Timothy Noah

Seduction, Power Tool Style
November 07, 2011

Here's what I don't get about (alleged) sexual harassers. If they're so interested in having sex with inappropriate partners, why don't they make the effort to figure out what might arouse them? Is there a woman alive who ever read an account of (alleged) sexual harassment who thought, "Ooh, yeah, that's a real turn-on"? Even Dominique Strauss-Kahn couldn't resist, on exiting the bathroom, dropping his bath towel and grabbing the nearest hotel chambermaid.Who the hell taught him seduction technique, Harpo Marx?

Influential Me
November 07, 2011

Never in my life have I written anything that made so little impression on the reading public as my last TRB column ("Trigger Happy"), wherein I explained that it doesn't matter that the super committee won't meet its eve-of-Thanksgiving deadline to find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts and/or tax increases. (I include in that calculus the three years I spent writing for and eventually editing Highlights, my high school newspaper, 1973-1976.) Indeed, I wrote in my column, blowing the deadline would likely be best for all concerned. Let me repeat that. Forget about the super committee deadline.

See You Next Week
October 31, 2011

I'm taking the week off to finish a book. Others may appear in this space while I'm gone. See you Nov. 7! 

They Never Listen
October 28, 2011

Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) was supposed to give a speech last week at the University of Pennsylvania on the topic of income inequality. He didn't give it because it looked like campus protests against his appearance were getting out of hand, but he released the speech text to the Penn student newspaper. I then offered a detailed critique ("Eric Cantor, Lake Wobegon Egalitarian"), pointing out that Cantor didn't seem to know that Steve Jobs, though a remarkable American in many ways, wasn't much of a U.S.

October 28, 2011

The Defense department is no stranger to euphemism, starting with its name (which used to be "War department"). If the Pentagon truly confined itself to providing defense then presumably we wouldn't need a whole separate government agency to provide "Homeland Security." The best-publicized recent creepy example of DoD euphemism is the term "kinetic warfare," which manages to make the killing of other human beings sound like performance art. It first gained traction during the presidency of George W. Bush and went viral in the Obama era. But God bless drone warfare.

Daley's False Equivalence
October 28, 2011

Last month I made a plea for a first-rate profile of Bill Daley, chief of staff to President Barack Obama, who I was beginning to suspect was part of the White House's problem. It still hasn't appeared. But Politico, which had weighed in with a serviceably mediocre one ("Trouble on Daley's Watch") now has a much better Daley piece--an interview with Politico's Roger Simon.

Paul Ryan's Blunder
October 27, 2011

Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo reports that Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) committed a hilarious gaffe when he gave a speech yesterday about income inequality. Here's the problem passage: "In societies marked by class structure, an elite class made up of rich and powerful patrons supplies the needs of a large client underclass that toils, but cannot own. The unfairness of closed societies is the kindling for class warfare, where the interests of 'capital' and 'labor' are perpetually in conflict.

My Second-Favorite Republican Innovation ...
October 26, 2011

... was the introduction of the progressive income tax. My absolute favorite Republican idea, of course, was freeing the slaves. Both were the achieved during the greatest presidency in American history. In fairness, it should be said that Abraham Lincoln didn't take a strong interest in how the federal government would raise revenue to support the Union army. ("Money!" he said. "I don't know anything about 'money'!") He just needed some, fast.

Trigger Happy
October 26, 2011

Everybody agrees that the bipartisan deficit super committee had better hurry up and strike a deal to cut the federal budget by $1.2 trillion so it can meet its November 23 deadline. If it doesn’t, then all hell will break loose. Except it won’t. You may have lost track of the deficit story after Congress and President Obama averted catastrophe at the end of July by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling. Perhaps I can help.

Afternoon Reading Assignment
October 25, 2011

The Congressional Budget Office has a new report on income inequality. There's nothing really new here, but there's a lot of fresh data and the analysis is fair-minded and easily understandable to the lay person.