Good afternoon. The digital edition of our June 28th issue is now available online.
Read Deirdre McCloskey’s cover story on the creepy new economics of pleasure, John McWhorter on Mitt Romney’s verbal stylings, Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee, Drew Gilpin Faust on Paul Fussell’s legacy, Paul Berman on Chen Guangcheng’s great escape, and Jeffrey Rosen on liberals’ discovery of a theory to crush conservative jurisprudence.
Also, don’t miss Timothy Noah’s TRB column on Mayor Bloomberg’s war on soda, Isaac Chotiner on Jonah Lehrer’s “Creativity,” Peter Green on Homer, Leon Wieseltier on foreign policy sophistry, and much more.
Good afternoon. The digital edition of our June 28th issue is now available online.
“In August 2011, my older brother Yassein—a businessman who is in no way politically involved—was praying inside the Mustafa Mosque in Daraya, southwest of Damascus, while a protest was happening outside. Security forces moved in to disperse the demonstration, arresting Yassein, who had not been participating. After his arrest, he was taken to the headquarters of Syrian Airforce Security. (Airforce Security is known for brutally torturing dissidents; it was responsible for the mutilation and killing of 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb at the outset of the uprising last year.) My brother has been held incommunicado ever since.
That I have been spared Yassein’s fate—indeed, a fate perhaps even worse than his—is only because I left Syria years ago, after years of active political opposition. My current distance from my country has undoubtedly preserved my safety. But it has not at all changed my assessment of the Assad regime’s terrors: Instead, it has only made me more determined in my opposition to Assad’s rule, and more hopeful that its end is near. Indeed, I am confident that my difficult personal journey—from domestic political reformer to leader of a government-in-exile—will one day tell a tale of redemption.”
- Radwan Ziadeh, The Making of a Syrian Dissident: A Personal Journey
Photo of Yassein Ziadeh courtesy of Flickr
Who killed political compromise?
“At Yalta in 1944, anticipating victory over the Nazis, Churchill and Roosevelt tacitly agreed to the forced re-patriation of prisoners of war and civilian refugees from the Soviet Union. The code name for the transfer, Operation Keelhaul, strongly suggests that British and American authorities knew what Stalin had in store for the two million people to be forcibly returned: “keelhaul” was an old practice of the British navy in which victims were hauled by rope under ships, with little hope of survival. Margalit is firm that the overall aim of the Yalta agreement to bring about the Nazis’ unconditional surrender was “morally right,” but he believes the Western allies could have resisted the Soviet demand for forcible repatriation or at least cut short Operation Keelhaul, which continued until 1947, by which time there was no excuse for it. Here was another huge cockroach, another ruined soup.”
- Paul Starr, Cockroaches and Compromise
Photo courtesy of henrymakow.com
Just how little does Justice Scalia know about immigration policy?
“One of the reasons that Washington’s approach to immigration—unlike Arizona’s—is so complicated is that federal policymakers need to take account of geopolitical considerations when deciding which undocumented immigrants to target for deportation. Donald Verrilli, Obama’s solicitor general, said as much, arguing that a maximal approach to immigration enforcement could create problems for U.S. relations with Mexico. “So we have to enforce our laws in a manner that will please Mexico?!” Scalia protested. But that’s a rather unfair way of describing Washington’s decision-making process on immigration. Of course geopolitical considerations are—and should be—taken into account when the federal government makes immigration policy. “
- Nathan Pippenger, Scalia Reveals How Little He Knows About Immigration Policy
Photo courtesy of The New Yorker
Ross Douthat replies to TNR’s review of his book Bad Religion:
“But such unfairnesses are typical of hostile book reviews, and I don’t begrudge Winters the right to be obnoxious to someone he considers—wrongly, in my view, but obviously not in his—to be his political and theological antagonist on every front.
The license afforded by the genre of polemic, however, does not grant him the right to be explicitly mendacious. He clearly has a vendetta, of sorts, against Michael Novak and George Weigel and the style of Catholic neoconservatism that they represent. But they are not me, their writings are not mine, and he has done his readers a disservice by reviewing Bad Religion through the lens of that vendetta, and ignoring the book I actually wrote.”
- Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: A Response
Photo courtesy of Dawgs By Nature
How important are the vices of off-duty Secret Service agents?
“Surely the unspoken rule till now has been that traveling Secret Service agents may go to prostitutes provided they receive, um, secret service. Try as I may to be shocked or angered by this variation on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I cannot. A gay person employed by the government should not be forced to hide his or her sexual orientation. But neither should a john employed by the government be encouraged to over-share with his or her superiors. They’d rather not know. I’d rather not know. Unless of course it gets in the way of getting in the way of an assassin’s bullet.”
- Timothy Noah, Secret Service Sex: The TV Show
Photo courtesy of Farraguter
In remembrance of a lifelong political thug:
“Known to history as Nixon’s hatchet man, he was the ugliest of the Watergate thugs, the most shamelessly vicious—and also “viciously loyal,” in the words of no less than his own father. One colleague called him an “evil genius,” another called him “a cobra,” and Nixon said that he “would do anything. He’s got the balls of a brass monkey.” (Later, in his memoir, Nixon did not back away from this assessment: Colson’s “instinct for the political jugular and his ability to get things done made him a lightning rod for my own frustrations,” the former president wrote.) Colson himself agreed. He referred to himself as “the chief ass-kicker around the White House” and a “flag-waving, kick-’em-in-the-nuts, anti-press, anti-liberal Nixon fanatic.” In certain Republican circles, he made running over your own grandmother chic.”
David Greenberg, In Remembrance of a Lifelong Political Thug
Photo courtesy of Time
What explains the paradoxical views of Russian protesters?
“Another protester, Andrey Ershov, an international relations student at a Moscow university, told me that his motivation for attending the rallies was to register his keen disappointment with the parliamentary elections held last December, which he viewed as rigged in favor of Putin’s United Russia Party. But he was not, he stressed, part of any anti-Putin opposition. “I think Putin is the person who is the most fit for this political system, which is now in Russia,” Ershov said—a system in which a tiny elite rules both the political and business realms. “Me personally, I would like the system to change and for a president to be more democratically oriented. But, for now, I think it is logical that Putin won.””
- Paul Starobin, The Putin Generation
Photo courtesy of The Guardian
Check out TNR’s newest issue, featuring Charles Homans on the 2012 campaign’s biggest donor, Noam Scheiber on how Barack Obama became Bill Clinton, Alec MacGillis on the future of labor’s relationship with the Democratic Party, and the editors on the moral dimension of the health care ruling.
Read TNR’s Books and Arts section for Stanley Kauffmann on films and see excellent pieces by David Hajdu on Adele, Paul Starr on compromise, and Leon Wieseltier on the necessity of both defending and criticizing Israel. The issue also features poems by Rowan Ricardo Phillips and the late Wislawa Szymborska.
Check out tnr.com for access to this content and much more!
How did Barack Obama become Bill Clinton?
“Because of Clinton’s reputation as the father of the permanent campaign and Obamaland’s disavowals of his techniques, it’s tempting to regard the two most recent Democratic presidents as diametric opposites. In many ways, however, Obama’s presidency has followed a remarkably Clintonian trajectory. Clinton also came into office hoping to bridge Washington’s partisan divide. As Bob Woodward reported in his bookThe Choice, Clinton was stunned when Republicans told him they would vote en masse against his deficit plan only hours into his presidency. “I didn’t run for president to be a bare-fanged partisan,” he told Woodward, before confessing that Republicans had turned him into one.”
- Noam Scheiber, From Hope to Hardball
Photo courtesy of blogspot