Commonwealth Day

Virginia will come down to turnout, not persuasion.

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The GOP-aligned Super PAC Restore Our Future also got into the fray.

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As I explained in this week's issue of the print magazine, the resilience of Obama's "new coalition" of upscale whites and minorities has allowed Obama to remain competitive in North Carolina, a state that voted for him by just 14,000 votes in 2008. It also augurs poorly for Romney in Virginia, an extremely similar state where the same forces keeping North Carolina close might just keep Virginia in the Democratic column. Obama’s Virginia coalition might be the most resilient of any battleground state.

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The affluent and diverse suburbs of northern Virginia swung decisively toward Obama in 2008, providing most of his margin of victory in a state that hadn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. Although Obama is not assured of another victory in the Commonwealth, Romney probably won’t win by rolling back Obama’s gains in the D.C. suburbs.

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History as Fantasy

Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and NationsBy Norman Davies (Viking, 830 pp., $40)  There is a well-worn story that is told in one form or another in all European history textbooks. In 824, ten years after the death of Charlemagne, Agobard, Archbishop of Lyon, hailed a new Christian imperial ambition to unite all the peoples and lands of the Western Holy Roman Empire by reformulating Galatians 3:28: “There is now neither Gentile nor Jew, Scythian nor Aquitanian, nor Lombard, nor Burgundian, nor Alaman, nor bond, nor free.

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[Guest Post by Darius Tahir] Early this September Stanford Hospital discovered that somebody had posted personal data for nearly 20,000 emergency room patients online, so that anyone who happened across the page could look up everything from the patients’ names to the codes identifying their various diagnoses. Worse still, the data had been online for more than a year. The tale of how the data ended up online involves the sort of slapstick you expect from a bad sitcom.

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Whatever their differences, the leading Republican candidates all swear that they love states’ rights.

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Seventy years ago, in the summer and fall of 1940, Western civilization teetered in the balance as Britain stood alone against Nazi-controlled Europe. Other major world powers did not lend aid; Russia supported Germany, and the United States remained neutral. After Britain resisted the assault of Nazi bombers, in what was dubbed the “Battle of Britain,” the country was saved and German momentum stymied. The whole course of the war then radically shifted.

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The Wizard

Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic By Roman Koropeckyj (Cornell University Press, 549 pp., $45) It was Poland’s peculiar luck to receive its literary matrix, its cultural subtext, the source of its national mythology, from the hands of a provincial genius, a Romantic poet and mystic, in the first half of the nineteenth century. Imagine the creative possibilities, and the inevitable perils, of such a provenance.

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It’s no surprise coming from Susan Collins, maverick Republican senator of Maine. The other should also not be a surprise. But Democratic loyalists cast Scott Brown as a Neanderthal because he took away from them what they had come to call “Ted Kennedy’s seat,” as if it belonged either to the family or to the party. Of course, it’s always hard for a senator to come out against a nominee from his own state. But Brown is himself a moderate pol, and the Commonwealth a moderate state—regardless of how many Tea Parties have been held in Marblehead.

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