Archives for February, 2004

Choices, Not Echoes

A websearch on the Prohibition Party led me to this page of links to minor parties around the country. Perhaps not surprisingly, I was especially charmed by the “Guns and Dope Party”, whose “first order of business on assuming office” will be to:

Fire 33% of the Congress [names selected at random]
and replace them with full-grown adult ostritches,
whose mysterious and awesome dignity will
elevate the suidaen barbarity long established there.

(Is “suidaen” a word?)

Honorable mentions: the Nihilist Party, the American Beer Drinkers’ Party (staunchly pro-Iraq-war and pro-tax-cut), and the Royalist Party (featuring a “Monarch of the Month” page).

Posted on Feb 29, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

They’re Baaack…

The Prohibition Party. From my cold, dead hands, you bastards.

Posted on Feb 29, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Great Moments in Race Relations

Lois Lane is back, but this time, she’s black. These guys dug up and scanned in a hilarious comic book from the early 70s, in which Lois Lane gets a Kryptonian scientist to turn her into a black woman, so she can “pass” for purposes of a story she’s researching in the ghetto. Life lessons abound for black and white alike. A candidate for DC Comics’ “Illest Minority Moments,” indeed. Hat tip, metafilter.

Posted on Feb 29, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Tom Ridge, Action Hero

Let the magenta-alert and duct-tape jokes commence.

Posted on Feb 27, 2004 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Self-Inflicted Terror

The NYT reports that a Japanese court has sentenced Shoko Asahara, leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, to death.

He won’t be missed. But his sentence is as good an occasion as any to ponder whether we haven’t worked ourselves up into an unnecessary frenzy over the chem/bio threat.

I’m as guilty as anybody of that. Go far back enough in the archives of this blog and you’ll find me talking about ordering a gas mask and staying off the metro in the run-up to the Iraq war. But the popular view of chem/bio as these sort of James-Bond-supervillain weapons is much overblown.

As wacky as the Aum cult was and is, they had over a billion dollars to work with and access to some highly competent scientists. Their biggest hit was the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway in 1995, which killed a total of 12 people. Their anthrax was a complete dud. Thus far, fertilizer bombs and car bombs are more worthy of the name weapons of mass destruction than chem/bio.

What we know of Al Qaeda’s chem/bio capabilities does little to suggest that they’d do any better. Their programs seem to be entirely a homemade affair, capable of poisoning a few dogs, but little more. And there was never any evidence to suggest that Saddam Hussein contemplated passing off whatever he had to them.

It’s almost certainly not true despite what the president argued in his pre-Iraq state of the union, that “one vial smuggled in could bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.”

This isn’t a counsel of complacency. It’s a call for balance. Al Qaeda’s in the business of terror. Terrorize yourself, and you’re doing their job for them.

Posted on Feb 27, 2004 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Romantic Wizard


I went to this game on Friday night, with several friends, linkable and unlinkable, and although I wasn’t paying attention during the proposal, I saw her run around the stadium like Hannibal Lecter was chasing her. Despite the boos from many in the crowd, I fully supported her in her efforts to escape. First of all, if you’re going to propose, I think you should have a damned good idea of what the answer’s going to be. Second, if you’re going to propose, you ought not to do it at the MCI center while dressed in a fuzzy blue suit. Unless you’re already part of the relevant “fetish community.” And even then, not in a stadium. It’s in poor taste.

Posted on Feb 25, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Wolf and Wolf

Naomi “Beauty Myth” Wolf, last in the news for charging Al Gore like a million bucks for telling him to wear earth tones, is accusing literary heavyweight (really–even his “boneless [?] hand” is heavy) Harold Bloom of making a creepy and awkward pass at her two decades ago. She was a senior at Yale. He was her professor. He brought “a bottle of Amontillado” to her apartment. (A flask of Amonillado? You’ve got to be kidding me. I guess that like Montressor, she likes her revenge served cold):

The next thing I knew, his heavy, boneless hand was hot on my thigh.

I lurched away. “This is not what I meant,” I stammered. The whole thing had suddenly taken on the quality of a bad horror film. The floor spun. By now my back was against the sink, which was as far away as I could get. He moved toward me. I turned away from him toward the sink and found myself vomiting.

I find the very last part of that story hard to credit, unless there was a lot more booze involved than she’s letting on.


Then again, hmm. Maybe she’s on the level.

I don’t think I’m suggesting sexual harassment is no big deal if I say it’s really not very iron-jawed-angel for Ms. Wolf to be typing breathlessly about this incident twenty years after the fact. But it probably is pretty tasteless for me to recount the first thing I thought when I read this story: there should be a Page Six aimed at the pseudointellectual class, recounting the pecadillos of academics, jurists, authors, and suchlike creatures. I’d read it daily.

Posted on Feb 25, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Author, Author

Make your blog into a book. Or don’t. Please don’t.

Posted on Feb 25, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Dreck and the City

The Spectator has a suitably nasty take on SATC. Here’s another: One of the reasons I’ve watched Sex and the City for the past couple of years was for the masochistic jolt of revulsion I’d get whenever Carrie Bradshaw let loose with one of her staggeringly vapid little aphorisms. Last night didn’t disappoint: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”

But in most other respects, the show’s closer was a disappointment. Crappier than usual dialogue–and that little blooming flower was the most ham handed imagery since, well, since Charlotte learned she was infertile while frying eggs.

I don’t take Sex and the City seriously enough to have anything invested in its politics. But if I did, and if I were one of those guys who liked to score points by yammering about wimmen’s empowerment, I’d yammer about the fact that the whole thing tied itself up like a Jane Austen novel–albeit an unusually skanky one. But for the gratuitous, usually unglamorous sex, the series really could have been storyboarded by the Concerned Women for America. I thought that, having paired off the other three gals, the writers would have at least left Carrie single. Happy, on her own, maybe with a new prospect, maybe another book contract and the promise of good things to come, but getting by just fine even though she’s late-thirtysomething and not yet hitched. But no. If you’re a single chick pushing 40 in this show, you end up pitching spiked-heels-over-ass out the window and falling to your death eight stories below.

Posted on Feb 23, 2004 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

In Search of…

It is simply not true that the Iraq War siphoned off resources that could have been directed towards finding Bin Laden. And I’m not going to let those lousy Bush-hating pinkos at the Washington Times tell me different.

The Pentagon is moving elements of a supersecret commando unit from Iraq to the Afghanistan theater to step up the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
A Defense Department official said there are two reasons for repositioning parts of Task Force 121: First, most high-value human targets in Iraq, including Saddam Hussein, have been caught or killed. Second, intelligence reports are increasing on the whereabouts of bin Laden, the terror leader behind the September 11 attacks.

Posted on Feb 23, 2004 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Basement Apartment

If anybody’s interested in a large basement apartment in Mount Pleasant, with a separate entrance, free WiFi and Cable–email me at and I may be able to help you out. Put “basement apt.” in the subject line.

Posted on Feb 23, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


Yesterday, C-Span carried a Cato policy forum featuring me, former Congressman Bob Barr, and Professor David Klinger debating the military’s role on the home front in the war on terror. Here’s a link to the forum and one to the paper that inspired it.

Posted on Feb 19, 2004 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Shame is for the Weak

Richard Perle says “heads should roll” over the Iraq invasion. No, not his:

Richard Perle, a chief proponent of last year’s U.S. invasion of Iraq, yesterday called for the chiefs of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency to step down because of their faulty conclusions that Saddam Hussein possessed mass-killing weapons.

Link courtesy Jim Henley.

Posted on Feb 19, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Seeing Calvin Coolidge

Over at Liberty and Power, Jonathan Bean offers an interesting tidbit about Calvin Coolidge, my second favorite president of the 20th century, after Warren G. Harding (I wrote about them here). In his waking hours (he slept 11 hours a day and almost always made time for an afternoon nap) Silent Cal wasn’t silent about racial discrimination. In fact, he was well ahead of his contemporaries on the issue: here’s a letter he wrote to a voter while president:

“My dear Sir: Your letter is received, accompanied by a newspaper clipping which discusses the possibility that a colored man may be the Republican nominee for Congress from one of the New York districts…you say:

‘It is of some concern whether a Negro is allowed to run for Congress anywhere, at any time, in any party, in this, a white man’s country.’

“….I was amazed to receive such a letter. During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it.” [As president, I am] “one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color. I have taken my oath to support that Constitution….”

Yours very truly, etc.

Calvin Coolidge

I also recommend Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream, a weird and charming book by John Derbyshire, a weird and interesting, if not always charming man.

Posted on Feb 16, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

In Defense of Capitalism

Wine in a box. It’s the grown-up’s kegerator.

Posted on Feb 16, 2004 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment