Politics & Policy

Race-Baiters On The March; Corrections and Clarifications


In the last weeks, the Democratic strategy going into the 2000 elections has become clear. It is one of slanders, smears, fear-mongering, and rank partisanship. President Clinton has hurled accusations against the Republicans, calling them racists, traitors, opportunists, and money-grubbers. His administration has made it a plank of their foreign policy to say they are hobbled by isolationist Republicans. This is doubly pernicious, because it politicizes statecraft and it slanders — deliberately — the opponents who disagree on popular issues. Al Gore, who is still SHOUTING EVERYTHING because Intel still hasn’t shipped his inflection chip, is stirring up racial resentment when and where he can.

This topic’s been covered a lot in this space and there aren’t many new points to make. But every day there seems to be new evidence. This morning, Maxine Waters, the woman whom everyone thought incapable of improving on her impeachment hearing record, offered this gem on St. Louis radio: “Senator Ashcroft and Sen. Bond are both racists, have acted in a racist manner, the Republican conference of the U.S. Senate has acted in a racist manner…if it talks like a racist, if it walks like a racist, if it acts like a racist, if it makes decisions like a racist, then it is a racist. That’s what it is.”

And Representative William Clay offered this ditty on Fox News last night: “I don’t know how the voters are gonna play it out. I know how I hope they play it out. I hope they would reject a racist like Ashcroft to serve in the U.S. Senate.”

The Democratic Party from soup to nuts is about racial demagoguery. It is exhausting and disgusting.


Today is that grand day where I admit when I was wrong and explain why some people don’t understand why I’m right (New Readers should read the FAQ sheet). First off, when mocking animal-rights types I referred to “our brother cows…” Well, there’s no such thing. Just sister cows. Not that gender should be relevant among members of the coalition of the oppressed. If a bovine citizen wants to be a he-cow or a she-bull that’s up to “him” or “her.” Second, in my column on Tuesday, many of my most devoted readers and friends missed the reference to Troy McClure and Zinc. Troy McClure of The Simpsons fame was the host of an educational film called, The World Without Zinc. But you may know him from such other educational films as Two Minus Three Equals Negative Fun, Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly or the famed Meat Council film : Meat And You: Partners in Freedom.

Of course, Troy also has an impressive list of credits in action films including, of course, Calling All Quakers (with Dolores Montenegro), Eenie Meeni Miney, Die, Jagged Attraction, The Revenge of Abraham Lincoln, and obviously, Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die. Also, a thorough humanitarian, he has dedicated much of his time to self-help videos such as Get Confident, Stupid! and the seminal Smoke Yourself Thin. If you’re not a Simpsons fan, much of this is going over your head so just be patient for a second or two and this will be over. You can find the comprehensive list of the McClure Oeuvre by clicking here but you have to come right back.

I don’t like to exaggerate or question people’s loyalties but if you don’t think the Simpsons is the funniest thing since something else extremely funny you’re a communist.

On to more serious items. A friend of mine made a strong case that Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s #2, didn’t deserve to be called “woefully under-qualified.” Normally I’d stick with my answer, but he’s pretty sharp and made a thorough case so I’ll cautiously reserve judgement. I do think she got the job because Gore is hungry to stir up black votes (see above) and Brazile is a gut-fighter.

The population column got a big fat response, with most people agreeing. A few people wished that in my discussion of commodity prices and Paul Ehrlich that I had mentioned Julian Simon. Simon died about a year ago and the world lost one of its greatest champions for optimism. I met Simon several times. A few men can be ecstatically joyous about arcane demographic and economic data. But nobody could as infectiously so as he was.

In a famous stunt that environmentalists despise and wish they could erase from the record, Simon wagered Ehrlich that precious items would only be more abundant in the future. Remember, Ehrlich’s theory was that the world would run out of, gosh, what’s the technical phrase? Oh that’s right — everything. So Simon told Ehrlich (and his team of super-smart cronies) you pick any ten natural resources, any ten. In this hypothetical “consumption basket” were a hodgepodge of things — minerals, oil etc — that the doomsdayers were convinced would either disappear or become unbelievably scarce. In 1970 the value of the basket was $1,000. If the value were above $1,000, then Simon would pay Ehrlich the difference. If the price was below $1,000 than Ehrlich would write a check for the amount below a grand. In 1980 not only was the value of the basket around $500, but each and every item in the basket had dropped substantially in price. Ehrlich paid up in 1980.

Many readers were slouching toward Ehrlichness when they refused to believe my statistic that there are 128 million more acres of forest in the United States today than there was in 1920. That statistic comes from A Moment on the Earth: The Coming of Age of Environmental Optimism, by Gregg Easterbrook (though I got the number from a review of the book in Reason magazine in July 1995).

Other items people took exception to was my characterization of Las Vegas as Bill Clintonland. Most of these complaints came from Vegas residents who despise the strip themselves. I plead nolo contendere.

Many people seemed very concerned by my hint that I may be softening on the issue of gay marriage. Without getting into it in detail, my long-standing position has been that marriage is an institution which precedes and exists outside of the state. It is a religious compact whose definition and cultural power are bound up in millennia of tradition. I still believe that, the problem lies in the fact that the State is in the marrying game. My solution would be to get the state out of that business. Alas, that’s not going to happen. Ultimately, the problem with debating gay marriage, euthanasia, and a few other issues is that once you commence debating you’ve lost some of the battle. You get sucked into arguments about public policy and legalisms. In short, it is not a topic easily accessible to purely rational argument. I’ve never been a big fan of pure reason so that doesn’t bother me too much. Anyway, I’m thinking it through.

Quite a few readers were curious about former MTV VJ Kennedy’s ideological status. After all, I made it sound as if I was the only voice of reason at the Spitfire gig at SMSU. The reality is that Kennedy is a self-described libertarian. And it is in that context that the trouble with libertarianism emerges. Without criticizing Kennedy directly (she is very nice, and her topic was Social Security privatization), Libertarianism is largely a cop-out when it comes to the big questions of what kind of society we should live in. Of course Libertarians will respond with all sorts of profound and complex outbursts about “open-ended” systems, individual freedom, etc. etc. And I agree with much of it. But at some level politics is about making real-world judgements about other peoples’ lives. Conservatism respects liberty, even reveres it. But it doesn’t worship it. In a college setting where students believe “rebelling” is the highest value and that authority is without authority, libertarianism is not really a challenge, it is a dodge.

But the most gratifying response was on the issue of animal rights, which was added to yesterday’s column as a throwaway. It seems that many readers agree very strongly with me that the current animal-rights hysteria leaves many animal lovers cold. Although quite a few people also believe that we should clone the woolly mammoth so we can eat it.


I’d like to invite readers to explore the rest of the site. We have lots of new cool stuff up. Starting this weekend, our very own Rich Lowry — who has the glorious distinction of being, among other things, my boss — will be a writing a feature called “World Series Diarist”. Starting Monday we launch Ronald Bailey’s new feature. Ron is one of America’s leading environmental writers and he has edited a new book called Earth Report 2000. Every day we will provide a new factoid that has two benefits. First, it will be absolutely true. Second, it will pierce the conventional wisdom of environmental gloom and doom (sort of like that stat about all those new forests). Also, I will be writing a new piece for “Magazine Arguments” — the rarely exploited feature which provides book reviews of magazine articles. I will be writing about Sam Tanenhaus’s piece in the current Vanity Fair about the “new female conservatism.” All in all, you should hang around.


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