- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2004

Next big flop

“Al Franken launches his new talk-radio program next week. The nation’s news media is working overtime to help him succeed. The cover story of the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday was an extended appeal to the readers to give Franken a shot and to explain why he ought to succeed. I can recall no parallel attention ever being lavished on Rush [Limbaugh], Sean Hannity or any other center-right host on radio or television. Clearly, there is a lot riding on Franken. …

“With all this hoopla and all this cheerleading from the bigs like the Sunday Times, if Franken still falls on his face, there will be no excuses. A lesson will be written in stone. That lesson: The left doesn’t have a popular following, only special interests addicted to benefits or power or both. …

“Franken’s appealing to the campus elite and newsroom hand-wringers. How many of them listen to AM radio ever? Sure, he’s got the New York Times Sunday Magazine crowd, but how is his ad force going to sell that demographic in the middle of America?”

Hugh Hewitt, writing on “Waiting for Al Franken,” Wednesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Failing schools

“Military troops are made ready for the mission through constant training. … Can you imagine a U.S. Marine Corps boot camp that did not train recruits to march, to salute, to fire weapons and throw grenades, to read a map and compass, and to render first aid to a fallen comrade? … Such a situation would lead to immediate dismissal of the commanding generals and staffs of the recruit depots at Parris Island and San Diego. …

“Time magazine has reported that 600,000 entering freshmen, 29 percent of the total, have to take at least one remedial class in their first year of college. At state universities, taxpayers pay for these courses, to the tune of $1 billion per year. Moreover, as any college professor can tell you, students not considered to need remediation have very modest abilities, especially in writing and math. As a result, college professors, Ph.D’s in philosophy and history and physics and mathematics, end up teaching students things they should have learned in the seventh grade. Tutoring students in basic skills is not the job of college professors.”

Terrence Moore, former Marine officer and principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, Colo., writing on “Need a Middle School Education? Go to College,” for the Ashbrook Center at www.ashbrook.org

Rock ghost

“In July 1989, a band recently signed to Seattle indie label Sub Pop appeared at a small New Jersey nightclub. They went on early, played to about 30 people and, according to a witness, ‘just incinerated the place.’ …

“Within two years, Nirvana were the biggest rock band in the world; within three, the biggest of the decade; and within five, kaput. In that time, their small, skinny, singer/guitarist devised ‘90s rock and helmed a sweeping cultural change of style, attitude, and outlook. Then he ended his life. …

“Kurt Cobain was many things while he was alive — punk, pop star, hero, victim, junkie, feminist, geek avenger. … But 10 years after his death, he’s something else entirely. He’s a ghost. …

“[T]he bitter finality of Cobain’s end became an indelible part of his story, like some sick MasterCard joke. (Debut album: $606.17. Remington 20-gauge: $308.37. Legend: Priceless.) No other chapter in pop music has so much darkness at its center.”

Chris Norris, writing on “The Ghost of Saint Kurt,” in the April issue of Spin

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