Think Again, Karen Hughes

Only two senators were in the room when Karen Hughes testified at her confirmation hearings. When it came time for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote on her nomination yesterday, she was easily approved. And thus with no discussion and no debate, Hughes takes over the least noticed, least respected and possibly most important job in the State Department. Continue reading “Think Again, Karen Hughes”

The Low-Odds Factor

By now we’ve all had that feeling. You’re waiting in a crowded underground station, about to step onto a train. Suddenly you think: What if it happened here? What if this station, or this escalator, or this train, is a target? If you’re like most people, the feeling passes. You shrug, get out your newspaper, get on the train and go to work. Continue reading “The Low-Odds Factor”

Live 8 Meets Big 2

For reasons that don’t merit elaboration, I spent several hours over the past weekend stuck in European airports. That unexpected chunk of downtime — a little gift from the airline industry — gave me the equally unexpected opportunity to read all of the British and French newspapers, or at least all of the ones they sell at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Continue reading “Live 8 Meets Big 2”

Who Are the Pro-Americans?

So familiar are the numbers, and so often have we heard them analyzed, that the release of a new poll on international anti-Americanism last week caused barely a ripple. Once again the Pew Global Attitudes Project showed that most Frenchmen have a highly unfavorable view of the United States; that the Spanish prefer China to America; and that Canadian opinion of the United States has sunk dramatically. Continue reading “Who Are the Pro-Americans?”

Give This ‘Attic’ A Story To Tell

According to its director, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History needs new plumbing, new wiring and better lighting. So desperately does the building require renovation, in fact, that there is talk of shutting the whole place down for a year or two, of bringing in some fresher architecture, even of designing a “museum for the 21st century.” Continue reading “Give This ‘Attic’ A Story To Tell”

Airport Security’s Grand Illusion

If you happen to be reading this while standing in one of those disturbingly slow, zigzag lines at airport security — looking repeatedly at your watch, wondering if this time you really will miss the plane — here’s something to make you feel worse: Almost none of the agony you are experiencing is making you safer, at least not to any statistically significant or economically rational degree. Continue reading “Airport Security’s Grand Illusion”

Amnesty’s Amnesia

A few years ago I spent several days sitting in the back of a library in London, reading through newsletters, pamphlets and other accounts of Soviet prison conditions published in the 1970s and ’80s by Amnesty International. Sometimes these reports were remarkably detailed, testifying to the extraordinary ability of prisoners to smuggle out their stories. Continue reading “Amnesty’s Amnesia”