Can Democrats be the party of both economic populism and Wall Street? Can they recreate the kind of big tent that allowed Lyndon Johnson to trounce Barry Goldwater in 1964? The answer appears, at the moment, to be yes. The Democrats, more and more, are being funded by those in the financial sector who have benefited the most from globalization, without losing the support of blue-collar workers fearful of globalization’s effects. If the Democrats can hold this broad coalition together, they may be in a position to win a 1964-like victory in 2008.
Posts For: July 16, 2007
It is a well-known fact that children of Holocaust survivors often suffer from a variety of psychiatric problems, ranging on the diagnostic spectrum from anxiety to severe and chronic depression. Who should pay for their treatment?
“A group representing thousands of children of Holocaust survivors filed a class-action lawsuit against the German government Monday,” reported Time today. It is “demanding that Germany pay for their psychiatric care.”
The suit calls for the German government to pay for biweekly therapy sessions for 15,000 to 20,000 people at a cost of $10 million over three years. Gideon Fisher, the attorney who filed the action in a Tel Aviv court, says this is “the very first time that the German government will be asked to take responsibility and to care for those of the second generation in Israel and indeed, worldwide.”
What are we to make of this?
At first blush, recent events in Pakistan would seem to underscore the case for continuing to support General Pervez Musharraf, the country’s military dictator. Last week Musharrraf ordered the army to storm the Red Mosque in Islamabad, which had been seized by radicals. Army commandos succeeded in their task, albeit at the cost of some 87 lives. Islamist radicals retaliated with a series of bombings over the weekend. Now comes word that the accord reached between the central government and tribal elders in North Waziristan last year has broken down. This was the treaty by which the government of Pakistan essentially ended all efforts to police this tribal area, in return for toothless promises on the part of the tribes to restrain the Taliban.
From Washington’s perspective, all this could be read as evidence that Musharraf remains the indispensable bulwark against Islamist extremism in this nuclear-armed nation. In reality, recent events demonstrate the disastrous consequences of decisions made over the years by Musharraf and other army commanders to reach a modus vivendi with Islamic radicals. The army, and its agency for Inter-Services Intelligence, have been using the radicals to stage attacks into Kashmir and Afghanistan. In return, they have looked the other way as these militants have expanded their influence in Pakistan proper. To be sure, this has been a relationship fraught with tensions—radicals have tried to assassinate Musharraf and he has sometimes cracked down on their activities. But Musharraf has never done as much as he keeps promising Washington he will do to suppress the Islamists—or as much as the majority of secular Pakistanis would like.
Today, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that North Korea shut down its reactor in Yongbyon on Saturday, pursuant to the first stage of the February 13 deal to freeze Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. The North took this step after South Korea delivered part of a first installment of heavy fuel oil, one of the conditions mandated by the agreement. The shutdown came three months to the day after the deadline for shuttering the North’s Soviet-era reactor.
But the closure of Yongbyon, which had been widely expected, is the easy part. The second stage of the February 13 arrangement demands that the North Koreans disable all their nuclear facilities and disclose all nuclear programs. The United States will be meeting with North Korea and four other parties at Beijing-sponsored talks on the 18th of this month to discuss implementation of Pyongyang’s promise. At issue: whether Kim Jong Il’s militant state will publicly come clean about its covert uranium nuclear weapons program.
Before the movement came to power there was a period of extraordinary dissolution, political chaos, economic dislocation, corruption, and brutal criminality. Unemployment was staggeringly high. Shortages of basic staples were a commonplace. Rival factions vied for power not stopping short of bloodshed. Who was to blame? Was it neighboring foreign powers and their “peace” settlement? Was it the Jews?
Then, suddenly, it came to an end. One faction was victorious. Distinctive uniforms were visible on the streets and distinctive flags became ubiquitous. Order was imposed. It was not a lawful order, but for many it was preferable to the previous derangement. What is more, the party bringing order had a clear plan for reconstruction, and even redemption. Of course, many people were uneasy, but even the uneasy welcomed it; the disorder and violence were in the past and there was hope of remarkable progress toward a better future.
No, this is not Gaza but the end of the Weimar Republic with Hitler’s ascension to chancellor in 1933. And the streets were not adorned with the green flags of Hamas but the red and black of the Nazis.
• Eight years ago, Wendy Shalit published A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue and became the Nice Girl Aging Feminists Love to Loathe. Then she got married, became a mother and launched a Web site, ModestyZone.net, that allows young women who feel ill at ease with the postmodern regime of casual sex to meet in cyberspace, put their hair up and blog about their discontents. Now she’s back in bookstores with a sequel to A Return to Modesty, and I have little doubt that Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It’s Not Bad to Be Good (Random House, 352 pp., $25.95) will make at least as many people as mad as did its predecessor.
The puzzling thing about this anger is that Shalit sounds nothing like the baby Savonarola of her critics’ nightmares. Not only is her style even-tempered, sweetly reasonable, and full of pleasing glints of dry wit, but she is no zealot, at least not in the usual sense of the word. Nowhere in her writings, for instance, does she suggest that sexually active teenagers should be arrested, or strapped into electroshock units and zapped until they agree to stop sleeping around. So why did Katha Pollitt feel moved to propose that the good-humored author of A Return to Modesty be put in charge of designing “new spandex chadors for female olympians?”