Fire By Sebastian Junger (W.W. Norton, 224 pp., $24.95) There is a point in Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon where the old lady turns on the writer and asks: "How is it, young man, that you talk so much and write so long about these bullfights and yet are not a bullfighter yourself?" The writer admits that he did try it once or twice—on bulls with blunted horns.
So what does the Second Amendment mean? A lot, says the National Rifle Association. Not much, say gun-control groups. Until recently, it didn't much matter who was right--on all but the mildest of measures, the NRA had the votes (and the cash), and that was that. Then came Littleton. Now proposals for serious federal gun controls are in the air. Thus far, the House and Senate have failed to agree on any specific gun measures, and whatever Congress ultimately decides in conference promises to be modest at best, targeting only gun shows and youngsters.
Since the Progressive era, this magazine has argued for judicial restraint as part of a broader argument for liberal nationalism. Judges should defer to the prerogatives of Congress and the president, the argument goes, so that popular sovereignty can serve as the engine of national unity.
Having peered behind the red velvet curtains of the Rehnquist Court, the press now tells the embarrassed justices that they have nothing to be embarrassed about. But after spending last week in the Marshall archives, I sympathize with William Rehnquist's fears. The portrait of the justices that emerges from their internal correspondence is not, in fact, particularly flattering.
The big oil companies finally have a friend in the White House. Ronald Reagan has already sped decontrol of crude oil prices and set the wheels in motion for a new natural as deregulation effort. A president who genuinely believes that pro-industry policies will cure the nation’s energy ills comes as a welcome relief to the industry after four years of Jimmy Carter’s strident assaults. But both Reagan and big oil should bear in mind that their cozy relationship is full of political peril.
Americans see nothing ignoble in riches, but we are suspicious of money used to elect or to sway politicians. This suspicion that big money taints politics slacked off somewhat with the emergence of big donors who are not beholden to big business. Rockefeller generosity to Republicans has been matched by big labor's generosity to Democrats. The liberal Committee for an Effective Congress came on the scene, followed by Common Cause. The Humphrey and McGovern lists of contributors were not lacking in millionaires.