Things get worse in Iran…but for how long?

I am old enough to remember the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and how a group of backward, medieval Islamists condemned the Iranian people to four decades of misery. 

Things might have worked out differently. Iran in the late 1970s, prior to the Islamic Revolution, was on the way to becoming a modern, fully industrialized country. One of my former colleagues worked for Bell Helicopter in Tehran in 1977 and 1978. He had mostly good things to say about his experiences there. 

Under the mullahs, though, Iran has been an economic basket-case and an international pariah. Continue reading “Things get worse in Iran…but for how long?”

The Qataris are not impressed

The World Cup is presently underway in Qatar.

As I noted previously, the Western media has discovered that Qatar is a rich oil sheikdom with laws and social mores straight out of seventh-century Arabia. The Western media has repeatedly pointed out that, golly gee, Qatar isn’t much like France, Sweden, or the United States. 

Qatar is not even much like Red State America, much as progressives on MSNBC like to whine about the “Christian Taliban” in Trump Country. 

While folks in Trump Country might not embrace gay marriage and drag shows for second graders (I feel creepy even typing that last phrase), no one in the American South is proposing that gays be locked up and beaten…along with adulterers. 

Welcome to Qatar! Where—oh, by the way, you can’t drink alcohol, either. And ladies, put those midriff-exposing tops away. Try this nice burqa on for size. The burqa is available in either black or brown. Take your pick! Continue reading “The Qataris are not impressed”

The GOP and the Respect for Marriage Act

As I recently noted, the GOP performed miserably in the 2022 midterms because of a.) Trump, and b.) culture-war issues (specifically, abortion). 

The Republicans’ 2022 strategy—digging in their heels on both abortion and Trump—went against both public opinion polls, and the 1994 GOP playbook. (In the 1994 midterms, under President Bill Clinton, the GOP took back both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Now that was a red wave.)

Which brings us to the Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act would bring about the federal recognition of same-sex marriage. This would prevent socially conservative state legislatures from invalidating same-sex marriage at the state and local levels.

To state the conclusion from the outset, I believe that Republican lawmakers should support the so-called Respect for Marriage Act…though my reasons are not as politically correct as some of you might think.  Continue reading “The GOP and the Respect for Marriage Act”

Another Gen Z mass shooting:
some necessary but unasked questions

We are only beginning to learn about Anderson Lee Aldrich, the 22-year-old whackjob who shot up a gay nightclub in Colorado over the weekend, killing at least five.

But we know, by now, how these things go. They have become predictable. After all, there is a new headline about an under-30 mass shooter practically every month nowadays.

Aldrich will doubtless turn out to be a young man with no girlfriend, who is awkward around girls. He might be a self-identified “incel”. Aldrich will have no pressing problems, as such, but a psychological evaluation will show that he was unable to cope with life’s daily pressures. (Ya think?)

We’ll learn that Aldrich was “radicalized by online hate speech”. Because, of course, if you read something online, you absolutely must act on it. Twenty-two simply isn’t old enough to discern otherwise.

So the first thing we’ll need to do is clamp down on social media. Appoint another committee to study the problem. 

And as for guns: the White House has already made a renewed call for an assault weapons ban. 

I don’t mean to be glib here. But there is something wrong with the idea that otherwise sane and well-adjusted young men can be turned into mass murderers by something so peripheral as social media. Ditto the notion that mass shootings must inevitably occur simply because guns are available. Continue reading “Another Gen Z mass shooting:
some necessary but unasked questions”

Yes, Qatar is a human rights hellhole

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is upset that you’re upset about human rights abuses in Qatar. The World Cup is about to open in this small Arab sheikdom, and the FIFA president wants people to stop kvetching about what a bad place Qatar is. 

Infantino even resorted to classic whataboutism at a recent press conference: “What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons.”

The difference, of course, is that western nations constantly flagellate themselves over their long-ago sins, both real and imagined. Self-reflection, as a cultural practice, has yet to reach the Muslim Middle East in any big way. Continue reading “Yes, Qatar is a human rights hellhole”

Elizabeth Holmes and the forgotten patients

It was not so long ago that Elizabeth Holmes was the media’s favorite wunderkind. Born in 1984, she seemed to represent the best of the Millennial generation. Holmes was a young woman who was whip-smart, excelled at science, and she was a billionaire. She was the CEO of Theranos, a start-up company that promised to revolutionize blood testing. 

Then it all came crashing down, and we discovered that it was a colossal fraud from the get-go.

The case against Holmes has focused on the defrauding of investors. Holmes was, indeed, guilty of that, and that’s bad enough. But there’s more.

While this never became a medical disaster on the scale of Thalidomide, numerous patients were given false test results—for pregnancy, HIV, and other life-changing diagnoses. 

If you’ve ever had one of those heart-wrenching appointments with a doctor yourself, or been through it with a relative, you’ll appreciate the sheer evil of the deceit perpetrated here.

It baffles the mind, then, that Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), among others, is pleading for clemency for Holmes, who has been sentenced to 11+ years in prison.  Continue reading “Elizabeth Holmes and the forgotten patients”

Can Trump sink the GOP in 2024, too?

Or will GOP voters finally wise up?

Donald Trump, announcing his plans to run for POTUS in 2024

Last week the Republican Party performed pitifully in the midterm elections. The midterms should have been a cakewalk for the GOP, given the sad joke that is the Biden presidency. 

I remember the “red wave” of 1994, when the GOP took back both the House and Senate during Bill Clinton’s first term in office.

Now that was a real red wave. Bill Clinton, moreover, was a far more credible and successful POTUS than the doddering Joe Biden will ever be. 

But then, the GOP had much wiser leaders in 1994. 

In 1994 the GOP was not controlled by either a.) a buffoonish personality cult, or b.) single-issue windmill-tilters.

The Republican Party lost last week on two issues: Trump and abortion. Continue reading “Can Trump sink the GOP in 2024, too?”

Kremlin lies and blunders, from 1983 to 2022

Russian forces have now fired missiles into Polish territory. This was almost certainly not deliberate, but rather the error of inexperienced and/or drunken Russian military personnel. (I’m not being facetious or snarky here; drunkenness is actually a serious problem in the Russian military, as it is throughout Russian society.)

The Kremlin is of course denying responsibility. 

This is nothing new. The Kremlin also denied responsibility when a Soviet pilot shot down KAL Flight 007 in September 1983, killing all on board.  Continue reading “Kremlin lies and blunders, from 1983 to 2022”

Make voting simple again

To no one’s surprise, former President Trump has alleged electoral chicanery in Arizona. 

After high-tech voting machine problems, a 70% increase in early ballots, and a count that stretched on for the better part of a week, the Democratic candidate, Mark Kelly, has come up with the votes needed to defeat his Republican challenger, Blake Masters. 

Former President Trump declared the result a “scam” and called for a do-over.

I’m not here to rule one way or another on the probity of the election process in Arizona. And like many of you (including many Republicans), I’m suffering from a major case of Trump Fatigue Syndrome (TFS).

Here is what I will say: Continue reading “Make voting simple again”

Russia, and a rebuke from a very old ally

Serbia, the country that dragged czarist Russia into World War I, now wants to reduce its dependence on Putin’s Russia, and draw closer to the European Union. So reports the Financial Times.

This is a major blow to Russia and Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, as Serbia has close cultural and historical ties to Russia. 

But now Serbia clearly sees the West as a better bet. This is roughly equivalent to Canada choosing closer ties with China than with the United States. Continue reading “Russia, and a rebuke from a very old ally”

TikTok ban looming?

Yes, it might really happen this time, as evidence is mounting that TikTok actually is Chinese spyware wrapped in the Trojan horse of a trendy social media app.

Then President Trump attempted to ban TikTok in July 2020, citing similar security concerns. But the conversation was drowned out amid the other controversies of that very eventful year. Our business and media establishment, moreover, was in no mood to get behind anything coming from the Trump administration. Trump could have proposed a ban on the bubonic plague, and the commentators at MSNBC would have said, “Now, hold on just a minute…isn’t there something racist about that?”

We are now in a different world. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and China’s unwavering support for its Russian ally, there has been a fundamental shift in the American perception of the PRC.  Continue reading “TikTok ban looming?”

El Dia de los Muertos

Today is el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) in Mexico. Though it roughly coincides with Halloween and has similar themes, el Dia de los Muertos is something quite different.

Think of it as a national (Mexican) acknowledgement of the inevitability of death, with a fusion of Christian and Aztec symbols and traditions.

That’s a simplistic and incomplete explanation, but it’s a start.

I was in Mexico in 1995 during the annual observance. It is something to see, especially to gringo eyes. 

The above video is in Spanish. But even if your Spanish isn’t so good, you’ll get a feel for what the holiday is all about.

For writers: book sales, the recession, and my favorite writing podcast

Writer podcasts are a decidedly mixed bag. Most of them provide “me too”, generalized information. Still others exist as little more than infomercials for expensive courses locked behind paywalls. 

Ergo, there aren’t many that I can endorse wholeheartedly and without reservation. In fact, there is only one: the Six Figure Authors Podcast, hosted by Lindsay Buroker, Joseph Lallo, and Andrea Pearson. 

For many years, Lindsay, Andrea, and Joe provided nuts-and-bolts, no-nonsense advice that was both detailed and actionable.  I’ve listened to many episodes of their show multiple times…and I know I’m not alone. Continue reading “For writers: book sales, the recession, and my favorite writing podcast”

Guess who’s topless on Instagram now…

In recent years, we’ve been treated (is that the right word?) to middle-age starlets in their 40s, 50s—and even 60s—cavorting on Instagram in various states of underdress. First it was the 40-something Britney Spears, then the 50-something Donna D’Errico. And now it is the 60-something Madonna. 

Well, of course we knew this was coming, didn’t we? We were about due for something gaudy and completely inappropriate from Madonna. 

Further proof of that French expression, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. And this really is nothing new. A series of nude Madonna photos ran in both Playboy and Penthouse in 1985. I was in high school at the time. 

Playboy, September 1985

I’m now in my mid-50s. The same age as Donna D’Errico, as chance would have it. I’m a mere decade behind Madonna, who was born in 1958.

I’m all in favor of older folks remaining youthful. I run. I work out. I stay in shape.  But I won’t be posting nude photos of myself on Instagram, nor anywhere else on the Internet. That remains a young person’s game. And so it should.

How Eloïse Bouton celebrated Christmas

To mark Christmas 2013, a French sociopath named Eloïse Bouton (who calls herself a journalist) burst into a Catholic church in Paris with ill intentions. 

Bouton was bare-breasted. She wore a simulated crown of thorns, and a blue veil mocking the common depiction of the Virgin Mary. 

And of course Bouton didn’t sit in the back pew. She charged to the front of the church, interrupting the the ongoing service.

But it gets better. Bouton was carrying two ox livers, which she used to simulate an abortion of the infant Jesus. 

And it gets better yet. Then she urinated in front of the congregation. 

All of this was intended as a pro-abortion protest.

Even in France, that is pushing the envelope of civilized behavior. 

I should also note that abortion is perfectly legal in France, and likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. Around one in three French women have had at least one abortion. America’s Planned Parenthood, therefore, is unlikely to find an export market in France for fetal brains, hearts, and livers. The French are dismembering plenty of fetuses on their own, without any outside help. 

Finally, Eloïse Bouton identifies as queer. 

So, she’s a non-heterosexual woman living in a country where abortion rights are more or less sacrosanct. What were the odds, in 2013, of Eloïse Bouton ever needing an abortion and being denied one in her home country? About the same odds as an American being unable to find an accessible McDonald’s, I’d say.

In other words, why was it necessary for her to do this, unless she is either a.) a nut job, or b.) a flaming asshole. (Or c.), a little of both? My money is on c.)

A French court ordered Bouton to pay the church damages. It also issued her a jail sentence (which doubtless would have been suspended). 

Then the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) got involved. The European court overturned the ruling of the French court, and ordered the French government to pay Bouton €9,800 in damages. Bouton, according to the supranational ECHR, was exercising her “freedom of expression”.

We need not wonder how the European Court of Human Rights would have ruled had Bouton pulled this stunt in a mosque. Assuming she survived (and the odds of that are small), she would have been charged with the ideological crime of Islamophobia. To a certain kind of leftwing mindset, only Christianity is fair game for gratuitous blasphemy. 

That may be because Christians turn the other cheek. Muslims?…Well, some do. But remember what happened to the journalists and illustrators at Charlie Hebdo in 2015. When you publicly blaspheme against Islam, you might lose your life. Catholics, on the other hand, give you Christmas cookies and hurt expressions. So a cowardly bully like Eloïse Bouton naturally picks on the Catholics.

Western concepts of free speech give one a right to blaspheme. They do not give one the right to disrupt a Christmas service in this manner. Likewise, you have a right to burn the Quran if you want to (and just to be clear, I don’t recommend it). You do not have the right to do so inside the walls of a mosque or Islamic center. Because then you would be just as much of an asshole as Eloïse Bouton is. (Oh, and you’d probably not survive.)

We wonder why the countries of Europe are eager to leave the European Union. We also wonder why Italy recently swung to the traditionalist right, electing as its new prime minister Giorgia Meloni of the Brothers of Italy party. 

There is no great mystery here. When the pendulum swings in one direction, it inevitably swings in the opposite direction. Just give it time. When France eventually swings to the right, you can thank cretins like Eloïse Bouton, and her cowardly apologists at the inaptly named “European Court of Human Rights”.