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There didn’t seem to be any clear winner in last night’s presidential debate, which presumably is good for Barack Obama since he seems to be slightly ahead at this point. It was discouraging, though, to have Obama endorse the money pit known as “missile defense,” and for him to more or less hold up Henry Kissinger as a foreign policy guru when he talked about the desirability of negotiating directly with Iran (and other “enemies”) without preconditions.
Surely the most penetrating observation of the night came from McCain, when he said in discussing the beleaguered people of one nation currently enmeshed in an economic crisis: they “have a lousy government, so therefore their economy is lousy.” He was talking about Iranians, but I imagine the sentiment rang true for quite a few Americans as well.
“Lousy government” is in fact the best explanation available for the current financial disaster, and House Republicans put on a fresh display the past few days by posing as populist defenders of “Main Street” while offering further tax cuts to Wall Street. As Steven Pearlstein wrote today in The Washington Post:
If you worked at Saturday Night Live and had to construct a parody of what Republican wing nuts might come up with as a solution to the current financial crisis, you simply couldn’t do better than the loopy plan served up by House Republicans this week. Minority Leader John Boehner and his crew have never met a problem they think couldn’t be solved by attracting private capital, and never met a dollar of private capital that couldn’t be lured with a tax cut. So it should have been no surprise that they would try to use the same approach to plug the trillion-dollar hole that’s been blown in the American financial system.
That’s right, my fellow Americans, we can lick this financial crisis just by offering an additional capital gains tax break to any investor or hedge fund that agrees to invest in a bank or Wall Street investment house.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”