Christopher Hitchens

James Wolcott reviews Martin Amis's "Lionel Asbo: State of England."

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Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! George Orwell, argues Christopher Hitchens, was a man who constantly wrestled with his own shortcomings and prejudices. That struggle helped make him one of the century's greatest writers. Vanity Fair | 11 min (2,857 words) With Google and Gutenberg, research has never been easier.

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Nanny Dearest

IN LATE MAY, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he would impose a 16-ounce limit on servings of “sugary drinks”—sodas, sports and energy drinks, sweetened tea or coffee, and artificially sweetened fruit beverages—on the grounds that they contribute to the nation’s obesity epidemic, which in turn elevates the incidence of diabetes and other diseases.

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The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s once-spotless reputation is getting dirtier by the minute. First it yanked funding for Planned Parenthood. Then it changed its story about why it pulled the money.

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[Guest post by Nathan Pippenger] If you somehow haven’t seen the video of campus security officers pepper-spraying the students at UC Davis’s Occupy protest, watch it now: These situations are complicated and difficult to reconstruct from just a few minutes of video footage, but it seems obvious that the students in the video posed an immediate threat to nobody. But that wasn’t the take on Fox News last night, when Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly held a sort of ad hoc summit on the events. The problem was that nosy (liberal) people might overreact to all this.

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&c

 -- Some more highlights from Alan Krueger's academic career. -- Christopher Hitchens asks: "Does the Texas governor believe his idiotic religious rhetoric, or is he just pandering for votes?" I ask: why not both? -- Alan Krueger's co-author on their most famous paper: "I've subsequently stayed away from the minimum wage literature for a number of reasons. First, it cost me a lot of friends." -- Inside the mind of Dick Cheney.

Christopher Hitchens deftly skewers David Mamet, the playwright who has converted to the Republican Party with the fervency of, well a convert: This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason. In order to be persuaded by it, you would have to be open to propositions like this: “Part of the left’s savage animus against Sarah Palin is attributable to her status not as a woman, neither as a Conservative, but as a Worker.” Or this: “America is a Christian country.

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Sterner Stuff

There must be something about hitting the end of a campaign cycle: two writers, David Brooks and Christopher Hitchens, both wrote despairing items this week about, well, as Slate subtitled the Hitchens piece: “What normal person would put up with the inane indignities of the electoral process?” Here’s Brooks: [P]eople who run for public office put themselves in a position in which everybody is inclined to believe the worst about them. The things that are ripe for ridicule become famous. The accomplishments fade from view.

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Christopher Hitchens writes: To take an example near to hand: A few months ago, I wrote here that the recent sharp deterioration in Israeli-Turkish relations was at least partially explicable by a single fact: This year, a key House committee voted to refer to the Turkish massacre of the Armenians in 1915 as genocide. In previous years, that vote had gone the other way. The difference, I pointed out, was this: Until recently, the Israel lobby on the Hill had worked to protect Turkey from such condemnation.

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I met Christopher Hitchens at a party nearly three decades ago, shortly after he arrived in the states. The late (and very much missed) Eric Breindel and I were going out to Chinese dinner in a restaurant some place on Third Avenue in the fifties. Somehow, we invited Chris or maybe he invited himself. He was funny. But that was not enough for me. I didn't like his left-wing politics...and, frankly, I didn't like his later right-wing politics either. Hitchens is now sick, apparently quite sick, and on this last of the Days of Judgement I've slipped in a prayer for his recovery.

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