Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
October 22, 2010 - October 15, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

All You Really Need to
Know about the Election

SWARTHMORONS.35.1-13. AND HALLITES.1-16. [scroll] Not that we won't be piling on from time to time...

NPR Follow-Up Follies

Schiller, Weiss, and Saperstein

Chalk another astute question up to Mrs. IP. She was curious about who the two NPR execs most involved in the Juan Williams firing are. The information is readily available, but where in all the columns about that affair have you been informed of these bald facts?

CEO Vivian Schiller (the one who suggested Juan Williams needed a psychiatrist):

Vivian Schiller is the daughter of Ronald Schiller, a former editor at Reader's Digest, and Lillian Schiller of Larchmont, New York. She graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor's degree in Russian studies and Soviet studies, and a Master's degree in Russian from Middlebury College.

Prior to leading NPR, Schiller was a senior vice president of She was the first general manager of Discovery Times Channel (now Investigation Discovery), from 2002 - 2006.

I won't make the obvious joke about National Pravda Radio, because dozens of people should already have explored all the possible punchlines.

VP Ellen Weiss (the one who did the actually firing, by telephone):

The VP of the News Division, Ellen Weiss, is a graduate of Smith College and is married to a rabbi.

Her husband is a rabbi? Well, sort of:

David Saperstein is a rabbi, lawyer, and Jewish community leader. He has served as the director and chief legal counsel at the Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center for more than 30 years. Saperstein succeeded Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch as leader of the Washington D.C.-based political lobbying arm of the North American Reform movement. There, he advocates on a broad range of social justice issues. He directs a staff who provide extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues, federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils nationwide, coordinating social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.

He currently co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, and serves on the boards of the NAACP and People For the American Way. In 1999, Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

On August 28, 2008, Saperstein delivered the invocation at the Democratic National Convention's final session, before Senator Barack Obama accepted the party's nomination for president.

Saperstein lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, National Public Radio vice president for news Ellen Weiss. They have two sons. [boldface mine].

You know, you really couldn't make this stuff up. Hidden agendas? Conflicts of interest? Radical leftism parading as objective journalism? Don't be ridiculous. (Speaking of ridiculous, love the pretentious eyeglasses perched on big brainy forehead look btw.) So why are you hearing it here first? Who are we all afraid of offending this time? CAIR? Or those who have a vested interest in whoring for CAIR? You tell me.

And I really really hope you can wake up and smell the coffee, Juan.

More stuff that isn't about the election:

Go ahead. Be a lawyer.

. Confirms all of my informal research over the years. And the tone is completely perfect. The raw emotion is so moving.

More stuff that isn't about elections:

Italians Will End the World
(always suspected as much)

Yeah. The thing that killed Pompeii. This time would be A LOT worse.

SMALL POTATOES. Forget 2012. This seems genuinely concerning. Because the decision is up to Italians:

Unlike the relatively modest eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in the spring of 2010, an eruption of Campi Flegrei [Mount Vesuvius] would be beyond human imagination. It last erupted in 1538, killing dozens of people and creating the 1,500-foot-high Monte Nuovo. An eruption in this area more than 39,000 years ago had the same effect as a giant meteorite landing; it created the eight-mile wide depression that now forms the caldera.

"[An eruption of] Campi Flegrei could generate global, worldwide catastrophes," De Natale tells NEWSWEEK. "If it erupted, it would be really a complete catastrophe at a global scale, with millions of casualties, strong climate changes, perhaps causing a small ice age, and sterilization [contamination] of several hundred thousand square kilometers of European land for centuries."

The project has set off a passionate scientific and philosophical debate in a country where the idea of a volcano that could bury a city is more than just myth. Should they heed the rumblings under the earth and use science to evaluate the danger, possibly helping Naples avoid the tragedy that befell Pompeii? Or is it better not to tempt fate by drilling into the massive volcanic cauldron for fear that the work will disturb whatever combination of luck and geology has been keeping the city safe for thousands of years? The conflict has finallly bubbled over, prompting the mayor of Naples, Rosa Russo Iervolino, to delay the start of the project and call a meeting this week in Rome to determine whether it's safe to move forward.

The Italians are thinking about drilling into Vesuvius to lance the boil. And you're still fretting about mid-terms?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR's Double Standard

Juan Williams bad, Daniel Schorr good.

SWARTHMORONS.1-6. I'm not surprised Juan Williams got fired by NPR. I've been expecting it. I know Mara Liasson was threatened some months ago because of her Fox connection. And Juan has been courting a smackdown for months now with his frequent appearances on Hannity and the O'Reilly Factor, where he seems less doctrinaire than he is on Special Report. I imagine Fox will take care of him, perhaps with a show of his own. I'd have let it go at that except for an emerging meme best exemplified by Bernie Goldberg's column on the matter, "Juan Williams, NPR and the Death of Liberalism."

Here's a bulletin, NPR: Lots and lots and lots of Americans feel the same way as Juan Williams. And that includes lots and lots of liberals. And probably a lot of liberals who work at NPR. Juan's "crime" wasn't that he said something bigoted. His crime is that he said something that liberals find politically incorrect. And that he said it out loud. And worst of all, that he said it on the Fox News Channel.

In liberal circles this is nothing less than a crime against humanity!

What makes this so crazy -- and so sad -- is that liberals are the open-minded ones, the ones who cherish the free exchange of ideas, the smart ones. And if you don't believe me, just ask any liberal, who will be glad to tell you how smart and open-minded he or she is. But these are the kind of people who believe in "free speech" only as long as they agree with you.

My problem? Goldberg acts as if this is some startling new milestone in the long decline of American liberalism. It isn't. I understand that he wants to perpetuate the myth that there was some kind of Golden Age of news reporting in which liberal journalists were objective and fair-minded despite their political views. But he's wrong about that. What's new is the Internet and the bright glare of attention liberal corruption now attracts. The biases, hidden agendas, and distorting reportage have always been there. Liberals have never been tolerant, open-minded, or fair. To this day, the New York Times has never returned or repudiated the Pulitzer Prize awarded to William Duranty for covering up the worst of Stalin's crimes in a deliberate attempt to promote Soviet communism in his homeland.

NPR's hands aren't clean either. Confounding many of my friends, I listened to NPR at intervals for years, just to remain aware of what story the liberals were telling themselves and their constituencies. The absolute hardest thing to stomach was the daily monologue of Daniel Schorr, introduced reverentially by NPR hosts. He was from the era Goldberg would like us to believe was professional, principled, and competent. He died this summer, and here's one of the final paragraphs of his official bio:

In 1996, Schorr received the Columbia University Golden Baton for "Exceptional Contributions to Radio and Television Reporting and Commentary." An award that is considered the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Schorr has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Professional Journalists and in 2002, Schorr was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Golden Baton! Wow. If I'd known that, maybe I wouldn't have had to grit my teeth whenever I heard that old-time CBS voice -- that smug, condescending, know-it-all world weariness of the lone intelligent man in the room, now that Eric Severaid was pushing up daisies. Or maybe not. Here's an item from his resume NPR's 'editorial standards' might have taken more note of than they did. It dates to 1964, when the liberal media and intelligentisia did everything they could think of to destroy Barry Goldwater:

In response to a questionnaire from a magazine, 1,189 psychiatrists, none of whom had ever met Goldwater, declared him unfit for office — “emotionally unstable,” “immature,” “cowardly,” “grossly psychotic,” “paranoid,” “chronic schizophrenic” and “dangerous lunatic” were some judgments from the psychiatrists who believed that extremism in pursuit of Goldwater was no vice. Shortly before the election, Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter published in Harper's an essay (later expanded into a book with the same title), “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” that encouraged the idea that Goldwater's kind of conservatism was a mental disorder.

On the eve of the convention that nominated Goldwater, Daniel Schorr of CBS, “reporting” from Germany, said: “It looks as though Senator Goldwater, if nominated, will be starting his campaign here in Bavaria, center of Germany's right wing” and “Hitler's one-time stomping ground.” Goldwater, said Schorr, would be vacationing near Hitler's villa at Berchtesgaden. Schorr further noted that Goldwater had given an interview to Der Spiegel “appealing to right-wing elements in Germany” and had agreed to speak to a gathering of “right-wing Germans.” So, “there are signs that the American and German right wings are joining up.”

But as Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard has reported, although Goldwater had spoken vaguely about a European vacation (he did not take one), he had not mentioned Germany, and there were no plans to address any German group.

Goldberg's Tiffany news network would never have put up with that, would they? From the same bio that lists all of Schorr's awards:

In 1964 Schorr was nearly sacked after reporting that Barry Goldwater was linked with a group of German right-wing military men.

Nearly sacked. Awww. But it didn't stop him from receiving the Golden Baton. Or a sinecure as resident god of journalism on NPR for years and years and years.

This is an old old game that has just selected Juan Williams as victim. It looks like African-American contributors at NPR have just been cut in half. Liberals are what they've always been. Totalitarians who continue to envy the Soviet model of press freedom: Infinite freedom to spout the party line, and no freedom to disagree with what is clearly correct.

I wish Juan Williams well. I hope this is a learning experience for him. His most upstanding defenders at this moment are conservatives who disagree with almost everything he says and believes about politics. What does that tell you? Or him?


More stuff that's not about the election:
The Event

UNKIND REVIEWS. Forget the Big Hollywood paranoia about anti-Bush themes. Not true. I like this show. This president is also a fighter, like (gasp) GWB. Yeah, it's going to be cancelled (and probably very soon), but until it is, it's a great thrill ride. Catch it on-demand, from episode onetwo. Yes, it's flawed, but it's more 24 than not. This time, Jack Bauer is strictly an amateur, but he will not stop. And Blair Underwood as president is no Obama. A few episodes in, you'll begin to like him. Promise.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More stuff that's not about the election:

Staying on our toes:
How do we do it?

RELIABLE SOURCES. People keep asking me, "IP, how do you manage to be so on top of things?" I have a secret weapon. The missus. Here are three emails I've received just in the last hour:

Christie Really is a Big Man

Seen this?

Christie Offers Education Job to Rhee.

Colts News

I'm guessing drinking is the only leisure activity in Indianapolis:

Colts Punter Arrested.for Swimming in Canal.

The Scots

They are crazy.  They want no part of war, but don’t want their defense spending cut.  So they can cruise the world on warships?

Scotland Battered in Defense Review.

How do I manage to stay on top of things? I don't. I'm just trying to keep up with my wife. A losing battle, I fear.

More stuff that's not about the election:

What's Up with Planet Green?

Yeah, it's Discovery Channel. But Planet Green is running it...?!

WHAT ELECTION? Who says I'm not open-minded? I've been watching the new Planet Green Channel, which features an inordinate number of documentaries about touchy-feely types interacting with bears. Okay. But there's less about Global Warming than I expected, and I have to say they've surprised me. They're running the reality show "Fight Quest," about two martial arts fanatics who travel the world looking for, well, fights. Gaia doesn't seem to be on the menu. Odd.

AND. They also have what may be the best reality show I've ever seen: Last One Standing. Six athletes -- three Americans and three Brits --  travelling the world to participate in tribal sports that are frequently downright dangerous. I do mean "travel the world." They've done stick-fighting in Zulu territory, wrestling in Mongolia, kick-fighting in India, a marathon-plus race in sandals in Brazil, and crazed contact cricket in the South Pacific.

Green? Gaia? Well, maybe. I like the changes they've made to the standard reality format. They're not constantly tossing someone aside every week. There's no politicking or backbiting. The six contestants like one another, root for one another, and seem well aware that they're being given an opportunity to measure up to the manhood standards in cultures so diverse that you wonder how a bunch of jocks can handle the cognitive dissonance. But they do. I confess that watching it from week to week makes me proud of western civilization. Wherever they go, they want to measure up. Whatever the new sport, they have a local trainer and they quickly become committed to not disappointing him. They all seem to have a talent for immersion. Whatever the challenge, by the time they enter the ring, they are emotionally invested in the outcome -- honoring the local culture even as they insist on upholding their own. In the terms of the show, they are competing with one another, But there's a competitive ideal they embody with no emanations of fraud. They're antagonists and friends.

Did I mention that they're diverse? A BMX racer from Oklahoma. A rugby and cricket star from Oxford, who's pursuing a degree in theology. A cockney kickboxer. An American strong man competitor with spectacles and nipple rings (presently tied for the lead). An endurance athlete from Alaska. A Brit fitness guru who entered the Mongolian wrestling competition with two broken ribs. The best episode to date was the Zulu stick fighting. People die in these matches. Drawn blood is one of only three ways a match can end. All of them were afraid, on camera, and all of them competed. Some of them won. Best of all, you can see them all growing. They're not just dumb jocks. They're men. Why the whole thing seems kind of retro and, well, lovely.

Next stop, Indonesia. I'll be watching. Eventually, there will be a winner. But it seems very much as if they're all winners. As are we for watching.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A Peek Inside

Skull & Bones!

NOTWITHSTANDING. There's this new movie, The Social Network. I hear it was also a book. One or the other or both names the Phoenix SK Club at Harvard as an actor in the drama.

So now I guess we can expect a new wave of Discovery Channel documentaries about the Phoenix SK Club to add to the sinister revelations about Yale's Skull & Bones.

Has it occurred to anyone that the definition of a secret society is that it succeeds in remaining secret? Skull & Bones isn't a secret. You're all panting and upset about it. The Phoenix Club isn't a secret. Here it is:

Want to know a real secret? The Porcellian Club. Harvard's oldest final club. Founded in 1791. They have their own gate into Harvard Yard. All anybody knows about them -- even among the other Harvard final clubs -- is rumor and speculation. They're an eminence so gray as to be nearly invisible.

The Porcellian Gate. See the boar's head? No? Why it's so secret.

Other clubs take in ten to twelve members a year. The Porcellian accepts two or three. One of the few things we know about them is who they didn't take: Teddy Kennedy (The Owl), Jack and Bobby Kennedy (The Spee), Franklin Roosevelt (The Fly), J.P. Morgan (The Delphic -- in fact, he founded it to get in), and the Facebook boys (The Phoenix). uh, a point of explanation. At Harvard, the Porcellian is like Harvard; if you get in, that's where you go.

All of which begins to make Skull & Bones look like pretty small potatoes. First of all, the Bushes and Kerrys obviously didn't get into Harvard, or why would they go to Yale? And even if they had, there's no chance they would have gotten into the, uh, Porcellian.

If you have mystique even in a world of secrets, you must be special. The scuttlebutt at Harvard is that admission to the Porcellian is a free ticket to the rest of your life. If you need connections, the Porcellian will provide. If you need money, the Porcellian will provide. If you need, well, anything, the Porcellian will provide.

Wikipedia has a standard disinformation piece that lists some of the members. Of course, they don't list all the members. No mention of Count Dracula ('96), Darth Vader ('03), or Bonaparte Louis-Napoleon ('88), for example. Or the Archangels Michael ('91), Gabriel ('91), and Lucifer ('91).

I'm just saying. Nobody nowhere knows what goes on in this building.

Shouldn't the MSM start getting to the bottom of the real secret society that runs everything? Or are they just too afeared to do so?


Reliable Nonsense

Sorry, my dear. He always was a smacked ass.

HOWIE. This guy. Sorry. A teaspoon of brains with a tablespoon of TV Q-attractiveness. Do I sound bitter? The missus continues to defend him. "I used to like him," she lamely explains.

Stop it. He's an idiot. Here's his latest, at his new home, the Daily Beast. Oh, Yes. It's fisked throughout.

How the Media Blew the Midterm

The media narrative by now is set in concrete: The voters are teed off, rising up, mad as hell and ready to wreak havoc. [Kewl]

There is a whiff, if you read between the lines, that the expected outcome is somehow unjust. [Huh?] The Democrats are going to get their backsides handed to them, in this telling, because the Obama administration has clumsily failed to explain what it’s done for the folks, and because of slightly scary passions unleashed by the Tea Party crazies. [Let's repeat that: "Slightly scary passions unleashed by Tea Party crazies." It's scary to object to multi-trillion dollar deficits. It's crazy to want a smaller federal government. Got it. Thanks, HOWARD.]

The journalistic tone was somewhat different in 2006, when exasperated voters handed the House and Senate to the Dems, and 2008, when Barack Obama sold himself as a post-partisan savior.[Different? Really? Ya think?]

I’m not saying this is intentional [of course not], or that the MSM are mangling the midterms.[No, no, no, no, no, I'd never say that...] Many voters are angry, especially about the anemic economy, and it’s their right to toss out whoever they deem to be the bums. But on some level, many journalists believe the White House has accomplished a heckuva lot [uh, yeah, we know many journalists believe that; and you left the Post for the Beast, why?]  and they see the Tea Partiers as inchoate and maddeningly inconsistent—denouncing big bad government while clinging to their Medicare and Social Security benefits. [Tired of this liberal touchstone. You force us into a system and then denounce us when we object because we take the crumbs we're allowed. Doesn't mean we ever liked what we were forced to accept.] It’s as if the pundits are collectively engaged in a group grope, feeling their way around this strange and sharp-toothed political animal that resembles nothing they’ve encountered before. ["Nothing we've ever encountered before." Yawn. Nothing rhey've ever bothered to cover as journalists before. How could that be? WE DON'T LIKE YOU, DON'T TRUST YOU, DON'T TALK TO YOU. And fortunately for us, you rarely ask. News Flash: We think you journalists are lefty assholes. Whatcha gonna do about THAT, Howie?]

Few have gone as far as the late (and usually great) Peter Jennings, explaining the 1994 Gingrich takeover by declaring that “the voters had a temper tantrum.” [Unlike the tantrum Jennings had on 9/11, questioning the courage of his president while the Secret Service was fighting a losing battle to keep him away from the White House. What a man, er, clothes horse.] But news organizations were late to the Tea Party phenomenon, and are still grappling to explain it—in part because of its amorphous and unofficial nature. [Always upsetting when voters are "unofficial."] They were blindsided by Scott Brown’s win and Lisa Murkowski’s loss. [Something about pros versus amateurs? Maybe this will help.]

“The media profile is of an angry, racist rabble, and that doesn’t match the people I’ve seen in focus groups,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres, describing the Tea Party movement. “There’s a predisposition in the more liberal elements of the media to paint Republicans as unsophisticated rubes who don’t appreciate all the wonderful things the Obama administration and the Democratic Party have done for the country. It’s just out of touch with the reality.” [Check.]

For Jano Cabrera, a Democratic strategist, the subject strikes a nerve. “My wife and I were having this very conversation,” he says. “When we were trying to seize power, we had justified anger, and now we talk about uninformed voters.” Obama inherited unprecedented challenges, Cabrera says, but in politics “you can’t go back and say it’s the other guy’s fault.” [Awwwww. Except that your guy keeps doing it, and doing and doing it, and...]

[This] is a year in which facts—the preferred currency of the reality-based media [Huh? Reality-based? Did I miss the memo?]—often don’t seem to matter. Journalists report that Sharron Angle had favored privatizing Social Security, spoke of people considering “Second Amendment remedies” and counseled rape victims to turn “a lemon situation into lemonade” by giving birth—and she’s still competitive with Harry Reid. [Hey. Let's lynch her. A corrupt liar would be ever so much better.]  Media outlets report that Christine O’Donnell, the onetime witchcraft dabbler [Fuck you, Howie], opposes masturbation [at one time, or is everything present tense with you, Howie?. Which must mean Obama is a cokehead, right?] and considers evolution “a myth,” [as do many serious scientists] and she laughs it off (while trailing in the race). [If we asked you why you bailed on the Post, dying from its own liberal poison, would you answer or laugh it off? Just so.] New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino calls gay pride parades “disgusting,”[they are, as even you know after a beer or two]  hurls baseless charges about Andrew Cuomo’s sex life (after fathering a child out of wedlock himself) and tells a New York Post columnist “I’ll take you out”—and still hasn’t been laughed out of the race. [Let's see. After Spitzer and Bubba, would you stake your life, Howie, on Andrew Cuomo's marital fidelity? Your life?]

The biggest media blunder, in my view, was the walk-on-water coverage that Obama drew in 2007 and 2008. [When did this insight come to you, Howard? Yesterday? Last week? Last month? At any rate, really fucking brilliant insight.]

Who, after all, has absorbed more abuse from the “lamestream media” than Sarah Palin, who can hit back with a Facebook post that bypasses the old gatekeepers? [Excuse me? How does this point follow from the previous point? Oh. Thank you. It doesn't. It's just a standard liberal brain fart.]

In such a topsy-turvy season, one simple solution is… blaming the voters! They are so caught up in faulting Obama for everything but bad weather, so mesmerized by the right-wing noise machine that they can’t see straight. [Okay. Finally getting it. Your deal with the Post required you to leave your brain behind with your keyboard. People who have no jobs and object to trillions of dollars of debt shoveled onto the shoulders of their kids and grandkids are simply dupes of the "the rightwing noise machine." Did you even go to college, Howie?] Yes, the refrain goes, high unemployment is heartbreaking, but do people really think they’re going to do better under Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell? [uh, yeah.]

Small problem: These are the same voters who broke with more than two centuries of Oval Office white men by electing Obama. Weren’t many of us praising their judgment and tolerance then? (Yes, I know they’re not the exact same voters, in that turnout is smaller in off-years and many disaffected Democrats are likely to stay home. And Obama, like Ronald Reagan, swept in many party colleagues who could not survive in marginal districts once the wave receded.) [Excuse me. What the fuck does the term 'white men' have to do with anything you've mentioned thus far?]

On the merits, journalists are right that Obama’s accomplishments have been minimized. [Journalists are right? On the merits? On the merits? Since when? Are these the same journalists who sold the American public on an absentee state legislator as president of the United States? Those journalists? Really?]  Health care reform, however it pans out, was a huge achievement [Achievement how? As in curing cancer? Or dissolving the Reichstag? They're both achievements, but maybe not equally desirable]; the overall package remains unpopular [fancy that...], the individual parts (such as not excluding kids for preexisting conditions) not so much [Kids. The only thing we're supposed to care about? Guess what. People care about other things, "such as" their own lives, HOWARD. God, you make me sick.Tightening financial regulation was a heavy lift against the forces of Wall Street. [Give me a fucking break. Goldman Sachs wrote that law.] Even the much-derided stimulus law saved plenty of jobs.[Did it, Howard? Did it, really? You're a fucking lunatic, you are. The only jobs saved were government jobs, which is nice for the government employees, but that is NOT stimulus. It's just government spending. I'm making a note right now to myself to look if and where you ever went to college. Before I do that I already know that when it comes to economics you're every bit as dumb as you look on TV.]

All that has been overshadowed because many voters believe the president bobbled the economy while setting his sights on social engineering. [Aww. Stupid, stupid voters.] But here, too, the short attention span of today’s journalism played a role. The health care and banking battles were covered ad nauseum, but once they passed, the press lost interest [maybe because somebody finally read the goddam bill and realized all the Obama-killing particulars within it] and moved on to mosque mess and the Koran-burning preacher and whatever other diversions were available. [You're an arrogant little prick, Howard. Your beloved MSM distracted ITSELF with all those stories. The rest of us kept our eyes on throwing the bums out. Which is why you're whining so incoherently right now.]

The biggest media blunder, in my view [HA!], was the walk-on-water coverage that Obama drew in 2007 and 2008. The only real debate was whether he was more like FDR (Time) or Lincoln (Newsweek). [Not true, asshole. Plenty of us were asking the right questions. You and your ass-kissing brethren simply refused to do your jobs.]  The candidate obviously played a role in creating his own myth, but it was the breathless media that sent expectations soaring into the stratosphere. Once Obama had to grapple with two wars, a crippled economy and reflexive Republican opposition [pullease], he had no place to go but down. The press has long since fallen out of love with the president, but the overheated hyperbole did him no favors.

Who’s to blame for the coming electoral tsunami? We ought to be careful about dumping on the most convenient scapegoat, those moronic voters. In politics, it’s not that complicated: you either deliver or you pay the price. [Right.]

Bottom line? Howie should have stayed with the Washington Post. Unshackled and unedited as an inquiring mind, he exposes himself as a shallow clown.

P.S. Yup. Looked it up. As we surmised. Howie went to the Columbia School of Journalism. No wonder fisking him is like shooting fish in a barrel. If there's any one thing that particular school doesn't teach, it's journalism.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Fan Story You
Won't See on ESPN

The clip is edited. It took a lot longer for Jackson to show signs of life.

WHO'S THE THUG? I'm not going to labor this point, but it still has to be made. A couple weeks ago, ESPN made a huge story out of the response Donovan McNabb would receive from Philadelphia Eagles fans, whom they condemned in advance for boorish behavior that didn't subsequently occur. Eagles fans gave McNabb a prolonged standing ovation, just like Flyers fans gave former Flyer Simon Gagne the other night when he made his first return to Philly in an opposing uniform.

Now here's something ESPN won't make a huge story of, or even a story at all. The New York Giants game yesterday was being played at the New Meadowlands Stadium at the same time the Eagles-Falcons game was being played in Philly. About 24 hours before, Rutgers played Army on the same field the Giants were playing on. A Rutgers player was injured making a tackle. He lay motionless on the field for five minutes before being carried away on a stretcher, and it's a national story that he is presently (hopefully only temporarily) paralyzed from the neck down. As he lay on the field, both the Rutgers team and the Army team formed a circle around him, every player on one knee with head bowed. Most of the fans at the Giants game probably didn't know this, but it hardly matters. What does matter is that the Giants Jumbotron played some portion of the clip above (the hit and its immediate aftermath) almost immediately after it happened. DeSean Jackson lay motionless on the field. What did the Giants fans do? Gasp and fall into murmuring near silence? No. They erupted in loud cheers and applause. Eagle superstar down. Joy reigns supreme.

But Eagles fans once threw snowballs at Santa Claus. In fact, they do it every time ESPN runs yet another story about the thuggishness of Philadelphia Eagles fans. They can rerun that footage a thousand times, and it won't make up for what the self-anointed 'superior' New Yorkers did yesterday afternoon.

btw, Eagles fans applauded both players as they were helped off the field, including the one who initiated the hit, because he had been injured too, and who knew how seriously? Multiple NFL pundits have said it was one of the deadliest, scariest collisions they'd ever seen. DeSean Jackson has a 'serious' concussion and there's no certain date for his return. I've yet to hear news about Donte Robinson, the injured Falcon, but we wish him a full recovery as well. The fanatical haters of Philly SportsTalk Radio have been busy all morning affirming their belief that Robinson's hit was not a deliberate intent to injure but an inevitable by-product of a fiercely contested NFL game.

I know you don't want to hear about it, but somebody had to point it out.

Sorry if I'm being a bore. Don't get disgusted. I have it on good authority InstaPunk has something to say today about the mid-term elections. I expect he won't even mention Philadelphia.


The Silly Season Is Also
Mean, Dumb & Delusional

A Simple Rule: Don't shake hands with people who hate you.

THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE. Although polls try to suggest there is, there's no grand perspective that conveys what's going on in politics, the media, and the electorate at large.

All we have are fragments. all of them sharp and deadly in an overall environment that is hostile to the point of murder. I've got a handful of fragments to reference, but here's my context: an underground world documented by the National Geographic Channel.

The Cave of Swords, Naica, Mexico

We're talking thickets of killing blades in every direction. Covered in one of the most riveting Nat Geo documentaries I've ever seen: Into the Lost Crystal Caves. For once, the story is as much about the courage of the explorers as it is about the importance of their objective:

It takes genuine bravery to enter such dangerous territory. (I urge one and all to explore the host of photos, videos, and other content associated with the documentary. It's eye-opening and mind-blowing. Pedantic, pedestrian-seeming geologists really do care enough about minerals to put their lives on the line for them. What we can only call passion. The Chilean miners aren't the only courageous ones of the underground. And the song I linked earlier isn't only for them.)

Metaphor established. We're seeing something unprecedented this year. An incursion by private citizens into a realm that is reflexively hostile and generally fatal to all but the purest Narcissists. I've resisted commenting on particulars of late because it all gets so ugly and mean and irrelevant to the larger issues as it rolls like a tumbril toward the Guillotine of personal assassination we call the democratic process.

But it is time to take note of the environment private citizen politicians are daring to enter -- the Cave of Swords -- and to acknowledge the bravery of the unlikely victors and even of those who are likely to be done in via ridicule and life-destroying slander en route.

Something I should save for the end but can't. (I try to sequence things in logical builds, but I also obey my intuition...) I'm referring to the appalling interview Chris Wallace conducted with Carly Fiorina on Fox News Sunday yesterday. I've heard the man describe his interviewing technique on multiple occasions, particularly in response to the question, "What do you do when a politician won't answer the question?" He replied that his practice is to follow up one, maybe two times, just enough to establish that the question isn't being answered, then move on. On Sunday, though, with Fiorina, he followed up not one, not two, not four, but six times on the same absolutely phony question: How was she going to make up for the 4 trillion dollar federal revenue shortfall created by her proposed tax cuts?

The mild-mannered, baby-faced Fox star seemed to be channelling his raving leftist father. He kept repeating, almost viciously at times, "4 trillion dollars" as if the figure had some absolute value. For anyone who knows anything about economics, it doesn't. It's just an annoyingly brainless exercise in the kind of static analysis that makes a joke of all liberal economics. Raise tax rates, revenues increase. Reduce tax rates, revenues decline. The analysis is static because it fails to recognize that changing tax rates alters behavior in the economy. Everything doesn't stand still in perpetuity the way the CBO is required to pretend it does. Which is why tax revenues increased when JFK cut taxes, when Reagan cut taxes, and when GWB cut taxes. And why tax revenues declined when FDR (and Hoover before him) increased taxes on the rich people who might otherwise have reinvested in the private economy.

Channelling Mad Man Mike Wallace

I concede I was almost equally pissed at Fiorina for not raising the static analysis argument, but conservative politicians across the board seem unwilling to risk confounding the comprehension of voters on such a seemingly counter-intuitive point. She probably, private citizen that she is, has too many professional advisers at this point to remember that voters do possess common sense. And she's walking a tightrope with the wiftiest voters in the country, the airheads of California. Which is another reason why Chris Wallace's blatantly hostile interview raised my eyebrows. He knows she's running against the stupidest, most unqualified senator in the nation, in the weirdest electorate there is. Ask your gotcha question twice. But why six times?

What's his beef with Fiorina? (Aha! Why I began rather than ended with this.) He resents her as an amateur. Politics is for professionals. He'd rather spar pointlessly with a corrupt pro like Barney Frank than deal with an intruder like the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She doesn't belong. Regardless of his own probably centrist-right-leaning political views. Her very appearance in the arena compels him to demonstrate the difference between an amateur clubfighter and a professional prizefighter. "I must break you."

This is the thing beyond ideology that animates the anti-Tea Party bias of the mass media and professional politicians and pundits in both parties. Professionals -- people who have made a lifelong living at some discipline, regardless of their actual competence -- don't like being challenged let alone taken down by amateurs. They dislike it so much it causes them to behave like amateurs themselves.

Thanks to Hotair for the following exemplary "fragments":

Harry Reid thinks he can get away with a flat-out lie because his opponent is a housewife. Never mind that the lie is easily exposed and readily available all across the Internet.

Meghan McCain (and her liberal colleagues on TV) sees no irony in slamming Christine O'Donnell because she hasn't accomplished anything and feels somehow "entitled." (See Mary Katherine Hamm's perfect tweet...)

Maureen Dowd thinks female Tea Party types invented the politics of mean. Dana Perino begs to differ.

Channelling Bill Bradley lecturing Clarence Thomas on what it means to be black, Charlie Crist lectures Marco Rubio on what it means to be Hispanic.

Rand Paul's opponent, Jack Conway, decided to attack Paul's Christian religious faith and family values, because all's fair in love, etc, and politics.

Except, it backfired. (See video above.)

Which brings us full circle. The founders didn't really mean for politics to be the province of professionals. What, after all, were the aristocrats of the British Empire and the courtiers of the European thrones? They didn't want Talleyrands. They wanted Washingtons, Jeffersons, and, yes, even low-born Franklins, who took time away from their real passions -- home, architecture, music, science, business, etc -- to participate in sustaining the republic.

For an absolute certainty, they never meant to create the government of the United States as an environment so hostile that mere contact with the intent to participate or influence it would call down the scathing fury of the elites like antibodies against disease.

This country does not belong to Maureen Dowd, Chris Wallace, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Brown (son of Pat Brown), and all the political whores (sorry Gretchen Carlson, Tom Brokaw, and all the neo-prigs of the left and right -- 'whore' is a word everybody knows and uses and you are its media definition, or does the rightwing cast of Fox & Friends have something exculpatory to share with the rest of us about their unbridled on-air enthusiasm for lefty 20th Century Fox movies like Avatar and Oliver Stone's Wall Street 2). The country does not belong to the media stars or the professional politicians. It belongs to us.

I was always uncomfortable with senate collegiality: "my good friend from Montana, my very good friend from West Virginia, with whom I disagree at times...) Yecch. It led to the moral contradiction of political debates in which candidates levelled the most horrific charges against one another, only to conclude with the honorable handshake at the end. But honor is not accomplished by a handshake. It can be betrayed by one, however. The handshake conveys acceptance of what has transpired previously.

If you're a narcissistic sociopath like most professional politicians, it may be acceptable to nod and smile at the vicious personal attacks of your opponent in the aspiration for high office. But that carries politics itself into the realm of the crystal caves. Not a place for ordinary, decent human beings. Only the Schumers, McCains (and progeny), Cuomos, Clintons, Kennedys, Pelosis, Wallaces, Dowds, and the legion of unscrupulous nouveau courtiers (Kerrys and Reids) can breathe that air.

Everyone else is gasping, at a loss. But for the few. I doff my hat to Rand Paul. You're right. Don't shake hands with a cobra. I bow low before Sarah Palin. You can spit in the eye of a spitting cobra, but you have the sense to wear glasses while doing so.

Sorry this has taken so long. My point is infinitesimal (not really). No matter how much you're tempted to join in the laughter at the Christine O'Donnells and Sharon Angles, give them credit for their almost unbelievable courage. Carly Fiorina is almost certainly twice as shrewd and competent as Chris Wallace. He's a talker and a critic. She's a doer and a maker. If he can make her look bad out of spite, snobbery, irrational hostility, and ruthless exploitation of his media platform advantage, what chance have the Angles, O'Donnells, and Palins?

Oh. That's right. A good chance. Sarah Palin isn't afraid of them. God, how terrifying that must be... to them.

Now. When will smart conservatives start recognizing that Sarah Palin has the most important credential of all? Bravery. We've asked for volunteers to invade the crystal caves of Washington politics. Would you? Would I? No. But there they are, advancing into the heat and peril of an environment that is unanimously determined to kill them. Could we at least vote for them, flawed and human and inexperienced as they may be? I think so.

P.S. I forgot the "delusional" part. Democrats are now beginning to pretend that they'll have a 2012 presidential electoral advantage if the Congress goes Republican. Why? Because Clinton got reelected after the bloodbath of 1994. Cool strategy eh? Except for one slight fatal contradiction. Dems today think a Republican congress would allow Obama to paint Republicans as obstructionist, the reason for no improvement in things like the economy. Problem is, that's not how Clinton got reelected. He took credit for Republican accomplishments like welfare reform, the balanced budget, and other improvements legislated by that Republican Congress. What will Obama do with a Republican Congress that seeks to overturn his policies on taxation, healthcare, and business regulation? Veto, veto, veto. Who will be the obstructionist then? In the fourth year of recession, he will suffer a repudiation worse even than Carter's.

Repudiation? I meant Refudiation. What happens when an entrenched authority encounters an, uh, snafu:

"I guess maybe you'll have to kill me." [beat] "It'll hurt if I do."
Purely metaphorical. Like the crystal cave thing. Only cooler.

Only Sarah has hair. You heard it here first.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Interlude

"I won't rot, I won't rot. Not this mind and not this heart."

WORDS. A pause here to pay tribute to the courageous endurance of the Chilean miners and their triumph over the darkness that could have swallowed them.

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