Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 12, 2007 - February 5, 2007

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Oh, stop it.

Eire 8 posted a long post in the summer of 2004 -- back when Failed Candidate Kerry was wriggling around with his vote to start the Iraq war. The question Eire 8 wanted answered -- which remains unasked and unanswered -- and the question that should be asked/answered now is this:

Why did they [Congress] cede their constitutional authority to such a man [President Bush] -- a man they speak of as if they never regarded him as fit for the role of commander-in-chief?

And the follow-up:

Why "PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION" seemed like such a great idea in 2002 and is such a dreadful idea now?

To these questions should be added: When will the resignations start?

Like De Niro in Casino said to the local in charge of the slot machines after a particular machine awarded three consecutive jackpots, "Either you were in on it or you were too dumb to see it coming -- either way, you're out." Note: Our memory of the scene plays much better than it does in the movie.

Read Eire 8's entire post for the details -- it's Sunday, afterall. And let's start to hear a cry for the resignations of these admitted incompetents.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans Day

GLIMMERING. How best to honor sacrifice? We can wave the flag, make empty speeches, and otherwise pretend we haven't forgotten those to whom we owe an incalculable debt. Or we can follow the lead of one who knew more than most:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Can we read it as if he just said it? We can try.

The 'M' Word

Joseph McClooney

ED.6.1-13. Here we go again with the McCarthy thing. In his new movie Good Night and Good Luck, Rosemary Clooney's nephew continues his inspired political tirade against the evil forces of Republicanism which have for so long oppressed the common people he frequently heard about during his childhood. Ann Coulter calls him on the accuracy of his supposed reportorial treatment of Joseph McCarthy and Edward R. Murrow:

Clooney said of his small contribution to the "McCarthyism" industry: "I realized that we had to be incredibly careful with the facts, because if we got any of them wrong, they could say it's all horse****. So I had to double-source every scene."

I don't intend to see his movie because ó except for the McCarthy parts ó it sounds like a snoozefest. (Half the reviewers so far have said "good night" to Clooney, and the other half have said "good luck.") And despite all those "double-sources," in addition to getting the big facts wrong (about America and about the Soviet Union), Clooney got all the little facts wrong, too. I guess he borrowed some of Al Franken's "fact-checkers."

As even liberal reviewers have noted, it was hardly an act of bravery for Edward R. Murrow to attack McCarthy. The New York Times was attacking McCarthy, The New York Post was attacking McCarthy and The Washington Post was attacking McCarthy. Every known news outlet was attacking McCarthy. McCarthy was in a pitched battle for his life, his career and the fate of the nation. Murrow merely jumped on the liberal bandwagon ó and rather late in the game.

She goes on to demolish other so-called facts presented in the movie, but I'd like to take the discussion in a slightly different direction by proposing that the McCarthy story is intensely relevant today in another context -- the patented Democrat use of the "Big Lie" to fabricate a wholly fictitious alternative history of the war in Iraq. There's an exhaustive fact-checking in Commentary magazine of the real history versus the screaming headline fake history we're being battered with in the MSM every day. I urge you all to read the entire article after you've read what I have to say, but for now I'll quote only this much:

Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.

What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.

The reason it can't be killed off is that the party of modern McCarthyism is the Democrats. I wrote extensively about this back in September 2003 when the original Big Lie about Iraq was in the process of being created. It was as outrageous then as now, and I traced its most important and seminal ancestor thus:

The symbolic rite of passage for 20th century American liberals was the period they have succeeded in labeling the "McCarthy Era." If Republicans had been half as rhetorically astute, we would in all likelihood know this time by a different name, as "The Era of Soviet Infiltration." The end of the Cold War has almost universally vindicated the charges by Republicans in the late 1940s and 1950s that Soviet espionage agents occupied critically compromising positions in multiple agencies of the U.S. government and the military. Despite the villainization of Richard Nixon, his target Alger Hiss was, we now know, guilty. The Rosenbergs were guilty. FDR's Chief of Staff Harry Hopkins was guilty. Staggeringly important secrets were passed by American citizens to the Soviets, including plans for both the atom and hydrogen bombs. There is simply no way to deny the truth that the communist conspiracy claimed by the Republicans did, in fact, exist and was consistently denied, dismissed, or provided cover for by the Democratic party.

Nevertheless, the liberal/left elite in this country has succeeded in perpetuating a dramatic myth that is flatly contradicted by the facts. The anti-communist crusade of Joseph McCarthy, by reason of its impoliteness and its incompetence, has become the secular Passion of liberalism, its sanctifying crucifixion, the basis of its arrogant, continuing, and utterly unjustified claims of moral superiority over the conservative opposition. (Lest you regard this as overstatement, please read "The Crucible," Arthur Miller's play about the McCarthyism of the 17th century Salem witchcraft trials -- as we all know, there were no witches/communists . . .) We are supposed to overlook the enormity of the fact that at the very dawn of the nuclear age, American citizens conspired to transfer the deadliest technology ever developed to the mortal enemies of their country. This terrifying event is supposed to pale beside the prospect of a Hollywood screenwriter whose career was damaged by his membership in the 'party' that led the conspiracy. It doesn't -- except in the minds of those who have never quite understood, and probably never will -- the sickening, murderous evil that was the Soviet communist state.

Yet the Democrats won the word war. The term 'McCarthyism' entered the language and has been kept vigorously and determinedly alive. It is, by usage, synonymous with fascism, because it has come to mean the ruthless persecution and demonization of an imaginary enemy for purely political purposes. And ever since the great Democrat Passion of the 1950s, this word has been hurled at every concerted Republican attempt to uncover any kind of wrongdoing in the left/liberal establishment.

It was the Democrats' success in creating the McCarthy Myth that convinced them of the efficacy of the Big Lie, and they have used it ever since -- in conjunction with their diehard fellow travellers in the media -- to trick the gullible and ignorant into believing the most fantastic falsehoods.

In repeating such pernicious nonsense yet again, Clooney reveals himself as a McCarthyite. It's time we all started denouncing the Big Lies for what they are. We're living smack dab in the middle of one of the Biggest ever told, and this time it can't be permitted to stand or go unchallenged.

The rest of my 2003 essay is here. It's scary just how apt it still seems.

UPDATE. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the InstaPundit link and welcome to his readers. Here's a bit more background on the history of the left's weird relation to the truth.† Also, check out Michelle Malkin, who's posting a link to Tom Bevan's defense of the Commentary piece referenced above against the usual lefty attacks. Last but far from least, here's our Veteran's Day tribute.

UPDATE 11/12/05. Here's an outstanding essay by Tigerhawk (h/t Instapundit) that meticulously analyzes the moral validity of various types and motives of dissent against the war. It reflects a kind of thought process -- clear, fair, and nuanced -- you simply won't find coming from the left anymore. For the record, we agree that there are morally defensible flavors of anti-war dissent; the current hysterical libels against the administration discussed above do not qualify. This is perhaps an appropriate place for a general response to those commenters who insist on defending the truth of the Big Lie: Nothing here was meant to change your view, which is past reason and beneath contempt, and we couldn't care less how enraged you are, how far afield you'll go to cherrypick your pitiful evidence, or how scornfully you write in the Comments section. One tip, though. If you seek to persuade other readers of your intellectual superiority to InstaPunk, then at least try to spell your vitriol correctly. To those who merely disagree, reasonably and literately, thank you for your participation and contributions.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In passing...

. It's not nice and it's not fair, but when we read the following tidbit in a Mark Steyn movie review, we couldn't resist sharing it with you:

Elizabethtown opens with Drew Baylor in big trouble. Heís managed to design a shoe that has lost his company $972 million. So he gets fired by his boss, Alec Baldwin. Mr Baldwin, youíll recall, had pledged to leave America if George W Bush won the 2000 election. If he did, he evidently settled in the Somerset village of Lardbutt Magna, or maybe Colombe-Les-Deux-Butterscotch-Puddings. Man, has he bulked up. He doesnít seem like a shoe executive watching his profits disappear, heís more of a choux executive making his profiteroles disappear. Heís turning into Marlon Brando, but without having made any classic movies first, unless you count the Thomas The Tank Engine picture, and, if they ever re-make that, he can play the title role.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Breasts Not Bombs

A new group of peace-lovers.

BE AGAINST WAR. It certainly seems like a good idea, though the actual implementation in combat is hard to visualize. Anyway, we found a mention of this (to us) new organization on Drudge and followed through to the article he linked.† California, of course. An anti-Schwarzenegger protest. Got to be from Berkeley, of course. It's not too hard to imagine all the left-wing college girls giving their all for peace, and who could it hurt? It's an easy situation to handle. You tell them that the demonstration is very nice and that you admire their brains, and please move along now. No problemo, as Arnold used to say. But then we read about the police response:

SACRAMENTO ó Police arrested two members of an organization called Breasts Not Bombs after they removed their tops during a protest on the steps of the state Capitol on Monday afternoon.

The women, who were protesting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ballot measures for today's special election, took off their shirts despite warnings from the California Highway Patrol last week that doing so would lead to their arrests ó and possibly their inclusion on the state's list of sex offenders. A federal judge Friday refused to grant a request from Breasts Not Bombs to block the police from arresting topless protesters.
Officials at the Sacramento County district attorney's office said they have not decided whether to prosecute the protesters, and if they do, whether to seek to have them listed as sex offenders.

Sex offenders?! For toplessness?! In California?!! Isn't this the national capital of the movie industry, in which every single female star for the last third of a century has bared her breasts in 70 mm widescreen format for every adolescent boy who can talk his way past the ticket agent?

It just didn't make any sense. This isn't Iowa or Utah or West Virginia we're talking about here.We had to dig deeper into the story.

We found a site called Zombietime, which maintains a photographic record of various California peace activists and their highly intelligent public events. Now we know why arrests were made. We understand about the sex offender thing. You can take our word for it, or you can follow the link. But we warn you in no uncertain terms it's not safe for work (NSFW). Really. We'd better repeat that. It's NOT SAFE FOR WORK. It's not even safe for... well, never mind.

Emergency Recall!

France is running out of cars.

PSAYINGS.5Q.56. Rocked by the ballooning crisis, the French government has announced extraordinary measures to return the nation to a state of normalcy. President Jacques Chirac has rolled back the curfew on youth in French cities from 2 am to the stroke of midnight, lowered the boom on consumption of spirits by minors to a ration of two liters of wine per day, and declared Arabic the new national language of France. He has expressed confidence that these steps will end the violence and enable the task of repairing the damage to begin.

Toward this end, Chirac has also announced a draconian plan to fill the extreme shortage of automobiles which now exists in major cities throughout the nation. Exercising the long unused "droit de l'empereur" (literally, the right to be insufferably dictatorial), which dates to the time of Napoleon, he has commanded all the sovereign nations of the world to return to France all French cars and trucks in the possession of their citizens, regardless of age, condition, or value. The order, he has decreed, is to be complied with at once, at the foreign owner's expense, on pain of punitive actions to be specified later.

The French foreign ministry has already published a list of all French vehicles exported to the United States in the last half century, along with identifying photographs supplied by French intelligence. The owners of the following are directed to make immediate arrangements for shipment of these vehicles back to France:

Model: 1960 Citroen 2cv
Technical ID: La Voiture Grise
(tr. The Gray One)

Model: 1972 Citroen DS
Technical ID: La Voiture Verte
(tr. The Green One)

Model: 1964 Citroen 2cv
Technical ID: La Voiture Rouge
(tr. The Red One)

Model: 1958 Peugeot 403
Technical ID: Le Cabriolet de Colombe
(tr. Columbo's P.O.S.)

Model: 1952 Citroen 15cv
Technical ID: La Voiture Ancienne
(tr. Older than Dirt)

Model: 1962 Citroen 2cv
Technical ID: Le Rouge et le Noir
(tr. a novel by Stendahl?)

Model: 1959 Citroen 2cv
Technical ID: La Miserable
(tr. a Hugo novel?)

Model: 1966 Citroen DS Familiale
Technical ID: La Voiture Blanche
(tr. The Station Wagon)

Model: 1964 Citroen 2cv Camion
Technical ID: Le Truck
(tr. Another P.O.S.)

We trust that the owners of these vehicles will recognize them and offer the rest of us some explanation for acquiring them in the first place. What transpires between you and the French government is, of course, your own business.

Thank you for your patience with this interruption in your busy day.

UPDATE. Michelle Malkin is faulting the media for easing up on coverage of the French contretemps. We'd like to remind her that we've stayed on this story despite our own massive lack of interest and concern. And we covered it again tomorrow too. So there.

Bits and Pieces

PSAYINGS.5Q.79-80. I explained not long ago that I am angry. It's not hard to explain why: if the smartest people are supposed to be highly educated intellectuals, then why are they uniquely inoculated against reason, history, common sense, and human decency? What is hard is believing it worthwhile to speak at all. Right now, I can only do it in dribs and drabs, as if the whole army of the intelligentsia were suffering from ADDS and could process only sound bites and 'pitchers' instead of fully articulated ideas. I'm probably wrong, but humor me. Eventually, faith will restore a voice that has something worthwhile to say. I don't know that to be the case here, but I can try to utter a phrase or sentence or two. Meanwhile, I am grateful for the continuing resolve and humor of Chain Gang, the Headhouse Gang, the Glimmers, the XOFF News Team, and all the other rambunctious contributors who keep this site going. For now, here's my brief potpourri.

Code Napoleon

The mainstream media pursuing truth, justice, and the [inaudible] way.

Mary Mapes, the Medusa of RatherGate, has a book out and a plethora of MSM interviewers who are willing to provide a platform for her peculiar definitions of objective reporting. Here's a sample from ABC's Good Morning America (h/t Drudge):

Mapes says she is continuing to investigate the source of the controversial documents whose authenticity was seriously questioned by the CBS panel. She tells Ross that she had no journalistic obligation to prove the authenticity of the documents before including them in the "60 Minutes II" report. "I don't think that's the standard," she said.

Me, I don't think that's spicable. I don't believe it a dication of journalistic responsibility. I don't find it even slightly gusting. But, remember, I'm an idiot rightwinger. For all you other idiot rightwingers who don't get the Napoleon reference, it has something to do with the concept of 'guilty until proven innocent.' Why am I tempted to picture Ms. Mapes on Devil's Island? Typical conservative mean-spiritedness is my guess.

Les Garcons Seront Les Garcons

The Islamic South Park Defense

Grace a Dieu. An observer on the scene (h/t InstaPundit) has finally decoded the French crisis:

There's a generation gap, as well, between the wild child element in the street, and the mainline Islamic leadership, who remember the hard life in the old country. While overall unemployment in France is ten percent, it is much higher in immigrant communities. Thatís because French law makes it very difficult to fire anyone, which means employers are very reluctant to hire anyone. This makes jobs precious, and rare, commodities. The migrant families donít have the connections and clout to compete with native French families when it comes to getting jobs for their young. Thus, a disproportionate number of young men from Middle Eastern and African countries are unemployed. Those without jobs are not happy. A job provides status, and the means to make a good marriage..

(T)he street violence is partly a lark, because the kids know the cops are not going to use lethal force, and anyone who gets caught will, at worst, do maybe a year in the slammer (for burning cars looting stores)...

There are some Islamic radicals running around in all this, but they are a minority. The Moslem kids like to talk about respect and payback, but very few see this as a religious war. Itís become a sport, with various groups competing to cause the most destruction. Text messaging, Internet bulletin boards and email made it possible

Ah. It's about horny adolescent boys who just happen to be the computer-literate products of an insular medieval culture that discourages female births and perpetuates a desperate minority of unmarried, prospectless males who can be converted into killers for the promise of getting laid in the afterlife. Muhammed Cartman. (And Kenny never really dies, n'est-ce pas?) Surely, the French can solve that particular problem, can't they? Move the 'banlieus' to the Pigalle and all will be well again. I feel such a fool for suspecting that France had inadvertently subsidized the spawning of a generation of sociopathic arsonist anarchists. Vive La France!

A Raisin in the Sunset

Principle will out... eventually. Very eventually.

The worst President of the United States in history has a new book out, which means he's in the mood to give interviews rather than pompous anti-American pronouncements. For example:

Former President Jimmy Carter yesterday condemned all abortions and chastised his party for its intolerance of candidates and nominees who oppose abortion.†

"I never have felt that any abortion should be committed -- I think each abortion is the result of a series of errors," he told reporters over breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, while across town Senate Democrats deliberated whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. because he may share President Bush and Mr. Carter's abhorrence of abortion.

"These things impact other issues on which [Mr. Bush] and I basically agree," the Georgia Democrat said. "I've never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion."

Mr. Carter said his party's congressional leadership only hurts Democrats by making a rigid pro-abortion rights stand the criterion for assessing judicial nominees.

Is he dying? Is he trying to compensate for some of his infamous rhetoric and treasonous solo foreign policy adventuring over the past 20 years? We'd like to think not, but he also made some staggering admissions for a man who has expressed nothing but ugly contempt for the man who ousted him from the White House:

(T)he best treatment he has received since leaving the Oval Office was from the first President Bush, and the second-best treatment he got was during the Reagan administration, especially from Secretary of State George P. Shultz. The worst treatment he's received, the former president said, was from President Clinton.

I hope my theory is incorrect. But I fear that Mr. Carter is not entirely well. Let's all wish him well.

T(roubled). O(ne).

"The Animal" was a problem player in his day.

Some good news. Over the years I have wondered and worried about the fate of Mike Curtis, the Baltimore Colt linebacker who rivaled Dick Butkus for violence and ferocity on the field. It was said at the time that if Mike Curtis couldn't play football, he'd be in prison. And since the Philadelphia Eagles-Terrell Owens controversy of the past few weeks, I remembered Curtis again because of the defense so often offered that professional football players cannot be expected to understand ordinary human obligations like loyalty, duty, and honor. They are, we are told, almost a species apart, so godlike in their abilities as to be exempt from censure and even the laws of cause and consequence.

I wound up googling the terms 'Mike Curtis' and 'Animal.' Here's what I found:

'Animal' returning to familiar territory

Of The Gazette Staff

While achieving fame as an All-Pro middle linebacker with the Baltimore Colts, Mike Curtis earned the nickname "The Animal" because of his toughness and aggressive play.

And whenever "The Animal" felt he needed to head for the mountains and - as he puts it - "hide out from the masses" - he chose the solitude and scenery offered by Montana, Wyoming or Idaho.

Curtis, now 61 and living in McLean, Va., will be back in the territory he loves Friday night when he addresses the Parents, Let's Unite For Kids (PLUK) Sports Celebrity Dinner at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center...

Curtis, who owned a cattle ranch near Cody for five years in the mid-1970s and still vacations in the area, said this section of the country remains attractive to him because "people are more sensible and the land is drop-dead beautiful...

Curtis was an All-Pro four times in a legendary NFL career that ran from 1965-1978. His interception late in Super Bowl V led to the game-winning field goal in the Colts' 16-13 conquest over the Dallas Cowboys in Miami on Jan. 17, 1971...

[H]e will discuss a variety of topics on Friday night, including football, his love for the West and his family's dealings with attention deficit disorder.

Curtis, who is happy to help out, said he learned he had ADD about 10 years ago after his oldest son, Clay, was diagnosed with it while attending Duke University.

"The doctors were saying it sometimes runs in the family and they started asking me some questions," Curtis said. "They found out I was worse than (Clay)."

Curtis, who takes medication to improve his concentration, is a fabled character when it comes to pro football...

While the Colts were waiting for the Miami Dolphins to come out of the huddle, a fan ran out on the field at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and grabbed the ball. While his teammates stood there stunned, Curtis instinctively reacted with a crunching forearm block.

The fan spent a couple hours in jail and a couple hours in the hospital being treated for dizziness.

"I never hurt anybody," he said. "A lot of guys go out to hurt people. I'm not interested in that. I was asked to do a job and I went out and did it with aggressiveness and intensity.

"When you do that, you end up looking like an 'Animal' or 'Mad Dog.' "

While competitive as a player, Curtis said he hasn't followed the sport too closely since retiring. "I just liked to play the game, I wasn't really a fan," he said.

Instead [of football broadcasting], Curtis said he would like to become a veterinarian's assistant - some day. He thoroughly enjoys animals and being in the wilderness.

And some of his closest friends today are outdoorsmen, not football players.

"I liked to play it and I liked the guys I played with," Curtis said of pro football.

But he isn't fond of the latest sideline/end zone antics of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens or the "showbiz side" that seems to overshadow the game now.

"It's not really the game I grew up in," he said.

So he DIDN'T wind up in prison, and 'The Animal' turned out to be an oddly prescient nickname. Does anyone think T.O. is going to get to the place where Mike Curtis is now? I hope so too.


No room for solitary superstars

I was pondering the plight of the Philadelphia Eagles and the T.O. mess when I went out for a lazy drive in my truck this afternoon. November in the South Jersey marshland -- excuse me, wetlands -- hundreds of acres of deciduous scrub forest and winter rye fields and waterfront reeds twice as tall as a man. Then it flew across the road directly in front of me, less than fifty feet in the air. A bald eagle. The first I have seen in full flight here in my lifetime. Huge, graceful, godlike, and alone. I almost ran off the road trying to keep him in sight as he wheeled and wheeled above me. It was only later, after I was home again, that I thought of what I had seen in relation to the Philadelphia Eagles. I had witnessed no anonymous, humble pack of team players. Godspeed, Terrell Owens.


[sniff sniff] "Peanut?"

Speaking of godlike animals... greyhounds are part of this rightwing idiot's life. Molly looks more like the portrait above than anyone would believe (anyone who doesn't own greyhounds, that is). But she's also a naughty girl. She's like a walking (er, running) demonstration of the butterfly effect: if a potato chip hits the floor in a room two floors away from her, she'll generate a hurricane getting to it and a thunderbolt closing her jaws on it. Other than that, she's a perfect and devotedly obedient little sweetheart.

Defuse it.

And here's a fun little game. Because even if life is deadly serious, not every moment we spend living it is.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Time Crossover

David Caruso of CSI Miami and Gary Sinise of CSI New York.

. It's sweeps week and America's most lucrative television franchise -- the CSI Family -- is cross-pollinating two of its shows to maximize viewership. Last night, CSI Miami began the manhunt for a Ted Bundy-like serial killer who was arrested in New York but escaped in Florida. Obviously, this meant that stars David Caruso and Gary Sinise would be on the case through midweek, trading closeups and one-liners on each other's shows. It's called a crossover, and for whatever reason it does boost ratings.

It's all great fun and there's no big point here, but younger viewers may be unaware that there's more than one kind of crossover in process. Back in the late 50s and early 60s, there was another multi-show franchise -- the first -- fathered by a hip private eye production called 77 Sunset Strip. According to

Roy Huggins' private eye STUART BAILEY was originally (and intentionally) quite Chandleresque, trudging through the mean streets of Los Angeles alone, carrying the weight of the world along with him. He gained a fluency in foreign languages, a past as a government agent, a slick wardrobe, a slick office, and a partner, JEFF SPENCER, when Huggins adapted him for television's 77 SUNSET STRIP, TV's first hour-long private eye show and -- simply put -- one of the the most influential private eye shows in history.

Spencer was also a former government agent, and a non-practising attorney. They worked out of swank digs at 77 Sunset Strip, next door to Dino's Restaurant, where French secretary SUZANNE handled the phones. Hanging around for comic relief were racetrack tout Roscoe, and hair-combing, Dino parking lot attendant and beatnik P.I. wanna-be KOOKIE. Comb sales soared. So much for Huggin's hopes for a straight P.I. series. Hardboiled drama was out and gimmicks were in.

So far, you may be thinking this doesn't seem much like the CSI phenomenon, but there's more. Much more:

(T)he Warner Brothers hit factory started churning out copy cat versions of the show, all following the formula of two handsome male leads, a wanna-be, a pretty (but slightly ditzy) secretary, and a buffoon, with William Orr, Warner Brothers' first television producer, at the controls. Hawaiian Eye , Bourbon Street Beat, and Surfside Six all appeared within the next year or so...

In fact, the shows were even more inbred than the above description suggests. Compare these summaries:

HAWAIIAN EYE: Set in Honolulu, it featured the exploits of handsome (natch!) private eyes TOM LOPAKA (Robert Conrad) and TRACY STEELE (Anthony Eisley), who worked out of a poolside office at the ritzy Hawaiian Village Hotel. Adding comic relief were Cricket, a ditzy nightclub singer/photographer (played by Connie Stevens), and Kim, a ukulele-playing local cabbie.

BOURBON STREET BEAT: Big Easy private eye CAL CALHOUN, a lanky, easy-going ex-bayou cop, takes on a junior partner, REX RANDOLPH, a young, yuppie-ish Ivy Leaguer from one of New Orlean's "best" families. Together they run 'Randolph and Calhoun Special Services" next to The Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter. Of course, no 77 clone would be complete without an attractive secretary holding down the fort, a trainee gumshoe, a buffoon for comic relief, and some sort of "hip" gimmick," like Kookie's comb. In Bourbon's case, the secretary was Melody Lee Mercer, and the rookie was Texas rich kid KENNY MADISON, who was working his way through law school by doing part-time PI work. The buffoon chores were ably handled by local jazzman Billy the Baron. Sometimes popping up was Billy's singer Lusti Weather.

SURFSIDE SIX:† The hook...was that the detectives, DAVE THORNE, KEN MADISON and SANDY WINFIELD, worked out of a houseboat in Miami Beach, across from the Fountainbleau Hotel on Miami Beach. The quirky babe character quota was filled next boat neighbour Daphne Dutton, an eccentric socialite, and nightclub entertainer Cha Cha who performed in the hotel's Boom Boom Room.

Are you starting to get a glimmer of CSI's DNA? Now consider this:

They did some crossovers on these private eye shows...

(O)n Hawaiian Eye... Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Stu Bailey appeared in the first episode, "Malihini Holiday" and with co-star Roger Smith as Jeff Spencer in "I Wed Three Wives."

Richard Long appeared as Rex Randolph from Bourbon Street Beat and 77 Sunset Strip in "Swan Song for a Hero.".

The Hawaiian Eye cast went to LA to 77 Sunset Strip as well: Robert Conrad as Tom Lopaka in "Only Zeroes Count"† and "Who Killed Cock Robin?"

The Surfside 6 crowd showed up [at 77] too: Troy Donahue as Sandy Winfield and Van Williams as Ken Madison in "The Hot Tamale Caper"

And the LA dectectives went to Miami to Surfside Six: Edd Byrnes as Kookie Kookson and Roger Smith as Jeff Spencer in "Love Song for a Deadly Redhead"

We all know that the CSI franchise is a lot more serious than the old "77" clones. William Petersen, David Caruso, and Gary Sinise almost never smile, except ruefully, rarely chase women they aren't trying to put on death row, and their partners are no longer exclusively male because the secretaries and cabaret singers have been promoted to professional status, which means they don't smile either.

We said there was no big point to all this, but there are a couple of ironies we couldn't help thinking about. The old clones were shot in black and white, while the CSIs are shown in high-definition color, but it's the latter shows that are dark and film-noirish with all those broken, mangled corpses they couldn't have shown in the 60s if they'd wanted to. And they probably didn't want to, because they thought we'd rather see suave well-dressed men and beautiful girls leaping in and out of convertibles in exotic locales. Did we mention convertibles? All the Sunset Strip shows had convertibles as co-stars.

1959 Mercury Parklane Convertible
used in the television show "77 Sunset Strip"

Which leads us to another irony. Despite the huge difference in atmosphere, the CSIs really do make use of quite a lot of the Sunset Strip conventions. The glamorous settings are much the same: Las Vegas, Miami, and New York as opposed to L.A., Hawaii, New Orleans, and Miami Beach. The two non-New York CSIs also feature plenty of convertibles, although they're generally props in crime scenes rather than love scenes. Last night's show had a snappy yellow Mustang ragtop:

The happy top-down ride ended, of course, with the murder of all four passengers, including two pretty girls whom Stuart Bailey and Jeff Spencer would have saved and kissed in the old days.

It's not that we're pining for the relative innocence of the 1960s. It's that we're wondering why there are so many apparent references to the old shows, as if we're being served up a deliberate subliminal message about the decline of American life. There are still two leads, and most shows unravel two cases. The part of the buffoon has been preserved but imbued with malice, generally as a stupid detective or ambitious bureaucrat (e.g., CSI's Eckley). Even the Cricket Blake/Lusti Weather/Cha Cha role is still on the scene in the character of CSI's Catherine Willows, the former showgirl/stripper who has advanced to the position of grim single-mom and night supervisor of forensics.

All the original elements are present, but they're grimmer, bloodier, and more depressing. What are we supposed to take from that -- particularly in the context of the astonishing popularity of these shows? We can't help wishing that just one of the old conventions had been carried over intact to provide us with a single ray of right in the darkness. But.... hmmmm... come to think of it, there is one direct steal from the old shows that really is almost the same.

What, you ask? It's the Kookie Factor. And it's not a small one, either. The initial burst of popularity for 77 Sunset Strip was fuelled by the character Kookie played by Edd Byrnes. In the early episodes he parked cars, combed his fashionably greased hair, and spoke in a hip slang the mature stars had trouble understanding. Later, he joined the big boys as a private eye. As it turns out, all three CSIs also have Kookie in the cast. For example, here's the official description of the role played by Eric Szmanda in the original CSI.

Eric Szmanda plays Greg Sanders, the kooky lab technician on C.S.I. Eric is young, and a newcomer to the business, his first role being in 1998 in the t.v. series, The Net. Born in Wisconsin, Eric studied at Carroll College in the state, before coming out to Hollywood to become a full time actor. His role in C.S.I. has given him a lot of exposure, and you're sure to see him a lot more. His role has been made permanent on C.S.I. so he's not going anywhere for a while.

And here is the Kookie family tree:

"Kookie" Edd Byrnes

"Kookie" Eric (LV), "Kookie" Carmine (NY), and "Kookie" Jonathan (Miami)

Youth, hip (hop) slang, fashionably (spiky) greased hair, and -- frankly -- virtually identical faces. Maybe we're being allowed to have some hope after all, hope that youth will somehow prevail even in the face of the deadly entropy that is transmuting all the old sunshine and glamor into the fluorescent glare of a morgue table.

Keep watching. You never know. Maybe one day Peterson, Caruso, and Sinise will all show up together on a bright Miami day and leap smiling into a convertible to go kiss some pretty girls. Maybe Catherine Willows will burst into song at Caesar's Palace while Kookies II, III, and IV accompany her on the bongo drums. Maybe.. oh well.. anyone can dream.


Here's a video clip of the old Sunset Strip show. And here are some informational sites --†sunset 1, sunset 2, sunset 3, sunset 4, sunset 5, sunset 6, sunset 7, eye, bourbon, surfside.

Coincidence or Synchronicity? The producers of Bourbon Street Beat actually purchased the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans that was supposed to be the neighbor of the show's detective agency. And wasn't it the Old Absinthe House where Robert Davis was beaten by New Orleans police? Here's a link to the ABC interview with Davis (click on the "video" icon for the interview clip, which includes footage of the incident and the name of the bar). Is the Jungian collective unconscious trying to tell us something? Nah.

UPDATE. Welcome to InstaPundit readers (thanks, Glenn); feel free to poke around on the main page, in our archives, and at our affiliated site We're an equal opportunity offender.

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