- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 26, 2004

Apolitical youth

“‘Young people don’t vote and that’s, like, so not cool.’ Such is the verdict of actress Drew Barrymore, whose pro-voting documentary, ‘The Best Place to Start,’ aired this week on MTV. The documentary, a part of the network’s civic-minded ‘Choose or Lose’ series, follows Barrymore across the country as she attempts to discover why younger voters turn out in such low numbers — 36 percent in the 2000 presidential election — and what can be done to awaken them from their torpor. …

“First, let’s give MTV and Barrymore credit for tackling a serious subject. … There’s a school of thought, endorsed by a Yale study in 2001, that peer pressure is by far the most effective way to get college students to vote. At a geriatric 28, Barrymore isn’t exactly a peer, but it’s safe to say she’s got a bit more personal rapport with the college-age population than John Kerry.

“Still, Barrymore’s documentary is symptomatic of much of what’s wrong with the quadrennial efforts to mobilize young voters. It starts off well-intentioned, but ends up being both patronizing and vacuous.”

Alan Wirzbicki, writing on “Star Power,” Thursday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

Forging the news

“CBS’ sole source authenticating the forged National Guard documents is Bill Burkett, who’s about as sane as Margot Kidder was when they dragged her filthy, toothless butt out of somebody’s shrubs a few years back. Burkett has compared Bush to Hitler and Napoleon, and rambles on about Bush’s ‘demonic personality shortcomings.’ (This would put Burkett on roughly the same page as Al Gore.) …

“Whoever forged these documents should not only be criminally prosecuted, but should also have his driver’s license taken away for the stupidity of using Microsoft Word to forge 1971 documents.

“And yet this was the evidence CBS relied on to accuse a sitting president of a court-martial-level offense 50 days before a presidential election. …

“CBS was attempting to manipulate a presidential election in wartime. What if CBS had used better forgeries?”

Ann Coulter, writing on “Dan Rather: Fairly Unbalanced,” Thursday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Clever clerk

“Everybody has a good day from time to time, but what happened to Albert Einstein in 1905, when he was just 26 years old, was extraordinary: He wrote five powerful papers in one year — any one of which would have been worthy of the Nobel Prize, laying the foundation for the modern pharmaceutical industry, quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. He even came up that year with the beguilingly simple formula — E=mc2 — that has done so much to transform our century.

“What made it even more extraordinary … was that up until the start of that year, nobody had any idea he was capable of this. He’d been an average university student in Zurich, Switzerland, and because he had smarted off so much to his teachers he hadn’t been allowed to graduate. The best job he’d been able to wangle was that of patent clerk, third class … in the Federal Patent Office in Bern, Switzerland.

“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He’d received a thorough enough grounding in the basic tools of physics from his schooling, and if he had gone straight to a university job, he wrote later, he probably wouldn’t have had the time for the quiet, unpressured reflection needed for his breakthroughs.”

David Bodanis, writing on “Einstein’s Very, Very Good Year,” Sept. 17 in the Los Angeles Times

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