Monthly Archives: December 2003

Why the Aztecs?

The Aztecs figure prominently among the primitive cultures reviewed by UCLA anthropologist Robert Edgerton in his brilliant 1992 book Sick Societies. Edgerton concisely describes in a few devastating pages the fundamental practices of human sacrifice and cannibalism that were the hallmarks of Aztec royalty. Edgerton also characterizes the Aztec Empire as an extreme example of the success a small elite had in using religion and military power to defeat neighboring »

The Dems Get Personal

The folks over at Kicking Ass, “blogging” under the auspices of the Democratic National Committee, aren’t happy that we and others are keeping an eye on them. Here is an exchange from this morning: “This is hilarious, in a sick way. Powerline has launched a follow-up assault on the posters of this blog based on ridicule. That follows our previous discussion about the motive of some factions in this country »

Ridicule Comes to the Archbishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, is a disgrace. Today he was vivisected (the word comes to mind, I guess, because I just read the Trunk’s post on the Aztecs) by the Telegraph in a piece titled “An Unworthy Archbishop.” After detailing Williams’s sad history of political correctness and soft-left posturing, the Telegraph turns to the subject of terrorism: “On Christmas Day the Pope appealed to God to rid »

Celebrating the Aztecs

This morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune features one of the over-the-top exercises in political correctness that have made it a national laughingstock. Today the paper celebrates not just Minnesota’s burgeoning Mexican population, but the Mexicans’ observance of their Aztec roots: “Mexican roots, Minnesota homes.” The story puts a benign face on a fabricated pagan ritual bizarrely at odds with the authentic tradition to which it alludes. Here’s how the story opens, »

The Post On Howard Dean

In my view, the Washington Post is the most responsible voice of the Democratic Party. So when it takes a hard look at Howard Dean, the Post is worth listening to. This morning the paper has no fewer than three major pieces on Dean’s candidacy. The first is an editorial, “Assessing Mr. Dean.” The Post’s assessment is less than enthusiastic: “[W]e are troubled by aspects of Mr. Dean’s character and »

Religious Revival In Europe?

Christianity has seemingly been dying out in Europe (especially Western Europe) for a couple of generations now. The fact that America remains religious, even as Europe has given up its traditional faiths, has been widely identified as a fundamental cause of the cultural and political differences between this country and the Europeans. This UPI report, which begins with a description of the return of the Latin mass to rural and »

Still Alive and Kicking

Our readers were right; the DNC’s “blog” Kicking Ass is back in business. A post last night linking to Power Line elicited these comments: “Under the new comments post, Nick posted at 9:37PM a link to what was said about the shutdown of this blog for awhile. “The post listed some of the trolls posts, wonder why they didn’t post the trashy posts??? no truth in trolls.” Posted by Madalyn »

The worldly uses of literature

The Sunday Boston Globe’s Ideas section carries an interesting article on the influence of the currents of literary analysis taught at Yale on the work of the CIA and its institutional precursor: “School for spies.” According to the author of the article, “Yale’s literature specialists played a key role in shaping the agency’s thinking. Mole-hunter James Jesus Angleton, the most controversial figure in CIA history, began his career as an »

Aesthetic Value, Mainly

I cruise Yahoo News Photos most days looking for striking or newsworthy images. Sometimes there are pictures so beautiful that I can’t resist sharing them (the recent Miss World competition comes to mind). This shot of a balloon vendor in Kabul is lovely, I think. There may be a moral here; balloons were illegal under the Taliban, I suppose. But the photo’s aesthetic value is what really struck me. »

Lost (and found) in translation

Bret Stephens of the Jerusalem Post has an extremely thoughtful year-end wrap-up reflecting on the strained relationship between the United States and the Axis of Weasels: “Lost in translation.” Stephens’s perspective in the piece has the large view of a Victor Davis Hanson column with a bit of an Israeli twist. Stephens’s column is long and hard to excerpt, but here’s a chunk from the heart of the piece: “America »

Howard Dean, Man of the People

Howard Dean has had a rough couple of weeks; tomorrow’s New York Times tries to shore him up with a puff piece by Rick Lyman. A puff piece, but a weird one. Lyman seems obsessed by the burning question of how “blueblooded” Dean’s Park Avenue family really was. “No question, Dr. Dean’s blueblood credentials are impeccable. But even in prep school he struck classmates as unpretentious and not materialistic. ‘He »

Kicking Ass, RIP

The Democratic National Committee, as part of its official website, set up a blog called “Kicking Ass.” From the beginning, the blog was problematic. It was, in reality, a message board rather than a blog, and the quality of the messages was, to put it mildly, low. Power Line and many other sites had fun at the posters’ expense. Kicking Ass was also occasionally frequented by Republicans, whose posts defending »

Q. E. D.

Yesterday hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated against Israel’s security fence. They are shown below, throwing rocks and bottles, burning tires, and so on. The demonstrators were trying to make the point that the fence is nothing but a land grab, and isn’t needed by Israel to defend itself against them. Who said the age of irony is over? »

Howard Dean: The Goldberg variation?

George Will devotes his Sunday column to a timely consideration of Howard Dean. Will’s column was evidently written before we had Dean’s musings on Osama bin Laden to chew on, although they would only add evidence to support his thesis. Will postulates a certain similarity between Arthur Goldberg and Howard Dean. I don’t know about that — it seems a little unfair to Arthur Goldberg — but it’s an interesting »

What made Sammy run?

I was born in 1951 and don’t recall a time when Sammy Davis was not a celebrity along with the rest of the Rat Pack. Although I learned as a teenager that he had overcome obstacles galore on his way to the top — I read his memorable autobiography, Yes I Can — the story stopped with his marriage to May Britt, before he became something of a laughingstock, and »

Dean: Bin Laden Is “Outrageous”

Moving to stop the bleeding from his interview with the Concord Monitor–see the Trunk’s post below–Howard Dean has issued another clarification in an interview with the Associated Press: “In that interview, Dean was quoted as saying, ‘I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to »

Today Lee; Tomorrow Washington

The Associated Press reports on the ongoing battle over school names in the South, as activists attempt to remove the names of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and others from public schools: “‘If it had been up to Robert E. Lee, these kids wouldn’t be going to school as they are today,’ said civil rights leader Julian Bond, now a history professor at the University of Virginia. ‘They can’t help »