- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

Heavy 'Traffic'

"Inspired by a miniseries that aired on British television in 1989, 'Traffic' weaves together three loosely intersecting story-lines into a portrait that, in the end, is less about any of the film's characters than about the drug problem as a whole, from its impact on families to its place in our national politics… .

"As a number of critics have emphasized in their acclaim for 'Traffic' … the movie's merits are not just of the artistic variety. 'Traffic,' they insist, carries a sorely needed message.

"For Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, it effectively dramatizes 'the basic staleness of our national debate on drug policy.' In the New York Times, Stephen Holden praised its 'coolly scathing overview of the multibillion-dollar drug trade and the largely futile war that is being waged against it.' …

"No less pleased by 'Traffic' have been the advocates of legalizing … drugs. The Lindesmith Center, whose primary backer, the billionaire George Soros, has funded ballot initiatives across the country aimed at repealing various drug laws, has even devoted a state-of-the-art Web site to the film, complete with a video game and prizes.

"As Ethan Nadelmann, the group's executive director, explained, 'The movie got people stirred up and got them thinking we hope to inspire them to get involved.' "

Gary Rosen, writing on " 'Traffic' and the War on Drugs," in the April issue of Commentary

'Out of control'

"One of the ways to define the legacy of the 1960s is to argue that if you do not have freedom over sex, you do not have freedom over anything. That is certainly how the leading cultural radicals of the decade understood what was at stake… .

"Conservatives understand the legacy of the 1960s in exactly the opposite fashion … if moral authority cannot be asserted over the sexual, it cannot be asserted anywhere. And they have few doubts that, as a result of the 1960s, sexuality and therefore, moral freedom is out of control in America at the turn of a new century… .

"No longer constrained by musty notions of virtue and self-control, freed of consequences through birth-control technology, unregulated by taboos against abortion, and crossing the line between genders, unrestrained sexuality really did seem to be the longest lasting legacy of the 1960s… .

"The legacy of that era is not human happiness, as so many of its prophets promised, but, in Richard John Neuhaus's rather idiosyncratic inventory, 'drugs, cults, mass murderers, the explosion of divorce, teen-age pregnancies, and abortion.' "

Alan Wolfe, from his new book, "Moral Freedom"

O'Reilly's world

"He's a big deal now. Credit the truth and the numbers… . Credit Roger Ailes and the Fox News Channel.

"[Bill] O'Reilly was a hybrid a lifelong upstart as chronic retread. Ailes rolled the dice. Fox was young. Fox leaned right. Fox challenged the soft-left stance that ran cable news… . O'Reilly assessed political issues ad hoc. Said assessments defied right-left logic. Ailes [understood] the O'Reilly gestalt: The guy was an … iconoclast in his crib… .

" 'The O'Reilly Factor' nabbed low numbers and built up in inch-by-inch increments. Impeachment goosed the numbers. The O'Reilly gospel spread. Bam the numbers matched Larry King's… .

"O'Reilly's grateful. O'Reilly's flabbergasted. O'Reilly credits the truth and 'the Folks.'

"The Folks are his viewers… .

"The truth and ego. Symbiotic twins linked early on. O'Reilly works at the former. The latter comes easy."

James Ellroy, writing on "Bill O'Reilly Is All Folked-Up," in the April issue of GQ


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