the Torpedoes, Get Strangelove on the Horn
by Warren Pease
Some years ago, author Tom Wolfe wrote a lengthy essay declaring
that satire was dead - killed by the burgeoning, astonishing
weirdness of everyday life. This after his novel "Bonfire
of the Vanities" came under fire for too closely resembling
the events of an actual New York City political scandal. That
the book predated the scandal by more than a year seemingly
disturbed none of his critics. Understandably, Wolfe concluded
that real life had become so surpassingly bizarre that no
satirist, no matter how imaginative, could possibly outdo
And while the Bush administration provides compelling evidence
of Wolfe's hypothesis each day, there are occasional examples
of such transcendently majestic idiocy that they simply can't
And so, today's Wolfe Awards for actions contributing to
the death of satire go to the amazingly clueless Republican
Congressman Steve Buyer of Indiana and to veteran Texas congressional
nutball Ron Paul.
Now, the winning entries. . .
To the Stone Age. . . AND BEYOND
(October 19, 2001) - If it becomes clear that Osama bin
Laden's al-Qaida network is behind the recent wave of anthrax
cases, and it is hiding chemical or biological weapons in
Afghanistan caves, U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer said they've "upped
the ante" and he would support the use of nuclear weapons
to destroy them.
Buyer said he isn't advocating nuclear tactics. But if
the Bush administration decides to go that route, it would
have his backing. He planned to outline his thoughts in a
letter to the administration.
Buyer said Thursday that it's too risky to send large
numbers of ground troops into mountain hideouts. Instead,
small special operation forces could fight their way into
caves and bunkers and plant timer-detonated tactical nuclear
devices powerful enough to bring down entire mountains.
"We shouldn't fear this discussion," Buyer said. "There's
such a stigma attached to the word 'nuclear' that people don't
even think rationally." (1)
Yeah, they really don't.
I remember interviewing a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing,
a Japanese-American doctor from Watsonville, Calif. This was
about 20 years ago when I was working as a reporter at KOMY,
the very radio station that just dumped Peter Werbe for failing
to promote administration orthodoxy enthusiastically enough.
(Disclaimer: KOMY ownership has changed several times since
I was there, and I don't know the Zwerlings at all.)
The doctor, Francis Tomosawa, told me that he was a boy of
15 on the morning of August 6, 1945. He had walked to his
job at a warehouse and was waiting outside for his supervisor
to arrive when he heard the roar of the bombers. He was shielded
from the full force of the blast by the warehouse, and by
a low mountain that stood between his place of work and the
main city of Hiroshima, about two miles away. He saw the fireball,
though, and the shock waves threw him backwards and knocked
him unconscious for a short time. When he awoke, he saw the
giant mushroom cloud rising.
All around the concrete warehouse are wooden structures that
have been flattened. The injured and dead are everywhere.
He tries to help, but eventually returns to his home to try
to connect with his mother. He sees smoldering bodies everywhere
amid the shattered buildings. He sees people shuffling or
running, and a few who had been blinded by the fireball creeping
ahead, arms outstretched, with wisps of singed skin hanging
like a macabre fringe. A young woman, her clothes in tatters,
carries a dead infant in her arms.
Immediately after the explosion, it's deathly quiet, as befits
a mass grave. Later, when he and his mother make their way
to a nearby hospital to volunteer, the quiet ends. The screams
of the wounded and dying mingle with the softer weeping of
those who have lost their families, their homes, all the touchstones
of their lives. The Japanese military has taken most of the
country's stocks of medicines, so there is little help for
the wounded. Within hours, thousands have died from injuries
or radiation exposure.
The next morning, he climbs to the roof of a tall building
near his home from where he can look out over Hiroshima. Aside
from a few concrete shells, there is simply nothing left.
And in the course of a longish interview during which I mainly
let the tape run and uttered an occasional profanity - which
made editing the story for the drive time newscast a bit more
difficult than usual - Dr. Tomosawa made it abundantly clear
that, yes, in his experience, people do in fact tend to act
somewhat irrationally when confronted with the reality of
New Bounty Hunters of the Afghan Caves
(October 15, 2001) - Legislation that would allow President
Bush to issue letters authorizing bounty hunters to bring
in Osama bin Laden and his cronies "alive or dead" was introduced
this week by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
Paul's bill would let the president determine the size
of the bounty that would be placed on the heads of Bin Laden
and any co-conspirator in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that
killed some 5,000 people.
The bill, filed on Wednesday, would give Bush the authority
to issue "letters of marque and reprisal" of the type authorized
by Congress in the 18th century to combat piracy on the high
"It worked back then," Paul said. "Wouldn't it be wonderful
if it worked again?" (2)
Sure would, and to help make it so, Paul is set to introduce
a companion bill that would give Congress the authority to
exhume Captain John Paul Jones and Admiral David Farragut,
two of this country's most celebrated naval war heroes.
"It's time we put aside our squeamishness about using dead
people to fight our battles," the Congressman probably said
last week. "After all, one dead Farragut is worth at least
a dozen live Rumsfelds. Plus, the idea of Jones at the helm
of the Bon Homme Richard, firing a withering broadside at
bin Laden's ship of the desert. . . Isn't that what they call
those goofy looking horse things with humps?
"Anyway, for the good of the country, we need these heroes
back," Paul no doubt added. "My bill will make that a reality,
and the rider that provides free dry cleaning of KKK robes
for the life of the garment is necessary in the war against
terrorism - plus which, I get all hot just thinking about
putting on my snowy white sheet and weird pointy hat and lacy
underthings and red pumps and lynching a few Arabs for the
greater glory of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior."
He was dragged from the podium just before he had the chance
to talk about how he and Tom DeLay and his first ex-wife's
cousin, the sleepy-eyed little hairdresser dude from Midland,
pulled an all-nighter a couple weeks back on fine pharmaceuticals
and cheap wine and how Lott called around three in the morning
and wanted to come over but there wasn't enough Ecstasy left
so he just stayed home and moaned a lot while a couple of
Senate pages dressed like gladiators gently flogged him with
To Our Wing Nuts: A Debt of Gratitude
Anthrax and Afghanistan, bin Laden and Bush, the Taliban
and the Texans. Frankly, it's getting a little damn depressing
out there and I think we need a break. Thankfully, there are
still conservative Republicans in our midst willing and able
to help out.
So, in recognition of epic imbecility above and beyond even
the lofty standards of the 107th Congress, we single out these
two fine examples of GOP lunacy for special attention. They
remind us that humor is indeed the best medicine and that
even loopy, grandstanding Republican wing nuts have a vital
role to play in these abjectly somber times.
quiz: How much evil would an evildoer do if an evildoer did
do evil? Extra credit: Did Anne Thracks really kill Chandra?
Some say it was Col. Mustard in the library with the candlestick,
but we know better. Reply to email@example.com
and win great prizes, maybe.
Excerpted in condensed form from the Friday, October 19 Journal
and Courier of Greater Lafayette, Indiana.
Excerpted verbatim from the Monday, October 15 edition of
The Victoria Advocate, Victoria, Texas.
SRC, Inc. 2001. All rights reserved.