- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sadism online

“[I]t turns out that what the citizenry really craves is an open microphone. The Internet has provided that opportunity. Every day is ‘open-mike’ night in America. The premium isn’t on facts, but on attitude. In the early years of the 21st century, the Information Age has morphed into the Age of Opinion. We are all pundits now, and it’s not a pretty picture.

“It’s one thing when fans of ‘The Sopranos’ get so miffed at creator and executive producer David Chase’s offbeat ending that they overload HBO’s computer server with complaints. It’s quite another when Paris Hilton-haters advocate on various Web sites for the torture and murder of a young woman they’ve never met. Hilton was still in the squad car carrying her back to jail for drunk driving when the blogging began. …

“A German word, ‘schadenfreude,’ means pleasure taken at another’s pain. The anti-Paris postings went way beyond that. Sadism was more like it. ‘I hope they gut you like a fish’ one poster ranted. … ‘It doesn’t get any better than this!’ one person chortled. ‘And I don’t even have to pay for it. What a wonderful country!!’

“What a country, indeed. And what a medium the Internet is turning out to be.”

Carl M. Cannon, writing on “Surviving the Information Age,” in the June 29 issue of National Journal

Alarm system

“Talk radio didn’t lead the charge [against the Senate immigration bill] so much as it gave voice to the angered conservative base. The Republican Party’s problem wasn’t that it angered a handful of professional talkers. … Its problem was that it outraged virtually its entire base with the content of the immigration bill and the downright un-American way the Senate and the administration attempted to shove the bill down the throat of the American body politic. …

“If certain Republican politicians had paid attention to talk radio rather than baselessly assail it, they would have seen how dangerous this immigration bill was. If the bill had passed, the damage to the party would have been incalculable. The political class should appreciate the presence of an early alarm system like talk radio rather than bemoan it.”

Dean Barnett, writing on “What Mort Doesn’t Know,” Monday at TownHall.com

Le Big Mac

“After devouring a Big Mac, a royal cheese, and paprika-flavored potato wedges dipped in mayonnaise, Romain Bertucca … explained why he eats McDonald’s.

“ ’It’s quick. The food is hot. It’s not like a sandwich. It’s McDonald’s,’ he said, sitting on a stool … overlooking Avenue de Wagram [in Paris], two blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. …

“In this land of haute cuisine, where American tourists are customarily greeted with Gallic scorn, the world’s largest fast-food company is more popular than ever.

“Last year, McDonald’s sales in France grew by 8 percent. … Every 12 months, one out of two French people visit McDonald’s at least once. Annually, they consume 22 million McDonald’s salads, 60,000 tons of French fries, 32,000 tons of beef patties, 12,000 tons of chicken, and 600 million buns.

“ ’We hate it and go to it. It’s our paradox,’ a journalist for the French magazine Challenges, Alice Merieux, said. ‘We’re very anti-American in principle, but individually, if you’re going to the movies and have to eat in 10 minutes, you go to McDonald’s.’ “ — Jacob Gershman, writing on “McDonald’s Takes Paris,” Tuesday in the New York Sun

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