How the Democrats Can Win

Did you see Ken Starr’s piece in The Wall Street Journal trying to explain his disastrous investigation? He points out that 75 percent of Whitewater cases ended in hung juries compared to a 5 percent hung jury rate in criminal trials generally. This he attributes to “some people entered the jury room with agendas” and… Read more »

The Think Tank As Flack

On September 18, The New York Times ran a breathless front-page account of corporate propaganda. The Microsoft Corporation, we learned, had bankrolled a California think tank—ironically named the Independent Institute—to run full-page newspaper ads supporting Microsoft’s claim of innocence in the face of federal antitrust charges. The ads took the form of a letter signed… Read more »

Deadly Compromise

In 1978, Robert Alton Harris, a 26-year-old paroled murderer, kidnapped two California teenagers in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. He drove to a remote canyon where he killed the two boys, then finished the hamburgers they’d been eating and drove off. Harris was later caught robbing a bank. He confessed to the murders… Read more »

Turkey Farm

Jim worked in a Defense Department office with an employee whose lack of productivity was matched only by his hostile attitude. Eventually, a good manager with the patience of Job, a mastery of detail to match, and the help of higher management took the time to record, day by day, the offender’s record of non-work…. Read more »

Harlot’s Web

The software soon arrived in the mail. But it didn’t work. And the dealer that had sold it no longer existed. No Web page, no address, no recourse for Ms. Fischer and certainly no money back. She called the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) but no one knew where the company had gone, where it had… Read more »

Guinea Pigs

As the Nazi doctors knew well, there’s a seductive inverse relationship in human experiments: the less you protect the particular humans you study, the more you can learn about humans in general. Systematic near-freezing of Jews in concentration camps taught the German Luftwaffe a lot about staving off hypothermia, which was crucial for their pilots… Read more »

Asleep on the Beat

When Newt Gingrich and his fellow Republicans forced a temporary government shutdown in late 1995, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner scored points for the president by warning that “the environmental cop is not on the beat.” Her warning worked. The image of government standing idly by while corporate polluters fouled the air and water… Read more »

What Was Really Great About The Great Society

If there is a prize for the political scam of the 20th century, it should go to the conservatives for propagating as conventional wisdom that the Great Society programs of the 1960s were a misguided and failed social experiment that wasted taxpayers’ money. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, from 1963 when… Read more »

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Harry McPherson has a copy of The Nation lying on his expansive desk in his corner office at Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand in downtown Washington. The magazine subscription is a gift from his daughter, an amulet meant to ward off the evils lurking in her dad’s chosen profession. The subscription, McPherson says, smiling,… Read more »

You’ve Got a Long Way to Go

Overshadowing that insight is a curious irony: On Self Respect first appeared in the pages of Vogue. While Didion’s essay explained that a sense of self-worth had nothing to do with the perceptions of others, the magazine insinuated that external image was everything. For the young women who picked up that 1961 edition of the… Read more »