- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

Celebrity causes

“On the evening of Sept. 29, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and actress Angelina Jolie got together at the Kennedy Center for a gala sponsored by … the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS. … Just another excruciating Washington benefit dinner, you say. But pause for a moment to contemplate the silliness of the state-of-the art melange of politics, celebrity, and corporate public relations that such an event represents.

“First, there is the assumption — now almost automatic — that celebrities are public intellectuals on whatever issues they choose to take an interest in. I don’t know whether Angelina Jolie is smart, smart for Hollywood, or not smart even by Hollywood standards. I do know, because I watched her speech, that she doesn’t have much to say about AIDS. …

“What fighting AIDS does for Jolie, freeing Tibet does for Richard Gere, relieving African debt does for Bono, and banning land mines does for Paul McCartney. … If there were endangered baby pandas on the moon, Brad Pitt would be racing Ashley Judd there right now.”

— Jacob Weisberg, writing on “Condi, Hillary, and … Angelina?” Oct. 11 in Slate at www.slate.com

Demographic decline

“Not long ago, a Manhattan rabbi stunned his congregants by informing them that the future of the Jewish people would not be secured through trips to Israel, not through the battle against anti-Semitism, and not through the continued upward mobility of Jews, but in the bedroom. …

“Among Americans of all kinds … Jews have the fewest number of siblings, the smallest household size, and the second-lowest number of children under 18 at home. …

“Jews marry later than other Americans. … For Jewish women in particular, late marriage means lower rates of fertility compared with other Caucasian women — who themselves are barely producing babies at replacement level (figured at 2.1 children [per woman]). … [A]t no point do Jewish women attain the fertility levels of their non-Jewish peers or bear children in numbers sufficient to offset population losses from natural causes.”

— Jack Wertheimer, writing on “Jews and the Jewish Birthrate,” in the October issue of Commentary

Historic ‘hysteria’

“Why I should have expected anything other than an exercise in media triumphalism from ‘Good Night and Good Luck,’ I don’t know, but I did. Silly me. If I had seen the advertising tag line before I saw the movie, I’d have known better. ‘In A Nation Terrorized By Its Own Government, One Man Dared to Tell The Truth.’ What nation would that be, I wonder? …

“Not by the wildest caprice of imagination was ‘A Nation Terrorized’ by [Sen. Joseph] McCarthy. … Most of those who were seriously affected had been and in some cases still were communists or communist sympathizers — which in those days meant agents or would-be agents of Josef Stalin or his heirs, foreign dictators whose massive military might was geared for war against America, whose proxies were or had recently been killing American soldiers in Korea, and who were responsible for what at the time were the greatest mass-murders in history.

“In that context, to talk of the junior senator from Wisconsin as ‘terrorizing’ anybody is a form of hysteria.”

— James Bowman, writing on “Good Night and Good Luck,” Wednesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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