Misery and Missoula - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Misery and Missoula

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Osama Is Dead:

With respect your belief that OBL is dead:

As much as I admire Mr. Steyn’s analytical skills and his writing, I’d like to believe there is another alternative. All the evidence you present to support the thesis that OBL has passed, supports another thesis, as well.

I’d like to believe that some young American military folks, during a rest break six months back, threw a frisbee into an overgrown area and, in retrieving it, found the ailing OBL in a very poor state. They applied first aid, CPR, held his hand and gave him cool water. These troopers, mostly former Boy Scouts, quickly realized that, before they took him in, OSB needed health care and quiet rest and rehabilitation.

My bet, therefore, is that our medicos are trying to help OBL regain his health to the point where he is strong and well enough to stand the rigors of his appearances and hectic schedule once he returns to public life. The treatment center is at a place like Diego Garcia and he is being cured with Yankee hospitality and some experimental potions and procedures. Alas, should he not respond to the focused regimen and his spirit fly to the promised reward of a number of virgins, his body would probably be consigned without fanfare or public notice to an unmarked grave in the same deep blue ocean that OSB loved so well.
— unsigned

Re: Bill Croke’s Why Do Liberals Lie?

I am continually amazed by the assertions of the ideologically saturated. Bill Croke’s fulminations range across the whole spectrum from truth to absurdity. The things he says about Linda Hasselstrom are not merely wrong, but absurd. His assessment of her work is appalling in its ignorance. He assails various people as academics, but the connection of some of these writers to academe is tenuous at best. But of course, academics are “the enemy” so Mr. Croke tars with a broad brush.

Some of these memoirists, such as Ivan Doig, have written classic, beautiful, elegiac material about life in the rural west. His memoir is one of the great works of American literature, and devoid of ideology, but here he is, on Croke’s implicit enemies list.

He errs on small matters as well. There was no such thing as the Missoula Festival of the Book, nor did it cater merely to “literati.” The Montana Festival of the Book was organized by the Montana Committee for the Humanities, and its sponsors went out of their way to invite authors from all the realms of literature. It will be held in various cities. Last year the festival featured Jeff Shaara, scarcely one of the’ “literati.”

Reality is simply too complex for people who see the world through ideological lenses, both left and right.
Richard S. Wheeler

Bill Croke replies: I don’t recall putting Ivan Doig and Linda Hasselstrom on an “enemies list.” And I don’t recall making an “assessment” of Hasselstrom’s work. I included them as examples on a list of writers who use the memoir form as their primary vehicle to explain the West to themselves and others. The subject of my piece was Judy Blunt, and her recent fall from grace.

The writers named have, I believe, all “taught” at one time or another. Kittredge has retired, thus making a wise career choice and abandoning literature for golf. Limerick still teaches, and I believe so does Doig. As do Clearman Blew and Barnes. I’m not sure what Annick Smith is up to lately. Hasselstrom doesn’t teach now, but conducts creative writing workshops on her ranch in South Dakota, where she gets well-off literary wannabes to give her lots of money to teach them to write.

As for Ivan Doig’s “memoir,” I assume Mr. Wheeler is referring to This House of Sky. A good book, but one that falls far short of “one of the great works of American literature.” If Mr. Wheeler believes that, I think he should stick to cranking out his yearly horse opera.

I’ve heard the literary festival under discussion described as both the “Montana” and “Missoula” “Festival of the Book.”

Actually, this letter surprises me. Mr. Wheeler has complained at length about some of the same things I’ve covered in my own pieces. When did he have his big epiphany? It must have been after he published a piece very much like mine in Chronicles back in ’95? ’96? I read a reprint of it called “Notes From a Writer of Trash. “

Re: Dave Shiflett’s Tennessee Tax Tanks:

All over America taxpayers should be grateful to this little band of Volunteers in Tennessee. Politicians and their tax-dependent supporters succeed when the population, usually through apathy, sells a little of their freedom to government in exchange for government “help”. You then get increased dependency, a poorer population, and a larger government. We see this equation played out all around Tennessee, states with income taxes just needing “a few more cents” to pursue their generous programs. Maybe more buildings that they can put their own names on for “helping” us with our own money.

So, thank you Tennessee. Maybe others can learn from your courage and persistence.
Robert Sullivan

As noted in the article, non-essential state workers were furloughed for two or three days (I can’t remember how long because no one seemed to miss them) at the end of the budget “crisis.” From reading the local paper, you’d have thought the homeless population was going to instantly increase by 22,000 because people weren’t working.

During that time, the talk radio hosts stated over and over that although these people were technically out of work, they would eventually be paid for their non-work. Guess what? The furloughed workers will be paid for the time they didn’t work. In fact, those who got paid because they used vacation days may get their used vacation days reinstated.
Brian Oberlander

Re: The Prowler’s Secretive Clintonites: ‘Crossfire’ Jitters:

Your article on Carville and Begala is timely. Consider TV Guide‘s interview with Phil Donahue (July 13-19 issue, page 35):

“Question: What’s your response to criticism that TV news is already too liberal?

“Donahue: That’s the canard of the right wing, to make themselves look victimized. Here’s the spectrum: You have [Bill] Clinton at 12 noon; as you move to the right side of the political spectrum, you have [William] Safire, [Robert] Novak, [John] McLaughlin, the Fox crowd, all the O’Reilly types. On the left, who have you got? Is Paul Begala a liberal? Is James Carville a liberal?”

Even though he doesn’t know the answers to his own questions, Donahue gets his own show next week.
— unsigned

Re: The Prowler’s Bush and Catholic Law:

How does Bush attract the Catholic vote? He simply reminds Catholics of the Hughes Doctrine, which states that Republicans worship God and Democrats worship abortion.
Jack Hughes
Chicago, IL

Re: The Prowler’s Pryce Is Right:

Deborah Pryce ran as a pro-life candidate, I believe, and switched after her election. That type of turncoat is hard to swallow by us pro-lifers. If it is true Tom DeLay is saying okay, then shame on Tom DeLay.
Annette Cwik

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