Politics

October 05, 2007

Two Lonely Senators Look at Prison Reform
12:00 AM

It's eleven-thirty on a Thursday morning in the Senate Hart building, and the House-Senate Joint Economic Committee is doing something fairly unprecedented: It's talking about prison reform. Not prison reform in the sense of why-we-need-to-build-more, but why-we-need-to-build-fewer. Curious as to how this came about--as a rule, Congress only gets "tough" on crime, never "soft"--I had asked a staffer, who explained that Chuck Schumer, the committee chair, was letting each member hold his or her own hearing on whatever topic they so desired.

Maybe Everyone Should Introduce Speakers Like Lee Bollinger
12:00 AM

To the terrors of public speaking--the dry throat, the nervous bladder, the fear that your notes are not in your pocket (even though two copies were there, and a third one folded into your shoe, when you checked 30 seconds ago, and a minute ago, and a minute and 30 seconds ago...), the fear that no one will show up to hear you, the desperate hope that no one will show up to hear you, concern that your material will fill about 20 minutes of the hour you are expected to entertain, alarm that you'll only be halfway through that same material when your hour runs out and the fellow in the first row

October 04, 2007

Romney's Dilemma
12:00 AM

Robert Novak reports that Romney is getting closer to addressing the elephant in the room: Disagreement remains within the Romney camp, but the consensus is that he must address the Mormon question with a speech deploring bias. Campaign sources say a speech has been written, though 90 percent of it could still be changed. It's not yet determined exactly what he will say or when he'll deliver a speech that could determine the political outcome of 2008. [snip] Romney will have but one shot to get it right.

Your Classy Bush Administration
12:00 AM

Or: How the White House decides who gets jobs--from that great piece on torture in this morning's Times: Among his first tasks at the Justice Department was to find a trusted chief for the Office of Legal Counsel. First he informed Daniel Levin, the acting head who had backed Mr. Goldsmith's dissents and signed the new opinion renouncing torture, that he would not get the job. He encouraged Mr. Levin to take a position at the National Security Council, in effect sidelining him.Mr. Bradbury soon emerged as the presumed favorite. But White House officials, still smarting from Mr.

Who Is James Dobson?
12:00 AM

Focus on the Family leader James Dobson is threatening to take his ball and go home if the GOP dares nominate a pro-choice White House candidate. But Dobson has talked this way before, as I explained in this 2004 Slate "Assessment" of "The Religious Right's New Kingmaker." Come for the politics. Stay for the boy who tried to suck his own-- ...well, just read it. --Michael Crowley

October 03, 2007

The Kennedys
12:00 AM

The Arthur Schlesinger diaries seem to be surprisingly interesting--at least from excerpts this month in The New York Review of Books (subscription only) and Vanity Fair (free). This, however, was pretty funny: March 31, 1962. The White House. The issue of raising children came up. The President, probably in order to provoke Marian and [society hostess] Martha Bartlett, said that he did not see why children should not be brought up in community nurseries. This led to a discussion of the role of the family.

Bush To Kids: Drop Dead
12:00 AM

As expected, President Bush today vetoed a proposed expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). By now, faithful readers of this website are familiar with the administration's arguments--and the many flaws they contain. (If not, see here and here.) But I can't help but seize on one of the statements Bush just made while making a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: "the policies of the government ought to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage." Really?

Liberal Racism
12:00 AM

If Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were liberal and University of Chicago English Professor Richard Stern were conservative, the latter's ugly little missive on Open University would already have been loudly denounced as racist by all the right people. But such are the double-standards of our political discourse. Stern's post is patronizing throughout (he refers to "young Clarence"), and doesn't really say anything until the end.

I'll Be Watching You
12:00 AM

Some of you may recall that I have several times (here and here) urged (in this space and at public meetings) that Mahmoud Ahamdinejad be a put on a "watch list" that would prevent him from entering the United States. All it takes is a declaration by the U.S. Department of Justice and one wonders why the administration has refrained from issuing one. A sitting president of a foreign country has already been placed on such an interdict, and that was Kurt Waldheim when he was president of Austria. Of course, Waldheim had been a Nazi...but a small time one.

Thomas's Comeback
12:00 AM

Clarence Thomas is back in the prints, and so is Anita Hill. Before you rush to Hill's corner, let me call your attention to the sympathetic review of a Ken Foskett's book, Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas, that appeared in the October 25, 2004 issue of TNR. The review was written by David J. Garrow, that great chronicler of the civil rights movement and the author of Bearing the Cross, a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. It surprised readers then, and it will surprise readers now.

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