Is History Useless?
December 10, 2006

by Stanley I. Kutler The only thing we learn from history is we forget it. A Cornell University poll found 44 percent of Americans believe the government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslims. Nearly 30 percent favored requiring Muslims to register with the federal government, and that the government utilize racial profiling. The poll numbers reflected more substantial support for restriction from Republicans and from those who consider themselves "highly religious." Republican voters supported restriction and surveillance efforts two-to-one over Democrats.

Obama Stinks Obama Prompts Some Questions In Me
December 04, 2006

by Daniel Drezner I do feel compelled to respond to Cass's hosannas for Obama's AIDS day speech--not to mention Adam Nagourney's NYT front-pager about how Obama has affected the dynamics of the 2008 presidential election. Cass praises the speech as an example of Obama's political courage and dexterity. Reading it, there is no doubt that those skills shine through. As a political scientist, however, I'm mostly unmoved, because of what's not in the speech--concrete policy recommendations (I can't find them anywhere on Obama's policy website, either).

Not Very Rich
December 04, 2006

Frank Rich, who loves disparaging Republicans for McCarthyism, seems to be following the late Wisconsin senator's playbook. Summing up the president in his Sunday op-ed, Rich writes, "I have not been one to buy into the arguments that Mr. Bush is stupid or is the sum of his 'Bushisms' or is, as feverish Internet speculation periodically has it, secretly drinking again. I still don't." Nice of him to pass on the rumor nevertheless. --Isaac Chotiner

Innocent Until Even If Proven Guilty
December 04, 2006

Randy Cohen, the New York Times "Ethicist," laid a big egg yesterday in counseling an Internet technician who stumbled onto the company president's personal stash of child porn to keep his mouth shut. Cohen argues that, since it's not totally clear the boss is up to no good (really?), this doesn't justify imperiling the man's reputation: [Y]ou have no legal obligation to contact the police, nor should you. The situation is too fraught with uncertainty. These photographs might depict--legally--not children but young-looking adults. The images could be digitally altered.

"santa Isn't Fat By Accident"
December 04, 2006

It's so hard to escape the PC Police these days! As the venerable Dylan might put it, they'll stone you when you call a bad thing "gay," they'll stone you when you fete Columbus Day, they'll stone you if you love foie gras and veal, and now they'll even stone you if you want to skip a meal! This from this week's National Review (sus req): Get ready for Fat Studies. ... The University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee is offering a course titled "The Social Construction of Obesity." There is no such thing as being fat, you see; "fatness" is just a figment.

Understanding Carter
December 01, 2006

Yes, I'm back to Jimmy Carter, the most self-righteous of our contemporary presidents and, if I knew more about the rest of them, perhaps also all of our presidents. My, just compare him even to Woodrow Wilson, the son of a Presbyterian minister from Virginia and governor of New Jersey, and you'll find this supercilious Southern Baptist, who was governor of Georgia and so full of amour-propre and so full of disdain for his co-religionists, that you want (or, at least, I want) to turn off the television set whenever his mouth is on it.

The Internets Are Awesome
November 29, 2006

by Eric Rauchway Further to yesterday's post, a few related items. First, under the heading of, "the Internets are awesome", the "I Have a Dream" speech: Also, you might like Mark Kurlansky's new, brief book Nonviolence, which he talks about on BBC Radio 4's "Start the Week" here. UPDATE: Further on the awesomeness of the internet, here is a scholarly attempt to measure it, by Scott Eric Kaufman, which we at Open U should in the interest of science abet.

Other Pilgrims In The News
November 23, 2006

I suppose that, if you are against the Jewish restoration to their ancient homeland, you won't care a fig about the coming of the B'nai Menashe to Israel. This group, that says it descends from the lost tribe of Menashe, one of the ten lost to history, is spread out in places like India, Thailand and Burma. They practice a pretty vibrant sort of vestigial Judaism and have a resonant will among of them to end their exile.

"should I Go To Graduate School?"
November 22, 2006

by Eric Rauchway It's the season for applications to graduate school, and as this post on Unfogged indicates, it may not be too late for a bit of avuncular advice.

November 21, 2006

Hillary Clinton spent upwards of $30 million for her re-election campaign against an opponent whose name no one seems to remember or even knew. This and more, according to Anne E. Kornblut and Jeff Zeleny in Tuesday's New York Times. The Democratic Daily, a liberal web site, characterized this expenditure as "blowing a shameful $36 million" on a shoo-in campaign. Well, the Clintons have always been lavish with other people's money. And since they've been in New York, at least, they've managed to rake in cash from Republicans, too, why not spend it on their own assured victory?