Somebody Get This Boy Some Ritalin
November 29, 2007

There's a piece in today's NYT "Styles" section about a 25-year-old guy named Sean Aiken who has committed to spending an entire year searching for his life's calling by hopping from one job to another every week--everything from climbing instructor to extreminator to tatoo artist--and, of course, chronicling the whole soul-expanding journey on his web site, As the site's subhed explains young Sean's odyssey, he is "searching a passion, not just a job." Not to be a grump, but this project strikes me as both absurd and unbearably self-indulgent.

A Border Story
November 29, 2007

By Thanksgiving, Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes had been walking for two days pretty much straight. He had already illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border--"I have two families, many mouths to feed," he told the AP yesterday--when about 50 miles outside of Tucson, in the empty desert, he saw a nine-year old boy accompanied only by his dog and holding the side mirror of a van. Turns out, the boy, Christopher Buztheitner, had just survived a terrible crash: His mom had lost control of her van and plummeted nearly 300 feet to her death.

Gop Debates; Dems Won't
November 29, 2007

Debate Wrap [Michael Cooper and Marc Santora, The New York Times]: "The Republican presidential candidates engaged in a slashing debate last night over immigration and other issues, confronting one another in testy exchanges that reflected the wide-open nature of the race in the final sprint toward the Iowa caucuses." The Denial [Liz Sidoti, Associated Press]: "Rudy Giuliani dismissed a report Wednesday that he expensed the cost of his security detail to obscure city offices for trips to a Long Island resort as the then-mayor began an extramarital affair with current wife Judith Nathan." New

Spare The Rod...or Go To Jail
November 28, 2007

On Wednesday, Massachusetts lawmakers are scheduled to take up a bill barring parents from spanking children. This isn't the first time a state has tried this kind of meddling, though all efforts thus far have failed. I'm rooting for this one to as well. I understand the urge to prevent child abuse, but this smacks of government overreach--and it's precisely the sort of well-intentioned intrusion that revs up the right-wing crazies.  For the record, I don't spank my kids.

Roger Cohen Vs. Bernard Lewis
November 26, 2007

There was an inadvertent debate this morning between two op-ed pieces: one in the New York Times by Roger Cohen (he, of the priestly caste among the Jews); the other in the Wall Street Journal by Bernard Lewis (a scholar of titanic stature but a Jew as ordinary as the rest of us Israelites).  The two essays of roughly a thousand words each appear to be addressed to the outcome of tomorrow's conference at Annapolis.  They are not.  They are different ways of reading history...or, of one of them, not reading history at all.

Tea Leaves, Ii
November 21, 2007

Second Amendment cases in the Supreme Court have numbered only two in the last century. After weeks of speculation that the 1939 Miller v. California would keep this streak alive, the court agreed to hear DC v. Heller, a challenge to the challenge of DC's stringent gun ban (which Sen. Jim Webb discovered the hard way), and the best chance for advocates of gun ownership to make flat-out bans unconstitutional.If the lower-court decision is upheld, we may credit one man: Robert A.

Dc Gun Case Tea Leaves
November 21, 2007

Scott Lemieux and Jack Balkin have two early takes on the Supreme Court's decision to hear the challenge to the District of Columbia's gun ban.

Obama, Clinton, And That Novak Column
November 19, 2007

I'm in Iowa this week, like pretty much every Democratic candidate in the race. I spent yesterday and today with Obama, and will be with Hillary beginning this afternoon. (Edwards, Dodd, and Biden are also here--I may try to catch the latter at some point.) The big topic of conversation among the reporters covering him (as well as basically everyone in Washington, so far as I can tell) is the recent Bob Novak column suggesting the Clinton campaign has dirt on Obama that, in their infinite generosity, they are declining to use.

Debate Questions
November 16, 2007

There has been a lot of press criticism lately (see Paul Waldman's Tim Russert takedown, Noam's thoughts on Russert, and Matt Yglesias' more general criticisms), and while much of it is sensible, I think the media is getting a little too much blame. Here's Matt: Great example. An audience member makes the sensible observation that the candidates haven't talked about the Supreme Court and asks them to say something about their approach to picking nominees. I'd be interested to hear the answers to these questions.

The Connectivity Campaign
November 15, 2007

Yesterday afternoon, Barack Obama made a speech in Silicon Valley on innovation, outlining a plan to create a national technology czar, or "chief technology officer"--likely some 28-year old techie whiz kid, or kids--charged with making president Obama's wildest web fantasies a reality. The venue was no mistake--he spoke at Google headquarters in Mountain View, a petri dish of hyper-wealthy young innovators, who were soon crowing over his plan to make cutting-edge technology the bedrock of his administration.