On Tuesday night this past week, alarm bells suddenly began ringing at 1 Dupont Circle, the Washington, DC headquarters of the powerful higher education lobby. The trigger was the surprise ultimatum that President Obama leveled in his State of the Union address. “We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” he said. “We’ll run out of money.” States needed to stop slashing college budgets, he noted, but colleges also had work to do.
In a country as injured as ours, there is something unseemly about all this sagacious talk of creative destruction. A concept that was designed to suggest the ironic cruelty of innovation has been twisted into an extenuation of economic misery—into capitalism’s theodicy. Where there are winners, there are losers: praise the Lord and pass the Kindle.
Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live By Jeff Jarvis (Simon & Schuster, 263 pp., $26.99) In 1975, Malcolm Bradbury published The History Man, a piercing satire of the narcissistic pseudo-intellectualism of modern academia. The novel recounts a year in the life of the young radical sociologist Howard Kirk—“a theoretician of sociability”—who is working on a book called The Defeat of Privacy.
... and the dog ceased his barking. I actually began to weep softly only when the siren stopped. It was 11 a.m., Monday, and for two minutes all Israel—but not, I admit, its Arabs—ceased what they were doing and stood, quietly, introspectively, in camaraderie and in remembrance. This was Yom Hazikaron, the memorial day for the Jewish state and the Jewish nation. Ceremonies were held throughout the country—a tiny country, I do not hesitate to remind you—for whose survival 22,867 soldiers had fallen in battle since 1948.
Freedom and security—for some 80 years, they have been the most cherished words in American political discourse. Each major party claims it can best shield the citizenry from danger while also protecting its liberties. Which side in this perennial contest makes the most persuasive case always ends up in power. And one reason national politics is a deadlocked, angry mess right now is that neither side has the rhetorical advantage. First, a look back. The contest began during the Great Depression.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is known as much for its after-parties—where buttoned-up conservatives let loose over libations—as it is known for its official agenda of letting GOP kingmakers and presidential hopefuls vie for the party’s favor. This year’s most talked-about party happened Thursday night, under the dimly lit chandeliers and moody, faux-brocade decor of the 18th Street Lounge, in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. The toast of the party was GOProud, the ultra-conservative, GLBT advocacy group.
For most of the 2.5 million years that humans and their predecessors have been around, the Earth has been a volatile place. Subtle shifts in the planet’s orbit have triggered large temperature swings; glaciers have marched across North America and Europe and then retreated. But, about 10,000 years ago, something unusual happened: The Earth’s climate settled into a relatively stable state, global temperatures started hovering within a narrow band, and sea levels stopped rising and falling so drastically.
The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 By Dinesh D'Souza (Doubleday, 333 pp., $26.95) I. American conservatism is in crisis. That much is almost universally clear. But the next period in American politics will be determined not least by how clearly we understand the crisis of the right. For it may be that the remarkably successful Republican coalition of the last three decades is not at all doomed at the polls. A Giuliani or Romney candidacy, especially up against a Clinton candidacy, could well eke out a victory in 2008.