Monthly Archives: May 2007

No Comment — May 31, 2007, 6:05 pm

Defining Conservatism Up

Among the army of columnists that populate the American print world, George Will is my favorite Tory. I use “Tory” in the best sense – in the sense that Samuel Johnson and Dr. Arbuthnot were Tories, for instance. In an English way that lays a proper value on tradition and the cultural accomplishments that have gone before us. In a way that longs for a thick chop and pint of ale. Will is not likely to be found in the pantheon of too many Harper’s readers (I have a theory formed from reading my Harper’s email box that our median …

No Comment — May 31, 2007, 4:53 pm

Matthew Diaz and the Rule of Law

Law professor and Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks examines the court-martial of Commander Matthew Diaz and comes out almost exactly where I did. The prosecution of Diaz highlights the degree to which U.S. interrogation and detention policies have become unjustifiably arbitrary. Our detention policies scoop up the innocent and the guilty alike — and Diaz, who broke the law in an effort to prevent abuses, found himself aggressively prosecuted, while others who committed abuses remain wholly unaccountable. That’s no way to promote the rule of law… The jury understood that the persistence of deep injustice may lead some to …

Washington Babylon — May 31, 2007, 11:22 am

How Gregory Nickerson Parlayed House Job Into Lavish Estate (Illustrated)

In mid April, I reported on the case of Gregory Nickerson, the former top staffer at the House Ways and Means Committee who in 2004 helped shepherd through Congress a $140 billion corporate tax break with the Orwellian name of the “American Jobs Creation Act.” General Electric was the biggest beneficiary of the AJCA, winning a multi-billion dollar windfall. I’ve now learned that the AJCA originated in 2001, as a report prepared by the National Foreign Trade Council, a group of 450 multinational corporations whose board members includes GE. According to a Washington Post story, the Council’s report was prepared …

No Comment — May 31, 2007, 11:04 am

Therapy for Font Sluts

Slate has been taking an interesting look at graphic design over the last few days, including a fascinating piece on the evolution of the world’s most ubiquitous font: Helvetica. The piece is adapted from the fascinating exhibition now running at the Museum of Modern Art – one of the season’s must-sees. But this is a web treat – another reason, if needed, why a visit to Slate never goes unrewarded. Then check out the depressingly uninspired survey of writer’s font preferences. Indeed: an overwhelming preference for Courier. What numbskulls. If you’re stuck on typewriter type (and it has a certain …

No Comment — May 31, 2007, 8:58 am

Progress? What Progress? Troops Vent at Lieberman

No U.S. senator has made more trips out to Iraq than Joe Lieberman. He’s a fixture out there. The regular junket has been a part of his campaign to be “Mr. Iraq” in the Senate. About a year ago, when I was working in Baghdad, I listened to a young captain vent about all the time and energy the Army was forced to expend on the regular visits of CODELs – Congressional delegations. “I guess our democratic process requires it. But I really wish these dopes would open their eyes and actually learn something, rather than use Iraq as a …

No Comment — May 31, 2007, 8:22 am

More Partisan Harassment of the Troops

Marine Corporal Adam Kokesh is an Iraq war veteran who has exactly three weeks of service remaining as a reservist. Now he’s facing a dishonorable discharge. Why? He wore fatigues to an anti-Iraq War rally, the Associated Press reports. He was singled out for disciplinary action after military authorities identified him from a protest photograph published in the Washington Post. Military rules preclude personnel from appearing in uniform at political functions. However, under the Bush administration this rule has been violated hundreds of times – as service personnel appear in uniform at Republican Party functions. Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking …

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Rebirth of a Nation

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The Tragedy of Ted Cruz

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Rebirth of a Nation·

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Donald Trump’s presidency signals a profound but inchoate realignment of American politics. On the one hand, his administration may represent the consolidation of minority control by a Republican-dominated Senate under the leadership of a president who came to office after losing the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Such an imbalance of power could lead to a second civil war—indeed, the nation’s first and only great fraternal conflagration was sparked off in part for precisely this reason. On the other hand, Trump’s reign may be merely an interregnum, in which the old white power structure of the Republican Party is dying and a new oppositional coalition struggles to be born.

Illustration by Taylor Callery (detail)
Blood Money·

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Over the past three years, the city of South Tucson, Arizona, a largely Latino enclave nestled inside metropolitan Tucson, came close to abolishing its fire and police departments. It did sell off the library and cut back fire-truck crews from four to three people—whereupon two thirds of the fire department quit—and slashed the police force to just sixteen employees. “We’re a small city, just one square mile, surrounded by a larger city,” the finance director, Lourdes Aguirre, explained to me. “We have small-town dollars and big-city problems.”

Illustration by John Ritter (detail)
The Tragedy of Ted Cruz·

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When I saw Ted Cruz speak, in early August, it was at Underwood’s Cafeteria in Brownwood. He was on a weeklong swing through rural central Texas, hitting small towns and military bases that ensured him friendly, if not always entirely enthusiastic, crowds. In Brownwood, some in the audience of two hundred were still nibbling on peach cobbler as Cruz began with an anecdote about his win in a charity basketball game against ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. They rewarded him with smug chuckles when he pointed out that “Hollywood celebrities” would be hurting over the defeat “for the next fifty years.” His pitch for votes was still an off-the-rack Tea Party platform, complete with warnings about the menace of creeping progressivism, delivered at a slightly mechanical pace but with lots of punch. The woman next to me remarked, “This is the fire in the gut! Like he had the first time!” referring to Cruz’s successful long-shot run in the 2011 Texas Republican Senate primary. And it’s true—the speech was exactly like one Cruz would have delivered in 2011, right down to one specific detail: he never mentioned Donald Trump by name.

Cruz recited almost verbatim the same things Trump lists as the administration’s accomplishments: the new tax legislation, reduced African-American unemployment, repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court. But, in a mirror image of those in the #Resistance who refuse to ennoble Trump with the title “president,” Cruz only called him that.

Photograph of Ted Cruz © Ben Helton (detail)
Wrong Object·

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e is a nondescript man.

I’d never used that adjective about a client. Not until this one. My seventeenth. He’d requested an evening time and came Tuesdays at six-thirty. For months he didn’t tell me what he did.

The first session I said what I often said to begin: How can I help you?

I still think of what I do as a helping profession. And I liked the way the phrase echoed down my years; in my first job I’d been a salesgirl at a department store counter.

I want to work on my marriage, he said. I’m the problem.

His complaint was familiar. But I preferred a self-critical patient to a blamer.

It’s me, he said. My wife is a thoroughly good person.

Yawn, I thought, but said, Tell me more.

I don’t feel what I should for her.

What do you feel?

Photograph © Joseph S. Giacalone (detail)

Percentage of TV meteorologists in a University of Texas survey who said they thought global warming was a “scam”:


A study concluded that commercial fish stocks may be gone by 2050 as a result of overfishing, pollution, and global climate change.

Nikki Haley resigns; Jamal Khashoggi murdered; Kanye visits the White House

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Happiness Is a Worn Gun


Illustration by Stan Fellows

Illustration by Stan Fellows

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

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