"I have been hired, temporarily, to write about the news," NPR contributor Sarah Vowell announced during her first stint last July as a guest columnist for The New York Times. Her six attempts evidently pleased her employers at the editorial page because now she is back, again temporarily, to write about the news. So far this month we have been treated to her take on the president's State of the Union speech (she is displeased) and on torture (she is confused). Along the way the following bits of coruscating wisdom have emerged: The electoral victories of Hamas in Palestine and George W.
Senator Patrick Leahy wanted a straight answer to a simple question. "Wouldn't it be constitutional for the Congress to outlaw Americans from using torture?" the senator asked Judge Samuel Alito during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings last week. Here was Alito's reply: "Well, senator, I think the important points are that the president has to follow the Constitution and the laws. ... But, as to specific issues that might come up, I really need to know the specifics."This wasn't exactly the answer Leahy was looking for.
Editor’s Note: Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was convicted last November of four counts of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and provide material support to terrorists. Last week, Bout’s lawyer filed papers requesting that the judge dismiss the indictment—and cited this January 2006 TNR article as a reason. “As a result of the embarrassing New Republic disclosure of the incompetence—or worse—of the Departments of Defense and State in their dealings with Bout, someone in the government decided it was time to ‘get’ Viktor Bout,” the lawyer wrote.
In 2000, aides to Hillary Clinton talked about running against two opponents. One was Rick Lazio, the Republican candidate for Senate. The other was the New York Post, New York's leading practitioner of politics-as-blood sport. And, while Lazio didn't turn out to have much behind his punches, the Post came at Clinton from all directions.
"Open" has long been a catchword for the Netherlands, referring to everything from the flat, low-lying fields of Zuid-Holland and the curtain-less windows of Amsterdam and The Hague to the country's liberal stances on marijuana and prostitution, both of which are enjoyed freely and legally in cheerful "coffee shops" and red-lighted bordellos throughout the country. To many, the country has long seemed the apotheosis of a free, liberal, and democratic state. But, these days, Filip Dewinter, leader of one of Europe's most extreme far-right political parties, Belgium's Vlaams Belang (Flemish Inte
A battered yellow school bus rumbles up a bumpy dirt road on the outskirts of Sasabe, a small Mexican town just over the border from Arizona. At the top of the hill, the bus winds around brick and mud huts. Ragged children stand in the doorways, and emaciated dogs forage for scraps. The bus passes dented pickups and old cars without wheels and stops in a dusty clearing, where it disgorges about 40 teenagers dressed in blue jeans and carrying small knapsacks. One boy’s t-shirt features a picture of Che Guevara. A girl’s pale blue top says ADORABLE in sequined letters.
When Eugene McCarthy died a month ago, I rushed to compose what I wished to be a meditation on what the man had meant to me, to my generation, and to our history. But eulogies always suffer from the press of deadlines, and so I decided to get an opinion of what I wrote from a truth-teller I've known since the 1968 campaign. I read my piece to John Callahan, a professor of English at Lewis & Clark College and the author of books on Ralph Ellison and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the harshest of the truth-tellers.
Jerusalem, Israel When Ehud Olmert was a teenage leader of the right-wing Betar youth movement in the 1950s, he would mark May Day by tearing down the red flag that hung over the trade union building in his northern village of Binyamina. For Olmert and his friends, that flag symbolized what they referred to as "the Vichy government" of Labor Zionism, which had betrayed the land of Israel by twice accepting its partition--first in 1923, when the British created Transjordan, and then in 1947, when the Untied Nations divided what was left of historic Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.