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Friday, January 27, 2006

RACE BAIT: "New Orleans could lose up to 80 percent of its black population if people displaced by Hurricane Katrina are not able to return to damaged neighborhoods." So trumpets the first line of an AP story. Surely there's an important reason to lead with the racial angle — but, well, not really. See the story goes on to report that 50 percent of displaced whites probably won't return, either. So here we have a story that's actually about the fact that most people who felt the brunt of Katrina are heading toward higher shores elsewhere. There's no meaningful racial angle, but the mainstream media apparently has a weekly if not daily race quotient to meet. Why not focus on something relevant — like the number of oppressed women displaced by the hurricane's patriarchal? (Oops, that won't work. Katrina was a grrrl.)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

KUDOS TO L.A. TIMES COLUMNIST: At least he's honest. He opposes taking the battle to the Islamofascists and so it follows he can't bring himself to support the American soldiers who are on the front lines of that battle. None of this "Oppose the war but support the troops" stuff that Kerry, Kennedy, Boxer, Durbin, Dean and all the usual suspects stutter and stammer on a regular basis. Many find Joel Stein's views vile. I find them refreshingly straightforward. Still, it's evident he's pulling his punch when he says "I'm against the war. (I have no regrets) if this helps us get out of that war and bring our troops home safely." It's hard not to hear something very much like: "The more dead American soliders, the sooner the war will end. More U.S. blood, please."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

SKIRTING: A 17-year-old male high school student may wear a skirt to school under an agreement worked out by the American Civil Liberties Union. Is this a narrow ruling, or does it also apply to Hillary?
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW: Today I join the campaign against obesity, especially the variety known as fatheadedness. Let's start with the California politician who wants to restrict fast food restaurants because their very existence takes over the willpower of kids and makes them eat way too many Greaseburgers. In turn, these vastly overweight young'uns end up blocking the sun and we all know obesity is a direct cause of global warming. (You didn't know this? Please, could you start coming to rehearsals?) "Cause" is such a cool word. Increasingly it means whatever any particular agenda-driven zealot wants it to. Did you know that certain state consumer protection laws "do not require a showing that the defendant's misbehavior caused a specific illness"? This is great news, according to Richard Daynard, who's a big fan of suing under such statutes because it "avoids complicated causation issues." Once upon a time, effort was required to prove that Y happened because of X. It wasn't always easy to prove that X actually precipitated the effect called Y. To prove that was supposed to be "complicated" because lots of dollars in potential damages were at stake. That was then, this is now. Do fast food restaurants cause people to take on the girth otherwise known to butter hogs? A growing chorus says yes: kids have no choice about what they eat, nor do their parents. It's the fault of the places where food is dispensed. Great. Let's start closing down restaurants favored by people who eat until they resemble butterhogs. Let's tell them they're not responsible. Then let's go after the ice cream parlors. And while we're at it: Hey, you — isn't that your fifth bagel, where'd you buy it? Close 'em down. At best, these are partial measures. I personally favor requiring all potentially fat children (definition: the ones with mouths) to get stomach reduction surgery by age 6. It won't be long before we'll be able to again sing, Here comes the sun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

STUCK IN IDOL: Trouble at "American Idol," the TV show that of course has become synonymous with broadcast quality and good taste. Seems two of the program's judges made "questionable" comments. (This is becoming one of my favorite adjectives: "questionable." The word doesn't say that particular people are upset, people with their own biases and axes to grind; heavens no, the word says the fault lies with specific comments intrinsically; therefore such comments are always unacceptable regardless of context.) Which comments? I cannot tell you unless you promise to take your school-age children away from the computer screen, so they aren't traumatized for life from witnessing you shriek and collapse. Ready, set, go:
On Tuesday's show, seen by a Nielsen-chart topping 35.5 million viewers, Cowell told one male contestant to "wear a dress" and Jackson asked another, "are you a girl?"
Oh, the horror. This was nothing less than an "offense" against gay and lesbian people, despite no reference to either category, according to the airwave monitors over at Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). These always-compassionate folks want us to know that they are "reaching out to the show's producers to discuss our concerns and the concerns of community members and allies who have contacted us about this matter." If you are the type who gets concerned about thinly-veiled threats from politically correct pressure groups, don't be alarmed here. "Reaching out" doesn't necessarily mean "We're coming for you." The phrase "discuss our concerns" doesn't necessarily mean "telling you what you're allowed to think or say." The mention of "community members and allies who have contacted us" doesn't necessarily indicate that there's a "concerted campaign of group-think" underway. None dare call it inquisition — how about inclusive instead?
CABLE CAR CONTROVERSY: Previously I reported on San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's accusation of theft on the part of city cable car operators. The clincher: Newsom declared that the thieves were "well intentioned." This struck me as the very heart of contemporary liberalism: moral judgments must be qualified, except when corporate or military crimes are alleged. Wait, it gets better. Criticized for his comments by the cable car union, Newsom repeated his allegation but continued to soften the fabric of his critique: "My job is to try to build back morale here, their self-esteem." Let's get this straight. The mayor has evidence of public theft, and rather than seek appropriate sanctions (example: fire drivers who steal, pursue indictments if appropriate), Newsom is concerned about the (alleged) thieves' hurt feelings. Ah, the work of the nanny state is never done.
BIN LADEN'S CRIMES: He's a depraved and thoroughly evil mass murderer. As an American but also as a human being, his existence appalls me. But his other crime sickens me specifically as a writer: Osama bin Laden is a shameless plagiarist. His latest rant draws shamelessly from the views of Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and other leading lights of our domestic Blame America First community. Bin Laden uses their opinions without attribution! It is time to put a stop to such wanton intellectual theft. Will the American publishing community take a stand?