Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 24, 2008 - February 17, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

McCain reacts angrily
to NYT smear article

XOFF NEWS. In the wake of a New York Times piece claiming he might have tried to have a sexual affair with a much younger female lobbyist, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain was positively irate in his response.

"These so-called journalists are still too wet behind the ears to know what a real man can or cannot do," he said. "I'm here to tell you today that there's still plenty of lead in this old pencil."

With wife Cindy McCain at his side, the candidate scoffed at questions about whether he was physically capable of getting intimate with a woman half his age.

"I want to say one thing to the American people," McCain told reporters in his most serious voice. "I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again. I did have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Iseman. I did not make the whole thing up to impress Ted Kennedy in the Senate cloakroom. These allegations are false. And now I need to go back to work for the American people."

Mrs. McCain also took the microphone to back up her husband's claims. "The only thing that's true in this whole ugly smear is the part about the pencil," she sighed. "But we've worked through that as a couple, and I think the American people can see -- after the drubbing my husband gave tall, dark, and handsome Mitt Dreamy, uh, Romney -- that size isn't everything. It's not the Energizer anaconda, is it? It's the Energizer bunny. He just keeps going, and going, and going." Then, overwhelmed by the situation, she was led away in tears.

McCain staffers said they would be releasing, later today, a complete list of all the younger women in the DC area Senator McCain had given monster orgasms to. A source inside the campaign distributed these photos, which he described as a "down payment on full disclosure."

"And there's a lot more where these came from," the source promised.

We'll see, won't we?

Michael Clayton is, uh, Good.

Clooney does a nice job, dammit.

FAIRNESS IS THE MOST ANNOYING OBLIGATION. It's absolutely true that we're not the world's biggest George Clooney fans. And the insiders say that Daniel Day-Lewis is a dead cert to win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the incredibly virulent anti-capitalist (Oil Companies!!) film There Will Be Blood. Since we are fans of Daniel Day-Lewis, we should be happy, right? Wrong. There's just no satisfying us nuance-free, rightwing lamebrains. What with its being a snow day here in the northeast and all, we found ourselves watching Michael Clayton for cash money in the on-demand region of our cable service. And here's our message to the conservatives who practice their secret boycotts of Jane Fonda movies and all those other products of leftwing Hollywood ingrates: Forget it this time. Michael Clayton is well worth watching. It may be, in fact, the best movie we've seen about the soul-destroying experience of working 24/7 for a truly bad company.

The screenplay, by Tony Gilroy, is brilliant, focused on the indispensable "fixer" all large organizations have to have, the one who does the kind of dirty work which guarantees that almost everyone needs him and almost no one will ever respect him. This is the apotheosis of the role so many corporate employees see themselves playing day after day and year after year of unfulfilling employment. Iin most movies, this is the kind of moral limbo you escape by making some grand gesture and walking away with your soul intact. Michael Clayton can't. Like most people can't. Because bills have to be paid, families have to be maintained, and you do what you have to do to keep the wolves at bay. So he keeps doing things he knows aren't right. He won't be blowing up headquarters with a pipe bomb. That's not how things work. And that's why this is such a good movie.

We'll say this part straight out. Clooney does a remarkable job of conveying the corrosive tradeoffs of this kind of existence without ever throwing a single, scenery-chewing tantrum. He doesn't make faces. He doesn't roll his eyes. He keeps them almost immobile, in a level gaze that is simultaneously searching, perceptive, determined and defeated. He's carrying exactly the right number of extra pounds -- five, seven -- that tell you he's no action hero. But he's tough enough to take the blow without flinching when a man he respects tells him, "You're not an attorney. You're a bagman." He doesn't even blink, but you can feel the depth of the insult anyway. (He is an attorney in this movie.) It's like a punch he's been waiting for without knowing exactly when it would come. It's a knockout shot, but his knees don't buckle until the final scene, when he does what all of us have felt like doing after a really bad day at the office.

There won't be any spoilers here. The plot is, for once, actually subsidiary to the quiet internal war being experienced by the protagonist. And Clooney's isn't the only noteworthy performance. Tilda Swinton, in the role of an ambitious executive in way over her head, and Tom Wilkinson as a brilliant but crazed attorney could both be given an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor without raising any eyebrows. Wilkinson has a scene in which he switches from confused defensiveness to laser-like intimidation with stunning credibility. (The last thing the Brits can still do is act the pants off everyone else.)

Swinton and Wilkinson. He has a nude scene and she doesn't. But her
semi-nude scene is far more revealing and, somehow, downright chilling.

One final tip before you rent or go see this movie. Don't be looking for the hidden lefty agenda. (Even though Clooney is one of the executive producers.) For once, it isn't there. Yes, we're talking about bad corporate behavior, but the real quality of this screenplay is its understanding that bad things are done by individuals, not by vast over-arching conspiracies. And that's probably why Michael Clayton won't be quite enough of a statement about our evil capitalist system to please the Academy.

Here's our promise. We won't stop criticizing Clooney for his moronic politics. But we won't ever call him untalented again. Fair enough? We hope so. This business of being fair is a real bitch.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Unhooked from Reality

One of the executions w/o trial ordered by Castro henchman
Che Guevara, he of the fashion accessories & Obama decor.

A BETTER PLACE. Some mysteries get old without getting solved and people gradually lose interest in solving them. That doesn't make them less mysterious; it just makes them more opaque. At the moment one of the most baffling such mysteries is being covered up by a wildly over-extended figleaf. What would happen if we ripped away that leaf? Let's see. But first, some background.

By now, everyone's seen the CNN talking points about how Castro's regime should be characterized by that network's correspondents:

Some points on Castro – for adding to our anchor reads/reporting:

* Please say in our reporting that Castro stepped down in a letter he wrote to Granma (the communist party daily), as opposed to in a letter attributed to Fidel Castro. We have no reason to doubt he wrote his resignation letter, he has penned numerous articles over the past year and a half.

* Please note Fidel did bring social reforms to Cuba – namely free education and universal health care, and racial integration. in addition to being criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.

* Also the Cuban government blames a lot of Cuba’s economic problems on the US embargo, and while that has caused some difficulties, (far less so than the collapse of the Soviet Union) the bulk of Cuba’s economic problems are due to Cuba’s failed economic polices. Some analysts would say the US embargo was a benefit to Castro politically – something to blame problems on, by what the Cubans call “the imperialist,” meddling in their affairs.

* While despised by some, he is seen as a revolutionary hero, especially with leftist in Latin America, for standing up to the United States.

Enter the figleaf: Castro's excellent record on health care and education. Remember it. Perhaps this will help:

People who care about such things have probably also seen some lefty apologists stepping up to the plate for Castro, like this one by a Brit professor in the blog Crooked Timber:

Castro retires
Posted by Chris Bertram

I haven’t looked yet, but I’ve no doubt that there’ll be lots of posts in the blogosphere saying “good riddance” to Fidel Castro (especially from “left” US bloggers like Brad DeLong who never miss the chance to distance themselves). And, of course, Castro ran a dictatorship that has, since 1959, committed its fair share of crimes, repressions, denials of democratic rights etc. Still, I’m reminded of A.J.P. Taylor writing somewhere or other (reference please, dear readers?) that what the capitalists and their lackeys really really hated about Soviet Russia was not its tyrannical nature but the fact that there was a whole chunk of the earth’s surface where they were no longer able to operate. Ditto Cuba, for a much smaller chunk. So let’s hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care. Let’s hear it for the Cubans who help [sic] defeat the South Africans and their allies in Angola and thereby prepared the end of apartheid. Let’s hear it for the middle-aged Cuban construction workers who held off the US forces for a while on Grenada. Let’s hear it for Elian Gonzalez. Let’s hear it for 49 years of defiance in the face of the US blockade. Hasta la victoria siempre! [emphases added]

Don't be content, though, with reading just the blog entry. Read the comments, too. Other lefties of varying stripes weigh in, some even to criticize Bertram for passing too lightly over Castro's excesses, to which he responds incredulously (paraphrase), "Didn't you see the part where I mentioned crimes, repressions, etc?" (Don't you just love the cavalierness of that "etc"? How many lives have disappeared without a trace into the bottomless pit of that abbreviation?) Mostly, though, they're trying to explain away the symptoms of Cuba's misery in rather astonishing ways. For example, the fact that most refugees headed directly to the U.S. is indicative of capitalists relocating to a more lucrative market rather than flight from political oppression. I kid you not. Read'em for yourself.

The key point is that the views held by the bloggers and commenters at Crooked Timber aren't unusual. A current editorial at the National Review demonstrates just how very usual they are:

Castro has viciously persecuted Cuban intellectuals — anyone with an independent thought—but intellectuals in the West have done little to come to their aid...

And liberals, especially from Hollywood, have always paraded down to Havana, to toast and coo at the dictator. Carole King sang “You’ve Got a Friend” to him — and he has a great many. Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell: All have been there. Campbell hailed Castro as “a source of inspiration to the world.” She and other celebrities are now devotees of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, who campaigns to be Castro’s replacement on the world scene.

And Castro has his friends and champions in American politics — particularly Reps. Charles Rangel and Jose Serrano, both of New York. Rangel, a press pet, would literally embrace Castro when the dictator came to New York to perform at the U.N.

(And NRO was so kind as not to mention Jimmy Carter, Barbara Walters, and... oh, fuck it.)

Ah, but health care. And education. The two axes of that oh-so-precious cover for the dirty privates of Castro's Cuba. Except that they're both made-up crap. Even brass-balled propagandist Michael Moore is forced to retreat to a defense of Canadian and European "universal health care" in this exchange with ABC's John Stossel:

What's especially galling is that it's American taxpayers who are doing more than anyone else to subsidize the fraud of Cuba's health care publicity stunt.

The end of Soviet subsidies forced Cuba to face the real costs of its health care system. Unwilling to adopt the economic changes necessary to reform its dysfunctional economy, the Castro government quickly faced a large budget deficit. In response, the Cuban Government made a deliberate decision to continue to spend money to maintain its military and internal security apparatus at the expense of other priorities--including health care.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, the Cuban Government currently devotes a smaller percentage of its budget for health care than such regional countries as Jamaica, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. ...

The US embargo does NOT deny medicines and medical supplies to the Cuban people. As stipulated in Section 1705 of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the U.S. Government routinely issues licenses for the sale of medicine and medical supplies to Cuba....

Since the passage of the Cuban Democracy Act, the U.S. has become the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Cuba. Much of the humanitarian assistance by U.S. non-governmental organizations consists of medicines and medical equipment. The U.S. Government has licensed more than $150 million in humanitarian assistance to Cuba over the last four years. That is more than the total of worldwide foreign aid to Cuba during that period....

So let's get this straight. The evil American capitalist health care industry provides Cuba with most of the equipment and medicine they employ -- although these resources are routinely diverted to the Castro inner circle elite and to foreign health care "tourists" -- while the America-hating left just as routinely cites Cuba's ludicrous propaganda as some kind of embarrassment for a country that is in every way freer, richer, better cared for, and altruistically generous even to its most malign neighbor. Got it?

You see, it's all okay because of that 100 percent literacy rate. The Cuban method of counting can be trusted implicitly, of course, since Castro only lies about the "et ceteras" of life in his country, like how many dissidents have been imprisoned, tortured and killed. When it comes to the important stuff, like the precious kids everyone's willing to trade every other freedom for, we must believe whatever they say. In Cuba, as nowhere else, education is valued for its own pure sake:

On April 4, 1961 the Cuban dictator created the "Unión de Pioneros de Cuba" (Union of Pioneers of Cuba).

Almost all Cuban children, including Elian Gonzalez (above), have to become 'pioneros.'

If you don't want your child to be a pionero his chances of getting an education in Castro's Cuba are almost non existent Pioneros have to participate in many extra-curricular activities, like marching in front of the US Interests Section whenever the dictator wants, or any other activities being promoted by the Castro regime.

Pioneros are also asked to denounce any counterrevolutionary activity that they see at home, or at the homes of their friends, to their teachers. Many Cuban parents went to jail because one of their children notified authorities that their parents were talking about the government or doing anything at home that was considered 'illegal.'

When the pioneros participate in a government march or any other government sponsored activity, they are given a coupon like the one above. These coupons must be given to their teachers the following day proving that you participated. If you don't turn in your coupon and don't have a very good excuse, the teacher will make a notation on the "Expediente Acumulativo del Estudiante" (Student Accumulative Dossier) that each Cuban student carries from kindergarten until he graduates from high school....

In addition to information about the student participation in all political activities, the dossier also has information about his family including whether his parents are 'integrated' or not, as can be seen above.

This page reads "Integración Revolucionaria" or Revolutionary Integration. The first line refers to the father and the second line to the mother of the student. It shows if they belong to the Communist Party; to the Union of Cuban Women; to the CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution); the Federation of Cuban Women; and the CTC or Confederation of Cuban Workers. In pre-Castro Cuba, the CTC used to represent Cuban workers and demand new benefits and better salaries for them. In Castro's Cuba the CTC, as everything else, is part of the regime that is exploiting the workers and treating them as if they were slaves.

The poor Cuban workers have to pay a fee to the CTC from their meager salaries in order to be "represented" by them. It is equivalent to Afro-Americans paying a fee to the KKK in order for the KKK to protect their rights as Black citizens! [emphases added]

The above comes from a website operated by Cubans who have escaped from Cuba. It is therefore to be trusted less than the information which issues from the Cuban government, which is, after all, a government, not a collection of disgruntled emigres. I mean, what would American emigres say about the U.S.? See? Except that American emigres never have to escape by setting out to sea in rafts made of tied-together truck tires. If that means anything.

Enough. The figleaf is a lie. It always was. Is it really possible that all the Castro apologists ever believed it? Not really. Grinding poverty, fearful silence as the constant ambiance of ordinary folk, and endlessly repeated desperate escape attempts that would never be attempted by the beloved kids of America and Europe are signs that even a Sean Penn, A CNN producer, or a British professor can recognize. Which leaves us with the original mystery stripped bare.

The face of Castro's Cuba

Why have leftists, and liberals generally, gone so out of their way over the years to admire and suck up to Castro, to lionize his Eichmann, Che Guevara, and to celebrate (Yes, they do!) the reign of a murderous, almost certainly psychopathic dictator whom many of them continue to suspect -- conspiracy theorists as lefties are in the marrow of their bones -- of assassinating their own most beloved icon of American liberalism, John F. Kennedy?

Most conservatives act as if this is a sidebar of left/liberal nuttiness, a kind of rococo flourish so bizarre that it's more exclamation point than question mark. They're wrong. The mystery of liiberal sympathy for vicious totalitarians is central to the philosophical corruption they carry in their souls like a fatal spiritual disease.

It's not a quirk. Or an accident. Or a fashion statement. Or an epistemological pose. It's a true measure of their self-hating nihilism. And by self-hating, I'm not limiting the term to their own persons. It's the whole human race they hate. They make their continual excuses for Castro, Stalin and his successors -- including KGB boss Gorbachev, whom they prefer to Reagan as the architect of the Cold War's peaceful resolution -- because in their twisted perception of existence, the worst evolutionary accident of all was the emergence of human self-consciousness and the meaningless agony that fluke inflicted on the most intelligent of our catastrophically destructive species. And despite their excruciating, faithless, existential angst, they are united by a cowardice that prevents them from resorting to individual suicide. Rather, they have chosen to focus their prodigious intellectual talents on achieving at a macro level what lowly New York police officers call "suicide by cop."

The leftists of the western world are the women who write love letters to, and ultimately marry, serial killers. They're the sexual masochists who experience an orgasm as their sadistic lovers murder them in what purports to be an act of love. They're the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cindy Sheehan, the citizens of Spain, the AP journalists who call Islamic terrorists gunmen and freedom fighters, they're all the bankrupt, consciousness-hating pseudo-intelligentsia whose deepest desire is to be slaughtered by the one constituency on earth which hates them as much as they hate themselves.

But here's the saddest part of all. Having given away their own share of the divine spark which elevates us all, they have lost the scope of imagination which might enable them to see the vivid ugliness of their own demise. While they may revel in the tortures described in Solzhenitsyns's Gulag Archpelago or Castro's neolithic labor camps, their hyper-intellectualized loss of empathy deprives them of the ability to understand that social justice is not a kind of mathematics that will satisfy their esthetic desire for cancellation. Perhaps that's why the nihilists in charge of the MSM have stopped showing us -- i.e., themselves -- the jumpers from the twin towers and the slow sawing off of heads favored by their Islamist liberators. They have convinced themselves that the just end, when it comes, will be some kind of fulfilling release from the fancied pain of their too pampered lives.

It won't be. That's the only consolation left to the rest of us, those who believe life is worth living and worth dying to save the dignity of.

I'm truly sorry I can't believe that the odds-on favorite to become the next president of the United States -- and most particularly his wife -- have any idea what I'm talking about. They think a Cuban flag featuring Che Guevara at one of their campaign offices is merely "inappropriate." (If that. Let's be honest.)

I think Americans who hate America for the very vitality that has made this nation the light of the world are inappropriate. But, then, I've never been smart enough to be a nihilist.

He's back...
Brizoni the Ineffable

The road to redemption is always paved with a truckload of grovel.

TWO HOURS DETENTION. There's a slaughter rule for newens here at InstaPunk. After calling down the wrath of God, then calling down the wrath of everyone left w/ taste and tact not 2 weeks later, I got busted down to the remedial class. In the basement. For my "protection." This would have been a brief probation, but I tried to diffuse The Boss's displeasure with a jocular "N_____ please." Easily the worst idea I've ever had. [IP: Not quite. He followed it up with an A____________ please.]

That got me kicked off the politics beat, to boot. Now I'm relegated to Page 6 gossip; panning for gold dust in muddy creeks like this:

Celebrity addiction expert Dr. Drew Pinsky is weighing in on Britney Spears' problems, saying that the pop star could die if she doesn't get the help she needs.

Although the doctor has never treated Spears personally, he told Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show Tuesday, "We are watching somebody who is following the Anna Nicole Smith blueprint to the letter. She's keeping people around her that allow her to keep using and that supports her denial.

Because I couldn't see the significance of something so obvious as the Presidential election, I have to spin gold out of this? Since I couldn't find a dollar in a bucket of sand, The Boss makes me look for a penny in the grain silo of the Britney story? That's like expelling a kid for truancy.

Deep breath. As an only child, I keep thinking complaining is going to get me somewhere. Not this time. Time to grit my teeth, clench my face like a fist, and CHARGE:

Pop singer Britney Spears has failed to regain access to her two young sons following a closed-door court hearing.

Spears, who was recently admitted to hospital for psychiatric evaluation, was barred from visiting her sons last January after she refused to hand the children back to their father Kevin Federline, who currently has primary custody of the boys.

Los Angeles Superior Court spokesman Alan Parachini told reporters after yesterday's hearing that there had been no change in the orders handed out by the family judge who last month stripped Spears of her visitation rights.

The court denied a motion by Spears' lawyer to issue a gag order to keep attorneys from talking to the media. [Emphasis added]

The Dr. Drew quote is from last month, and is therefore too old to be relevant, but I think it is anyway. Everyone is focused on the inanity of the circus of attention that she and the rest of the Valtrex Pack command. Even InstaPunk. We don't think to think of her as a person. Not that we think of her as NOT a person, mind you. We just don't take the time to put into mind that no human being can be JUST a lame story we've heard ad nauseum.

But Dr. Drew has. As an addiction medicine specialist who's treated thousands of patients (that's in person, not counting the radio show), he knows drug abuse when he sees it. Me, I give the standard exasperated "so what?" when I see the latest Britney headline, every time, as if that's a new observation. He chose to look at her with the eyes of a medical care professional, as if she were a person and not just a constant drain on media usefulness. He's seen logical implications of a situation we all took as meriting no further attention. That's a habit we'd all do well to cultivate.

(To be fair to The Boss, he's done that with things more important.)

I'd like to think the judge who refused the gag order understands that we're all, to enough degree that it matters, complicit in Britney's tailspin. "We didn't hold her down and shove pills in her mouth and do that throat-rubbing thing to make her swallow," you say. True. We're not responsible for her. Not even in the way we'd be responsible for, say, a friendly but sporadic acquaintance w/ a drinking problem. But all those paparazzi aren't some privately commissioned army of harassment, are they? You know why they make money, and why there's so many of them.

Come on. It's great fun to see the mighty fall and everything, but look at her. Even if this were Ken Lay's widow, it'd be dubious to enjoy watching someone die like this. Let alone some pop mascot whose greatest crime against all of us was recording dull music.

We don't have to save her. We do have to wish her well, and mean it. Yes, have to.

P.S. Don't trip over each other to bring this up. I get it. Good work.

P.P.S. How was that, Boss? Can I maybe come out of these stocks now, Boss?


Yes. Instapunk is always right, but even heroes have their weak moments. Apparently, you're not the only one who's been tempted to play gruesome mind games. You also act as if Instapunk has never (un)covered Britney. Untrue. Dominus noster Kobra te absolvat. Get back to work on the stuff you care about, newen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obama's Hidden Hazards

OBAMAMANIA. It may seem like it will be mostly clear sailing from here on in for Obama, but a few factors that are supposed to be plusses for him may turn out to be less so in the general election. I'm not going to do a detailed analysis here, just point out a few things that could become troublesome down the road if he isn't careful.

1. It's been almost too easy for him thus far. The MSM has been cheering him on the whole way, and in the Battle of Teflon between Obama and the Clintons, it was the Clintons who discovered that their miraculous non-stick surface was finally beginning to wear through to the bare metal. Obama's starting to look and sound as if he's invulnerable. But pride goeth before a fall, and his 45-minute primary victory address last night seemed self-indulgent at best ("He's still talking...") and, at worst, cocky. A lot of Americans don't much like cockiness in their politicians.

2. About all that speechifying... High-flown oratory can be refreshing on occasion, but it gets old. Bill Clinton almost ended his national political career before it had even begun with his endless speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. And Clinton's flavor of windiness is nevertheless more bearable over the long term because it is earnest and plainspoken, while Obama's is more formal, a bit mannered, and far more evocative of the church pulpit than the "bully" one. The true believers on the campaign trail may like being preached at, but it's a pretty good bet that most Americans don't. All that hyperbole of Obama as a savior or messiah isn't going to sell in the long run. He'd better understand that even if his more ardent fans don't.

3. Race is a three-edged sword. The first two edges have been abundantly noted and commented on. Yes, there are Americans who still aren't ready for a black president, though not nearly as many as the paranoids in the liberal media feared. There is also a deadly danger to anyone who makes a charge or even an observation about Obama that might conceivably be interpreted as suggestiive of racial prejudice. The third edge is concealed between the bright lines of the first two. As I've noted before, America may well be ready for a black president, but they're not ready for a president who is black first and American second. That's the real explosiveness of Michelle Obama's twice repeated statement that she is "proud of America for the first time in her adult life." Worse than any public contentiousness about this remark would be the typical liberal first retort, which is that she's entitled to such feelings because she's an African-American woman, and we just don't know what all she's been through. We do know at least part of what she's been through, namely Princeton and Harvard Law School, and race aside, we don't like being told that a candidate for national leadership -- or his wife -- has an inherent right to look down on the rest of us, so shut up. (See the first vid clip below.) If every gaffe or unpleasantness committed by the Obamas on the campaign trail is going to be shushed up or suppressed to spare their racial sensitivities, resentment is bound to grow like mushrooms in the dark. If that's the strategy, the third edge will cost Obama the election.

4. Hope has its dark side, too. The liberal spin is that all those speeches about Hope are the kind of positive and optimistic approach Americans seem to favor in their presidential candidates. But underneath the glowing rhetorical surface of his words, Obama is really playing a political hand straight out of the failed John Edwards campaign: there are two Americas, and if you're in the America that didn't go to Princeton and Harvard, you're shit out of luck unless the Princeton and Harvard folks in the federal government stoop all the way down from their thrones on Capitol Hill to bail you out of your misery. That's actually a pretty negative picture and a pretty condescending political platform. Obama's gotten away with it so far based on the convenient fact that he has no record to speak of and that he has sedulously avoided getting too specific about just who it is that's so damned miserable and worthless they need the government to pick them up, dust them off, and pat them on the rump until tears turn to smiles. It's a perilous circumstance for Obama that middle class Americans are prepared to believe lots and lots of people don't have it so good, but they're the exception (see the second vid clip below). If they figure out they really are the ones Obama considers weak losers, they might not take his compassion so kindly.

5. First Ladies are second bananas. Still. Multiple commentators have noted the irony that Michelle Obama, who is on record as saying she's not sure she could support Hillary if Obama loses the nomination, is acting an awful lot like Hillary in 1992: controversial, self-important, and disconcertingly unpredictable. Whatever feminists yearn for in their dreams, the job the wives of presidential candidates are applying for is to be the first hostess and full-time cheerleader for the nation. A lot of Hillary's almost cripplingly high personal negatives are derived directly from her hubris as First Lady. Teresa Heinz-Kerry may not have cost her husband the election in 2004, but she damn sure didn't do him any good. Michelle had better learn her place -- not in the racial but the political sense of that term -- as an unelected tag-along whose responsibilities are real but mostly symbolic. The biggest responsibility of the First Lady is to do no harm. Sadly, relatively few of them have met even this low standard.

Now, since it's also YouTube Wednesday, here are some vids related one way or another to the points made above.

And a final one (h/t Ace of Spades), just to remind everyone that we're not pretending to be completely objective here, about Obama or anyone else.

Enjoy the rest of your day.


FYI: Samantha Power

WHO'S GOT THE POWER?. If you're anything like us (and why would you be?), you checked InstaPundit today and discovered Michael Totten's link to several credible sources who are gravely concerned about one of Obama's foreign policy advisers. Her name is Samantha Power, and she is on record as having said stuff like this:

On the Most Important Priority in the Middle East

"The next president is really going to have to walk and chew gum at the same time, because no long-term peace in the Middle East is possible until we get some kind of modus vivendi in the Arab-Israeli situation...".

On Containing the Aggression of Iran

"To neutralize the support Ahmadinejad has domestically, we need to stop threatening and to get in a room with him -- if only to convey grave displeasure about his tactics regionally and internationally -- and then try to build international support for measures to prevent him from supporting terrorism and pursuing a nuclear program. If we're ever going to actually put in place multilateral measures to contain Iran, the only way we’re going to do that is if we do it in a more united way with our allies...."

On Leaving Iraq

"We need to be incredibly sensitive as we leave Iraq to the welfare of Iraqis who are going to be left in our wake. That potentially entails the idea of sectarian or ethnic relocation if people are in a mixed neighborhood and feel that they'd be safer in a more homogenous neighborhood...

"Also, [it entails] massive support for neighboring countries that have taken in 2 million refugees, and some very systematic effort between now and the time we begin leaving to build funding and resource streams to internally displaced people."

It's statements like these that inspired one of the foreign policy experts linked by Totten to observe:

It might be time that I downgraded my opinion of Samantha Power from someone who I believe holds naive and mischievous opinions on the Middle East to someone who for the most part simply doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

If you wanted to you could learn more about this Harvard professor's biography here. But we're pretty convinced all you really need is the graphic above. Take a long hard look into that final frame, and tell yourself you don't see deep-down crazy.

Or not. Your choice.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

(Un)Expected Developments
The Clintons met earlier today with the superdelegates.

XOFF NEWS. Hillary Clinton campaign operatives are denying there's any truth to the stories that any kind of vote-fixing or election fraud was involved in the odd circumstances surrounding the Super Tuesday primary in Ms. Clinton's home state:

ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: Reported "Zero" Count or Undercount of Obama Votes in Some NY Precincts Raises Questions

The Democratic party is again facing questions about its handling of the primary process in some precincts in New York City, where initial "unofficial" tallies reported zero votes for Sen. Barack Obama, of Illinois, rival of local junior senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party's presidential nomination. The undercounts appear to represent severe distortions of the actual tally, and occurred in areas where Obama's support rivaled Clinton's.

The question has been raised by several party leaders as to how any candidate could be expected to have received zero votes and why the problem was not corrected sooner. Some have suggested the extreme error points to the unlikelihood of wrongdoing, while others allege some sort of conspiracy to steal enough votes to add one or two delegates to the Clinton tally.

Neither of the Clintons could be reached for comment. Reportedly, they were meeting with the 796 superdelegates to the Democratic Convention, who announced earlier this morning that they would all be casting their ballots for Senator Clinton in every round of floor voting at the convention. When they were asked what had suddenly decided them to commit their support so completely all at the same time, they all said they "could not recall" what had made up their minds.

In a separate and equally surprising development, binding pre-entry polls (a recently imposed party regulation) of Democrat voters in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania revealed that Senator Clinton will win these key primary states unanimously. Poll responses also indicate that the voters in these states "have no recollection" of what factors influenced their decision.

Hillary wins. Unanimously. Of course.

Senator Barack Obama's campaign manager, who had recently spoken with Bill Clinton by phone, indicated that he "accepted the will of the voters," although he was, of course, "saddened" by the sudden end of his candidate's prospects for the nomination. He said he had "no memory at this time" of exactly what he had discussed with former President Clinton in their phone conversation. "I'm sure it was just the usual political chit-chat," he said.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean expressed his "great relief" that the tightly contested nomination race was now concluded."I'm absolutely certain that the party will unite behind our excellent candidate," he said. "It's time to bury the past -- and keep it buried as long as all the various statutes of limitations are in force." Actually he never said that last part, according to the DNC spokesgirl, who should know, because look at her.

Bill's New Intern
DNC Spokesgirl

So that's pretty much it for the campaign. Until it's time to destroy McCain in the fall, of course. We'll be back at you then.

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