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What’s So Funny?

Peanuts. Cracker jacks. Abu liberals. A choice peace of hate mail. And much more.

5.24.04

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FRENCH COLLAPSE
Re: Jed Babbin's Once More Into the Screech:

I just happened to be reading about the terminal collapse at Charles de Gaulle and I caught the side bar from back in April by one Jed Babbin.

This is one American who does care about the state of Franco-American relations and an improvement in same.

But as long as there are individuals with the same mind set as JB, all we will get is "journalists" reminding us about how wonderful the British are blah, blah. blah.

I am really tired of hearing nothing but dribble and tirades from both extreme wings of the political parties.

Whatever, I have other valuable activities to return to, but I felt a need to voice my opinion.
-- Robert A. Berdon

PEANUTS' SIDES
Re: Brian Doherty's Good News, Charlie Brown

Brian Doherty, thank you for making my morning! You took me back to my teenage boyhood days, when I'd come home from paper route to eat breakfast and read the comics, always featuring "Peanuts." Or spend an evening with a book -- sometimes one of those 1960s-'70s little paperback collections of several months' worth of "Peanuts" strips. I still have several of them someplace.

"Peanuts" did, and does, indeed possess huge charm. Security blankets stuck in washing machines, World War One flying aces lounging in root beer halls, notes from Beethoven's symphonic staffs conking gauche females... I smile as I type this! I too recall that "good ol' Charlie Brown.... How I hate him!" line.

I must take respectful, partial issue with one aspect of the review. I guess I agree that individual "Peanuts" strips, and sometimes even a story line of many strips, can often sound a negative tone. That probably describes the early strips as I recall them. In the early '50s Charles Schulz's characters did indeed reflect those times: not much fantasy or even basic humor, rather more of a skeptical, sometimes cutting cynicism. (Closest comparative coming to mind is Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes," in its way a very funny strip.) This kind of approach attracts such (often pseudosophisticate) audience groups who imagine those characteristics as their own: college students, urban liberals, organization types. Once formed, preferences tend to stick.

But I can't agree that "Peanuts" "never gave us...uplift or a happy ending." By the period of the strip's "maturity" (late '50s to '70s, as you note), that element did enter. For all the world-weariness, "Peanuts" rose above it. In the process the strip attracted a much broader audience, with different tastes that Mr. Schulz began to serve. I think several factors influenced the strip's growth, both of character and audience (the two certainly correlate: imagine most American men laughing at the female-aimed strips "Cathy" or "For Better For Worse").

First, and uniquely for comic strips of the '60s, "Peanuts" characters began to demonstrate implicit, and sometimes explicit, Christianity. Linus (the only Biblical name in the strip) particularly serves as the strip's "prophet center" and moral anchor, given to quoting Scripture to various interlocutors. Schroeder also helps here, rebelliously pounding out "classical" music from a lost Christian-dominated era instead of mindless and lascivious "pop" tunes. Mr. Schulz's commitment to eternal Truth, I believe, tied the strip to both this world and the next in a *positive* way. In the process he won for his characters whole new legions of heartland readers -- people distressed at the relativism, nihilism, and hedonism dominating our society from the '60s on. Some fading of this wholesome emphasis on Greater Issues also, I think, helps explain the strip's decline in the 80's and 90's.

Second, the fantasy element rising in "Peanuts" in the late '50s introduced the strip to all minds that appreciate creativity and genuine humor. The true font or "sense" of humor in man arises out of his perceptions of absurdity in his situations, particularly in extremities. We laugh because we see silliness round about us, and in our own selves. In comic strips absurdity takes two basic forms in pursuit of humor:

1) real-seeming people find themselves in wildly unrealistic situations (e.g. the sight gags of "Blondie" showing Dagwood's outrageous sandwiches and his constantly crashing into the mailman while late for work).

2) totally unrealistic and absurd creatures engage in "real-world" human life (think "Garfield" needing his morning coffee to feel feline).

The "best" strips employ both forms -- longrunning success of "Blondie" and "Garfield" demonstrate the overlap. "Peanuts" clearly belongs in the overlap group: a dog lives on his house roof, suffering existential angst and fantasizing about being a lawyer or a fighter pilot; a child runs to kick a football held and then pulled away by his playmate, and flips head over heels from the effort, again and again and again.

I look forward to your future reviews of the rest of the Series!
-- David James Hanson
Fayette, Iowa

ABU LIBERALISM
Re: George Neumayr's The Party of Abu Ghraib in the Womb:

Very well written. It reminds me of the time I was behind a car that had two bumper stickers. One read "Pro-choice and proud of it" the other read "Stop capital punishment." I thought to myself, why don't they just get one bumper sticker that reads "Kill Babies, Not Criminals"?
-- Katharine Bailey
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Kudos to Mr. Neumayr for an excellent piece. A little dissection if I may:

Abortion I find abhorrent except with one rare exception. Actually the decision is up to those affected to determine the proper course. That is where the decision should lay. BUT as a society we should be laying the ground work that abortion is not the preferred option of choice. That the State has any involvement at all I find both fascinating and inappropriate.

For the Democrats, I think eventually they are going to run up against a wall here. What is to say that we will not run up against two opposing legal forces -- "Woman's right to choose" vs. "Separation of church and state." The presumption in the separations issue is that the government should not be setting standards for moral behavior. Ahem, but the enforcement of abortion rights sets a standard on moral behavior. So the stage is set. It takes but time and volition of a sharp lawyer to get it tied together. I want to be in the gallery when the Supremes take this one on.

On Abu Ghraib, the conduct was unbecoming of a member of the Armed Forces. As such we should let the wheels of the MCJ runs its course. That trials should be so swift in the civilian world.

But I must pass on an observation. The furor in the press as to the situation is beyond pale. First I point the reader to the following website. It's the full text of the 4th Geneva Convention with summary amendments. I have excepted two relevant passages here:

Art. 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.

Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons while the State of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are.…

Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favor of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.

The 4th defines who is a protected person under the Convention. The 5th defines who is excluded. You might be surprised by who is not a protected person.

As I read this, the Coalition being the Party to the conflict has, it appears, certain exclusions available to it. That we wish to be bound by them when we could opt not to, should be applauded. Based on the definitions a terrorist would be excluded from Convention provisions by the term Saboteur. I mean really, some guy walking down the street with an RPG can't be claiming he's hunting for snipe. In fact it appears that the Convention itself provides more protections to the combatants on both sides than to the civilian population in the fire zone. But a terrorist would not meet the definition of a protected person.

I can only conclude that we have broken no rules internationally. We smeared ourselves with the conduct of a few, and are addressing the situation. We could technically tell the Red Cross to have a nice day but no thanks. We may have debased some individuals possibly innocent of crimes. But we are not cutting out tongues, heads, arms or legs so it does not reach the level of atrocity.

So what we are actually watching is the Press's fascination with a sex
scandal. I say -- Get Over It.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Terrific piece, Mr. Neumayr.

Respectfully, though, I disagree with your saying, "It is not too long before the Democrats say openly (they already imply it) that orthodox Catholicism is 'un-American.'"

They won't ever -- as they will never say that being an "orthodox" (i.e., in their parlance: right-wing/evangelical/Pentecostal) Christian is also un-American, something else they imply-because they lack the guts and conviction to do so.

Sen. John Kerry exemplifies their fear of accurate, truthful words and direct speech. With the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate, he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge he is a liberal and campaign to cast himself as a conservative. That would be laughable, if he weren't the poster child for the overarching secularist, moral-relativistic, situational-ethics and environment-over-humans theology of the Democrats.

His and the Democrats' actions and words on abortion, as well as their waging the current war against the war on terrorism and rooting for the U.S. to fail in Iraq, are collectively more than an affront to America: In their own way, they are as dangerous as the words and actions of any terrorist.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

George Neumayr's article on the party of partial-birth abortion certainly hits the nail on the head. Unlike hitting the head on the nail: the pledge you have to take, assuming you want Democratic senators to confirm you onto the Federal bench.

In these cases, it's compulsory to support sticking a steel rod into the skull of a baby and suck out its brains. Of course, there is a compassionate caveat -- you can only do this if the baby's head is still sticking out of its mother's womb waiting to take its first breath.

That's the sort of nuanced thinking you need when you're John Kerry and a member of the lefty middle-crasses. Though I'm not sure how this works with a breech birth, when the sprog, clearly sensing a lack of love, wisely decides to come out feet first.

Being non-nuanced, unsophisticated folk, conservatives tend to think sucking the brains out of babies is a bad thing. A very, very bad thing indeed. Can you believe that? How simply Billy-Bob and Jolene of them. What a bunch of ignorant flyovers.

Why can't they just become infected with the Mad Progressives Syndrome exhibited by the likes of Nancy Pelosi?.

"Progressives" believe that if said "fetus" should somehow survive being born to the abortion-mongering Kate Narals of the world, and then grow up to be a captured terrorist, held in a U.S. jail with panties on his head -- well, that's the bad thing. That's the real "non-human" rights issue to get your knickers in a twist over.

How do non-aborted, so-called humans go straight from goo-goo to ga-ga with no shame in-between? And even more bizarrely, shriek that it's the right who lack compassion, and eat Bambi burgers. (Okay -- I'll concede on the yummy Bambi burgers.)

Easy. It's the cult of the, "me". "Me... me. me. look at me, mommy!" I'm not really a Freudian about these fraudians but let's face it, the old cigar chomper (how's that for a Freudian activity) was on to something with his mommy shtick.

My body. My feelings. My guilt. My career. My, me and mean. Have you noticed just how damn mean most of these people are: Kennedy, Daschle, Kerry, Ben-Veniste, Rodham-Clinton, and Howie Dean? Fancy being cast away on a desert island with that crazed bunch? You're trying to escape; they're setting up a Planned Parenthood cave, separating Church and sand, and organizing a commission to pre-judge how it's all Bush's fault their plane crashed. Got to get your priorities left to be a "progressive".

Which brings us to Kerry's new, no-brain slogan: "Let America Be America Again".

Once again the nuanced Kerry brazenly flip-flops. Presumably, this week he supports an America where the first thing an immigrant does is learn English? An America whose citizens are motivated by self-help and not state help? An America where any enemy tangling with its non-PC military, knows they'll be ground mercilessly into the dust. And where politicians don't wail about murdering scumbags wearing panties on their heads.

Hey, that's a Kerry conservatives can support! Bring it on John.
-- David Smith
London, England

DIFFERENT PAYBACK
Re: Enemy Central's Payback Time:

Payback. The bad guys are in for more trouble now because of all of the reporters who want to blame this government on little happenings in jail, and beheadings. What do I mean by this?

This. Our troops are going to kill more people than before. There will be suddenly less prisoners taken. This will not be standing orders or orders of any kind. It will be the solders mind set that starts this killing. And rightfully so. It will start out slow and no one will notice, but one day some smart editor will say..how come we have taken so few prisoners lately, does that mean they got away? So the left press does not really understand our fighting men in this war. I would bet my last dollar on this.

Interview some solders after this conflict and they will tell you what really happened after the newspapers of this country and some of the people who represent this country have done.

This is not my father's war. These are not my father's soldiers. Thank God.
-- unsigned

You need to follow Kevin Garnett a bit. The man has class. He speaks English that would make your mother proud. He wears a suit (!) for interviews. He doesn't have an entourage that looks like a rap video. He would be a great neighbor. He WOULD have to downsize for my neighborhood.
-- Tim Pfister
Billings, Montana

MORALE BOOSTER
Re: The Washington Prowler's Pop Goes the Pep Rally:

How can the President give a pep rally to a group of Republicans who don't want one.

Many Republicans have fallen prey to the media's spin on the war on terror and are now in the process of cocooning themselves from the President.

It's a shame that many politicians don't have any conviction any more to take a moral and ethical stand against the war on terror and most notably the war in Iraq.
-- Melvin

HEAVY LOBBYING
Re: Kenneth E. Grubbs Jr.'s A Free Journalist:

Quote from the article:

"...newswriting can only justify itself if it leads to "change." Prestigious journalism awards actually make it a criterion that a reporter's work must have prompted legislation"

Comment:

If Mr. Grubbs is correct, rewarding only the work product that leads to change renders the distinction between being a journalist and a lobbyist or special interest advocate unimportant. This definition of "newswriting" is quite antisocial since a lobbyist or advocate can not be depended upon to convey all of the news.

This is not fair to real lobbyists who must register. Some lobbyists are advocates for foreign governments. Furthermore, this definition of "newswriting" has the distinct flavor of Heavenly Deception, a practice of lying to get alms for other "good" purposes practiced by the Moonies.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

DOWN THE MIDDLE
Re: P. David Hornik's Abu Ghraib and the Useful Idiots:

I take issue with Mr. Hornik's analysis. He was doing all right on the high road until he fell down in the track of Liberal bashing. Neither Right nor Left can squawk when being tarred by the same brush they were just recently holding. Stick to the topic at hand.
-- Sid Cooper

IT GETS WORSE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Pasty Prison Pastimes:

I note you avoided the topic of the women who were raped. That has been the singular aspect your Govt. is most determined to cover up. Some of the females at the prison lost the facility of speech due to the regime of sexual terror.

They were being raped, dragged about naked in the middle of the night etc. I don't honestly think an intelligent person would need to hire a criminal profiler to work out the general theme of recreational sex abuse. I did not like your article very much. It made me feel sad for America. Your avoidance of the female rape aspects was also rather cowardly in my opinion. There is a protest in London tomorrow in support of the female rape victims of Abu Ghraib. On a related note, the dubious politicians on this planet see Abu Ghraib as a PR life-line.

I gather the Czech foreign Ministry can't wait to be given a T3 designation in the June TIP report for their extensive trafficking and organized crime activities. They feel that whilst a rebuttal might not be realistically possible, the perfect distraction is available to them. We shall have to wait and see.
-- Gregory Carlin

Let me just get this straight -- so, some of the illegally detained individuals in Gitmo Bay masterbate [sic] and stick toothpaste up their asses and the horrific abuse at Abu Ghraib prison is somehow justified? Or rather, the media is to blame? And, what about Nick Berg? Dude went to Iraq by himself. Dude was milling around one of the most dangerous parts of the world by himself. How smart was that? And how newsworthy is it? How you can even consider the Berg story and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal similar is beyond comprehension. Really, I hope you sleep well at night. You, like your president, will be going to hell.

You sick piece of garbage.
-- Sean Michael Campbell

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