- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Immoral games
"'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,' actor George Clooney's directorial debut, tells the ostensibly truthful but highly fanciful story of TV producer Chuck Barris, creator of some of the stupidest and most profitable game shows ever. It is not a pretty picture. Much of the film, especially the first half, depicts Barris's joyless pursuit of sexual gratification, money and power. In television, he finds a means to this end, making a fortune producing programs such as 'The Dating Game,' 'The Newlywed Game' and 'The Gong Show.'
"Barris's earliest hit shows … satirized 1960s America's materialism, superficiality, and sensualism by exemplifying and exploiting them. … 'The Dating Game' did so by turning the process of courtship which should have a certain amount of dignity to it, after all, in being intended to result in the sacrament of marriage into a public contest and a vehicle for cheap, vulgar humor. 'The Newlywed Game' showed the nation's declining respect for the institution of marriage, by … demonstrating that people will even sell out their own spouses to get on television. …
"A quotation from Nietzsche late in the film suggests that Barris and the filmmakers understand the real story here. Barris is a Superman, but not by way of any personal quality that makes him great. On the contrary, he is a Superman because of his utter lack of morality."
S.T. Karnick, writing on "Unnecessary Evil," yesterday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Collapsing schools
"I've been collecting clips about schools and teachers around the country for the last year, and I have to tell you that I genuinely fear for the republic. …
"God is dead … traditional morality is destructive; excellence is discredited and devalued; grades are antiquated. Discipline is discriminatory. …
"No wonder teachers are trying to find ways to make their work meaningful, since accomplishment and achievement can no longer be benchmarks of success. …
"I've been urging parents to send their kids to private religious schools and/or homeschool them. I truly see no other options for raising and educating children to be morally fit, well informed, appreciative Americans and contributing members of society.
"A shortage of teachers, a kaleidoscope of standards, endemic failure, annual budget shortfalls, states taking over local school districts and guns in the classroom are unavoidable signs of public-school collapse. I think Oregon may have the right idea. They are looking to shorten the school year by 15 days. How long before it's clear to them, and to us, that we should simply close them altogether?"
Laura Schlessinger, writing on "Time for public schools to throw in the towel?" Monday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Super surprise
"As I watched Tampa Bay cornerback Dwight Smith return yet another interception for a touchdown with just two seconds left in the game, I couldn't help but wonder: How could so many people have been so wrong about this Super Bowl?
"The newspapers [Monday] morning were full of paeans to the Bucs' top-ranked defense. … But what were the newspapers saying the day before the game?
"The New York Times featured a headline in its Friday paper that deserves to be remembered with 'Dewey Defeats Truman': 'Why the Raiders Will Win.' …
"I don't mean to pick on the Times here. On this subject, as on so many others, its writers merely reflected newsroom conventional wisdom. USA Today ran a roundup of predictions from 33 football writers around the country. Nineteen picked the Raiders. …
"America was, in short, brutally unprepared for what actually transpired in San Diego on Sunday. Perhaps we need a congressional commission to investigate this failure of sports intelligence; Henry Kissinger, a football fan, might be prepared to head it up."
Max Boot, writing on "Odds-On Losers," yesterday in the Wall Street Journal

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