Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
January 16, 2004 - January 9, 2004

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

THE DEAN PLATFORM. It seems that people are starting to worry about Howard Dean's arrogance .

We don't think they should worry. President Carter didn't know how to pronounce 'nuclear' either, and look what happened to him.

HARD CASE. There have been all these stories out about how Hillary didn't make a big hit with the troops she visisted in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the journalists have been working hard to debunk such slanders. Here's one we haven't seen debunked yet.

We're waiting.

MORE PILING ON FROM MOVEON? The latest rumor is that there's another unfair ad attack on the Bush administration and an even more vicious slap at the Bush daughters. When is this going to stop?

MAWRITES. The Canadians have a Fury named Heather Mallick. Today, she's blaming the United States for airline terrorism. What's important about her, though, is not her half-witted logic but her style. She writes like a giggly Lucretia Borgia.

What most troubled me was the French admitting that U.S. fighters escorted two Air France flights into L.A. last week and that it's common. Those jets are there to shoot down your hijacked plane if it's likely to be directed into a building. Assuming that now the place would be identified and emptied in no time, one must ask, What building is worth 400 lives? Is the Getty Museum worth handing terrorists the triumph of all time? The White House with George W. Bush in it? Without Mr. Bush? Who needs Mr. Bush when you have Dick Cheney?
We just love the airy way she pens her "assuming that now the place would be identified and emptied in no time..." It makes everything so harmless after that, especially the joke about killing the President. She goes on from there.

In our own land, we thought it might be timely to show the entirely even-handed manner the ultra-nice Terry Gross displayed in her interviews with media adversaries Al Franken and Bill O'Reilly. It's certainly a nice touch that the NPR website decided to link to a NYT review of Franken's book in the context of the O'Reilly interview. You see, the NYT refuses to review O'Reilly's books, and the NPR audience would die of thirst without some lordly written commentary to refer to during the show.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

MORE SWARTHMORONS. We probably shouldn't talk about them every day, but they're just so funny. What do you suppose American professors of literature talk about when they get together? That's right. The war in Iraq.

This past week, about 8,000 professors and graduate students gathered here [San Diego] for the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association. Most came for job interviews, to catch up with old friends, and to attend some of the 763 panels of scholars. But among the panels on topics ranging from Hawthorne to Asian cinema to "The Aesthetics of Trash" were a surprising number of sessions dealing with the war in Iraq, terrorism, patriotism, and American foreign policy.

Not that there was much actual debate. In more than a dozen sessions on war-related topics, not a single speaker or audience member expressed support for the war in Iraq or in Afghanistan. The sneering air quotes were flying as speaker after speaker talked of "so-called terrorism," "the so-called homeland," "the so-called election of George Bush," and so forth.

You can read the whole article here. The only good news in the piece is a quote from a professor who acknowledged that many of his students are libertarian conservatives. He said, "Most of the debate at the MLA would completely alienate my students." He's still got time to fix them though.

THE DREXELITE CONSENSUS. Just yesterday on NPR, a "news" segment reported on the projected million species (mostly plants) that would beome extinct over the next hundred years because of global warming. Of course, to NPR global warming is a fact, even if it's only a highly suspect theory to many of us lowbrow members of the ignorati. What's kind of interesting is that Michael Crichton (Harvard medical degree and all) turns out to be one of the ignorati himself.

And so, in this elastic anything-goes world where science-or non-science-is the hand maiden of questionable public policy, we arrive at last at global warming. It is not my purpose here to rehash the details of this most magnificent of the demons haunting the world. I would just remind you of the now-familiar pattern by which these things are established. Evidentiary uncertainties are glossed over in the unseemly rush for an overarching policy, and for grants to support the policy by delivering findings that are desired by the patron. Next, the isolation of those scientists who won't get with the program, and the characterization of those scientists as outsiders and "skeptics" in quotation marks-suspect individuals with suspect motives, industry flunkies, reactionaries, or simply anti-environmental nutcases. In short order, debate ends, even though prominent scientists are uncomfortable about how things are being done.

When did "skeptic" become a dirty word in science? When did a skeptic require quotation marks around it?

It's not just global warming that Crichton is taking on here. He applies a stern lash to the whole phenomenon of consensus science and its apocalyptic offspring, including nuclear winter and secondhand smoke. This is one article that's worth reading and rereading from beginning to end, but we'll share one more trenchant quote:

Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

MAWRITES ON PARADE. Today's "mad cow" is Molly Ivins, who tackles (surprise!) mad cow disease in addition to her usual diatribe about George W. Bush. It turns out that the sick cow from Canada is Bush's fault. Then she says:

Nor is mad cow disease the only consequence of heavy meat and poultry contributions to the Republicans. (In the 2000 elections, corporate food production combines donated $59 million in both hard and soft money, 75 percent of it to Republicans.) See the chapter "Ready to Eat?" in my book Bushwhacked for the anatomy of a listeriosis outbreak that killed several people.

As Lou Dubose and I conclude, if you must eat while Republicans control both the White House and Congress, you may want to consider becoming a vegetarian.

We have a theory, which we're going to contribute to the media ocean in the form of a rumor. Please repeat it often, to everyone. It must be true because it explains so much. Molly Ivins is HOT for George W. Bush. She can't think about him without getting all weak in the knees. She's been trailing after him for years and can't get to first base -- not so much as a look (you know the sort of look we mean, the kind that sees right through the clothes to the throbbing, needful woman underneath). That's why she's so damn mad. That's why she gave her book the curiously double-entendre'd title Bushwacked. That's her -- crazy with scorned lust for the Big Guy. She derides him as the shrub because what she wants most is to climb the tree. Sound too dirty-minded for dear Molly? Well, she was once a sewer editor. Yes, she was. You can look it up here.

Friday, January 09, 2004

The Rinse Power of Principles — With that "rinse" wouldn't he have been terrific playing against M. L'Inspecteur Clouseau in the best Pink Panther of all?

Perhaps the fear of having his gray show after a few months in a hole warmed him to the thought of cooperating with the Great Satan . . .

IP010904 MAWRITES ON PARADE. Most of the time they come right at you, fists clenched and jaws locked in rage. But they're at their most dangerous when they remember to use feminine wiles as they slink toward assassination. Don't believe it? Then your lesson for today is Peggy Noonan, who has finally noticed Howard Dean and decided to do something about him. She says she really really wanted to like him. Sure she did. But he disappointed her:

He is not a happy warrior but an angry one. In the past I have thought of him as an angry little teapot, but that is perhaps too merry an image. His eyes are cold marbles, in repose his face falls into lines of mere calculation, and he holds himself with a kind of no-neck pugnacity that is fine in a wrestling coach or a tax lawyer but not in a president.

It's not a good idea to disappoint Peggy Noonan. Read the rest of it and see what happens to angry little teapots who step on the wrong toes. The Lamia closes in, as if for a polite waltz, and when she turns away her erstwhile partner flops to the floor like a gigolo skewered by a hatpin.

By comparison, long-time champion Mawrite Maureen Dowd seems woozy after her extended hiatus from verbal assault and battery. She plots her usual straight-line attack on George W. Bush, then suddenly veers away, as if confused and prematurely winded, into thickets of Lesbianism.

Showtime has a vampy new program about lesbians in L.A. called "The L Word." That landed Jennifer Beals and its other sexy female stars seminude on the cover of this week's New York magazine, with the headline "Not Your Mother's Lesbians." (I didn't know my mother had lesbians.)
Time to get back in shape, Maureen. The cause needs you (whatever the hell it is).

SWARTHMORON OF THE WEEK, PART II. Okay. Obviously there's something about the Hitler analogy they just can't let go of over at First, the facts. Then, an explanation that would help them if they wanted to understand themselves a little better. But they don't. That's why they're Swarthmorons.

IS THERE AN ANNENBURGHER IN THE HOUSE? You betcha. Have they got you scared, or at least nervous, about Mad Cow Disease? Well, they're only doing their job. The bad news for them is, this dog (er, cow) won't hunt:

USDA veterinarian Dr. Kenneth Petersen says: “The recalled meat represents essentially zero risk to consumers.”
Remember, though, Dr. Petersen is only a vet. Who is he to say? (Jeffersonians, Ch. 7, v. 9-19.)

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