September 3, 2001
Welcome to the first Weekly Muse!
Every week, I scour newspapers, web
sites, magazines, and other sources for stories that interest me, and
tell you what I think of them. Hopefully, you'll be interested and
return for more.
I post the column once a week. I approach each story from a
conservative/libertarian point of view. But I encourage readers of all
political persuasions to read the column and and email
me. I enjoy a lively, friendly debate, and will post any thoughtful,
well-reasoned messages, along with my response.
But enough introduction noise. Let's
The United Nations Conference Against
Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance got
off to a wonderful start. Every group that feels victimized is there,
trying to get something from someone, but the loudest so far have been
the Palestinians and Arabs, who insist that Israel and Zionism are
racist. They're preaching hate against Israel, an ironic twist at a
love-fest devoted to tolerance.
African leaders insist on an apology
for slavery, in addition to reparations, such as yet more foreign aid
and cancellation of their debts. They seem to forget that Africans
participated in the slave trade. It was a trade, after all. Many
Africans received prized goods in exchange for selling out their
countrymen (or, more precisely, members of rival tribes). Like much in
history, slavery and the slave trade were abominable, but hardly unique.
It's been practiced since the dawn of time, by Africans, Asians,
Europeans, etc. It's still practiced in parts of Africa today. Maybe the
U.N. Conference should do something about that.
Netscape founder Jim Clark has
announced that he will withhold a promised $60 million donation to build
a biomedical research center at Stanford University. He blames his lack
of honesty on President Bush, because he (Bush) didn't send taxpayer
money to his (Clark's) favorite line of research (stem cells). Bush
restricted the funding to existing stem cell lines. Clark whined that it
was "futile to to think that private funding can make up what is
being lost to laws driven by conservative politics." So Clark is
picking up his previously promised marbles and going home. And it's the
Socialized medicine means long
waits in Britain
British citizens fortunate enough to
afford to are leaving the country to obtain needed surgery. Chris Davies
waited three years for doctors to clear his blocked arteries, then
decided his life was a wee bit more important and went to Brussels for
the triple bypass. Such long waits for necessary surgery is quite
common. Britain spends $70 billion worth of taxpayer money for such a
convenient, consumer-friendly system.
Mind your manners. Or else.
Beijing Communist dictators have
started a drive to compel its citizens to act a bit more sanitary and
well-mannered, because of the 2008 Olympics. Beijing mayor Liu Qi listed
some of these bad habits, such as grumpy cab drivers, obsessive
swearing, spitting on the sidewalk, and endless jabbering. If you get
caught engaging in such dastardly behavior, you can get fined up to 60
A parking lot attendant who is
authorized to assess these fines blames foreigners. "Most of the
people I catch aren't Beijing folks. And even if Beijingers do those
things, they would say sorry and pay the fine they know it's not good
conduct. But the yokels, they don't even think they've done anything
wrong, and refused to be punished."
There's one more outlawed bad habit.
Insulting migrants. That attendant better watch out.
Burton goes after Ashcroft
Those of you who follow politics know
Republican Dan Burton. He's the chairman of the House Committee on
Government Reform, and he went after Clinton and his numerous scandals
pretty hard. For his efforts, Democrats branded him an evil partisan
thug. Well, he's now threatening to subpoena Attorney General (and
former Republican Senator) John Ashcroft if the AG does not produce
requested documents. Still waiting for the Democrat apology.
Insure against bullies
French companies are offering
insurance against bullying. For about seven bucks a year, you can get
reimbursed if you get your books, shirt, or lunch money stolen, or, even
worse, your cell phone. French parents even shut down several schools
last year, due to bully-related violence. Now, I can understand if
French boys were getting beat up by German girls, but isn't this a bit
ridiculous? The only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him,
and, if necessary, kick his butt. But the French aren't exactly famous
for butt-kicking, are they?
It's quite fashionable to despise the Taliban,
the radical Islamic group that rules Afghanistan, and for good reason.
The Taliban oppress women, destroy ancient cultural artifacts, harbor
terrorists, and force Hindus to wear yellow patches. The Taliban
recently jailed American missionaries for the horrid crime of preaching
Christianity. The sentence for such barbarism is death.
The Taliban should go where all
dictatorships should, the dustbin of history, but it is important to
remember how it got there.
Afghanistan was once on course to
being a modern democratic country, but then the Soviet Union invaded in
1978 and wreaked its usual terror and despotism. After the Soviets
withdrew in 1989 and the puppet communist government fell in 1992, rival
tribes fought for power. Into that vacuum stepped the Taliban, which
took control. Yet another wonderful result of Communist tyranny.
Tax dollars to the dead
The Associated Press reported that $31
million of your tax money was paid by Social Security to dead people.
Think about that the next time a politician claims the government needs
The mighty oak
Say you're a property owner in Santa
Clarita, California. You've got an oak tree on your property you wish to
remove. First, you'll need the city's permission. You could pay up to
$100,000 or be forced to plant trees worth an equivalent amount.
Say you merely want to trim or prune
the tree. Since the city obviously does not want anyone chopping down
any oak trees, they must make convenient to maintain those same trees.
You obviously don't think like a city bureaucrat. The trimming permit
will cost you $200, plus a $500 deposit; an arborist's report runs $150,
with a $400 fee for supervising the cutting, plus a possible $800 fee
for someone else to trim the tree. May as well let the tree rot!
There's a word for such an incoherent
policy: stupid. But beyond that, cities like Santa Clarita (and there
are dozens in California) who pass and enforce such ordinances obviously
have little respect for freedom and private property. They feel they can
barge onto your own land and tell you how to care for it. They know
best. They claim they're protecting the oak tree. They care more about a
tree than your freedoms and human rights.
I hope you vote them out the next
chance you get.