- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2006

Punk widow

“Sure, they called her Kurt Cobain’s Yoko. … But [Courtney] Love had a messy charisma and a style … that felt like a satire of sexiness. …

“A foster kid with a trust fund, a bratty ex-stripper who bounced between schools and juvenile detention centers, Love traveled the world after being emancipated at 16 by her therapist mother, and then popped up in the Seattle grunge scene. …

“Then all the terrible stuff happened. … In 1994, Kurt Cobain killed himself, leaving behind their daughter, Frances Bean, who was not quite 2. In the aftermath, Cobain’s widow seemed to swell to three times her own iconic size. … Her emotional response seemed mythic and awesome — and then, as time passed, more unstable, more unsettling. … She seemed less to be selling out than having a fire sale.

“Once in a while, she would have a comeback. But with each tabloid incident she emerged less of a superhero, more cartoonish than larger than life.”

— Emily Nussbaum, writing on “Fragments of Love,” Dec. 9 in the Scotsman

Moving up

“To say that the middle class is vanishing, one must have a definition of the middle class. A sensible person would probably define it as the group of people in the middle. … But that’s not how the commentators who have made the claim have defined the middle class. Instead, they take the group of people making income within a fixed range in inflation-adjusted dollars, say, between $35,000 and $50,000, and show that the percent of the overall number of families within this range is falling. In commenting on this way of defining the middle, [economist Alan] Reynolds points out an obvious but, nevertheless, often completely overlooked fact:

” ‘Such a fixed definition ensures that the proportion of households in the middle group must decline with a rise in general prosperity, because rising prosperity causes a rising percentage of families to earn more than $50,000.’

“Reynolds continues by telling of a 2004 story in The Washington Post titled, ‘The Vanishing Middle-Class Job.’ The Post article pointed out that in 1967, nearly a quarter (22.3 percent) of households made between $35,000 and $49,999 in inflation-adjusted terms, but that that share was down to 15 percent by 2003. “Reynolds notes that the same article showed that the percentage of U.S. households with a real income higher than $50,000 rose from 24.9 percent in 1967 to 44.1 percent in 2003. Moreover, the percentage with income lower than $35,000 fell from 52.8 percent to 40.9 percent. In other words, the ‘middle class’ was shrinking because people were moving out of the Post’s statically defined middle class into a higher income class.”

— David R. Henderson, writing on “What’s Really Happening in the Economy?” Wednesday in Tech Central Station at www.tcsdaily.com

Antiwar draft

“The most obvious reason students aren’t marching against the Iraq war is that there isn’t any draft or threat of a draft. In the Vietnam era … young men faced the dire possibility of being conscripted. … Many of the earliest campus demonstrations in Berkeley and elsewhere were specifically protests against the draft. …

“American soldiers might not all be thrilled to serve in Iraq, but they can’t say they didn’t have a choice. Rep. Charles Rangel supports the return of the draft on the argument that not having one is unfair. He also recognizes that the return of the Selective Service would be the most powerful antiwar measure available. If we had a draft, there probably would be peace protests in the streets.”

— Jacob Weisberg, writing on “Where Have All the Flower Children Gone?” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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