By Jefferson Flanders

In the words of newspaperman extraordinaire Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

THE PEW INTERNET & AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT pollsters are reporting that two out of three American voters received pre-recorded “robocalls” from political candidates during the 2006 election. Watch for many states to seek legislation to curb the annoying practice; it can’t come soon enough, in my view. (And no, there are no First Amendment issues involved here, as you can’t argue that a privately-owned phone is a public space.)

ALLERGY SUFFERERS NOW face limits on their purchase of cold remedies that include pseudoephedrine (an ingredient in medicines like Drixoral, Sudafed and Claritin-D) because of federal and state laws. I experienced the new approach this week, when I had to show my driver’s license and sign for a box of 20-extended release Drixoral. Pseudoephedrine is also a key ingredient in methamphetamines, and the feds are using the law to go after meth makers and their illegal labs.

One Clartin-D user in Illinois, Tim Naveau, spent time in jail after buying some of the medication for his son, putting him over the legal limit for purchases. He was charged with a Class-B misdemeanor for stockpiling the drug. I don’t downplay the dangers of crystal meth, but there’s also a danger in mindlessly applying the law and, in effect, criminalizing the purchase of over-the-counter medications.

DURHAM DISTRICT ATTORNEY MIKE NIFONG’s case against three Duke University lacrosse players charged with sexual assault of an exotic dancer is collapsing. Nifong has dropped rape charges against the three after the accuser told prosecutors she could not be certain there was “penile penetration” (necessary under North Carolina law for such a charge), even though she had told the authorities repeatedly that was the case. The state will proceed with sexual offense and kidnapping charges–which are felonies.

It’s even money that all charges will be dropped in February after the next court hearing, especially if the accuser continues to have “memory problems.” If that happens, look for huge civil suits from the three accused men against Nifong and the Durham police. They may well ask, however, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?

HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR DAVID ZUCKER is ruffling liberal feathers with his YouTube short film mockery of the Iraq Study Group. Zucker, like actor Ron Silver, is a post 9/11 convert to skepticism about the value of a diplomatic approach to the war on terrorism in the Middle East. The video is a hoot, no matter what your politics.

Zucker’s brother and collaborator on Airplane! and other comedies, Jerry Zucker, has distanced himself from the parody: “Jerry Zucker played no part in its conception, production, or distribution, and the film in no way reflects the political and philosophical beliefs of Jerry Zucker, his wife Janet Zucker or Zucker Productions.”

COLUMNIST FROMA HARROP CHALLENGES THOSE JOURNALISTS who write “sympathetic stories about illegal immigrants who work hard and go to church.” In her provocative piece “Illegal Immigration: A Rich American’s Game,” Harrop writes that the tone would change if reporters faced competition from immigrants the way low-paid American workers do:

“…were a busload of illegals from Australia to turn up at their newspaper and offer reportage at 10 percent below the going rate, the writers would call the authorities so fast that your head would spin. And the publisher’s argument that thanks to the cheap Australians, he’s able to trim a few cents off the newsstand price would make no impression.”

Harrop eyes other highly-paid professionals, and wonders why their jobs should be buffeted from lower-cost competition.

“For some reason, the job of keeping prices low has fallen entirely on the shoulders of the most vulnerable Americans. If we banged down CEO compensation and sliced lawyers’ pay by a third, the same thing would happen. Everyone’s prices would drop. The corporation could sell its products for less, and the cost of legal services would fall.”

“No vocation keeps a tighter lid on immigration than the medical profession. “If we let in 100,000 immigrant doctors,” Richard Freeman, another Harvard economist, recently told a group of journalists, “everyone in this room would benefit.” Except the American doctors.”

Immigration is one issue where it’s not hard to find hypocrisy in the positions of Americans on the Right and Left.

IT WON”T BE “SIR BONO,” even if the world-famous rock singer has been granted an honorary British knighthood. The British embassy in Dublin noted that “titles such as ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ do not come with such honorary awards, ‘conferred on citizens of countries of which The Queen is not Head of State.'” U2’s lead singer, whose birth name is Paul David Hewson, is an Irish citizen.

If you were wondering, Hewson was dubbed “Bono Vox” (“Good voice” in mangled Latin), the name borrowed from a hearing aid shop in Dublin, by a friend who claimed Bono sang loud enough for the deaf.

THE WORDS FOR THE WEEK from Charles Dickens: “I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

Reprinted from Neither Red nor Blue

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

Be Sociable, Share!