In every way it is regrettable—that three horses have died in the making of Luck over a period of twelve weeks; and that the slowly developing series is going to be cut off, not exactly in its prime, but with glimpses of that glow in the distance.
In January of 2009, the Council of Economic Advisers released an economic projection predicting unemployment with or without the stimulus: Of course, unemployment has risen even higher than the chart's worst case scenario. This fact has been cited by, well, pretty much every single Republican and/or member of the conservative movement as proof that the stimulus failed. What it actually shows is that the economy was in much worse shape than the government realized in January of 2009, though some economists predicted that the administration's forecast was too optimistic.
Enviro-types don't have much to be cheery about these days. Climate legislation has sputtered out. Jay Rockefeller is trying to delay the federal government's ability to rein in greenhouse gases. And the party of climate denialism is poised to grab a bunch of seats in Congress next year. So that means carbon emissions are just going to keep rising without end, right? Well, not necessarily.
Last week I pointed out that it's folly to insist that President Obama could conjure a tough cap and trade bill through the Senate merely by giving a powerful speech, acting more determined, or using legislative procedures that turn out not to exist. In response, Glenn Greenwald pulled out a pure ad hominem argument.
On October 19 of last year, the op-ed page of The New York Times contained a bombshell: a piece by Robert Bernstein, the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW), attacking his own organization. HRW, Bernstein wrote, was “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The allegation was certainly not new: HRW had been under assault for years by American Jews and other supporters of Israel, who argued that it was biased against the Jewish state. And these attacks had intensified in recent months, with a number of unflattering revelations about the organization.
It's a rare musician who requires a biography devoted solely to his or her political activities. But as Barry Seldes shows in Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician, Bernstein is one of those exceptional cases. For his entire adult life, Bernstein was perhaps the most famous composer and conductor in America--which is not the same thing as being the best--and he had no qualms about using his artistic fame to advance his political beliefs.
It was a lost decade. A journalist friend of mine traveled with Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Europe in 1993 for one of his fruitless Balkan negotiations. When the official delegation stopped at Shannon Airport for refueling on the way home, Christopher, not generally sociable, surprised my friend by pulling up beside him at the bar. "What can I get you?" the burly bartender asked the secretary. Christopher responded, "I'd like an Irish coffee, please ... but hold the whiskey and make it decaf." When I think of the '90s, I think of Christopher's Irish coffee.
The Powers That Be by David Halberstam (Knopf; $15) David Halberstam. Halberstam, that was what everybody called him (after all, it was his name). They always said what Halberstam needed was a good editor, his sentences ran on and on, he piled phrase upon phrase and clause upon clause, he used commas the way other men used periods.