Revolution and reform, part 1

Reinhold Niebuhr is considered one of the greatest theologians and moral philosophers of the 20th century. In other words, nobody pays him any attention any more. That's a shame, since much of his writing remains uncannily timely — particularly Moral Man and Immoral Society, The Nature and Destiny of Man, and The Irony of American [Read More...]

Once more with feeling

The (over-)extended metaphor in the previous post may obscure the links to two worthy articles that I wanted to highlight. Those would be: "Rumsfeld and his 'old friend' Saddam," by Jim Lobe in the Asia Times; and "Winning and Losing," by Philip Gourevitch in The New Yorker. [Read more...]

I know an old lady

I know an old lady who swallowed a cow I don't know how she swallowed that cow … I'm fascinated by stories of exotic invasives — those surprisingly adaptable foreign species like kudzu or the cane toad whose proliferation in a new ecosystem can have devastating consequences. … She swallowed the cow to catch the [Read More...]

Liars and honest fools

The word "alleged" is used far more frequently in newspapers that it is in most aspects of daily life. This is due partly to a commitment to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." If, for example, a man is arrested after going to a local mall with a video camera attached to his shoe [Read More...]

The Quiet American

Revising and extending my remarks from an earlier comment – Graham Green was a cynical old bastard, but he was not only a cynic. In order for him to describe cynicism so well, he must have had a place to stand outside of it from which to make his deft observations. My favorite Green novel, [Read More...]

“What more do you want?”

Saddam's capture is clearly the best news to come out of Iraq in months. It is a necessary step toward accomplishing the grandly ambitious goals the Bush administration has laid out as the purpose of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. By all means, let's celebrate this capture, but let's not [Read More...]


When you work at a newspaper, getting called in on your day off usually means something bad has happened. Big news is usually bad news. But not this time. The capture of Saddam Hussein is tremendously good news. More on this later — for now I'm going to go get me some time-and-a-half. N.B.: By [Read More...]

Reagan’s Bind

When I first read Paul Krugman's column in today's New York Times, I was disappointed to find him musing on the possible motives behind the Bush administration's latest diplomatic screw-up: James Baker sets off to negotiate Iraqi debt forgiveness with our estranged allies. And at that very moment the deputy secretary of defense releases a [Read More...]