Monthly Archives: June 2004

Politics in the Pews

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Rev. Barry Flynn, Executive Director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, based in Washington DC

Dr. Paige Patterson, President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Buy the Book

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A heartbreaking work of staggering desperation. That’s how one London critic referred to a UK publishing house’s pledge of a 1,000 pound payoff to any man caught reading their fiction titles in public.

Demographic studies show that only 44 percent of men read fiction, compared to 77 percent of women and so drawing on the promise of an untapped market, the campaign also insinuates that men who read quality fiction are like catnip for women on the hunt for a well-read man.

Whether you buy that notion or not, sales data show that when it comes to books, men read male authors, non-fiction, and anything about spies or uncomplicated sex with hotter partners than they’d get in real life. Reading into the literary likes of the elusive adult male.


Karen Joy Fowler, author, “The Jane Austen Book Club”

Adam Langer, author, “Crossing California”

Rob Williams, creative director, Penguin, UK.

Rethinking Term Limits

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“Throw the bums out.” It was the phrase heard echoing through city halls a decade ago when frustrated voters decided to put an end to career politicians. Term limits, they said, would make lawmakers more accountable. Out with chummy relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists. In with more representative government, people who want to serve and then go back to the “real” world.

However, now that some long-time legislators are being shown the door, critics are trying to overturn term limit laws, saying that they are bringing chaos and gridlock to city halls and statehouses, creating a game of musical chairs where the names and faces change, but where nothing gets done, and voters lose out. Age before duty: the debate over term limits, accountability and incumbency.


Patrick Basham, senior fellow, Cato Institute

and TBA.

The Cowboy Junkies

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The Cowboy Junkies. Part blues, part country, part rock, their slow, melodic sound has been mesmerizing audiences ever since they covered The Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane. Dark, deliberate and mysterious is their signature. And in a world of ever changing Britney’s and Jessica’s, The Cowboy Junkies are a rare breed, remaining true to their music twenty years after they first stepped onto the stage.

Their songs take a slow look at the everyday plights of men and women: struggles with lovers and family, and offer more questions than answers, all with a sultry sound that seeps into the bones. Now, with their latest album, they reevaluate life through older, wiser eyes and unsettled feet. The Cowboy Junkies on life, redemption, and finding a groove.


The Cowboy Junkies: singer/songwriters Michael Timmins and Margo Timmins.

Europe and Immigration

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Not all words in global politics are interchangeable. Say “Constitution” to an American and he or she will get misty-eyed. Say “Constitution” to someone from a European Union nation and he or she will see Red. Another case, say “nation of immigrants” to most Americans and they’ll wax romantic about Ellis Island the mythical melting pot, but say “Europe of Immigrants” to most people on the continent and they’ll paint a frightening portrait of borders flooded with non-white and more important non-Christian immigrants.

Just as the E.U. expands to the gates of Moscow, or at least the border of Russia, voters are rejecting the whole project of European Unity, fears of immigration turning a dream born out of the ashes of World War II into a nightmare of ethnic politics.


Oguz Ucuncu, General Secretary of the Islamic Community, Milli Gorus in Germany

Niall Ferguson, Herzog Professor of Financial History at New York University and author of “Colossus:The Price of America’s Empire.”

The New Face of American War

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Get Some!!!!! That’s the battle cry of the Recon Marines, the Corp’s Shock Troops. Physical wunderkinds who can run twelve miles wearing 150-pound packs, then swim several more miles in the ocean, still fully decked in boots, fatigues and weapons packs. They are martial artists who parachute, scuba dive and rappel from helicopters — all so that they can down the enemy before the enemy even knows they’re there. But when the 374 men of the First Reconnaissance Battalion landed in Iraq last year for “major combat operations,” stealth had nothing to do with it.

They fired their way through mud villages and dusty towns at enemy soldiers who were indistinguishable from the Iraqi’s they were there to liberate. It was the one experience they had never trained for. The story of first Recon, Generation Kill.


Evan Wright, author of “Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War”

Captain Nathaniel Fick, former member of the Marine’s First Reconnaissance Battalion in Iraq.

Iraq's Economy

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In his first speech before the international community in June 2003, CPA administrator Paul Bremer said the “first job of any government is to maintain law and order… its third and most immediate priority: rebuilding the economy.” Most Iraq analysts agree that after security concerns, it’s the economy that will determine whether Iraq succeeds or fails after the June 30th.

Over the last year the CPA has made some economic changes including an independent central bank, a liberal policy toward foreign investment and a balanced budget law, something the U.S. has yet to do itself. But critics say, that since all this was done without approval or participation from the Iraqis themselves, it could go by the wayside once Iraqis are back in charge. Examining whether Iraqis will be able to grow a thriving economy or revert back to an economic system based on plain old corruption and bribery. Saddam’s dinar and Iraq’s financial challenge, next


Christopher Foote, Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Sonal Shah, Associate Director for Economic and International Policy at the Center for American Progress

Dr. Mehdi Hafedh, Iraq’s Minister of Planning and Development Cooperation.

Mountains and Myth

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He was susceptible, the author Robert Macfarlane writes, to the mesmerism of high places. George Mallory’s final, fatal attempt to summit Mt. Everest made him Britain’s mythic man of the mountain, its most heroic failure.

In life, Mallory was caught in a love triangle between the mountain and the mother of his children. The mountain, we all know, ended that affair.

Mallory is an extreme example of some people’s compulsive relationship with the peaks. But it hasn’t always been thus. Once upon a time, mountains were feared as Hell’s earthly outposts. But somewhere along the way, the real and the romantic combined to make those soaring, solid heights something to climb.


Robert Macfarlane, author, “Mountains of the Mind.”

Target: Foreigners

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The clock is ticking in Saudi Arabia for American Paul Johnson kidnapped last weekend and threatened with execution today. It is also ticking for the ruling family, the House of Saud.

One terrorist outrage may be regarded as misfortune, two begins to look like carelessness, but four in a month begins to look like a crisis. In the case of the house of Saud, it is a crisis that has been long predicted. Senator John McCain, a man who speaks his mind, says the Saudi ruling family is paying the price for years of funding terrorist organizations. The princes of the House of Saud know they have a problem but have yet to figure out a way to solve it.


Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi writer and advisor to the Saudi ambassador in London

Matthew Levitt, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Tom Lipmann, author of “Inside the Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia” and adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.