Saturday, March 31, 2012

Republican Brain review

Over at David Frum's Daily Beast blog, I have a guest post reviewing Chris Mooney's The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality. Excerpt:

I sympathize with Mooney’s indignation about dogmatism and factual inaccuracy on the right. That shared concern was the focus of an interview by Mooney of David Frum and me last year. The book lauds (by way of contrasting with the right overall) “the group of intellectually honest (and moderate) conservatives who have formed around former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, and who are constantly trying to keep conservatives accurate on global warming, the debt ceiling, and much more.” 
Let me return the compliment by noting that I consider Mooney a thoughtful and fair-minded critic of conservatism. Let me add that I think The Republican Brain is an interesting and thought-provoking work. And now let me tell you what’s wrong with the book, as in my view there are some important deficiencies in its argument.

Whole thing here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Eisenhower and other books

Current reading: Eisenhower in War and Peace, by Jean Edward Smith. Being something of a latter-day Eisenhower Republican myself, I have found the early chapters interesting and expect to keep momentum through 900+ pages.

Review copies received:
Infrastructure: The Social Value of Shared Resources, by Brett M. Frischman.

Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda, by Aki Peretz and Eric Rosenbach.

Recently read: The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality, by Chris Mooney. I expect to have a review of this available soon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Alternative candidates

My latest column for Research magazine, "The Third Choice," looks at Americans Elect. Excerpt:
Private-equity executive Peter Ackerman founded Americans Elect in 2010, having led a predecessor effort called Unity08. In mid-2011 the group opened a website to start recruiting voters as delegates, and since early 2012 delegates have been voting to draft potential candidates. Among names the have risen high on the list are Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg.
Besides draftees, some hopefuls actively seek the Americans Elect nomination. One of these is former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, who recently abandoned a bid for the Republican nomination, and who is also running for the nomination of the Reform Party, Ross Perot’s old operation.
Another aspirant is Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, who has been profiled at Research magazine and sister publication several times for his contributions on fiscal policy, financial planning and other areas. (Disclosure: having met Kotlikoff and seeing him as an innovative thinker, I clicked my support for his nomination at the Americans Elect website.)
 Whole thing here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Language barrier

In keeping with our standard practice of seeing movies on pay-per-view some 6-9 months after they came out, we watched The Debt, a fictional story about three Mossad agents capturing a Nazi war criminal in the 1960s and what happens thereafter. After a very interesting start, I ended up disappointed.

While many critics thought that its final part goes off the rails, a view with which I agree, I thought the film's decline began earlier, specifically the scene in which the agent named Rachel is stunned to find that their captive understands and speaks their language. We hear that language as English, which raises two possibilities: (1) These are very stupid agents, who don't know that many Germans speak English; or (2) the English is just a cinematic stand-in for the Hebrew they're speaking, in which case it really is surprising that the captive Nazi is fluent in it, and some kind of explanation or speculation is in order.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blogging has not ended

This blog has been quiet lately but that's just a hiatus, not a termination. There are a lot of interesting things going on to write about. I won't make any promises about my Twitter feed, though; the charm of that particular medium has worn somewhat thin for me. Also, some good news elsewhere in the blogosphere: Virginia Postrel seems interested in resuming her Dynamist blog, which has been mostly dormant for months.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Posting will continue to be light, for which one can thank partly our overly complicated tax system. Meanwhile, I encourage readers to click through the box at right for more info on Larry Kotlikoff, whose nomination to the Americans Elect line I recently backed. (I have a magazine column upcoming on the subject of that group and its push to offer a third choice in this year's election.)