"American Murder Mystery" is the sensational headline to a long article in the July-August issue of The Atlantic by Hanna Rosin, in which she blames "one of the most celebrated antipoverty programs of recent decades" for spreading violent crime to the suburbs of Memphis and other cities. Rosin argues that former residents of demolished housing projects who relocated into private apartments and homes using Section 8 rental-housing vouchers are responsible for spikes in crime.
George Packer's New Yorkerpiece, "The Fall of Conservatism," and the reactions to it among leading thinkers on the right leave little doubt that the patient under scrutiny is indeed gravely ill. But the wide assortment of sometimes contradictory diagnoses and cures suggested by various despondent conservatives in Packer's article and elsewhere all seem to miss the central problem: The main idea that propelled the conservative movement's political success -- that replacing the government with free-market forces would make everyone better off -- simply hasn't worked in practice.
Barack Obama says Republicans have some good ideas, but he is missing an opportunity to point out the difference between traditional conservative governance and the deliberately destructive agenda of today's conservative movement.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Barack Obama to "name a hot button issue" where "Republicans have a better idea." Obama replied, "Well, I think there are a whole host of areas where Republicans in some cases may have a better idea." That response echoed his comment back in January that Republicans have been "the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time." Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and much of the liberal blogosphere piled on Obama then for seeming to endorse what Ronald Reagan unleashed.
Run to the bookstore! Newt Gingrich has a new book whose central theme is, unsurprisingly, that "bureaucracy" predisposes government to fail, in contrast to an inherently more effective and efficient private sector.
In an old Three Stooges short film, Moe, Larry, and Curly are pest exterminators who unleash, on the sly, an assortment of moths, ants, and mice in an elegant mansion. They then proceed to demonstrate their usefulness to the lady of the house, in the midst of her high-society party, by attacking the vermin with recklessly wielded hammers, bug spray, and cats. They destroy a piano. They injure guests. They throw desserts. They make the hostess cry.
It's possible to read all 300-plus horrifying pages of a new Food and Drug Administration subcommittee report describing the agency's slow asphyxiation by prolonged budgetary constraints without learning who is responsible for its decline.
Subcommittee member and attorney Peter Barton Hutt, who served as FDA chief counsel during the Nixon and Ford administrations, pointed his finger at the American public in his own supplemental contribution to the report: "It is not a problem caused by partisan politics. The administrations of President Clinton and President Bush have been equally unresponsive to FDA's needs. ... The country cannot withhold the requisite scientific resources from FDA and then complain that the agency is incapable of meeting our expectations."