TCS Daily : September 2005 Archives

Dealing with Hamas

In early August, the week before Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, I argued that following the withdrawal the onus would be on the international community, and especially the EU, to acknowledge the huge political and personal risks that Israeli Prime... Read More

Bill Bennett's Reality-Based Defenders

Former Drug Czar and Secretary of Education Bill Bennett's comments over skin color, crime and abortion have lots of folks howling, from Nancy Pelosi to Howard Dean to the NAACP to Ted Kennedy to the White House (go figure). What... Read More

Is the Current Era of Hurricane Activity Unprecedented?

In the age of instant media, the pictures coming from the southeastern United States of the damage wrought by the one-two punch of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have triggered a generous response from our nation to those hurt the most... Read More

What's the Evidence for and Acrylamide and Cancer Link?

Editor's note: This is part II in a series on the latest acrylamide and cancer scare. To read part I, click here. The major source of bad science on the issue of acrylamide and cancer has been the Center for... Read More

Limiting the Statute of Limitations

When life seems lovely and good, I like to remind myself that humanity is a depraved and wicked race whose depredations are rarely put to right in a single lifetime. I keep a folder of bookmarks in Internet Explorer, titled:... Read More

The Spirit of St. Louis: Labor Rising in America

"We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old"-- "Solidarity Forever" Famous Union Song ST. LOUIS -- Anybody who thought that organized labor is dead in America should have attended this week's "Change to Win"... Read More

Poland's Promised Land?

The results of the Sunday parliamentary elections in Poland were a bit of a surprise and caused some consternation even among the winners. The Law and Justice (PiS) party, which received nearly 30 percent of the votes, was unable... Read More

Manure vs. Machine

The marketing of "organic" food is where environmentalists and hucksters converge. By most definitions an "organic" product must not contain genetically modified organisms and its production must not involve synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides or syn Read More

Call in the Cavalry? Not So Fast

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush asked a logical, though politically complex, question: "Is there a natural disaster, of a certain size, that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and... Read More

The Bomb-Blowing Heroes of Iraq

In a war in which most coalition casualties are caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), no unit is more important than Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). What I saw with an EOD team when I was embedded at Camp Fallujah,... Read More

Phantom Acrylamide Menace

"This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer." -- Proposed California Acrylamide Warning Ever since California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that he was filing suit against McDonald's, Burger King, Frito-Lay and six o Read More

Fear of the Other

Not long ago, I was riding the U-bahn in Vienna; the train ducked into underground stops, thundered through the concrete tunnels, and then re-emerged at street level at a more ambling pace. Slow enough, anyway, for me to catch... Read More

Assumption Function

Is it possible the environmentalist movement is creating yet another doomsday myth out of global warming? After all, it has a history of false alarms, most notably the claim during the 1970s that we were going to experience a new... Read More

Sharia Scare in Canada

On September 11, 2005 -- perhaps thinking that on a hallowed anniversary in the war against Islamist radicalism, he was engaged in a courageous defense of Western democracy -- Dalton McGuinty, premier (equivalent to governor) of the Canadian province of... Read More

Reimportation Storm

You'd think Louisianans would know the importance of good levees, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is seeking to lower America's levees against reimportation of prescription drugs from abroad, all in the hopes of a... Read More

Deadly Assumptions: Radiation and Risk

A new report tells us that the number of future cancer deaths as a consequence of the disaster in Chernobyl has been adjusted downward from tens or even hundreds of thousands to 4,000. But even this estimate may be... Read More

What Do You Want to Know?

What Do You Want to Know? For many years I held that question in mind, as it was my business to write, edit, and see into publication a number of works of reference, whose purpose was to inform persons who... Read More

Return of Mahathir?

On Malaysia's national day, 31 August, trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz pulled a surprise act. At the end of a day of celebration which had gathered current and former leaders, Rafidah spotted former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. Rushing... Read More

The UN's Biotech for Food Scandal

CHIBA, Japan -- John Bolton, the blunt and controversial U.S. ambassador to the UN, has promised "to advance American interests and ideals at the United Nations." During his first two months on the job, Bolton has denounced the United Nations... Read More

The European Descent

ATHENS, GREECE -- As I got on the ferry to return to this dirty, dusty, concrete-slathered megalopolis, I couldn't help but think that the cult of ancient provenance I'd witnessed over ten days' travels was but a microcosm of the... Read More


If the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has its way, the travel revolution that created the new class of "EasyJetters" across Europe will screech to a halt. The Centre has said that such travel must be curtailed if the... Read More

Where the Boys Aren't

I like to walk around campus on nice days, and sometimes I take pictures. When I post them on my blog, people always comment on the number of women in them. But, in fact, that's a pretty accurate reflection of... Read More

Who You Gonna Call?

In response to the massive costs associated with the post-Katrina recovery effort, the Blogosphere has started the Porkbusters campaign to get rid of excess government waste. The linked webpage allows for viewers to learn more about the campaign, track the... Read More

Better Living, Sensible Regulation

The United Nations' Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was discussed last week in Vienna. It seeks to internationalize a "precautionary principle" approach essentially similar to the EU's REACH proposal, which is causing great concern Read More

Fear the Reapers

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have a notoriously bad reputation in France. In such a hostile environment, some people have not hesitated to destroy the few authorized fields of genetically modified plants in the name of the precautionary principle. This sum Read More

Time to Bring Back a Miracle Drug?

The makers of the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri have just announced they will seek Food and Drug Administration approval to resume sales of the drug. I don't have MS, but I couldn't be happier. Since April, when I wrote about... Read More

Agency Head Wanted, Wimps Need Not Apply

The sudden departure of FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford leaves a high-level opening in the Bush administration for the right candidate. It's a hard job, but a potentially rewarding one, offering the opportunity to influence policies and decisions that affect the.. Read More

This Hedge Bet is No Winner

New Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Chris Cox recently told the Wall Street Journal that he plans for the Commission to go forward with its controversial rule requiring hedge fund managers to register with the SEC. Under the rule, registration... Read More

A Textbook Case of How Bureaucracy Kills

I tend not to get too angry at whatever stupidities the various weasels, politicians and bureaucrats who rule us get up to, preferring to ignore them and exist in a susurration of "what did you expect?"s and "typical"s. After all,... Read More

Asthma and Air Pollution

The prevalence of asthma rose by about 75 percent overall between 1980 and 1996, and by nearly a factor of two in children up to 17 years of age.[1] Prevalence seems to have leveled off since then.[2] Roughly 6... Read More

Millennium Development Holes

Editor's note: This article is the second of two parts. Part one may be read here. Pick up just about any management text today and there is a chapter or two about the importance of strategic thinking and planning, organizational... Read More

A Case for Immigration

"The Census Bureau reported last week that since 1989 about 70 percent of the increase in people below the government's official poverty line occurred among Hispanics. Over the same period, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the increase in... Read More

Dangerous Demagoguery

It's no secret that Hurricane Katrina did awful damage to the Gulf Coast region and the US energy infrastructure in the Gulf. A lesser known casualty of the storm has been the thinking of many politicians and pundits. Some of... Read More

The Matter with Kansas Can Be Understood at Woolworth's

Not long ago, while waiting to meet some friends for dinner, I dropped into a bookstore where I happened to glance through the political bestseller, What's the Matter With Kansas? -- a title borrowed from a once famous article by... Read More

Cataloguing the Federal and State Response to Katrina

Many columns have been written on this site in the last few weeks about what the federal government should do in response to Katrina (see here and here for example). Unfortunately, given the nature of political responses to disaster, many... Read More

'Corpse Bride' Stares Us Cold in the Face

The new movie "Corpse Bride" is getting great reviews. And it's probably destined for a pretty good take at the box office. But it could have been much more. If it had been more faithful to its source material,... Read More

Katrina Costs Justify Cutting Amtrak

Following our nation's worst-ever natural disaster, Washington will probably send $200 billion in aid to rebuild New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities. Doing so will cause the federal deficit to skyrocket. President Bush suggested last week that some Hurricane... Read More

The Technorati Candidate

In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore found out that it was possible to win the popular vote, and still lose the electoral vote. In last week's Democratic primary for New York City Public Advocate, Andrew Rasiej found out that... Read More

Dangerous Demagoguery

It's no secret that Hurricane Katrina did awful damage to the Gulf Coast region and the US energy infrastructure in the Gulf. A lesser known casualty of the storm has been the thinking of many politicians and pundits. Some of... Read More

California's Policies Are Based on True Lies

It hasn't been the best of times for California's Arnold Schwarzenegger lately. So last week's Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity, finally provided the Terminator with a few minutes of celebrity filled photo-ops with the likes of Dr. Phil, SpongeBob... Read More

Terror Pipeline

An unprecedented acknowledgement by the Saudi interior ministry that a terrorist cell eliminated recently by the security forces in Dammam was planning to attack key oil installations, coupled with a near-simultaneous revelation that four Iraqi insurgents had been Read More

No Deal With NoKo

Is the news that North Korea has finally agreed to disband its offensive nuclear technology in exchange for economic incentives proof that diplomacy "does work after all" in the words of a New York Times editorial? After decades of deceit... Read More

Encourage Supply: A Cure for the Public's Anger

"An angry public wants quick relief from high prices" at the pump, says Business Week. That's hardly a surprise. Over the past year, the Energy Department reports, a gallon of regular gasoline has gone from $1.86 to $2.96. But even... Read More

Iraq and the Police Principle

On October 19th, 2005, the reckoning will begin for the man who ruled Iraq by fear and murder for thirty-five years. Once Saddam Hussein dreamed that he was a successor to Saladin, filled the squares with his statues, and made... Read More

The Planning Illusion

"Hurricane Katrina has transformed Mississippi's mayors into car thieves, and senators into blockade runners. Isolated by the initial hit of the storm and failed by the slow federal response, citizens have fended for themselves in some original and not entirely... Read More

The Chirac Doctrine

Under President Jacques Chirac, French foreign policy has become increasingly assertive - although one French academic recently described its raison d'être as to "oppose just to exist." But such descriptions are not entirely fair. While Chirac inherited a French fo Read More

From New Orleans to Gaza

Watching last week's sickening footage of the desecration of Gaza's synagogues and other holy places, I couldn't help thinking I'd seen this movie before. The astonishing images of young, armed men running riot around a once-civilized place, of people hauling... Read More

The Politics of Population Control

One of the biggest casualties in the battle over democracy and demography is individual freedom. For their part, India and China fought this war using coercive policies to impose controls on population growth. India's program of forced sterilization under Indira... Read More

With China In the Mix, Today Isn't Quite Yesterday

Light water still bedevils Asia's diplomatic heavyweights. North Korea's demand for light water nuclear reactors, that is.   Monday's hosanna headlines suggested Kim Jong Il's evil regime in Pyongyang had decided to ditch its nuclear weapons program. The North Read More

The Next Proletariat?

Since the peak of the Industrial Revolution, the nature of work in western capitalist economies has been changing. The massive factory manufacturing model of employment is giving way to more specialized skill and knowledge based employment, as technology replaces. Read More

Confessions of an Engineering Washout

I am an engineering washout. I left a chemical engineering major in shame and disgust to pursue the softer pleasures of a liberal arts education. No, do not pity me, gentle reader; do not assuage your horror and dismay at... Read More

Bell Bottom Blues

If you closed your eyes tight -- to ignore the fashion differences -- and merely listened to news broadcasts, you'd swear you were in the 1970s. On Capitol Hill last week, debate swirled around the Supreme Court and a woman's... Read More

On the Right Path

As America recovers from Hurricane Katrina, another storm is growing ever more menacing for the Department of Homeland Security. Accusations of institutional failure by DHS in its response to Katrina increase each day. No target has been left untouched --... Read More

Avoiding Losership

"Fight this war right or get out." This warning sent by the mother of one of the 16 Ohio-based marines killed in August summarizes the alternatives facing the Bush administration. Popular support for the war is fading. Casualties are... Read More

Is This the Right Way to Return to the Moon?

President George W. Bush has called for Americans to return to the moon by 2020. Now NASA has come out with a more detailed presentation, reported in, of what they have in mind: NASA briefed senior White House officials... Read More

India Still Has a Ways to Go

A common refrain heard throughout India over the last half of the twentieth century was that the double-barreled British economic weapon of forced free trade and textile dumping sent India into a destitution from which she suffers to this... Read More

No Solons, They

By most accounts, John Roberts dazzled at his confirmation hearings this past week. The Washington Post endorsed Judge Roberts's confirmation and Post editorial writer David Broder called the Judge "obviously -- ridiculously -- well-equipped to lead government's th Read More

A Farewell to Imams

Italy's recent crackdown on suspected terrorists led some analysts to wonder if the country is toughening its anti-terror policies, after years of lacking a serious strategy to deal effectively with the problem. It seems that at least this time... Read More

Where is the Wealth of Nations?

The World Bank has just released a report called "Where is the Wealth of Nations?". As the Private Sector Development Blog (which is itself an offshoot but not a part of the World Bank) describes it: "Meant to challenge... Read More

City of Light, Ablaze

PARIS -- High-pitched screams pierce the soft night air. Wave upon wave of piercing screams. Coming from rue du Roi Doré. The African squatters? The screams intensify, tearing into the soul of the night. What could be happening? Tribal... Read More

The Impossibility of 'Planned Improvisation'

"Uncertainty refers, per Frank Knight's 1921 definition, to unmeasurable and unquantifiable risk...[It] bears a close relationship to 'ambiguity'...Entrepreneurs who undertake uncertain initiatives face a wide spread between desirable and undesirable outcomes, but Read More

Poverty and Governance: Two Sides of the Same Coin

NEW YORK -- The Clinton Global Initiative wrapped up in New York over the weekend. The three-day confab, created by the 42nd president, brought together political and corporate leaders, Hollywood stars and philanthropists for a kind of American Davos. The... Read More

The Millennium Sham

Editor's note: This article is the first of two parts. If you listened only to the "leaked" confidences of unnamed UN sources or the world's liberal press the last couple of weeks, you would think that the Millennium Development Goals... Read More

Velvet Revolutions and the Logic of Terrorism

Part of our difficulty in dealing with global terror directed against civilian populations is that we have not, I believe, understood what it was designed to attack. Some see it as a war between cultural blocs, others as a... Read More

No Tyranny of the Tiny Minority

As in 1996, New Zealand's Mixed Member Proportional electoral system (borrowed from Germany), has delivered a period of a few weeks of uncertainty. We will not know which party has achieved the highest number of votes until all the special... Read More

Will Katrina Impoverish the Nation?

With apologies to Newton, every catastrophic action leads to a massive political and economic overreaction. And with apologies to George Santayana, those politicians and bureaucrats who remember the lessons of history are doomed to have learned the wrong ones. That Read More

Clinton: Kindly Killing the United Nations

NEW YORK -- United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has lots of enemies. But perhaps he really needs to keep an eye on his "friends," such as Bill Clinton. In the minds of many conservatives, the UN is a... Read More

Fischer King?

BERLIN -- Confused voters plunged Germany into political limbo on Sunday, splitting their ballots among five parties. The result: challenger Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats (SPD) are almost e Read More

So What Really Happened After Chernobyl?

Why would an energy-craving nation (the U.S.) that also demands a pristine environment put the kibosh on a limitless form of power (nuclear energy) that produces no air pollution and no emissions environmentalists claim cause global warming? It stems essentially... Read More

What a Piece of [Ongoing] Work Is Man!

What a piece of [ongoing] work is man! So suggest some scientists who have done some complex statistical analyses of the variations in two human genes. These genes affect brain development, and the scientists believe that they have evidence... Read More

Three Cheers for "Price Gougers"

With every disaster or crisis, it seems that the public, press and politicians require a remedial course in Economics 101. In fact, apparently we need an ongoing educational campaign even when there is no catastrophe, as demonstrated by the recent... Read More

Gouging? No Such Thing

For various reasons, I took a lot of trips to the local hardware store on Sunday. On my route there were two gas stations gazing at each other across the thoroughfare. On the first trip, I noticed that one... Read More

The Post-Katrina Jump at the Pump -- Unavoidable?

Under any set of circumstances, Hurricane Katrina would have had a noticeable impact at the pump. However, by hitting America's single largest oil and refining region at a time of already-tight supplies and the high prices, the effects have been... Read More

Energy and Hurricane Katrina: Poison or Cure?

"How ironic that the world's No 1 polluter is now reaping the, 'rewards' that so many have warned would flow." (Jon Snow, Britain's Channel 4 News)As modern technology has accelerated the diffusion of news, it has hurried the clamor to... Read More

The Coming Economic Pandemic in AIDS Treatment?

The World Health Organization (WHO) initiated a scale-up on global AIDS treatment in December 2003. At the time, it announced its goal to have three million patients under antiretroviral (ARV) therapy by the end of 2005 (so-called "3 x 5"... Read More

The Millennium Development Goal Merry-Go-Round

This week the world's leaders are gathering in New York to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals were set in 2000 by the United Nations and aim to improve the lot of humanity on a whole host... Read More

Tony Blair Pulls the Plug on Kyoto at Clinton Summit

NEW YORK - Kyoto Treaty RIP. That's not the headline in any newspaper this morning emerging from the first day of the Clinton Global Initiative, but it could have been -- and should have been. Onstage with former president Bill... Read More

Global Warming and Hurricanes: Still No Connection

A scientific team led by Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology today published findings in Science magazine. The team claimed to have found evidence in the historical record of both more tropical cyclones, such as Hurricane Katrina,... Read More

The Case for Cutting Indonesia's Fuel Subsidy

The Indonesian rupiah has lost more than 5% of its value against the US dollar this year and is at its lowest rate since March 2002. Perhaps the single most important cause of the weakness is the Indonesian government's subsidies... Read More

Coalition of the Seething

The banner "STOP CLIMATE CHAOS" was unfurled in London earlier in September to announce a new coalition of eighteen social and environmental groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth, People and Planet. What the banner should say is... Read More

London Eye

LONDON -- Here in this great world city, the birthplace of modern democratic republican government, the seat of the last great empire, I find myself too overwhelmed to write a single, unified essay. So here are several shorter thoughts held... Read More

A Perfect Excuse to Commiserate or A Perfect Excuse to Celebrate?

It has become fashionable in trade policy circles to find fault with APEC. Yet much of this criticism is unfounded. In the mid-1990s, the EU was so concerned about the threat posed by this experiment in Asia-Pacific regionalism that it... Read More

East Meets West

Economic liberalization in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe is paying off. Per capita incomes in that region are growing faster than those in Western Europe. The fact that the new poorer EU members are catching up with the old is... Read More

Flat Tax Frenzy

Known for having one of the most complicated and onerous tax regimes in the world, Germany recently surprised observers overseas when it started a public discourse on a concept that has been floated in the United States for quite some... Read More

Last Exit to Kyoto

The European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety is releasing a new report on the European Commission's communication on "Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change". The report, edited by Swedish MEP Anders Wijkman, is a. Read More

Roberts and Rules of Law

Watching the confirmation hearings for John Roberts is illuminating for people like me. I had Civics 101, but it never hurts to be reminded that the job of a judge -- especially a Supreme Court justice -- is to interpret... Read More

The Iron Law of Oligarchy, Revisited

Those who are earnestly trying to promote the ideal of democracy throughout the world would be well-advised to ponder the work of a German sociologist whose most important book is no longer read, and who, perhaps for that very reason,... Read More

Ports in a Storm

CHANGI, EAST SINGAPORE -- A great port city is inundated. Hundreds, even thousands die in the initial wave. No. It's not New Orleans. It's Singapore. And it wasn't a hurricane, typhoon or tsunami, but the terrible wave of the Japanese... Read More

The Technology War Escalates

Take 40 pounds of Kevlar body armor, armor inserts, helmet and support equipment, then add weapon and ammunition. Heat to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, using the Mesopotamian sun as an oven. Now hike down the Baghdad boulevard and remain alert for... Read More

Little Guys Get Some Love

The analyst industry in the U.S. is undergoing a dramatic reorganization. First, in response to a settlement driven by Eliot Spitzer, millions of dollars are pouring in from the big Wall Street houses to independent research firms. Second, Nasdaq and... Read More

The Press Gets Backbone. Does It?

One of the silver linings sought in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is the hope that somehow the hurricane -- and the response to it -- have taught the press to "regain its spine" in questioning public officials over failures... Read More

The Ultimate 'Public Health' Shield

A PETITION from the public health movement, including the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the American Public Health Association, the American Cancer S Read More

When to Sell a Stock?

My biggest mistake in 25 years of writing newspaper and magazine articles about the stock market started innocently. My intention, in a February 23, 2003, column for the Washington Post, was to show readers how to analyze a stock and... Read More

Hey, Maybe the Singularity Really Is Near

Ray Kurzweil's book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology comes out next week. And I suspect that a lot of people wonder if things will really happen as fast as Kurzweil suggests. But as I look at the... Read More

Ultimate Environmentalism

How to save the environment? Not just from mankind, but ultimately from nature itself? Those are tough questions, but we have to start somewhere, and where better than with cute cats? And after we've cloned these cute critters, we have... Read More

Green Multiple Personality Disorder?

Has the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) finally acquired the mainstream respectability it craves? It has produced a new report "The Green Buck -- using economic tools to deliver conservation goals -- a WWF field guide;" which is posted... Read More

Constitutional Crisis

There is a palpable disappointment with the new Iraqi constitution, a feeling that it will not sufficiently protect individual rights from the more illiberal traditions of Muslim culture. The concern may be legitimate, but the blame is misplaced. The problem... Read More

Electric Slide

A group of Italian consumers associations is organizing an "electricity strike" this Wednesday, September 14. Italians are being asked to stop using electricity for five minutes at 11:30 am to protest against rising power costs. Adoc, Adusbef, Codacons, and... Read More

How to Rebuild a Great City

With rescue and evacuation nearly complete and the broth being sucked out of the bowl of toxic soup, it is the time to stop the finger-pointing and the politicizing and start thinking about how to rebuild New Orleans. "Of course... Read More

The MSM Bites Back!

Mainstream Media RIP? Not yet. Indeed, for now, the headline should read, "Mainstream Media Rips Bush in Wake of Katrina Crisis." And in fact, the header atop The Boston Phoenix, "Katrina Rips Bush a New One," was far harsher. As... Read More

Failure to Communicate

Talk about tunnel vision. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, announced last week that the Senate Commerce Committee was putting on hold any action on DTV (digital television) legislation. His reasoning? "We're not going to get involved in any kind of legislation... Read More

Powers of Mind

Paul Orfalea is a hyperactive dyslexic who barely reads or writes. As a student, he had dismal grades and was expelled several times, even spending some time in a program for the mentally retarded. He graduated eighth from the... Read More

Penn Station: Back To the Future

Since 1968, Penn Station, one of New York City's two main railroad stations, has been widely hated by commuters for its dank atmosphere and minimalist accommodations. It's also hated because of what it replaced: from 1910 until 1963, the station... Read More

Got Tech?

By almost any measure, the rest of the world is catching up to the U.S. when it comes to preparing the next generation of future technology leaders. Worrisome signs are appearing on the horizon that the U.S. is no longer... Read More

Hurricane Relief Spending: How Will We Pay For it?

President Bush just signed a bill authorizing an additional $51.8 billion to be spent in hurricane relief. This raises Katrina's cost to federal taxpayers to $62.3 billion so far. "The responsibility of caring for hundreds of thousands of citizens... Read More

Imperium Americanum? Hardly.

Imperialism. The word has become so thinly stretched its meaning is now gossamer. A Google News search of the word reveals a sorry list of headlines, most of which refer to the United States and the current Administration. If nothing... Read More

Here's Some Good That Pols Can Do

A week ago, Hurricane Katrina, a Category 4 storm, shoved the waters of the Gulf of Mexico up into shallow Lake Pontchartrain to the north of New Orleans, then dumped the lake into the bowl of the city, causing destruction... Read More

A Challenge for Brad DeLong

"we should be surprised. FEMA is a bureaucracy. A bureaucracy is designed to keep functioning even when it is headed by a man who was suddenly told by his private-sector bosses to find a new job and whose only qualification... Read More

New Orleans in the Past Tense

New Orleans, cradle of several American music styles, cuisines, and fictional vampires, wasn't quite like the rest of the country. It often seemed as if it was part of something older, more a hybrid of France and the Caribbean than... Read More

Four Years After September 11th: The Media Failure

We have reached the fourth anniversary of the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001. I am sorry to say that, in my view, the U.S. and Western media have completely failed to meet the challenge of reporting on Islam, in... Read More

Are Global Warming and Katrina Linked?

Shortly after the Gulf Coast was slammed by a Category 4 storm, environmental activist Ross Gelbspan wrote  in the Boston Globe that the hurricane was "nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service Katrina, [but] its real name was global warming."... Read More

Ahnold Schwarzen-Gay-Hater?

Opponents of same-sex marriage may claim it as a victory: Ahnold terminates gay marriage in California. Deep down, however, these folks know that this time it's not the Governator saying "I'll be back." It's the people who believe that gay... Read More

California's New Orleans

Quick, name an American city of 450,000 where the majority of the population is non-white, where a quarter of the population lives in poverty, and where some of the city streets are, even on a dry day, below sea level.... Read More

California's Congressional Pests

Often I find merit in the quip that we are, indeed, a two-party system -- the Stupid One (Republican) and the Evil One (Democratic). Recently, however, the overwhelmingly Democratic California congressional delegation seems to be poaching on the Republicans' turf.. Read More

The Beeb Easy

It's said that half of Louisiana is underwater and the other half is under indictment. That is one quote that the BBC, in its extraordinary coverage of Katrina, missed, but it gives a truer snapshot of Louisiana and the city... Read More

Energy and Hurricane Katrina: Poison or Cure?

"How ironic that the world's No 1 polluter is now reaping the, 'rewards' that so many have warned would flow." (Jon Snow, Britain's Channel 4 News)As modern technology has accelerated the diffusion of news, it has hurried the clamor to... Read More

Storms of Stupidity on the Op-Ed Pages

The tragedy and travesty of Katrina and New Orleans has three basic parts: (1) very, very bad weather hitting a perilously situated city; (2) government failure at the local, state, and federal level; (3) the poverty of New Orleans, ensuring... Read More

Katrina and the Political Waves

Rescuers will still be salvaging bloated bodies from debris of New Orleans when the nation commemorates the fourth anniversary of the last catastrophe that focused the world's attention on America, 9/11. Whether the death toll from Katrina exceeds that killed... Read More

Interview with Dr. Roy Spencer

Dr. Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for University of Alabama in Huntsville. In the past, he has served as Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where he directed research into... Read More

Interview with Dr. James O'Brien

Dr. James J. O'Brien is Director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University, where he is the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography. James Glassman: Dr. O'Brien, in the wake of Hurricane Katr Read More

Interview with Dr. William Gray

Meteorologist Dr. William Gray may be the world's most famous hurricane expert. More than two decades ago, as professor of atmospheric science and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, he pioneered the science of hurricane forecasti Read More

Bill Easterly Is About to Spoil the Poverty Party

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) yesterday released its annual report, the Human Development Report. I don't think it's really going to surprise anyone to hear that while certain things are getting better, others are not and we should... Read More

An All Too Perfect Storm

ABERDEEN, MD -- As I look out the window of my train, not far from the "proving ground" where the Army develops and tests the ordnance that our fighting men use in combat, I wonder whether I am being serious... Read More

The State of Nature in New Orleans: What Hobbes Didn't Know

In the most recent issue of Newsweek, George F. Will has written a remarkably thoughtful essay on the significance of Katrina. In the aftermath of Katrina, Will observes, the city of New Orleans reverted back to what the seventeenth century... Read More

What the Texas Jury Did to Patients

After a Texas jury awarded a quarter of a billion dollars to the widow of a man who died after taking the pain reliever Vioxx, jury members told the press they wanted to send the drug industry a message. Exactly... Read More

The Invisible Helping Hand

At this point, there seems little doubt that government -- at all levels from small localities all the way up to the federal government -- fumbled the response to Hurricane Katrina quite badly. As President Bush correctly observed, the response... Read More

The Machine Stops

As Lake Ponchatrain's waters began to drown his city, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin had the colossal nerve to shout indignantly "Get off your asses, and let's do something" -- and then continued doing nothing himself, but add to... Read More

State Venture Capital?

The prime minister of Latvia recently abolished the Absurdities Prevention Bureau inherited from his predecessor. At first read that might produce a grin, yet the PM's decision seems immature as the biggest absurdity has yet to be tackled: the desire... Read More

Trojan Disasters

In the wake of the awful calamity wrought by Hurricane Katrina in both New Orleans and Mississippi, pundits have begun to put forth calls for bigger government to address future catastrophes -- whether natural or man made. Thus, E.J. Dionne... Read More

Sour Grapes

A week ago, in Northern Italy, in a small town at the foothills of the Dolomite Alps, I was a part of an illegal transaction: a glass of an ancient wine that is illegal to produce for sale was... Read More

Fools Rush In

While the tragic events are still unfolding in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, it is business as usual in Washington DC. Critics of President Bush are blaming him for requesting less money for programs to guard... Read More

De Villepin's War

"Since my nomination, I have been in a merciless fight against unemployment, which is THE evil of our country. But this evil is not irreparable if jobs we look for jobs where they can be found. That is why,... Read More

Britain's Mad Mullah

After the July 7 terrorist bombings on London Transport and the now-traditional evasions, equivocations and barely concealed satisfaction of Britain's seething mad mullahs and the Islamic grievance industry, Tony Blair went on national TV to announce that the gove Read More

Giuliani Time

In an essay[1] last week, Lee Harris argued that the looting of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was the type of behavior that should be expected of human beings when "civilized order collapses." But while it may be inevitable for... Read More

Gouging? No Such Thing

For various reasons, I took a lot of trips to the local hardware store on Sunday. On my route there were two gas stations gazing at each other across the thoroughfare. On the first trip, I noticed that one... Read More

Bad Bets

By last Tuesday afternoon I suspected that much. By Thursday evening -- after I saw a distraught black woman pleading into a TV camera: "Help us, they are raping children out there!" and after I watched other cameras repeatedly... Read More

Failed State

The scenes of wanton chaos, lawlessness, desperation and death in New Orleans can't be blamed on Mother Nature alone. We have known from centuries of bitter experience just what she is capable of. And in Katrina's case, she told... Read More

Japan's "Lion King" Sharpens His Claws

After more than a decade of stagnation and agonisingly slow moving public life in Japan, more Noh theatre than vibrant modern democracy, suddenly the world's second largest economy is on fast-forward. Previously unthinkable political and economic reforms now look. Read More

No Refugees in America

There are no Hurricane Katrina refugees in America. This does not mean that there are not evacuees, or disaster victims, or displaced persons who need help. And this does not mean, in the short term, that victims of Hurricane Katrina... Read More

Storm und Drang

BERLIN -- The chaos and anarchy that reigned in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, culminating in Mayor Ray Nagin's desperate "SOS", has unfortunately produced a resurgence of anti-Americanism in Germany. The timing, which coincides with Germany's election campai Read More

Privilege 101

One of the arguments that has erupted in relation to the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the United States Supreme Court concerns just how available his writings as a lawyer in the White House Counsel's Office during the Reagan... Read More

We Need Two National Guards

So the massive catastrophe has wrecked your house, the power is gone, food and water are running low, savages own the streets, the halt and lame are dying in droves, and escape is difficult or impossible. Although the world around... Read More

The Anti-Theorists: What Bush and Rehnquist Had in Common

George W. Bush has lost his favorite Supreme Court Justice. No, Antonin Scalia has not quietly resigned. (Does Scalia quietly do anything?) And yes, Bush does like to say that Scalia is his favorite Justice. But I have a sneaking... Read More

Rage and Reason

Like many Americans who watched the scenes of horror unfold in New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina, I found myself feeling a surge of rage and fury against the lack of governmental response to the suffering. Yet,... Read More

Disasters and Responses

The recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast are still ramping up, but the political point-scoring has been at full pitch for days now. I think that's counterproductive -- and says more about the immaturity of our political and media classes... Read More

The Stakes Are Twice As High

So now the stakes are twice as high. And the stakes over the future of the Supreme Court were already high, even before the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. So debate over new faces on the court will rage,... Read More

There Are Different Kinds of 'Preparedness'

A professional Cassandra by the name of Lloyd J. Dumas, author of a book on "human fallibility and dangerous technologies," took time out of his criticism of the U.S. military, U.S. nuclear weapons, U.S. space-shuttle missions and other such horrors... Read More

We Know How This Is Going to End

We already know how this is going to end. The American economy will shiver a bit, stagger slightly, adjust itself and absorb the cost of Katrina.   The miserable scumbags who exploited the misery and interfered with the rescue will... Read More

The Post-Katrina Jump at the Pump -- Unavoidable?

Under any set of circumstances, Hurricane Katrina would have had a noticeable impact at the pump. However, by hitting America's single largest oil and refining region at a time of already-tight supplies and the high prices, the effects have been... Read More

Reagan in the Big Easy

Seventeen summers ago, my brother and I had the good fortune to stand on the floor of the Superdome in New Orleans. What is today a scene of misery, despair and hopelessness was back then a scene of joy, merriment... Read More

The City Below Sea Level

The founding of New Orleans owes much to the conniving not of a Frenchman, but of a Scotsman. John Law was a professional gambler who fled Great Britain after killing a man in a duel. After wandering the Continent, he... Read More

Could the Tragedy Have Been Averted?

The tragedy currently unfolding in New Orleans is in many ways unprecedented in U.S. history, and it is tempting to think that the misery we are witnessing could have been avoided. I would like to suggest that some level of... Read More

Power Plant Pollution and Environmentalists' Power

"New Rules Could Allow Power Plants to Pollute More" according to Wednesday's Washington Post.[1] The Post story focused on a draft Bush-administration regulation that would make it harder to trigger New Source Review (NSR), a Clean Air Act provision... Read More

Three Cheers for "Price Gougers"

With every disaster or crisis, it seems that the public, press and politicians require a remedial course in Economics 101. In fact, apparently we need an ongoing educational campaign even when there is no catastrophe, as demonstrated by the recent... Read More

Breaks in the Levee Logic

The news and opinion spin cycle is moving faster than the winds of a category 4 hurricane. Barely have we had the opportunity to feel denial about the terrible tragedy, feel sympathy for victims and begin lending our support than... Read More

'The Gift of More'

[T]here is no reason to pity old people. Instead, young people should envy them. It is true that the old have no opportunities, no possibilities in the future. But they have more than that. Instead of possibilities in the future,... Read More

How Gov't Can Help: By Getting Out of the Way

When the initial rescue efforts wind down in the ravaged Gulf Coast area, the much longer process of cleanup and recovery will begin. In this effort, while government will be involved, millions of people will be picking up -- literally... Read More

Investing After Enron

Reading Kurt Eichenwald's fascinating book on Enron Corp., "A Conspiracy of Fools," is enough to make an investor throw up his hands (or his lunch), sell all his stocks and buy a bundle of nice short-term U.S. Treasury bonds. Eichenwald... Read More

Another "Gulf War"

Like an Air Force smart bomb, Hurricane Katrina made a direct hit on a hideously vulnerable spot on the nation's underbelly. Overnight, she turned New Orleans, one of America's most charming and seductive cities, into a festering lake of filth.... Read More

When the Moral Levee Breaks

On the Tuesday after the levees broke in New Orleans, I found myself sitting in a submarine sandwich shop in a suburb of Atlanta, where, for the first time, I saw the video of the looting that was taking... Read More

The Peter Principle Stalks Brussels

I wrote here recently that as politicians are incompetent we therefore shouldn't ask them to actually try and do very much. I'd just like to call for a big vote of thanks to a certain Peter Mandelson for making my... Read More

Hurricane of Misinformation

One of the major techniques of modern politics is to take every important event and tie it to the back of one's own particular hobby horse. One of the more ludicrous examples was the utterly absurd claims that the... Read More

So Much Money, So Much Talent

It's been rough sailing for the hedge fund industry lately. As if the threat of increased regulation of the worldwide hedge fund industry wasn't enough, the recent flap over nearly $440 million in missing funds from Connecticut-based hedge fund Bayou... Read More


As much of Europe struggles with double-digit unemployment this year, the United States has been creating an average of 200,000 new jobs a month. One of our great advantages is the relative ease with which Americans can start new businesses.... Read More

The Second Act in Afghanistan's Evolution

How will the Taliban contest Afghanistan's mid-September parliamentary elections? With their only political weapons: terror strikes and fearful headlines.   Scheduled for Sept. 18 -- four years and a week after 9-11 -- the parliamentary elections are the "seco Read More

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