Hong Kong, Doha, and the WTO - Huh?

In the continued interest of counter-programming, let’s turn our attention away, for a moment, from the fascinating saga unfolding in Washington. And it is fascinating — and disturbing — no doubt. But a world away, another saga is unfolding, one which, like the rise of China as an economic behemoth, is shaping everyday life in more prosaic, but probably more significant, ways than anything that George Bush does or does not do with the latest golly-gee technologies of the NSA.

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Bush in China: A Pin Drops in Beijing

Washington’s in an uproar; Woodward inadvertently passes the torch from the Watergate generation to the Plamegate posse; and bereft at the loss of their exterminator, Delay, the Republicans in Congress are heading every which way but loose. Exciting stuff, but across the Pacific Ocean, there’s some boring stuff which matters a whole lot more in the long run. This weekend, the leaders of the U.S. government and the Chinese government will cross chopsticks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, and our “esteemed leader” will sit down with their esteemed leader.

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What if the Supremes Overturned Roe?

In this quiet time as the left and the right polish their swords, huddle with their strategists, and burnish their armor, in these weeks before Judge Samuel Alito goes before the Senate Judiciary Committe in January (a veritable lifetime away in the ADD world of Beltway affairs), the lines are being drawn, and Roe v. Wade is once again the battleground. The presumption is that Alito is primed to rule against Roe. Whether he would or wouldn’t, the Democrats are prepared to oppose him.

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They’d Better Do Better Than We Can Do Better

Libby indicted! Miers withdraws! Polls register vertiginous drop in support for Bush, the war, the Republicans in Congress. Rove not off the hook, a prosecutor who, gasp, does not leak - everything seems to be breaking in the Democrats’ direction. But remember the last time the left side of the aisle was this giddy? The fall of 2004, when Bush seemed to be sinking himself and Kerry appeared on the verge of victory. Certain that the Republicans would implode, the Democrats forgot that they had to actually do and say something that someone would find meaningful.

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The Winds Are Blowing From the East As Well

In the past weeks, the commentariate has been focused on the weather. Two major stories have dominated the agenda – hurricanes in the Gulf and the political winds in Washington, buffered by two Supreme Court vacancies and by the political storm that followed the first actual storm – Katrina.

Both of these storms deserve attention; so do larger issues of the United States in the world, the on-going war in Iraq, and the shifting sands of the questionably named “war on terror.” But I suspect that years from now, the story we will tell will be less about the stories we are telling and more about the ones we aren’t.

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Means of Ascent

Some presidents shape their times more than others. The 1830s are known as the Age of Jackson, but few people think of the 1920s as the Age of Harding. The 1960s and 1970s were too dynamic and cacophonous to be defined by any one person, but Lance Morrow suggests that they were marked by three men who occupied the Oval Office during these years: John F. Kennedy, whose sudden death transformed him into an icon of progress and optimism; Lyndon B. Johnson, who managed to represent both the best of us with his commitment to civil rights and the worst of us with his mismanagement of the war in Vietnam; and Richard M. Nixon, whose fateful involvement with the Watergate break-in ended the proverbial innocence of America.

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"Looking Ahead:Forecasting and Planning for The Longer-Range Future" Session 2

This meeting is concerned in great part with policy studies, with thinking about the future of the human race and the biosphere of the planet Earth. In looking at the longer-term future, many of us might divide the various issues into categories such as military and diplomatic issues; or political issues, ideological issues, environmental issues, human health, and wellness issues, family issues, demographic issues, economic issues, technological issues, governance issues, issues of democracy and human rights, and so forth.

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Lesser-Known U.S. Presidents

Historian Arthur Schlesinger, editor of Times Books' “American Presidents Series,” moderated a panel discussion of the lives of some of America’s lesser-known presidents. The panelists were the authors of some of the biographies in the series. Ted Widmer was the author of Martin Van Buren, Jean Baker was the author of James Buchanan, Josiah Bunting was the author of Ulysses S. Grant, and Zachary Karabell was the author of Chester Alan Arthur. All of the panelists answered questions from members of the audience following their presentations.

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