To put it mildly, the latest round of redistricting has not been the most edifying experience. Over the past year, politicians have assembled throughout the country to carve districts that are equal in population, but that otherwise serve their own interests rather than the public’s. Protracted litigation has determined, on a case-by-case basis, which districts will be represented by minority groups. And the courts have been intimately involved not just with minority representation but also with every other aspect of the process.
Masters and Boys
March 14, 2012
The Kid with a Bike Michael A mistake. A few weeks ago, reviewing the distinguished film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, I said it had won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival last year. In fact, it shared the prize with another film, The Kid with a Bike, which is of equal distinction. What an occasion. The second film is by the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, who in 1996, after some twenty years of making documentaries in their native Belgium and in France, ventured into fiction.
March 14, 2012
On a blustery evening last autumn, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh visited Capitol Hill to deliver a lecture. Latecomers filed into the dim Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress, looking harried.
Can Domestic Policy Affect Income Distribution?
March 13, 2012
On March 9, Carnegie Mellon economist Allan Meltzer argued in the Wall Street Journal ("A Look At The Global One Percent") that income inequality is a global phenomenon and therefore not a problem that can be solved through changes in U.S. domestic policy. He's right about the first proposition and wrong about the second. Actually, he isn't even entirely right about the first. Yes, income inequality is occurring globally. But it isn't happening uniformly. Until recently it was declining in France, Ireland, and Spain. Now it's declining in Turkey and Greece, and it's basically flat in France.
When a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northeastern Japan one year ago, triggering a massive tsunami that claimed close to 20,000 lives and caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the government, relief agencies, and people around the world were quick to offer their support and aid. Many hoped for speedy rebuilding of the devastated region, while others saw the catastrophes as proof that Japan needed to rethink its energy policy.
Slideshow: What If the GOP Candidates Were Movie Stars?
February 25, 2012
The 84th Academy Awards are on Sunday, and this year’s nominees are a large group of crowd pleasers who spend a lot of time—sometimes too much—addressing war, infidelity, the sanctity of life, and nostalgia for the 20th century. Sound familiar? It should: That also sums up the GOP’s 2012 presidential field.
Bright College Years, Sans Salinger
February 24, 2012
Before the week’s out, and while the cheers of the barely 1,000 people arrayed within the Detroit football stadium for Mitt Romney’s big speech today are still ringing in our ears, I wanted to be sure to recommend that everyone read Jason Horowitz’s in-depth Washington Post piece last weekend about Romney’s college years at BYU. This is one of the least-examined chapters in Romney’s life, the years after he returned from his mission in France. Even The Real Romney, the comprehensive new biography by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, skips relatively quickly through the BYU years.
Manufacturing Job Loss is Not Inevitable
February 23, 2012
Despite small gains during the last two years, the trend in U.S. manufacturing jobs for the last 30 years has been downward, leading some to argue that long-term manufacturing job loss is inevitable. But our research shows otherwise. There are two common versions of the “inevitability” argument. One holds that U.S.
That is So! That is So!
February 22, 2012
The Sense of an Ending By Julian Barnes (Knopf, 163 pp., $23.95) Is it worth it? Life, I mean—is it worth it? Julian Barnes isn’t sure. “I am certainly melancholic myself,” he says in Nothing to Be Frightened Of, a memoir-cum-meditation-on-death, “and sometimes find life an overrated way of passing the time.” Martha Cochrane, in England, England, thinks about “the thinness of life, or at least life as she had known it, or chosen it.” “She had done little in her time,” Jean Serjeant thinks in Staring at the Sun, and Gregory, her son, had done less.
No Book Will Fix What’s Wrong With American Parenting
February 22, 2012
The other day, a friend and I were walking down a crowded sidewalk when we noticed a little boy of about three. We noticed him not because he was adorable (though he was), but because he was hitting his father with a giant stick. As they passed us—the boy hitting, the father ignoring—the boy’s flailing stick hit my companion. Only the boy’s mother, running after them, seemed to notice. “Sorry,” she flung out breathlessly, smiling. We were, of course, in Brooklyn, the epicenter of permissive parenting.