What Made Saddam Tick?
January 07, 2007
Well, here is a true and honorable reason to have been against the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Not just the "undignified" hanging but the hanging itself. The argument comes from Richard Dawkins (about whom Thomas Nagel, James Wood and Simon Blackburn have written more or less recently for TNR).
January 04, 2007
by Jacob T. Levy The New Year and new semester bustle seems to mean that two pieces of sad news haven't yet been widely circulated; no press releases from the home institutions yet, for example. Two of the most distinctive, iconoclastic, and influential voices in the American academy have been lost in the past few days: George Mason sociologist/political scientist
Their Hands May Be Good, But They Ain't Clean
January 03, 2007
One of the most outrageous developments surrounding tonight's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans--that is, other than the massively over-hyped Notre Dame's appearance in the game--is the event's corporate sponsor: Allstate. A report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune says Allstate will be airing a series of gauzy commercials welcoming people back to the city and claiming credit for its role in that effort. Which is interesting. Because if you talk to people in New Orleans, you don't get the impression that Allstate has been a huge help.
The Ford Funeral
December 30, 2006
Over at The Atlantic's website, Robert D. Kaplan has a short piece arguing that, in his words, "Ford has been our greatest contemporary ex-president." More Kaplan: The fact that Ford embargoed, until after his death, an interview he gave Washington Post writer Bob Woodward in 2004 is further proof of his estimable reticence. While his displeasure at President George W. Bush's Iraqi policy was real, he seems to have had mixed feelings about publicly airing them.
The U.n. And Saddam
December 29, 2006
Has the U.N. Human Rights Council gone mad? It can't be. It's already mad. It seems not to be able to find a human rights violator other than Israel. Not China, not Cuba, not North Korea, not Sudan, not Zimbabwe. (Even Kofi Annan has criticized the HRC for focusing only on Israel.) So I was skeptical when people told me that the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, was sane and balanced and fair. After all, she does have a job and her bosses are slanted--how do I say this?--to the third world's view of realities, that is, that they are not human rights abusers.
Media Self Criticism Watch
December 24, 2006
In the midst of his front-page story on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in today's Washington Post, Dan Balz takes time to note the following: Even though neither has announced for president, Clinton and Obama have demonstrated the benefits of celebrity in a world of constant cable news and expanding Internet communities. That culture serves to reinforce the advantages of celebrity, repeatedly focusing attention on the celebrities (as this story is doing) rather than paying close attention to the doggedness of dark horses--at least until serious campaigning begins and the voters weigh in.
Race And Crime
December 23, 2006
Chris Suellentrop, aka "The Opinionator", has an interesting piece in tomorrow's Times magazine about the GOP's evolution on prisoner issues--from law-and-order hardasses to compassionate Christians. The piece is interesting in and of itself. But it's even more interesting, I think, as another data-point in the GOP's broader evolution on race: that is, from a party that wields race as a political wedge to a party that's more progressive on race, but which wields religion and social issues as a political wedge.
December 22, 2006
The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady keeps us abreast of developments in Latin America in a way that almost no one else does. Latin America is not really on anyone else's agenda, which means that it will certainly be on Washington's in the near future. O'Grady is especially provoked by Cuba, which is a failed tyranny except that its population is still tyrannized, brutally, and impoverished. The only more impoverished country in the western hemisphere is Haiti.
All Hail Howard Dean?
December 18, 2006
Ezra Klein, writing at Tapped, has a puzzling observation about the Democratic primary. He writes, "Obama, Edwards, Gore--say what you will, but this crew currently controls the buzz, the assumptions of 'electability,' and the excitement of the base. And every one of them is a progressive." He proceeds to credit this development to Howard Dean. "Howard Dean should be proud: He really did change the party," he writes. Color me confused. I think the ideological distinction between Obama, Edwards and Gore and Hillary Clinton is fairly narrow.
Spamming For Sachs
December 12, 2006
by David GreenbergThe other day I got a very peculiar piece of spam in my email inbox. It came from a group calling itself "Sachs for President," which is seeking to "draft" the distinguished Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs for president. Yes, of the United States. Apparently a few other bloggers, such as George Mason economist Alex Tabarrok, had received and noted such emails back in August. But somehow the Sachs boomlet had eluded my notice till now. I realize I'm probably doing this group's bidding by publicizing this email. But I should say that the email was extremely off-putting.