handsome bush pilot is hired to ferry a sick but young and beautiful Inuit (i.e., Eskimo) woman to a place where they have hospitals and some sort of treatment for tuberculosis. But they crash enroute. Think you know the rest? Think again, kiddo. This movie's a keeper. There's nothing cheap about how it gets to you. You'll know that because it keeps resonating long after the credits are done. In the same way that it took Return to Paradise to make us appreciate Vince Vaughn, this one made us appreciate Barry Pepper. And that heartbreaking Inuit girl.

We haven't seen it yet, to be honest, but we're waiting for Netflix to deliver the two-part production of Shackleton, starring Kenneth Branagh.  How could it fail? It's the true adventure story to end all adventure stories -- how one man recklessly sailed his crew into the waters of the Antarctic in 1913, and then, just as recklessly, moved heaven and earth to save them from certain death. The great news is that it's still possible to buy a copy of Endurance, the masterfully written account of the expedition by Alfred Lansing. We recommend buying and reading the book, then watching the DVD. If you're anything like us, winter won't seem so cold to you this year -- or ever again.

If you can buy one book, you can buy two. Here's the other one you have to get if you haven't already read it. Alone by Admiral Richard Byrd. Yeah, it sounds like it might be dry, superior, and philosophical. It isn't. The explorer made a huge mistake and put himself in life-and-death peril. His account is so vivid that you'll feel the freezing cold in your bones days after you finish the book. Come to think of it, maybe you should read this one before you go the Shackleton route. Otherwise, you might wind up sitting on the couch with a shawl wrapped around you for the next ten years or so.

Phew. Just made it. Christmas in July. Enjoy.


OYSTERS. There are people out there who know that it's easier to criticize blogs than to write them. They're something like ambulance-chasing attorneys. They wait for some accidental opportunity to apply their skill at transforming order into chaos. We welcome such folks here at InstaPunk, because we're every bit as nasty and destructive as they are. On most blogs, the sly, pejorative comment slips through the cracks. Not here. We read, we smack our lips, we rejoice. Then we sail in. Of course, now and again, there are comments worth responding to in polite terms. To these we do respond. Politely. But most of them are just silly and we wouldn't go on about them except for the advice I once got from a smart blogger who said, "If they're worth responding to in the Comments, they're worth a blog entry -- because why waste your time talking directly to one fool when you can talk to a bunch of fools all at once."

So we've gotten some weird comments lately, and it seems like it might be fun to share them with you, along with our usual impeccably right responses. For example, we did a post a few days ago about the MSM's refusal to give Nancy Pelosi credit for her fashion brilliance. This inspired  "Rez" to comment:

I was disappointed in the piece. Not one of the women featured would be considered real good looking in California. Same with the mediabistro-reported conflict between "money-honey" Maria Bartiromo and Erin Burnett -- both of those women look like racoons to me.... Maybe East Coast folks just have a different aesthetic sense. What am I missing?

Uh. Uuuuuuh. What's "real good looking in California," Rez?  Six and a half feet tall, 100 pounds, 18 years old, plastic tits the size of basketballs, and no panties under a crotch-length skirt? Is that it? But here's what we replied:


"What am I missing?"

Clothes. With all your focus on flash and red carpet trash, you've lost sight of elegance.

Probably unfair. Ever since, we've been experiencing a mysterious burning smell that must be Rez's brain overheating during his search for a definition of 'elegance.'

Then there was our tribute to Muhammed Ali, whom we nominated -- hardly uniquely -- as the greatest athlete of all time. This upset the guy in the graphic above ("Bud") so much that he felt compelled to comment as follows:

Greatest athlete?

Put him on a set of skates and watch what would happen. A) he wouldn't be able to play the game, and B) John Ferguson would have whipped his ass.

Greatest boxer? Maybe, although Sugar Ray Robinson gets my vote. Greatest fighter? It would have been interesting to watch him and Rocky - two guys who both could take an enormous amount of punishment and, at the same time, had devastating punches.

But I'm sorry, no way for general "athlete".

John Ferguson? Huh? Has anyone ever even heard of him? We shouldn't have, but we responded:

What a doltish argument. Give Wayne Gretzky a basketball. Throw Babe Ruth in the pool. Call Lance Armstrong in from the bullpen to pitch to the Red Sox. It means nothing.


Well, look at the guy in the picture above. You know he couldn't take that lying down. He couldn't take anything lying down but life itself. He came back to explain:

Not a doltish argument, a doltish proposition.

"Athlete" describes a vast range of physical and mental skills, and proposing one person as the greatest is an exercise in futility, but if you must, at least pick someone who has demonstrated 999th percentile performance in more than one sport, which certainly doesn't describe Ali. Jim Thorpe, maybe.

And John Ferguson had Ali in personal demeanor, as well. An animal on the ice, but a seflf-depreciating perfect gentleman off.

It's the way of things, isn't it? The right idiotic statement can force you to articulate your point more clearly and correctly than you did when you thought you were talking to an intelligent audience. So, thanks to Bud, the real argument finally got made:

Hardly a doltish proposition, Bud.

It's the stuff of which great conversations are made, unless you're making the mistake of trying to converse with a Canadian hockey fanatic.

There are, of course, criteria that cut across individual athletic disciplines, just as there are criteria which cut across writing forms, military situations and ages, the history of music, and the history of nations and the world. That's why it's entertaining and educational to hear advocates make a case for the greatest writer, the greatest general, the greatest composer, and the greatest American president. Sport is hardly as important as any of these other categories, and yet -- in some cases, notably with Ali -- sport occasionally intersects with other cultural factors like politics, class, ethnicity, and populist symbolism to become far more than sport.

I'm sure your John Ferguson was a great athlete, but he is little known outside hockey. Thus, I can say with confidence that he never entered the ultimate arena -- one in which his ability to perform at his sport also carried the burden of large populations of nonsporting people's dreams, fears, aspirations, dreads, and faiths. Strange as it may seem to you, there have been more than a few of these. One you mentioned: Jim Thorpe. Others include Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Satchell Paige, Ben Hogan, Babe Didrickson, Jackie Robinson, Althea Gibson, Lee Trevino, Arthur Ashe, Greg Louganis, Lance Armstrong, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Undoubtedly there are others. What they have in common is that they became more than their sport and were pushed to exceed their own limitations for a larger purpose. In succeeding they gained more than a trophy or a place in some hall of fame. They became milestones in the changing values and beliefs of their times.

Note that they couldn't have done these things unless they had been truly outstanding performers in their individual sports. But their winning performances are all the more brilliant for the additional sometimes crushing pressures under which they were achieved.

Most people past that age where history is synonymous with "what I remember personally" recognize that Ali has to be considered in any evaluation of the list above or its expanded versions. He earned the love and admiration of people who were prejudiced against him in three monumental categories: his color (least of the three), his religion (Islam), and his politics (anti-Vietnam War and flagrantly defiant of the U.S. government).

He therefore still has enemies to this day, people willing to belittle his achievements and his character. But he was for many years the most famous man in the entire world and among many of those he was the most beloved. He was also the first in his sport to regain its most valuable championship (heavyweight) twice -- despite losing three of his best years to enforced inactivity.

I know hockey guys are tough. But they fight their fights in pads and the referees break them up quickly. They don't begin every contest in their sport with the knowledge that they have a significant chance of being killed within the rules. Boxing shares this fact with horse racing, auto racing, and rodeo. But only in boxing is the competition specifically focused on inflicting maximum bodily injury to the exclusion of all other purposes, one on one.

One can make a case for other athletes in the Greatest category, but if you do any research at all into the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manila, you'll realize that the contenders are few and that the case for Ali is strong.

I also guarantee that a debate among the proponents of Owens, Louis, and Ali would be far more illuminating than any of your maunderings about whats-his-name Ferguson.

Also, on very rare occasions, comments give you the opportiunity to be educational, to summarize things you assume most people know. We did an entry about Newt Gingrich, which elicited the following earnest objection:

Why? Because we're at war? I'm sorry, I just think I missed the part about how Newt would be good for self-governance.

I wonder who would promote the more vigorous police state, the greater blow to our sovereignty, the more totalitarian abuse of newly consolidated executive powers, wanton breach of privacy or destructive affront to the rule of law, Giuliani or Gingrich? It's hard to say.

I know Newt values the rights of a life while it's in the womb, but other than that what's the difference between he and the great mayor? (Ok, Newt's funnier, wittier, makes some great criticisms and can effectively draw from history for his arguments, while Rudy doesn't even seem to have read the 911 Commission report)

Based on their example of conservatism and especially their restraint, I think both Reagan and Goldwater would be turning, no spinning in their graves at what their party has become. Yes, Gingrich is critical of the spendthrift Bush administration. But both they and most of the "pygmies" ride a wave that's throwing us into a state of eternal warfare, drowning the foundation of our nation and eroding the greatest achievement of capitalism and very pinnacle of civilization. In the ebb, the Christians will wonder how their faith allowed them to forsake that other thing they believed to be so precious, that now "anachronistic" Constitution which was once the law of the land.

Yeah, we're at war, but we'll be at war a lot longer if Newt takes the helm. Of course, I guess that works for anyone promoting some sort of national security state to supplant the republic.

Ah. Idealism. The convictions of the young. "Pete" was polite and hopelessly wrong-headed. So we actually worked to respond as politely as we could in a right-headed way:


I know it's hard to accept that the U.S. really is at war with a determined enemy bent on our utter destruction. It's so easy to pretend otherwise. Especially since all your leading lights are so anxious to argue that the people who want to murder us have legitimate grievances. By all means, proceed with your denial. I can't do anything to alter that perspective; only circumstances can. I expect they eventually will.

Viewing Republicans as the fomenters of a police state and, by implication, Democrats as defenders of our civil liberties is frankly perverse. No Republican prior to this decade and no pre-McGovern Democrat would ever have considered extending the constitutional legal rights of an American citizen to foreign combatants or illegal aliens, which seems to be the current dominant ideal of so-called progressives. Such policies may seem sweetly virtuous but they are suicidally counter to our (and your) long term interests.

Would that they were willing to defend the most important rights of their own citizens with equal ardor -- freedom of political speech, freedom of choice in matters of education, health, property, and economic opportunity, and real equality under the law for all U.S. citizens.

But it is the 'progressives' who seek to limit political speech via campus speech codes, campaign laws that abridge the First Amendment, reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, and laws denying a private ballot to workers targeted by unions for membership; who condemn the poorest to remain in failing public schools and make a joke of equal educational opportunity by redistributing that opportunity based on sex, race, and ethnicity; who aspire to impose a government monopoly of health care options on everyone and pretending that the expensive rationing which would result is somehow "free"; who endorse the seizure of private property for 'community benefit'; who subscribe to the totalitarian policy of making the U.S. and its citizens subject to anti-capitalist, anti-democratic international organizations in the name of a phony crisis called global warming.

Can you smoke a legal substance in your favorite tavern? Can you buy a car without an explosive device installed six inches from your chest? Can you drive yourself anywhere without a seatbelt with legal impunity? Can you drive your children anywhere without them in the backseat, you in the front like a 1930s chauffeur? Can you sell your house without having to make thousands of dollars of improvements, regardless of whether you or the buyer want them? Can you get an incompetent teacher fired at your children's public school? Can you object successfully to the latest PC curriculum innovation at your children's public school? Can you spank your child for disobeying your direction, or does some government social worker tell you what you can and cannot do in raising him?

Who passed and who continuously promotes the laws that now police your private behaviors in such ways? Whether you agree with their intent or not, they all represent reductions of your ability to live your private life autonomously.

These are the real roots of a police state, one which draws limitless power from the vague argument that the state has the right to protect people from their own stupidity, poor decisions, and wrong-headed convictions.

I'm sure you're one of those who lament the ceaseless incomptence of the Bush administration. In all likelihood you have fogotten the ceaseless incompetence of the Clinton administration (Waco, Elian, Kosovo, Oklahoma City, Chinese missiles, etc), AND that of the Bush 41 administration, the Reagan administration, the Carter administration, etc, etc, etc. Government is always incompetent because it is too big, too ham-handed, too bureaucratic, and too subject to long-term institutional corruption. It's much much worse than Enron or WorldCom because no matter how badly it screws up, it can't be driven out of business, and it can always extort more money to finance even more screwing up.

Why do you think that most young people start out liberal and then many become increasingly conservative as they age? The primary reason is experience. They learn that organizations, by definition, don't actually care about people, even their own. That's why they decide that the best policy -- no matter how ugly and seemingly wasteful it can seem at times -- is to leave as many decisions as possible in the hands of individual people.

Note how easy it is to decide -- always -- that a committee of elite officials knows better than any individual what that individual should do with his money, his education, his children, his diet, his amusements, his home maintenance, his credit options, his transportation options, his healthcare, and for that matter, his choices of clothing, expression, and interior decorating. And especially his money. Government always knows better than Joe Sixpack how the money should be spent, right?

Do you really trust the government to make such decisions for you more than you trust yourself? Or do you just trust them to make the decisions for all those other sick bastards out there who aren't quite so wise and well informed as yourself?

The two indispensale roles of government are to provide a framework of laws equally applied to all citizens and to protect the citizens of the nation from exterior dangers and threats. There are a few others, perhaps, but they are all debatable. It's interesting indeed that it's the progressives of our nation who want our legal framework to be UNequally applied and who consistently take the side of those who do pose external threats to the nation. But both of these preferences pale beside their consuming desire to tell everyone else how to live their lives in every particular.

A Gingrich police state? You should be so lucky, my boy.

This time, at least, there's the chance of a happy ending. I actually know Peter, who doesn't look anything like the graphic above, and we spoke by phone after the exchange shown here. He still thinks I'm an old fuddy-duddy, but he's willing to entertain the possibility that big government is its own kind of evil and that the United States is engaged in a real war againt a real enemy.

That's why we allow comments here. If you're an idiot we enjoy smashing you. If you're interested in real conversation, we're delighted to talk.

Every sword has two edges. Keep commenting, Peter. And everyone like you.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tour de Chance

Alberto Contador and Team Discovery. Winners till the chem lab checks in.

GLORY. It was the best of tours. It was the worst of tours. Unlike every other sport in the world, the Tour de France labored under rumors of unspeakable drug violations. Borat's sorry excuse for a country, Kazakhstan, was utterly humiliated when its national cycling hero Vinakourov tested positive for a drug violation any nation with running water could have easily avoided. A longtime Danish star and 10-day leader of the race was unceremoniously fired by his team and sent home for lying about where he was when he might have been ingesting illegal drugs in preparation for the tour. Bad. Very bad.

On the plus side, three of the four great competitive categories of the contest were won by rookies. A young Colombian named Soler came unheralded from the Andes to conquer the Alps and Pyrenees ("You call that a knifemountain?") and win the 'King of the Mountains' spotted jersey. A young Spaniard with a steel plate in his head, Alberto Contador, won both the white jersey of best newcomer and the yellow jersey of the overall winner of the Tour. Another youngster won the title of 'Most Aggressive Rider.' America's Team Discovery won the honors as best team because they recorded the lowest total riding time for the course, and their team leader, Levi Leipheimer, placed third overall. All to the good.

But one wonders what next year's tour will look like in terms of riders and sponsors. What profit-making corporation will want to be associated with a sport that can't complete its premier event without multiple disqualifications and drug controversies that may destroy yesterday's results or erupt months after the fact? This has become a sport in which superlative achievement is immediately suspect; Contador and Leipheimer carry away their laurels knowing that in a month, or two, or six, they may be accused of cheating simply because they excelled.

Next year's tour lineup?

The Discovery Channel has already decided not to renew its sponsorship commitment. CSC, the second-best American team, is likely to rethink its participation as well. Unless they're as dumb a computer company as IBM.

We anticipate new riders and/or new sponsors. Riders who can't be accused of blood-doping. Sponsors who don't care about their images as honest purveyors of honest services. Who else would participate? Thus, our proposed list of next year's sponsors of the illustrious Tour de France:

-- Microsoft ("Winning at any cost is our only corporate culture")
-- The Jack Murtha Congressional Campaign Committee "(If we sell it, you bought it")
-- TourTrump ("Hey, if we can do casino gambling, we can do crooked cycling too.")
-- TeamFEMA ("Lance rode for USPS; we can pretend we know how to do stuff, too.")
-- MalikiIraq ("We're committed to victory all the way to the 1st of September.")
-- AlaskaPork ("Senator Stevens knows a bridge to nowhere when he sees it.")
-- ExxonValdez ("If you're still buying our gas, you'll buy this act, too.")
-- ChavezVenezuela ("Citgo Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.")
-- AtomicIran ("We'll never stop, never stop, never stop...")
-- ChiracAttack ("C'est l'amour qui fait les (a)larmes....")
-- BritEmpire ("We've learned more about yellow than the French ever knew.")
-- PelotonPelosi ("We have not yet begun to surrender.")
-- SopranoThing ("We do blank like nobody. Just ask us about doping. Bada Bada Blank.")

Of course, you're free to suggest your own. Frankly, we can't wait till next year.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Friday Follies (NSFW)

The beautiful "Peace" dance from Fox's 'So You Think You Can Dance.'

TGIF. Seriously. If you're at work, don't read this. I'm not watching my mouth today. Everything this week has been way too silly and annoying to be polite about. I'm not even going to try to be coherent. Nobody else is. Why bother?

Whoopi Goldberg is going to replace Rosabud on The View. What's the point of caring about what becomes of this nation? ABC is replacing a cunt with a vagina. Damned if I can tell the difference in this case.

You're still trying to figure out the main graphic? Well, Wednesday night, the Fox reality show about dancing (dancing for Chrissakes) turned one of its androgynous choreographers loose to craft some steps for all ten remaining dancers to perform to the same music. For those of you who were smart enough not to watch, BING, you've guessed correctly. Millions upon millions of brain-damaged Americans, me included, actually sat there and watched the same dance performed ten times, same steps, same music, and then endured the commentary of three dimwit judges on all ten dancers.

Okay. There were a few entertaining diversions. Some of us spent the time trying to identify which specific drugs accounted for the ludicrous responses of the two female judges. Mary Cumquat, the screaming ballroom gorgon, was obviously high on her usual combination of straight gin and crystal meth. The other one, Mia Muffles, was harder to figure, although her crazed sentimentality about so much drabbery did eventually convince me that she was OD'ing on whatever Marilyn ingested the night of her birthday tribute to JFK, plus some LSD. Maybe a lot of LSD.

You see, the 10X dance was about peace. Peace the way only show biz can envision it. With sloppy white costumes featuring a sixties peace sign on the chest and stencilled words of wisdom on the back. Words like "love" and "communication." I kept looking but none of the words was "tank," "M1," "assault," or "Marine."

Apparently, other people were keeping track, too. The next night, when they eliminated two of the most warlike dancers, Mia Muffles apologized for the comic marine jacket she'd worn the night before, and the Brit judge apologized to everyone who might have thought the ten dances were an advertisement for surrendering to al Qaeda in Iraq. He said the choreographer wasn't trying to make a political statement. The camera panned to the choreographer's wise, wimpy face. I wanted to know if his Indochinese-looking wife thought Cambodia and Vietnam were more dangerous in wartime or peacetime, but nobody asked her about that. She had a beautiful smile, though, and her sheer Asian mysteriousness prevented me from having any guess at all about what drugs she was on.

Did somebody mention drugs? Was that in connection to major league baseball, professional golf, professional wrestling, NFL dogfighting, or the Tour de France?

I don't know what to do about Barry Bonds, all the golfers who can't beat Tiger Woods, or roid-raging neanderthals on the fake-fight circuit, but I do have an idea about how to fix professional cycling. It's called Le Tour de Luxembourg. Twenty stages. Twenty days. Twenty kilometres. Here's a preview. Follow the yellow jersey.

Meanwhile, the so-called conservative blogosphere continues its meltdown. Dean Barnett is still "bored" with the presidential nomination race. Glenn Reynolds is still peripatetic and exasperatingly wry, Michelle Malkin is still obsessed with illegal alien child rapists, Ace of Spades is still making four proofreading errors per post, Jeff Goldstein is still making a thousand words do the work of ten, Roger Simon is still edging Pajamas Media toward mainstream acceptability, and The National Review Online still thinks politics is chiefly an opportunity for showing off your wit and erudition.

Oh. And Whiskey Fire is STILL counting how many times the word 'fuck' is used in political discussions. Yeah, I know he's Irish. There have been a lot of brilliant Irishmen. There have also been a lot of fucking dumb Irishmen. And 'whiskey fire' may not be their most illuminating form of light.

Regulars know that the Friday Follies are mostly about dancing. So we'll close with this moving performance inspired by Lacy and Kameron of 'So You Think You Can Dance."

Sorry if anything I said offended you in any way. I didn't mean to.

Fuck that. Sure I did.

A Media Mystery

Is this the best they can do?

FLIP SIDE..She's just been named one of the most beautiful people in Washington, DC. Here's the link. It's true. She is. What's more, we're amazed that the mainstream media do so little to play up this aspect of her persona. Forgetting politics for a moment, Nancy Pelosi is almost always faultlessly well dressed. Her clothes are lovely, her hair nicely done, and her figure trim. So why is it so hard to find, via Google or any other search engine, good examples of Nancy looking good?

I deplore her politics. But I have no objection whatever to her looking her best and being shown in the full glory of her incredibly tasteful wardrobe. Would that women all over the country took a page out of her fashion manual.

Is this yet another liberal neurosis? She's the first female Speaker of the House, she's the voice of all the most crazed NYT and LAT editorial outbursts, and yet it's somehow sexist or demeaning or otherwise unacceptable (?) to publish photographs that show off her exquisitely tailored suits and impeccable shoes?

I'm not making this up. Google for yourself. Try Nancy Pelosi fashion, Nancy Pelosi Armani, Nancy Pelosi wardrobe, and all you get is fuzzy political two-shots and crap like this:

Make no mistake. I want to defeat her in every political matter she espouses. I don't even like her personally from what I know of her biography. But give the woman her due. She's a fashion goddess. Why can't her own cheerleaders bring themselves to play the easiest card in their deck?

The closest I could get to a pic of her sartorial excellence.

I think they're sick. In the head.

UPDATE 08/02/07. This has to be the unkindest cut of all -- Drudge suggesting that Nancy is copying Hillary in showing off the barestfaintest hint of cleavage:

From here it looks like you'd need an electron microscope to detect anything erotic. Why is everyone so obsessed about such puny peeks when the Smoking Gun uncovered the whole enchilada months ago?

Why not just enjoy her nice white suit?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I, the Fact Checker

THE ETERNAL FLAME. According to my attorney, I'm nearly certain that the diary entry reproduced below was provided by a fact-checker on staff at The New Republic. While some of the exposition is unclear, our own research (undertaken without the advantage of an on-line subscription to TNR) indicates that the events described pertain chiefly to the current TNR article The Dispiriting Lessons of PlameGate by Eric Rauchway:

In August 2004 special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, subpoenaed Time Inc., asking for "notes, tape recordings, e-mails, or other documents" relating to reporter Matt Cooper's work on the Time story "A Question of Trust," and the story "A War on Wilson?" Fitzgerald wanted to know who told Cooper about Plame (it turned out to be Karl Rove). Time Inc.'s editor-in-chief, Norman Pearlstine, initially resisted the subpoena, but in June 2005 he agreed to comply. In Off the Record Pearlstine explains the logic of his conversion and gives excellent insights into how the press construes its role in the republic....

But we're still fact-checking the details. Here's what we do have, though, pending the final results of the investigation:

"What do I care Goodfield? Shove your iPhone up his butt. We gotta be sure."

That's Franklin for you. Have you ever tried spending day after day in the charnel house of a third-tier news magazine? Sallow geeks constantly rattling the bones of their keyboards. Slugging down cups of sludge like bad coffee. The sickly sweet acid of Simon & Garfunkel muzak eroding your will to live. The enervating sigh of ivory tower air-conditioning. No need for windy explanations. He wanted the facts and it was my job to get them.

"You claim Perlstine was willing to reveal a source? As a matter of journalistic principle?"

Rauchway was sweating. His damp shirt exuded the metallic reek of a con in the electric chair. "Yes," he shrieked. "I told you. He said it was okay to reveal a source in certain very special ethical circumstances that relate to the core mission of journalism."

I bent down, giving him a double-whammy of cleavage as I slipped off my shoe. A six-inch black patent leather stiletto. I reached out to him almost caressingly, inserted the heel-tap in his stroke-red ear.

"I don't believe you sweetheart. I don't believe you heard my question right. Maybe you need your ears cleaned out."

An ammoniac hiss. He was pissing himself. The tweed crotch of his Brooks Brothers trou dark and wet as a bloodstain. Neck rigid. Head jerking back in a nerdish semi-orgasmic spasm. "I'm telling you the TRUTH," he sobbed through clenched lips.

"Real world," I said. In almost a whisper except for the wire of malice. "This ain't the New York Times, it's the f***ing New Republic. Your name is Eric Rauchway not Jason Blair. And in case you haven't noticed I'm not some gullible faggot named Howell Raines. I'm Kristin Scott-Goodfield of the TNR Fact-Checking Department where we always get to the bottom of the story before we print a single f***ing word. Now do I do a Rush Limbaugh on your sorry-ass earhole or do you tell me exactly how all this went down for real?"

For a moment I thought I'd pushed him too far. I thought he was going to pass out. Eyes rolling up like window blinds. Stomach sucked in and then swelling like the onset of a tsunami. Face red as Gore's on a Global Warming rant. Then he breathed low and rough as the exhaust of an M1 tank running on the cheapest Halliburton kerosene.

"Okay," he croaked, "just take the shoe out of my ear. I'll tell you everything." And he did.

It was the usual pitiful story. He'd plied Perlstine with single-malt Scottish whiskey before dropping a few well-placed hints about personal matters. The olive skin and earthy smell of a limo driver. The expense account weekend in the blue-black midnight of Paris's gayest and most leftest bank. Perlstine crumbled. Imagine the bust of a Herodian queen taking a full .45 clip at close range. The Time lord spilled it all. It was simple. Anything to get Rove. F*** ethics. F*** principles. F*** journalism. F*** the future consequences. His only regret was that it hadn't worked. The Rovian beast was still in power.

"I'll get back to you," I told Rauchway. He slumped in the chair. A gaffed fish, smelling strongly of piss and gaffed fish.

I laid it all out for Franklin. All the sordid details. "No journalistic principles involved whatsoever," I told him.

"Great," he purred. "I had a hunch it would all check out. Run it as written. And Kristin...?"


"Are we still on for tonight?"

"Of course, baby."

"Cool. Bring the strap-on, okay."

I'm no fool. In case you hadn't noticed.

Scott-Thomas no fool.

With all the controversy and wild speculation that's been roaring around the internets, I hope this new evidence will end the implied criticism of TNR's journalistic practices. Are you listening, Ace? Can't we all stop the abuse and get back to trusting one another as objective professionals?

UPDATE 08/03/07. Good news. After a long absence (so long I stopped looking), Baldilocks is blogging like crazy again. She's taken a far more serious look at TNR fact-checking here (h/t Michelle Malkin.). It's a good piece.

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