The Tragedy Of Tony Blair
April 10, 2007
The Guardian has a list of the top "ten defining Blair moments" that is part of the series it is running on the prime minister who will be leaving office by the summer. Blair is a weary man, and the most recent hostage crisis was just the latest stress-inducing event, piled on with Iraq, the cash-for-peeragesscandal, a series of incompetent Cabinet ministers unworthy of working alongside Blair--not to mention his own chancellor of the exchequer whose main activity over the past decade, next to balancing Britain's books, has been to complain that he's not PM yet. All one hears about Tony Blair
The Case For The Long School Day
March 26, 2007
by John McWhorter It can be quaint reading of ancient debates in Congress during the Depression as to the wisdom of instituting what we now know as Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and other aspects of our safety net. Certain thoughtful folk were afraid such "handouts" threatened socialism, and so on. I suspect that 70 years from now, the ambivalence among assorted educators, administrators, thinking folk, and even parents over the extension of the public school day will look similar.
Topless Taxes, Really
February 14, 2007
A proposed bill in the Texas legislature known as the "Topless Tax" would tax patrons a $5 cover charge to enter strip clubs. The cover charge would then go directly into sexual-assault prevention and counseling services. This makes a certain amount of sense to me. Just as sin taxes on cigarettes end up funding everything from health care programs to education spending, taxing strip-club patrons to support worthy state mandates like assault prevention has a certain symmetry to it. Taxing the sex trade is as natural as taxing casinos and booze.
The Politics Of Spite
February 13, 2007
A few days ago, Matt Yglesias wrote the following about global warming: One doubts that any of these various rightwingers were actually humming along and then got bribed by energy companies to come up with the outlandish conservative arguments you here on this score. Rather, the money's just sort of out there ready to flow to individuals who make outlandish arguments and to publications and institutions that associate themselves with such people and such arguments. Under the circumstances, the human mind proves remarkably supple and creative.
Who Needs Experts?
January 30, 2007
The biggest problem in Washington, of course, is that President Bush's crack team of political appointees doesn't have enough power. Luckily, help is on the way: In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries.
What 'really' Ails Ford?
January 26, 2007
So Ford Motor Company posts a staggering $12.7 billion loss in '06 and all the usual explanations make the rounds: SUV sales slumped thanks to high gas prices; Toyota and other rivals have been making better cars; the company's weighed down by health and pension costs. No doubt. But here's yet another theory, via Focus on the Family's always-fabulous newsletter: The American Family Association (AFA) said last year's $12.7 billion loss by Ford Motor Company is no surprise.
Well, At Least Bush Will Always Have Darryl Worley
January 26, 2007
Merle Haggard's already come out against the war in Iraq. Now it's Toby Keith's turn. From a Newsday profile of The Angry American: Keith doesn't support the Iraq war -- "Never did," he says -- and he favors setting a time limit on the occupation. He says he suspects civil war in Iraq is inevitable and predicts the Kurds will be the victors: "I promise you, they'll end up with it all." The article goes on to mention that Keith is buddies with Bill Richardson. I do think "How Do You Like Me Now" would make a pretty good theme song for Richardson's presidential campaign. --Jason Zengerle
December 11, 2006
A few weeks ago, George Packer argued that if and when the United States finally pulls out of Iraq, the country should offer visas to those Iraqis who collaborated with us during the occupation, seeing as how they'll all be in grave danger when we leave. As an aside, he noted that last year the United States accepted fewer than 200 Iraqi refugees (and looking around, it seems that most of those had applied for admission before the current war).
They Shoot Talking Points, Don't They?
October 11, 2006
by Eric Rauchway I'd like to root for Steven Pinker in the Pinker/Lakoff quarrel, if only because Steve's a fellow Open U faculty member. (Go, Virtual Dons!) But then he trotted out this point: Whose Freedom? shows no trace of the empirical lessons of the past three decades, such as the economic and humanitarian disaster of massively planned economies, or the impending failure of social insurance programs that ignore demographic arithmetic.
Intelligent Design And Iraq
October 02, 2006
by Richard Stern How wonderful it would be if all things were governed by Intelligent Design, and that we were intelligent enough to figure out the design. As far as the universe is concerned, my guess is that we have about the same sense of its ultimate design that a worm has of relativity theory or Hamlet. As for matters closer to home, the record is not all that great. Predictions about the outcome of major policy decisions are not all that brilliant. Henry Kissinger's gloomy assessment of the U.S.