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Drinks with Tim Naftali

  • By
  • Andrés Martinez,
  • New America Foundation
May 26, 2011 |

So we’re sipping glasses of red wine (Margerum “M5″ Rhone Blend) late on a recent school night at West Hollywood’s Basix, one of those bistro-ish cafes that exude an understated and casual hipness, the type of place where it’s hard to tell if you’re sharing your heat lamp with a table of successful screenwriters or struggling realtors – or struggling screenwriters turned successful realtors.

Jimmy Carter: As a Nation, We're Bad at Making Tough Decisions

  • By
  • Brian Till,
  • New America Foundation
May 16, 2011 |

The greatest disparagement of the Carter presidency is the argument that it was, at its core, a fluke.

That an unremarkable governor from the South ran for president at a moment when the nation, ashamed and disheartened by the Nixon years, was in search of something good and decent. That an ambitious man from a small town who reminded us what was great about our country started his bid in Iowa, and campaigned there for nearly a year, in the same election that the national media first began paying attention to the caucus system.

Bill Clinton: There Are No Great Generations, Just Different Problems

  • By
  • Brian Till,
  • New America Foundation
May 23, 2011 |

The office where I met Clinton high in the UN headquarters building belongs to another era. It is an institution built for a world of the past -- one based on Cold War rivalries and the last century's balance of power. It was Clinton's first day in the cramped space, and his entourage of bodyguards and assistants were stumbling over one an- other in the confines. The Secret Service men dispatched a young press aide to inquire why so many UN staffers were loitering near the elevators, though it was clear that they were simply trying to catch a glimpse of the ex-president.

The Old Taboos, Back in the News

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 23, 2011 |

Sex, power, class and race. The scandals encircling French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is accused of sexually assaulting an African-born maid in New York, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has confessed to having a child out of wedlock with a Latina housekeeper, for all their differences, conjure major taboos.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Is Dead -- and the Left Is to Blame

  • By
  • Michael Lind,
  • New America Foundation
May 17, 2011 |

Comprehensive immigration reform is dead. For the foreseeable future, there is no chance that Congress will pass a grand bargain on immigration reform like the one that fell apart in 2007 including a mass amnesty or path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Nor is there any chance that the Dream Act, which would provide citizenship for many illegal immigrants as long as they attended college or served in the U.S. military, will be enacted into law. The Democrats could not pass the unpopular Dream Act even when they controlled both houses of Congress last December.

Secularism Gains Ground

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 16, 2011 |

Woohoo! Secularism has arrived. That was one reaction to the news that Pitzer College in Claremont is launching a secular studies department.

"Well, it's about time!" wrote an eager academic in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The editor of CNN's Belief blog didn't know "whether to be surprised that it happened or surprised that it took so long."

Being Obama’s Mother

  • By
  • Eliza Griswold,
  • New America Foundation
May 13, 2011 |

On Jan. 1, 1985, Stanley Ann Dunham, better known as Barack Obama’s mother, was living in Honolulu, where she had recently returned after years in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. That New Year’s Day, she recorded the following list of hopeful resolutions:

(1) Finish Ph.D. (2) 60K (3) in shape (4) remarry (5) another culture (6) house + land (7) pay off debts (taxes) (8) memoirs of Indon. (9) spir. develop (ilmu batin) (10) raise Maya well (11) continuing constructive dialogue with Barry (12) ­relations w/friends + family (corresp.)

Programs:

For Americans, to Infinity and Beyond

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 9, 2011 |

President Obama tried to use the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden to get Americans to think big again. The successful end of a 10-year manhunt, he declared last week, was a "testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people."

But Bin Laden's death instead seemed to feed stubborn domestic divisions and conjure thorny geopolitical stalemates. Maybe the president should take a different tack to get the public to embrace the "big things" rhetoric he launched in January's State of the Union address.

Compassionate Consumerism? Don't Buy Into It

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 2, 2011 |

Compassionate consumerism — as some critics describe today's hottest trend in philanthropy — encourages people to feel socially conscientious while guiltlessly enjoying the good life. The idea is that you "give" by buying or selling a product, a portion of whose proceeds go to the needy. I don't think so.

Parachute do-goodism is a little closer to a charitable ideal, but it still allows you to think you can succeed at saving the world merely by helping faraway strangers on a one-off spring break or during a gap year before college.

How to Add Teeth to Obama’s Plan for a Debt Fail-Safe

  • By
  • Maya MacGuineas,
  • New America Foundation
April 29, 2011 |

In his recent it’s-time-to-get-serious-on-the-budget speech, President Obama introduced his idea for a debt fail-safe to, in his own words, “hold Washington — and to hold me — accountable and make sure that the debt burden continues to decline.” While budget trigger mechanisms

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