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September 17, 2006 - September 10, 2006

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Portrait of a Statesman
Liberals We Love

Portrait of the senior Democratic PigSenator from New York.

TOLD YOU SO. When the spineless Republican congressional leaders were trying to figure out some way of not dealing with the repeated Democrat filibusters of judicial nominees, we offered our two cents:

WAKE UP! (Not trying to be rude, just to postpone the inevitable...) The Republicans act as if what they do now will affect what Democrats do when they regain the White House and/or control of the Congress. It won't. As soon as the Democrats regain the presidency and congressional control, they will do everything they can think of, bar nothing, to humiliate, castrate, and otherwise destroy the Republican minority, regardless of any temporizing the Republicans engage in now. Why? Because while the congressional Republicans were majoring in agriculture and religion at cow colleges in the Red states, the congressional Democrats were studying "The Prince" at Yale and Harvard. Democrats know about the uses of power even if they have no ideas at all about how to serve their constituents.

All right, so they didn't wait even that long. The point is, there's no reason whatsoever in trying to be reasonable or statesmanlike with Democrats. Drudge is reporting this:

Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer got busy plotting away on the cellphone aboard a Washington, DC-New York Amtrak -- plotting Democrat strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court battle.

Schumer, promised a fight over whoever the President's nominee was: "It's not about an individual judge. It's about how it affects the overall makeup of the court."

Schumer was overheard on a long cellphone conversation with an unknown political ally, and the DRUDGE REPORT was there!

Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, proudly declared, "We are contemplating how we are going to go to war over this."

Schumer went on to say how hard it was to predict how a Supreme Court justice would turn out: "Even William Rehnquist is more moderate than they expected. The only ones that resulted how they predicted were [Antonin] Scalia and [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg. So most of the time they've gotten their picks wrong, and that's what we want to do to them again."

Schumer later went on to mock the "Gang of 14" judicial filibuster deal and said it wasn't relevant in the Supreme Court debate.

"A Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown style appointment may not have been extraordinary to the appellate court but may be extraordinary to the Supreme Court."

If they have any brains or judgment at all, Bill Frist and Andy Card should take Chuck Schumer out for a night on the  town. They can hold their noses throughout, but they should thank their slimy benefactor for being dumb enough to let the truth slip out. He's absolutely right about the Republican record on Supreme Court appointments. All the attempts to nominate relative moderates or "stealth" conservatives have blown up in their faces. The key votes in all the rulings Republicans deplore have been coming from justices appointed by Republican presidents.

It's a curious fact that it's the most obvious ideas that are hardest to prove to people who consider themselves reasonable. What does it take to drive home this one, simple, dead-obvious point? THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

There's no clearer way to state the truth, no set of words that will be easier to understand or more accurate about the situation. There's no need for elaboration if the dunderheads in charge can't absorb the essential reality of this sentence. Therefore, all we can do to drive the point home is to use the oldest and most effective strategem in politics, one the Democrats have perfected to an art form: sheer repetition. So here goes:

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A STATE OF TOTAL WAR AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY; IF REPUBLICANS DO NOT WAGE TOTAL WAR AGAINST DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS, THEY WILL LOSE ON EVERY ISSUE.

Are you starting to get it, Mr. Frist, Mr. Card, and Mr. Bush? Yeah, we thought not.

[NOTE: At least temporarily, Drudge removed the Schumer story from his website. But even if it turns out to be unconfirmable, we stand by our advice to the Republicans. The situation really is that obvious.]




Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Canada Day!

One of Canada's remote provinces launches its two fireworks.

REGRET. Yeah, it's a bit late. Canada Day is really celebrated on July 1, but it's impossible to pay attention to it until after the July 4th festivities are over. Even now, I feel kind of guilty discussing Canada Day without having done more to reemphasize the profound significance of the American Independence Day. Yet it may be the case that focusing on the Canadian counterpart will do exactly that. The only possible meaning Canada represents to the U.S., after all, is as a vivid example of "the road not taken."

There were British North American colonies in the 18th century who revolted against Britain and colonies who didn't. That is the real distinction between our two countries. The Canadian colonies preferred monarchical despotism to freedom if the price for freedom was war. Ever since, the Canadian colonists and their descendants have had to salve their egoes by pretending that they made the better bargain, which can only be true if there is something inherently better about the culture they fell into by refusing to shape their own independently.

The contemporary commentators who are busily looking for the causes of Canada's recent and increasingly strident slanders of their southern neighbor tend to overlook this first, most important explanation of the hostility. It's not that they have become, through a series of passive accidents, more left wing in their politics than the U.S. It's not that their European worldliness and wisdom alerted them in advance to the dangers of a conservative, God-fearing Texan as President of the United States. It's not that their loftier "green" sensibility has given rise to some new conviction of moral superiority over the more densely industrialized nation to the south. It's that Canada has failed in every possible way to prove to us or themselves that they really were smarter to remain in thrall to a king who ruled their lives from an ocean away. And the bitter consequences of that failure are growing more acute and undeniable every day.

What does Canada Day celebrate? Not the fierce announcement of separation from the Crown documented in our Declaration of Independence, but a beneficent act of the British Parliament to set them free from afar:

British North American politicians held the  Charlottetown Conference and Quebec Conference, 1864 to work out the details of a federal union. On July 1, 1867, with the passing of the British North America Act by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, three colonies of British North America (the  Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) became a federation styled the Dominion of Canada. It consisted of four provinces, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

There are three additional points of interest about this history. First, Canadians had attempted armed rebellion against the Crown at least twice before in the 1830s but failed. Second, the province of New Brunswick was originally created because of the influx of American Tories who fled or were expelled from America for refusing to back the American independence movement. Third, the "Canada Day" which now celebrates this largely bureaucratic event was called "Dominion Day" until 1982. The word offers an interesting mix of connotations. Does it mean "Release from British Dominion" Day? Or "At Last We Finally Have Dominion Over Ourselves" Day? Actually, neither one is completely correct, because it wasn't until 1931 that another act of the Brit Parliament accorded Canada a national status equal to the U.K., which status was earned by the United States in 1783 with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. It's not hard to see why 'Dominion Day" was officially deep-sixed after a typically Canadian period of inaction.

It's ironic indeed that Canada Day happens to fall three days before American Independence Day on the calendar, as if they somehow preceded us into national adulthood. Is this why the Canadians insist on imitating our means of celebrating our Independence Day, with parades and fireworks? (Unless their firecrackers are intended to duplicate the sound of British MPs snapping their valises shut after the critical session of Parliament...?) There may be many Americans who are fooled by this, especially since we are so used to being regarded as a young country by the nations of the Old World with whom Canada has continued to associate itself. But it's worthwhile to remember that as a nation Canada is only 138 years old compared to our 229, which is, by the way, the oldest continuous government in the world, with the sole exception of the U.K.

Canada is in reality our ne'er-do-well younger brother. Too harsh, you say? Consider that Canada is the second largest country on earth in terms of territory. Yet it has just over a tenth of the population of the U.S. We grew because we were attractive as a home and a way of life to people from around the globe, who flocked here to make this country the richest and most powerful in the history of civilization. During the same period of time, Canada has not only languished in terms of population but lagged in terms of per capita GDP -- just 75 percent of ours -- despite the boasts of its derivative Brit-Labor-Party style government. And much of the income they do enjoy is a by-product of their proximity to us: 90 percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the Unites States. Canada is the younger brother we find ways of supporting that he doesn't have to acknowledge so that he can retain his fragile pride.

But little brother also has more problems in his homelife. For a quarter century Canada has teetered on the edge of breakup as its French province Quebec intermittently sues for divorce. Canadian unity has not been annealed by a counterpart to the American Civil War, which may have saved some lives in the short run, but the result is that Canada can never be united by a set of founding ideas, as we have been, because their unity consists principally of the geographic accident that its components were the last leavings of the British colonial experiment in North America. In fact, Canada still styles itself as a "confederation," which is the same loose affiliation tried out by the United States before its failure prompted the writing of the Constitution.

The metaphor of troubled homelife suggests the image of the unhappy wife. Is it mere coincidence that the carefully compiled list of Canadian celebrities includes the likes of k.d. lang, Joni Mitchell, Alanis Morrisette, Sara MacLachlan, Jann Arden, and Nellie Furtado? Probably. But it's hard not to see some basis in Canadian culture for all those intense "songs about myself" offered up by the sad-voiced girls on their acoustic guitars. And it's not just the women. Who sounds more consistently miserable than Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, and Leonard Cohen?

Is it any wonder that Canada will seize on every opportunity to badmouth its taller, stronger, happier, and more prosperous older brother? Fredo couldn't help resenting his Godfather brother Michael for dominating his life. He couldn't help betraying him at every opportunity. And when you ally yourselves with the enemies of your friends, some part of their ill intentions will rub off on you. That's the story of one of Canada's more recent betrayals, the subversion of the American military and legal institutions it sponsored during the Vietnam War.

A large number of draft dodgers, young men facing conscription for the Vietnam War, decided to relocate to Canada rather than serve in the armed forces. Concentrated in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, this group was at first assisted by the Student Union for Peace Action, a campus-based Canadian anti-war group with connections to Students for a Democratic Society in the United States. Canadian immigration policy at the time made it easy for immigrants from all countries to obtain legal status in Canada. By late 1967, dodgers were being assisted primarily by over 20 independent and locally based anti-draft groups, such as the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme (http://www.radicalmiddle.com/tadp.htm).

Following the dodgers, deserters from the American forces also made their way to Canada. There was pressure from the United States and Canada to have them arrested, or at least stopped at the border. In May 1969 the Canadian government ceased its active discrimination against deserters after facing extensive criticism.

The population of draft dodgers had an impact on Canadian society. The influx of young, educated, and left-leaning individuals affected Canada's academic and cultural institutions. These new arrivals tended to balance the "brain drain" that Canada had experienced.

Canada resented the American policy in Vietnam and Lyndon Johnson's anger at their dissension from his leadership. So they plighted their troth with a set of fugitives who reminded them of their own Tory origins. Yet they couldn't help remembering that fugitives are losers in the long run. This knowledge only compounded their animus against the U.S., which now has to be continually refreshed and rejustified to smother its unwelcome implications about themselves.

Can there be any doubt that this is what is going on with the Canadian response to the Iraq War? Nationally, they are so weak they can't field an army of more than 1,000 or so combat troops, and they don't dare test national unity (Quebec!) by attempting a controversial foreign commitment. All that's left is pillorying the United States for its very lack of the weaknesses that so cripple Canada -- particularly the strong national identity shared by Americans.

In the United States we have a pledge of allegiance to the flag. In Canada, the flag is a recently adjudicated compromise, not a symbolic embodiment of the country's defining experience, but an irrelevant homage to a species of tree.

The red and white used in the National Flag of Canada were proclaimed the official colours of Canada in 1921 by King George V. Although the maple leaf did not have official status as an emblem of Canada until the proclamation of the national flag in 1965, it had historically been used as a Canadian symbol, and was used in 1860 in decorations for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada. The 11 points on the maple leaf have no special significance.

Canadians themselves are suspicious about the validity of their flag, which is why they continue to harbor paranoid fears that the more potent American flag is being smuggled into their currency.

It's difficult to maintain a national identity in a country where nearly all of the inhabitants live within a few miles of the USA, so you can hardly blame Canadians for sometimes feeling that Americans are infiltrating every last aspect of their culture. A tangible expression of this feeling occurred during the 1980s, when every time the Bank of Canada introduced currency with new designs, somebody managed to find American flags hidden in the artwork.

The fun began with the introduction of a new $5 bill in May 1986...

The introduction of a new $2 bill in September 1986 brought claims that it, too, depicted an American flag flying over Parliament (a claim which continues to circulate widely on one of those ubiquitous Internet lists of unusual "facts")...

Three years later, when the Bank of Canada introduced a new $10 bill, the same old rumor was trotted out yet again (perhaps spurred by the implementation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement earlier that year)...




The real problem, of course, is the flag itself. Like the weak country it weakly symbolizes, it is, well, weak. There can be no pledge of allegiance to a maple leaf, which is why we have witnessed the sad specter of an unofficial Canadian statement of general national allegiance spawned in a beer commercial:

Every once in a while a bit of I am Canadian! advertising emerges overnight as a definitive piece of popular culture. That was the case with the Molson Canadian commercial "The Rant," (aka "Joe's Rant") which debuted in late March 2000. (Molson is a noted brewer in Canada, and Canadian is but one of this family of beers, which also includes Golden, Brador, Export, Ice, and Dry.)

Molson Canadian, a beer lagging in popularity, (got) an instantaneous boost in sales with 19-to-29-year-old men, but the ad established itself with the non-beer crowd as a passionate declaration of national pride.

Many have come to see The Rant as a Canadian gospel of sorts, and reactions to it range from choked up to shouting along with its script. The ad is deceptively simple, merely featuring an "ordinary Joe" alone on a stage in front of a slide show of various Canadian backgrounds that cycle while he vents a litany of corrections to common misperceptions about Canadians.

The Rant has become a tidal wave of Canadian affirmation.

What, you ask, could inspire such fevered adulation? Here it is:

    Hey. I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader.

    And I don't live in an igloo, or eat blubber, or own a dogsled.

    And I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada, although I'm certain they're really, really nice.

    I have a Prime Minister, not a President.

    I speak English and French, NOT American. and I pronounce it 'ABOUT', NOT 'A BOOT'.

    I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack. I believe in peace keeping, NOT policing. DIVERSITY, NOT assimilation, AND THAT THE BEAVER IS A TRULY PROUD AND NOBLE ANIMAL.

    A TOQUE IS A HAT, A CHESTERFIELD IS A COUCH, AND IT IS PRONOUCED 'ZED' NOT 'ZEE', 'ZED'!!!

    CANADA IS THE SECOND LARGEST LANDMASS! THE FIRST NATION OF HOCKEY! AND THE BEST PART OF NORTH AMERICA!

    MY NAME IS JOE!! AND I AM CANADIAN!!!!!!!!

    Thank you.

Oka-a-a-ay. All those capital letters are obviously aimed at the citizens of the United States: no need to shout them to a fellow Canadian. The fact that this has been described as a unifying cri de coeur for Canada suggests that we are the only buttress they have for a national identity. They are united by their resentment of us. And unfortunately, because that resentment goes all the way back to the War for Independence they never had, it will never go away.

In a recent article in Maclean's magazine, Fox News anchor John Gibson ascribed Canadian hostility to envy:

When I wrote Hating America, the New World Sport in 2003, the chapter that included Canada (sorry, you shared space with Belgium and South Korea) was called "The Axis of Envy." The Iraq war was fresh. Canadians were sure they only had to yell loud enough to be heard across the border and even the thick-headed Americans would get it. Then came the U.S. election and we notice you haven't had much to say lately.

But as you celebrate your national holiday, I suspect the truth about your innermost sentiment still applies: that precious and delicious pleasure called anti-Americanism is as strong as ever, isn't it?

I thought so.

But I disagree with Mr. Gibson. Envy is about something we think we deserve, or might have had, or should somehow be able to take. The Canadian hostility is deeper than that. The fatal fork in the road was a long long time ago, and there is absolutely no hope that they have the capacity to achieve or steal or blackmail from others (as Belgians and Koreans might still think they can via fair means or foul) what they most lack and most detest in us: Greatness.

Happy Canada Day. Their fireworks are their exploded dreams, which still shimmer and glow before their eyes like a vision of long lost paradise.



Does all of this tell us anything about ourselves? I believe so. But for the miraculous wisdom and courage of our founding fathers, the United States might be just like Canada, with a population of 30 million enervated Europeans, an incompetent socialist government, a social and cultural history lacking in brilliance or innovation, and a role in world politics as irascible pawn of the United Kingdom. Indeed, we might be several such nations, 7 to 10 million strong (or weak), quibbling and sniping and sneering at one another from sea to shining sea. Look at Canada with fresh eyes. It's what we could easily have settled for, a passive mediocrity destined to be a footnote in the history of man. Thank God for the road we took instead, and the giants who built that road so long ago.

POP QUIZ FOR AMERICANS: Quick. Name a famous Canadian political figure besides Margaret Trudeau (NSFW). Does it matter? No.




Monday, July 04, 2005


Poverty ends in Africa
& other holiday hijinks


An aerial view of Africa showing the economic change that
occurred between 12 pm and 8 pm EDT on July 1, 2005.

AGAINST ALL ODDS. Chalk another one up to the miraculous powers of pop music. Without mentioning the names of more than two African countries or the once august initials 'U.N.', the idealistic youth of the world struck a fatal blow to the most pernicious human condition in the history of the species Saturday. On ten stages around the globe, musicians slew poverty in Africa by making their audiences aware of its existence.

Who knew it could be that easy? In recent decades, the major industrialized nations spent $500 billion on 550 million sub-Saharan Africans trying to help them emerge from a hell of famine, disease, genocidal one-party dictatorships, and continent-wide per capita income of less than $500 a year. How can we ever forgive our leaders for not realizing that the only possible solution to the crisis lay in the reunion of David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd? With all the resources at their disposal, couldn't they have figured out that poverty quakes in dread at the thought of Madonna shouting the F-Word to everyone on earth via a global satellite hookup and Paul McCartney leading a half-hour worldwide chorus of "Hey Jude"?

Apparently, some observers still haven't gotten the message. In the London Sunday Times, a cynic named Simon Jenkins had the nerve to criticize not only Sir Bob Geldof's Live8, but the legendary precursor event LiveAid.

Live 8 is clearly an echo of Live Aid, Geldof’s money-raising spectacular for Ethiopian famine in 1985. Live Aid was a spontaneous response to what television presented as a crisis. Its outcome has been hotly debated, most recently by David Rieff in this month’s Prospect magazine. Showering money, trucks and food on Mengistu’s Ethiopia entrenched a vicious regime and aided one of the most cruel forced migrations in history. Ethiopia was never short of food.

Live 8 seems to acknowledge this critique. The £20m it raises will go not on poverty but on itself. Not a penny will go to Africa. Indeed a potential fundraising opportunity, which might at least have bought a planeload of anti-Aids drugs, has become an exhibition of high-tech media co-ordination and a celebrity fiesta. Geldof has given up on money. He rephrases Lennon’s “All you need is love” as “All you need is awareness”.

That's not a very nice thing to say. Didn't he watch the fifty or seventy explanations offered up by MTV's crack socio-economic pundits about how the "awareness" was going to force callous G8 bigwigs to finally fix things? You know, by making them aware that the kids just weren't going to stand for any more no money, no drugs, and no hope in Africa? He couldn't have, or he wouldn't have said this:

All this asks to be taken seriously as politics. So let’s do so — and as more than background schmooze for Blair’s G8 spectacular at Gleneagles. The G8 is not a decision-making body but a “conversation” between rich nations. It has no constitution and no executive. The United Nations, not the G8, is the proper forum for collective action on world poverty.

Targeting the G8 is in truth a hangover from 1960s left-wing agitprop, which held that the evils of the world were due to capitalism and colonial exploitation. Conventional wisdom was to dump the West’s surplus savings and produce on Africa, and then to wail when the continent was predictably corrupted. At a rough estimate some $500 billion was tipped into Africa over the past 40 years. Most observers maintain this contributed to political instability and a negative growth rate.

Probably, Mr. Simon Jenkins is just jealous of Sir Bob Geldof. Is he rich and famous? Did he ever have a big hit once with a band like the Boomtown Rats? And sure enough, when you look more closely at what Jenkins is saying, that's the deal. He's green with envy.

Geldof disagrees. He is a big-time interventionist. He claims legitimacy not by democratic mandate but by the dubious franchise of rock concert attendances. He tells his audiences that they do not need to give money or think. They can feel better just by chanting a mantra like monks. Awareness is self-defining. It accepts no responsibility for any political outcomes. Blame is transferred to elected politicians.

...Live 8’s demand is apparently that governments should up the Sixties game and assume the mantle of global welfare. Voluntary giving to charity should become compulsory. The humanitarian urge should be nationalised. In addition, outcomes do not matter. Geldof is quoted in the International Herald Tribune as claiming that something must be done “even if it doesn’t work”. For him, doing something useless even if harmful is a moral advance on doing nothing.

We'll let the results speak for themselves. Wait till Mr. Jenkins sees what Africa has become over the weekend. For example, here's a photograph of the continent's once desolate northeastern coast.


New African housing:  this coastal stretch used to be huts, desert, and
dungpiles. This happened while Snoop Dogg was performing in the U.K.


He'll sing a different tune then, won't he?

FOURTH OF JULY
. Live8 aside, this was a very big holiday weekend in the U.S. of A., and we can't let it go by without acknowledging the tremendous historical importance of Independence Day, as well as the sacrifices made by those who fought the good fight when it counted. In a time wen the mass media are increasingly scornful of patriotic remembrances and displays, we were heartened that the prestigious American Movie Channel chose to honor the American Experience with a showing of "Independence Day: The Fourth of July."



We believe all Americans should take a moment or two to reflect on how close we came to losing the American Way when the evil aliens attacked that time, and only a handful of heroes -- like Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum and President Bill Paxton -- had the guts and brains to win that terrible war for independence. Hats off to them, and to AMC for all the good work. Let us never forget.

MISCELLANY (PSAYINGS.5Q.79-80).

GOOD. The sports highlight of the weekend was Venus Williams's come-from-behind victory in the longest Ladies Final in the history of Wimbledon. Repeatedly on the edge of defeat, she simply refused to lose and then gave us the additional gift of a victory celebration so joyous and delightful that the memory of it brings smiles even now. Congratulations to a true class act.


The Champion

BAD. The word doesn't do justice to MTV's coverage of Live8. It has to be supplemented with others: incompetent, self-indulgent, venal, embarrassing, shallow, and boring. If there's any justice in the media world, this very worst of all cable networks, and its slum companion VH1, will soon depart the stage it has disgraced and degraded for at least the past decade, and the ascendant power of the internet will speedily reduce it to an awful memory.

UGLY. Some elements of the crazy left are so vicious and repellent that even a liberal or two will speak up to denounce them. We congratulate the blogger who decided that the egomaniacal law professor Brian Leiter needed to be taken down a peg or three. (HT to Glenn Reynolds.) Here's a sample of his thoughtful analysis.

I said a long time ago that the current Democratic leadership was actively harming the poor by failing to become an effective force in arguing for their interests. The wealthy and comfortable apparachniks of the Party, and the tenured supporters of the party like Leiter, live well while the poor and near-poor struggle.

If they were doing their jobs - if they were building a powerful and effective force for progressive values in this country - no one would mind that they were doing well by doing good. But the reality is that they are marching the Democratic Party off a cliff, and their arrogant blindness - and the fact that they revel in their arrogance - is one of the main reasons. Not only does it drive away what Leiter calls the "brainwashed" "cowed" and "fooled" by it's affect, but it leads to a myopia and unwillingness to change, react, and cope with the reality that is far from "easy." So we get bad people expounding bad politics.

Brian Leiter is a cliche, and he has almost nothing original to say. But it's still worthwhile to put people like him in the spotlight once in a while to remind us that the Howard Deans and Tedd Kennedys are standing atop the shoulders of a vast army of arrogant twits.

UGLIER. Ward Churchill:

"For those of you who do, as a matter of principle, oppose war in any form, the idea of supporting a conscientious objector who's already been inducted and has combat service in Iraq might have a certain appeal.

"But let me ask you this: Would you render the same support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under the line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of a unit - that kind of resistance?"

Churchill's comments stop short of advocating fragging. But he tells the audience that fragging was a major factor in destroying American effectiveness in Vietnam.

I wonder how the mass media would react if a conservative called on college students to start fragging their America-hating professors.

Well, I don't really wonder. I just kind of yearn.

JUST PLAIN WEIRD. Can anybody help me figure this one out?


What were you thinking when you put on that necklace? Laurie? LAURIE?

I'll be waiting right here for your explanations.




Friday, July 01, 2005


INSTAPUNK SCOOP:
Drudge to announce

Jessica Simpson as
Supreme Court nominee


Precedent: the creation of a "celebrity seat" on the Supreme Court.

THE HOLLYWOOD SEAT. InstaPunk's XOFF News Team has learned that the Drudge Report will break InstaPunk's XOFF News Team has learned that the Drudge Report will break this story sometime tomorrow:

According to unnamed White House sources, the administration is responding to the increasing importance of celebrities in the national life. "It's time to recognize that famous people are a new and growing segment of the populace and should be represented -- like women and minorities -- in the makeup of the court," said a Bush administration spokesperson.

"We believe Jessica will play a valuable role on the court based on her experience as a singer, actress, TV star, and veteran of the new "reality" shows that are making average Americans into celebrities on a daily basis.

"Celebrities of all kinds have special needs that should be voiced in the considerations of the Supreme Court."


Inside the Beltway, politicians are already reacting predictably.

Senator Orrin Hatch is privately hailing the move as a "master stroke that finally recognizes the unique needs of a growing and crucially vital minority."

Democrats, meanwhile, are expressing outrage at the nomination. Senator Edward Kennedy said of the Simpson nomination, "It's a disgrace to the nation. We in the Democratic Party have called for a celebrity seat on the court for years, but it's a betrayal for this president to nominate a candidate of such mediocre qualifications. What is needed is a celebrity jurist of the caliber of Susan Sarandon, who has played an attorney at least once and has been politically active in progressive causes for years. She is smarter, more mature, and has much larger breasts than the president's woefully lacklustre choice. I am dimayed."

Senator John Kerry was equally wroth. "I simply can't believe that this president, at this stage in world affairs, when the country is mired in yet another Vietnam, would not nominate a candidate possessed of greater gravitas and zeitgeist, such as Madonna, who has gained the vitally necessary experience in European sensibilities and innovations that are needed to erase the gap between Republicans and Democrats in America," he said. "Instead, this president has seen fit to put forward a wealthy young naif of negligible breastage who cannot speak French, German, or Belgian. How can she possibly contribute meaningfully to the deliberations of the U.S. Supreme Court?"

In anticipation of the approval fight to come, units of the Maryland National Guard began surrounding the Capitol building this evening with 8800 tons of sandbags.

We'll keep you informed as more details emerge.




Thursday, June 30, 2005


Live8: Bigger by the Minute
Reunions & Comebacks Galore


John Lennon       George Harrison      Jimi Hendrix          Jim Morrison  

                    Janis Joplin            Kurt Cobain & Buddy Holly  Keith Richards         

ROCKING ROLL MUSIC
. Promoters of the impending Live8 concert have apparently saved the best for last. Interest in the event had already reached fever pitch:

Tens of thousands of people were queuing today for a second chance to get tickets for the Live8 concert in Hyde Park.

Many had spent the night outside theatres and concert halls around the country in order to get some of the 55,000 free tickets to watch the event on giant screens in the park.

In London, fans endured torrential rainstorms as they camped out.

But now, the public's apparently insatiable demand for middle-aged rock stars is about to experience a rush as potent as a fatal heroin overdose. Concert czar Bob Geldoff, Duke of St. Johns Wood, has revealed a plethora of new additions to the Live8 performer lineup, including John Lennon and George Harrison, who will team up with Sir Ringo Starr and Lord Viscount Paul McCartney for a full-boat Beatles reunion, plus the late Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison reunited with the legendary Doors, Kurt Cobain, Buddy Holly, and most incredibly of all the long and still deceased Keith Richards.

We had the unique opportunity to conduct a sit down interview with these superstars at Geldoff's office in the U.K. It was an informal session. We asked some questions of the group, and the stars spoke up as they felt inclined. Here's a partial transcript.

XOFF News. It's great to see you all. People the world over have been wanting to see you perform again for decades. What is it about this event that has tempted you back into the limelight?

Buddy Holly. It's the debt thing. We just can't stand by and do nothing while the Third World suffocates under the usurious greed of the industrial  nations.

John Lennon. You got that right, bro.

Janis Joplin. Right on. Anybody here got a little something to drink?

Kurt Cobain. Yeah, it's the debt thing. And we also feel like we maybe owe it to our fans.

Jim Morrison. Did somebody say something about a drink? Count me in on that.

Jimi Hendrix. That's right, dog. I've always been really concerned about the Third World, and, like, what those American bitches were doin to it. I also didn't like all that s__t I been hearing about Live8 being only old white dudes. (Turning to Morrison) Here, Jim, give this a try.

XOFF News. What do you honestly expect is going to happen as a result of this concert? Do you think that music actually has the power to remedy an international financial mess involving hundreds of billions of dollars?

Morrison. Cool. This s__t rocks.

Joplin. Can I have some?

Cobain. That would be good.

George Harrison. How much? Did you say hundreds of billions? Jeez. That's more than Paul makes in a year.

Keith Richards. Don't hog all that blow, Jimi. You know, I gotta say, you all look terrible. And Janis doll, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep your hands to yourself.

XOFF News. Now that we've covered the politics, let's move on to the fun stuff. How does anybody feel about seeing the Beatles and the Doors all back together again?

Morrison. Geldoff. Pass me that bottle of Wild Turkey on your desk, would you? Thanks.

Joplin. Don't be a pig, Jim. Leave some for somebody else, would you?

Richards. Let's say we get rid of these reporters and do a little jamming.

Lennon. I have a short written statement I'd like to read about world peace and the crushing burden of international debt. Could somebody lend me some reading glasses?

Morrison. Go f__k yourself, John. You always were a g_d__n bore.

Lennon. Who you calling a bore, you drunken sod? I'll smash you in your fat face in a minute.

Hendrix. Keith, what do you say we get the f__k out of here and find a party and some ho's?

Richards. Dog, you took the words right out of my mouth. (Exeunt.)

XOFF News. Well, thank you all very much. I'm sure I speak for the whole world when I tell you we're all looking forward to the concert.

Joplin. Is anybody else getting horny? [General free-for-all]

Yes, it was a rare privilege to meet the giants of music history. It's no wonder at all that Live8 is being billed as the greatest musical event since Madonna's Blond Ambition Tour. Like all the other fans, we just can't wait.

Be sure to wake us when it starts.

[Editor's Note: the music file accompanying this page is Janis Joplin's new recording of the classic "Wild Thing," soon to be on iPods everywhere.]





Noonan Pops the Balloon.

Barack Obama contemplating his greatness.

THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO. Peggy Noonan better look out. She wrote a column this week that's bound to get her noticed by the biggest heads in Washington. Here's a sample:

This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he's a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better. "In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat--in all this he reminded me not just of my own struggles."

Oh. So that's what Lincoln's for. Actually Lincoln's life is a lot like Mr. Obama's. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.

Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.

You see the similarities.

Rather delightfully, she gives much the same treatment to the senators who forged the "no filibuster, except..." deal (McCain, McCain, etc), as well as Silent Majority Leader Bill Frist, the Clintons, and Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and John Paul ("The Great") Stevens. In her coda she imagines the latter two retiring from the court to write their memoirs, which might go something like this:

Like Jefferson I held to principle, and like Lincoln I often lacked air conditioning. But in my intellectual gifts I've always found myself to be more like Oliver Wendell Holmes . . .

She wants to know what is in the water in Washington, DC. We want to know what is going on with Peggy Noonan. Has she accomplished some kind of astral body soul swap with Ann Coulter? Ms. Noonan is often clever and perceptive, but she is never uproariously funny. Not like this. And our suspicions were heightened when we checked out Ms. Coulter's latest column, which is uncharacteristically grave and lacking in yucks:

That's the America you live in! A country founded on a compact with God, forged from the idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights is now a country where taxpayers can be forced to subsidize "artistic" exhibits of aborted fetuses. But don't start thinking about putting up a Ten Commandments display. That's offensive!

Do you feel like chuckling? You see? And that's why we're worried about Peggy. Heaven knows, Ann Coulter's used to the abuse and assaults that flow from being a conservative with a wicked sense of humor. She's at the peak of training for dodging liberal brickbats, the slings and arrows of outrageous pundits, and the occasional cream pie that passes for reasoned argument in the halls of academe. But is Peggy up to this?


Ann Coulter skillfully avoiding the trajectory of an intellectually superior pie.

We suggest that Ms. Noonan immediately hire a personal trainer and begin a gruelling regimen of twice daily dodgeball workouts before venturing out in public again. The other alternative would be for Ms. Noonan to go back to being Peggy Noonan and leave being Ann Coulter to Ann Coulter.

No disrespect intended to either lady. Just trying to be of service.
 

UPDATE:  Thanks for the link from PoliPundit -- welcome to PoliPundit.com visitors. Feel free to take a look around.




Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Our Condolences

Tragedy strikes the 'Today' family.

"HE IS HISTORY, AND I AM STILL TODAY'S HEADLINE..." Life is so unfair. Matt Lauer tries to branch out from his Today Show base and cash in just a little on his popularity as the smarmy girlie-man sidekick of NBC's perkiest dominatrix and what happens? He takes the mass-media equivalent of a shotgun blast to the face. He has to stand there and pretend to like it when the numbskull TV viewers of America choose Ronald Reagan as the "Greatest American." Who could have guessed? The nominees included Michael Jackson, Madonna, Tom Cruise, and Michael Moore, for God's sake. And Matt had really done  his usual homework on the presentation and production end. When it was time to discuss the relative candidacies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, for example, Matt was masterly in his subliminal communication with viewers:

In summarizing the lives of the 25 finalists in the Discovery Channel's "Greatest American" contest, NBC's Matt Lauer on Sunday night labeled Bill Clinton as "brilliant" before trumpeting: "Under Clinton the economy boomed -- deficits turned into surplus -- and more than 22 million jobs were created. Along with the character flaws and the subpoenas came peace and prosperity." The brief segment did not feature any explicit criticisms of Clinton's presidency, but when it came to George W. Bush, whom Lauer described as "our tough-talking, language-mangling Commander-in-Chief who most Americans just want to hang out with," Discovery put on musician "Moby," who declared over flag-draped coffins: "From my perspective, you cannot call yourself a Christian, talk about the sanctity of life, and then support the death penalty, and support a war."

It must have been disquieting when three Republicans made the list of ten finalists, but one of them was Abraham Lincoln, and both FDR and Bill Clinton made the cut too. Who could have foreseen the terrible turn things would take?

The program "Greatest American," has aired on the Discovery Channel for the last month; originally starting with the Top 100 Greatest Americans of All Time. The list was ridiculed and ripped apart for major exclusions of what some would consider "obvious members" of the list as well as the inclusions of people such as Ellen Degeneres, Brett Favre, Dr.Phil, and Oprah Winfrey.

The Top 100 dwindled down to a Top 10 two weeks ago, where

10. Franklin D.Roosevelt

9. Oprah Winfrey

8. Elvis Presley

7. Bill Clinton

6. President George W. Bush

The Top 5 was named last night with sections of the studio squared off for the crowd's favorite.

5. Ben Franklin

4. George Washington

3. Martin Luther King Jr.

Then it came down to two Republican presidents Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

President Reagan beat Lincoln for the top spot by just 0.5% of the vote.

Approximately 2.5 million people voted in the final vote via telephone and America Online.

O Calamity! O Horrors! Oh, Mommy, what have they done to your poor little boy? Reagan? Reagan? REAGAN? REAGAN?

AND HE HAD TO PRETEND TO LIKE IT. O WEEPING AND WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.

There really aren't any words that can take away the pain at a time like this, and we're reluctant to do more than gravely shake Matt's hand while a tear drips slowly down our cheek, but the desire to say something helpful is too strong to overcome. So, in addition to our condolences, we'd like to offer Matt an empty platitude or two to show that our heart is in the right place. Time is the great healer, Matt. Someday -- perhaps in a year, or two, or five -- you will awaken as a whole girlie-man once again. The sun will shine, the birds will sing, and Katie will nod briefly in your direction before storming into the producer's office for another knock-down-drag-out brawl. Trust us on this, Matt. You will recover, and maybe you'll even write a bestselling book about your heroic conquest of post-traumatic shock syndrome. Tom Cruise could play you in the movie.

Does any of this help at all? No? Okay. We'll just tiptoe out of the room now and leave you alone. Sorry.





Safe? No way.

The supposed design of the towerlet to be built at Ground Zero.

THE SMART GUYS TAKE OVER. It's supposed to be safe. Here's the promotional material:

The new design for the 1,776-foot tower is meant to make it more resistant to truck bombs. The building will now be 90 feet _ instead of 25 feet _ from West Street, the major north-south thoroughfare along the Hudson River.

The tower's cubic base will be clad in luminous materials _ probably a combination of stainless steel and titanium _ that will be shimmering and light-reflective as well as blast-resistant, according to a description of the redesign posted online by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

As in the original design, the structure outlined in the latest plan exceeds city fire code requirements, and will have biological and chemical filters in its air supply system.

It also has the original design's extra-wide emergency stairs, a dedicated staircase just for firefighters, enhanced elevators and "areas of refuge" on each floor. Stairs, communications, sprinklers and elevators will be encased in 3-foot-thick walls.

But it isn't safe. Because the terrorists, er, foreign insurgents, still don't like us. Everyone knows that, which is why the really smart people are slowly taking over the Ground Zero redevelopment project. Debra Burlingame, a 9/11 widow, alerted us to the effort in a Wall Street Journal article earlier this month.

The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom"--but do not be fooled into thinking that their idea of freedom is the same as that of those Marines. To the IFC's organizers, it is not only history's triumphs that illuminate, but also its failures. The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond.

She also revealed the identities of those who are helping to design the IFC:

The driving force behind the IFC is Tom Bernstein... a proud member of Human Rights First since it was founded--as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights--27 years ago, and has served as its president for the last 12.... It was Human Rights First that has called for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the alleged torture of detainees, complete with budget authority, subpoena power and the ability to demand that witnesses testify under oath.

In fact, the IFC's list of those who are shaping or influencing the content and programming for their Ground Zero exhibit includes a Who's Who of the human rights, Guantanamo-obsessed world:

• Michael Posner, executive director at Human Rights First who is leading the worldwide "Stop Torture Now" campaign focused entirely on the U.S. military. He has stated that Mr. Rumsfeld's refusal to resign in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal is "irresponsible and dishonorable."

• Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, who is pushing IFC organizers for exhibits that showcase how civil liberties in this country have been curtailed since September 11.

• Eric Foner, radical-left history professor at Columbia University who, even as the bodies were being pulled out of a smoldering Ground Zero, wrote, "I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House." This is the same man who participated in a "teach-in" at Columbia to protest the Iraq war, during which a colleague exhorted students with, "The only true heroes are those who find ways to defeat the U.S. military," and called for "a million Mogadishus." The IFC website has posted Mr. Foner's statement warning that future discussions should not be "overwhelmed" by the IFC's location at the World Trade Center site itself.

• George Soros, billionaire founder of Open Society Institute, the nonprofit foundation that helps fund Human Rights First and is an early contributor to the IFC. Mr. Soros has stated that the pictures of Abu Ghraib "hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself."

Mrs. Burlingame seems to regard this team as sinister in some way, but if safety is the prime consideration -- as it seems to be for so many Americans -- then there is no alternative to soliciting the participation of people with these kinds of backgrounds. By the time they have completed reconfiguring the Ground Zero project's architecture and content, the place will be absolutely 100 percent safe. There will no longer be any doubt that however much foreign insurgents may hate America, it's nothing compared to how much elite and powerful Americans hate America. This has to be an enormously effective deterrent to further acts of violence in the city whose most powerful people lead the world in hatred of this country. That's why the over-engineered tower described in the piece referenced above will never be built. It just won't be needed. The whole idea of a single fake-me-out tower with 50 stories of panic room office bunkers and 50 stories of uninhabited, bomb-repellent gridwork can be tossed in the trash where it belongs. New Yorkers will be able to go all the way to the tippy top of the new twin towers design that will soon be unveiled by Soros and company. What do you think of it?


Artist's rendering of the "World Tolerance Center."

We were impressed too. With towers like those, they can be 150 stories tall. Think of the view from the Turban Terraces.

And there's more. Mrs. Burlingame described the square footage allocation now being planned:

While the IFC is getting 300,000 square feet of space to teach us how to think about liberty, the actual Memorial Center on the opposite corner of the site will get a meager 50,000 square feet to exhibit its 9/11 artifacts, all out of sight and underground. Most of the cherished objects which were salvaged from Ground Zero in those first traumatic months will never return to the site. There is simply no room.

She's right. That's why the final solution of the Ground Zero facility will entirely replace the cramped 9/11 Memorial with a Museum of Heroes honoring those who have done the most to bring about a peaceful end to the so-called war on terror. The 9/11 relics will, of course, be stored away so they won't be disturbing to members of the mass media, who are uniformly delicate of stomach and unanimous in believing that 9/11 should never be mentioned, referenced, or depicted again.

Our sources won't yet give us permission to reveal the names of the individual heroes who will be celebrated in the museum, but we can tell you that many of the interior design details are already finalized. The walls will be hung with beautiful burkha blue drapery fabric, the floors will be fabricated from cedars of Lebanon and covered with a Persian carpet woven especially for this space. You can see a rendering of it here. We'll publish more information about the Museum of Heroes as we get more results from our beseechings and pleadings.

Safety first, safety last, safety always. That's the American way. Or at any rate, it's the new American way.

UPDATE. Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the "Love Link." Our most recent entry in support of her can be found by scrolling down to the June 24 posting. And if you keep scrolling to June 22, you'll encounter our infamous Piss Pelosi" artwork and our proposed "Contract with America for Democrats," of which we're very proud.




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