The Sestak Pseudo-Scandal
May 25, 2010

Any meaningful political scandal must have one of three elements. The highest level of scandal involves some breaking of a law. The next-highest involves breaking some well-established behavioral norm. The lowest level involves a public official lying. The odd thing about the "scandal" of whether the White House offered a job to Joe Sestak is that it involves no credible charge of any of the three.

Conservatives Open The Epistemology
April 21, 2010

I recorded an interesting bloggingheads discussion today with National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru. We discussed the problem of "epistemic closure," and he agreed that it was primarily a conservative phenomenon and a serious problem. I'll provide the video when it becomes available. Meantime, Jim Manzi decides to do his part in the fight against epistemic closure, and, in a post at the Corner unlike any I've seen before, absolutely unloads upon Mark Levin.

The Doc Fix Myth And The Right's Misinformation Feedback Loop
March 24, 2010

Of all the conservative complaints about health care reform, the one I find most baffling is the notion that the financing is phony because it fails to account for physician pay increases. The complaint is 100% phony. And yet it continues to be repeated over and over in the conservative media, recycling through a misinformation feedback loop. The complaint gained new momentum and publicity last week, when right-wing icon Paul Ryan requested that the Congressional Budget Office calculate the cost of health care reform combined with physician pay increases.

The Remnant Next Time
March 23, 2010

WASHINGTON--Every nation needs an intelligent and constructive form of conservatism. The debate over the health care bill, which mercifully came to a close on Sunday night, was not American conservatism's finest hour. In its current incarnation, conservatism has taken on an angry crankiness. It is caught up in a pseudo-populism that true conservatism should mistrust--what on Earth would Bill Buckley have made of "death panels"? The creed is caught up in a suspicion of all reform that conservatives of the Edmund Burke stripe have always warned against.

The Redemption Of Mitch Daniels
February 26, 2010

The latest potential Republican presidential contender is Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. I wrote about Daniels back when he ran the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush, where his task was to use pseudo-populist demagoguery to deflect from the administration's disastrous fiscal record: The man Bush has deputized to explain this state of affairs to the American public is Mitchell G. Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget. One of Daniels's favorite techniques is to preface his views on macroeconomic policy by pointing out that he is a country bumpkin.

The Newt Bomb
June 03, 2009

Michael Crowley on how a pulp-fiction fantasy became a GOP weapons craze.

Science and Sorrow
February 27, 2008

The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder By Allan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield (Oxford University Press, 287 pp., $29.95) I. In the early 1970s, annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) were home to angry showdowns between the gay rights lobby and organized psychiatry. Activists picketed convention sites, shouted down speakers, and waged ad hominem attacks on psychiatrists who sincerely believed that homosexuality was a sickness.

Crude Awakening
October 02, 2006

Earlier this year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in China—and quickly made himself at home. The occasion was a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional group linking China, Russia, and Central Asia. During the summit, Ahmadinejad seemed to be everywhere. He posed, arms linked, with Russian and Chinese officials, who said nothing as he called for “impartial and independent experts” to investigate whether the Holocaust happened. He delivered a major address broadcast on Chinese state television.

Freedoms and Feelings
April 07, 2003

I. The Passions of Andrew Jackson by Andrew Burstein (Alfred A. Knopf, 292 pp., $25) Early in 1834, at the height of his war with the Second Bank of the United States, President Andrew Jackson received at the White House several deputations of businessmen, who pleaded with him to change course. Believing that the Bank was an unrepublican, unaccountable monopoly, Jackson had vetoed its federal recharter and ordered the government's deposits in it removed.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Thomas Jefferson
March 10, 1997

Thomas Jefferson a film by Ken Burns (PBS) The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 by Conor Cruise O'Brien (University of Chicago, 367 pp., $29.95) Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed (University Press of Virginia, 279 pp., $29.95) American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis (Knopf, 351 pp., $26) I. Especially during his troubled second administration, Thomas Jefferson received a lot of hate mail.