- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

Fair brew

“Fair Trade consumers … tend to be dabblers who are happy to pay extra for conscience-soothing coffee today, but will eventually go back to the beans they like best no matter what the social pedigree. That may be for the best: The specialty revolution, with its $4 lattes and emphasis on growing methods, has probably jacked up prices for farmers far more than the Fair Trade movement has. … When consumers become coffee snobs, prices rise, and some of that increase makes it back to growers. …

“Coffee, after all, used to be far coarser stuff, liquid energy for a generation of young executives coming off cocaine. … [I]t was the fact that you needed coffee, not the brand that you bought, that said something about the person you were.

“In the mid-‘90s, as Starbucks stores popped up in rapid succession and the image of the overworked exec lost some of its appeal, coffee became associated with epicureans rather than workaholics. The luxury item of a leisure class, coffee was suddenly less speed than valium.”

Kerry Howley, writing on “Absolution in Your Cup,” in the March issue of Reason

Life lessons

“When I was very young and twice as foolish, I married my college sweetheart who was, I thought, a very Westernized Muslim man from Afghanistan. When we traveled to Kabul on what I thought was merely a visit, my American passport was confiscated. … I discovered that my father-in-law had three wives and 21 children. … I nearly died there. I managed to get out. …

“My experience taught me some important lessons that are currently of vital importance to Americans.

“I learned that both evil and barbarism are indigenous to every culture and not caused by imperialism, colonialism, or Zionism — as the Western intelligentsia would have it. …

“I also learned that America may not be perfect, but it is not the worst country in the world; rather, it is the best country. It is a perspective that I would like other Americans, especially our academics, to ponder.”

Phyllis Chesler, author of “The Death of Feminism,” interviewed Wednesday by Kathryn Jean Lopez in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com,

Fake outrage

“Did Hollywood wimp out by not giving the Best Picture Oscar to ‘Brokeback Mountain’? Were the electors of the Motion Picture Academy quaking in their Gucci loafers at the thought that red-state America would rise up in fury at the insult to traditional American popular culture represented by a couple of gay cowboys — or, more accurately, sheep-boys? … Tom Shales of The Washington Post … questioned whether the award to ‘Crash’ ‘was really for the film’s merit or just a cop-out by the Motion Picture Academy so it wouldn’t have to give the prize to “Brokeback Mountain.” ‘

“This sounds improbable to me. … [T]he controversy about ‘Brokeback’ was mostly hype. The blue state liberals who make up most of the movie audience, certainly for films like this one, take it for granted that homosexuality is a perfectly valid ‘lifestyle,’ while the red-state types who think that gays ought to be in jail don’t go to the movies anyway, or not unless Jesus is putting in an appearance.”

James Bowman, writing on “Hollywood Crashes and Yearns,” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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