Random thoughts

Thomas Sowell
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Posted: Mar 08, 2001 12:00 AM

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

In trying to get away from the pardon scandals, Hillary Clinton has said everything except "Bill who?"

After the tragic death of auto racer Dale Earnhardt, no one suggested banning the sport. Yet that is exactly what would have happened if he had been a boxer who died in the ring. Dangerous activities like sky diving or mountain climbing are never targeted for banning by "safety" advocates who want to impose restrictions or bans on activities that their prejudices or current fads condemn.

Secretary of State Colin Powell should be congratulated for finally saying what other officials should have said long ago: Ease up on sanctions against Iraqi civilians. For far too long, we have had an idiotic, feel-good prohibition against assassinating foreign leaders, but we don't mind sanctions that increase death rates among civilians. What if we had concentrated during the Gulf War on killing Saddam Hussein? Maybe we would have gotten him -- and a lot of other Iraqis would still be alive.

Conservatives and liberals alike who have dealt with Bill Clinton in person have been in awe of how charming he is. But have you ever heard of a con man who was anti-social?

The media continue to take seriously, and provide free publicity for, people who call themselves "consumer advocates" or "environmentalists," even though there are no qualifications required for these roles. All it takes are a big mouth, a big ego, a disdain for inconvenient facts and an ignorance of economics.

If you had asked me whether singing "Sweet Georgia Brown" in Polish would be funny, I would have said "No." But, when Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft sang it as a duet in Polish, I laughed so hard that my sides literally hurt. That is why Mel Brooks is a genius of comedy and I am not. Most of us -- if not all of us -- are grossly incompetent at other people's jobs. That is why it is so dangerous to have politicians telling doctors, farmers, bankers, entrepreneurs and others what to do.

The inescapable and brutal political reality is that the Democrats' only chance of regaining power is to cause some groups of Americans to be hostile, fearful or resentful toward other Americans. That is why they are constantly trying to keep blacks fearful of "racists" everywhere and middle class people resentful of "the rich." Little do those middle class people know that most of them are going to be among "the rich" at some point in their lives, as "rich" is loosely defined by liberals.

It is amazing how many of the horrors of the 20th century were a result of charismatic quacks misleading millions of people to their own doom. What is even more amazing is that, after a century that saw the likes of Hitler, Lenin and Mao, we still see no need to distrust charisma as a basis for choosing leaders, either in politics or in numerous organizations and movements.

Why are some people so shocked at the idea that campaign contributions bought presidential pardons, when they were not shocked at the idea that illegal campaign contributions from China bought a presidential release of American technology that can enable the Chinese Communists to incinerate American cities with nuclear missiles?

Since USA Today and the Miami Herald have just finished their own Florida recounts and concluded that Bush won, will the Democrats now follow the advice they have given to others in the past: "Get over it" and "Let's move on"?

When Japan sells us enough cars to buy Rockefeller Center, that is just another even exchange. But accounting rules call it an international trade "deficit" because the cars crossed international borders, while Rockefeller Center stayed put. Yet the media, politicians and the intelligentsia spread alarms because they pay more attention to the word than to the reality.

A joke has it that members of the Clinton administration approach the Pearly Gates to ask Saint Peter to let them into heaven. When he checks his list and can't find their names, they suggest that he go check with the Almighty, in case there is a later list. After Saint Peter checks and still can't find their names, he returns to tell them -- and then suddenly turns around and runs back to the Almighty.

"They're gone!" Saint Peter says.

"The people?"

"No. The Pearly Gates!"