Drake Bennett is a former American Prospect writing fellow and is currently a freelance writer in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Business Week, and the Boston Review.
Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing the World's Cultures By Tyler Cowen, Princeton University Press, 179 pages, $27.95
In a short story by the late William Maxwell, an American named John Reynolds takes his family to Le Mont-Saint-Michel 18 years after his magical first visit. Their hotel is bland, the food mediocre and they are swept along in thick throngs of harried tourists. Worst of all, the walled gardens that Reynolds remembers as visions "from a fifteenth-century Book of Hours" have been plowed under so that the souvenir shops can expand. Disconsolate, Reynolds thinks to himself:
Because the Texas legislature is in session a mere five months out of the year, serving as a Lone Star state representative is not the most time-consuming of jobs. It's hardly unusual, therefore, that Ray Allen, the Republican chairman of the House Corrections Committee, has a couple of careers on the side. When he's not serving the good people of Dallas County, Allen runs the Academy for Firearms Training, where Texans who want to apply for a concealed-carry handgun permit can go and receive the required instruction. He also, along with his chief of staff, heads a company called Service House Inc., whose sole client is the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA).
Throughout American history, the Senate -- where small and conservative states have disproportionate weight and where rules allow one senator to block key legislation -- has far more often been a force for reaction than for progress. But these are unusual times, and with an ideologically rigid administration and scores of zealots in the House, it's often fallen to the Senate to bring sanity to the legislative process. The latest case in point is the Head Start debate, which shows just how extreme the White House and the House of Representatives really are -- and exposes the increasingly glaring fissures within the GOP over the administration's extremism.