- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

Missing the joke

“Al Franken calls Karl Rove ‘human filth,’ Ari Fleischer a ‘chimp’ and John Ashcroft ‘something of a nutcase.’ Michael Moore calls President Bush a ‘nitwit.’ … Molly Ivins manages to insult millions at once when she approvingly quotes William Brann’s crack that ‘the trouble with our Texas Baptists is that we do not hold them under water long enough.’ Mean-spirited, you say? No, it’s all in good fun, the authors say. …

“You don’t care for their reliance on ad hominem, innuendo, guilt and distortion? Why, you must have missed the joke. …

“Molly Ivins lives by cynical innuendo, especially concerning the president’s Christian faith. Of course, she’s not alone. Mr. Moore calls him a ‘nitwit’ for believing in Providence, and Mr. Franken, after noting Mr. Bush’s belief that Christian faith is necessary for salvation, counts him among those who ‘like to exclude others from heaven.’ But Ms. Ivins seems to harbor a special animus toward Christians, at least those Christians with the gall to believe Christianity is true. She scoffs at Franklin Graham’s prayer ‘in Jesus’ name’ at the president’s inauguration, and records with evident horror the president’s claim that he could never have stopped drinking without the grace of God. How retrograde!”

Max Goss, writing on “They’re not kidding,” in the Saturday issue of World

Religious economics

“A century ago, Max Weber, a founder of sociology, observed that the Protestant work ethic was what had made northern Europe and America rich.

“Recently, Niall Ferguson, a British historian at New York University, argued that today’s economic stagnation in Germany and other European countries owes much to the decline of religious belief and church attendance during the past four decades. The Protestant work ethic, he thinks, is dead. …

“More prosperous countries seem to have lower rates of church attendance, although America … is a conspicuous exception.”

From “God, man and growth,” in the Nov. 13 issue of the Economist

Who’s the dummy?

“The innate and possibly genetically mandated stupidity of Republicans has long been treated as established scientific fact; it is so utterly beyond dispute that even a ninth-grade dropout like Cher, who once thought Mount Rushmore’s heads were natural formations, can publicly declare George W. Bush ‘lazy and stupid’ without fear of embarrassment. But however great a moron the current president is said to be, his dimwittedness pales beside that of Ronald Reagan. …

“Yet if there was an eggplant where Reagan’s brain should have been, how did he manage to win the Cold War? …

“The general response among America’s chattering classes has been that Reagan was the political equivalent of the millionth customer at Bloomingdale’s. He was the guy lucky enough to walk through the door as the prize was handed out, as if everything was preordained and would have happened the same way no matter whether the White House had been occupied by Michael Dukakis or George McGovern or Susan Sarandon. …

“Oddly, that’s not the way the Russians see it. Says Genrikh Grofimenko, a former adviser to Leonid Brezhnev, ‘Ninety-nine percent of the Russian people believe that you won the Cold War because of your president’s insistence on SDI,’ the Strategic Defense Initiative.”

Glenn Garvin, writing on “The Gipper and the Hedgehog,” in the November issue of Reason


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