- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Paying for O.J.
"If Winona Ryder hadn't been cast in this movie, it would have gone straight to video. There are only two possible reasons that an alleged Beverly Hills shoplifting incident has launched a felony prosecution, complete with press conferences, photo ops, and a spin campaign worthy of a summer blockbuster: Either the Los Angeles district attorney's office is seeking payback for the O.J. Simpson trial, or District Attorney Steve Cooley is gunning for an Oscar.
"The actress is charged with four felony counts second-degree burglary, grand theft, vandalism, and possession of a controlled substance in connection with an alleged shoplifting incident last Dec. 12 at the Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.
"Instead of pleading this case out and getting on with the business of prosecuting murderers and rapists, Cooley's office has now diverted at least eight attorneys to work full time on this case, with a deputy district attorney having to reschedule a murder prosecution so she can convict Ryder.
"The most common theory for Steve Cooley's ferocious zealotry is that this is an easy way to restore the sheen to an office so tarnished by failure. Cooley's predecessor former District Attorney Gil Garcetti left office in a welter of criticism over failed prosecutions ranging from Rodney King and Charles Keating to the debacle that was O.J. Simpson."
Dahlia Lithwick, writing on "Justice, Interrupted," Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Cultural amnesia
"The Cathedral remains committed to children's musical training despite nationwide trends where we get kids who have never heard 'O God, Our Help in Ages Past.' They've never heard 'The Church's One Foundation.' They haven't the faintest idea of what these hymns are [but] at least youngsters sing in church. With school music programs cut, many American children scarcely sing at all.
"[Washington National Cathedral interim choirmaster James] Litton held 250 auditions annually for the American Boychoir. 'Fifteen years ago, to audition a kid, I started out with "My Country, 'Tis of Thee,"' he recalls. 'Almost every kid knew it, could sing it. Now, practically not a single kid has ever heard of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee."
"'So then I switched to "Silent Night."' Within several years, fewer and fewer children could sing 'Silent Night,' he found to his dismay. 'So I switched it to "Happy Birthday."'"
Amy Babcock in "Key Change" in the fall issue of Cathedral Age

Minority myth
"The contention that in America's wars, minorities bear a disproportionate burden of the fighting and dying has long been a staple of left-wing rhetoric since the Vietnam War. Even as late as the Gulf War in 1991, Jesse Jackson, addressing a largely black audience, claimed that 'when that war breaks out, our youth will burn first.'
"The claim of disproportionate minority casualties wasn't true during the Vietnam War, where the record indicates that 86 percent of those who died during the war were white and 12.5 percent were black, from an age group in which blacks comprised 13.1 percent of the population. It is even less true today.
"To understand why, it is necessary to look a little beneath the surface. While overall, minorities comprise 30 percent of the Army, one of the two services that would be expected to bear the brunt of close combat in Iraq, they tend to be underrepresented in the combat arms.
"[T]he infantry, which generally suffers the most casualties in wartime, [has] become 'whiter than America.' African Americans constituted 9 percent of the infantry, compared to 11.8 percent of the age-eligible civilian population. In 1995, 79 percent of the new troopers were white, compared with 74.3 percent of civilians. There is little evidence to suggest that these figures have changed much over the last five years."
Mackubin Thomas Owen, writing on "The Color of Combat," Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com


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