Jack Valenti, Lbj, And Hoover's Fbi
February 19, 2009

In a front page story that has not gotten enough coverage today, The Washington Post reports that FBI officials were intent on determining whether Jack Valenti, aide to President Johnson (and future MPAA head), was gay.  Previously confidential FBI files show that Hoover's deputies set out to determine whether Valenti, who had married two years earlier, maintained a relationship with a male commercial photographer. Republican Party operatives reportedly were pursuing a parallel investigation with the help of a retired FBI agent, bureau files show. No proof was ever found, but the files, obta

Lib and Let Die
January 29, 2009

At Barack Obama’s inauguration, John Roberts’s adverb trouble, subconsciously driven by a “blackboard grammar” quest to deflect faithfully from “splitting” the verb execute from the auxiliary will, was a rather gorgeous example of how educated people can be tripped up by unworkable hoaxes about how language works. (“To boldly go where no man has gone before” is “bad” grammar?).

Seven Years Later: Complacency
September 11, 2008

Benjamin Wittes is a Fellow and Research Director in Public Law at The Brookings Institution and a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. America has grown complacent, and how could it have done otherwise? For years, we have not felt the war our government insists remains a reality. We keenly feel two related wars, the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the war on terror has certainly persisted as a legal reality, and in some sense also as a civic reality. But it has long since ceased to be a practical and emotional reality.

History Lesson
September 10, 2007

"Here should be an objective of Government itself, to provide at least as much assistance to the little fellow as it is now giving to the large banks and corporations."--Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 7, 1932 The burgeoning home-mortgage crisis of 2007 bears an eerie resemblance to financial conditions 75 years ago, when FDR realized that only the U.S.

What It Takes
September 06, 2006

by Eric RauchwayOur Open U colleague David Greenberg has a nice piece in Slate on how the 1927 flood spurred the federal government to take greater responsibility for its citizens. I think this is true, but not true enough, and the difference between the two isn't just historians' quibbling: It goes to the big question of what it takes to get the American people to support what, for the sake of convenience, let's call "bigger government." Does it take a disaster? And how big a disaster does it take?

Identity Crisis
December 20, 2004

Franklin Foer on Persia and the neocons.

May 03, 2004

Quack gay marriage science

Call the whole thing off
October 18, 1998

Last weekend was the hundredth anniversary of George Gershwin's birth, and, to commemorate the event, while seeking refuge from the obscene cd-rom containing the appendices of the Starr report, I put on the Brooklyn Academy of Music's terrific recording of Gershwin's greatest political operetta, Of Thee I Sing.

The Elephant Man
November 06, 1994

It's a few minutes to six on a Thursday evening in October, and the corridor outside the House chamber, thick with bodies a week ago, is a lazy parlor for a team of guards kicking back on swivel chairs bolted to the marble floor. Afternoon light sifts through windows painted shut since Truman was president, smoothing a coat of gold over the sculpted walls and vaulted ceiling.

A Return to Waco
June 07, 1993

No more cane on the Brazos.