Politics

December 20, 2008

Obama's New Pastor Problem
12:00 AM

Rick Warren's acceptance of Barack Obama is far more significant than Obama's selection of Warren, Alan Wolfe argues in a piece for TNR. Though much of the reaction to Obama's choice of Warren for the Inaugural prayer has focused on whether Obama made the right pick, Wolfe says that Warren's decision to agree is a much bigger deal. There are two facets of American evangelicalism that ought to be worrisome to conservatives. One is that evangelicals are breaking out of the comfortable counter-culture they have established for themselves over the years.

December 19, 2008

The President's Man
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--A couple of weeks ago, a senior adviser to Barack Obama dismissed the argument raging at the time over the choice the president-elect faced in naming a secretary of education. Obama's options were said to be clear-cut: He could either pick a reformer, or he could select someone acceptable to teachers unions.

Washington Diarist: Important People
12:00 AM

These are the times that try men’s resumés. Maybe it is the swift emergence of Washington as the capital of status anxiety, in the transition’s tilting of egos and elbows; or the restoration to prestige of “the best and the brightest,” all shadows gone, and the return to power of liberal credentialism; or the fact that Congress could find $700 billion when the mandarins of New York needed it but could not find $14 billion when the workers of Detroit needed it—whatever it is, I am tiring of very important people. I never saw the owl of Minerva fly through Harvard Yard.

Buncha Wimps
12:00 AM

Contrary to what you’ve been reading about the latest controversies and scandals coming out of Illinois, it’s actually been a happy time for politicians around here. Between the recent sit-in at the Republic Windows and Doors factory and the arrest of Governor Rod Blagojevich for allegedly attempting to sell off Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat, I don’t think our elected officials have ever felt more, oh, liberated. Confused?

Gov. Patterson: Hands Off My Yoo Hoo!
12:00 AM

New York Governor David Patersen has a commentary up on CNN.com today, arguing for an "obesity tax" on sodas and sugary fruit drinks. Though well-intentioned, this kind of proposal gives me the willies. I appreciate the public health challenges posed by the "obesity epidemic," but there are a variety of reasons why fat is not tobacco (a parallel Patersen draws in his opening graf). I wrote a piece to this effect back in 2002--which I would link to if our archives weren't so craptacular.

Bush To Detroit: Don't Drop Dead
12:00 AM

As you've probably heard by now, President Bush announced this morning that he wasn't going to let the domestic auto industry collapse. At least not on his watch. And while it'll probably take a day or two to sort out the details, and what they mean, here's the gist of it: Bush is authorizing the Treasury Department to loan Chrysler and General Motors $17.4 billion. (Ford has said it doesn't need money right now.) The money will come from the Wall Street rescue fund, or what's left of it, and it comes with a number of strings attached.

Hands Off My Yoo Hoo, Buddy!
12:00 AM

New York Governor David Patersen has a commentary up on CNN.com today, arguing for an "obesity tax" on sodas and sugary fruit drinks. Though well-intentioned, this kind of proposal gives me the willies. I appreciate the public health challenges posed by the "obesity epidemic," but there are a variety of reasons why fat is not tobacco (a parallel Patersen draws in his opening graf). I wrote a piece to this effect back in 2002--which I would link to if our archives weren't so craptacular.

Every Cloud Has A Double Standard
12:00 AM

John Cloud writes a lot of stories for Time, but the one I remember best was his defense of Ann Coulter for her use of the word "faggot." Cloud, who is gay, said that Coulter "was using the word 'faggot' with virtual quote marks around it" and he vouched for her personal tolerance: Coulter has at least one close gay friend, and when I was reporting my profile of her, she always remembered to ask about my partner at the time.

December 18, 2008

Conscience of a Nationalist
12:00 AM

When I first met literature professor Guo Quan in early 2006, he expounded on the difficulty of defacing a tombstone. Guo had recently taken an ax to the grave of Wang Zhi, a sixteenth-century Chinese merchant who helped facilitate Japanese pirate attacks on Ming dynasty China. "I managed to scratch out the name and the inscription," he said. "But it took a few hours."To reach Wang Zhi's grave, he'd stalked through the woods of Anhui province with another professor in the dead of night.

Secession We Can Believe In
12:00 AM

Thomas Naylor, a retired Duke economics professor, ascended the podium at an anti-war rally at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont, shortly before the U.S. invaded Iraq. His speech was filled with the usual leftist rhetoric about the evils of the Bush administration. His solution, however, was far from traditional. It was an idea that he had been developing for about ten years, but had never spoken about in public. “They were shocked, bug-eyed,” he tells me, reflecting on the speech.

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