September 14, 2011
Mitt Romney has shed the dark blue suit, white shirt, and pale blue tie of his 2008 campaign for an open-neck tattersall shirt with its sleeves rolled up. His sideburns are graying, and his eyes are lined, but he still sports a boyish grin and radiates the can-do enthusiasm of a man who is promising to turn the country around the way he once turned around the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
The Trouble With Neutrality
September 14, 2011
A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War By Amanda Foreman (Random House, 958 pp., $35) The world’s biggest superpower has a problem. The citizens of a nation overseas have risen up against their tyrannical rulers, determined to claim liberty even if it takes a civil war. As the most powerful global advocate of freedom, the superpower has to admire the rebels’ cause. Should it help them? Humanitarians argue that intervention can prevent hundreds of thousands of civilians from suffering hideous state-sponsored subjugation.
David Thomson on Films: ‘The Hour’ Is the Most Complex and Absorbing Story Currently Playing on Any Screen
September 06, 2011
If you haven’t caught up with it yet, “The Hour” is halfway over. The fourth of six hour-long episodes will play on BBC America on Wednesday, September 7th. But don’t be disheartened. You don’t want to watch it in its original transmission because it is stretched out to 90 minutes with some especially egregious commercials. If you wait a day, you can pick it up on Exfiniti “on demand” without the commercials. Start now and you can catch up on the first three episodes, and get in training for the most complex and absorbing story playing on film (and in English) at the moment.
Forget Bailouts and Stimulus. Let’s Think Small.
August 22, 2011
This article is a contribution to 'Is There Anything That Can Be Done? A TNR Symposium On The Economy'. Click here to read other contributions to the series. Various flashy stimulus packages—whether through the spending measures typically advocated by Democrats or the tax cuts regularly pushed by Republicans—remain a constant and tired refrain in our political debate. But if programs like George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts and Barack Obama’s Recovery Act tend to dominate the news, in the long run our living standards are determined by the compounded effect of productivity growth over decades.
It's the Austerity, Stupid
August 16, 2011
[Guest post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] Yesterday David Cameron said that Britain was in the midst of a “slow-motion moral collapse,” while denying that his country’s austerity program was at fault for last week’s riots. Cameron is right that the early media hypothesis that the riots were in part anti-austerity protests, as in Greece, was largely incorrect. The London riots were not political in nature. No chanting youth, linked arms, or raised banners.
Amid the still-smoldering ashes of the past week’s riots, the British public is not only assessing the damage—it’s trying to figure out what sparked the conflagration in the first place. Where Prime Minister David Cameron has blamed a culture of entitlement and irresponsibility among British youth, the opposition Labour Party has targeted the government’s austerity measures, which have cut provisions for the poor. What everyone seems to agree upon is that police forces simply weren’t up to the job.
Who Are the London Rioters—And Why Can’t the Media Find Out?
August 11, 2011
These days, with any mass movement, from terrorist organizations to student protests, you almost immediately have a sense of who is involved. Given the ubiquity of social media and the generally elevated level of surveillance, no modern day gathering, whether for legitimate protest, mass violence, or the shades in between, should be difficult to minutely dissect and analyze. Indeed, we have come to expect knowing everything there is to be known about an event’s main actors, their shared characteristics, and how they came to behave in the way they did.
Last week’s heart-breaking massacre of teenagers and others in Norway makes it dismayingly clear that the religious warfare at the heart of Al Qaeda’s crusade against the West and its supporters has now found its mirror-image not in the random act of a deranged lunatic, but in a meticulously planned execution of the anti-Islamic ideology that has been spreading like a poison throughout European political culture for at least a decade.
I've never thought of it this way before, but Dan Balz pithily explains that the culture of newspapers versus television news in the U.K. is essentially the reverse of the American arrangement: Unlike in the United States, newspapers in Britain still wield enormous power. Television networks are constrained by law in what they can do and say. The BBC is required by charter to ensure balance.
Two weeks ago, Britain was a nation lost, permanently ill at ease, with a mutant, hybrid government and an air of meekness and gloom. There wasn’t anything to distract us, to feel particularly ashamed or proud of—everything was just a bit depressing. Nine out of ten news stories were about Kate Middleton’s hats (too Canadian?) or clavicles (too pointy?). In Europe, we would have just looked insensitive if we had complained about our dull, entrenched problems, given the exuberant sleaziness in Italy and chaos in Greece.