Politics & Policy

The Week That Was; Stop That Beaver; It’s a Small Forest, After All; Corrections & Clarifications Vendredi


It’s been an interesting week. The Premier of China says that he couldn’t have stolen nuclear secrets from us because our security is so good. That’s like a kid saying to his Dad, “Hey, I couldn’t have seen your copy of Playboy. It’s hidden in your study underneath all of the National Geographics.” The New York Times has reported that there may have been Chinese espionage going on under Clinton’s watch — a direct refutation of President Clinton’s previous statements. Even if Clinton was kept in the dark, it seems that National Security Adviser Sandy Berger moved on the information with all the urgency of an arsonist calling the fire department.


A beaver has been destroying our beloved cherry trees in Washington, D.C.. The National Park Service, the National Zoo, and various wildlife organizations have been called in to try to “humanely” trap the varmint. But after a week of looking like Dick Dastardly in Stop That Pigeon, our guys can’t do it. And yet, every newspaper and news program seems perfectly capable of snapping pictures of the critter(s).

Whether or not the shutterbugs are shooting the right beaver, clearly there are beavers available for rounding up and questioning. The pictures in the press are of the creatures trolling the waters around the scene of the crime. Last time I checked, beavers don’t have Miranda rights. I’m not calling for ethnic cleansing of the beavers. But we could certainly put the beavers in camps for a while.


When it comes to deforestation, the Cherry Trees v. Beavers tale is a retail “color” story from the nation’s capital. The real news this week is the rate of wholesale deforestation of the Amazon basin. Apparently we’re losing the rainforest at twice the rate we had thought, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. This provides me the opportunity to wax Swiftian and offer my modest proposal for saving the rainforest.

I have a two-point plan. First, pursue biotechnology with a passion. The more productive current farmland is, the less need to clear-cut forests for new farm land. To date I have received no funds from Archer Daniels Midland. Second, and here’s the fun one, sell the rainforest to Disney.

We sell licensing rights to companies to develop oil, natural gas, diamonds, plutonium, fossilized guano, etc. Why can’t a company buy the right to sell tours of a natural wonder? They could shop out the biotechnology rights to ADM (Where is my check?) or Pfizer. But Disney could run tours for people from all over the world. Various packages could range from “roughing it” — where you travel by flimsy canoe and live off the land — to the Jonah tour — where you never get out of the hermetically sealed air-conditioned Hovercraft with wet bar and TV.

The tours may not, of themselves, prove profitable for Disney to want to do it, but I am sure that tax incentives and good publicity could make it worthwhile. After all, Disney is becoming an incredibly liberal company anyway; I bet some of the Mouseketeers would do it for political reasons alone. The Left basically wants the “indigenous peoples” to stay frozen in time somewhere around the Bronze Age anyway. While the Left tries to purge every last “Eurocentric, sexist” tradition from Western society, they delight in the notion that these tribesman can live in a Rousseauian state of nature. Who cares if they eat unwanted children and believe a leech a day keeps the witch doctor away? They’re so damned quaint. Well, if we want a living museum of humans, who better for that job than the people who brought us the Epcot Center?


This has been a fantastic week for Corrections and Clarifications. I have received scores of letters from very angry Goths, making me feel a little like the last Roman Emperor. While the letters from the Goths have ranged from polite to putrescent, the common denominator is my apparent total ignorance of the issue. Curiously, many people want to compare me to Jenny Jones, the daytime talk-show host. She does a number of shows about moms whose kids have “gone Goth” or some such. I assume this is why people are comparing me to Jones, rather than on the belief that my breast implants have gone awry.

Anyway, I did get a few things wrong, although it seemed to me that one didn’t need a degree in post-modern deconstruction from Duke to deduce from what I wrote that I was fully willing to concede my blissful ignorance on the topic. Nevertheless, the reason so many Goths were in New Orleans when I was there was because there was a Goth convention going on called “Convergence V” or something. It should be pointed out that numerous New Orleans residents wrote me to say that the Goths are a year-round problem. But clearly the numbers were disproportionate in N’awlins when I was there. Also, I might have refrained from saying all Goth women are boastfully fat. That wasn’t very nice, and it is also probably not true.

But on my central assertion — that Goths want to be judged — I stand firm. Many Goths — who seem to lurk on the web — have written me some eloquent essays on what it means to be Goth. There are all sorts of elegant phrases about “rejecting societal norms,” “embracing the extreme,” and the like. I must say, I would probably like some of these people if I got to know them. Nevertheless, I think their arguments are either bunk or naïve. The essence of their position seems to be that by cultivating an extreme appearance — face paint, fangs, black clothes, and other components of Vampire chic — they are in fact rejecting any stereotypes about appearances. Therefore, the desired effect is not for me to think they are freaks but for me to realize that wearing button-down shirts is the real fad. In short, they can judge me because I dress like a member of the conventional human herd, but I should not judge them because they are rejecting such superficial notions.

While that may be very interesting and it may provide a comfortable ideological excuse for wearing black panties outside of your fishnet hosiery, it’s sophomoric thinking. You cannot say “Hey, man, I reject your white, male, meat-eating, Judeo-Christian norms with my shocking appearance” and then be offended when some of us are, I don’t know, shocked by your appearance. One does not make refined arguments with nipple rings. And please, spare me the “you just don’t get it” crap. I get it. I just think it’s dumb. If all of you are expressing your individuality, how come you all look alike?

Besides, you cannot make blunt statements and expect people to have refined interpretations. For example, I knew someone in college who used to wear a black armband to show his “solidarity” with Castro’s stance against the U.S. He thought this was very clever and that it gave him a political air when he sat alone at keggers, smoking cigarettes. One day a friend of mine found out what the armband stood for and wanted to kill the guy. You see, Castro had stolen his dad’s home and killed some relatives of his. One man’s “this’ll-get-me-laid armband” is another man’s spit-on-a-grave. Being cute with crucifixes and the like is pretty offensive to some people. And for good reason.

Ultimately, playing dress-up as an excuse for poorly formed critiques of the “majority” culture is juvenile. The “norm” of the majority culture, as you call it, is actually called “Western Civilization.” If you don’t like Western Civilization, well, then you’re either a fool, fraud, or fiend. And if you’ve got ideas, make arguments not handbags — that’s what civilization is all about. Last time I checked, Marcuse, Nietzsche, Heidegger, et. al., didn’t need to use anything but their minds, mouths, and pens to make all of the points you people have made to me, and they certainly didn’t wear black eyeliner.

As we know from Wayne’s World, it was either Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said, “If you define me you negate me.” If you wear your arguments on your sleeve, you’re going to get defined awfully damned fast.

Anyway, I have more views on this but I haven’t the foggiest whether other readers want to be part of this argument.

So, on to the other corrections. I said the Babyboom began in 1961. Many people wrote to correct me that the BB began in ’64. To be honest, I knew whichever date I used I’d get grief from someone. No one has ever settled the exact dates of the Babyboom. It is one of these incredibly boring statistical arguments you find in wonk circles, like the discrepancy between Uniform Crime Reports and Victimization Surveys or whether or not Spock was logical in the original pilot of Star Trek. So, I just went with the definition in my desktop dictionary, which says 1961.

What else? Oh, yeah. I said the CBS television show was Saved By An Angel rather than Touched By An Angel. That was a deliberate mistake to see if ANYBODY watches CBS. Three people do.

And, well, that’s it for this week. One tip to my Sci-Fi fans out there. Matrix is, with all of its sundry faults, the best Sci-Fi movie to come out in the last few years. I recommend it. Even though I hate Keannu Reeves.


The Jonah Poll What best describes your feelings about U.S. intervention in Kosovo?

Huge Mistake, Get Out Now

Huge Mistake, But Finish the Job

Right Idea, Bad Implementation

Right Idea, Right Way


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