- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Shouting at radio

“Last year, on a long car trip, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh shout. I usually agree with Rush Limbaugh; therefore I usually don’t listen to him. I listen to NPR. … I like to argue with the radio. …

“Arguing, in the sense of attempting to convince others, has gone out of fashion with conservatives. The formats of their radio and television programs allow for little measured debate, and to the extent that evidence is marshaled to support conservative ideas, the tone is less trial of Socrates than Johnnie Cochran summation to the O.J. jury. Except the jury — with a clever marketing strategy — has been rigged. I wonder, when was the last time a conservative talk show changed a mind? …

“[T]he number and popularity of conservative talk shows have grown apace since the Reagan Administration. The effect, as best I can measure it, is nil. In 1988 George Bush won the presidency with 53.4 percent of the popular vote. In 2000 Bush’s arguably more conservative son won the presidency with a Supreme Court ruling.”

P. J. O’Rourke, writing on “I Agree with Me,” in the July/August issue of the Atlantic Monthly

Radical future

“Recently, Berkeley law students sullied their own graduation day by donning red arm bands to protest a Boalt Hall law professor with whom they do not agree. The object of scorn was Professor John C. Yoo, a legal scholar known for having drafted a Bush administration memo stating that Guantanamo’s enemy combatants are not soldiers of state, and thus not covered by the auspices of the Geneva Convention.

“The students argue that Yoo’s memo resulted directly in the alleged ill-treatment of Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners in Guantanamo, as well as the prisoners … at Abu Ghraib. … [T]he protesters in question are law students. This should give us pause, for … they are the next generation of attorneys, legislators, and legal scholars in America. …

“I wonder: does anyone ever pause to reflect on what ‘human rights’ actually are? … When we begin to bandy about such vagaries, we forget about real rights — i.e. those conferred by constitutions, institutions, and the blood of soldiers. Law students want there to be human rights independent of a state that recognizes and protects them for its citizens. But such thinking confuses the Hobbesian world we live in with a pie in the sky.”

Max Borders, writing on “One Final Protest,” June 16 in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Faces of fame

“Programs such as ‘Extreme Makeover,’ which deploys radical plastic surgery to transform unattractive women into glamorous sirens, and ‘Nip/Tuck,’ a plastic surgery drama told through the somewhat jaundiced eyes of two Miami plastic surgeons, have proven wildly popular. The latest show in the plastic surgery oeuvre is Fox’s ‘The Swan,’ which ‘takes women described as ugly ducklings and puts them under the cosmetic surgery knife, fixes their teeth, lets them see a shrink, makes them work out, styles their hair, does their makeup’ and turns them into ‘swans,’ according to the San Francisco Chronicle. …

“The viewing audience might observe this circus from an ironic distance, but it is clear that the impulse to measure success by outward appearance has more adherents than merely the contestants on reality television shows. Cosmetic surgery … encourages this kind of measurement.”

Christine Rosen, writing on “The Democratization of Beauty,” in the spring issue of the New Atlantis

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