Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "No time to celebrate," Dec. 1, 2001

FEAR ITSELF: Go ahead and fly, just consider skipping the in-flight snack. That's the argument Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, makes in a Detroit News column: "More now than ever, Americans will think flying is dangerous because the horrible scenes of the jets slamming into the World Trade Center towers or burning rubble from the American Airlines crash is indelibly sketched in our minds." But the fear isn't justified. Mr. Moore points out that Americans are 25 times more likely to die in a highway accident than in a plane crash. "It turns out that if you fly just once or twice a year, your odds of dying in a plane crash are roughly equivalent to your odds of walking down the street and being hit on the head by a plane falling on you," he notes. "If you are worried about premature death, the best course of action is to stop eating, drinking, and smoking to excess," Mr. Moore argues. "The facts don't lie: Living a healthy lifestyle will do far more to extend your life span than avoiding flying on an airplane." READY FOR A FIGHT: Conventional wisdom holds that Americans won't support a war if that war produces a large number of American casualties. Conventional wisdom, argues Washington Post columnist George F. Will, is wrong. "In two days in Tennessee, at Shiloh, in April 1862, when each side suffered 10,000 casualties, the nation learned that the butcher's bill for the Civil War would be ghastly," he writes. "Yet the war did not end until three Aprils later." Victories sustain public support for war, he says, even if those victories are costly. Even Vietnam proves this point: "Public support for the war did not recede until the elites who had confidently embarked upon escalation lost confidence. Only when it became clear that the nation's leaders did not have the will to win, or did not know how to win, did the public say, sensibly, 'Enough, already.'" The United States, Mr. Will points out, "has an impressive record of sustaining support for high-casualty conflicts." OUT OF CONTROL: What effect did the 9/11 attacks have on Second Amendment rights? The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel writes that gun-control activists are jumping on the anti-terrorism bandwagon by calling for stricter firearms laws under the umbrella of fighting terror, but the tide is against them. "From federal court decisions in favor of individual ownership, to the news that Attorney General John Ashcroft plans to protect the Second Amendment, the little victories for gun-rights forces continue to pile up," she reports. Judges all over the country are shooting down lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and last month the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal domestic-violence statutes that restrict guns violate the Second Amendment. Also, the fact that the 9/11 attacks were done completely without the use of guns makes activists look silly. "Getting rid of one object they can use for violence will only send them hunting for another," Ms. Strassel writes. STERN BURNED: The airwaves became a little cleaner last month after CBS canceled Howard Stern's broadcast television show. Considering Mr. Stern's image as a cash cow, the program was a turkey: It ran three years and only attracted a handful of stations. Few people knew it existed. Media critic L. Brent Bozell celebrated the demise, citing the host's boast that he would topple Saturday Night Live. Mr. Bozell pointed out that 70 percent of the stations carrying the show jumped ship in the first year and national advertisers lost interest. Mr. Stern isn't completely out of the TV business, however. His weeknight show on the E! channel continues. In addition, Variety reports that his production company was working on a new sitcom for Viacom that may wind up in the old time slot.

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