Monday, December 20, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: The Love is Free and the Freeway's Long.

The Daily Mayhem: Iraq Edition Bomb attacks in the heavily Shi'ite cities of Karbala and Najaf have left at least 60 dead and more than 120 wounded, while gunmen in Baghdad assassinated three top election officials who were making preparations for next month's scheduled vote. The violence shows an increasing division in the country between Shi'ites, who strongly support the vote, and Sunnis, who do not.

Saving Christmas...From Capitalism You've no doubt noticed the intense right wing crusade this year to "save Christmas" from trial lawyers and PC bureaucrats. But a fairly notable religious figure thinks the real menace to Advent isn't from overzealous grade school principals, but rather from our friends the capitalists. Pope John Paul II has warned that materialism is "suffocating" Christmas, and admonished Christians to keep the imagery of the Nativity at the center of their holiday devotions. What will Bill O'Reilly say?

This Year's "Have You Forgotten" Here's a sordid little tale in the Nashville paper about a deal by which the members of the fan club of country singer Chely Wright have goosed airplay and sales for her patriotic song by a well-orchestrated campaign of calling radio stations and pretending to be in the military. The song, which I'm sure is a corker, is called "The Bumper of My SUV" and it's the second-fastest selling country single in America. At any rate, the story's more valuable as a sad glimpse into the world of fading country stars than anything else.

Why People Don't Like Liberals, Part 265,189 Okay, some Christian church in Colorado Springs pays the local paper $36,000 to print the entire New Testament as an ad insert. Who cares, right? Oh, no, so wrong. Liberals care. Liberals care a lot, and they're really upset about this huge imposition on their freedom and their wall of separation and everything else that liberals love. Not only is a private company taking money to print an ad a terrible assault on the liberties we all cherish, but that money could be put to better use: people who never attend church and who despise Christians sure have a lot of ideas about how churches should spent their money. To get the full effect, you really have to read the comments, like this one: "Religion is a personal matter; one can read specialized books for that.One shouldn't be allowed to impose any religion on a general newspaper : it is a lack of respect for people having a different religion, or having no religion at all." Or, as Monty Python once put it, "Help, help, I'm being repressed!"

Chapter 11: Graveyard of Empire Here's an interesting analysis of Bin Laden's latest message from the AP. Basically, it argues that Bin Laden's strategy is to lure the U.S. into financial insolvency, as he believes the war in Afghanistan did to the Soviets in the 1980s. This is a fascinating analysis, because the basic conservative interpretation of the collapse of the Soviets is that we forced them to go bankrupt by pumping up the arms race. I don't accept that conclusion for a couple of reasons, but I think it's possible that the war in Iraq and the war on terror, combined with Bush's ruinous tax cuts and the massively expensive privatization of Social Security, could cause a genuine economic crisis in the U.S. Bin Laden, the conqueror?

- Consider Arms