Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
September 20, 2008 - September 13, 2008

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

InstaPunk is always right.

Sometimes it's wise to listen to an idiot.

PROOF. I was going to wait six months before pulling this trick, but I'm too full of myself to wait another 30 days. The crisis is already approaching. When all is said and done, Republicans won't nominate Giuliani because he's pro-abortion. Voting for him is more than a compromise; it's a betrayal of moral principle. Republicans also won't nominate John McCain, because he's crazy. Not in any ordinary way, perhaps, but in the special way that happens to good men who are captured, tortured, and held in isolation for too long by the most evil denizens of our species. Yes, he's brave, but he can never again be trusted as a warrior because our enemies found the weak spot we all have and used it to destroy him. Now he will pay any price to defeat terrorism except hurting an enemy in custody. He also has the broken man's hair-trigger temper, which will doom his chances in the final stages of any national election. The MSM may not be as badly dressed as a North Vietnamese interrogator, but they're every bit as ruthless and unscrupulous. They won't hesitate to apply the cattle prod to McCain's weak spot and prove how crazy he is when all the chips are on the table.

Which leaves us with Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. Actually, it doesn't. Mitt Romney will never be elected president. He may be a good man. He was probably a good governor. He was almost certainly a good business executive. But on the national stage he's a fish out of water. Nobody -- not even Republicans -- wants a goody-goody for president. When even a moron like Ben Affect can make you look ridiculous, you're done.

“Gone, Baby, Gone” director Ben Affleck, who tried mightily - but unsuccessfully - to get Sen. John Kerry elected to the White House, said he expects ex-Gov. Mitt Romney to be the Republican nominee in 2008.
Chatting about the upcoming presidential race on the season finale of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the Cambridge homey said he thinks the GOP will end up with Romney because the ex-gov looks good, has nice hair - and the Republicans really don’t have anyone else.
“He says he doesn’t like abortion and he’s all clean-cut and he looks like a Ken doll,” said Affleck, who was doing a rather amusing imitation of our ex-gov during the Romney rant...

Humorist P.J. O’Rourke, who was also on the panel, pointed out that Romney has a “fundamental problem” with conservatives: “He was governor of Massachusetts.”
Which really sent Ben off the deep end!
“‘I hate liberals,’ is what he’s basically now saying. He’s holding his nose saying, ‘I wish I didn’t even have to be in Massachusetts. I’m sorry I was there. I hated them when I was governor. I hated Massachusetts. I was governor because I wanted to kill them all!’ ”
Added Maher: “If he were a movie, he’d be ‘Say Anything.'”

True, it's not hard to make Ben Affect look ridiculous, either. His whole career is reprised in the movie that first made him famous, Good Will Hunting, in which he played the numbskull friend of Harvard alum Matt Damon. In the movie, no one thought Ben was smart because Matt Damon was. In real life, some people do think Ben's smart because Matt Damon is. But it's really pretty easy to collapse a house of cards. In Ben's case, we did it a long long time ago. In the final analysis, he's a completely average dumb guy who got lucky by having a smart friend. Period.

But this time, we should all pay attention. He's right about the "Ken doll" thing. It takes one to know one. Mitt Romney really is too plastic to be elected president.

Which leaves Fred Thompson. Who isn't even a candidate yet. But say he does throw his hat in the ring. What then? Who's going to write all his lines for him? Who's going to cue him with the the right riposte when Hillary takes his head off in the first debate? Is Bruce Willis going to rush in from the wings and take the bitch out with a .45? No. The people who miss Reagan ought to be more aware than anyone that Fred Thompson is not Reagan. Sometimes an actor really is just an actor.

Let's face it, folks. The only chance the Republicans have in 2008 is to accept that they are going to lose in 2008 and do what's right rather than what's expedient. Soldiers are most dangerous and effective when they go into combat assuming they're already dead. It clears the mind marvelously. That's why I'm re-running this post from January word for word:

There's a lot of conventional wisdom swirling around out there about the 2008 presidential election, which we're already supposed to believe is underway. Personally, I think it's a false start and it won't be long till the contestants are ordered back into the gate to wait just a bit longer.

Why? Because none of the current jockeying for position means anything yet. It can't mean anything because presidential races are defined by the issues voters care most about -- or can be made to care most about -- in the election year. The MSM, the pundit class, and the blogosphere may think they know how key variables are going to look in 2008, but they don't. No one can say for sure how the economy, the Iraq War, the Islamic terror threat, the immigration situation, the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, or even the Bush presidency vs. the Democrat congress will look to voters a year from now. Therefore, much of the handicapping that's going on presently is worthless, especially the talk about who can or cannot win.

Republicans in particular should cool their jets for a bit. Even more than the Democrats they seem intent on outsmarting themselves by basing their allegiances on which of a bunch of dubious candidates they think can prevail in a general election. Ironically, they do this while lamenting the absence of a Ronald Reagan to lead and inspire them. I'm old enough to remember that the chief argument used against Ronald Reagan as a presidential candidate was that he had no chance of winning a national election; he was doomed to be another Goldwater. I thought that too. Right up to the moment when, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the three networks took to the air on election night and announced an overwhelming victory for Reagan.

There's even more irony afoot. Conservatives can barely contain their outrage about the fact that the remaining Republicans in congress continue to betray party principles and refuse to speak or act like Republicans. Meanwhile, the very same conservatives are tying themselves in knots to explain why they feel obligated to support some particular candidate -- Giuliani, Romney, McCain -- with whom they disagree about numerous fundamental issues. Aren't they doing the same thing they're accusing their party leadership of doing? Yes. They are.

Let's forget about electability for a moment. Think about the candidate base in terms of conservative principles. McCain is twice a traitor -- an accomplice in the McCain-Feingold abomination and in helping the MSM portray the Bush administration as a gang of amoral torturers. Giuliani is a New York City Republican, meaning that he's not a conservative at all, but a kind of JFK Democrat; no matter how much squinting we do to forgive him because he's strong on national security, he's still pro-choice, pro gay rights, squishy on illegal aliens, and inevitably tilted toward the preeminence of city folk over country folk. Romney is a Massachusetts Republican who is suddenly claiming to be a social conservative, and it's painful to read all the rationalizations conservatives are concocting to make his johnny-come-lately conversions seem plausible. Brownback is squishy on the Iraq War. Jeb Bush looks as if he will refuse to run this time around, under any circumstances.

That leaves a only a couple of congressmen whose ability to function on a national stage is still a big question mark. And Newt Gingrich.

Ah yes. Newt. He runs through all the other gobbledy-gook conservatives write like a thread of wistful sorrow. If only he were electable... If only he didn't have so much personal and political baggage... If only he weren't too smart to connect with average Americans...

Then, when he speaks to a convocation of conservatives, the wistfulness becomes a yearning ache. He's so smart. He has real ideas about how to fix what's wrong. He reminds us of why we became conservatives in the first place. What a terrible shame that we can't have him instead of all those others.

Why can't we have him instead of all those others? Yes, he might lose, perhaps even badly. But that might well happen with anyone else, too, and if it does happen with anyone else, the definition of conservative principles will be further eroded and delegitimized. One thing we can be sure of is that a Gingrich candidacy would provide the best opportunity since Reagan to offer the American people a brilliantly clear statement of the difference between conservatism and "progressive" socialism. It would also generate significant new ideas around which young conservatives can rally and establish forward-looking policy positions. No one but Newt has the brains or the balls to take on the U.S. State Department -- that perpetual dagger in the heart of U.S. foreign policy -- and the sheer brokenness of so many huge agencies in the federal government. No one else can make the case in advance -- and memorably -- for why Americans should resist the Democrats' inevitable demand for a national health care system of socialist design.

Conservatives keep bemoaning the fact that the Republican party has lost its identity and betrayed its core beliefs in a vain attempt to compromise with an unscrupulous political foe. How can that identity ever be reestablished and core beliefs recovered if there is no one to articulate them, defend them, and actually win the debate against the opposition?

Here's what we can know about Newt for certain. He will pulverize any Democrat candidate in televised debates. He may not come across as more likeable, but he will certainly be perceived as brilliant, lightning quick on his feet, and in command of the facts. He will be amazingly effective in overturning the liberal mantra that conservatives are dumb, backward hicks with thick tongues and clicheed positions. He will make conservativism new and vital again. That's exactly what Goldwater and Reagan did.

Moreover, despite all my reservations about the vailidity of discussing electability this early on, I suggest to you that Newt is far less unelectable than he looks to conservative power brokers. Yeah, he's had a messy private life, with divorces and affairs. Ditto, though, for Giuliani. And McCain. It may be Clinton's real legacy that he's cleared the way for other bad boys to get a pass on this kind of stuff. It's also likely that Newt will be running against Hillary, whose private life is also spectacularly messy. And, yeah, Newt may also be notorious for having participated in the impeachment of Clinton while he was having an affair of his own, but does Hillary really want to make an issue of hypocrisy, and does she (or any Democrat) really want to dredge up the scandals of her husband's administration, which include her own close calls with indictment for obstruction and/or perjury?

A few other quick points. It's supposed to be bad that Newt is an honest-to-goodness intellectual. But after eight years of "Bush is so dumb he..." jokes, maybe Americans really are ready for a super-smart president. Also, he has a temper and an outrageous ego. Uh, need I remind you again that he's running against Hillary? He's a mean sonofabitch? Uh, Hillary?

And if Hillary is the nominee, we can be absolutely certain that the campaign will be the dirtiest in history. She will stop at nothing to win. Nothing. In that case, we will need a fighter who's tough enough to counterpunch and mean enough to go for the jugular himself. Mitt Romney anybody?

In short, Newt Gingrich's perceived liabilities may turn out to be a complete wash with those of his opponent. Too conservative? That shouldn't concern us. If the ideas are good, we should trust our convictions.

Trust our convictions. What an odd idea. Give it a try.

Conservatives, reach into your pants and find your balls. Republicans, find a conservative and ask him what it feels like to have balls. Then -- all of you -- get on your knees and beg Newt Gingrich to run. I mean, what would you do if you knew we were going to lose? You'd want them to pay for the privilege, right? Forget the nice guys. And the damaged guys. And the plastic guys. It's time for a fucking gladiator. And we have one.

Did you find anything in there, you conservatives? Well, keep looking. Maybe they'll turn up.

UPDATE, It seems that Michelle Malkin is also skeptical about Fred Thompson as the Second Coming of Reagan:

People are asking me to comment on the non-announcement announcement by unnamed Fred Thompson advisers about a non-public public non-plan plan to officially non-officially test the waters for a presidential bid that may or may not happen on July 4, but probably the first week of July, which "could culminate in a formal announcement over the July 4th weekend," but maybe not at all because nothing is official yet.

What's there to say?

You could say what you know and never admit: InstaPunk is always right.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blue State Blasphemies

Unfortunately for some, blue is also the color of angels.

RED FOLK. For several presidential elections now, New Jersey has shown up in the "blue" column, giving a strong edge to Clinton (twice), Gore, and Kerry at the polls, as well as two successive Democrat governors, a Democrat state legislature, and a string of Democrat U.S. Senators.* In the mathematics of the left, this means we're solid with the rest of the post-modern, anti-capitalist peaceniks of the northeast, demonstrating our dyed-in-the-wool liberalism to a degree even Massachusetts can't match. (Remember Romney?) So, when the lefties color New Jersey in on their political maps, they must be looking deep into the Crayola box for that one special, truly pure shade of cobalt blue which to them signifies near unanimous immunity against the conservative retrovirus they're battling in the red states. There shouldn't be any more jingoistic pro-military yahoos in Jersey than in, say, Marin County, California, right?

Wrong. The lefties who view the states as monochromatically good (blue) or bad (red) would have been dismayed by what happened in Millville, New Jersey, over the weekend. Millville is the home of the annual Millville Air Show. You probably haven't heard of it because no MiG has ever burned down half the town in a display of state-of-the-art Russian technology. If you've noticed the graphic above, you might even be skeptical that luminaries like the Blue Angels would show up to perform their death-defying act at a small airport bordering the scrabbly wasteland called the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Especially after their tragic loss a few weeks ago. Isn't the whole world supposed to come to a standstill if a single 'boy' dies in a military-related event?

P-47: The biggest, most powerful fighter plane of WWII.

Two reasons. First, Millville Army Air Field (MAAF) was a World War II training facility for P-47 fighter pilots. P-47s were the A-10s of their time, destroyers of trains, trucks, tanks, factories, artillery, bridges, and everything else that can be struck on the ground.  That's why the official name of the A-10 is, like the P-47, Thunderbolt. The P-51 Mustang was more glamorous, perhaps, but the P-47 was the real workhorse of American fighter planes:

The City of Millville, small as it is, has never forgotten the part it played in World War II and works diligently to keep this heritage alive in the MAAF Museum. The annual air show is an essential part of that effort, and it has become one of the biggest and best attended in the east.

Second, the Blue Angels don't quit performing when one of their team dies. What they do is dangerous. That's a given. Their aviators are not 'boys,' any more than our combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are. Hence, as scheduled, they performed in Millville on May 26 and 27, 2007. (And for one of their technical support team, the two-day event represented a homecoming.)

Happily, Mrs. InstaPunk and I were there to see it, and what we saw went far beyond what we could have expected. The experience of the Blue Angels was... well, I'll get to that, and it's worth waiting for, but the rest of the show was also well worth the 90-degree heat, the lack of shade, and the miles of walking involved.

Mrs. InstaPunk was most taken with the current military hardware on display, like the F/A-18s flown by U.S. Marines in Iraq and attended at the show by their young pilots.

Should it be unnerving to see a young girl in the sights of an F/A-18? It isn't.

Once I lost her in the crowd, but I used my head and went looking for the biggest cluster of marine pilots. There she was, of course, chatting with them about their latest tour in Iraq. But she wouldn't let me take her picture with them because "all women look awful in this kind of heat."

Politely answering questions despite the din of a B1-B flying overhead.

I liked the modern jets just fine, but I was enthralled to see so many vintage WWII aircraft on display, including Stearman and Texan fighter-trainers, a Corsair, a Thunderbolt, a Mustang, a flying boat I couldn't identify, and a B-25 Mitchell bomber like the ones General Doolittle flew to Tokyo.

A B-25 taxiing back from its flight demonstration

And much more than these, of course, including veteran aircraft from Korea, Vietnam, the Berlin Airlift, Desert Storm, and even Coast Guard rescue craft. I can't possibly do them all justice here. The same goes for the flying demonstrations. Words can't convey the shock to your ears, and your visual sense of physics, of a B1-B or F-15 passing over your head at a few hundred feet and then climbing to an altitude of invisibility within a matter of seconds. Contemporary warplanes seem to be merely the visible lead point of a tidal wave of sound, which unrolls behind them like a dense sheet of thunder stretched so taut and thin by the force of flight that the whole sky becomes a loudspeaker.

Like music, the roaring and screaming of this sky feels like the harmony of mathematics translated into sensory terms, so that the extraordinary power of the minds behind the intricately menacing machinery permeates your body from brain to bones. This singing human thunder contains in every moment the entire history of flight, without a word, from the blackboards filled with tiny computations to the daring of the Lindberghs and Yeagers, to the decades of dogfights between competing pilots, planes, nations, technologies, and times. Without thinking, you simply feel the life and death and danger and exhilaration of aerial war and the heroes who have taken to the skies in our defense. And you know, without the smallest calculation, that no one on earth, however arrogant or evil, wants to be on the receiving end of this magnificent flying shield of ours which can also deal out utter devastation in an instant. It's frightening, joyful, and awe-inspiring all at the same time, and the shifting shapes of the planes themselves, on the deck or vanishing into the ozone, are a continuous permutation of the dread side of beauty.

I'm not making this up. The organizers of the air show and the people who attend it are intensely aware of the simultaneity of history and the all encompassing present of warplanes climbing and diving without gunfire in the free skies of our home. After the F-15 assaulted our senses, a newly restored P-51 Mustang mesmerized all of us with the synchrony of its Rolls-Royce engine and its ability to turn and roll and charge in a phantom solo dogfight over the D-Day battlefield symbolized by the black stripes on its wings. While the pilot pushed the old bird on and on, big band music played, summoning that brave, desperate era before almost all present were born, when 19-year-olds fresh from college and ordinary civilian dreams clambered into machines not much longer than a good-sized family room and risked everything for their country after only a few short months of training. Maybe the youngest only stared up at it and smiled at its grace, but every face with a few lines on the brow looked up with appreciation and a kind of reverence: God bless this machine which did so much and brought so many safely home. There were hardcore bikers there, with their headscarves and bellies and boots (and a separate parking lot filled with choppers), and they, too, seemed as humble and grateful as children who've gotten the rarest of treats.

The P-51 made a second appearance -- a deeply moving one -- flying in wing-to-wing formation with the F-15 while the air show's PA system played Tommy Dorsey's "Sentimental Journey." This was the show's "Heritage Tribute," and we all watched in open-mouthed solemnity mixed with a curious sense of paradox. Yes, the F-15 was flying at a fraction of its top speed, but the two planes turned and rolled gracefully in tandem and so close together that one could feel the trust that had somehow been created between the professional Air Force pilot in the Eagle and the civilian amateur in the Mustang. It was a brief, beautifully executed time warp with a perfect musical accompaniment.

My own favorite flying performance of the day was a four-fer: the P-51 (again), a blue bent-wing Corsair, a silver P-47, and an olive P-40 Warhawk chasing one another in a great ellipse above the crowd. I had never seen the latter two actually flying, and the performance was not listed in the program, so their appearance was an unexpectedly dramatic delight. On each circuit the oldest of them, the P-40, lagged farther behind, and I remembered my dad's explanation of why his unit had their Warhawks replaced with Thunderbolts: "We were supposed to fly bomber escort, but we couldn't keep up with them... That's not a good thing." But the P-40 still belonged with the others, a smaller, slower, older brother of the more famous P-51, and it had its own unique place in history as the weapon of the daredevil Flying Tigers, legends in their own right in China and Burma.

I keep wanting to say more about the crowd, but there isn't much to say because they were not the bloated, intrusive, oblivious beast you encounter at the mall. The children were well behaved, closely tended by parents who understood the responsibility of bringing them into the presence of dangerous machinery on a very hot day. So there was no running, no pushing, no yelling, no cursing, no annoyance of any kind perpetrated by kids. Among the adults, there were no cross words, no dirty looks, no beer coolers, no shoulder bumps, no grumblings or signs of complaint (well, I did hear one guy get cross about paying $3 for a cupful of ice), and amazingly enough in a crowd this large and dispersed, no smoking. Only the trashcans communicated the stricture against lighting up in the vicinity of so much aircraft fuel, but I didn't see a single rebellious exception in four hours. It's amazing how a vast crowd of seemingly average Americans simply slides, lubricated by plenty of "excuse me's" and "that's okay's," into the background of an experience everyone is simply glad to attend. And so they are memorable for having been in no other way memorable. Sometimes it feels good to be an American, even in 2007.

But it was also punishingly hot. Three-and-a-half hours in, Mrs. InstaPunk, who's so Irish she's actually in danger of bursting into flame from contact with too much sun, confessed over funnelcake that she was probably going to expire of heat-stroke before the Blue Angels performed. Since that was the one thing she had been most determined to see, I knew it was serious and started steering her toward the exit. "We can watch the performance from the parking lot," I reassured her, "after we've resuscitated ourselves with a blast of air-conditioning in the car." Eventually she agreed, and we started the mile long hike to the car. We walked slowly, to preserve her strength, and finally attained the target objective under our own steam 15 minutes before the Blue Angels were slated to take off. (To be fair, her version is slightly different; she claims she had to drag my inert body only part of the way, and a kind Millville cop drove us the last three-quarter mile or so back to the car. But you know how women are. They always exaggerate.)

I confess to feeling disappointed. While Mrs. InstaPunk waited in the car, I looked past the hangar rooftops that obstructed our view of the airfield and listened for the PA system to announce the beginning of the show. The first indication I had of the Main Event was the unmistakeable chord set that launches "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones. This was followed by "Wild Thing" as the jet engines of the Blue Angels' F/A-18s leaped into life wth billows of smoke that could be seen even from our distant vantage point. By now I had detected that across the street from our lot -- even farther from the action than we were -- the Millville Eks Lodge seemed to have the full membership on hand, ensconced in lawn chairs on their porch as well as lawn chairs arrayed in the beds of innumerable pickup trucks. We were DEFINITELY going to be able to see something.

We heard the takeoff. It sounded like the naval guns beginning the bombardment of Normandy on D-Day. But still no sign of those blue and yellow machines we had seen lined up on the tarmac. "They can't do all their maneuvers ten feet off the runway," I offered lamely. "Of course not," said Mrs InstaPunk.

By now the sound was firing at us from, seemingly, all points of the compass. We, and a few others camped pathetically in the parking lot, craned our heads in every direction. Where were they? Where was the sound coming from?

Then I saw them. Four planes climbing straight up to the north. At our distance from them, there was no separation among the triangular shapes. Each wingpoint was welded to another, and the ascending formation was but a single unit through which you could see small triangles of sky. Behind us a shattering engine scream announced the arrival of a fifth plane, and a sixth, returning to the airfield from the south at very low altitude. They disappeared, and apparently parted company, behind the hangars that blocked our view west, but after their exhaust blasts diverged, I suddenly saw them through a wide gap between the two biggest hangars -- passing each other in opposing directions nearly six inches apart just a couple hundred feet over the runway. "There!" I shouted. "Jesus."

There were seven planes in all, but it seemed like more. We got the feeling of being at the epicenter of a vast virtual armillary sphere, around which various combinations of planes were orbiting in all possible directions, in impossibly tight formations, to the limit of the invisible tether that bound them, until the gravity of the center pulled them back together at the reckless velocity of a brand new universe. When they converged and flew past one another, the colliding onslaught of sound resembled Stephen Hawking's version of the Big Bang, an incipient mega-explosion that doesn't ever quite happen because you can never get closer than a trillionth of a second to the birth of physics.

"We can go now," announced Mrs. InstaPunk. "I've seen the Blue Angels."

So we started the car and began the drive back home.

That should be the end of it. But it isn't. When you leave the ballgame or the concert, you're almost immediately outside the action and whatever you hear of it is muted, diminished, and subsiding. When you leave the epicenter of a Blue Angels performance, you are merely plotting the direction of subsequent, incredibly immediate encounters.

We hadn't thought of that. But the residents of Millville and the surrounding rural areas had. We reached the heavily wooded main road that would lead us back home, and the first clearing we came to was lined on both sides by cars, pickup trucks, motorcycles, lawn chairs, blankets and dozens of people. We followed the direction of their upturned faces, and here came the Blue Angels again, four planes locked together as one, slowly rotating as they shivered the pine trees en route.

"Should I pull over?" I asked. "They've obviously got the perfect spot here to watch from. I don't want you to miss anything."

"No. Keep going. It's okay."

We still hadn't gotten it. Nobody had to go to the air show to experience the power and majesty of the Blue Angels. As we proceeded down what I'd always known as a back country road, every gap in the trees, every crossroad was jammed with cars, bikes, and people. Where there were houses, there were crowds, and the American flags flew, and the Blue Angels obliged by flying past and back again, showering us with waves of sound that rattled windows and rippled the wading pools.

Through one stretch of pure woods, we experienced a flyover so low that both of us ducked inside the car. The sound of the plane overhead was like a a yard of duct tape being ripped off your naked eardrums. Farther on, more people, more cars, more flags, the occasional, helplessly grinning state trooper guarding an intersection, and oddly unhurried traffic away from the show. I drove just under 50 and was astonished that an old biker who could have been Paul Teutle, Sr, made no effort to pass. When he finally turned off, I tossed him a wave, and he gave me a nod.

I'm sure that Hillary and Obama believe there's no price to be paid for supporting the troops by defunding the American military machine. Maybe they're right. All I know is that there's a vast unknown reservoir of American devotion to the bravest and most heroic aspects of the American military. Even here in the blue states, we retain the ability to be inspired, to be humble in the face of our national greatness, and a desire to live up to that greatness when the critical moment comes.

This weekend we saw the Blue Angels. More importantly, we got a glimpse of the spiritual impact heroes can have on ordinary Americans. It's not just the noise and speed. It's more than that. 'Shock and awe' isn't about machinery. It's about what a proud, free people can do when they finally set their minds to do it.

UPDATE. Thanks to our friends at for the link. What a kick-ass name for a blog.

UPDATE 06/08. There are blue states, and then there are blue states. Today, Michelle Malkin has a report that San Franciscans are seeking to ban the Blue Angels from their city during Fleet Week. These people really do need to be stood up against a wall and shot.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

About the Flag

FORGERS 14. Well meaning nincompoops are still nincompoops. The nincompoops on Fox & Friends thought this was a truly fine and transcendant idea (and please note the date):

May 17, 2007

Saying he was frustrated with the public's fascination with low-grade celebrities in a time of war, the city manager of Long Beach ordered Thursday that city flags be flown at half-staff to honor soldiers who died in Iraq.

City Manager Edwin Eaton said he consulted informally with the five-member City Council before issuing the order, which will remain in effect until further notice. "Obviously, not forever," Eaton said.

"While our society and media outlets appear to be consumed by the antics and activities of dysfunctional personalities and the 'glitterati,' we tend to forget that each day Americans are anonymously dying in Iraq," Eaton said in a memo to city department heads.

"I think it only fair that they be remembered and honored. To achieve that end, we hereby direct that American flags throughout the city be flown at half-mast," the memo read.

Eaton, a self-described "draft avoider" in the Vietnam era, said in an interview that he felt he had to do something after watching "Entertainment Tonight" and other media outlets focus on celebrities who have little talent except for getting themselves in the public eye...

Traditionally, the American flag is flown at half-staff for the death of a former president or other prominent figure, and on Memorial Day or other designated days of mourning.

What probably gave Eaton the idea was the ill-conceived decision some weeks ago to fly the flag at half-staff in Virginia after the mass murders there. Another well meaning act of self-flagellation (pun intended).

The problem with Eaton's idea is that it's completely wrong. Out troops do not go into battle carrying the flag at half-staff. The iconic image of the flag that inspires and exemplifies the ideals they are fighting for is never at half-staff. It is a proud and audacious banner that countless men in our armed forces have died trying to raise and keep aloft under the most terrible battlefield onslaughts imaginable. And it is precisely in those moments which most test our resolve and national spirit that the rest of us should be the most determined to fly the flag at the very top of the staff.

On Memorial Day, we specifically remember those who have fallen defending our flag by lowering it for a day. But to honor them truly the remainder of the year, it's our duty to hold the standard high, as they have done and continue to do far more courageously than we ever can.

Supporting the troops also means honoring what the troops are fighting for.

A thought to consider this Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Scott Horn With Concern,
Not Sense

Liberty -- the bell is still cracked
As South Carolina debates how best to protect its college students from Virginia-Tech-type attacks, the Greenville News saw fit to publish the work of a young Clemson student, Scott Horn. Mr. Horn believes mandatory self-defense training would go further toward protecting students than the use of firearms.

Mr. Horn makes his point with a dramatic, worst-case scenario where two would-be hero's stalk each other while the real bad guy sets up his massacre shooting with unarmed junior class men on the far side of campus.

Unfortunately, Mr. Horn concedes his own point in his fifth paragraph:

The shooter, knowing that only upperclassmen are old enough to carry a gun on campus, chooses an early morning period in Brackett Hall . . .

You see, even in a worst-case fantasy, psychotic mass murders have enough sense to avoid armed victims. This seems to argue for the arming of all human beings with a right to life and a right to protect that life with deadly force if needed. We could discuss at another time why it is that a 21-year-old life is worthy of protection, but a 20-year-old life is on its own.

This unintended point is what that the NRA and others have been making for quite some time.

As an aside, there is nothing sinister about the NRA – consulting the U.S. Constitution, citizens cannot be denied the right of free association nor can they be denied the right to address their grievances to the government. The NRA is simply a free association of gun owners, most paying as little as $35 to join, where they can organize to protect one right that is unalienable – their right to life (see the Declaration of Independence).

From one fantasy that seemingly proves Mr. Horn's point he moves on to another fantasy – young college students trained in self-defense – unarmed self-defense. Now, there is a fantasy. We've witnessed black-belt martial artists explain to a gathering of would-be-ninja that they would rather jump out of second story window than face an attacker with a knife. Mr. Horn would have us believe that a 5' 2”, 105 lb. freshman (let's call her, Amy) could defend herself from rape with a little self-defense instruction. Fascinating.

Opinion is the life-blood of a democracy, but it would be better to say informed opinion. Mr. Horn demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the use of deadly force in South Carolina and overstates the value of unarmed self-defense.

Clearly, Amy would be better served by a .357 magnum against a 6' 4” 240 lb. attacker than from an Austin-Powers-type “judo chop.” And, clearly, properly trained, gun carrying students represent a clear and present danger to psychotic mass murders.

As for education and training, we have a few suggestions. Instruct freshman that the world they find themselves in is a dangerous one. Teach them that gun powder and metal projectiles have been with us for over three hundred years and no amount of nannying will eliminate their use in a free society. Teach them that guns are no more to be feared than the automobile – a more recent and more deadly invention. Teach them that life is the most precious thing they possess and that all major moral systems over say, the last five thousand years, have advocated extreme deadly action in the defense of that possession.

Further, all freshman should be required to take the SC Concealed Weapon Permit (“CWP”) training course even if they do not intend to carry a weapon or the government deems their life unworthy of self protection. This would at least avail them of the requirements of the use of deadly force and halt the creation of fantasies that do not have a place among educated people. CLICK HERE for a summary of the rules.

Then, maybe Mr. Horn won't have to worry about the student squinting at the blackboard along with him with a bulge on his side anymore than he worries if the driver approaching him on the opposite side of the road has had enough sleep in the past 24-hours to operate his vehicle; talk on his cellphone; and tune in his favorite radio station as he approaches at 50 mph.



NOTE: If you are not already aware of the work of John R. Lott, Jr., get his book, or at least read this interview.

UPDATE: David Hardy's Of Arms and the Law has added a link along with his unique insight -- Thank you Mr. Hardy (corr., thanks to Tom Gun).

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