Home | About | Archives | Elsewhere

February 21, 2003
How I Learned to Love the War

When George W. Bush started preaching compassionate conservatism on the campaign trail in 1999, the phrase had an immediate oxymoronic appeal: how would such a mandate manifest itself? Was it just a matter rounding up not-too-smelly poor people and giving them a heartfelt (but fiscally responsible) hug, or did Bush actually have some plan to inflict more substantial succor on the downtrodden?

And how might it play out on a global basis? Now, we know at least one answer. Invading Iraq isn't just about protecting our homeland from the threat of hypothetical terror scenarios; it's also about saving babies who, thanks to U.N. sanctions, are forced to survive without clean water, phamaceuticals, Tomahawk cruise missiles, and adequate cola variety.

Until recently, it was merely anti-American to oppose the impending war. When it turned out that many of the expected smoking guns had switched to Nicorette, it also became anti-humanitarian. And now, it turns out that "weapons inspections" is just the vile Eurotrash way of saying "genocide." According to Daily Telegraph contributor David Pryce-Jones, protesting the war "is racist nonsense...To imagine that the Iraqis don't want to be freed, or are not entitled to it, is simply to suppose that they are less human than us."

Talk about the spoils of war! In the old days, the best way for a compassionate conservative to demonstrate her allegiance to racial equality was to vilify affirmative action as the greatest affront to human dignity since slavery itself. Now, you can actually blast brown people into tiny shreds of liberated humanity, all in the name of combating racism.

And they'll be grateful too, but not in a way that's particularly reassuring. According to John Burns of the New York Times, Iraqi's draft-dodgers aren't exactly peacenik hippies: they hate the United States as much as they hate Saddam, and consider it to be "a greedy, menacing imperial power." Guess they haven't been reading David Pryce-Jones much lately. But you have to give them credit as they watch from the Jordanian sidelines. Rebel forces used to do at least a little actual fighting; now, they're outsourcing the job. And isn't that what globalism is all about: getting foreigners to do all the dirty work?

Here in the U.S., it's just as hard to tell enemies from allies. In the recent San Francisco protests (where participants have been disappearing like Gore votes), a splinter group of Black Bloc anarchists donned stylish para-burqas and set out to prove that David Pryce-Jones is not the dumbest man on the planet. To protest "the gross consumerism that's fueling this war," they smashed windows at Abercrombie & Fitch and other Market Street businesses, and threw rocks at cops. Next on the agenda for these neo-Taliban shopping police: outlawing kite-flying.

Meanwhile, as duct tape is crowned the new Cipro and rock clubs and barges combust, the terror forecast remains cloudy, with chronic promises of Code Orange showers. And, consequently, inaction is currently the most potent mode of attack for Al Quaeda: the Epitome nightclub stampede was an extremely efficient operation, and things are so tightly wound across America that even T-shirts qualify as weapons of class distraction.

As the tension mounts, so does the enmity. "I've also noticed that the blogosphere seems more polarized," remarked Glenn Reynolds the other day, after weeks of implying that to participate in anti-war protests is to embrace murderous totalitarianism. "Surely people can't think that nasty, name-calling email is going to persuade anyone."

Of course not. Persuasion requires a gentler touch, a little finesse, and a vast supply of precision-guided ordnance. It's true that 2000 lb. bombs can sometimes have a polarizing effect on their recipients, but that just means we must take care to deliver them with the requisite compassion.

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:28 AM
February 19, 2003
A Peck, Not a Herd

From the Associated Press: "Prosecutors say a pet cockatoo that was killed while trying to protect its owner from an attacker produced evidence crucial in convicting the man's murderer. Kevin Butler's 18-inch white-crested cockatoo, named Bird, flew at the Daniel Torres during the Christmas Eve 2001 attack and pecked him in the head, drawing blood. Torres wiped the blood and then touched a light switch, leaving his DNA at the crime scene, authorities said."

Posted by Greg Beato at 12:32 PM
I Like Mike

You know what would be even better than that Michael Jackson documentary? A Mike Tyson documentary. Here is his spectacular new facial tattoo. And here is someone who got a Mike Tyson face tattoo. That person is going to have to update it now, applying a tattoo to a tattoo. Very post-modern!

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:37 AM
Stifling The Consent?

Is Big Media Reynolds too fair and balanced? Well, ever since he got his gig, have you seen his column on Fox News? Curious about its absence, I asked Reynolds himself, who despite my frequent criticism of him, is always willing to answer a fair question.

Reynolds' reply: He'd been planning to leave Fox anyway, but his new gig accelerated the process. When Fox found out he was writing for, it spiked the latest column he'd submitted and told him he couldn't write for Fox News if he wanted to write for the competition.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:21 AM
February 18, 2003
Yes, But...

Ken Layne offers some perspective on the anti-war protests: "Let's be generous and say a million people -- hell, let's make it 1.5 million -- protested this weekend across the United States...If 1.5 million people protest the U.S. position on Iraq, that's more worthy of coverage than 50 million people going to church, because the latter happens every week. But still, we're talking about half a percent of the U.S. population -- and that's using the very generous numbers -- attending rallies around the country. Impressive, sure, but 'Daredevil' beat that by nearly 5 million people."

In other words, because only 1.5 million people out of the approximately 300 million that live in the U.S. attended these events, they were relatively meaningless.

Does this also make the blogosphere relatively meaningless too? And especially the blogosphere of a year ago, when it was much smaller and yet, according to one prescient media observer, a significant story that traditional media types were wrong to dismiss?

Posted by Greg Beato at 02:08 PM
Affurmetiv Acktion' Is Bad!!!

The Michigan Review had a bake sale to protest affirmative action.

Still, it can't be that hard to get into the school if you're white. Look at this sentence from the Review's editor-in-chief: "In uncharcterized fashion, today's Daily edit tout's MSA's newest infringment on students rights, a ban on postering during MSA elections."

Uncharcterized? (Not only does he make up a word, he misspells it.) Tout's? Infringment?

What language is this exactly? Moronics?

UPDATE: The Michigan Review removed the "article" I was quoting from from its site. If you want to see it, however, click here.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:27 AM
February 16, 2003

Curious admission from Andrew Sullivan: "Even worse, the Dowd schtick seems to me to be a bad thing for women in journalism. It implies that women op-ed writers, opinion journalists, and pundits are at their best parlaying gossip, small-talk and chit-chat. So odd that Dowd, who views herself as a feminist pioneer, unwittingly reinforces certain stereotypes. At least McGrory tells us what she thinks, rather than what she buys."

Of course, Dowd could only have this effect on someone who primarily thinks of her as a "woman op-ed writer" rather than just an op-ed writer. In addition, Sullivan's comments suggests he thinks that women op-ed writers are all so alike that the actions of one are conceivably emblematic of them all.

Does the work of Andrew Sullivan (whom I'm presuming Andrew Sullivan believes is the most high-profile male pundit working today) have implications regarding the work of all male op-ed writers? Luckily, no.

Posted by Greg Beato at 04:01 PM