- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Al’s prediction

“Nothing changes Washington like one good presidential election. We have some great leaders. Hillary is a great leader. …

“I think she will make a run for it and get the [2008 Democratic presidential] nomination. … But a lot of good candidates may run against Hillary. Kerry may run again. Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and former U.N. ambassador, Energy secretary and member of Congress, might run. He has a wealth of experience. John Edwards will run again. …

“But who do the Republicans have? They can’t nominate [Arizona Sen. John] McCain, because the conservative wing of the party doesn’t like him. And unless they nominate McCain, they lose.”

— Al Franken, interviewed by Warren Kalbacker, in the February issue of Playboy

Proving nothing

“According to most experts, TV for kids is basically a no-no. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for children under the age of 2, and for older children, one to two hours a day of educational programming at most. Various studies have linked greater amounts of television viewing to all sorts of problems, among them attention deficit disorder, violent behavior, obesity, and poor performance in school and on standardized tests. Given that kids watch an average of around four hours of TV a day, the risks would seem to be awfully high.

“Most studies of the impact of television, however, are seriously flawed. They compare kids who watch TV and kids who don’t, when kids in those two groups live in very different environments. Kids who watch no TV, or only a small amount of educational programming, as a group are from much wealthier families than those who watch hours and hours.

“Because of their income advantage, the less-TV kids have all sorts of things going for them that have nothing to do with the impact of television. The problem with comparing them to kids who watch a lot of TV is like the problem with a study that compared, say, kids who ride to school in a Mercedes with kids who ride the bus. The data would no doubt show that Mercedes kids are more likely to score high on their SATs, go to college, and go on to high-paying jobs. None of that has anything to do with the car, but the comparison would make it look as if it did.”

— Austan Goolsbee, writing on “The Benefits of Bozo,” Feb. 16 in Slate at www.slate.com

Losing the Western

“That tribal rite, the Academy Awards, is approaching at warp speed, and we will not be able to avoid it, no matter how we might try. …

“The majority of the Oscars’ attention and praise will be for a procession of depressing, controversial, objectionable and downright decadent flicks, led by ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ a quaint tale of two homosexual cowboys. …

“There goes the Western. One of our country’s finest exports for 75 years, the dramatic story where lonely heroes fight desperate but victorious battles, where the good guys always win and the desperadoes get what they deserve, has been dealt a possibly fatal wound. I cringed when Clint Eastwood, the quintessential Western hero, had to give the Golden Globe for best director to Ang Lee for ‘Brokeback.’ …

“I’ve since been obsessed with wondering what John Wayne would say. …

“I probably couldn’t repeat, or in this space print, what the Duke would have to say.”

— Pat Boone, writing on “Good news, bad news,” Saturday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

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