Saturday, June 22, 2002


So now every gas chamber in the country will have to have a picture of George W. Bush and the words “You have to be at least this smart to be executed.” It’s hard to get worked up about the Supreme Court decision that this week it’s unconstitutional to execute the retarded, because it should be self-evident, like the new study showing that fat people like food too much. Although the morally retarded three, Rehnquist, Thomas and Scalia, are actually probably correct that this sort of thing shouldn’t be decided by opinion polls. But then neither should it be done by counting the number of states that ban the practice, like they want, as if what legislators think is reflective of public opinion. As the last 9 months have shown, civil rights should be put beyond the immediate reach of a panicked majority anyway. Which was rather the point of having a Bill of Rights to begin with.

If you haven’t already read the dissent by Fat Tony Scalia, you simply must. It’s Archie Bunker with a law degree, on acid. It’s the tone of moral and intellectual superiority that’s amazing. Even if you believe that there’s some sort of case for executing the retarded, you should at least treat it as a regrettable necessary evil, not be so, well, joyous, at the prospect. He and Rehnquist are especially scornful of the notion of treating world opinion as having any bearing, leading to my favorite sentence in the Scalia dissent: “Equally irrelevant are the practices of the ‘world community,’ whose notions of justice are (thankfully) not always those of our people.” That “(thankfully)” is priceless.

The US just gave up its right to seize the whole of Bermuda and several other places, I think including Newfoundland, in event of an emergency, like the need for a really good tan. It was part of the Lend-Lease deal with Britain. Speaking of which, those deadbeat Brits are expecting to pay off their war debt to us by the end of 2006.

In his ongoing battle to stay to the right of, well, everybody, Tony Blair tried to get the EU to cut off aid to countries that didn’t prevent refugees fleeing to European countries or refused to take them back. The EU didn’t bite, but views on immigration keep moving to the right, and the German conservative leader, who is the only Bavarian who does not drink beer, says that immigration will be the key issue of the next German elections, so this is a wedge issue now.

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