April 20, 2010

Female promiscuity causes earthquakes

An intriguing piece in The Weekly Standard, the American neoconservative opinion magazine, about a leading Iranian cleric who told worshippers in Tehran that he blames earthquakes on female promiscuity: “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes.” This may sound wacky, says the magazine, but it can teach us a valuable lesson: “The question it poses is: How well do we understand the thinking of the Iranian leadership on questions small and large?”

There then follows a quote from a CIA study and a suggestion by the article’s author: We have just to change the word ‘Soviet’ to ‘Iran’ in a certain passage from the essay—where the Soviet Union was described as “a strange and idiosyncratic polity, not to be understood or dealt with without considerable conscious effort”—and the difficulty we face becomes readily apparent.

It may be true, of course. Other cultures, other lifestyles and different ways of thinking, etc. But, paraphrasing the interesting question at the end of the article, one might well ask, “If promiscuous women can cause earthquakes, what kinds of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s behavior might cause a nuclear bomb to detonate or be detonated?”

Distrust, discontent, anger (or, the American people and their Government)

According to a new series of Pew Research Center surveys, nearly 80 percent of Americans are more sceptical of Washington than ever, and a desire for smaller government is especially evident since Barack Obama took office. Public confidence in the federal government is at one of the lowest points in a half-century. There is a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government—a dismal economy, an unhappy public, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials. This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, which has a small but fervent antigovernment constituency and could be a wild card in this November’s election. Please note that many Republicans (28%), and Independents who lean Republican (30%), say the tea party movement represents their point of view better than the GOP. (See also here and here)