Posted on February 10, 2004


Cranial Tumbleweeds

Carbs, WMD, Germannibals, etc.


Daniel Clark



* If everybody's so hostile toward "carbs" these days, then how come we're on a first-name basis with them?

* This trendy low-carb diet is nothing new. It's something we used to call "needing roughage." Apparently, that name didn't test-market very well, so they've decided to start calling it a "low-carb diet" instead.

* Dennis Miller says he has become conservative since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Too bad this metamorphosis couldn't have occurred a couple years sooner. Then, Disney would have never hired him to broadcast Monday Night Football.

* If you can't understand why this year's Super Bowl halftime show was even more tasteless and cheap than in previous years, remember that the game was a lead-in to the new season of Survivor.

* I'm not in favor of returning to those putrid "Up With People" halftime shows, but even that would be an improvement over this year's production, whose unspoken theme was "Down Low Enough To Kiss A Salamander's Tookis With People."

* It may be considered heretical to point this out, but Donovan McNabb's passer rating was only 16th among NFL quarterbacks. Meanwhile, he was 14th in passing yardage, 17th in touchdowns, and19th in completion percentage. Nevertheless, ESPN touted him as an "MVP candidate" as recently as the next to last game of the regular season. What's more, the announcers on Fox sucked up to McNabb with such fervor during the playoff drive that he's probably now in the hospital, having Chris Collinsworth surgically removed from him. The sports media may dispute Rush Limbaugh's explanation of their reason for overrating McNabb, but for them to deny that they've done that just goes to show why fans can't trust them anymore.

* The statistics cited above came from ESPN's own website. Do you suppose Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and friends have ever bothered to notice them?

* Under criticism from the National Football League, ESPN has canceled its football-themed soap opera, Playmakers, which sopped up countless hours of the cable network's prime time programming. The show offended the NFL with provocative storylines about drugs, domestic abuse and homosexuality. One might argue that the league is being too sensitive, and that the program should continue to be broadcast as long as it gets good ratings, which it did. However, ESPN is supposed to be a sports network, and it will lose its identity if it continues to broadcast drama series, "reality TV" and talk shows during prime time, while at the same time pruning back its hockey and boxing coverage. We've seen this happen before, to what was once called the "USA Sports Network," which now just shows reruns of JAG and Walker, Texas Ranger. If that's the way the folks at Disney want to go, then why don't they start a different network, and sell ESPN to somebody who ... oh ... likes sports?

* Both ESPN and FoxSportsNet have taken to broadcasting Poker! ... Frequently! It's on so often that one can't help but conclude that a lot of people must watch it. What's next, televising people buying lottery tickets? Scratch that. I don't want to give the program directors any more ideas, if you can call them that.

* Following initial reports of Rush Limbaugh's prescription drug addiction, libertarians began sermonizing that the experience would hopefully change his position on drug legalization. Get it? Limbaugh began taking drugs that were prescribed for him legally, and became addicted to the point where he continued to take them, despite their possibly causing the hearing loss that jeopardized his career. Even if he's done nothing illegal, it's fair to say that the announcement of the criminal investigation -- which forced him into rehab -- has probably saved his life. So naturally, he must now want people to be able to abuse cocaine, heroin, PCP and other drugs without fear of legal consequence because ... well ... he wants them all to die! That's just how evil he is.

* One of the most-asked questions of the past year has been why activists on the Left have such an intense, personal hatred of President Bush. Is it the way he walks, the way he talks, the fact that he's openly religious, or what? Well, here's one theory: the Left's hatred of George W. Bush did not originate with anything about him personally at all, but instead is a byproduct of their cultish devotion to Bill Clinton. Remember that was originally created in opposition to Clinton's impeachment. Upset that the much dreamt-about Clinton Legacy is that he has become the most famous liar in American history, they determined that they would try to nullify that by calling the next Republican president -- whoever he was -- a "liar" every day throughout his administration. John McCain or Steve Forbes would be receiving the exact same treatment. The Clintonites' "everybody does it" defense demands it.

* There are lots of famous sayings that were never said. Bogey never said "play it again, Sam." Captain Kirk never said, "beam me up, Scotty." Dan Quayle never said that dopey thing about speaking Latin to the people in Latin America. But President Bush is on his way to setting a new record for not having said things he's famous for saying. First, he's reputed to have declared that Saddam purchased uranium from Niger, when what he'd really said was that, according to the British government, Saddam had sought uranium from Africa. Now, he's come under criticism for allegedly having called the threat from Iraq's WMD "imminent," when what he'd actually said is that it's important to act before the threat becomes imminent, as it is in North Korea. In other words, he said that the threat from Iraq was not yet imminent. This is how far the frustrated Clintonites have had to go to push their inane "Bush lied" story. Next, they'll probably accuse him of saying that ketchup is a vegetable.

* Now that it appears that John Kerry will be the Democrat nominee, members of his party are pretending to value military service. Anyone who claims to base his vote for Kerry on his war record, after having voted for Bill Clinton against war heroes G.H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, is deceiving himself.

* Democrats consider it an affront to Kerry's military record to criticize his poor congressional voting record on national defense. In 2000, by contrast, when it was rumored that John McCain might become Bush's running mate, Bill Clinton quipped, "Hasn't the poor guy suffered enough?" Nothing like a draft-dodger poking fun at an American soldier, for having had nearly all his bones broken at a Communist POW torture chamber.

* Kerry will prove not to be a formidable opponent for President Bush, and here's one example of why. Sen. Kerry has thrust himself into the alleged controversy over Bush's service in the National Guard, just as that issue is nearing the backlash point. Asked to disprove a charge which itself has no factual support, Bush agreed to produce pay stubs -- as requested by NBC's Tim Russert -- from the time in which he served in the Guard in Alabama. That wasn't good enough. Now the Democrats and their allies in the press are demanding witnesses. Their persistence in pursuit of the story is sure to repel voters, unless they can produce some evidence to support their unlikely version of events, which they show no intention of doing. By this point, Kerry is refusing any further comment, but it's too late, because he has already made himself part of the story. He doesn't get it. The Democrats employ a whole gang of scurrilous varmints to throw around reckless accusations. These are men (like Terry McAuliffe) who have no reputations to worry about, so they can get away with saying anything. Actual politicians need not involve themselves, yet Kerry has done so. It's as if he wasn't paying attention when Wesley Clark suffered the consequences for associating himself with the original accusation by Michael Moore.

* You might be startled to read a prediction that the 2004 presidential election will not be close. Republican strategists' fear of voter complacency is fueling this trendy vision of America as "a fifty-fifty nation." But really. In 2000, sitting vice president Al Gore won half of the vote against one-term governor George W. Bush, during what was still believed to be a time of peace and prosperity. Considering the inherent political advantages that Gore enjoyed, that result should have been taken to mean that the Democrats are in trouble, not that they have a lock on approximately half of the electorate. There's no reason to think that Bush's "fifty" will remain the same, now that he's an incumbent president during an economic recovery and following a pair of successful military campaigns. There's equally little reason to believe that Gore's "fifty" will be wholly absorbed by John Kerry, an entrenched senator from Massachusetts. The political calculus works against Kerry even before you take his ideology into account, but in addition, he's promising to raise taxes (on "the wealthy," of course), and to reduce the war on terror to a matter of domestic law enforcement. And the Republican campaign against him, which will include an examination of his anti-war activism, hasn't even begun yet. As if that weren't enough, his wife, Theresa Heinz, has all the way from now to November to say things. This is a candidate in more trouble than either party is prepared to admit.

* The theory that Saddam's scientists all deceived him about the progress of his WMD programs is preposterous. That would require a conspiracy so great that, inevitably, somebody would have spilled the beans on the others in order to ingratiate himself. That means that anybody who participated in such a hoax would have risked having his teeth ripped out, tongue nailed to a wall, and whatever other else done to him that Saddam's sadistic henchmen could dream up. It didn't happen.

* That story could really only apply to Iraq's nuclear program anyway. Saddam had previously built up stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, so there's no good reason why his scientists should have had any trouble producing more. Therefore, there's no reason they would have risked their lives by claiming to have made such weapons, without having done so.

* The assumption that we would just walk in and find Saddam's WMD was predicated on the belief that he would stand and fight, and therefore would keep these weapons immediately at hand. Instead, he turtled up, apparently in hope that he would ultimately be saved through diplomacy. This means that he had 14 months' warning, during which time he could have concealed or moved his weapons.

*After the invasion, our soldiers found about 30 Iraqi airplanes buried in the desert. The really curious thing about this was that it supposedly rendered the sand-packed machinery permanently inoperable. If Saddam was willing to go to that extreme, then it's not that surprising that we haven't yet found his chemical and biological weapons, which can be stored in spaces much smaller than 30 airplanes. We're not likely to find them in the places we believed they were back in 1998, and they're at least as unlikely to be discovered through random searches. We will probably locate the WMD only after learning how they were hidden. That might not be soon enough to spare the Bush administration a long election year of intense criticism, but it will, in the end, prove the critics historically wrong.

* Anyone who tuned in to C-SPAN's coverage of this year's NARAL banquet witnessed a display of abject desperation from a political movement that is destined for the ash heap of history. The abortion advocacy group that removed the word "abortion" from its title for marketing purposes is still trying to repackage its cause, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, N.Y.) is helping. In her speech at this event, Mrs. Clinton instructed NARAL and like-minded activists to charge as often as possible that abortion opponents are trying to "turn back the clock." The reason for this, she said, was to tie the issue to historic battles over such issues as segregation and women's suffrage. Get it? If you're pro-life, that makes you a racist, because you want to "turn back the clock" to the Jim Crow era, when abortion was coincidentally illegal. Pro-abortion activists have been using this cheap rhetorical gimmick for years, but never before had I heard it enunciated as a conscious strategy. What Hillary is actually spelling out is that her cause has so little merit that it must siphon legitimacy from more laudable movements throughout history.

* It has been noted before on these pages that most pro-abortion activists are fully aware that they're wrong, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D, Calif.) has provided yet another example. Boxer and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D, N.Y.) have reintroduced a piece of legislation called the Freedom of Choice Act, which failed to pass in the early Nineties, when the Democrats controlled both Congress and the presidency. The bill's aim is to codify Roe v. Wade into law, so that abortion would remain legal in all fifty states in the event that the decision is overturned. The very fact that they see a need for such a law reveals their understanding that the Supreme Court had no legal basis for handing down Roe in the first place. In other words, they are trying to retroactively give the ruling the justification it did not have 31 years ago. Nevertheless, Boxer is determined to deny confirmation to any Supreme Court nominee she thinks would vote to overturn that ruling, even though she is aware that it was wrongly decided.

* Americans have mostly made a joke of the trial of German cannibal Armin Meiwes, but that case could have eerie implications. Meiwes only received an eight and a half year sentence for manslaughter, because his lawyer successfully argued that the victim wanted to be killed and eaten. Given the disturbing trend of American judges citing foreign precedent, combined with the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it's not that great a leap to suppose that prosecutors might someday have to prove that a murder victim did not want to be dead.

* Come to think of it, foreign precedent may not even be necessary. It may be that all that's needed is a Supreme Court victory for the "right to die" movement.

* Robert Redford has produced a film called The Motorcycle Diaries, which is reportedly a sympathetic portrayal of the early life of Che Guevara, based on the Communist guerrilla's own writings. Redford went to Havana to show the movie to members of Guevara's family, and to a military commander who fought alongside Guevara and Fidel Castro. Oh, well ... the important thing is that Abe Foxman is not offended.

* By the end of this year, Elian Gonzalez will be eleven years old. This means that either he will be sent away to "school" to perform slave labor in the sugar cane fields like all other Cuban children his age, or else Castro will continue to keep him at arm's length, to use as a prop for entertainment at parties. By that time, everyone who agitated for his return by demanding that "the boy belongs with his father!" is going to have a lot of splainin' to do ... if Elian's fate is ever reported, that is.

* Some of former president Reagan's supporters have gone overboard in paying tribute to him. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform proposed that the Gipper's image replace Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill, and more recently, Nancy Reagan had to tell congressman Mark Souder (R, Ind.) to cease a similar effort to boot FDR from the dime. The motive behind these overzealous efforts is understandable, though. The media's relative goodwill toward Ronald Reagan (CBS excepted) is a temporary phenomenon due to his illness. Eventually, they'll be back to their typical insults and distortions. The portrayal of him by Mister Babs will again become the norm. Taking this window of opportunity to create monuments to him is the only way his friends can make sure an opposing viewpoint is seen by the public.

* Anyone who still buys into the "amiable dunce" caricature of Reagan should read the book Reagan: In His Own Hand, a collection of scripts he wrote for his radio addresses in the mid-Seventies. Not only have his contentions been repeatedly proven right, but his command of geopolitics ought to humble any of his critics who later denounced his foreign policy as "simplistic."

* If people who call themselves "peace activists" were truly that, then Reagan, who averted a U.S.-Soviet nuclear war that many thought was inevitable, should be among their biggest heroes.

* They aren't, of course.



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