The Land of No
February 08, 2012

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. Emily was 23 years old and had a $2 million trust fund. She also had a warm smile, spoke kindly to everyone she met, and was tall and blonde and beautiful with the erect posture of the skier and gymnast she’d once been. We lived together in Manhattan in a tiny first-floor apartment.

Daily Deadline: The Case for Fees on Checked Bags
November 28, 2011

[with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] The prevailing story about passenger air travel is that it used to be a lot more fun or, at least, a lot more comfortable. I wonder how true that claim is. Weren’t the old planes a lot noisier? Didn’t they take longer to reach their destinations? Weren't they less safe?  But a few things clearly have changed – among them, the introduction of separate fees for baggage. Virtually every major airline now charges passengers to check bags.

The Ironic Populist: How Herman Cain’s Insurgency Marks the Beginning of a New Political Era
November 07, 2011

The conditions haven’t been this ripe for populism for decades. From coast to coast, left to right, an authentic grassroots resentment of our current economic instability is roiling the country. But whether it’s the Tea Party on the right or the Occupy Wall Street protests on the left, we have yet to see the most predictable symptom of such movements—a recognizable populist leader. Last year, the Tea Party auditioned both Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin for this role, but they both sputtered.

Me Journalism: What Anderson Cooper Has Done to His Profession
October 11, 2011

Anderson Cooper the daytime talk show host does not look all that different from Anderson Cooper the disaster reporter. He is still boyish, still earnest, still reliably clad in a button-down that accentuates the blue of those sympathetic eyes. Yet much of the new show’s media coverage has harped on the apparent contradiction between the two Coopers: windblown Anderson in a flak jacket vs. spruced-up Anderson ministering to celebrities on his talk show couch. “Anderson Cooper offers another version of himself on talk show ‘Anderson,’” announced The Washington Post online.

Conservative Democrats Strike Again (Updated)
September 14, 2011

If you’ve read this blog lately, you’ve read a lot of criticism of Republicans for talking economic nonsense, placing their political fortunes ahead of the country’s good, or some combination of the two. But sometimes Democrats, particularly conservative Democrats, do the same things. And now is one of those times. Mary Landrieu and Jim Webb – I’m looking at you. An article by Manu Raju, in Politico, quotes the three senators criticizing Obama’s jobs proposal.

A Metro Lens on the New National Poverty Data
September 14, 2011

The release of new Census Bureau poverty data yesterday confirmed suspicions about the state of the economy for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens: even as GDP growth resumed in 2009, things continued to deteriorate at the bottom of the ladder. The U.S. poverty rate rose from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent in 2010, reaching its highest point since 1993. The news is a stark reminder that poverty is first and foremost a reflection of labor market conditions.

The Utter Meaninglessness of the Debt Ceiling Deal
August 01, 2011

Twenty-six years ago—as part of the price for raising the federal debt ceiling to a shocking $2 trillion—Congress, in a wave of fiscal self-flagellation, approved the Gramm-Rudman bill. If a spendthrift Congress failed to meet prescribed deficit targets, then Gramm-Rudman would slice the budget with the across-the-board subtlety of Sweeney Todd.  That was the theory anyway, although legislative maneuvering left about half the budget (including Social Security, Medicare, and Defense contracts) off limits to meat-cleaver deficit reduction.

Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt: The Untold Story of the Black Panther Leader, Dead At 63
June 27, 2011

Elmer Pratt, the prominent Black Panther known by his nom de guerre, Geronimo ji-Jaga, died at 63 on June 2 in Tanzania. He had served 27 years in prison in Los Angeles for murder, the first eight in solitary confinement, and had been denied parole 16 times before his sentence was vacated and he was freed.

Core Curriculum
June 23, 2011

In the fall of 2008, EnergySolutions Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the world’s largest nuclear-waste processors, began approaching nuclear utilities with an offer. Guided by a team of science teachers and industry p.r. staffers, the organization had developed a trove of materials on nuclear power for use in sixth-through-twelfth-grade classes.

Do Floods Hurt or Help Fish?
May 11, 2011

Flooding along the Mississippi River continues to dominate headlines, as Mississippi and Louisiana brace for record water levels. The river has already reached a record 58 feet in Natchez, Mississippi, and is expected to crest there at 64 feet on May 21, while Louisiana officials nervously consider whether to open the Morganza spillway, which would lower the river by several feet, but also deluge thousands of homes and businesses. Cities farther upstream, though, aren't letting days of flooding get in the way of events: Memphis is even going ahead with a World Championship BBQ competition.