Friday, July 25, 2003

Nigerium from Uranus

The brilliant Mark Steyn takes on the irrelevant sideshow over Bush's State of the Union threat assessment and the disputed uranium in Niger and comes away with some wider observations about Democrats in Congress:

"But here’s a much more pertinent question than whether BUSH LIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!: how loopy are the Democrats? One reason why the President, in defiance of last week’s Spectator, is all but certain to win re-election is the descent into madness of his opponents. They’ve let post-impeachment, post-chad-dangling bitterness unhinge them to the point where, given a choice between investigating the intelligence lapses that led to 9/11 and the intelligence lapses that led to a victorious war in Iraq, they stampede for the latter. Iraq was a brilliant campaign fought with minimal casualties, 11 September was a humiliating failure by government to fulfill its primary role of national defence. But Democrats who complained that Bush was too slow to act on doubtful intelligence re 9/11 now profess to be horrified that he was too quick to act on doubtful intelligence re Iraq. This is not a serious party."


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A Head-Tapping Problem

Despite nearly every news outlet in the world producing obituaries of Uday and Qusay Hussein, relatively little new is being said about their lives. We’ve heard that Uday was a lusty fiend and violator of female Iraqi virtue, and that Qusay won his stripes by murdering hundreds of thousands of southern Shi’ites in 1991. But the depths of Uday’s depravity can still yield a few fresh details if you find the right article, as in this excerpt from the Evening Standard:

“Twice Uday, 39, turned up at wedding parties and raped the bride-to-be as her and the bridegroom's families were held at gunpoint, listening. At the second such occasion, in 1998, the groom shot himself.


“Uday's behaviour shocked even his father, who was often asked by members of Baghdad's ruling elite to try to rein in his eldest son. However Saddam would just tap his head with a finger to indicate the ‘craziness’ of his son.”

Raping another man’s bride on the alter. Only an especially creative psychotic predator could have come up with that one.


Saturday, July 19, 2003

I Rule in Favor of My Cultural Prejudices

Professor Matt Franck of Radford University gives an interesting review of this year’s end-of-term Supreme Court coverage. The stories written by Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times and Nina Totenberg of Morning Edition, demonstrate an unfortunate expression of an old trend – legal analysis by personality:

“From [the idea that there is no distinction between law and politics] it is a short step to believing that the reasons given by the justices for their rulings (or their dissents) are not really worth any scrutiny. For they are, after all, mere rationalizations for the underlying sentiments. Got kids in New York? Know some nice gay people? Then make the Constitution protect a right to commit sodomy, and then dress up the visceral conclusion with some high-sounding rhetoric about dignity. Feel put upon as a black conservative whom folks suspect of getting ahead on your race? Angry about it? Why then, fulminate about the ‘stigma’ of affirmative action, and manufacture some guff about the Constitution's ‘principle’ of equality to make your anger seem righteous.”

African Ingenuity

Problem: Zimbabwe is experiencing a severe fuel crisis. Drivers wait in mile-long lines at gas stations. Fact: Station operators make special head-of-the-line exceptions for vehicles carrying dead bodies to burial or family members transporting departed relatives to the local morgue. Opportunity: Mortuary employees begin renting out corpses to motorists in a hurry. And there are people who say sub-Saharan Africans are not culturally inclined to a capitalist system.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Nature of Contemporary Art

Artist Sam Easterson likes animals. And now that he’s incorporated several of them into his latest video project, he has more respect for them than ever. He’s gone the Young British Artists of “Sensations” fame one better – instead of displaying preserved slices of animals, he’s made the animals themselves the creators. No – he’s not the author of Why Cats Paint – he just affixes video cameras to animals and lets them record. And the animal-eye view results he’s gotten have generated some unexpected insights: “I was shocked to realize all the other animals in the flock could tell that this one sheep with the camera had been ‘altered’ in some way. She kept trying to enter, and they kept treating her as an outcast. I also learned sheep can run very fast and fences are not as sturdy as you think.” Depends of the particular fence in question, one would suppose, but fascinating stuff regardless.


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Thus Always to Patriots

It has now become controversial for government-funded facilities to display the U.S. flag. A state-operated ‘learning center’ for home schooled kids in southern Oregon has come under attack because they’re planning on putting up a flag pole for ole glory (as required by state law). Local parents are disagreeing with the plan on political grounds. Said Tracey Bungay told the Ashland Daily Tidings: “I feel our country is on a strong push towards imperialism, and we're not a democratic nation anymore. I want to raise my children to be citizens of the world, and the flag does not represent ideals I want to instill in my children. It represents dominance, greed, corporate power and not freedom. I think it even represents commercialism and consumerism.” Greed is bad enough, of course, but the thought that the flag might represent even consumerism is truly alarming. This melodramatic assessment of the nation’s current political climate is hardly surprising – leftist activists are after all the people who came up with bumper stickers like “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” People who are perpetually outraged can often be found doing things like trying to divest public schools of the nation’s flag. Even more to the point, this tempest is stirring in Ashland, the home of a very well-regarded Shakespeare Festival. Flamboyant performances by the tragically aggrieved seem to be in the air down there.


Monday, July 14, 2003

Let Them Eat Sausage and Onion with Extra Cheese

Homeless ‘advocates’ are a notoriously difficult to please bunch. They seem to make a career out of setting up the perfect (and therefore impossible) as the enemy of the good. An entrepreneur in Portland gives the local street kids some free pizza and coke for holding a sign with the name of his restaurant, and some poverty pimp in a downtown office calls it “exploitation.” In his mind, anyone doing any kind of work should be paid minimum wage or nothing at all. Better that they should be rooting through dumpsters than eating pizza worth less than $6.90 an hour.