Judicial Independence, For Better And Worse
October 27, 2006

by Sandy Levinson I cannot help notice the contrast between the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Baker-Hamilton commission on Iraq. Begin with the latter: On the most important and divisive issue currently before the American public, they make a conscious decision to wait until after the election to make their recommendations. This suggests a monumental lack of trust in what used to be called the democratic process.

Euston: We Have A Problem
October 27, 2006

by David Greenberg There's something inescapably irksome about intellectuals signing petitions. Maybe it's the self-serving implication that our florid, somber enunciation of weighty moral tenets will (or should) be taken seriously by the public--when it's usually only other intellectuals who even hear about these manifestoes. Maybe it's the self-congratulation in imagining that this relatively effortless act of affixing our names to noble sentiments counts as an important exercise of democratic responsibility.

New York Postcard
October 23, 2006

The DiTomasso brothers may not have much in common with George W. Bush, but there's one thing the president and the mob-linked contractors share: Both have reason to rue the day they met Bernard B. Kerik. In 2004, Bush nominated Mayor Rudy Giuliani's former police commissioner to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Within days, allegations surfaced that Kerik had faced arrest for unpaid bills, had close ties to some federal contractors, and had failed to pay taxes on his nanny. The nomination collapsed, calling the White House's judgment into question.

Fair Detention
October 19, 2006

You don't often find in the Boston Globe an article that puts forth Israel as a model for the legal treatment of terrorist detainee rights--or, for that matter, as an exemplar of anything good. Except insofar as it puts the United States in a terrible light. I don't think that was the intent of the authors of yesterday morning's op-ed, "The Israeli model for detainee rights," by Professor Martha Minow and Assistant Professor Gabriella Blum, both of the Harvard Law School and formidable legal scholars. I don't know Blum. But I do know Minow, and she is a very exacting civil libertarian.

War Thoughts At School
October 05, 2006

by Eric Rauchway Further to David's point below, war doesn't just inflect American history, it runs all through it and often informs discussion of the nature of the American republic. An example: If it's October, it must be the 1860s, at least in my lecture hall. Each year around this time we get to the factors that hastened Redemption, or the end of Reconstruction in the South: southern white resistance, including the Klan; national Republican weakness and division; and the Supreme Court.

A Friend Writes In Response To My Last Post
October 04, 2006

by Richard Stern Who says Bush et al want to 'win their War on TERRORRRRR' or their war against Iraq? I think that they would prefer the latter to be at a lower level, just to justify the permanent US bases astride the oil supplies but not so intense as to give traction to the bleeding-heart liberals and the traitorous wing of the Protestant clergy.

The Theocon Threat
September 15, 2006

by David GreenbergI've taken Casey Blake's advice and read Paul Baumann's review of Damon Linker's book The Theocons. Interestingly, Baumann cited the new book Building Red America by The New Republic's newly hired special correspondent, Tom Edsall (some of whose arguments are here). But Casey and I both heard Edsall speak the other night, when he said that most Democrats who try to invoke God or infuse their rhetoric with a religious sensibility wind up sounding inauthentic.

Out Of Tune
August 31, 2006

Since this blog is called "Open University," I might as well start my own contributions with a pop quiz. Question: Which American state has an official state song that praises the Confederacy, denounces Abraham Lincoln as a "despot" and "tyrant," and refers to the citizens of the Union as "northern scum"? Hint: it's not in the deep South. Yes, it's none other than my own home state of Maryland.

The Name Game
July 24, 2006

Colson Whitehead's empty wit.

Bean Counter
July 11, 2006

If Democrats win back the House in the midterms today, they'll owe an enormous debt to organized labor, which has spent more than $40 million--and sent millions of voters to the polls--to help the party take control of Congress. The AFL-CIO alone has targeted more than 200 contests in 21 states this cycle, and unions, despite their declining power, are still acting as difference-makers in many races.