Person Career

Before Sunrise

When President Obama arrives in Tokyo on Friday, he will confront a country that seeks to be an ally of the United States. For Japan has never been an American ally. It was first a rival, then an enemy, and finally, after it lost the war it foolishly started with the U.S., it became a protectorate, not an ally.   The distinction matters. An alliance is an institution negotiated between two sovereign governments in which each agrees to a series of reciprocal obligations that have the force of law.

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Mass Appeal

Polls show that Americans are confused about what health care reform means. And, if you listen to members of Congress on television, you get the impression that some of them aren’t certain, either. But figuring out what health care reform entails isn’t hard. All you have to do is look at Massachusetts. Almost three years ago, the state introduced an ambitious initiative designed to make sure nearly all residents have health insurance. Under this scheme, the state requires employers to contribute toward the cost of covering workers, while requiring individuals to get insurance.

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The November Pogrom

In our collective memory of the Holocaust, Kristallnacht occupies a central but ambiguous place. If you look simply at the statistics, there is little reason why the events of November 9-10, 1938, should loom so large.

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Forty years ago, the rumor that Paul McCartney had died, and that the Beatles had covered up his death while for some reason scattering clues of it in their albums, leapt from the counterculture to the mainstream, where it briefly transfixed millions. The key event in the rumor going viral was a Michigan Daily article by student Fred LeBour. Michigan Today recounts the story: On the morning of October 14, the university community awoke to the shocking and incredible report that one of the world's most popular and beloved entertainers was no more.

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The poster for designer Tom Ford's directorial debut, A Single Man, features Colin Firth and Julianne Moore lying in bed together. As such, it had already raised questions of whether the Weinstein Company was trying to downplay the fact that Firth's character is gay. The new cut of the trailer does about as much to confirm this thesis as one could imagine. As Vulture points out, it's nearly identical to the earlier, pre-Weinstein version but "totally omits the shot of Firth making out with Matthew Goode, who plays his dead lover." Nor is that the only homoerotic omission.

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So again, yesterday, in an otherwise poignant and truthful memorial talk at Fort Hood, the president assured us that religion does not kill. It killed in ancient Judaism: remember Amalek. It killed through virtually the entire history of Christianity. Hindu fanatics kill in India. Alas, Muslim faith kills every day in half the globe. It kills in zeroes, many zeroes. Look at your daily newspaper. Read your habitual web-site. Watch blood-thirsty Muslim television from centers of the faith. There are grave splits in Islam, and no one knows which of the many sides will come out on top.

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There are two broad views on our newly resurgent global bubbles--the increase in asset prices in emerging markets, fuelled by capital inflows, with all the associated bells and whistles (including dollar depreciation). These run-ups in stock market values and real estate prices are either benign or the beginnings of a major new malignancy. The benign view, implicit in Secretary Geithner’s position at the G20 meeting last weekend, is most clearly articulated by Frederic (Ric) Mishkin, former member of the Fed’s Board of Governors and author of "The Next Great Globalization: How Disadvantaged N

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Board to Death

To the frustration of many a cabinet secretary, the Obama administration is a little behind on its appointments. At this point—with only five weeks to go before the Senate breaks for recess—a little over half of the 514 positions that need filling have been filled. Some jobs are really important: The nominee for the Office of Legal Counsel has been held up for months. Obama’s choice for a USAID director came down just today. U.S. attorney nominations have slowed to a crawl. Other jobs?

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By the way, I don't think I've written that Nidal Malik Hasan is a terrorist. But, believe me, it's not because I pondered the aptness of the word. It's enough for me that, having killed 13 people (and wounded 28 others) because of his religious beliefs--yes, his religious beliefs--and surely also his deranged mind, he is a mass murderer. And, please, none of this crap about "innocent until proven guilty." On the other hand, John Judis is very perturbed about the terrorist nomenclature. Jason Zengerle is less perturbed, and may even be ready to concede the point.

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Very interesting development on the "too big to fail" front today: The Journal reports that Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter is planning an amendment to the systemic risk bill currently before the House Financial Services committee. The amendment would partly revive certain New Deal-era restrictions on banks:  Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D., Colo.) is working on a separate amendment that would allow bank regulators to impose restrictions prohibiting certain companies from operating both a commercial bank and an investment bank if capital reserves fall below a certain level.

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