Abraham Lincoln

Sleeping Giant

We're living in a slow-motion constitutional crisis. The key questions of whether the president can torture people, declare a U.S. citizen an enemy combatant and remove him from the ordinary court system, or reinterpret law at the time of signing legislation (to name just three) were barely on the radar before six years ago. Voters fond of the Constitution’s limits on executive power and guarantees of civil liberties, then, need to take care in choosing the next president.

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Without a Doubt

CATHOLIC MATTERS: CONFUSION, CONTROVERSY, AND THE SPLENDOR OF TRUTH By Richard John Neuhaus (Basic Books, 272 pp., $25)   Liberal modernity exasperates traditional religion. It fosters a pluralism that denies any one faith the power to organize the whole of social life. It teaches that public authorities must submit to the consent of those over whom they aspire to rule, thereby undermining the legitimacy of all forms of absolutism. It employs the systematic skepticism of the scientific method to settle important questions of public policy.

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Born Losers: A History of Failure in AmericaBy Scott A. Sandage Harvard University Press, 362 pp. You might approach a book about losers with a certain hauteur. And Scott A. Sandage's opening anecdote about an unidentified loser who died in 1862 lends itself to your hunch that his book is going to be a dutiful trudge through a gallery of garden-variety failures. "I cannot help counting it a fault in him that he had no ambition," a friend grieved at the man's funeral. That's page one.

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What Stuff!

by Christine Stansell

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by Jeffrey Rosen

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Talking Back

EVERY WEEKDAY, FROM three in the afternoon until seven in the evening, Randi Rhodes delivers her brief against George W. Bush. Much of it is standard anti-Bush fare: He stole the 2000 election, he wrecked the economy, he led the nation into a disastrous war under dishonest pretenses. But sometimes Rhodes takes her critique into less familiar territory. Citing a book titled George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, Rhodes alleges that in the 1940s Prescott Bush, the president’s grandfather, sold raw materials to the Third Reich.

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I. The Passions of Andrew Jackson by Andrew Burstein (Alfred A. Knopf, 292 pp., $25) Early in 1834, at the height of his war with the Second Bank of the United States, President Andrew Jackson received at the White House several deputations of businessmen, who pleaded with him to change course. Believing that the Bank was an unrepublican, unaccountable monopoly, Jackson had vetoed its federal recharter and ordered the government's deposits in it removed.

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Resolved

@font-face { font-family: "Times"; }@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } TOCQUEVILLE FIGURED THAT a liberal society could not, in fact, wield power. The vitality of American life confirmed his belief that social equality ("democracy," in his usage) was the wave of the future, even in Europe.

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Rogue State

Until one day several years ago, I, like most people, harbored no ill feelings toward the state of Delaware. I suppose in some vague sense I thought of it as harmless and even endearing, the way you tend to regard other small things, such as Girl Scouts or squirrels. But all that changed the summer day I moved to Washington, when, making my way down I-95 in a rental truck with all of my worldly belongings, I screeched to a halt in front of what turned out to be a two-hour backup in Delaware.

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On most days, the lobby of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Washington, D.C., headquarters has a certain rarefied air. But on this Tuesday morning it is thick with the smell of greasy, grilled bacon. The aroma is appropriate, since the breakfast speaker is Republican Representative Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Transportation Committee and, his critics say, one of the most shameless promulgators of pork-barrel spending in all of Congress.

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