December 10, 2007
The Battle of the Book
At last, American society is getting around to the real villain in American culture, the one whose deleterious influence has so far escaped the magical transformation that technology, and its religion of velocity, is visiting upon all of American life: the printed book. Damn the printed book! In many places, and for many reasons, one hears the cry.
WASHINGTON -- Want a preview of coming attractions in next year's elections? Listen to a television ad from Bob Latta, who is trying to hold on to a traditionally Republican congressional district in Ohio's special election on Tuesday. "Broken borders, and Washington does nothing," the announcer intones. "Had enough? Bob Latta wants to get tough."The announcer then describes Latta's "plan" this way: "No amnesty for illegal immigrants. Secure our borders. No driver's license. Cut off taxpayer-subsidized welfare benefits.
Just three months ago, the world watched, transfixed, as thousands of Burmese monks marched through the streets of Rangoon. Their demands for change after decades of harsh military rule elicited almost universal sympathy and impassioned calls for solidarity. The United Nations hastily sent its special envoy into Burma.
'primary Colors,' Then And Now
The funny and underrated 1998 film Primary Colors, based on Joe Klein's stump saga of the same name, offers a host of dramatic dispatches from the land of Jack and Susan Stanton, a southern power couple making a break for the White House. The whole cast--especially Billy Bob Thornton--does a credible job with a difficult task; that is, maintaining the paper-thin barrier between the campaign drama and Bill and Hillary Clinton's reality. All in all, the movie is hugely entertaining; an excellent intersection of pop and politics.
The Supreme Court On Crack
It's stellar news, no doubt, that the Supreme Court decided to let lower courts deviate ever-so-slightly from federal sentencing guidelines that, until now, have punished crack dealers as harshly as someone who sells 100 times as much powder cocaine. (Harlan Protass recently wrote a fine Slate piece summing up why the 100-to-1 disparity is such an outrage.) But the disparity's far from gone: The defendant, Derrick Kimbrough, will get a 15-year sentence instead of 19 years—still more than he would've gotten for possessing powder cocaine.
Gore Receives His Prize
Al Gore may have given one of the finest speeches of his career. It had poetic resonance but was rooted in real science. It was politically visionary but was animated by an, alas, secure sense of climatic disaster. It was quite plain-spoken about the economic realities that made global warming so ordinary but argued the hope that suicidal habits were good for no one, not even the greatest suicidalists, China and, most significantly, the United States. It is my view -but maybe not Al's- that in the end, however, America will be more persuadable than "Peoples' China," whose impetus for domin
Monkeying With Climate Science
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has released a draft report on a "systematic White House effort" to harass, censor, and otherwise interfere with government climate scientists during the Bush years.
A charming story (third item) about White House Press Secretary Dana Perino: Appearing on NPR's light-hearted quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me," which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was. "I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown.
December 09, 2007
Mike Huckabee has been scaring the bejesus out of the Republican establishment with his scorching populist invective. In one recent interview, the former Arkansas governor declared, "I am like a lot of folks who are tired of thinking the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street." He has denounced "immoral" CEO salaries, and warned, "People will only endure this for so many years before there is a revolt." The terrified anti-tax Club for Growth is waging jihad against Huckabee, and Robert Novak has called him an advocate of "class struggle." Seeking more insight into Huckabe
What Did The Iranian Defectors Say?
The Los Angeles Times has a big story today on Iranian defectors. Here's the lede: The CIA launched a secret program in 2005 designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program by persuading key officials to defect, an effort that has prompted a "handful" of significant departures, current and former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the operation say. The previously undisclosed program, which CIA officials dubbed "the Brain Drain," is part of a major intelligence push against Iran ordered by the White House two years ago. This would certainly explain the NIE's turnabout.