Scholars For Hire?
February 04, 2007

by Alan Wolfe Did the American Enterprise Institute try to "buy" scholars to challenge the findings of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as reported by The Guardian? Two bloggers I greatly respect, Andrew Sullivan and Eugene Volokh say no. I say the matter is more complicated.

Has Exxon Really Reformed?
February 02, 2007

I've seen plenty of news reports lately about how ExxonMobil is trying to burnish its public image by becoming more green-friendly. See this story in today's Financial Times, for example. The company has even promised to stop bankrolling the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which has waged a long disinformation campaign by attacking the science on global warming. This certainly sounds like good news, right? That's what I thought, too.

Never Stop Running
January 31, 2007

by Michael Kazin Even our best political journalists seem to know little American political history. Take their common claim that, unlike in the more sensible past, we are now assaulted by a presidential campaign that begins long before election year. As The New York Times recently reported (Jan.

Portrait Of Obama As A Young Man
January 31, 2007

Via Tapped, I found this fascinating Chicago Reader profile of Obama from 1995, when he was making his first foray into elective politics as a state senate candidate. I highly recommend the whole article, but here's one short bit that quotes the then-34-year-old Obama at length: "Now an agenda for getting our fair share is vital. But to work, it can't see voters or communities as consumers, as mere recipients or beneficiaries of this change. It's time for politicians and other leaders to take the next step and to see voters, residents, or citizens as producers of this change.

Who Needs Experts?
January 30, 2007

The biggest problem in Washington, of course, is that President Bush's crack team of political appointees doesn't have enough power. Luckily, help is on the way: In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries.

Why Not A Giant Disco Ball?
January 30, 2007

All those people who are worried about the White House's unwillingness to take global warming seriously clearly haven't heard about the new plan yet: The US government wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned.

Murder On The Veld
January 29, 2007

In the grand scheme of things, the murder of David Rattray last week was no different from the spate of senseless killings that have occurred in South Africa over the past decade. Rattray, a world-famous historian and tour guide in the breathtaking Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, was shot and killed in his home last Friday. There seems to have been no apparent motive for the crime; whereas many are murdered in the Beloved Country for their car or their cell phone, nothing was stolen from the Rattray home. I had the good fortune of meeting Rattray in the spring of 2002.

"just Deck 'em, Mom"
January 28, 2007

by Linda Hirshman All weekend the websites and papers were full of coverage of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. In addition to being a citizen myself, I am interested in Clinton's campaign, because I have been working on a project on women as citizens for a while.

Women In The Arab World
January 27, 2007

By now, the Arab Human Development Report produced under the sponsorship of the UN Development Program is an annual event, an unusually liberating and truth-telling event. Already three of them have been issued, and in December a fourth, on the status of women in the Arab world, was released in Yemen. The introduction to the report is a bit of apologetics, exculpating Islam for the grim position of women in the most significant spheres of the Muslim orbit. Still, you will learn a lot from the document and even from the report on the document appended here. It is not a pleasant picture.

Echo Chambers
January 26, 2007

by Cass Sunstein In recent years, many people have been concerned about the risk that citizens will use the Internet to construct echo chambers, or information cocoons, in which their own views are constantly confirmed or reinforced. A real problem with echo chambers is that those who live in them tend to become more extreme.