In his Inaugural address yesterday, President Bush recited Michael Gerson's reference to Isaac Norris' quotation of Leviticus 25:10: "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Norris was the "Pensylvania" assemblyman who chose this verse of scripture for the bell cast to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the colony's charter. Leviticus 25 [Read More...]

Standards left behind

Rick Perlstein is, to put it mildly, not optimistic about the next four years. Read the entire essay, "Eve of Destruction" — read it over and over and over again, my friend, if you don't believe we're on that eve. But I want to focus here on Perlstein's comments on No Child Left Behind: You've [Read More...]


Express anything as a number, a statistic, and it takes on the air of authority. The more apparently precise that number, the more digits after the decimal point, the more substantial it seems to people — even if that very precise figure was arrived at through a speculative and arbitrary set of calculations. Take, for [Read More...]


The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen report today on a lack of enthusiasm for President Bush's plans to dismantle Social Security in an article headlined "In GOP, Resistance on Social Security." The subhead reads "Bush Plan Raises Fear of Voter Anger," but the Republicans quoted in the piece by VandeHei and Allen aren't [Read More...]

Eating people is wrong

I would just like to state for the record that I think torture is wrong. And paramilitary death squads. I'm against them, thank you. And also cannibalism. And the vivisection of small children. Bad Things, those. Oughtn't to be done. Although, unlike torture and death squads, these latter two are not yet, to my knowledge, [Read More...]

Calling Reagan a thief

Why does George W. Bush hate Alan Greenspan? And why does the Republican Party think it's most important domestic agenda item is to convince the American people that Ronald Reagan was a liar and a fraud? In the early 1980s Greenspan and Reagan put in place a plan to "save Social Security." Looking ahead, they [Read More...]

Religious profiling

I've started to read Philip Gourevitch's book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With our Families: Stories from Rwanda. It is the story of genocide, of the killing of somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million people in about 100 days. This mass destruction was carried out without weapons of mass [Read More...]

Political aid

Scenario 1: A massive tragedy strikes, centered on the world's most populous Muslim nation, but with effects felt in many other countries. The U.S. immediately and decisively pledges a substantial amount of assistance. The following day, as the full scope of the disaster is revealed, that pledge is increased tenfold and the American president publicly [Read More...]