Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "Attack and dissent," May 19, 2001

MUM'S THE WORD: Mother's Day was going unrecognized this year in one of the trendiest elementary schools in Manhattan. Not to be discriminatory, Father's Day will be ignored, too. New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser reported that Rodeph Sholom Day School, a private Manhattan elementary school, sent kids home with a note saying the school no longer recognizes the holidays. "The reasoning was several-fold," administrator Cindi Samson told Ms. Peyser. "One is, it didn't serve an academic and educational need. Number two, families are changing. Some children were very uncomfortable." National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg tells a story in his column about his days at the school. His mother drew whales on his lunch bags (as a reference to his first name) and teachers complained that it was unfair to kids who didn't get a drawing. "Just as Jewish kids do far better in life when they have a healthy respect for Christianity, homosexuals and their children would be well-served if they showed a little respect, too," he remarks. "Denying Mother's Day will not change the fact that most people have mothers." McVEIGH'S FAN CLUB: Timothy McVeigh's a media superstar these days, says Tony Snow. As Mr. McVeigh's May 16 date with death approached, "the mass murderer … managed to become the most sought-after interview in the land," the columnist noted. Mr. Snow describes journalists, trying for a big scoop, begging the Oklahoma City Bomber for interviews. Meanwhile, Mr. McVeigh, whose crime left 168 people dead, spoke only to a select few, calling attention to himself and his twisted ideas. "He likens the childcare center at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City to Saddam Hussein's use of children as human shields and defends Ramsi Yusef, who masterminded the bombing of the World Trade Center," Mr. Snow wrote. Leftist gadfly Gore Vidal says he corresponded with the bomber and announced plans to attend the execution. He snagged one of three slots usually given to close friends and family. He's considering writing a screenplay on the McVeigh case. "We've exchanged several letters," the novelist said. "He's very intelligent. He's not insane." POLITICAL DEFAULT: Economist Thomas Sowell pointed out one result of California's woes: Its bond rating dropped. Standard & Poor's dropped the state down two notches, which means the chances of default and delayed payments have gone up. As a result it must pay higher interest rates to investors who buy bonds. The Hoover Institution Fellow wrote that this "shows the big difference between economics and politics." In his eyes its electrical "deregulation" was nothing more than a price-control scheme that forced companies to buy high, sell low, and steer toward bankruptcy. He says politicians have played the situation as a war against evil utilities. "There is no Standard & Poor's for politics," he writes. "Investors may be warned about economic realities ahead but voters are told political fairy tales that blame electricity companies' 'greed.'" REALITY TV, TAKE TWO: Survivor is reality TV, but how much of it is real? Executive producer Mark Burnett admitted to the Los Angeles Times that parts of Survivor were reenacted, sometimes even using body doubles. For example, a river-swimming race was re-shot so a helicopter crew could film without catching close-up cameramen in the shot. "I'm just making entertainment," he said during a panel at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York. An NBC spokesman explained that Mr. Burnett's technique is "nothing more than window dressing." WHATEVER IT TAKES: Democratic campaign lawyers exchanging high-fives after disqualifying 150 ballots of soldiers and sailors serving abroad? When challenged about their dubious achievement, they said, "a win's a win"? It sounds like an over-the-top, pulp-fiction potboiler, but it's a true story. It's one of the details in Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon's hot new book At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election. Mr. Sammon's story of high-fives in Duval County, where the Gore lawyers wanted every unpostmarked military ballot disqualified, is one of the most colorful examples of the win-at-any-cost mentality. Mr. Sammon also found that vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman lied to NBC's Tim Russert as he backed away from the idea of challenging military ballots in every Florida county. Asked if he knew Mark Herron, the Democratic specialist in disqualifying military ballots, Mr. Lieberman said no-even though he'd talked to him the night before in preparing for the NBC interview.

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