- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Mob anachronism
"The return of 'The Sopranos to HBO … reminds us once again of what a great work of American art this collaborative venture, headed by David Chase, still is… .
"Chase and his colleagues are assuming the bland and comfortable decency of the most prosperous and egalitarian society the world has ever known and using it simultaneously to criticize and to express a sneaking admiration for those who persist in living their lives under assumptions and according to rule that ceased to make very much sense to most people in the dominant culture approximately half a century ago.
"Tony Soprano, that is, is a reactionary and not a progressive hero, a sort of Don Quixote.
"If he werent, like Don Quixote, doomed by the delusion that he is living in a different time and according to different rules than he actually is, we would not find nearly so much comedy and pathos in his attempts to cling to an anachronistic Mediterranean honor culture at odds with everything around it, or in his own intermittent yielding to the same forces of progress and therapy and niceness."
—James Bowman, writing on "Mob Hit," in the May issue of the American Spectator

Keeping it alive

"Despite all its best efforts, has the religiously conservative agenda seen any advancement on the national or local levels? Has the American family been strengthened? … Have we seen the slightest change in the kids of movies produced in Hollywood? Has the sale of pornography decreased? One can cite only a few successes and, as Bill Bennett keeps reminding us, the leading social and cultural indicators are not encouraging. Many of these seemingly intractable programs facing American society are cultural in nature and are not easily affected by political solutions.
"But there have been some positive accomplishments. In the face of the strength and power of the dominant elite liberal culture, many public arguments about moral questions were kept alive by the efforts of religious conservatives. Many in the elite culture thought these disputes were settled. In 1973, after the Supreme Court wrote Roe v. Wade, the New York Times editorialized that the debate about abortion was finally settled. We now know it was not. One of the biggest reasons: religious conservatives marshaled volunteers and staffed pro-life organizations to ensure that the arguments be kept alive."
—Michael L. Cromartie, in a March 16 Witherspoon Fellowship Lecture at the Family Research Council

Poster boy?

"Robert Downey Jr. is in trouble again. Los Angeles police took him into custody this week for public intoxication, the latest arrest in a long series of legal problems dating back to 1996 when he was charged with heroin, cocaine and weapons possession… .
"Predictably, Mr. Downey is being used as a poster boy for the failure of our drug policies. 'A perfect face of the war on drugs, lamented Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen. 'A target and victim in the war on drugs, opined Ethan Nadelmann in the New York Times. Yet the actor had been given chance after chance in treatment programs… .
"We must not make Robert Downey Jr. into a symbol of anything larger than himself. He is not an icon of a botched war on drugs; he is not evidence of the failure of criminal sanctions; his situation shouldnt be used to argue against the virtues of drug treatment. When he gets out, hell need to make choices. If he turns to drugs again, that will be his decision, not his disease."
—Sally Satel, writing on "Drugs: A Decision, Not a Disease," in Fridays Wall Street Journal


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