Friday, January 30, 2009

The Rooster Crows Again

Long the object of scorn, ridicule, and exasperation on the part of "Anglo-Saxon" business and political elites, the French system of generous social welfare and big government appears to be getting new respect and perhaps generating a touch of envy. At least, that's a prominent viewpoint in France.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Status Quo Ante

Following a week in which a dynamic new President assumed office and an anxious nation wondered whether he will somehow find a way to restore our lost national luster, the talking heads on This Week with George Stephanopoulos dedicated the first ten minutes of their babble-fest to analyzing the reasons why Caroline Kennedy withdrew her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Cokie Roberts took particular umbrage at the "sexism" involved in l'affaire Caroline, as if it were patently obvious that Ms. Kennedy's storied name, enormous wealth, A-list connections, and telegenic celebrity were assets unequal to the massive liability of her gender. That Governor Paterson appointed another woman to the post in lieu of Kennedy did not dissuade Cokie from the righteousness of her ridiculous argument.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Our economy is in shambles with the nation's treasure being squandered in a desperate attempt to rescue our corrupt and profligate financial system from insolvency. Millions of citizens are confronting unemployment, or foreclosure, or the impossibility of retirement, or lack of access to health care, or some combination of these. The luckier among us are merely confronting nauseating insecurity. Capitalism is in severe crisis and its catastrophic collapse, if not certain, is uncomfortably possible. Yet it is now clear that if the crisis cannot be remedied with solutions emerging from within the bounds of conventional economic thinking and entrenched political ideology, then the crisis simply will not be remedied.

Liberal Patriotism

Refreshing, isn't it, that we learned on election night and again at this week's inauguration that patriotism can be expressed with hope and joy and without elegies to empire and the hooahs of soldiers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The French Are Responsible for Obama's Presidency

Ségolène Royal, who lost against Nicholas Sarkozy in the latest French presidential election, reveals to the world that "yes, I inspired Obama, and his teams copied us."

Relax, all you French-bashers. The public reaction to her comments in France is rollicking laughter.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Big Bummer for Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman, he of Lexuses, olive trees, the flat earth, "suck on this," the Friedman unit, and lately, a proselytizer for a Green-driven economic utopia, seems to have fallen on hard times - at least to the extent that times can be hard for someone with a plum writing job for The New York Times and who collects a reported $50,000 per speaking engagement.

Tom's wife is apparently heiress to General Growth Properties, a Real Estate Investment Trust and the nation's second largest owner of shopping malls. General Growth has seen its market value plunge more than 97%, reducing the Friedman family fortune from $3.5 billion in December 2007 to its present $25 million. [Source: Harper's Magazine Index, February 2009]