Franklin Foer

Self Service
March 25, 2002

For Washington lobbyists, these were supposed to be the salad days. The Bush administration was to be their playground, the regulatory agencies their dolls to dress up and knock down. And on paper they’ve made out pretty well—tax cuts, the squashing of costly ergonomics rules, favorable appointments throughout the government. But for all their influence, D.C. lobbyists have failed to attain one elusive goal: public respect. During the 2000 primaries, John McCain denounced them as one side of the “iron triangle” of special interests that corrupt American politics.

Fabric Softener
March 04, 2002

Ever since he signed on as America's ally in the war on terrorism, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been asking for one simple favor in return: the suspension of U.S. tariffs and quotas on Pakistani textiles. And, last Monday, Musharraf finally got a definitive response to his request: No. On that day Commerce Under Secretary Grant Aldonas told Musharraf's deputies that the Bush administration would neither push Congress to cut tariffs nor raise quotas for vital Pakistani exports like cotton trousers.

Foreign Aide
February 18, 2002

Gray Davis is facing a tough year. His reelection, once deemed near certain given California's overwhelming Democratic tilt, has been thrown into question by an energy crisis and a moderate, well-known, well-funded Republican challenger.

Successor Story
January 14, 2002

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Iranian shah, closes his speeches about Iranian democracy with a signature flourish: "This is a cause I believe in and am committed to see to fruition, even if it were at the expense of my own life." At public appearances, his plainclothes security force searches bags for bombs and stands over the crowd like guards watching the prison mess.This isn't paranoia, which famously afflicted his father. Since Ruhollah Khomeini ascended to power in 1979, Iran's ayatollahs have methodically whacked their opponents.

Foreign Aid
November 26, 2001

Since September 11, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has experienced something of an American renaissance. He has become a regular on the Fox News Channel and CNN, and he testified before the House Government Reform Committee. His book, Fighting Terrorism, has suddenly appeared on best-seller lists across the country. Nonetheless, on November 2 Bibi found time to break away from the TV and lecture circuit to head to Manchester, New Hampshire, for a local town-hall meeting at St.

Fevered Pitch
November 12, 2001

ON THE AFTERNOON of September 26, George W. Bush gathered 15 prominent Muslim- and Arab-Americans at the White House. With cameras rolling, the president proclaimed that “the teachings of Islam are teachings of peace and good.” It was a critically important moment, a statement to the world that America’s Muslim leaders unambiguously reject the terror committed in Islam’s name. Unfortunately, many of the leaders present hadn’t unambiguously rejected it. To the president’s left sat Dr.

Sin Of Commission
October 08, 2001

Two weeks after George W. Bush's declaration of war against terrorism, a battle plan is taking shape. We are putting the screws to Pakistan to end its history of mentoring terrorists. We will now treat Afghanistan like the rogue state that it is. The Treasury Department will try to choke off Osama bin Laden's financing. Intelligence agencies, at long last, will share information with one another. And if the Bush administration has its way, the CIA will revert to its pre-1995 guidelines, which allowed operatives to recruit informants with sketchy human rights records. All sensible moves.

Reorientation
July 02, 2001

"You want to know about the awakening? This is the awakening." Ginny Gong, a manager in the Montgomery County culture and recreation department, is crowded into the wood-paneled school board chamber in Rockville, Maryland. Squeezed into the aisles around her are a Vietnamese financial analyst from Lockheed Martin, a Chinese administrator from the National Institutes of Health, and about a dozen other activists.

In Defense of Conventional Wisdom
March 19, 2001

There are certain ideas so beyond the pale they cannot be publicly defended. You never see politicians arguing for child molestation or op-eds defending Hitler. But there is one particular idea so disdained, so monstrous, that it must be pulled out and flayed almost daily: conventional wisdom. Since 1980 the New York Times editorial page has published at least 38 columns condemning world hunger, 241 against South African apartheid, and 465 containing the phrase "conventional wisdom"--and never once did the Times mean it in a nice way. Like muckrakers railing against J.P. Morgan and John D.

The Wayward Critic
Howard Kurtz and the decline of media criticism.
May 15, 2000

Howard Kurtz has been busy. Last year The Washington Post's media reporter wrote over 199 articles—more than the paper's Supreme Court reporter (130) or even its chief White House correspondent (195). Kurtz doubles as co-host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," a forum for reporters to chew over the sins of other reporters. His books on the sad decline of newspapers, talk-show blowhards, and the Clinton propaganda machine inhabit the increasingly crowded "media studies" corner of your neighborhood Barnes and Noble. (The subject covers nearly as much shelf space as philosophy in my neighborhood megast

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