Wednesday December 11, 2013
Archive - 2013
"What do you do with a BA in English?
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this useless degree.
I can't pay the bills yet
'Cause I have no skills yet
The world is a big scary place
We prefer to think of the Supreme Court as an institution apart from politics and above its struggles. In the wake of this week's decision gutting the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, its actions must now be viewed through the prism of the conservative movement's five-decade-long quest for power.
Even now, nearly six months later - during which time Amazon.com has been flooded with hundreds of negative reviews condemning her; a website was set up attacking her; and her friends and colleagues have been bombarded with emails denouncing her - it is a little hard to understand why Ping Fu's memoir, "Bend, Not Break," has aroused such fury in some quarters of the Chinese immigrant community.
The Supreme Court's mixed bag of decisions in the session's final days, particularly on voting rights and same-sex marriage, seized the nation's headlines but did little to bolster its own clarity or credibility.
Interested non-lawyers were left dependent on legal experts to sort out where this highest bench, with a general but not rigidly consistent conservative majority, comes down in today's cultural and political climate.
Every once in a while, something happens that challenges your entire view of the order of the universe. For instance, this week the U.S. Senate actually passed something. Meanwhile, in Texas, liberal Democrats and the abortion rights movement won a huge political victory.
If we keep this up, soon we will hear that in Africa, migrating herds of wildebeests stopped moving and began settling into trailer parks.
Let's praise a struggling conservative reform movement seeking to disentangle the right's cause from extremism and to make its ideas more compelling to a younger and broader swath of Americans.
It's a movement of diverse strands and competing motives. Some conservatives are looking for a much larger dose of reform than others.
This first week of testimony in the George Zimmerman trial has proved to be nothing short of fascinating.
On one level, the case is simple: if Zimmerman had not pursued - some say stalked - Trayvon Martin that dark, rainy night, Martin would still be alive.
Gathering valedictory material on Nelson Mandela as he faded in a Pretoria hospital the other day, I came across a little book called "Mandela's Way." In this 2010 volume, Rick Stengel, the ghostwriter of Mandela's autobiography, set out to extract "lessons on life, love and courage" he had learned from three years of immersion in Mandela's life.
The former CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar asked this question in a recent essay in The National Interest: Why are we seeing so many popular street revolts in democracies? Speaking specifically of Turkey and Brazil, but posing a question that could be applied to Egypt, Israel, Russia, Chile and the United States, Pillar asks: "The governments being protested against were freely and democratically elected. With the ballot box available, why should there be recourse to the street?"
The Senate provided the country a rare and modest glimpse of bipartisanship in its 68-32 passage of the comprehensive immigration reform bill laboriously accomplished by the Gang of Eight -- four Democrats and four Republicans. But overcoming the rigid and obstructionist partisanship of the House Republicans will be another matter.