What's on the website
A few new items now featured on the website. First, the editors write it's time to act on climate change:
In an essay defending the “vulgar” custom of talking about the weather, G. K. Chesterton argued that there was both an element of worship in the practice (“the sky must be invoked”) and a welcome recognition of human equality. “In the mere observation ‘a fine day,’’’ he wrote, “there is the whole great human idea of comradeship.”
If only that were true of the current American political debate about the increasingly obvious and dire consequences of climate change. ... [The most recent National Climate Assessment report] makes clear that the emission of carbon gases, mostly from automobiles and coal-burning power plants, is causing climate change—this is not a hypothesis, but a scientific fact. Unless we take steps now to reduce emissions, the problem will only get worse.
Also, Alan Wolfe writes on what former defense secretary Robert Gates's memoir reveals about his sense of service to his country:
As for facts and reality, it was the Bush administration, which Gates faithfully served, that ignored them. Where, one has to wonder, is the anger directed against a president who knew so little, risked so much, and refused to acknowledge any mistakes?
Gates presents himself as a pragmatic manager working to get things done. The problem is that managerial skills used in the service of getting the wrong things done is of little help to the troops or anyone else. Concerned only with means and not ends, Gates praises Bush for all the personal characteristics that led the country to disaster. “I found him at ease with himself and comfortable in the decisions he had made,” he writes of Bush. “This was a mature leader who had walked a supremely difficult path for five years.” That Bush never understood the consequences of his actions was less important to Gates than that “he was a man of character, a man of convictions, and a man of action.”
And, as Commonweal marks its ninetieth year of publication, make sure to visit our special Commonweal at 90 page, where we're currently featuring the best of our archived stories from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s--including pieces by Dorothy Day, J. F. Powers, G. K. Chesterton, and others. (And in each of the coming months through the fall, we'll be featuring stories from another decade, so you may want to bookmark our Commonweal at 90 page now.)