Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
December 1, 2010 - November 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Birthday Post

The way I see her. Boudica.

THE BEST ONE. Make no mistake. Without her, there would be no website called InstaPunk. She is the everything that makes living and hoping and, yes, writing worthwhile. She's a year older today. My necessary response is to love her more fiercely every day.

Your assignment is to read these posts about her. None of it is exaggeration. She really is a queen.

Yeah, there's more than one writer in the family. She's the one who made me learn about commas. A small thing, you think. It was transformative. I finally learned what sentence structure was. What writing was. And without her, there would never have been Psmith or Raebert. She makes me better than I am in every respect. When I contemplate my sins and my abundant guilt, I have this to rely on: God thought enough of me to give me Patricia. No greater gift has any man received.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just for Mrs. CP

RAVENING. It's her birthday tomorrow. You know how women are. She's heard about this clip and laughed in the telling, but there's no way she'll ever look it up for herself and watch it. I could nag but then she wouldn't enjoy it. This way, she'll enjoy it. Because there's nobody anywhere who's more scornful of Faith Hill's weekly intros of Sunday Night Football. Or, for that matter, of Sunday Night Football. 60 minutes of gridiron action and 180 minutes of commercials and miscellaneous fluff. She's generally sound asleep before the second quarter begins. I usually outlast her by five minutes on the game clock. Because I'm so fond of commercials.

This is an early birthday "amuse bouche" for my wife.

Anybody got a problem with that? Good. I thought not.

Go Ravens.

Kudos to Hotair

TRUTHER MADNESS. The lede says it all:

Via the Right Scoop, it’s a few days old but shouldn’t pass unmentioned. Skip ahead to 3:44 for the key bit. In lieu of repeating the points about WTC7 that I made the last time a Fox News/Business host started Just Askin’ Questions about 9/11, let me ask: Precisely how many of these people does Fox have on staff? Am I going to open a newspaper tomorrow and find out that Megyn Kelly or Julie Banderas thinks the Pentagon was hit by a missile? And no, before anyone mentions Beck, he’s not a Truther. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Between this and Ron Paul wondering on the House floor whether the U.S. government might cook up a “contrived Gulf of Tonkin-type incident” to justify war with Iran, I wonder what the demographic breakdown is among Truthers between Bush-hating liberals versus strong-form libertarians whose skepticism of government knows virtually no intellectual limit. Frankly, maybe I’d rather not know. Oh, and yes — that is indeed the one and only Alex Jones whom the Judge is chatting with. Wonderful.

We've been hard on AllahPundit when he deserved it. This time he deserves our unreserved praise.

Because we're fair that way.

MEMO TO FOX NEWS: Fire Geraldo and Napolitano. Pronto. Kick them out on their ass-o.

P.S. If you took the AllahPundit link above, you got a second chance to see the Melanie Phillips video. I know it's long, but take that chance. She's the smartest woman in the world. As a bonus, you'll get to hear the REAL Oxford stutter. Ever heard of intellectual porn? Krauthammer just discussing things with Melanie Phillips. Just a fantasy, but for the mindfolks it would be a climax devoutly to be wished. Not kidding.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Paranoid Games

. The Wikileaks thing. How could this possibly have happened? I can think of only three explanations. All of them are frightening.

1. The entire intelligence establishment of the United States is a toothless tiger.

Weeks ago, Jonah Goldberg asked this question about the Wikileaks head who's been releasing the documents: "Why is he still alive?" We've all been raised and propagandized by books and Hollywood movies to believe that the CIA/NSA/DIA complex is capable of almost anything, including omniscient surveillance, omnipotent influence in the legal and law enforcement systems of other countries, and omnivorous assets in the discipline of assassination. Faced with the prospect of what is now being called a "diplomatic 9/11," who can't imagine in vivid detail the quiet after-hours meeting between the president's national security adviser and Leon Panetta in which the order is given, "Make it go away"? Only it can't be done because there is no Jason Bourne, no Jack Bauer, no Double-oh section of MI-6, no computer center like the one in Enemy of the State, no 'Mission Impossible' team whose actions can be "disavowed by the secretary," no ultra-secret black ops team of any kind that can kill, kidnap, blackmail, or otherwise deter an incredibly damaging attack on U.S. foreign policy and national security by a lone provocateur. If this is true, our entire intelligence apparatus is a joke and we're defenseless in a world threatened by terrorists and rogue states. But frankly, this seems far-fetched to me. Not that I believe in Jason Bourne, but I do believe there are still 'operations' personnel perfectly capable of finding someone to push a man off a train platform in Switzerland and erase his office computers.

2. The Obama administration is even more incompetent than many of us already thought they were.

In this scenario, they believe their own platitudes about solving all foreign affairs problems via patient diplomacy without resort to violence or dirty dealing. They therefore order the intelligence community to stand down while they negotiate with Wikileaks to please not do this awful, embarrassing thing. And then they fail and are once again surprised by the reality of catastrophic consequences. This one's tempting and it's probably how the voters will interpret it: our amateur ideologue president thought he could talk and "communicate" his way out of a mess without realizing he was in way over his head. If this the answer, we're looking at two more years of sequential disasters, both internationally and domestically. Yet there are are good reasons why this explanation doesn't make sense, either. The president's adeptness at Chicago-style politics may not have equipped him for dealing honestly with the public or fairly with the opposition in congress, but if there's any realm in which such experience should be applicable it's foreign affairs. Hardball skullduggery is the name of the game in matters that reach past American borders, and the contents of the leaks bear out the notion that the Obama administration knows how to cut deals, backstab allies, sleep with strange bedfellows, engage in questionable quid-pro-quos, and generally do whatever's convenient, right or wrong, with the best (worst) of them. Incompetence caused by principled naivete is the unlikeliest of explanations for failing to take effective preventive action in this circumstance. At the least this is the most gigantic diplomatic scandal in a generation -- worse than Iran-Contra, worse than Clinton selling advanced missile technology to China -- because it savages the confidentiality of U.S. communications with every nation, friend and foe, on earth. Surely, Chicago Barry of all people would know that what's muttered in the smoke-filled rooms of the world's capitals has to be kept secret at all costs, particularly if he's seeking reelection as a champion of global lovey-dovey-ness. It just doesn't make sense.

3. Obama wanted this to happen.

Hillary Clinton didn't want it to happen. Who's more embarrassed by all this than the secretary of state? But maybe Obama did. I know it sounds paranoid, but how do you explain the failure of Explanations 1 and 2 to explain anything? In this perspective, Obama doesn't care about reelection. He has bigger fish to fry. He's permanently neutering the effectiveness of the United States as world policeman and superpower, just as he's already been doing in his dollar-destroying economic policies and his secret pact with the Russians to end anti-ballistic missile programs in the U.S. military. The resultant chaos will elevate the status and expectations of international bodies like the U.N. Given his narcissism and limitless ambitions, Obama may actually believe that he will be given credit on the world stage for destroying the United States and promoted to Secretary-General-for-Life of the United Nations and the new world government that will be needed to fill the vaccuum left by the collapse of the U.S. I concede this is hardly rational, but the sad fact is that there's no rational explanation for this newest, obviously preventable debacle. So we're left with the question of which irrational explanation best fits the facts.

Paranoid Games. Anybody can play. Because we're all on the board, and we're all likely victims.

Palin vs. Truman

. I have mixed feelings about this comparison. My dad hated Truman more than he hated FDR, which was a lot, and hatred is not too strong a word. (You liberals ought to recognize the emotion.) There was a nightmare in which my dad relived the frightening winds of Hurricane Hazel, which actually bowed the front door of his 18th century house, and in the dream there was a knocking at that imperiled door. When he opened it to see who might be seeking shelter, he beheld Harry Truman. He refused to let him in. Full disclosure.

But Harry Truman has been embraced by history, including Republicans, who forget that Truman's last act in office was to set FDR's "temporary" expansion of the federal government forever in concrete by conferring civil service (unfireable) status on all the departments and agencies which had supposedly been created only to deal with the emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. That was the effective end of any attempt to roll back the incursions of government into private life wrought by the New Deal.

But Harry Truman has been embraced by history, despite his refusal to run for reelection in the midst of a war that killed 60,000 American troops because -- contrary to the mythology -- the most decisive president of the twentieth century couldn't decide whether to win, quit, or negotiate a flawed peace.

But Harry Truman has been embraced by history, particularly by Democrats, because... well, why? Because he dropped the A-Bomb to end the war and committed to the H-Bomb to defend against Soviet aggression? Uh, maybe not so much. Because he spent billions that could have been spent on the poor funding the Marshall Plan to rebuild  Europe? Uh, maybe not so much.

Harry Truman has been embraced by the Democrats because he won an improbable election campaign against elitist Republican Thomas E. Dewey, his Ivy League law degree, and his other glossy credentials, including the governorship of New York. Because, you see, Harry S. Truman was a perfect Democrat example of the common man.

Truman was the only president who served after 1897 without a college degree: poor eyesight prevented him from applying to West Point (his childhood dream). When his high school buddies went off to the state university in 1901, Truman instead enrolled in a local business school, but only lasted a semester. In 1923-25 he took night courses toward a law degree at the Kansas City Law School (now the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law), but dropped out after losing his government job.

A month before Truman married, he and Jacobson opened a haberdashery at 104 West 12th Street in downtown Kansas City. After a few successful years, the store went bankrupt during the recession of 1921.

But he must have done something right because he got elected a U.S. Senator and the Lord God FDR chose him as a vice-presidential candidate in 1944. Here's how that went down:

On June 23, 1941, the day after Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Senator Truman declared: "If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. Neither of them thinks anything of their pledged word." Although the sentiment was in line with what many Americans felt at the time, it was regarded by later biographers as both inappropriate and cynical. Truman gained national visibility by fighting waste and mismanagement in the war effort through his committee (popularly known as the "Truman Committee"). The Roosevelt administration had initially feared the Truman Committee would hurt war morale, and Undersecretary of War Robert P. Patterson wrote to the president declaring it was "in the public interest" to suspend the committee. Truman replied that the committee was "100 percent behind the administration" and had no intention of criticizing the military conduct of the war....

After meeting personally with the party leaders, FDR agreed to replace Wallace as vice president; however, Roosevelt left the final selection of a running mate until the end of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Before the convention began, Roosevelt wrote a note saying he would accept either Truman or Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas; state and city party leaders preferred Truman. Truman himself did not campaign directly or indirectly that summer for the number two spot on the ticket, and always maintained that he had not wanted the job of vice president. As a result, Roosevelt had to put a great deal of pressure on Truman to accept the vice presidency. On July 19, the party bosses summoned Truman to a suite in the Blackstone Hotel to listen in on a phone call that, unknown to the Senator, they had rehearsed in advance with the President. During the conversation, FDR asked the party bosses whether Truman would accept the position. When they said no, FDR angrily accused Truman of disrupting the unity of the Democratic party then hung up. Feeling as if he had no choice, Truman reluctantly agreed to become Roosevelt's running mate.

Truman's candidacy was humorously dubbed the second "Missouri Compromise" at the 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, as his appeal to the party center contrasted with the liberal Wallace and the conservative Byrnes.

He came to be called "Give'em hell, Harry," because he always said what he thought. And he liked the word "hell" and the epithet "S.O.B." Which he used when defending his daughter from an unkind review in the press.

Is any of this ringing any bells with you liberals, let alone you Republicans?

I'm not saying that Sarah Palin should be president because she's like Truman. But she is a lot like Truman. Both have strong ties to the military. Truman was a decorated  WWI captain of infantry. Palin has a son who's served in combat. (Go there. I dare you, feminists male and female.) Truman didn't go to college at all. Palin has a college degree the party of the common man can't credit. Both quit at key career moments -- Truman, law school, and Palin, her governorship. Both drew consistent fire for not towing the party line at all times and for speaking plainly and sometimes vulgarly. Both were made fun of for reasons of naming: The "S" that was Harry's middle name didn't stand for anything and Sarah's children "Trig" and "Willow" have been lampooned because who would choose those names? Both had their early political successes ascribed to deals and weak candidate pools. Both had their ascendancy to vice-presidential candidacy dismissed as cynical pandering unrelated to personal merit. Both had their fitness for high office demeaned and ridiculed. Both proved unexpectedly combative, resilient, and politically astute afterwards.

Which argues that liberal dudgeon against Palin is a lot of hogwash unless her lefty critics are all complete hypocrites.

Find me a Democrat who's willing to badmouth Truman. Find me a Republican who's willing to trash both Truman and Palin in the same breath and in the same terms.

Me? I still despise Truman. And I'm still agnostic about Palin. But I'm not dismissing her because she didn't get an Ivy League degree. Hell. On the record, I'm more prepared to support a ban on Columbia University -- er, Obama and Holder -- than I am on the University of Idaho.

And if you S.O.B.'s don't like it, tell it to Harry.

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