I just landed in Geneva, where I will be spending the next week reporting from the UN Durban Review Conference. The confab is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (which took place in Durban, South Africa). For most of our readers (okay, mostly for the Jews out there), "Durban" has become short-hand for the anti-Semetic and anti-Israel debacle that erupted there and compelled the American and Israeli delegations to storm out in protest.
Politico's blaring headline about Obama's upping recruitment among anti-abortion groups seems like the definition of much ado about the utterly predictable. Isn't the cw that every change of regime prompts, to some extent, a reenergizing of the ideologically opposing interest groups? Thus, organizations championing women's-rights, environmentalism, abortion rights, gay rights and so on attract more members and, even more importantly, raise more money by exploiting members' fears about what a GOP-controlled government will do if left unchallenged.
From “Album of My Germany” Our German trip was coming to an end. I reserved the last afternoon in Berlin to visit a place I wanted Laura to see. I had seen it in 1967 and had dreamed of it since. It was a Catholic church in an outlying district, Charlottenburg. Maria Regina Martyrum stands near Plotzensee, the prison where many had been executed during the Hitler years and where, in August 1944, the eight German officers found chiefly guilty in the July plot against Hitler were hanged.
Free Larry Summers: Why The White House Needs To Unleash Him, by Noam Scheiber Killer Peanuts! Toxic Melons! Deadly Tomatoes! Why Obama And Congress Are Not Doing Enough To Keep Our Food Safe, by Steve Nash This Weekend's Big Economic Summit: More Whistling Past The Graveyard, by Simon Johnson How Obama's Ethics Obsession Undercuts His Call To Service, by the Editors TNRtv: Eve Fairbanks's Farewell To TNR And Musical Tribute To The Dysfunctional Glory Of The GOP Where Idealism Should Meet Realism On Capitol Hill, by E.J. Dionne, Jr. Hey!
I’ve gotten tired of writing about Chas Freeman, but since he withdrew his candidacy--willingly or otherwise--he’s been busy providing inadvertent justification to his critics. Since Freeman is doing so in the course of lashing out at his critics, myself included, it’s worth pointing out just how off-base he is. I’m one of the people who published excerpts of an emailed commentary Freeman made about the Tiananmen Square massacre.
You know that proposal in Connecticut, now tabled, that would have forced the Roman Catholic Church to turn over its governance in the state to boards of Catholic laypeople? As Walter Olson points out, some theocons have (surprise surprise!) been using the controversy over the bill to rally the troops: Many traditionalist Catholic commentators, like Kathryn Lopez at National Review, have promoted the view that the bill somehow constitutes “retribution” for the Catholic Church’s Culture War stands, specifically its promotion of Proposition 8 in California.
Over the past few days, Chas Freeman's liberal defenders have been arguing that it would be valuable to have a contrarian voice in the administration. Jon Chait responded by noting that Freeman seemed less like a temperamental contrarian and more like someone with a worldview--dogmatic realism--that was simply unpopular. I mostly agree with Jon, but I would offer a caveat: Some elements of Freeman's worldview aren't contrarian or unpopular at all; in fact, they are deeply conventional.
According to a new survey by Trinity College in Connecticut, significantly fewer Americans are identifying themselves as Christian than did in 1990 (down to 76% from 86%). Also striking, 15% of Americans now say they have no religion at all, vs. only 8 percent in 1990. Ironically, one of the factors suspected of feeding this trend is the rise of evangelical Christianity. (Currently one in three Americans ID themselves as evangelical).
We can take it from some pieces posting by David Frum and Andrew Sullivan that conservatives are in deep trouble if Rush Limbaugh is their leading intellectual light. But dissing Rush as a thinker is all too easy. The difficult question is which conservatives deserve to be called the breakthrough thinkers that the man from talk radio clearly is not. One reader of Sullivan's blog nominates some candidates.
Right-wing Catholic intellectuals like to claim that the Vatican's absolute opposition to abortion (and homosexuality, and contraception) is grounded in something called "natural law," a body of moral principles that are accessible to all human beings through both reason and conscience. Because these principles can be known by all of us, regardless of our theological convictions, they are supposed to be binding on all of us.