Politics & Policy

When Punishment Fits The Slime

Is there anything funnier than the left getting a taste of its own medicine?

Not since I sat in on the casting call for the exotic film, Pirates of Silicone Valley, have I seen so many boobs in so many different directions — and had so much fun watching them.

Out west, Pacifica Radio, a radio network so Left Wing you can literally hear the hosts wearing berets and Che Guevara T-shirts, is literally dismantling itself from the inside. About a year ago the network of choice for the Nuclear Freeze, anti-bovine, and hirsute-feminine-underarm crowd got caught up in an internal labor dispute. The central issues are lost in the mist of a hempy haze, but one can be sure they had to do with such weighty matters as whether or not meat-eaters should be allowed to use the office bathroom, as the scent of oppression they left behind was unacceptable to workers who keep Veal-Pens-A-Month calendars above their desks.

As the union dispute got uglier — there was a protest march of 10,000 people at Pacifica’s Berkeley, Ca., headquarters last summer — reporters on the network insisted on covering it more and more. But because left-wing management almost always tends to be Stalinist — control freaks that they are — the suits declared that such internal matters could not be broadcast. So, imagining themselves as Gandhians marching into the truncheons of British imperialists, the Pacifica reporters keep reporting on the internal fight and the management keeps firing them.

In the latest development, about two weeks ago, 40 of the network’s worldwide freelance reporters quit en masse to protest the censorship. Management says that they are not a government agency and therefore charges of “censorship” do not apply. Of course, this rings hollow coming from a crowd that sees “corporate censorship” everywhere. An added benefit of this Left-lemming march off the cliff is that most of these people have no place else to go. So essentially the wacky Left’s premier propaganda arm is unilaterally disarming.

Of course, people who drive VW buses with bumper stickers that say, “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty” often tend to be really nasty when it comes to political fights, so everyone is yelling at each other. (This is the network which proudly made convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal a regular commentator). The disgruntled rank and file say that the board — headed by Mary Frances Berry — wants Pacifica to become a mainstream liberal network like NPR. Of course, to committed radicals, that’s an unimaginable horror — on par with joining a Fascist soccer team. Meanwhile, the Board figures it has to go more mainstream because their donor base is drying up as the gristly remnant of the 1960s ages to the point that they have to hang beads over the doorways of their hospital rooms. And of course Pacifica still refuses to take money from the evil corporations they constantly denounce. Rarely in public affairs have all participants in a spectacle gotten precisely what they deserve.


Speaking of getting one’s just deserts, G.W. Bush’s chief strategist, Karl Rove, is shrinking before our eyes so fast that pretty soon he’ll be able to clean out my garbage disposal with both hands. Most campaigns have many chefs messing with the broth, diffusing blame and credit alike. Rove’s grand achievement this last year has been to take full responsibility for all aspects of the Bush campaign. Even if the Bushies pull out of this tailspin — still pretty likely — Rove will never recover his reputation as a political genius. The Bushies’ defense is that they are running a 50-state strategy. Fair enough. But no 50-state strategy would have included a 19-point drubbing in New Hampshire and a neck-and-neck, fight-to-the-death, hollitacker (what’s that from?) in South Carolina. If this Amok Time (what’s that from?) battle goes badly for Bush, than Rove will go down in history as the name most synonymous for measuring Oval Office curtains too early.

The barbs are already flying. For example, in today’s Washington Post there’s an article on how McCain has used the internet to raise money and recruit volunteers. The beauty of raising money on the web is that it is pretty much instantaneous and cheap. No letters bouncing around through the mail. No printing costs or waiting for checks to clear. Of course, Rove pooh-poohed the web. “Bush’s campaign decided not to rely heavily on the Internet,” reports the Post, “in part because top strategist Karl Rove, a direct mail expert, is skeptical of Internet campaigning, people who know him said.”

If McCain wins the nomination, will Rove explain it away by saying that he’s skeptical of primary victories?


I like Steve Forbes. He’s an honorable and good man. I have a nice letter from him hanging over my desk, which he wrote to me when I was a young man — literally half the man I am today — that he didn’t need to write. He was right on all the issues — or at least had a higher batting average than anybody else when it came to the issues. He announced this morning that he is withdrawing from the race. To which we must say, as kindly as a smart-ass like me can, good riddance. He was an awful candidate in so many unique ways it is difficult to find comparisons. But his withdrawal on the heels of a potential upset triumph by a “reformer” like John McCain raises some interesting issues.

If the system is so corrupted by “big money” how come a self-financed multi-millionaire and an establishment Republican flush with nearly $70 million are getting trounced — for now — by a guy who vows to crush this supposedly criminal and self-protecting system?

Eugene McCarthy ran on the largesse of a few rich limousine liberals. Nobody thought that his candidacy was illegitimate because of that fact. Indeed, these days all the money in the world can’t help you in the face of bad poll numbers, as Steve Forbes learned. So why do we need to limit the money in the system? Would democracy suffer that much if Forbes could have funded a Jack Kemp or some other professional to represent the causes they both hold dear?


Many readers find my solution for campaign finance — unlimited money, unlimited full disclosure — unpersuasive. These people are, of course, wrong. They say that it might work for Presidential candidates because the scrutiny at that level is so high. But, they plausibly argue, at the state and local level the press doesn’t do a very good job of exposing politicians who are on the take of special interests. Well, Steve Forbes’s departure reminded me of my previous solution to this problem. You see, the letter he wrote me was in response to the very first article I had ever published. [Cue dream sequence effect]

The year was 1992, movie sequels were all the rage. Batman Returns was the number one box-office hit; Lethal Weapon 3 and Home Alone 2 were not far behind. A song called “Achy Breaky Heart” was blasted over the radio so constantly that suicide rates went through the roof. An Arkansas Governor had just become the first president in decades to get elected without a majority of the vote, and a young policy wonk had written his first article for the Wall Street Journal.

You must remember that back then the Imperial Democrats, led by Darth Foley, had been ruling the House of Representatives for four decades, and this wacky kid working in the bowels of the American Enterprise Institute had a crazy idea about how to fix our “broken system.”

If you would like to read the idea, as printed in the November 5, 1992 Wall Street Journal, click here [Link defunct].

NAG, NAG, NAGI want to be clear. While shameless self-promotion and lazy recycling did factor into the above plug, the real shamelessness stems from my desire to rack up more page impressions. Work those refresh buttons people! The suits at NR have a 500-pound anvil hanging over a litter of kittens and if I miss that quota, they’ll cut the rope. On that note, I deliberately left out the excessive boobery of the Hillary Clinton announcement because it is covered in today’s chockfull edition of Hillary Watch [Link defunct].

Also, check out the homepage for the latest updates of our comprehensive coverage of the South Carolina race. And always remember refresh, reload, reboot!


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