- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

Simple idea

“Hugh Hefner, the founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy, always said that his ideal for the magazine’s famous Playmate of the Month … was ‘the girl next door with her clothes off.’ … Playboy was launched in 1953, and this female image managed to draw, simultaneously, on two opposing trends that have since come to dominate American mass culture: on the one hand, our country’s idea of its Huck Finn innocence; on the other, the enthusiastic lewdness of our advertising and entertainment. …

“When Hefner started out, he couldn’t afford to commission centerfold photos, nor did he know any women who would take their clothes off at his bidding. So he bought girlie pictures from a local calendar company. … In his first issue, he ran a nude photograph that Marilyn Monroe, famous by 1953, had posed for in 1949. … Within a year, Playboy was able to afford its own photography, at which point the calendar girls were swept aside in favor of the girls next door.”

— Joan Acocella, writing on “The Girls Next Door,” in the March 20 issue of the New Yorker

Strange freedom

“Not long after Abdul Rahman was arrested in Afghanistan, President Bush declared: ‘Before September the 11th, 2001, Afghanistan was ruled by a cruel regime that oppressed its people, brutalized women, and gave safe haven to the terrorists who attacked America. Today, the terror camps have been shut down; women are working; boys and girls are back in school; and 25 million people have now tasted freedom. The Afghan people are building a vibrant young democracy that is an ally in the war on terror. And America is proud to have such a determined partner in the cause of freedom.’

“Of course, when Bush spoke those words, Abdul Rahman’s case had not yet been reported in the West. But now that it has become international news that Abdul Rahman was arrested last month for the crime of leaving Islam and becoming a Christian, it is all too clear that the taste of freedom the Afghans are enjoying under the Karzai regime is not quite what many Westerners might have expected.”

— Robert Spencer, writing on “Dying for Freedom,” Thursday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Amen, Laura

“The third anniversary of the war for a free Iraq occasioned a wrong turn for the media. On Tuesday, NBC’s ‘Today’ planned to discuss media coverage of the war — certainly an underexplored angle — with Laura Ingraham and James Carville. NBC’s question: ‘Is American getting a fair picture of what’s actually happening in Iraq?’ Ingraham came out of the blocks with fire, doing something no conservative does who wants to be invited on TV ever again. She went straight at her hosts:

“‘The Today Show’ spends all this money to send people to the Olympics. … All this money for ‘Where In The World Is Matt Lauer?’ Bring ‘The Today Show’ to Iraq. Bring ‘The Today Show’ to Tal Afar. Do the show from the 4th [Infantry Division] at Camp Victory and then when you talk to those soldiers on the ground, when you go out with the Iraqi military, when you talk to the villagers, when you see the children, then I want [challenge] NBC to report on only the IEDs, only the killings, only the reprisals.’

“Conservatives at home heard the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in their heads. One of the TV networks finally allowed someone to say they were unfair, unbalanced and even lazy.”

— Tim Graham, writing on “Role Reversal,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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