- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ideology awards

“Annie Proulx lambasted ‘conservative … academy voters’ for their failure to bestow the Best Picture Oscar upon the film adaptation of her short story ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ deriding these industry insiders as cowards ‘living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes … out of touch’ with the ‘shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days.’ …

“In the mind of someone for whom ideology trumps artistic merit (or at the very least for whom the two are inseparable) addressing a certain issue should be enough to win the award. It’s the Entitlement Culture for the Pampered Class, and they want to get paid. …

“More than 200 films receive a wide release or something approximating it every year. When recognition as one of the top five out of those 200 is not enough, take a deep breath and start ignoring your publicist’s calls. The convergence of self-importance and hyperbolic press releases is clouding your judgment.”

— Shawn Macomber, writing on “The Passion of Brokeback Mountain,” Friday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Losing value

“Democracy and education are always good. That is perhaps the most fundamental core belief of the vast majority of American parents. …

“The belief in a near-sacrosanct prime directive to pursue education is primarily rooted in the ability of the more highly educated to command higher wages from their employers. …

“It is interesting, then, to note what two economists at the Economic Policy Institute, Lawrence Mishel and Jared Bernstein, call the skill premium shrunk 6.8 percent between 2000 and 2004. As Geoffrey Colvin of Fortune notes: ‘The real annual earnings of college graduates actually declined 5.2 percent, while those of high school graduates, strangely enough, rose 1.6 percent.’

“Meanwhile, even as the compensation advantage it brings is reduced, the cost of a college education is quickly rising. A comparison of statistics taken from CNN/Money shows that the total cost of a four-year public degree has increased from $8,086 in 1999 to $11,354 in 2004, a 40 percent rise, while the cost of a degree from a private university has gone from $21,339 to $27,516, a smaller but still hefty 29 percent increase. …

“Parents and prospective students alike should seriously investigate the matter before blithely assuming debt in order to follow the educated lemmings on a path that appears to be ever more outmoded.”

— Vox Day, writing on “Sheepskin scam,” Monday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

PC ‘24’

“I was late climbing onto the ‘24’ bandwagon. … It wasn’t until season four that I gave it a look-see. …

“Well, in [the shows] first few episodes of season four, the terrorists looked like the real ones. … They were Middle Eastern. How novel. …

“The first half of season four focused on a Middle Eastern terrorist plot to detonate nuclear power plants and nuclear warheads in select cities across the United States. But by the midway point, the plot began to involve rich white businessmen as the facilitators of the terrorist scheme. …

“‘24’ was no longer a realistic program willing to portray terrorists the way we know them to be; it had become a soapbox for angry Arab Americans.”

— Michael A. Smerconish, from his new book, “Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism —True Stories That Should Be Fiction”

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