Instapun*** Archive Listing

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January 7, 2008 - December 31, 2007

Monday, January 07, 2008

Advice for Romney

PUNDITRY. So Mrs. IP said, "If you're going to keep pontificating about presidential candidates, you probably better watch the Republican debate in New Hampshire," and I said, "Don't be ridiculous. The Sci Fi Channel is doing their fourteenth consecutive Monster Marathon, and I can't afford to miss a single one of the no-star movies they've racked up for my filmic edification."

I won't tell you what Mrs IP said in response, but I swear she actually enjoyed watching me watch all 16 hours of what passes for political discussion in the Granite State. When it was finally over, she threw back her head and laughed out loud. "I can't wait," she said between guffaws. "I can't wait to see your brilliant analysis of what these geniuses had to say."

My riposte was devastating (of course) and she eventually slunk away in defeat... you know how they always giggle and titter like that when you've been too witty for them to have any real comeback... and then I sat down to review my notes. They were pretty damn insightful, as always, and I just wish the pug hadn't chewed up my reading glasses again, because I know you'd all have been mightily impressed by my reactions. However, I can still remember some of what went on and I'd like to offer the following acute observations:

- Whoever is cutting John McCain's hair needs to be waterboarded, probably to death.

- The smartest thing anybody said was Fred's line about having John Wayne beat up Chuck Norris.

- Ron Paul should try not attending debates more often. It makes him seem almost intelligent.

- Rudy Giuliani was once mayor of New York. Did you know that?

- Is it just me or would Mike Huckabee's spiel work better if somebody slapped him right across the face after every sentence?

- Mitt would actually win every debate if he didn't look so much like an actor playing the President on an afternoon soap opera.

Truthfully, I think I know how to decide the Republication race. Mitt should hire some thug to break his nose. Or at least get the chick up top to do his makeup. If he weren't so damn smooth and flawless, us ordinary folks might finally realize that he makes mincemeat of every other candidate whenever they go head to head.

Don't tell Hugh Hewitt I said that. He's obnoxious enough already.

Now that I've told you about the debate, maybe you could do me a favor and tell me what I missed on the Sci Fi Channel. I'm sure it was much more entertaining.


We all want to be loved. For some of us, it's just plain too late.

THE ENDLESS AFTERMATH. What is it with these guys? Personally, I've reached the conclusion that non-smokers in their eighties have to be assumed to be Alzheimer's sufferers. It's not their fault, of course. How could they know that the worst possible course for a human being planning an excessively long life is to be a vice-free prig? But I do fault institutions like the Washington Post, which have so little regard for the legacies of the helplessly vulnerable aged that they're willing to exploit them for ephemeral partisan gain. Shame on WAPO for printing this senile rant by George McGovern:

Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard.

From the beginning, the Bush-Cheney team's assumption of power was the product of questionable elections that probably should have been officially challenged -- perhaps even by a congressional investigation.

In a more fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis (according to a careful October 2006 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and laid waste their country.

Everything McGovern says is wrong. American prestige is not at an historic low, or else Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., and South Korea would not have elected pro-American governments within the last couple of years. The U.S. elections in 2000 and 2004 were not questionable; even the recounts conducted by the liberal media proved beyond doubt that George W. Bush carried Florida in 2000 and thus the nation. The war in Iraq is not illegal, even if you want to make the case that it was ill-advised. Saddam repeatedly violated the terms of the peace concluded after Desert Storm by attacking the American Air Force, with the result that even Bill Clinton occasionally responded with military might, completely legally. Just like the GWB invasion. The Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress, despite obsessively constant efforts to prove otherwise, has never been able to demonstrate that the Bush administration is guilty of lying; otherwise, the impeachment Senator McGovern desires would already have occurred. Count on it. And the Johns-Hopkins study McGovern cites was about as far from "careful" as a supposedly academic venture can be.

But dammit. He's an old old man. Of course he's bitter about what happened to his own political aspirations. He sits on the veranda with his cup of decaffeinated tea and he fulminates about what might have been. Understandable. He lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon. What bigger fool can there be in 20th century American political history? If he were a wiser man, he'd have made his peace by now with the superlatively humiliating defeat that ended his public career. But he's not a wise man. He's a typical infantile Democrat. So there's no reason to hope he could actually learn from his life's experience. But it's unforgivable that the editors of the Washington Post would savage his dignity and privacy by printing his last demented ramblings.

For God's sake. Let the man lose his marbles in private, where only the nurse has to bear witness to his mental incontinence.

It's a sad day. A sad sad day.


Everything was so much better back then. Let's go back.

MORE BAD NEWS. Nothing sums up the problem the Republicans are facing better than this entry from Mark Levin at NRO's The Corner. Here's the whole entry:

Relax. [Mark R. Levin]

Huckabee will not be the Republican nominee.


The terrible truth is that the Republican pundit class, including Mark Levin and Missouri-born Rush Limbaugh, has no way of comprehending the extent to which the Republican Party is being hijacked by idiot fundamentalists. In fact, I listened to Limbaugh today. From beginning to end, he was assailed by incredibly polite Huckabee supporters who were telling him to go to hell, but not in so many words. Because they were so polite. They don't care about actual politics anymore. Their messiah has arrived and they'll slay their own mothers and fathers to get him elected.

The radicalization process that has stolen the Democrat Party from its FDR/HST/JFK roots has now infected the Republicans as well. The Dems are going to nominate Jesse Jackson Lite, and the Repubs are going to nominate Amy Semple MacPherson. Worse, Mike Huckabee (MacPherson) is the most gifted natural politician this country has seen since Bill Clinton. Right now, he's loose in the secondary and running wild. How many governors from the worst state in the union can we survive?

The sensible mainstream in both parties is fucked. And that's a fact. Dark days lie ahead.

Mark Levin. If you want to understand what's going on, you'd better email InstaPunk with your questions. We love dogs too. But we don't confuse that affection with political acuity.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pick-a-Preacher '08

PSAYINGS.5A.19. Thanks, Iowa. Now we know what you want -- a wholesale flight from reality into the promised land of pious, empty rhetoric. And I'm not talking just about Huckabee. He may thump the Bible more than Obama, but they're both interpreting the term "bully pulpit" as literally as the Hawkeyes interpret the Book of Genesis. Here are the two victory speeches. As you listen, close your eyes and try to decide which one would make us sicker of his preachifying over four or eight years.

I call it a toss-up. It entirely depends on whether you're more nauseated by smarmy, self-satisfied religiosity or dreary incantational anaphora delivered in tent-revival dialect.

If that's really what you want, fine. Go for it. But shouldn't there be some content besides platitudes about hope and change and a new day in America? For example, I'd feel a lot better about both these gents if they'd demonstrated a particle of knowledge about a country that didn't even exist when the boilerplate in their stump sermons received its first halleluiahs from a Sunday congregation. Maybe that's why Huckabee doesn't know that Pakistan lies to the east of Afghanistan. And maybe that's why Obama thinks Bush was stupid to invade Iraq (pop. 27 million) instead of Pakistan (pop. 150 million), 40 percent of whom admire Osama bin Laden, to win the war on terror without needless loss of life. (I admit there's no explaining why Hillary Clinton knows nothing whatever about the current political situation in Pakistan, but that's a different kettle of fish.)

I understand the yearning of many Americans to return to a simpler time, before 9/11 and all the unseemly ruckus it has caused, but let's not go all the way back to 1860, or even 1960. Please.

That old-time religion is a hymn, not a political platform. If we forget that, the time we're really going to return to is the administration of Jimmy Carter. Which, if memory serves, didn't result in too many hosannas.

A RENAISSANCE OF BELIEF. This is a reality check for all you earnest Huckabee supporters. You may think you're striking a blow for the religious right by flocking to his banner, but that deep, consuming impetus you're feeling is not so much the victorious charge of crusaders as the mob lunacy of lemmings. If you succeed in nominating Huckabee, you will be putting the sword to your own political influence in this country for the remainder of your lifetimes. I kid you not.

I'm going to tell you the things no one else is willing to say. The Democrats won't say them because the Huck-a-Boom is, to them, an orgasmically delicious confirmation of all the worst things they have ever thought about you, and they will be ecstatically pleased to watch you destroy yourselves in his behalf. The Republicans -- even the staunchest conservatives who have supported your causes in the past -- won't say them because they don't want what the liberals think about you to be accurate, and they are deathly afraid that it is. Their rapidly fading hope is that you'll come to your senses before the awful truth has to be dumped on your heads like a 55-gallon drum of ice-cold gatorade. In short, they're afraid of pissing you off. But I don't want the liberals to win, and I don't care if I hurt your feelings. Because you're being dopes.

There are only two possibilities about who Mike Huckabee is. The first is that he's a sincere evangelical Christian who regards the world in the simple terms he says he does. The second is that he's a cunning politician who was born and raised among people of faith like you and has learned how to exploit your faith to advance his own career. Both of these possibilities are disasters waiting to happen.

If he's the good-hearted preacher who just happened to become governor of Arkansas by an accident of circumstance rather than calculated ambition, he's in way over his head. For example, when Huckabee claimed he was receiving foreign policy advice from John Bolton, he was either misrepresenting the facts or being absurdly naive. No matter how good he is at heart, the United States and the world at large can't afford a president who thinks he is learning foreign policy via email. And to the extent that you are willing to overlook this kind of blunder, you are telling the 70 percent of your fellow citizens who don't believe a literal interpretation of the Bible is the best credential for political leadership that your powers of judgment are nil. Huckabee the Preacher will be mocked and ridiculed and manipulated into the worst electoral disaster in the history of the Republican Party. Have you learned nothing about Democrats? They will be absolutely ruthless about making him indistinguishable in every way from Gomer Pyle.

On the other hand, Huckabee might be an absolutely ruthless politician himself, a nominally Republican version of that other successful Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton. If he is, he could actually succeed in winning the presidency. Is this your secret hope, that he is some kind of combination Machiavellian-Christian, venal enough to do the job and yet moral enough to do it right? Forget it. That's a one-in-a-billion shot. If he has the ambition and spine to be a strong president, he is far more likely to be a Huey Long than an Abraham Lincoln -- corrupt, vindictive, hypocritical, power-mad, and criminally sly rather than intelligent. And, by the way, what are the charges that continue to attach to Huck's governorship? Corrupt, vindictive, personally greedy, tax-happy and... uh, weak on crime and immigration. Because the other likely version of a Machiavellian-Christian politician is Jimmy Carter. A weak, small-minded micro-manager whose insecurities and self-righteous conceits do appalling harm in the name of good.

But a Carter-like Huckabee will be far worse for the country than even Carter was. The insatiable destruction machine that is the Democratic Party will not be there to conceal and explain away his incompetencies, but to highlight them and pin them on the ignorant, reactionary yokels who brought him to power in the first place. If you think the left hates Bush, wait till the president is a graduate of a Baptist Bible college instead of Yale and Harvard.

By the end of a mercifully one-term Huckabee presidency, you will be lucky if all the more fundamentalist flavors of Christianity haven't been outlawed as completely as the American Communist Party. And worse than that will be the laughter, which will echo in your ears, and those of your children and their children, for all that remains of American history. Worst of all, conservatism itself will be stone cold dead as a political force in this country.

My final point is that mine is not an extreme view. Every conservative who does not share your exact religious viewpoint feels the same way about this that I do. The only difference between me and the east-coast conservative pundits who opine on Fox News and other mass media outlets is that they don't believe you'd really go through with such a totally self-destructive campaign -- and I do believe it.

Know this, though. If you do, we will never forgive you. And the country will, most likely, never recover.

Bottom Line: Mike Huckabee is a joke. Whether he turns out to be a funny joke like Governor Gatling or a deadly joke like Huey Long is largely in your hands. Try not to blow it.

Pressing the Point.

Not pretty. But 72 is the new 68.

ALWAYS RIGHT. We earned massive uninterest when we reluctantly endorsed John McCain for the presidency last month. But given our record of being right about (almost) everything, it seemed we should share this blog entry from a genuine New Hampshire blogger who got to meet most of the candidates. Maybe he's as much of an idiot as Instapunk, but, well, here you go:

When I head into the voting booth Tuesday, I will be casting my vote for John McCain. If, a year or so back, you had told me that that's what I would be doing come primary day, I would have politely told you that you're nuts -- there's no way I could vote for the "maverick" Arizona Senator. So what has happened? How could I possibly be supporting somebody that gets regularly panned by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and others that I respect on the right? The answer is easy: the New Hampshire primary process. Because the hallmark of our state's unique position as the kickoff for the presidential races is retail politicking, we get to see most of the candidates up close and personal -- if we choose to do so, which I have...

[T]hanks to my online activities here at, my weekly column in the Laconia Daily Sun, and the Saturday morning radio program, I have had additional opportunities to interact with several of the candidates and their closest advisors on a very personal level... [O]ne hopeful stands out from the rest: John McCain. I can attest that this is a man who doesn't pre-screen the questions that come his way and is ready to take on all comers.
While I like Rudy Giuliani, my second choice in this cycle, he just doesn't hold a candle to the Senator when it comes to having the ability (desire?) to answer standard questions from the regular folks outside of the town meeting atmosphere. In one instance, when walking beside me towards his campaign bus, the Mayor refused to answer a simple question about the trash-to-energy industry -- quite expansive in New York State -- telling me that he "simply cannot walk and answer substantive questions." I was then politely sidetracked by one of his handlers. Needless to say, as I was feeling rather disposed to vote for him at the time, I was taken aback by this brush off. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't trying to pull a "do you know who I am" moment or anything like that, but his local NH people actually DO know who I am -- and knew me to be favorable to Hizzoner at the time.

McCain and his people are completely opposite in this regard -- and not just for the likes of me. At every town hall meeting that I have attended, the campaign staffers have had to practically drag their man kicking into the bus in order to make the next stop in a timely manner. The problem? He is so comfortable with his beliefs, opinions, and thoughts, that when he engages the folks, he actually communicates with them for real. When you have nothing to hide, and you are up front with your core beliefs and ideals, there is no "trick question" one might come up with that can't be answered.

In addition to his connectivity with the people, there are the issues themselves.

Many Republicans believe that their nominee must stand opposed to abortion. There is no ambiguity here. Senator McCain definitely fits the bill on this one. For people like me, the new world war with the Islamo-fascists trumps all else. I believe that the path to victory starts with the front in Iraq. Nobody has been a stronger advocate for finishing the job than John McCain. And while you might be able to fathom his knowledge of the military and governmental players from about the globe from bits and pieces you catch at public appearances and on TV, I can assure you that you have only scratched the surface.

Several months back, I had the chance to take a ride on the Straight Talk Express, where I ate chicken wings with this genuine American hero. We had nearly an hour of conversation about a variety of things, including some details about military strategies and the realities on the ground in Iraq. I cannot stress enough how impressed I was with his understanding and awareness of these matters. Add to that his personal experience in Viet Nam, and you get a person with insight from the perspective of the soldiers that must fight wars as well. This is a man that will be ready to be Commander-in-Chief on day one. Beyond that, I have participated in a number of "Blogger Conference Calls" with the Senator. Given the wild-west nature of the blogging community, these were no-holds barred exchanges where, again, the sense of his awareness on a variety of matters both great and small was always plainly in evidence.
"But Doug, what about illegal immigration?" I am confident that McCain "gets it" when it comes to this one. At a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro just after the defeat of the so-called "comprehensive" immigration bill, he duly noted that Americans had spoken and want the borders verifiably sealed before anything else gets done in this area. It is the rare politician that acknowledges being wrong on a matter, and recognizes the collective voice of regular people.

Beyond all that, I think it's imperative that the Democrats are prevented from gaining the presidency during this moment in time. McCain still carries great appeal among Independents and even a fair number of Democrats. In a phone conversation with a prominent local Democratic leader this past Monday, he admitted to me that if McCain were to end up as the president, he would be OK with that. The president must stand ready to be the leader of ALL Americans, not just members of one party or the other. It is a good bet that McCain has the ability to attract enough votes to win it all for the GOP next November. If our Democrat friends admit this possibility as being one they can live with, then perhaps we can at least throttle back some of the bitterness that has gripped our Nation since the 1992 election. That's a notion I'm sure we can all agree with...

By all means, take a good, long, close look at his blog. I'm not sure that those who dislike McCain can ever warm up to him. I suspect it's a generational thing (which is not good). I don't have to like him to respect him -- or to accept that even in person we might not like each other -- while acknowledging that of all the people in the race, he's the one I'd reluctantly, finally, and ultimately willingly trust to negotiate the dangerous rapids we face. But then I grew up with a bunch of those old intransigent WWII bastards. I'm used to rigid and choleric old men. I know they frequently understand more than they let on. Then they tell you the truth as they see it, which you can sometimes come to terms with and sometimes not. But at least the lines are clearly drawn. I don't expect others to feel the same way. Honestly. But I'm thinking it might be time for an irascible old man to deal with the vicious untrained pups of the New Age, whether they're Putin, Ahdumjihad, Assad, Ban Ki Moon, Kim Jong Il, Pinyin, Osama bin Laden, or divers Euro-Weeny chihuahuas.

I also think I've figured out his real position on torture. If it has to be done, the President should do it himself. (He's guested on 24. How does that compute with his supposed squeamishness?) It's an old guy thing.

I know Fred is old too. But seeing him lay down the law in Die Hard 2 doesn't quite give me that same feeling. Sorry.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

For all the doubters...

HAPPY NEW YEAR. I'm not going to take any credit for finding this essay by Proteus because it's being prominently featured in multiple big-time blogs. I'm just directing Instapunk readers to it with a strong recommendation that they read all of what is quite a lengthy piece. Why? Well, I'm aware that even a lot of conservatives who supported the war in Iraq have been tuning it out for various reasons. Too much bad press has poisoned them to all news about the war. Too much disappointment has inured them to the possibility of good news. Antipathy to one or more of the key players -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bremer, Bush -- has persuaded them that even a good outcome would be just a lucky accident without lasting benefit. Too much irrational hatred from the establishment left has gradually eroded away their own articles of faith.

For those too far gone down one of these roads, nothing anyone can say will change anything. But if you've been tuning it all out just to be on the safe side of your feelings, it's worth your while to read a truly thoughtful analysis of what might be happening under the surface in Iraq -- and under the surface in the Pentagon. You won't know until you plow your way through it.

Here's just a single teaser excerpt from near the end of Part II.

[A]s for the Surge, I am struck by one thought, and that is this: It seems clear now that we needed more troops in theater from Day One. But I think the spectacular success of the Surge is due less to the number of boots on the ground than it is to something far more important.

Looking back on the rise of the insurgency, it seems as if the average Iraqi did not know what to make of America. I suspect that many would have been far more supportive a long time ago, if it were not for the image of a helicopter atop a building in 1975 and a line of desperate people running for their lives. To work with Americans may have been what many wanted to do much, much sooner.


When Michael Moore makes a hugely successful film praising Saddam's paradise and calling these people who bomb women and children in marketplaces "freedom fighters," and when an election turns and places into Congressional power a political party dedicated to reproducing that helicopter tableau as soon as possible... what would you do? Because if you guess wrong and the Americans leave, you will be taken out into the street in front of your family and have your head sawed off.

I think the Surge has had spectacular success not because of the additional troops so much as for the fact that when the media and the Democrats demanded we cut and run... we did not cut and run. We doubled down. When the calls for defeat and dishonor were at their loudest -- sad to say a not unwarranted street rep we had made for ourselves -- somehow, somehow we simply just hung on and gave them not a retreat but a charge.

Jesus Christ, but that must have gotten someone's attention. Yes, the Surge is working. But I believe it is not a surge of boots that is doing the work so much as it is a surge of hope.

Another quick teaser. What does the history of this aircraft have to do with General Petraeus and the surge in Iraq? Plenty.

Here's your link to Part I and Part II.

It's called Forty-Second Boyd and the Big Picture.

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