October 21, 2009
Standish, Michigan It's two p.m. on a workday, and the casino parking lot is completely full. Hundreds of people have come for the $20 gambling coupons offered to those willing to donate blood. Turnout for the drive was "above and beyond" expectations, says Frank Cloutier, a spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa Indians, who run the 800-slot complex. The nurses are already turning people away two hours before closing, and they will soon run out of blood bags. "We get free money!" one woman tells me, clutching her coupon as her friends nod in agreement.
The Restless Medium
October 21, 2009
Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before By Michael Fried (Yale University Press, 409 pp., $55) I. Michael Fried,who shot to intellectual stardom in 1967 with an essay in Artforum called "Art and Objecthood," is an intimidating writer. He looks very closely. He has passionate feelings about what he sees. And he shapes his impressions into a theory that fits snugly with all the other theories he has ever had. Whatever his chosen subject--Diderot, Courbet, Manet, Kenneth Noland--he comes up with an interpretation that is as smoothly and tightly constructed as a stainless-steel box.
Will November 7 > August 20?
October 20, 2009
From the conclusion of the Guardian's extremely thorough anatomy of what went wrong with the August 20 election in Afghanistan: [A] run-off is likely to suffer from many of the same problems as the first vote. It's worth reading the whole Guardian piece to get a sense of just how botched that first vote. really was. And you have to hope the run-off will at least be a little bitter: now that the international community seems more resolved to fight election fraud, maybe Karzai will be less committed to engaging in it. But resolve can only do so much.
Is There a Middle Way?
October 20, 2009
General Stanley McChrystal's request to send more troops to Afghanistan has induced sticker shock for many Americans--including, apparently, President Obama. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy that McChrystal wants to pursue has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse.
A few things stand out upon a first reading of Obama's official Sudan policy announcement, TNR's copy of which is pasted below. One is the stark language it uses regarding President Omar Al Bashir's indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
October 19, 2009
On July 25, Najibullah Zazi, a lanky man in his mid-twenties, walked into the Beauty Supply Warehouse in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. The visit was captured on a store video camera. Wearing a baseball cap and pushing a shopping cart, Zazi appeared to be just another suburban guy. Of course, not many suburban guys buy six bottles of Clairoxide hair bleach, as Zazi did on this shopping trip--or return a month later to buy a dozen bottles of "Ms. K Liquid," a peroxide-based product.
Help for the Docs. What About the Patients?
October 16, 2009
Congress is about to write a very big check to America's doctors, apparently without blinking. It may or may not be the right thing to do--more on that in a second. But it does make you wonder why they find it so hard to write a very big check to make sure everybody can get affordable health insurance. The issue here is what's known as the Sustainable Growth Rate, or SGR. Under the terms of a law passed in 1998, Medicare is supposed to keep its payments in doctors in line with the SGR.
A Geek Grows in Brooklyn
October 15, 2009
Why Jonathan Lethem refuses to grow up.
The Civilian Surge Myth
October 15, 2009
How can we snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Afghanistan? There's one solution that has attracted analysts of all stripes: a "civilian surge," where development and political advisers working for (or contracted by) the State department and the U.S. Agency for International Development flood the country and turn the tide against the insurgents. The logic, at least, is sound: It takes more than military success to defeat insurgents. Insurgency grows where a corrupt and weak government does not provide security, justice, and opportunity.
Hillary in Moscow: Will the New START Treaty Cripple Conventional U.S. Military Power?
October 13, 2009
The news surrounding today's meeting between Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is pretty bad. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken the opportunity to dump cold water on our hopes for more Iran sanctions and to trumpet a Sino-Russian gas pipeline deal that would weaken our hand in Central Asia. But, despite all that, it's worth keeping in mind that the "New START" treaty that Hillary is in Moscow to negotiate is a solid one. The deal would supplant both START I, the arms-control treaty signed by George H.W.