The Shrewd Little Gentleman
September 21, 2006
by Richard Stern What did we think, that the world's presidents and prime ministers (many democratically elected) would conform to our notions of how they should perform? Thank God the United Nations gives these supposed mountebanks and arch villains space for their dramatic expressions of themselves and their place in the great world. Our president speaks to the world "as if he owns it," in Chávez's milder words.
The Dark Heart Of Europe
September 20, 2006
by Casey Blake I'm delighted to read Darrin McMahon's account of philo-Americanism in Argentina. That's encouraging news in these dark times. Unfortunately, I'm afraid the situation remains quite different in Western Europe, at least among people on the left and center-left (including most intellectuals). This is largely a new development, in my view. Even during the Vietnam war, Europeans' denunciations of U.S. "imperialism" coexisted with admiration for the democratic strains in American culture and politics.
Wireblogging, Episode 2: "soft Eyes"
September 19, 2006
by Eric RauchwayThis is an episode about how people get you to do what they want. If they can, they'll buy or bully you; but if they can't, they'll use the soft eyes. And sometimes (no, I can't resist a cheap pun) the eyes have it. Freamon gets Pearlman to issue his subpoenas against the powerful politicos by giving her the eyes above the reading glasses, like (as Daniels explains) the father you can't bear to disappoint.
Those Who Take Their Theology Seriously Continued
September 15, 2006
by Jacob T. LevySandy drew our attention to John Nehaus' reflections on whether Mormonism is a form of Christianity or not. Insofar as that's a discussion within and between two theological traditions that center on the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, I lack either a stake in the discussion or, in some sense, the right knowledge base with which to comment on it. I can tell you something about the intellectual history of the Nicene Creed and what it meant to the development of Christianity; but what do I know about whether subscribing to it is a necessary mark of being a "true" Christian?
Wolfowitz V. Corruption
September 14, 2006
I know that most of you know that the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, is, as I am, a member in very good standing of the Elders of Zion. So it follows that anything I say in his behalf might be dismissed as an act of fraternity or, worse yet, ethnic clannishness. But there is an article by Steven Weisman on the front page of the business section of today's New York Times about a controversy in and around the Bank over the tough stand Wolfowitz has taken with regard to rampant corruption in particular countries that are recipients of the institution's loans and contracts.
Baumann, Linker, And Theocons
September 13, 2006
by Casey N. BlakeI recommend Paul Baumann's review of Damon Linker's new book, The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege, in the current issue of Washington Monthly. Linker previewed his argument in "Without a Doubt," in the April 3, 2006 issue of TNR. Baumann argues that Linker's book is a "tendentious" and "frequently cartoonish" polemic against Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the conservative journal First Things, where Linker himself was an editor from 2000 to 2005.
Niche And Long Tails
September 13, 2006
by Cass Sunstein Chris Anderson's new book, The Long Tail, is causing a considerable stir. To make a complex story short, Anderson argues that companies can, and do, make increasing amounts of money by catering to niche markets through a large volume of products (books à la Amazon.com, movies à la Netflix), many of which are bought by very few people. At a bookstore, very little money is made from the poor sellers (at the long tail of the distribution).
Just Off The Wire
September 11, 2006
by John McWhorterRevisiting the topic of series on HBO, my wife and I have been mesmerized by the first three seasons of "The Wire." The show chronicles Baltimore detectives' pursuit of criminals with a richness of detail and nuance that makes the show very much a filmed novel. The show is, for one, a magnificent demonstration of the futility of the War on Drugs. The kingpins run their organizations with the diligence and tenacity of any entrepreneurs, and continue pulling strings from prison. There are always kids as young as thirteen ready to replace runners sent to jail.
The Abcs Of History
September 09, 2006
by David Greenberg Historians, listen up: By now you've probably read about the upcoming ABC 9/11 docudrama that's alleged to distort history--with (it is said) a bias against the Clinton administration's counterterrorism policies.
Don't Cry For Tony
September 08, 2006
by Eric RauchwayThere's a fair bit of Blair pity among left, liberal and even libertarian Americans at the moment, but whatever his suffering at the Bush administration's hands, I cannot spare too much sympathy for this government that began to show--well before 9/11 or 7/7--indifference to, if not contempt for, the basic rights that are the best part of the legacy we share with our colonial progenitors. The right to a jury trial is removed in complicated fraud cases and where there is a fear of jury tampering.