Conservative intellectuals are aficionados of the wink, full of rollicking good fun, by nature a sly sort. Hence, the masthead of The American Spectator contains the following witticisms: it lists a "chief saloon correspondent," and makes the contention that "Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish and Short" has been reatained as the periodical's legal counsel. And that's not all.
The frontespiece of the Spectator, for example, is a column written by editor R. Emmett Tyrell and titled "The Continuing Crisis," which diagnoses the grave illnesses of America by pointing to symptoms. This month, Tyrell dislikes Bill Walton ("tiresome proponent of New Age claptrap," "Marxist-Leninist thumper for health food"), liberation theologists, and the Washington press corps (who need a "manual on the fundamentals of courtesy"). There are signs of recovery, though; President Reagan has restored "dignity to realms where there recently had been mawkishness and amateurism unsurpassed in American history," and Secretary of State Alexander Haig has refused Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin access to an underground garage operated by the State Department.
The final item in this column is reprinted here pretty much in its entirety, for it captures well the tone of the Spectator:
Prospects for the Hon. Andy Young's international consulting firm brightened stupendously this month when United Press International reported the first hard evidence of Negroes living in outer space. According to the UPI, a Negro space traveler named Mr. Quadir from the planet G-7 got on a Manhattan shuttle train wearing iridescent purple sunglasses and a green and yellow vinyl jacket to which had been pinned a rubber alligator. Explaining that he was penniless, owing to the unexpected crash of his spaceship, Mr. Quadir played a few tunes on his saxaphone and asked fellow passengers for financial assistance. When we called Mr. Young's Atlanta office, inquiring as to how he intended to exploit this extraterrestial opportunity, the spokesman was evasive, in fact uncooperative...
There is a serious side to the Spectator, too. The March issue includes an item protesting the availability of abortion, predicting liberals will "be dragged down to defeat by the terrible millstone of dead fetuses"), and another attacking author William Shawcross's work as "shoddy and deceitful." And there are even advertisements. The simplest, four by six inches, reads, "There is opportunity in America." Slightly more detailed, a subscription ad for "Policy Review" magazine, lists the endorsements of the aforementioned Mr. Tyrell, Sen. Danial P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget. Stockman is especially enthusiastic about the publication--"A most stimulating reading experience," he bubbles.
Liberals and radicals of every stripe are the targets for the Spectator's salvos; an article entitled "Ugly Women" shows that in its defense of the good, pure and tradition, the magazine will without hesitation call in the heavy artillery. "Ugly Women," penned by Taki Theodoracopulos, who "lives immodestly in London, New York and Switzerland," starts from the premise that American women are the ugliest in the world. "My opinion is based on scientific research, not emotions," our analyst contends. His research ("400 million years of field experiments") has yielded the following result: "a feminine woman possesses qualities which make her as different from a man psychologically as she is physically. That is, she is passive, cunning, patient, motherly, a homebody, monogamous, etc. Furthermore, a feminine woman defines herself almost exclusively by her relationship to man."
Tracing the genesis of the women's liberation movement to "a few ugly women who could not get men to like them," Taki disparages the appearance of almost every woman one has heard of, mainly because one has heard of them. "Take Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine. That harshness, those granite glares, the shrillness of their rhetoric--it makes one want to shriek at their ugliness." To conclude, the author provides an antidote to all this ugliness: "Put the little woman on a pedestal, spoil her by protecting her, not by taking any back talk. Oppress her. She'll love it. Force her to be obedient and feminine and even her genetic traits will start responding again. That will bring her instant happiness."
It might be noted that 31,000 Americans read this magazine monthly. According to a list of subscribers in the back, they include Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Alexander Haig, Gerald Ford and Anne Armstrong. Not to mention Jack Paar.
"The Shotgun Solution: Defending Your Home," is as convincing an argument as has ever been forwarded for keeping a shotgun next to the bed. For example, "it is a more socially acceptable firearm than is any assault rifle or submachine gun." Still not convinced? "Shotguns possess a menacing look all their own, they are simple to operate, and from a tactile standpoint, the noise of a shotgun action closing is something to strike terror into the heart of a man at the business end of the barrel."
But author Chris McLouglin, Eagle's Personal Defense/Martial Arts editor, is not so starry-eyed as to ignore the problems of a night-table Remington. The question of ammunition, for instance. "In the confusion of being rudely awakened, it's easy to forget to pick up a bandolier or belt carrier with extra ammo." Slings with spare rounds are a possibility, but remember: 'They are not appropriate for riots since they give the rioters something to grab." Another difficulty is proper training. As McLoughlin points out, "It's a little rough on the furniture to live fire indoors..."
Though he concedes that a shotgun "won't cure all the evils that plague you," McLoughlin is an otherwise unabashed booster. He uses illustrations to show how to get around laws prohibiting sawed-off shotguns, and his article is filled with photos of rifles perfect for "defense and combat work." One picture, though, gas a more intriguing caption. Underneath a picture of a fat man cradling a rifle, the legend reads: "The old Ithaca Model 37 Police pump with bayonet lugs is eminently adequate to settle social disputes."
Spawned by the success of Soldier of Fortune, Eagle (dedicated to "Adventure, Survival, Truth") covers the death-and-dying scene from the specific--"The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife"--to the more general--"Holocaust Now!" It is chock full of "intelligence reports," including this "critical piece of intelligence from Washington, D.C." Just after the election of Ronald Reagan, a clandestine session was held near DuPont Circle in the nation's capital. At that meeting, the cream of the old radical circuit sat down to plan out the formation of an "anti-Reagan" movement, modeled on the anti-war movement of past decades. This tidbit comes in a column titled "Terrorism Today." For graphic interest, "Terrorism Today" is illustrated with a picture of "a hooded member of the IRA," though that organization is not discussed in the column nor anywhere else in the issue.
The letters column includes this scolding reminder of Eagle's bottom-line purpose: "While a story on El Salvador's civil war was informative, the author neglected to mention whether the El Salvadoran Central Government was currently accepting American volunteers in its army." It is a defect that has been remedied in a single issue, for April is brimming with mercenary stories, including the exciting tales of those brave men who defend South Africa from "Cuban and East German backed guerrillas." Foreign Editor Al J. Venter has traveled to the front lines to send back this "World Exclusive." Obviously a writer by training, Venter opens his dispatch like this; "Dawn comes early in most parts of Africa." And two sentences later, this: "First light had come early to a group of eight South African soldiers on patrol during the winter of 1980." It turns out that, nearby these troopers, perhaps in the nooks of the jungle where light will arrive somewhat later, there are Marxists. A reconnaisance mission uncovers "at least a dozen of the bastards." Pretty soon, the bastards are dead. As Venter says in summary, "It had been a contact. A good one. That was what this war is all about, and the South Africans were satisfied."
Near the back of the magazine, a 40-question quiz tells Eagle readers how well they will survive if thrown into the wilderness. Most of the questions are fairly easy to analyze ("Mostly see the negative side of things?... Make the best of bad situations?... Think more can be done through teamwork than alone?"). Much more interesting is the tantalizingly short profile of the author, Evan Peelle, Ph.D. "Dr. Peelle directs research and development for a private consulting firm, instructs at Cobray International, and consults with these organizations..." What kind of consultant, you ask? Will, she helps these organizations "plan change and solve problems," if that's any help. Before her planning career, Peelle was "a manager, a teacher, and has driven a delivery truck." Obviously a survivor.
The editorial in the April issue, perhaps written by editor-in-chief Edward J. Hackney, argues that those who call Vietnam and other such conflicts "wrong wars" are, in fact, wrong-headed. "These conflicts, these 'wrong wars' which we cover in Eagle, are sending societies into oblivion just as visibly as if they had been struck by a 'right' war." Light comes early to 79 Madison Ave.
U.S. News and World Report, which bills itself as "the only news magazine devoted entirelty to national and international affairs" (no movie reviews), is a sturdy, battle-proven infantryman in the ranks of American journalism. No nonsense for U.S. News, just the news. Like "China No Longer Too Proud to Ask Help." Or this from Nicaragua: "Washington's tough stand against Communist meddling is forcing Sandinistas to think twice about arming leftist rebels in El Salvador." Or "The Needy Want Less Rhetoric, More Action."
Regular readers of U.S. News often turn first to "Washington Whispers," such a sensitive barometer that it picks up political reverberations so distant other people haven't even thought about them yet. With President Reagan 31 days in the White House, the whispers about 1984 have already begun. "While the President's closest advisers are openly predicting that Reagan will seek a second term in 1984, they pointedly avoid mentioning Vice-President George Bush as a running mate." Noted as well: "The sort of opponent that Ted Kennedy's aides fear most in his 1982 race for re-election [is] a conservative Catholic woman." And this: "Reagan White House officials complain that Carter's order to hold down spending on maintenance of government offices left many quarters in shabby condition. Shocked newcomers report finding everything from dirty window blinds to basketball marks on the walls."
The most novel feature of U.S. News is, on the surface at least, non-ideological. There are four columns in the magazine ("Tomorrow--A look ahead from the nation's capital," "Worldgram," "World Business" and "U.S. Business"), which list small nuggets of valuable information. For instance, "The Reagan Revolution will be more massive that most Americans realize."
But the intriguing aspect is not the content but the form; each of these columns has every 30th word or so underlined, apparently at random. Taken together, the underlined words from March 23 read, "Reagan revolution states and cities government intervention 'new federalism' business tax cut painful decisions deregulation relax existing regulations top slots Internior Secretary James Watt John Shad bureaucratic trenches On Capitol Hill labor laws Unions will fight back Outlook constitutional amendment convention runaway convention ROTC The Vietnam War military careers Tuition costs purple stamp 20 cents giving and receiving ends military muscle Arab-Israeli conflict Deng Xiaoping a reshuffle of command oaths and indoctrinations radical ideology 13 percent cut important legitimacy Don't exaggerate anti-Vietnam united front not about to leave neutralized grand gesture capital spending on the skids US recession Germany's slump Deutsche Bank fight inflation tobacco and alcoholic beverages oil revenues bank profits pep up hoteliers pomp and pegeantry Wedgwood Royal Doulton Ulster Weaving Company Lloyds of London petroleum Fao crossfire sabotaged oil revenue transit fees paper packaging newsprint 1.5 billion dollars capital spending about 1 per cent 400 million dollars less expanding most oil firms big changes are need imported autos color videocassette recorders semiconductors shoe imports sulfur industry 1 million additional tons gardens and croplands by product underground economy 1 out of 4 Americans business activity."