Posted on March 8, 2002


Cranial Tumbleweeds

Zimbabwe, Paula Jones, Olympic hockey, etc.


Daniel Clark



* As long as Americans are rediscovering the concept of evil, we would be remiss if we didn't direct some of our attention toward Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has tried to cling to power through violence and intimidation of political opponents. He's even disrupted the campaign of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai by having him jailed on trumped-up conspiracy charges, within two weeks of election day. Even if all his tactics fail, and he loses the March 10th vote, he is clearly not going to go quietly. The once-popular Mugabe has been made vulnerable by economic troubles of his own creation. His "land reform" program consists of driving white farmers from their land -- often by killing them -- and "redistributing" the land to his own political henchmen. The predictable result has been food shortages, which before much longer are likely to become a full-blown famine. We can expect that the chattering classes will then fault developed Western nations for consuming more than their "fair share" of the world's resources. If the West follows its usual misguided pattern, it will respond by pouring tens of millions of dollars of aid into Mugabe's pocket, as he methodically starves his own people into submission.

* Just when you think that prime time TV couldn't possibly get any more depraved, the Fox network comes up with the idea of "Celebrity Boxing." The feature bout on their March 13th card pits Tonya Harding against Paula Jones. Also fighting will be Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams, better known as Danny Partridge and Greg Brady. The participation of Jones, the former Clinton harassee and telephone psychic, is sure to lead Clinton loyalists to conclude that their man is vindicated. After all, Jones had justified her lawsuit against him with concerns about defending her reputation, yet now she's voluntarily made herself into a circus freak. Her motivation aside, however, her version of the events that took place in the Excelsior Hotel was borne out by the facts, as Clinton acknowledged by settling the case. Jones' antics since that time only add to Clinton's shame, by showing him to be the kind of man who would approach such a woman with a come-on so crude that it repulses even her.

* In that Fox freakshow, Jones is a late replacement for Amy Fisher, who has withdrawn without explanation. With Mike Tyson's sociopathic behavior barring him from fighting in most states, what made Fisher any more acceptable? Even Iron Mike has never yet gone as far as shooting a woman in the face.

* In a truly just society, the authorities wouldn't forbid Tyson from fighting Lennox Lewis; they'd sentence him to it.

* As ridiculous as the Harding-Jones bout is, it can't possibly be any stupider an event than Leila Ali vs. Jacqui Frazier.

* During the Olympics, there was hardly a commentator anywhere who didn't remark that the quality of play in the NHL would improve if they would adopt the international rules, including the widening of the ice surface from 85 feet to 100. This is supposed to open the game up offensively, producing more goals and making defensive formations like the neutral-zone trap and the left-wing lock less effective. Anyone who believes that should take another look at the numbers. Heading into the Olympic break, NHL games averaged 5.1 goals between both teams. The increased scoring in the Olympics was due entirely to poor defense and goaltending by lesser teams like Latvia and Switzerland. In games among the six traditional powers whose teams were comprised mostly of NHL players (the U.S., Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic), the average fell to 4.6 goals per game.

* NHL critics forget to note also that the neutral-zone trap was invented by the Swedes, and used on the larger European ice surface long before it was imported to North America. The left-wing lock was employed by Czech Republic coach Ivan Hlinka to win the gold medal in the '98 Olympics, where his team defeated Russia 1-0 in the final, and gave up just six goals in as many games throughout the tournament.

* The real reason the Olympic games are more exciting is that the whole event is essentially a playoff. A mid-December game between the Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes may not seem very captivating, but neither would an early-season Russia-Sweden game, if those teams played an 82-game schedule.

* The '87 Canada Cup and the '96 World Cup, both played by international teams on the narrower North American surface, were far better tournaments than any of the three Olympic events played since professionals have been allowed to participate.

* If a vegetarian is somebody who eats vegetables, then why is it considered an admirable thing to be a humanitarian?

* Has it occurred to any feminists that Andrea Yates' temporary insanity defense sounds a little like the old machismo laws once observed in most Latin American countries, which excused men for killing their wives if they thought they'd been unfaithful?

* For all the lip service they give Black History Month, public schools will never give it serious treatment as an academic pursuit, because doing so would tear apart their delicately cultivated mythology, which casts the Democrats -- the party of George Wallace, Orval Faubus and Bull Connor -- as the heroes of the civil rights era.

* News reports having to do with the drug "ecstasy" should not refer to it by that name. Its actual title is "Methylenedioxymethamphetamine," which is somehow abbreviated as MDMA. No teenager in America would be more curious to try something called MDMA than something called ecstasy.

* With all the grief we've given the French over Jerry Lewis, how in the world are we ever going to live down the apparent popularity of Carrot Top?

* When you say you respect somebody's opinion, that really only means that you respect that person. An opinion has to earn respect of its own, apart from its source. For example, the opinion that a right to abortion exists in the Constitution is no more respectable coming from a justice of the Supreme Court than it is when it comes from, say, Cher.

* Senators Tom Daschle (D, S.D.) and Robert Byrd (D, W.Va.) have recently complained that the war isn't ending soon enough for their liking. They must have loved Bill Clinton's responses to terrorism, none of which took very much time at all.

* When Daschle was a kid, he probably wrote letters to Santa Claus asking for closure.

* The proper response to the hunger striking captives at Guantanamo Bay would be to let them starve. The entire point of a strike is to deprive the opposing party of something it wants or needs. We don't have anything to gain by keeping these people alive, so why should we respond to their decision not to eat as if it were a threat? We've already capitulated to their demand that they be allowed to wear turbans, which they'd rightly been denied out of concern that they could be used for smuggling. Still, the hunger strikers persist. Not only should no extraordinary measures be taken to persuade them to eat, but worse things could happen than if they began unraveling those turbans and using them the way a prisoner might use his belt and shoelaces.

* It speaks well of our national anthem that so many of the aging hippies who complain that it's an ugly song don't mind subjecting themselves to Janis Joplin's rhinoceros mating calls or Barry McGuire's sand-gargling.

* If anybody else from the European Union criticizes President Bush for acting unilaterally in conducting the war, Bush should respond by asking him how the Milosevic trial is going.

* In his new book, Death of the West, Pat Buchanan worries about the decline in reproductive replacement rates throughout Europe, and speculates about its ramifications to the future of Western civilization. If he could go back and erase every reference to "Europeans" and instead pencil in "sucker fish," he'd never be called an extremist again.

* John Ashcroft has taken a lot of flak about the covering of two bare-breasted statues in the Great Hall of the Justice Department. The real outrage, though, is that the statues were produced as part of a public arts project during the Great Depression. In bad economic times, presidents Kennedy, Reagan and G.W. Bush have cut taxes, but FDR's solution was to spend the taxpayers' money so that his cabinet officials would have little naked people to look at.

* The Democrats' strategy of accusing all their enemies of racism may finally be starting to backfire. One of the reasons it has been successful up until now is that it puts the accused in the position of having to prove a negative. To their frustration, Judge Charles Pickering has been able to do just that. As a result, it's plain for anyone to see that the charge had nothing to do with Pickering himself, but that the smear machine he walked into had been set up before he'd even been appointed. This is the second time during this administration that the Democrats have cried wolf, the first being at the Ashcroft hearings. By the third time, even some members of their own party will stop listening.

* This doesn't necessarily mean that W's first Supreme Court appointee will derive any benefit from the Democrats' tactical blunder; it just means that they'll have to try a different approach. As they showed during their unfounded attacks on Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, they can be pretty creative.

* While the Democrats' attacks against Republican appointees are sleazy, at least they show a willingness by that party to stand up for itself. This isn't to suggest that Republicans should likewise have slandered justices Ginsberg and Breyer, but they could at least have raised objections to those judges' willingness to subordinate the Constitution to court precedent. Instead, they adhered to an unwritten rule that says that the president has a right to have his nominees confirmed. When will they learn that their enemies don't follow the rules, unwritten or otherwise?

* Astronomers have recently declared that the color of the universe is beige. Just thought you'd want to know about it before you did anything embarrassing, like wearing brown shoes or something.

* Next time some Clinton apologist goes on TV and says, "There's no there there," the host should reply, "Ah, but is there is there?" That'll short-circuit a synapse or two.



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