Thursday December 12, 2013
Archive - Jun 13, 2013
This is a column about Jonah Lehrer, the 31-year-old disgraced former New Yorker writer who recently - sigh - landed a contract for a book about love. (Yes, love.) But I want to start by recalling another disgraced former magazine writer: Stephen Glass.
Question for the day: Do you feel more secure or less secure, now that you know the government is keeping a gargantuan pile of information about everybody's telephone calls in the name of national security?
There's a far better case right now for being an infrastructure hawk than a deficit hawk.
Deficit hawks tend to have two worries. The first is a practical concern about interest rates. Too much government borrowing can, in a healthy economy, begin to "crowd out" private borrowing. That means interest rates rise and the economy slows.
In politics, we often skip past the simple questions. This is why inquiries about the fundamentals can sometimes catch everyone short.
Michael Lind, the independent-minded scholar, posed one such question last week about libertarianism that I hope will shake up the political world. I'll get to his query in a moment. It's important because many in the new generation of conservative politicians declare libertarianism as their core political philosophy.
Maybe I'm a bit pessimistic when it comes to governmental paternalism and the unrelenting erosion of civil liberties, but I've always assumed that someone or something - including the government - is tracking, or could track, everything I do in an increasing virtual reality.
Already far from beloved, the IRS - do those initials need to be explained to anyone? - has given us practically an engraved invitation to berate it. The admitted extra investigation of organizations applying for tax exemption status was poor judgment to say the least.
Someday, a young girl will look up into her father's eyes and ask, "Daddy, what was privacy?"
The father probably won't recall. I fear we've already forgotten that there was a time when a U.S. citizen's telephone calls were nobody else's business. A time when people would have been shocked and angered to learn that the government is compiling a detailed log of ostensibly private calls made and received by millions of Americans.
If you're having trouble following all of the twists and turns in the saga relating to the availability of what is commonly referred to as the "morning-after pill," you're not alone.
The acid that corroded George W. Bush's presidency was fear - spreading it and succumbing to it.
You could see the fear in his eyes, the fear that froze him in place, after Andy Card whispered to W. in that Florida classroom that a second plane had crashed into the twin towers.
The New Yorker last week carried a cartoon of a man delivering a commencement address to a graduating class, all in caps and gowns, and his advice was: "It's an intern-eat-intern world out there!"