The Irony of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010
There’s no question that many of the Wikileaks documents are a great read. These diplomatic conversations between American officials and leaders from the Arab world, China, and Europe provide important insights about the subtleties of U.S. policy and the complexities of dealing with different personalities and governments around the world. But the disclosures are not just interesting; they are also ironic. That’s because they undermine the very worldview that Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks almost certainly support.
Abracadabra: A Brand New Arab Identity Via Andy Warhol, The Guggenheim, And Frank Gehry
November 27, 2010
The most intriguing and intricate cultural history I have read is Simon Schama’s The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. There are many lessons in it, one of them that enormous wealth brings both opportunity and confusion, even—surprise!—also deterioration. This was what finally happened to Holland, and it happened also to Spain and Venice—three of the once richest and most powerful polities of Europe.
Ireland Then and Now
November 22, 2010
It was not long ago that Ireland was every American conservative's beau ideal of a European state. Low taxes, low regulation, it was the operfect case study in the success of free market policies. Former AEI fellow, and head of Bush's Domestic Policy Council, Karl Zinsmeister, October 5, 2000: One exception to Europe's tepid economic performance has been the Irish. Ireland -- which I visit regularly, including this summer -- is an economy on fire. As recently as the late 1970s, when I attended college in Dublin, the country was still a kind of developing nation.
Douthat's Unconvincing Defense Of GOP Fiscal Seriousness
November 16, 2010
Ross Douthat writes that the reaction to the debt commission shows that Republicans take the deficit more seriously than Democrats: Last week’s media coverage sometimes made it sound as if Bowles and Simpson were taking the same amount of fire from left and right. But the reaction from Republican lawmakers and the conservative intelligentsia was muted, respectful and often favorable; the right-wing griping mostly came from single-issue activists and know-nothing television entertainers.
Let's Talk About Sex
October 28, 2010
As any visitor to Europe can attest, attitudes about sex over there are a lot different than attitudes about sex over here. All you have to do is turn on a television, open a newspaper, or walk through a train station and look at the billboards. Messaging about safe sex is not only more common. It's also a lot more explicit. Rachel Phelps has collected some examples of these ads in a slideshow at Slate (starting with the image above). And she thinks they make a difference: In both Europe and America, the age at which most people start having sex is 17.
Obama Thought America Could Do Without Europe. Well, Europe May Think It Can Do Without America.
October 27, 2010
This is my rather crude way of putting John Vinocur's subtle answer to the question he posed yesterday in his "Politicus" column in the International Herald Tribune: "Could U.S. lose Europe to Russia?" Of course, Obama cares mightily about the Third World. The Third World is a mess, an unholy mess, and it's about time that someone make this argument clearly rather than let it linger as an unspoken and mischievous truth. Not quite a half-century ago I was preparing for my graduate school general examinations and "African nationalism" was one of my special fields.
Are Supply-Siders Writing News Stories For Politico?
October 18, 2010
Politico reports that conservatives are burning Indiana governor Mitch Daniels at the stake for suggesting the possibility of replacing an income tax with a Value-Added Tax. (Conservatives actually tend to like the idea, but fear the result would be to add a VAT on top of the income tax.) Anyway, Politico's story includes this odd bit of conservative talking points: Many of the countries in Europe that implemented value-added taxes, including Greece, stagnated.
October 13, 2010
Jamie Kirchick responds to my item criticizing his Wall Street Journal op-ed: Jon Chait writes that I "blame" American liberals "for the rise of European Islamophobia." But nowhere in my Wall Street Journal op-ed do I do such a thing. I merely point out what I believe to be the massive blind spot among many on the American left who went into a hyperbolic frenzy over opposition to the Park51 project while ignoring the genuine xenophobia of a continent and culture which they think America should emulate.
Are Liberals To Blame For Europe's Far Right?
October 12, 2010
My former colleague Jamie Kirchick, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, surveys the rise of Islamophobic far-right parties in Europe, and flays American liberals: Anyone who has traveled throughout Europe knows that its image as an exemplar of progressivism, and ethnic and religious diversity, is a fabrication of the American liberal mind. American liberals who ignore European bigotry while considering opposition to the Ground Zero mosque inexcusable bring to mind the mocking suggestion of German communist playwright Bertolt Brecht: "Would it not be easier in that case for the government to
October 07, 2010
The High Line New York City Millennium Park Chicago Citygarden St. Louis A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain.