Just in time for the presidential election, abortion may be headed again for the Supreme Court. In the wake of lurid hearings in Congress in 1995, 30 states have passed laws banning partial-birth abortion, a politically inflammatory but rarely used procedure. Judges have struck down the bans in two-thirds of the states and haven't interfered in the rest.
AMERICAN POLITICS isn't physics, but it has rules nonetheless. And one of the clearest has to do with third parties. Since the nation's founding, no third party has knocked off one of the reigning two, and none has taken power. (The Republican Party of the 1850s, sometimes cited as an exception, actually emerged as a major party after the Whig Party expired.) That's not to say third parties always fail; they just succeed in a different way. When third parties succeed, it's because they change the terms of debate. They take a cry from the margins of American life—an issue, or an interest, or a
The politics of privacy in America are reactive and sentimental, fired by heart-tugging anecdotes that capture the public imagination. The murder of TV actress Rebecca Schaeffer by an obsessive fan who obtained her address through the department of motor vehicles led Congress to pass the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which forbids state licensing authorities from releasing the personal information of individuals without their consent.
During the early '80s, Harvard University's James Q. Wilson was a role model for the political science profession: a leading specialist in organizational behavior and public administration and a bona fide expert on urban affairs, crime policy, and government reform. The winner of his discipline's most prestigious awards, he wrote several books that today remain standards for the profession—from The Politics of Regulation to his widely used textbook, American Government: Institutions and Policies.
There's something more than a little disingenuous about the demands for Patrick Buchanan's political excommunication coming from several Republican presidential candidates, not to mention the former "Crossfire" host's media chums. Buchanan's sympathy for Nazi Germany's strategic predicament is hardly new and is certainly not a secret. For more than 20 years, he has been publicly ventilating his peculiar penchant for a revisionist assessment of both Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Government-appointed bipartisan commissions have played an important role in recent American politics. The social security commission in the early '80s and the commission on closing military bases in the early '90s both helped resolve thorny issues that legislators, beholden to special interests, couldn't settle on their own.
Last march, as NATO was preparing to unleash a massive air campaign against Yugoslavia and Serbian authorities were poised to empty the province of hundreds of thousands of Albanians, Slobodan Milosevic began phoning his old chums from high school, asking them to drop by. I'm bored, he explained. Welcome to the parallel universe inhabited by Milosevic and his wife, Mirjana Markovic. In the former Yugoslavia, more than three million people have been driven from their homes; hundreds of thousands of lives have been diminished or destroyed.
AMHERST, New Hampshire -- It's independence day in New Hampshire, a week before home-state Senator Bob Smith is to quit the Republican Party to run for president as an independent. But the man has already abandoned ship. Literally.Smith had been planning to march in Amherst's Fourth of July parade, using a nautical theme. His campaign has rented a boat on a trailer to serve as a float. His supporters have donned sailor caps and t-shirts printed with captain's wheels and Smith's campaign theme: "Chart the Right Course for America." In fact, the only thing missing is the skipper himself.
Poor Trent Lott. Three years into his stint as majority leader, the legendary control freak is still struggling to impose order on the senatorial circus. It's not as if he hasn't tried. Early in his tenure, the fastidious gentleman from Mississippi drew scattered snickers when he implemented a dress code for Senate staffers and decreed that colleagues would henceforth be expected to call before dropping by his office.
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.