Trouble in a Capitalist Paradise


The Dubai Towers.

Dubai, a province of the United Arab Emirates, has been described as  the ideal dream world of neo-liberalism, the place where capitalism is allowed to flourish without the least impediment by government regulation. Those who celebrate corporate capitalism certainly love Dubai, and wish the rest of the world could follow its example.

Take Donna Wiesner Keene, a fellow of the Independent Women’s Forum, a rightwing anti-feminist think tank. Recently in a letter to the New York Times she wrote: “Madrick’s statement, quoted by the reviewer, that ‘there really is no example of small government among rich nations,’ is unsupported nonsense. Think Dubai, free and rich.”

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The Return of a Liar

Like the bad penny of legend, Betsy McCaughey keeps turning up. During the Clinton administration she wrote a very dishonest article on health care for the New Republic, which helped scuttle reform efforts. Now, according to Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly blog, she’s making stuff up about the Obama administration.

Given her renewed prominence, it might be worthwhile to revisit A.M. Lamey’s classic Sans Everything blog post on her, which can be found here. Lamey’s posting (and his accompanying article for the Believer) destroyed nor only McCaughey’s credibility but also any reputation Andrew Sullivan might have as an editor.

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Updike and Caniff


Milton Caniff and Joan Crawford, holding a drawing of the Dragon Lady

Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates was one of the great comic strips of the 1930s and 1940s: it had action, lovely ink-rich noir art, a winsome young hero who matures during the course of his adventures, an exciting Asian backdrop (which in the late 1930s became timely and even urgent), and sexy femme fatals (the famed Dragon Lady).

In 1946, Caniff left Terry and started a new strip, Steve Canyon, a move that caught the attention of comic strip fans all over the nation.

John Updike, then 15 years old and living on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, was one such Caniff follower. On September 6, 1947, Updike wrote a letter to Caniff, which I found among Caniff’s papers at Ohio State University.

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AIDS and the Neo-conservatives


Allan Bloom


Before the rise of modern science, it was common to think of diseases and plagues as scourges sent by God to punish humans for their sins. We now know better, or at least we should. Diseases are biological phenomenon, best treated by medicine and public policy. But some still see sickness as a curse, shameful evidence of cosmic retribution.

Consider the neoconservatives, who are usually described as among the more secular, rational, and modern of right-wingers. Yet when it comes to AIDS, most neo-conservatives are no different than medieval peasants who prayed and flayed themselves in order to be free of the black plague.

In the mid-1980s, Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary and one of the key shapers of  neo-conservatism, wrote that the government should not spend any money on AIDS research, since a vaccine would only “allow [gay men] to resume buggering each other with complete medical impunity.”

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Spiegelman on Orphan Annie


Art has a way of overcoming political barriers. Art Spiegelman is a radical while Harold Gray, who created Little Orphan Annie, was famously right-wing. But in The Daily Beast, Spiegelman pays handsome tribute to Annie (and mentions a series of reprint books I have a hand in). Here’s an excerpt, although Spiegelman’s full comments are worth a look and can be found here:

 The blank-eyed orphan was far grittier and moving than the saccharine Annie you know from the damn musical. One of America’s most popular newspaper strips ever (remember newspapers?) started in 1924 in a world chillingly like ours: crawling with cake-eaters, greedy bankers and international con men who exploit the hardscrabble working stiffs Annie hangs with when her “Daddy” isn’t around to protect her.

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