- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

‘Heroic rogue’

“For the libertarian, or even, more generally, the political skeptic — or, for that matter, the political literate — the television news media have little to offer. … The supposedly iconoclastic alternative, Fox News, is even worse, most of the time, and especially in its glorifications of the Republican warfare state. …

“Of course, there is the heroic rogue John Stossel, rightly regarded as a media maverick and proponent of freedom in an otherwise statist, conformist mass media. The only problem is that he only gets very little time in his ‘Give Me a Break’ segment on ‘20/20,’ and the fabulous hour-long John Stossel specials are unfortunately quite few and far between. But every chance he gets, Stossel shatters anti-market myths and uncovers government lies with a vengeance, boldly exposing politicians for the scam artists they usually are.”

Anthony Gregory, writing on “Real TV News,” Tuesday at www.lewrockwell.com

Buying motherhood

“Sound medical research that tells us something new and useful about the world is usually good news. But there is nagging suspicion that a study which found that assisted reproductive technologies are not very effective for older women could be put to some negative policy uses.

“For some time there has been concern in medical circles that these technologies and treatments are being ‘wasted’ on women who really do not have a good chance of carrying a healthy baby to term. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that women 42 and older only have a 4 percent chance of success with advanced technologies like in-vitro fertilization.

“In a nation where the state controlled medical spending you could imagine the fallout of such a report: No women age 42 and over would be allowed to have IVF procedures. Thankfully, private medical spending is still legal in America, so that will not happen. … Of course, this discussion overlooks that fact that it is precisely the receding chance of motherhood that makes older women willing to pay vast sums of money for even a 4 percent chance at a dream.”

Jeff Taylor, writing on “What Price Motherhood?” Tuesday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Burying Sontag

“The instant journalistic ‘appreciations’ of Susan Sontag after her death last month at 71 emphasized, as quick pieces must when knocked out in a race with the obituary writers, the feats that made her famous rather than the characteristics that made her Susan Sontag.

“The death kit worked this way. Take a few of the most famous aphorisms from Column A (e.g., ‘The white race is the cancer of human history’), a selection of books from Column B (e.g., ‘On Photography,’ ‘The Volcano Lover’), some immortal moments of media controversy from Column C (e.g., her New Yorker declaration that the 9/11 hijackers ‘were not cowards’), then snap them into place with the most famous self-descriptions from Column D (e.g., ‘zealot of seriousness’ and ‘obsessed moralist’).

“Color in some personal details: beautiful and precocious when young, fierce anti-cancer battler when old. …

“Next, ascribe to her enduring beliefs that supposedly changed American culture. …

“Finally, embalm her in the clichés of her clip file: She cared most about her fiction, but she’ll be remembered as a critic.”

Carlin Romano, writing on “The Newspaper Appreciation as Death Kit,” in today’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

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