- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Shocking choice

“Even in an administration packed with appointees whose highest qualification for their posts seems to be their undying fealty to the president, George W. Bush’s choice of Harriet Miers to fill Sandra Day O’Connor’s Supreme Court seat came as a shock. But probably not as shocking as what happened next: Conservative pundits, legislators, and intellectuals actually began to object, loudly. …

“The uproar … seems to have utterly surprised the White House. …

“[I]n many ways, the entirety of the Bush administration has been a faith-based initiative. For five years, Bush has asked allies: ‘Trust me.’ … When Bush cast Iraq as a major security threat, supporters assumed he must be acting on sound intelligence — and when WMD proved to be MIA, they were willing to assume he had been led astray by an inept CIA, rather than being the self-fulfilling motive force behind intelligence that painted Iraq as a bogeyman. …

“For Miers, though, there is nobody else to blame. The choice was as close as anything can come to being a pure exercise of executive judgment.”

— Julian Sanchez, writing on “The Revolt of the Elites,” Oct. 11 in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Pill profits

“[P]opular culture has already cast drug makers as scheming and murderous; they’re the wife-killers in ‘The Fugitive,’ wife and child-killers in this year’s ‘The Constant Gardener,’ and soul-sucking suits in the best-seller ‘Indecision.’ …

“The average number of annual prescriptions per person in 1993 was seven; in 2004, it was 12. What’s driven this scaling up of legal drug use, [according to author Greg Critser], is a potent cocktail of deregulation, cheap generic drugs, and the marriage of meds and marketing. …

“When industry heads finally agreed to start airing television spots, they found it was insanely profitable. Eight-and-a-half million Americans annually request and receive a prescription for a specific drug after seeing a television advertisement.

“Once pills were being pitched next to cars and cosmetics, [drug company] execs were free to unleash their collective creativity on finding new and better ways to sell well-being.”

— Kerry Howley, writing on “Land of the Medicated,” Oct. 11 in the New York Sun

Rebuilding jazz

“Katrina managed to blow jazz back onto the American radar screen. Those TV montages of physical devastation and desperate souls were accompanied by strains of New Orleans jazz, those benefit concerts filled with saxes and trumpets; the reporters arriving to cover it all flew into Louis Armstrong Airport. Save for the media-friendly efforts of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and PBS poster boy Ken Burns, jazz rarely gets such play.

“Much as we Americans like to pay lip service to jazz as ‘our national music,’ with the Crescent City its seminal home, we tend to favor jazz’s quality as aural decoration over its contents as oral history; we stock up on classic reissues of past masters, but rarely consider the music’s meaning in our current lives. …

“Musicians and supporters worry that reconstruction plans will amount to a whitewash or Disney-fication of one of the seats of African-American culture. … We now know that New Orleans will be rebuilt: But what will be saved and what will be bulldozed? And who will make those calls?”

— Larry Blumenfeld, writing on “America’s new jazz museum (No poor black people allowed),” Oct. 12 in Salon at www.salon.com



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