The Counterpoint

January 07, 2005

Gerson leaving

MSNBC is reporting that Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, is leaving:

Michael Gerson, Bush's chief speechwriter, who has helped craft nearly every one of Bush's speeches during his first term, is leaving his job. Gerson is expected to move into the policy arena and be replaced as head speechwriter by Wall Street Journal editorial-page writer William McGurn. Gerson's job change cements the breakup of Bush's speechwriting team that included deputies John McConnell and Matthew Scully.
That is really too bad. Though I don't know much about Gerson, I always found the Bush speeches to be quite well written. He was a darn talented man.

I don't know how this is going to affect the White House message, but my guess would be that religion won't play such an important role of the speeches (which is a welcome change to me, as I am not exactly religious). Gerson was a Christian evangelical and a theology student; though I don't know as much about McGurn, my guess is that he didn't have quite such a religious upbringing.

January 06, 2005

Crazy photo

My eye isn't good enough to tell if this image (from here) is authentic or not. But if it is, then all I can say is "daaaammmmnnn."

Looks fake to me, but judge for yourself.

The WaPo profiles the Chief of Staff

Via Patrick Ruffini, I see that the Washington Post (formatted; unformatted) has a great (but loooong) profile of White House Chief of Staff Andy Card. It's a very interesting read, and you will probably be surprised by what you learn. Only a very small amount of the article actually deals with public policy. Instead the focus is on Card's background and how he became one of the most important men in the White House.

Two interesting notes from the article:

* He uses an impressive memory technique that requires him to use practically no paper for his job; everything is stored in his head.

* He was formerly a McDonald's employee and a trash collector. Who says you can't be anything you want to be?

It's five pages long, but it feels like a page and a half. Check it out.

January 04, 2005

Canada won't ban drug exports ... yet

This seems like good news:

Canada isn't poised to ban prescription drug sales outside its borders immediately, a move that would cut off access to cheaper medications for more than 2 million Americans, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday. A ban still might come later, he said.

"We are temporarily relieved that a decision is not imminent," Pawlenty said at a news conference following a meeting with a Canadian consulate official. "That buys us a little more time."
A major fear of reimportation centers around the quality of the drugs that are being reimported. This doesn't worry me much. The pharmaceutical companies aren't going to sell a shoddy product to consumers, be it in Canada or the United States. These are the same drugs Canadian citizens are getting, and they seem to have no reservations about quality. Despite the scare, there is absolutely no concrete proof that reimported drugs have directly caused injury or death. There may be some risk involved, but it's a small price to pay for millions of Americans to get sweet deals on their prescription drugs.

But I do wonder if Canadian pharmacies will have the quantity of drugs necessary to fill prescriptions in the States. If reimportation catches on, the American companies that fill Canadian supplies are going to adjust their exports to forcibly stop the trend. Average Americans may dislike them, but the companies are not stupid by any means; they are going to keep as much of their profits as they can.

January 02, 2005

A sixth sense ... in animals?

Impressive stuff:

Wildlife officials in Sri Lanka's largest national park believe that animals sensed the Indian Ocean tsunami and fled to higher ground to avoid death.

While the human death toll continues to rise in one of the worst hit countries, experts are amazed that they have found no evidence of large-scale animal deaths.

Officials in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka's largest animal reserve, now believe the animals survived because they have a sixth sense which warned them of the impending tidal waves.
Obviously humans aren't going to be around forever. If it survives, this planet is going to be in pretty good hands ... especially after a few more million years of development.