Weekly Roundup 1/10/2011

Arizona Rampage Elicits Range of Opinions on Political Speech

In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric: The awesome stupidity of the calls to tamp down political speech in the wake of the Giffords shooting
Jack Shafer, Slate, Jan. 9, 2011

Sanity from Jack Shafer
Rick Moran, American Thinker, Jan. 10, 2011

Climate of Hate
Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Jan. 9, 2011

Synthesis: Columnists and talking heads from both sides of the political spectrum have been opining about the current state of political speech in the wake of the tragic shootings in Tucson. Some say the dialogue is too virulent and should be curtailed. Others say it’s a sign of a healthy democracy. Some say conservatives are the biggest offenders; others see room for blame on both sides. Without taking sides, here is a small sample of what’s out there; the list of offerings, of course, is endless.

Takeaway: Now more than ever, thoughtful readers should sample both sides of the debate to be fully informed and able to come to thoughtful, dispassionate conclusions.

-- Tom Colin, Contributing Editor


No dirty videos please – we’re in the Navy
Greg Jaffe, The Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2011

"He was fired for his videos, but Capt. Owen Honors did the right thing"
Bruce Fleming, The Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2011

Synopsis: Two authors take on the prevailing view that Capt. Owen Honors was wrong (and properly relieved of command of the U.S.S. Enterprise) for racy videos that he produced and showed for the crew several years ago while he was the aircraft carrier’s executive officer. Fleming, a civilian English instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, argues the videos were a legitimate effort to keep up crew morale by dealing with a subject, sex, that is on everyone’s mind whether acknowledged or not. Jaffe, one of the Post’s military affairs correspondents, says the uproar reflects an unprecedented – and unwarranted – squeamishness toward matters sexual.

Takeaway: The Pentagon and the public have come to a different conclusion, but Fleming and Jaffe make points that may help explain why so many of the sailors under Honors’ command came to his defense.

-- Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


"The Dubai Job"
Ronen Bergman, GQ, January, 2011

The assassination of a Hamas leader in a luxury hotel in Dubai has faded from the headlines. Now, an Israeli journalist who specializes in security affairs provides a detailed reconstruction of the killing. A team from a special unit of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, carried out the operation, according to Bergman (the agency doesn’t confirm or deny involvement). Though the Hamas man died, the assassination is widely seen as a failure, because members of the assassination team appeared on security videos that Dubai police made public, and because the false papers they used were traceable to Israel. Bergman’s account provides plausible explanations for these breakdowns.

--Peter Katel, Staff Writer


"The New Speed of Money, Reshaping Markets
Graham Bowley, The New York Times, Jan. 1, 2011.

Synopsis: The growth of fully computerized "automated trading" is driving financial markets faster and faster. Automation has decreased the overhead costs of market trading, which may allow more people to participate, potentially diminishing the stranglehold of large financial institutions over the markets. However, some worry that enhancing the ability of traders to make huge, quick profits on momentary price shifts also opens the door to undue market manipulation and, potentially, catastrophic crashes.

Takeaway: "One debate has focused on whether some traders are firing off fake orders thousands of times a second to slow down exchanges and mislead others. Michael Durbin, who helped build high-frequency trading systems for companies...and is the author of the book All About High-Frequency Trading, says that most of the industry is legitimate and benefits investors. But, he says, the rules need to be strengthened to curb some disturbing practices. 'Markets are there for capital formation and long-term investment, not for gaming.'"

-- Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer