Benjamin Franklin

How the idea of genius became the basis for political power

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Excellent New Art

There are many ways to prop up a currency artificially. “We’re wrestling with the same stuff as Rilke,” Bono recently told The New York Times about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the hapless Broadway wonder for which he collaborated on the music. More specifically, “Rilke, Blake, ‘Wings of Desire,’ Roy Lichtenstein, the Ramones.” I was not previously aware of the Rilkean elements in “Rockaway Beach.” Those elements Bono characterized as “the cost of feeling feelings,” which throws the Blakean dimension into question, but never mind. Precision is really not the point.

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Taking Exception

Every now and then a piece of writing captures the mood of the moment and the essence of an ideology so completely that it warrants special attention. This is certainly the case with “An Exceptional Debate: The Obama Administration’s Assault on American Identity,” an essay (and cover story) by Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru in the March 8 issue of National Review. Lowry and Ponnuru’s thesis—that President Obama is an enemy of “American exceptionalism”—is hardly original.

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The closest thing Congress has to its own Tea Party takes place every Wednesday afternoon, in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office building.

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Kindled

The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future By Robert Darnton (Public Affairs, 218 pp., $23.95)   On the Commerce of Thinking: Of Books & Bookstores By Jean-Luc Nancy Translated by David Wills (Fordham University Press, 59 pp., $16)   I. The airplane rises from the runway. Bent, folded, and spindled into the last seat in coach class--the one that doesn’t really recline--I pull my Kindle out of the seat pocket in front of me, slide the little switch, and lose myself in Matthew Crawford’s story of his passage from policy wonk to motorcycle mechanic.

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Hard Science

Chris Mooney: Should climate scientists fight back?

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Getting In

Alan Wolfe: What the immigration debate tells us about who Americans are, and who they want to be.

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The Puritan Mind by Herbert Wallace Schneider, New York: Henry Holt and Company. 301 pages. $4. The most positive indigenous tradition we have to contemplate in America is the Puritan tradition. It was never a pure, newly sprung tradition even in its early glory; for European religious and political problems bulked too large in its inheritance.

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