Lincoln

What’s Eating David Axelrod?
September 27, 2010

Among the many distinctions David Axelrod has achieved in his career, there is one that requires special elaboration: He is, it turns out, one of the few customers to have ever run a tab at Manny’s, the Chicago cafeteria and deli. This is not because the odd knish ($4.25) or side of potato chips ($0.75) threatened to leave him cash-poor. It is, rather, because Axelrod has long styled himself someone who accumulates wisdom at places regular people frequent, not the lacquered haunts of downtown Washington. What the Oval Room is to Beltway consultant-dom, Manny’s is to Axelrod.

The Living Lie
September 11, 2010

Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England By Anthony Julius (Oxford University Press, 811 pp., $45) I. Anthony Julius begins his magisterial and definitive history of a thousand years of anti-Semitism in England with an anecdote from his childhood. He is riding on a train to the English Midlands with his father, who is in conversation with “Arthur,” a non-Jewish business associate. Arthur, keen to ingratiate himself with his companion, remarks that his daughter recently had a little Jewish girl over to their house for tea.

The Living Lie
September 10, 2010

Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England By Anthony Julius (Oxford University Press, 811 pp., $45) I. Anthony Julius begins his magisterial and definitive history of a thousand years of anti-Semitism in England with an anecdote from his childhood. He is riding on a train to the English Midlands with his father, who is in conversation with “Arthur,” a non-Jewish business associate. Arthur, keen to ingratiate himself with his companion, remarks that his daughter recently had a little Jewish girl over to their house for tea.

The New York Times Laments "A Sadly Wary Misunderstanding of Muslim-Americans." But Really Is It "Sadly Wary" Or A "Misunderstanding" At All?
September 04, 2010

UPDATE: I have written an apology for one sentence written below.  Of course, this first sentence presumes that the Times in its olympian wisdom has a more accurate view--one it could describe as both "shrewdly knowing" and "sensitively knowing"--of this group and its beliefs than ordinary metropolitan mortals. The newspaper has done a poll of New York City residents which found that 33% of them thought Muslim-American "more sympathetic to terrorists" than other citizens. Frankly, I don't trust opinion surveys on matters like this.

How Do Long Wars Become So Long?
September 01, 2010

This is the summer we began calling Afghanistan “America’s longest war.” The new label has produced a dissent or two, since it assumes that the Vietnam war didn’t even start until Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 (at which point American soldiers had been dying in Vietnam for at least three years). But the “longest war” designation isn’t intended to resolve nitpicky historical arguments. Its real point is to get both wars—Afghanistan and Vietnam alike—firmly categorized in our minds as long, hard, unwinnable slogs.

At Least President Bush Was Sincere About Afghanistan
August 31, 2010

When President Obama named his cabinet, people harkened back to Lincoln and said that he had assembled a team of rivals. To put it charitably, this is an exaggeration. Lincoln brought not just his principal rival, William Seward, into his cabinet as secretary of state, he also brought in his two other main contenders for the Republican nomination for president in 1860. Salmon Chase, the party’s greatest and most uncompromising foe of slavery and an unjustly neglected American hero, was made secretary of the treasury, while Edward Bates became attorney general.

Media Maven
July 13, 2010

Like most great women of mystery, Sarah Palin is at once everywhere and nowhere. On any given evening, you might see the former Alaska governor-turned-conservative-icon on Fox News, chatting up like-minded travelers about the political buzz du jour. Her byline pops up now and again in the opinion pages (supporting McCain, bashing enviros). She periodically hits the campaign trail with favored candidates. She is a prolific and passionate tweeter.

THE READ: David Simon’s World
May 05, 2010

In the third episode of “Treme,” David Simon’s new HBO series about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a group of Mardi Gras Indians are holding a memorial ceremony for one of their members, whose badly decomposed remains were just discovered in a shed behind his house. As they sing and chant, a large white bus marked “Katrina Tour” rolls into the street and stops in front of them. The driver rolls down his window; all we see of the passengers is their flashbulbs. “Drive away from here, sir!” the Indians shout.

Kalt's Law Of Presidential Facial Hair
March 26, 2010

Brian Kalt, a law professor and former college classmate of mine, has developed his own law of presidential facial hair: I thought you might be interested in the following ironclad law of American presidential politics. I call it Kalt’s Law: “Under the modern two-party system, if a candidate has facial hair, the Republican always has as much, or more, than the Democrat.” Some notes. 1. It would be the case that the Republican always has more, but for 1904 in which both the Republican Roosevelt and the Democrat Parker had mustaches. 2.

Senate Passes Reconciliation Bill
March 25, 2010

The Senate on Thursday afternoon passed amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They used the budget reconciliation process, in which Republicans couldn't filibuster. The final tally was 56 to 43, with three Democrats (Lincoln, Nelson, and Prior) voting against one Republican (Isakson) absent due to illness. Republicans were successful at challenging, and striking, two provisions because of parliamentary rules. As such, the bill must go back to the House for final approval there. But neither change affected health care reform.

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