Monday, June 04, 2007

Around the web

John Lott has written a new book, Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't about the power of free markets. My husband reviews the book on his blog.

An Iranian minister is calling for temporary marriages where young Iranians can shack up in a short marriage "to meet the sexual desire of the youth who have no possibility of marriage." And the reason they have no hope for marriage is because they face dire economic situations. So the government solution is to let a couple have their temporary marriage, even for just a few hours, so they don't have to have illicit sex. How's that for a novel solution to their social problems?

Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe praises Joe Biden for being willing to participate in a FOX News and warns that the Democratic Party will suffer by such obvious genuflecting to the crowd.

Jim Geraghty watched the Democratic CNN debate so you didn't have to.

The Belmont Club looks at British MPs and others who have come out in support of Hugo Chavez shutting down RCTV. Apparently, they think it's okay for a government to shut down any news outlet that is critical of the administration.

David Brooks reviews Al Gore's book,
In Gore's view, TV immobilizes the reasoning centers in the brain and stimulates the primitive, instinctive parts. TV creates a "visceral vividness" that is not "modulated by logic, reason and reflective thought."

TV allows political demagogues to exaggerate dangers and stoke up fear. Furthermore, "conglomerates can dominate the expressions of opinion that flood the mind of the citizenry" and "the result is a de facto coup d'etat overthrowing the rule of reason."

But another technology is here to save us. "The Internet is perhaps the greatest source of hope for re-establishing an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish," he writes. The Internet will restore reason, logic and the pursuit of truth.

The first response to this argument is: Has Al Gore ever actually looked at the Internet? He spends much of this book praising cold, dispassionate logic, but is that really what he finds on most political blogs or in his e-mail folder?

But Gore's imperviousness to reality is not the most striking feature of the book. It's the chilliness and sterility of his worldview. Gore is laying out a comprehensive theory of social development, but it allows almost no role for family, friendship, neighborhood or just face-to-face contact. He envisions a sort of Vulcan Utopia, in which dispassionate individuals exchange facts and arrive at logical conclusions.

Amity Shlaes reminds us of what Jimmy Carter knows about failed presidencies.

Ronald Cass explains why it's important to know what Sandy Berger destroyed and why he destroyed it. Why was Berger willing to give up his law degree just so he wouldn't have to answer questions about his actions?
Maybe some day someone will step back and wonder why a successful lawyer like Berger would take so drastic a step as surrendering his law license just to evade questions. Someone will ask what could have been so terrible that it was worth that price to keep it hidden. Someone will decide that it's important to know what Mr. Berger is hiding.

Because, in truth, it could affect us all.