Monday, June 25, 2007

Capitalism: It's the U.S. Game

Azar Gat:
For all the criticism leveled against it, the United States -- and its alliance with Europe -- stands as the single most important hope for the future of liberal democracy. Despite its problems and weaknesses, the United States still commands a global position of strength and is likely to retain it even as the authoritarian capitalist powers grow. Not only are its GDP and productivity growth rate the highest in the developed world, but as an immigrant country with about one-fourth the population density of both the European Union and China and one-tenth of that of Japan and India, the United States still has considerable potential to grow -- both economically and in terms of population -- whereas those others are all experiencing aging and, ultimately, shrinking populations. China's economic growth rate is among the highest in the world, and given the country's huge population and still low levels of development, such growth harbors the most radical potential for change in global power relations. But even if China's superior growth rate persists and its GDP surpasses that of the United States by the 2020s, as is often forecast, China will still have just over one-third of the United States' wealth per capita and, hence, considerably less economic and military power. Closing that far more challenging gap with the developed world would take several more decades. Furthermore, GDP alone is known to be a poor measure of a country's power, and evoking it to celebrate China's ascendency is highly misleading. As it was during the twentieth century, the U.S. factor remains the greatest guarantee that liberal democracy will not be thrown on the defensive and relegated to a vulnerable position on the periphery of the international system.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dads Really Are Important

Sue Shellenbarger:
Fathers can have a distinct impact on children beyond that of mothers, and in many cases without regard to the fact that they often spend less time with their kids, researchers say. Specifically, dads' early play and the way they talk to their toddlers are emerging as special "father functions" that have a particular and lasting effect.

The findings aren't just about a parent's gender per se. Mothers and fathers stimulate children through the same psychological processes, researchers say. But mothers can only do so much; fathers have an additional impact, over and above that of mothers. Also, men have a tendency to behave differently with children. After defining good parenting for decades as what warm, nurturing mothers typically do, researchers now are also beginning to see how behaviors characteristic of fathers can shape children too.

Fathers tend to engage kids in more rough-and-tumble play, for example. Researchers say this can have a powerful positive impact on children, fostering curiosity and teaching them to regulate emotion and enjoy surprises....A 2004 study...found a link between fathers' warm, stimulating play with their 2-year-olds and better language and cognitive skills in the children a year later, independent of mothers' behavior. The effect endures into adolescence. Dads who play with toddlers in stimulating and encouraging ways tend to have children with healthier relationships at age 16, surpassing mothers' effect, says a 2002 study in the journal Social Development.

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Fathers also tend to shape language development. Fathers typically don't "talk down to their children as much as mothers," using larger words, says Kyle Pruett, an author and clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University.

A study last year at the University of North Carolina found a link between fathers who used varied vocabulary with their 2-year-olds, and more advanced speech at age 3, even though the fathers spoke less often to the children. Mothers' vocabulary didn't have a significant impact, perhaps because there weren't enough differences in the high verbal skills of mothers in this middle-class sample, researchers found. It was talkative dads who gave the kids an edge.

Dads also tend to handle misbehavior differently, stressing real-world consequences. Where moms might say, "If you misbehave you're in trouble with me," dads more typically say, "Knock it off...nobody will like you, you'll never get a job" if you behave that way, Dr. Pruett says. Such fathering may reduce teen delinquency. In a 2006 study led by Jacinta Bronte-Tinkew of Child Trends in Washington, D.C., close, supportive fathering was linked to less teen risk-taking and delinquency.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sayet: Liberals are Idealistic Cynics

Evan Sayet, comedian and Hollywood Conservative:
What I discovered is that the Modern Liberal looks back on 50,000 years, 100,000 years of human civilization, and knows only one thing for sure: that none of the ideas that mankind has come up with--none of the religions, none of the philos­ophies, none of the ideologies, none of the forms of government--have succeeded in creating a world devoid of war, poverty, crime, and injustice. So they're convinced that since all of these ideas of man have proved to be wrong, the real cause of war, pov­erty, crime, and injustice must be found--can only be found--in the attempt to be right.

If nobody ever thought they were right, what would we disagree about? If we didn't disagree, surely we wouldn't fight. If we didn't fight, of course we wouldn't go to war. Without war, there would be no poverty; without poverty, there would be no crime; without crime, there would be no injustice. It's a utopian vision, and all that's required to usher in this utopia is the rejection of all fact, reason, evi­dence, logic, truth, morality, and decency--all the tools that you and I use in our attempts to be better people, to make the world more right by trying to be right, by siding with right, by recognizing what is right and moving toward it.

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What you have is people who think that the best way to eliminate rational thought, the best way to eliminate the attempt to be right, is to work always to prove that right isn't right and to prove that wrong isn't wrong. You see this in John Lennon's song "Imagine": "Imagine there's no countries." Not imagine great countries, not imagine defeat the Nazis, but imagine no religions, and the key line is imagine a time when anything and everything that mankind values is devalued to the point where there's nothing left to kill or die for.

Just what is Sandy Berger Hiding?

Ronald A. Cass:

Berger had access to Archives documents that could be critical to understanding what information the Clinton Administration had, what options it considered, and what decisions it took on these sensitive subjects. In addition to primary documents, Berger had access to copies, and the only plausible reason for taking five copies of a single memo is that some had original notes on them from key officials, maybe from Berger or President Clinton.

For Berger to risk jail and disgrace, to then give up the right to practice his profession merely in order to avoid having to answer questions, he must be hiding something important. And if it is that important to him, it is also important to us.

The most likely explanation is that the material Berger destroyed points to a terrible mistake by Berger himself, by President Clinton, or by both. In dealing with al-Qaeda, did they overlook a critical piece of information or miss a chance to stop 9/11? Did the Administration's failure to take a more aggressive posture encourage al-Qaeda's later attacks?

When Fox News' Chris Wallace raised the possibility that Clinton's Administration might have done something more to prevent 9/11, Bill Clinton went into an inexplicable rage on national television. Wallace touched a nerve. So did the DC Bar.

Knowing what information Berger destroyed also might alter views of the current Bush Administration. Was the early support from both Bill and Hillary Clinton for going to war against Saddam based on something we don't know yet that was available to insiders in the Clinton Administration? Was it something that could come back to haunt Hillary and ruin her chances of winning Bill's third term?