Lies have short legs


Marathon runners

We don’t know their times, but we assume these marathon runners will report them truthfully. After all, lies have short legs, as the German saying goes (couldn’t resist the pun). | Microsoft

One of the reasons why we enjoy building up our heroes is the loud thud they make when they topple from their pedestal. A preferred method of toppling is to catch them in a lie. | More →


A hero in the making


Paul Ryan

This week’s media hyperventilation over the nomination of Paul Ryan for vice president was a reminder what the election is all about: It’s not about political direction, but about casting the heroes for the next four years of political drama. | More →

Knee-jerk lawmaking


Despite (or because of?) the unproductive legislative drama often associated with major issues, U. S. lawmakers seem to enjoy creating instant bills for problems that we never knew we had.

Marco RubioMarco Rubio | U. S. SenateJust in time for the London Olympics, Senator Marco Rubio identified an injustice that has threatened the well-being of U. S. athletes since decades: They have to pay taxes on the prize money they bring home.

As it is decidedly mean to tax our national heroes, Rubio was quick to introduce a bill to exempt their winnings from taxation.

Questions come to mind, of course. How much taxes did past Olympians ever pay after sport-related deductions? Do we want to complicate the tax laws with another loophole to benefit about 100 people? If we exempt Olympians, do we equally cherish our Nobel prize winners, military heroes, police, firefighters, job creators?

But one rule of kneejerk lawmaking is that practical questions must not be asked. After all, it’s usually a matter of national pride (or national outrage).

Fortunately, its low efficiency prevents Congress from wreaking too much havoc: Out of 27,114 bills and resolutions introduced in 2005-2009, only 943 laws were enacted. (For comparison, during the same period, the German parliament considered 2,742 bills and resolutions and enacted 616 laws.)

The politics of drama

High Noon | Universal Pictures

“A moment of great drama” – that’s how Jon Stewart lampooned CNN’s botched reporting of the health care ruling. And thinking about it, drama seems to be a lifeline of American politics. | More →