- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2006

Ego trip

“Let’s say there’s a famous movie star who thinks he owns Malibu, or a big-name actor who holds himself out as an expert on psychiatry on national television. Or maybe there’s a famous actress who frequently calls in sick to the movie set, costing producers thousands of dollars, because she is tired (or hung over). Aren’t these examples just proof that celebrity and narcissism go together like Paris Hilton and paparazzi?

“Not really. They’re just anecdotes. At last, thanks to a first-of-its-kind study, we don’t have to rely on reports from the Malibu sheriff’s substation or US Weekly to confirm what the anecdotes seem to be telling us. …

“The study — soon to be published in the Journal of Research and Personality — confirmed that celebrities are more narcissistic than average Americans. And — surprisingly — they seem to start out that way, leading [the authors] to surmise that narcissistic people seek out careers in the limelight, rather than becoming narcissistic when they earn fame.”

—Robin Abcarian, writing on “Celebrities Are Their Own Biggest Fans,” Sept. 12 in the Los Angeles Times

Border error

“Nothing is more common than for well-intentioned people to believe that if everybody just does what is right (as they see it), nothing but good can possibly result.

“Libertarians have always been skeptical about that assumption. They know, for example, that wars have always been fought for causes believed to be right. The vast fabric of the modern welfare state was created to ensure proper care for the poor and needy. Yet very terrible things have resulted from the impulse to assert the right through warfare and to create the right through social engineering. This, more than anything else, has caused thinking men and women to look for ways of limiting, rather than increasing, the power of [government] and, with it, the bad effects of good intentions.

“But libertarians themselves have not always succeeded in resisting the allure of good intentions, the assumption that there will be no unfortunate consequences of our good ideas. The best example I know is the attempt by some libertarians … to ignore any bad effects that may result from open immigration. … Many libertarians who speak and write about this issue scorn the view that immigration could be anything other than a stimulation to the economy and a vindication of universal human rights.”

—Stephen Cox, writing on “The Fallacy of Open Immigration”

War melodrama

“The war on terror is more complex, nuanced and indeed more interesting than the general public has been given to believe.

“For instance, one oft-cited benchmark of its progress is the status of Osama bin Laden. That he is presumably still alive and at large is taken to mean that President Bush’s offensive against the post-9/11 terrorists has ‘failed,’ as John Kerry noted … on the eve of September 11. The Bush administration, Mr. Kerry told CNN, ‘failed to capture and kill Osama bin Laden when they had him in the mountains of Tora Bora. And that’s why we are more threatened today with an al Qaeda that has reconstituted itself in some 65 countries.’ …

“Bin Laden himself has picked up on the tendency of our political culture to reduce complexity to melodrama. For 9/11, al Qaeda released a propaganda documentary on al-Jazeera … depicting masked men training, while bin Laden walks among them.”

—Daniel Henninger, writing on “Terror Flicks,” Friday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

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