the Times

More Super Committee Chicken-Littleism
November 14, 2011

The only thing that's alarming about the super committee's struggle to reach a deal on $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction is the eagerness of reporters and Washington chin-pullers to be alarmed. What exactly will happen if Thanksgiving comes and no deal is reached? "If the panel falls short," Robert Pear explains in the Nov. 14 New York Times, "a series of automatic cuts, split evenly between military and civilian programs, would take effect, starting in 2013." This might be cause for alarm if the current month were Nov.

Over-Rated Thinkers
November 03, 2011

Welcome to TNR’s 2011 list issue. Yesterday we named the most powerful, least famous people in Washington. Today’s installment: DC’s most over-rated thinkers. NEWT GINGRICH Maybe it’s the Ph.D., his extensive bibliography, or his constant appearances on Fox News, but Newt Gingrich has held on to his reputation as the “ideas man” of the Republican Party for too long. Last May, when Gingrich was contemplating a run in 2012, Eric Cantor swooned over his intellect and The Washington Post published a story headlined: “Newt Gingrich has Ideas.

The Wall Street Occupation and the Cottage Cheese Revolt
October 29, 2011

The New York Times ran with two demographic surveys one day after the other. The first, which it headlined “Snapshot shows U.S. public more disillusioned than ever,” demonstrated that the American people are fundamentally miserable with their condition. They expressed egalitarian instincts at least to the extent that they want the distribution of wealth to be more even.

Saturday's Lunch Special
October 22, 2011

What's for lunch today? In many Texas prisons, nothing. The Times had a remarkable story tucked inside Friday's paper noting that Rick Perry's administration has decided to stop serving lunch on Saturdays and Sundays in order to help deal with the state's budget troubles. Not serving lunch to 23,000 inmates is the better part of $2.8 million in prison-system savings being sought this year.

Why Writers Should Embrace Amazon’s Takeover of the Publishing Industry
October 19, 2011

Peeking into the Amazon Publishing booth at Book Expo last spring, I felt like a member of the Rebel Alliance in the Death Star. While the main floor of the hall was crowded with readers lining up for giveaways and editors huddled around tables, the corner Amazon had staked out—right up front by the entrance—exuded a suspicious calm. Though it had the plushest carpeting anywhere in the hall (always the most reliable Book Expo status indicator) and the comfiest looking chairs, few books were to be found.

Elizabeth Warren vs. GE
September 14, 2011

Elizabeth Warren's video announcement that she'll seek the Democratic nomination for Senate demonstrates her soft-spoken sincerity, unflappability, and  quiet conviction that the middle class desperately needs help. I've seen this woman hold her own in one of the more hostile congressional hearings I ever witnessed. She's going to be a very formidable candidate, and every wealthy Democrat in the country is going to want to contribute to her campaign. In making her pitch, Warren plunged herself into a headache-inducing factual controversy.

What is the Relationship Between Art and Authoritarianism in China?
July 21, 2011

The time has come to return to the vexatious relationship between art and politics, which was both catnip and quicksand for thinking people during much of the twentieth century. China’s ever-higher profile as global arbiter of matters artistic—commissioning major work from international architectural stars; giving the nod to a booming market in contemporary Chinese art; and all the while drastically restricting the freedom of artists and writers—leaves us honor bound to explore the tangled old alliances and misalliances between artistic power and political power.

Cambridge Journal: What Explains Fashionable Hostility Toward Israel?
July 20, 2011

We live in a world in which the contagion of anti-Semitism is spreading once again. Indeed, the profusion of hostility to Israel is the proof that hatred of Jews is now quite alright, thank you. But, whatever individual and isolated wrongs Israel commits, there are comparisons to be drawn. And the comparisons are to the Arab states and to Palestinian Arab society, in which oppression has flourished since the early years of the last century.

Krauthammer Having Trouble With Concept Of Bargaining
July 15, 2011

I'm on vacation, but this Charles Krauthammer column in my morning paper is so wildly obtuse I cannot restrain myself from blogging about it. Krauthammer argues that President Obama's claim to favor a deficit reduction deal is phony because he's offering it in closed door negotiations: All of a sudden he’s a born-again budget balancer prepared to bravely take on his own party by making deep cuts in entitlements. Really? Name one. He’s been saying forever that he’s prepared to discuss, engage, converse about entitlement cuts.

Don't Be Evil
July 13, 2011

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives By Steven Levy (Simon & Schuster, 423 pp., $26)  The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) By Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of California Press, 265 pp., $26.95)  I. For cyber-optimists and cyber-pessimists alike, the advent of Google marks off two very distinct periods in Internet history. The optimists remember the age before Google as chaotic, inefficient, and disorganized.

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