- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

Mr. Hollywood

“There are those who think Hollywood hates America, and they have reason to think it. Hollywood … is politically and culturally to the left of America, and it often seems disdainful of or oblivious to its assumptions and traditions. …

“If a lot of the American audience, certainly the red-state audience, assumes Hollywood hates them, they won’t go as often to the movies as they used to. If you thought Wal-Mart hated you, would you shop there?

“Which gets us to George Clooney, and his work. George Clooney is Hollywood now. …

“He doesn’t even know he’s not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic. …

“The Clooney generation in Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they’ve experienced it, with all its mysteries and complexity and variety. In an odd way, they haven’t experienced life; they’ve experienced media. Their films seem more an elaboration and meditation on media than an elaboration and meditation on life. This is how he could take such an unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing gloss on the 1950s and the McCarthy era. He just absorbed media about it. And that media itself came from certain assumptions and understandings, and myths.”

— Peggy Noonan, writing on “Boy in a Bubble,” Thursday in the Wall Street Journal

Losing humanities

“The only thing most teachers and students of the humanities agree on, it often seems, is that these are troubled times for their field. For a whole variety of reasons — social, intellectual, and technological — the humanities have been losing their confident position at the core of the university’s mission. This represents an important turning-point, not just for education, but for our culture as a whole. Ever since the Renaissance, the humanities have defined what it means to be an educated person. The very word comes from the Latin name of the first modern, secular curriculum, the studia humanitatis, invented in 14th-century Italy as a rival to traditional university subjects like theology, medicine and law. …

“Better to emerge from college as a budding biologist or financier, our practical-minded culture incessantly tells us, than as a mere reader of books … Reading canonical texts, many people now believe, is not the road to freedom, but a subtle kind of indoctrination.”

— Adam Kirsch, writing on “Rereading the Renaissance,” in the March-April issue of

Harvard Magazine

Mr. Liberty

“Harry Browne was the best communicator of libertarianism that I’ve ever heard or read. …

“The warmth of his personality, the earnest sincerity of his voice, and the power of his words disarmed opponents and endeared him to many who had never before heard the libertarian message.

“His book ‘Why Government Doesn’t Work’ is simply fantastic. With crystal clarity, it identifies the essence of government and shows why it must be removed from areas where it doesn’t belong. …

“I remember being stunned by Harry’s powerful yet economical writing style. I still try to incorporate some of his techniques in my own writing today.

“The point of libertarian communication, Harry frequently said, isn’t to win arguments by showing others how stupid they are —it’s to win converts by inspiring others to want freedom.”

— Jonathan Trager, writing on “A tribute to Harry Browne,” March 5 in Brainwash at www.affbrainwash.com

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