- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Deep magic

“Penn Jillette’s place in show business is less as a magician or comedian than as a thinker. A very deep thinker. …

“Jillette would make for an odd academic. Standing 6 foot 6 inches, wearing his hair in a ponytail, he looks like a man who spends a great deal of his time in a bowling alley. His formal education after high school consists of a stint at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. Yet his snarling stage persona, which is like a sideshow hustler crossed with an insult comic, hides a surprisingly inquisitive mind. …

“Moreover, Jillette’s itinerant scholarship seems to be a vestige of his former career as a failed novelist. Jillette says he set out at 18 … to become the ‘great existential American writer.’ While he was an autodidact (he later wrote a novel), he was no Jack Kerouac, and his literary ambitions gave way to magic. … Short of producing great fiction, his brain gets emptied on the stage.

“Jillette’s motormouth doesn’t shut off when the curtain falls. He’s a public intellectual in the most public sense, always on the verge of another revelation. … In addition to announcing his libertarianism, he has told reporters that he is devoted to skepticism, that he is an avowed enemy of Michael Moore and Mel Gibson, and that he is an atheist — the latter revealed in an essay on National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition.’”

— Bryan Curtis, writing on “Penn Jillette,” Saturday in Slate at www.slate.com

No surprise

“OK, so ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ the Wyoming sheepherder epic filmed in politically correct Canada … galloped away with … eight Oscar nominations, including all the biggies.

“Anyone acting even a bit surprised should get an Academy Award. …

“Despite the ever-growing gap between Hollywood and the rest of us, they remain upbeat on Sunset Boulevard, and apparently clueless.

“‘The Academy basically reflects the mood of the country,’ [said] Gil Cates, producer of the Oscar show. … ‘It really deals with what’s happening politically and what’s happening in personal relationships.’

“Really? I don’t know about you, but apparently we’re all supposed to brush up on sheepherding. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

— Robert Knight, writing on “Go, uh, left, young men,” Friday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

‘Locked out’

“There’s a profound population shift [in New Orleans]. The Latino population was 3 percent. It’s now 20 percent, and it’s not just … Latin America. It’s also eastern Europeans as well.

“They have been trafficked in and their cheap labor has been used while businesses are still locked out. So you have outside workers displacing New Orleans citizens and outside no-bid contractors displacing … citizens. …

“These workers are not just coming across the border, they’re being sent for, brought in and hired. They’ve been trafficked in, often working … without, of course, any health insurance. …

“That’s why we’re going to have a massive demonstration on April 1st demanding that these citizens, white, black and brown, whether Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, have the right to return with preferences on jobs and contracts. Right now that’s not established and being honored.”

— The Rev. Jesse Jackson, interviewed Jan. 30 by Lou Dobbs on CNN

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