- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

Mel gone wild

“I have a feeling the kind of people who tend to ignore and excuse the anti-Semitic screeds coming out of Hezbollah will also be the kind of people who regard every awful word Mel Gibson said while plastered as a true expression of what he really, secretly believes. …

“Alcohol is a depressant that removes inhibitions, and it makes people do things that they wouldn’t ever consider doing when sober. Drunk people will attack friends or family members whom they love. The ‘Girls Gone Wild’ video series is testament to the power of booze to prompt behavior in young women that they might otherwise be ashamed of. And the phenomenon of ‘beer goggles’ in which unattractive women appear more and more attractive the more one drinks, has led many a man to do things he wished he hadn’t.

“Alcohol can even affect someone’s judgment to the point that getting behind the wheel of a car while soused seems like a perfectly reasonable idea. And while no one I know has ever conjured up a Jew-baiting reverie like [Mel] Gibson’s after a few drinks, we all know people who have said something indiscreet, offensive, or hurtful that they really, honest-to-God wish they had left unsaid because they truly do not believe it.”

—Clinton W. Taylor, writing on “Braveheart’s Tequila Sunset,” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Knowledge pays

“For a long time, economists believed that much of their job was to analyze a world of scarcity, the grim business of harvesting limited resources and distributing too few goods to too many people. And then there was the matter of decreasing returns to additional investment. …

“Decreasing returns and scarcity animated the doomster wing of economics, of which Thomas Malthus was the principal architect. It was he who lamented overpopulation so famously, even ahead of Paul Ehrlich, and predicted bouts of ‘periodical misery’ to adjust human numbers downward, putting them, at least now and then, in equilibrium with the world’s limited riches. …

“[T]he great British economist Alfred Marshall … observed as early as 1890 that ‘knowledge is our most powerful engine of production; it enables us to subdue nature and force her to satisfy our wants.’ More than a century later, knowledge is still the true wealth of nations.”

—Nick Schulz, writing on “More Comes From Knowing More,” Wednesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Cuba’s fate

“In general, authoritarian states are only as stable as the hold on power of an individual leader or small ruling clique. … Fidel Castro is the revolution. Loyalty to the Cuban government is loyalty to Fidel. When he finally dies, the question of succession will generate tremendous uncertainty and potential instability.

“If he dies soon, the script demands that his brother succeed him. Fidel formally designated Raul his successor in October 1997, and as first vice president, Raul is guaranteed the promotion by the Cuban Constitution. …

“Even if Fidel survives his current troubles, he can no longer persuade his people his command is unassailable. By passing decision-making power to someone else for the first time since 1959, even if the arrangement is only temporary, talk of succession can never again be fully quieted. Planning for Cuba’s future, both at home and abroad, has gathered new momentum.”

—Ian Bremmer, writing on “The Man in Havana,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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