Politics & Policy


A few loose ends.

Next to Uday Hussein’s deservedly mangled corpse, they found his briefcase. Inside that they found a stash of painkillers, several bottles of cologne, Viagra, some unopened packs of men’s underwear, some dress shirts, a silk tie, and, according to Newsweek, a single condom. There’s got to be some moral to this story. Even as U.S. Commandos were chasing him, here was Uday carrying protective gear to protect the only weapon of mass destruction he really cared about from biological counterattack. One almost wishes Bill Murray’s character in Stripes could have been the first soldier on the scene so he could take a look at Uday’s “shack pack” and say, “Oh, Lee Harvey, too bad I couldn’t party with you.”

This is just one of the many issues I wish I’d had more time to write about this summer. Alas, I’m leaving next week for a fishing trip in Alaska and then, upon my return, I’m going snipe hunting in Maine with the whole family. I’m told we’ve rented the best snipe-hunting lodge in the whole state. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to simply clear the air here on a few issues. If you want to call this writing blog-style, that’s fine by me.

Now, it should be no surprise that Uday was keeping hope alive until he was dead on the issue of making a love connection. Many an Iraqi filly sports his brand — literally: Uday liked to have sex with other men’s girlfriends and wives and then brand the girls with the letter U when he was done. But why the prophylactic? It kind of reminds me of that “Bad Idea Jeans” commercial from Saturday Night Live, “So I was gonna use a condom with her, but then I figured, ‘When’s the next time I’m going to be in Haiti?”

Anyway, the fact that Uday was lookin’ for love on the run shouldn’t surprise anybody who’s read about this study, which purports to prove that men are randier than women. Not only is it the default position of men to want to make the bowmp-bowmp-ditty-bowmp-bowmp music more often and with more partners than women do, it is actually the default position of all humans to understand that this is so. In others words, to be surprised by this study you have to have your common sense scrubbed away and replaced with a fresh coating of ideology.

The Post story cites the same objections always made by cultural determinists and feminists whenever the subject of human nature being “hard wired” comes up. I, like pretty much everyone else, believe it’s a matter of both/and, not either/or, when it comes to the increasingly tiresome nature-versus-nurture debate. And I do think evolutionary psychology is over-applied sometimes. But, if it’s true that these findings — that men have stronger mojos than women — are true in every culture in which they’re scientifically tested, then the culture-is-everything crowd has lost again. Much feminist and sociological claptrap is still tainted by Margaret Mead’s “research,” which supposedly showed that gender and sex roles vary greatly from culture to culture and so disproved the notion that there is any “hard wiring.” Unfortunately, Mead made up some aspects of her research and was duped into believing others. So, if studies like this keep demonstrating that cultures are relatively uniform when it comes to sex and gender, it will become harder and harder for feminists to speak wistfully of matriarchal societies where women take out the garbage and spend their weekends eating buffalo wings on the couch, and men take care of the children and read Vogue.

In fact, I’m losing my patience with people — liberals and conservatives alike — who look overseas to make arguments about how things should be done here at home. A few weeks ago, I debated a lesbian writer about gay marriage and she kept telling the NPR listeners, “Europe is way ahead of us on these issues.” Democrats constantly talk about how Canada is “much more progressive” about health care. Who cares? The idea that Europe is ahead of us on the road to enlightenment is something only Eurocrats, fools, and “progressives” believe. If Europe jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would we be “lagging behind” Europe? America was founded to be something different, and it is something different. When people say Europe is more advanced than we are, they do it to leapfrog an argument they can’t win on the merits. So, sure, the Swedes provide more economic security than we do — but they also live like Swedes. That’s cool, but you still need to persuade me why we’d be better off living like them.

And speaking of offering unneeded advice about how to run a country, Amr Moussa, the general secretary of the Arab League, has as much business lecturing the United States on how to create a more “representative” Iraqi government as he does telling us about the proper allocation of vowels in first names. This week, Moussa insisted again that the Iraqi governing council isn’t sufficiently reflective of the Iraqi people (the council sports 25 members from every region, religion, and ethnicity in the country). This is the same guy who swore “the gates of Hell” would swing wide if we toppled Saddam Hussein, a one-man regime who represented no one except those who think the old British Navy’s motto of rum, buggery, and the lash should be made alcohol-free and applied to Iraq. Moussa’s own country — Egypt — has been election-free for, well, ever. In fact, with a couple quibbling exceptions — i.e., Bahrain and Kuwait — the Arab League is a simply a club for crapulent dictators, robed monarchs, and corrupt bureaucrats who see nothing wrong with oppressing and brutalizing Arabs and Muslims so long as it’s Arabs and Muslims doing the brutalizing.

And while we’re on the subject of brutalizing Arabs and Muslims, the inspector general of the Department of Justice has released a study of over 1,000 complaints filed against the Patriot Act. Of course, it should come as a surprise to no one that there is a widespread, knee-jerk desire among many liberals and libertarians to make the Patriot Act into something profoundly evil and dangerous — i.e., into something it’s not.

This story wasn’t technically very helpful to the anti-Patriot Act cause, but that didn’t stop the usual chorus from their usual propagandizing. The New York Times carried a front-page headline: “Report On U.S. Antiterrorism Law Alleges Violations of Civil Rights.” The story begins: “A report by internal investigators at the Justice Department has identified dozens of recent cases in which department employees have been accused of serious civil rights and civil liberties violations involving enforcement of the sweeping federal antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act.”

Now, the Times was right that there were “dozens” of cases, insofar as two dozen allows one to pluralize “dozen,” but there still weren’t quite three dozen cases. Of the 1,073 complaints, 272 were deemed worth looking into and, of those, a mere 34 were deemed “credible” — which, as David Tell of The Weekly Standard notes, is not the same as “true.” But even if they are true, it’s hard to see how the Patriot Act itself is to blame. Here are some of the alleged offenses: A federal prison worker admitted he verbally abused an inmate, “ordering him to remove his shirt so that the officer could use it to shine his shoes”; an INS official allegedly asked a detainee if he “wanted to kill Christians and Jews”; a prison doctor said to an inmate, “If I was in charge, I would execute every one of you… because of the crimes you all did.” Yes, there are some charges that are worse. For example, one inmate alleges that an immigration official “held a loaded gun to an alien detainee’s head.”

And let’s all agree that this is all bad stuff and worth disciplining someone for if true — especially if the “detainees” in question were decent guys being wrongly held. But, um, last I checked, the Patriot Act didn’t authorize prison guards to say mean things to detainees. And at the end of the day, a great many of these cases are simply instances of low-ranking officials saying un-nice things. I’m all against un-niceness, I suppose. But am I supposed to believe that if the Democratic leadership of the House, in consultation with Bob Barr and Dick Armey, had written the counterterrorism legislation after 9/11, all prison guards would have been transformed into June Cleavers and every detainee would have gotten a glass of milk and some cookies?

Anyway, I’m done for now. I’ll be in touch in The Corner and I have some exciting announcements coming down the pike. If you have any good snipe recipes, send ‘em along.

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