- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

Car lovers, car haters
ART: "Charmed"(WB network)"You don't have to watch Daytona … to be a fan and to feel a kind of defiant gratitude for it. While it is dressed up like a sports event and competition, down deep Daytona is a great American festival celebrating the car.
"Some Americans love cars down to their bones and some Americans are hostile to them. Daytona is for people who love cars; who think highways and speed mean freedom. Cars, to these people, are things of beauty and power. …
"And then, there are the people whose idea of a better world is one where we all ride the bus. They loathe cars the way English socialists like H.G. Wells hated horses. The car, to them, represents just about every corrupt aspect of American society and culture.
"In the '50s, they objected to tail fins as the symbol of a doomed, affluent society. Ralph Nader made his bones as a killjoy, puritan, trial lawyer, and busybody by going after a car in this case, the Chevy Corvair. This instinctive hatred of cars has morphed, lately, into the 'What would Jesus drive?' foolishness and the campaign to demonize SUVs."
Geoffrey Norman, writing on "Festival of the Car," Feb. 14 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com
'Just compensation'
"Costco, the big warehouse chain, took a minor p.r. hit last year when the city council of Cypress, California, tried to kick a church off its land in order to give it to the company. But this case does not appear to be an isolated incident. The libertarian legal activists at the Institute for Justice say that Costco is a major beneficiary of local governments' abuse of their power to seize private property. They want to put an end to that abuse.
"The institute does not deny that governments have the power to seize private property 'for public use,' so long as they provide 'just compensation' (the wording of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution). But it insists that such seizures should be limited to actual public uses. Taking someone's property to sell it to a company doesn't count. …
"Cities engaging in such property seizures typically claim that they are necessary to promote economic development. Members of the city council in Cypress, and the council's defenders, noted that Costco would generate more tax revenue for the city than a church would (not surprising, considering that churches are tax-exempt). …
"The economic-development justification for property seizure is a license for abuse. … The best economic-development strategy for cities, in any case, is not to attack property rights, but to maintain their roads, apprehend and punish criminals, keep taxes low, and fix the schools."
Ramesh Ponnuru, writing on "This Land is Costco's Land," yesterday on National Review Online.
Pagan revival
"Nowadays, it seems that everywhere I turn, I run into pagans. …
"My local Borders has more shelf space devoted to books on paganism and related subjects than it does for the previous spirituality du jour, Buddhism and other Eastern religions. And when it comes to popular culture, in particular television, I'm not going out on a limb when I tell you that you are much more likely to see a practitioner of paganism or Wicca depicted on television than you are to see a Christian, Jew or Muslim, at least in a positive light.
"One obvious example is 'Charmed,' a show that is so preposterous that it makes 'Alias' look like a documentary. Here witches are the front line in the eternal battle against Evil (note that capital 'E'). Vanquishing suffering and protecting 'innocents' is nearly always a matter of casting the right spell or mixing up the right potion. While there's a Source note that capital letter again of Evil, there seems to be no corresponding source of good. Similarly, on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and its spin-off, 'Angel,' there's a First Evil but no First Good."
Roberto Rivera y Carlo, writing on "Pagan Chic," Feb. 13 in Boundless at www.boundless.org

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