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July 3, 2007 - June 26, 2007

Friday, April 21, 2006


The Roman Spring of
Madeleine Albright


Secretary Albright shows the NYT that she can leg press 400 lbs.

UNDERCURRENTS. It's official. Madeleine Albright has been elected to the Democratic Hall of Fame, just as we predicted. The first sign of the elevation was the leaking by Editor & Publisher that the former Clinton secretary of state will be profiled in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine.  Since everyone remembers how effective she was at responding to al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies and the USS Cole, the Times didn't see fit to question her about the past but solicited her criticism of Condoleezza Rice and the War in Iraq, which she was happy to provide. But what's clearest about the interview is the fact that Ms. Albright has embarked on a new life, a kind of post-politics blooming that wiill undoubtedly make her a role model for many American women. She boasted about her exercise regimen and revealed the fact that she can leg press 400 lbs.

She was also eager to assign the credit for her curent fitness to her three office interns, Paolo, Giuseppe, and Antonio, who help her answer fan mail and supervise her workouts. As the Times reporter notes, "she positively glows with joie de vivre" when discussing her day-to-day activities.

Is there any romance she'd like to share with Times readers? To this, Secretary Albright responds with a girlish giggle before saying, "Of course not. I'm a very respectable woman. When I'm not lifting weights, I'm having tea parties and reading the papers. I have a reputation to uphold, you know, so I just carry out my responsibilities as a former secretary of state."


Interns Paolo, Giuseppe, and Antonio

At a later point in the interview, Secretary Albright does turn serious when asked to identify the biggest lesson she took from her years in the Clinton adminitration. "I learned a lot," she says, "but the most surprising thing I learned was just how exciting it is to lie about sex. It's almost as much fun as the sex you're lying about."

Then she lit up a big cigar.

Welcome to the Pantheon of Democratic Gods.




Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Dumbest Talking Head

Science to the rescue: Dynamic Intelligence Monitoring

FIRE WITH FIRE. One of the hottest debates among those who watch cable news programs is the difficult question of exactly which talking head host is the dumbest. Everyone seems to have a personal favorite, and a definitive answer has been impossible to arrive at due to the absence of hard data -- until now, that is.

A new high-tech company named IQuick has just released the first instantaneous intelligence test, capable of measuring intelligence in real time based on audio input. They call it Dynamic Intelligence Monitoring (DIM) and have already made units available to those who begged and pleaded with them the hardest.

We used ours to monitor the likeliest candidates at CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. The field included Jack Cafferty, Chris Matthews, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Rita Cosby, Keith Olbermann, Geraldo Rivera, and some other people at CNN whose names we can never remember. It doesn't matter, though, because there was a landslide winner. One of his DIM samples is shown above. His name is Keith Olbermann.

In retrospect, the findings seem obvious. We've had occasion to discuss him here before, but his most astonishing property is that -- something like one of those infinitely descending Escher puzzles -- he just keeps getting dumber, no matter how technically impossible such a feat appears to be.

For those who do not number themselves among Mr. Olbermann's 265 devoted daily watchers, here's an excellent roundup of  some of his more recent performances on his Countdown show. But all these pale beside his most recent demonstration of idiocy in his standard feature called "Worst Person in the World," in which he decided to set up Michelle Malkin for physical intimidation and assault:

Olbermann chose Michelle Malkin for posting the names and phone numbers of UC Santa Cruz students that recently forced military recruiters off the campus. In Olbermann’s words, the students, “as a result, have been inundated with death threats.”

What Keith conveniently failed to inform his viewers was that these phone numbers were actually part of a press release by the organization responsible for the protest, Students Against War. In addition, these names and phone numbers are still available at a number of left-wing websites including this one. I guess Olbermann didn’t think it was important to inform his viewers of this.

Another thing Olbermann omitted from his report were the atrocious e-mail messages and threats that Malkin herself has been receiving all day for posting this previously made public information at her website. I guess it might have diminished Olbermann’s point a bit to share with his viewers some of the reprehensible comments Malkin has found in her inbox all day for merely sharing the exact same information that those responsible for this protest gave to the press.

Worse, the incitations to assault on Ms. Malkin by Olbermann and like-minded morons at Democratic Underground have led to the internet posting of her home address, satellite photos of her house, and other information designed to help thugs lay their hands on her person and family. She says she's not afraid, and we both applaud her courage and stand with the others (here, here, and here) who are ready to assist her in any way possible. But we're not like the others in one respect. At Instapunk we believe in fighting fire with fire.

To this end, we have decided to publish a satellite photo of Keith Olbermann's home, the place in which he refreshes his hard-headed connection to real life in the terrible fascist country that has rewarded him so well. Here it is:


Most times, you'll find Keith sleeping alone at the castle.

You'll find the exact location and address of the property at the website linked above. Finding Keith there shouldn't be too hard either. He spends a lot of time sleeping at the castle, because it's so darn hard to stay awake when you're barely conscious anyway. When he does wake up, he sometimes takes a stroll out to meet his closest friends Donald and Mick. His route is shown on the map: through A, E, D, G, and F. Don't bother looking for him at the Matterhorn. He's scared to death of heights.

So how do you like it, Keith, when the shoe is on the other foot? And speaking of foot, you better be listening for the sound of footsteps coming up behind you. That's what happens when irresponsible pinheads go out of their way to fan the flames of hatred against you in the media. Kind of scary, isn't it? Think maybe it's time for you to become a man?

And one more thing, Keith. Cornell sucks.

P.S. We haven't forgotten about you, Democratic Underground, either.




Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Laying Out the President
 


Rolling Stone Magazine is cranking up a stunt by Sean Wilentz.

HISTORY. It may seem unfair to review an essay by "one of America's leading historians" before it is published, and in all but a very few instances I'd cheerfully concede that it is unfair. But not this time. Why? Because the essay I'm pre-reviewing is guilty of exactly the same kind of unfairness and therefore, as an historical analysis, cannot be anything more than a grotesque and laughable exercise in rhetorical political assassination.

Judging "bests" and "worsts" in history depends absolutely upon knowing outcomes, which on the national and world stages can take decades to become clear. Not always, of course. Genocidal tyrants like Hitler and Stalin were obvious worsts while they still lived, but these exceptions highlight the particular role that should (but isn't always) played by historians. While Hitler was in power, all that was required to assess his villainy was accurate reporting of his actions. Historians became necessary after the fact to explore the causes and lasting effects of his barbarism, which they have done wih great gusto. Stalin, too, was self-evidently the nadir of Eastern European history while he still ruled the USSR, but even a half century after his death, far too many academic historians are still making excuses for his regime and its anti-human ideology. The lesson? Historians are as vulnerable to ideological bias as anyone else, and since what we ask of them is objective and unemotional analysis based on research and reason, we cannot trust them when they claim to speak as historians about the present or recent past. At best in such circumstances, they function as (presumably) well informed partisans. At worst, they function as propagandists, misusing their authority in one discipline to cover their dead ordinary opinions in another.

Historical analysis isn't possible in the absence of facts. Long-term outcomes are necessary facts, as are the reams of minutiae that eventually reveal what all parties to a given event knew, guessed, or imagined at the time. Try writing the history of the most recent party you attended. You could record your own recollections of what transpired today. Tomorrow you could hunt down some scraps of gossip that might augment your flawed and incomplete memories. But how long would it take to determine the most important things that really happened -- the argument that led to a divorce and tragic custody fight, the spectacular spats that didn't, the quiet first meeting that became a moving love affair, the one careless word that somehow fathered a lifelong grudge of disastrous consequence between two familes? That could not be done during the party, the day after, or probably for years to come. How much harder to assess Lincoln's absolute worth before he died -- or George W. Bush's before we behold the state of the world in 2036 or beyond?

Yet here in the forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone, we have a highly credentialed historian who is willing to declare, however hypothetically, George W. Bush the worst U.S. President in history. Balderdash. Hubris of this sort immediately permits us to examine whatever personal information we can find about the dissembler who is so willing to tarnish his own reputation thus. He must have a relevant history himself.

I invite one and all to research Sean Wilentz in this way. I've done just a bit of digging myself and it wasn't hard to find a few suggestive facts in his curriculum vitae. He's the Dayton-Stockon Professor of History at Princeton and the Director of Princeton's Program in American Studies. That's very nice, I'm sure, but it might not make him an expert on middle eastern politics or asymmetric warfare, which are likely to figure into the eventual assessments of how good or bad a president George Bush was.

He's written a few books -- and edited others -- which is also very nice, but the titles seem to indicate a focus on the development of democracy and culture in pre-twentieth century America:

with Paul E. Johnson) The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 222 pp.

(with Michael Merrill) The Key of Liberty: The Life and Democratic Writings of William Manning. "A Laborer." 1747-1814 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), 240 pp.

Chants Democratic: New York City & the Rise of the American Working Class. 1788-1850 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), 446 pp.
 
The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. (New York: Norton Books, 2005)/992 pp.

His essays and articles are listed on the same page, so you can investigate them more closely yourself, but the titles and the publications he wrote them for demonstrate a heavily populist frame of reference, including such subjects as Jimmy Hoffa, the American labor movement generally, class conflicts in America, working class culture, crime and poverty in New York, property and suffrage reform, and in more contemporary contexts televangelism and Ross Perot. One brief excerpt ought to convey the flavor:

Egalitarianism assumes many shapes in contemporary America: equality of opportunity, equality of rights, racial equality, sexual equality, equal justice, equal pay for equal work, and more. One egalitarian ideal is, however, conspicuously absent from most American public discussions: the ideal of equal wealth. Although complaints about economic inequality arise from the margins, the subject passes virtually unnoticed in our political debates. Apparently, most Americans find nothing unjust about gross disparities of economic resources, so long as every citizen is given a reasonable chance to prosper. Discrimination, prejudice, extreme poverty, and other enormities may endanger the stability and prestige of the republic (although there is intense disagreement about how much they do so anymore). Yet staggering inequalities of wealth, in and... [emphasis mine]

Sorry for breaking off in mid-sentence, but it doesn't require a psychic to complete the main thought of the essay. At the very least, Wilentz's populist bent has made him a hard-core socialist. Still, this preoccupation with redressing the inequities of capitalism shouldn't be interpreted to mean that he's spent a lot of time living with manual laborers. His educational background launched him into a different sphere entirely:

Ph.D., Yale University, 1980.
M. Phil., Yale University, 1976.
M.A., Yale University, 1975.
B.A., Balliol College, Oxford University, 1974.
BA., Columbia College, [Phi Beta Kappa] Columbia University, 1972.
 
Additionally, Wilentz's employment record and his list of academic prizes and awards indicate that he has spent his whole working career in the shade of the Ivy League's beneficent foliage.

Whence, then, his empathy for the poor and oppressed of the capitalist machine? We've already gotten the principal clue. Columbia College, Class of 1972. He received his undergraduate education at the epicenter of the radical sixties, the Columbia University of Mark Rudd's SDS and the riots in Morningside Heights. Would we be going overboard to infer that his love for the working class is complemented by a view of American foreign policy shaped during the darkest days of the Vietnam War? That he was then and is still a charter member of the musico-political counterculture that gave rise to Rolling Stone Magazine in the first place?

When exactly is a picture worth a thousand words?


Sean Wilentz

The photo is part of a promotional piece that verifies the connection between Wilentz and the sixties counterculture:

A 52-page booklet accompanying "Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall -- The Bootleg Series Volume 6" includes a historical and critical essay by Sean Wilentz... Documenting the historic Halloween concert from the vivid memories of attending it as a 13-year-old, Wilentz illustrates the musical and social importance of that night's performance in New York.

"'Live 1964' brings back a Bob Dylan on the cusp of that turmoil," Wilentz writes. "It brings back a time between his scuffling sets at the downtown clubs and his arena-rock tours of the 1970s and after. It brings back a long gone era of intimacy between performer and audience, and the last strains of a self-aware New York bohemia before bohemia became diluted and mass marketed. It brings back a Dylan moment just before something that Pete Hamill (on the liner notes to 'Blood On the Tracks') called 'the plague' infected so many hopes, and destroyed an older America sung of by Guthrie and, in prose, by Jack Kerouac -- and by Dylan as well, who somehow survived. Above all, it brings back a great concert by an artist performing at the peak of his powers one who would climb many more peaks to come."

The piece also includes quotes from Wilentz:

I don't know Bob Dylan -- who really does? but I've been fortunate to be around him for many years. When I was growing up, my father's bookshop was in Greenwich Village and so I have childhood memories of seeing Bob Dylan when he was a very young man and I was a very young kid. I've been around that world for a very long time, which has a lot to do with my interest in music and politics. When he came to Princeton in 2000... I did get the chance to see him and rekindle an old acquaintanceship.

So he was born to the counterculture, raised in Greenwich Village at his father's bookshop (what kind of books, one wonders? Beat Generation? CPUSA dialectics?) and involved deeply enough in the unfolding sixties to have met and conversed with Bob Dylan. He wasn't just there during the sixties; he was the sixties.

None of this disqualifies Sean Wilentz from being a good and objective historian. It does, however, explain much about why he would engage in the folly of pretending to write "history" about a sitting president and from what perspective he is likely to classify George W. Bush as the worst president ever. Who out there is willing to bet that the article, when published, won't embody an absolute prejudice against the use of American military power in Third World countries, a flaming ideological hatred of "tax cuts for the rich," a condescending screed against the religious right and pro-lifers, a series of ruthless indictments of Bush policies on racial, gender, and labor relations, and a lot of general venom in support of contemporary counterculture orthodoxies about the environment, global warming, corporatism, and the super-soveignty of international law.

The piece may turn out to be an eloquent partisan polemic, but it will bear no relation to what you'd call an historical assessment.

The betting window is open in the Comments section. I'm not expecting many takers.





PunkWire

Scott McClellan

HOT FLASHES. Some stories don't require lots of explanation or analysis. Like this first one. We've been asking for a change in press secretary for quite a while now. It's happened. We're thankful and hopeful it means that the Bush administration is planning to fight back at last against the hyenas chewing on his presidency.

Other stuff's been happening too. Does anyone require a lot of comment about this recently unveiled bit of news?


Sami al Arian

Yes, he was acquitted, thanks to the idiotic liberal extension of U.S. citizens' constitutional rights to outright enemies of the United States, but he finally admitted what we always knew was true. It's small comfort to those who didn't want him to get away, but it's also a salve for the much injured truth. Enough said for now.


Joseph Wilson, IV

You're never supposed to hit a political celebrity twice in a row unless he's a conservative. Somebody better tell Christopher Hitchens. Before he stomps Joe Wilson a third time. Valerie wouldn't like it.


Jane Fonda

Interestingly, she conceded at the last that Cindy Sheehan was better equipped to oppose the Iraq War. As close as we'll get to an outright confession by Jane that she's as dumb as we thought. The end of an era? Hardly. Just the end of the first, vilest, and most blatant example of a Hollywood multi-millionaire perverting fame into treasonous acts that killed and maimed brave men at arms who defended the freedom which, in this case, became a weapon against them. She'll rot inside her mansions, facelift scars, and designer gowns for a few more years, and then she'll probably rot in hell.


Geena Davis

And here's a real sad item. Hillary's Hollywood Judas goat for the presidency has failed her. Geena Davis's Emmy-winning Commander-in-Chief turned out to be a total yawn with viewers. Maybe they couldn't manage to suspend their disbelief that Donald Sutherland was an evil Republican. Or maybe Geena wasn't much more convincing as a ballsy executive than she was as a superstar baseball player. Technically, we suppose, the cancellation isn't official yet, but the writing is on the wall of the Oval Office set, as you can see.


John Murtha

It happened on C-Span of all places. Murtha and his fellow traveller Congressman Moran were blathering about how all the troops think the war is unwinnable and have morale as high as a tick's belly when a veteran stood up to call them liars. Cool. And true.


Cynthia McKinney

The Islamist cartoonist who memorialized Cynthia McKinney in the masterpiece shown here is back in the news. He penned a cartoon for an anti-Zionist ad that ran in last week's Sunday New York Times. Some Jews are claiming they're not offended by seeing themselves depicted as apes, but maybe they haven't yet seen this adoring treatment of the U.S. Congress's most visible and unabashed anti-semite. Maybe they haven't seen his other artistic renditions of Jews and Islamists. Maybe they're blind.


Donald Rumsfeld

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. If you want to see the up-to-date score, look here and here.


Robin Givhan

She won a Pulitzer. What a prodigious advance for civil women's fashionista rights. What this country needs is more elitist analysis by inside-the-beltway liberals of the clothing and hairstyles of the political caste, especially the Republican untouchables. That'll make quality happen a lot faster for everyone. Kudos to the Pulitzer Pickers, as usual.


Michelle Malkin

Meanwhile, in approximately the same timeframe, the superior cultural guardians of the left were handing out a less official award to the foreign-looking, non-white, no-account female conservative whose legs aren't quite as long as Ann Coulter's. She's a repeat winner, by the way. At least, they didn't stoop to criticizing her wardrobe. That's Robin Givhan's job.


Andy Garcia

Uh oh. Cuban immigrant son Andy Garcia may not be quite as welcome at Hollywood parties anymore. It appears he doesn't like the ultimate darling dictator of liberals, Fidel Castro. But we suspect he feels great about honoring the travails and sacrifices of his father. That might just outweigh the pain of the social opprobrium levied by the dukes and duchesses of show business.


Karl Rove

That's right. The dark lord has been set free from day-to-day White House responsibilities to recover the endangered ring of power in the legislative branch. Time to hide all those peace-loving hobbits in the House and Senate who thought they could sneak their way through Mordor to a majority in the U.S. Congress. Maybe some tall, beautiful, androgynous elven queen will appear at the last moment to save them. Ah. Here she is:


Hillary

She's got the big bucks. So all must be well, after all. Right?

Back at you later.




Saturday, April 15, 2006


Anniversary

The Shuteye Train -- still the ultimate punk writer band.

DEDICATION. It was 25 years ago this Sunday that the punk writers of South Street formally dedicated The Boomer Bible. If you're a fan of InstaPunk, please take some time this week to examine how it all started. You can do that here, but not in one minute or thirty. This blog is only an outgrowth of a huge prior effort that can take days to explore. The BB website is the product of multiple contributors, including the original author and talented devotees of the book. Specific areas you might want to investigate include thumbnails of MSM reviews, the homilies of the lowly parish beacon, BS, the TBB numerology essays by Henry Elders, Rumors of the Metalkort (a photographic essay on South Street) by Matt Cordrey, the connection between The Boomer Bible and the events of 9/11 (various writers, including a bombshell from Henry Elders), the photographic gallery delineating TBB's Hollywood casting of Harry's followers, the map showing links from one of TBB's 12,000 intercolumn reference citations (Wil.25.5: "There isn't any God"), excerpts from the text content (incomplete and troubled by typos but nonetheless helpful), several essays and expositions that introduce some of the unique aspects of the book (e.g., here, here, and here), the two Psongs of Harry which commemorated his 60th birthday last August, and a listing of other books that can help illuminate this unusual work.

Do what you will. We just thought we'd remind you.

Shammadamma.
 
UPDATE. An email we had to share with you, from a longtime TBB forum member:

Why would it take me 15 years to figure out the significance of April 19th?

The single act of punk defiance that created everything we are today. The shot heard round the world. Jeez. I bet it's the origin of "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!"

I'm seeing the light, [InstaPunk], I really, truly, am seeing the light.

The Crisis by Thomas Paine,  April 19th 1777.  "America, till now, could never be called a free country, because her legislation depended on the will of a man three thousand miles distant, whose interest was in opposition to ours, and who, by a single "no," could forbid what law he pleased."  This is a quote that should be shoved down people's throats.

April 19th seems to be a day of defiance or mind altering tragedy. 

April 19th, 1943. Germans invade the Warsaw Ghetto, but hey: "Fuck you, and your jackboots." A shot rang out. Isn't THAT a coincidence?

April 19th, 1993. Waco. Defiance,  tragedy.  

April 19th, 1995  Oklahoma City. Criminal tragedy. I'm not condoning this in any way,  but the defiance factor is there,  albeit  psychotic defiance.

April 19th, 2000  Elian Gonzales...

That's all for now. Wish I could leave this on Instapunk... you know I like to make people stop for a second.

Very truly yours,
Null

Now you're posted on InstaPunk. And we thank you for all you've done over the years. Don't underestimate your accomplishments. We don't.

UPDATE 2 (4/20/06). Thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for acknowledging the anniversary, and welcome to visitors. If you've got the time, check out some of our newer entries while you're here. If we can't make you laugh, there's something wrong with you.




Friday, April 14, 2006


Where Credit Is Due...

Norman Geras and some of his favorite books.

VIEW FROM THE LEFT. Fair is fair. Readers of InstaPunk know that we are harshly critical of leftist politics and politicians, particularly in the context of the War on Terror. But when leftists demonstrate in word or deed that they do understand some of the simpler verities that sustain western civilization, we feel obliged to acknowledge it. That's what we're doing today.

Back in November of 2005, we appealed to Democrats in the U.S. to look deeper into some of their rigidly contradictory positions and call their leadership to account. We said, in part:

The current lynch mob mentality in the Democrat Party does no honor to those of you who do really love our country. It's absurd to suppose that you really would prefer to put Saddam back in power with all the resources he once had at his disposal. It's impossible to believe that the outcome you would most prefer is for American troops to come crawling home in defeat from a war in which they lost no single battle, leaving Iraq to the certain horrors of religious civil war and inevitable tyranny by the most ruthless combatant. It's reasonable to believe that all things considered, you would prefer to live in a world where millions of moderate muslims had democratically elected governments guaranteeing the same kinds of individual freedoms we Americans take for granted. Yet defeat, humiliation, slaughter, and tyranny, with no real possibility of the advance of human freedom, is the precise outcome that is being sought by your leadership -- all for the narrow partisan purpose of destroying the Bush presidency and Republican power in the Congress.

It's either ironic or it isn't that the first thoughtful attempt at self-rehabilitation on the left should come from the far left and not from the United States, but from the U.K. Regardless, that's the truth of it. Professor Norman Geras and a few like-minded colleagues have drafted a document called the Euston Manifesto which is intended to realign the "progressive" movement with its humanitarian conscience. The Manifesto addresses numerous aspects of policy, and some of its declarations will be anathema to conservatives, but on the most urgent matters facing the world today, the language is refreshingly direct and sensible. Here's the most relevant excerpt:

We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September 11 2001 were America's deserved comeuppance, or 'understandable' in the light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. What was done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive formula can hide that.

The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted – rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one's energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi 'insurgency'. The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.

Vandalism against synagogues and Jewish graveyards and attacks on Jews themselves are on the increase in Europe. 'Anti-Zionism' has now developed to a point where supposed organizations of the Left are willing to entertain openly anti-Semitic speakers and to form alliances with anti-Semitic groups. Amongst educated and affluent people are to be found individuals unembarrassed to claim that the Iraq war was fought on behalf of Jewish interests, or to make other 'polite' and subtle allusions to the harmful effect of Jewish influence in international or national politics - remarks of a kind that for more than fifty years after the Holocaust no one would have been able to make without publicly disgracing themselves. We stand against all variants of such bigotry.

The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and by the practice of 'rendition', must be roundly condemned for what it is: a departure from universal principles, for the establishment of which the democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. But we reject the double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag, can assert that the legislative measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so by certain left and liberal voices.

If only we could hear such principled conviction from the left in our own country -- from Reid, Pelosi, Durbin, Murtha, Kerry, Gore, Dean, and McDermott; from the editorial boardrooms of the New York Times, CBS/NBC/ABC News, CNN, and NPR; from the professoriate of the Ivy League (and the Admissions Office at Yale); or even from so-called moderate Democrats who write and speak daily as if the American executive branch were responsible for every ill outcome in the world.

How interesting is it that Norman Geras is no moderate? He is an avowed Marxist, as his biography and this interview will attest. Is it that he possesses the rare academic credential of common sense? Or is it, as we're inclined to believe, that his origins in the old British Commonwealth have imbued him with a sense of fair play that requires him to see bitter, shallow polemics for what they are?

We were able to discover one clue. It's in a blog by the clever Aussie Tim Blair, who published the photo above. The books on display are Norman Geras's cricket library. At a guess, we'd say the professor knows enough about a game that embodies the essence of good sportsmanship to see that the left's reaction to Iraq and the War on Terror is "not cricket." We're convinced it would be possible to have a reasonable and educational conversation with such a man.

In his honor, we'll leave you with an opportunity to share, however slightly, his vast experience. (Click on the image.)



Cheerio.





InstapunkNeilYoung

Let's Impeach the President

Not all messiahs have to sacrifice anything

GOOD FRIDAY. Well. There's this from today's Editor & Publisher:

NEW YORK As an E&P "Pressing Issues" column recently noted, rock star Neil Young is the son of a famed Canadian journalist, so it should not surprise many that he recently recorded a song in California with a very reportorial -- or at least pundit -- feel to it.

It’s called “Impeach the President,” so there can be little question what it is about.

Apparently it was recorded with a 100-voice choir. Rumors have circulated the past few days on the Web, but E&P has tracked down the strongest confirmation in a blog kept by Sherman Oaks, Ca. musician/singer Alicia Morgan.

Previous reports quoted hints by Young and Jonathan Demme (who directed the new documentary “Heart of Gold”) that Neil was working on a hard-rocking political or “anti-Bush” CD.

Last Friday, Morgan wrote on her LastLeftB4Hooterville blog that she had been “summoned” to a local studio to sing on the new record with 99 others. “I'm not going to give the whole thing away, but the first line of one of the songs was ‘Let's impeach the President...!’ (T)he whole thing is a classic beautiful protest record. The session was like being at a 12-hour peace rally. Every time new lyrics would come up on the screen, there were cheers, tears and applause. It was a spiritual experience. I can't believe my good fortune at being a part of this.

Imagine! Like being at a 12-hour peace rally! It would seem that halleluiahs are in order. The King of (exclusively) D-Chord Rock'n'Roll has at last decided to save us from ourselves. It was always a possibility but almost never a hope. He seemed too aloof and self-consciously spiritual to share his effulgent wisdom with the uninitiated (i.e., non-Canadians). But now we can assert that the great moment has arrived, and we can confirm it as fact because we've managed to obtain the lyrics for this song of all songs from a mole at the recording studio. (If you have any objections to this transaction, read the Judas Gospel according to National Geographic. Then you'll understand.) We've also been told that the tune -- like all Neil Young songs -- bears a close resemblance to Young's classic Round and Round. Enjoy:
 
Let's impeach the President
Lock him up for all his crimes
Make him suffer all his days
And bring back better times.
Listen to the dead boy's mom,
Bring the army murderers home
Let Iraq's insurgents win
And end imperial sin.

The Hundred-Woman Chorus:

Down and down and down he comes
From Canada to save the dumb
Americans.
He's Neil, the One.
His voice is like mosquito wings
It whines and weeps and always stings
Republicans.
He knows how all of us should be,
He always tells the truth in D.
He'll crack the teeth of Condi's Bush,
Abort Satanic Christians.
He's Neil, the One.
 
Let's impeach the President
He killed Iraqi wives and kids
He lied to fool us into war
For dirty oil and greedy Yids.
Listen to the Towers' song
Listen humbly, hard and long
The truth explodes just like a bomb
The accusations of Islam.

Let's impeach the President
Let's restore the wronged Saddam
He only fought to slow the beast
That stalked the God of Peace.
Listen to the stern imam,
Recite the Protocols o'Zion
The world will never be at peace
Till Israel's occupation cease.

Chorus.

Let's impeach the President
Let's let Arabs spill their grief
In gore, blood shed
and severed heads.
Listen to the suicides
The poetry of dynamite
They only hate the cross and Jews
The rest of us are cool.
Listen to bin Laden's tapes
He only wants to end the rape
of Islam's precious sacred sites
And put to death those filthy kikes.
Let's impeach the President
Let's impeach the President
Let's impeach the President
Bring back the wronged Saddam
Apologize to everyone
Submit to Allah and Islam.

Chorus:
Down and down and down he comes
From Canada to save the dumb
Americans.
He's Neil, the One.
His voice is like mosquito wings
It whines and weeps and always stings
Republicans.
He knows how all of us should be,
He always tells the truth in D.
He'll crack the teeth of Condi's Bush,
Abort Satanic Christians.
He's Neil, the One.

Wow. That kind of says it all for the peace-loving set, doesn't it? Thank you, Neil. You may not be young anymore, but you sure are fun.





Night of the Generals

Angry generals protesting Rumsfeld at the front entrance of the Pentagon

THE FACTS. It's pretty certain a lot of the milbloggers are going to get upset with us about this one. But we have to say it. We have a lot of respect for the troops in the field, but maybe not quite so much for the generals. In our reading of history, generals are mostly assholes, except when they're admirals, which is altogether worse. There are sometimes a few generals -- but not always -- who know how to fight, and win, and respond brilliantly to unexpected circumstances. Most of the time, though, generals are the beneficiaries of a kind of organization in which they are guaranteed to be surrounded by yes-men who depend upon them absolutely if they are ever to become generals themselves. Which means that generals, by and large, are the survivors of a yes-man competition they could have lost at any time by one distressingly candid objection to a superior officer. Which also means that most generals are clones of George McClellan, great organizers, administrators, and self-promoters whose egos far outweigh their talents or usefulness in time of war. A common feature of such armchair generals is their constant conviction that whatever resources they're offered, it's never enough. Never enough to engage the enemy, never enough to defeat the enemy, never enough to pacify the enemy once he has been defeated in the field. It is always, to them, much much better to do nothing instead and insist that all your junior officers congratulate you every day for the brilliance of your inaction. Every day they stall and equivocate and counsel patience, their self esteem increases. They come to fancy themselves great thinkers, politicians, statesmen, peacemakers. Think Colin Powell or Wesley Clark. What they are is bureaucrats.

Obviously, the rewards of winning the yes-man competition are great, even if (or especially if) you're a mediocrity. Troops in the field are rightly admired for serving their country. Generals, on the other hand, tend to self-righteously admire themselves for being so well served by their country. They are endlessly flattered by juniors, ferried from place to place gratis, and have free rein to enjoy the perks of a U.S. military base network that could easily enable them to play golf for free in every state in the union in 50 days.

This is not a new observation. Research the New York Times's habitual view of generals when they aren't trying to use them to bring down a President they don't like. They have no use for them. The very title general has been synonymous with the word 'liar' to the mainstream press since Vietnam. Until today.

So what's different about today? We have a bunch of major generals -- retired, and therefore not subject to military discipline, inflated with all the omniscient ego of a soldier who doesn't have to engage the enemy ever again -- who object to the absolute authority of a civilian who didn't spend thirty years kissing the asses of those who happened to graduate ahead of him at West Point. And they have a terrible story to tell about how their brilliant advice was rudely rebuffed by a Secretary of Defense serving at the pleasure of a President who actually dared to go to war. What could be awfuller than that?

Here's what could be awfuller than that. A corps of generals who could run roughshod over the civilian command of the military. All we've learned from the temper tantrum of the past few days is that generals don't like to be told what to do. Particularly by a Secretary of Defense. Today the NYT seems to agree with them. But ask yourselves this: If we hadn't renamed the office in the peace-loving aftermath of WWII and if it were still titled Secretary of War, how would you feel about generals wanting to bully the Secretary? But the dirty secret is, they didn't want to take orders from men in mufti even back then. They've always thought  they were above that. They aren't, but it's the danger they've posed to every government in history from Rome onwards. The absolute supremacy of the civilian government over the military is one of the great points of genius in our Constitution. It's why the government of the United States has never been seized by a general, not even Douglas MacArthur. But, by the way, does anyone remember the name of Truman's Secretary of Defense? No. Truman had to fire MacArthur himself, because his SecDef was too much of a wimp to do it himself.

We will all remember Rumsfeld's name. On the whole, that's a damned good thing.

Sorry, milbloggers.

CLOSING NOTE. Please don't overlook the complementary entry (posted mere minutes ago) just below this one about the great new Neil Young song calling for impeachment of the President. I'm sure we can all agree how important and significant it is that both generals and rock stars want this administration brought to heel. How would it be possible to find people who have more empathy for and understanding of ordinary citizens? Scroll down for the music scoop of the year.




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