Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 8, 2007 - August 1, 2007

Monday, May 22, 2006

Esoteric Poker.

The Dems have a full house.

PSAYINGS.5A.13. There are only a few hands that beat a full house. That's why the Democrats are so confident about their chances in the 2006 and 2008 elections. We have to agree. Gosh, it'd take royal flush or something like that to best the party that has no foreign policy and no domestic agenda but raising taxes. Wouldn't it?

Maybe they should use a different deck in November.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Absence of Being Earnest

Glenn Ford, Van Heflin, and Joel McCrea
MOTION PICTURES. We were talking movies — or trying to — and I began to wonder what my friend’s son would reflect on at a later time, tables turned, in a similar conversation with a person half his age. That’s when I realized something was missing.

I’m not an avid movie goer, but used to be. In the fifties and early sixties, Saturday afternoon was the time to box up the Fort Apache stockade, put away the plastic burp gun, and bike to the movies. “Shoot-em-ups” my mother called them. Westerns and war flicks. Occasionally, usually by accident, I’d see films with no combat at all.

I wasn’t lusting for bloodshed, I wanted to see heroes, learn what it takes to be a man. But the names and the faces I call up are barely known today, or so it seems.  They were genuine, solid, and, yes, earnest. They could win you over without histrionics or fake attitude.  All of them looked exactly like my father. Van Heflin in Shane. Joel McCrea in Ride the High Country. Glenn Ford in any movie that had him in uniform. Each would invariably leave me with the impression I’d encountered someone real, someone worthy to emulate. Someone who would stand and fight if he had to — and only for the right reasons. No phoniness. Just men.  Who remembers them now?

Not my young friend. One name, he says, sounds vaguely familiar. Then it’s his turn. He asks what I think about someone in some movie I think I’ve seen but can’t exactly place. I’ve caught several, I’m certain. Can almost recollect the special effects, which seem to be the real point. See in my mind’s eye a few smug expressions and maybe bring up a one-liner or two of bravado. I know these big movies feature big stars, because that’s the way it’s supposed to work. I just can’t recall their faces or their names. But the fact is, I just don’t care.

In the end we might have found one icon in common, the brightest star of all for me, William Holden. He remembers him, sort of. Something about a river and a bridge. Time rolls on.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 Monsieurrr Colbairrrrr... Creeeep.


TV. Show biz is s-o-o-o cool. You get famous for making a fool of yourself on camera, and then the day comes when you get to do it in front of people who have actually achieved something.

That moment came for Stephen Colbert a few days ago. He responded as instant celebrities frequently do, by being rude and stupid.

In the course of his monologue, Colbert mockingly praised the media for its subservience to the administration: “Over the last five years you people were so good—over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out.” He further suggested the assembled journalists ought to “[w]rite that novel you’ve got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know—fiction!”

This performance is, of course, making Colbert a hero among the left-wing columnists and  bloggers. He should be worried. To be lionized by Democrats is the kiss of death for a comedian. It's the sign that you've been adopted by the group that has the least sense of humor in the country. To retain their allegiance, you can't make fun of anyone BUT Republicans -- no more jokes about blacks, women, Hispanics, seniors, blind folk, or dwarves. No smoking on stage.

Sad thing is, Republicans aren't nearly as funny as blacks, women, Hispanics, seniors, blind folk, or dwarves. And unfortunately, we're the biggest audience there is. We love to laugh at blacks, women, Hispanics, seniors, blind folk, dwarves, and ourselves. Problem is, we have to like the guy telling the jokes. And what we really don't like is a cheap-shot artist who takes advantage of situations -- say, an audience containing a president who can't punch a comedian in the mouth, no matter how much he deserves it.-- in which he can get away with substandard material because it pleases the most humorless people in attendance.

Guess what. We don't like Stephen Colbert. He's a one-joke clown. "Hey, I'm Bill O'Reilley, only instead, I'm this really cool guy who's almost as well educated as Bill O'Reilley, which gives me the right to ridicule him on a daily series."

Uh, sure. Yeah, he attended some classes at Northwestern. Big whoop. (Everyone at Instapunk went to Harvard.) He has a TV show. Cool. But that doesn't give him the right to describe all the President's appearances in times of national crisis as photo ops. That's what such moments are for show biz folk. It's not what they are for the President of the United States. To declaim that they are, with the President in attendance, is to reveal yourself as a mite callow. Hardly the stuff of Voltaire. More like Andrew Dice Clay. As funny as farting at a white tie ball.

[For extra credit, Monsieur Colbert: Voltaire's name was an anagram of his real name. What was the name, Northwestern boy?]

The 8th Punk Commandment: A dork is a dork, no matter how you dress him up

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The MSM are winning.

It's called Chinese Water Torture. It works.

NOSTALGIA. The princelings of the blogosphere are proud, perhaps justifiably, of the impact their new form of media has had in recent years. They brought down Dan Rather, they helped reelect George W. Bush in 2004, and they have played a part in the steady erosion of the credibility and circulation totals of major newspapers like the  New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. They see themselves as a potent new political force climbing atop the crumbling ruins of the Mainstream Media.

The only problem with this view of media matters is that it's wrong. Think back to September 12, 2001. Imagine that an omniscient seer had told you then that four-and-a-half years later, the U.K. and Spain would have experienced al Qaeda attacks in their own countries; France's appeasement-oriented government would have been rocked by Islamic riots in Paris and other cities, Denmark would have had its citizens and embassies targeted for Islamic terror attacks on account of political cartoons portraying Muhammed; Russia would have endured a deadly hostage siege by Islamic terrorists at a school full of children; and in all that time, the United States would not have experienced a single additional terror attack on its own soil. Imagine the seer had told you further that the United States would, in the same period of time, wage and win two wars in the middle east, overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan and midwifing the formation of a parliamentary democracy there, then driving Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and bringing that destitute country to the verge of its first parliamentary government, elected by nation-wide vote and backed by a western-trained police force and a non-Baathist army, while Saddam himself sat in the dock awaiting the verdict of his trial for crimes against humanity. Imagine he had told you that American combat deaths in these two wars over three years time would not have exceeded 5,000. Imagine that he also told you the American economy would have fully recovered from the 9/11 attack in this timeframe, returning to employment, interest, inflation, and growth rates rivalling if not exceeding those of the Clinton years, despite wartime budget deficits and huge increases in gasoline prices caused by the inevitable uncertainties in the middle east, while the socialist economies of Europe stagnated or shrank. Then imagine that he told you George W. Bush's approval rating just six months after his reelection would stand at 29 percent.

Would you have believed him? Would you have believed that the predicted accomplishments could be achieved so speedily, if at all, in the post-9/11 world? And would you have believed that a man who led such bold endeavors would be the least popular president in modern history save for Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter?

Yet that is the case. And here, courtesy of CNN, is the unkindest cut of all:

The poll of 1,021 adult Americans was conducted May 5-7 by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush). (Watch whether Americans are getting nostalgic for the Clinton era -- 1:57)

On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton's favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.

Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.

When asked which man was more honest as president, poll respondents were more evenly divided, with the numbers -- 46 percent Clinton to 41 percent Bush -- falling within the poll's margin of error. The same was true for a question on handling national security: 46 percent said Clinton performed better; 42 percent picked Bush.

Wouldn't we all like to go back to the paradise of pre-9/11 America?

How could this have happened? Bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck? Well, in case anyone has forgotten this elementary fact, every presidential administration has its share of bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck. These are the whales, sharks, and other monsters that swim ceaselessly in the political ocean. But the ocean itself -- the medium in which the monsters swim -- is the MSM. In this context, the blogosphere is no more than the foam on the whitecaps stirred up by the vast currents and movements in the ocean below. And while the bloggers were fighting their various and diverse battles in the name of truth, justice, and common sense, the MSM ocean was harnessing its entire immensity on just one story, told an infinite number of times, in every possible inflection, from every direction, and with the deadly persistent accuracy of a dripping tap: George W. Bush is no good.

It doesn't have to be true, it doesn't have to be fair, it doesn't have to be consistent in its terms. All that matters is that it is repeated with uniform constancy: drip, drip, drip. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Change the headlines, seem to change the subject. Abu Ghraib. European disdain. Tom Delay. Katrina. Deficits. Valerie Plame. Gas prices. Karl Rove. Death in Iraq. Angry mothers. NSA wiretaps. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, the lede is always the same. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Forget the good news, bury the accomplishments or ignore them altogether. Drip, drip, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good.

It took the MSM three years to bring George W. Bush's approval ratings down from their post 9/11 high to 52 percent on election day 2004. It's taken them just 18 months [corr. per Tim] to bring him down another 20 to 25 points. They never forgot their mission. While the princeling bloggers pissed and moaned about Harriet Miers, and immigration, and federal spending, the MSM kept on dripping out its one story, and now they are within reach of their goal -- Democrats restored to the majority in both houses of Congress and the stage set for the vengeful impeachment and dismissal from office of the most courageous president in modern times.

We're just one bubble among the tens of thousands in a single patch of foam on the MSM ocean. Who are we to stand in the way of the American tidal wave of nostalgia for the great Bill Clinton presidency? We can only submit. Here are a few of the moments we're sure everyone wants to savor again and again, like fine wine, from the days when the President single-handedly created a booming economy, took care of everyone's needs, minded the national security faultlessly, and was so thoroughly honest in all his dealings with the American people.

Poor Bill.

Campaign Finance Integrity.

Personal Honesty.

Caring for Ordinary People.

The Once and Future Clinton.

Nostalgic Souvenir.

Another Nostalgic Souvenir.

Feel better now? Well, who wouldn't?

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