A Candidate Is Born ... On Twitter
April 21, 2009

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat best-known for directing his city to recognize same-sex marriage in 2004, announced today that he's running for governor of California. But there was no rally or speech. He spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. "It's official- running for Gov of CA. Wanted you to be the first to know," he told his Twitter followers. On the one hand, I suppose this keeps with Newsom's reputation as a young, with-it politician.

An Alibi For Liberal Realism
April 20, 2009

Responding to this morning's eloquent New York Times op-ed on human rights in Afghanistan, Michelle Goldberg of the Prospect writes: So far, the administration's realism has overshadowed its idealism, especially in Afghanistan, where the United States is reaching out to "moderate" elements of the Taliban. Lots of observers seem relieved by this scaling back of American ambitions. By cynically cloaking its own aggression in the language of human rights, the Bush team did much to discredit the latter. But ... there are real moral costs to realist compromises.

Thinking About Torture
April 20, 2009

I've pondered for years what to say about the Bush administration's use of torture in the years after 9/11. So far I've remained quiet about the issue because I'm so uneasy about it -- not just about what the United States has done, but also about the reactions of nearly everyone who has commented on it. On one side, the right mocks those concerned with our actions in that insufferably smug, proudly parochial tone that has marked nearly all conservative commentary about foreign affairs for the past seven years.

Pat Buchanan: Apologist For Nazi Butchers
April 17, 2009

Every time I see Pat Buchanan on C.N.N. I get the creeps. He hates Hispanics although they are mostly very pious adherents of his religion, Roman Catholicism. Some day a prince of the church will rebuke him and deny him communion. He also hates the Jews and Israel, the state that incarnates the nation which first gave substance to the idea of peoplehood itself.  And, of course, as a corollary of this antipathy he has enormous passion for their enemies. The Palestinians, for example. But his weirdest soft-spot is for Nazis, particular Nazis, the most vicious Nazis. Pat has a strong stomach.

Durban Ii Dispatch: Should I Be Scared?
April 17, 2009

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.

Political Fear Sells? Well Duh.
April 13, 2009

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'
March 18, 2009

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.

Today At Tnr (march 16, 2009)
March 16, 2009

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!

Freeman, Hopefully For The Last Time
March 15, 2009

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.

A Note On "anti-catholicism" In Connecticut
March 12, 2009

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.