- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

Saddam and Fidel
"Saddam Hussein's staunchest ally is 90 miles from America, and his name is Fidel Castro.
"In the late 1980s, Cuban orthopedic surgeon Rodrigo Alvarez Cambras removed a lethal tumor in Hussein's back. Hussein generously remunerated Cambras also head of the Cuban-Iraqi Friendship Association who gave the money to Castro and received a mansion in Havana's elite Miramar area.
"Cambras visited Baghdad in July to give Hussein a message from Castro. Cuba's 43-year- long despot expressed 'the solidarity of Cuba' with Hussein and congratulated him on the 34th anniversary of the socialist Ba'ath Party's coup in Iraq.
"And what are Castro's views of Israel?
"Last June in Havana, Castro led a rally of approximately 10,000 that protested Israeli 'genocide.' The rally culminated a week of 'Palestinian solidarity' activities organized by the regime."
Myles Kantor, writing on "The Baghdad-Havana Axis of Jew Hatred," Tuesday 11/5 in Front Page at www.frontpage-magazine.com

Everybody's famous
"We have democratized elitism in this country. There is no longer a clear pecking order, with the Vanderbilts and the Biddles and the Roosevelts at the top and everybody else down below. Everybody gets to be an aristocrat now. And the number of social structures is infinite. You can be an outlaw-biker aristocrat, a corporate-real-estate aristocrat, an X Games aristocrat, a Pentecostal-minister aristocrat. You will have your own code of honor and your own field of accomplishment.
"And everybody can be a snob, because everybody can look down from the heights of his mountaintop at those millions of poor saps who are less accomplished in the field of, say, skateboard jumping, or who are total poseurs when it comes to financial instruments, or who are sadly backward when it comes to social awareness or the salvation of their own souls.
"Communications technology has expanded the cultural space. We now have thousands of specialized magazines, newsletters, and Web sites catering to every social, ethnic, religious, and professional clique. You can construct your own multimedia community, in which every magazine you read, every cable show you watch, every radio station you listen to, reaffirms your values and reinforces the sense of your own rightness. It is possible, maybe even inevitable, that you will slide into a solipsism that allows you precious little contact with people totally unlike yourself. But in your enclosed sphere, you will feel very important."
David Brooks, writing on "Superiority Complex" in the November 2002 issue of the Atlantic

First 'Friends'
"In the beginning there was a pilot, and it featured these six: Ross, a sensitive-guy paleontologist who has been ditched by his pregnant lesbian wife; his sister, Monica, a fastidious chef who, all appearances to the contrary, is said to have suffered an unsvelte adolescence; Monica's rich-girl high-school pal, Rachel, who dashes into Central Perk in a wedding gown, having fled her appointment at the altar with an orthodontist; Monica's neighbor Joey, a vapid, hunky, aspiring actor; Chandler, Joey's smart-aleck roommate, who works as a data-processing drone; and Phoebe, the dippy vegetarian. The friends were plucked from the chipper, optimistic wing of Gen X: they were as loyal and attractive and well-heeled as they were aimless, solipsistic and irony-drenched.
"The series was an instant hit. A long line of television-averse stars, from Susan Sarandon to Brad Pitt, put in guest-starring appearances over the years, but 'Friends' never strayed far from its half-dozen core slackers, for whom the writers manufactured enough plot convolutions to exhaust a troupe of roving Shakespeare comedians."
Mark Levine, writing on "Killing Your Friends," Nov. 3 in the New York Times Magazine

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