William Bennett

Is President Obama's health care reform a moderate bill, as Democrats claim, or an something more extreme, like Republicans say? William Bennett offers up the Republican case: On Saturday, the president said “this is a middle of the road bill.” It is not. The National Journal aggregation of polls has a 7 percent national opposition deficit (50 percent oppose, 43 percent support). Not one Republican — not Olympia Snowe, not Sue Collins, not Tom Coburn, and not Jim Inhofe — is supporting this. ...

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The roundtable on hiphop over at the Atlantic is interesting. A discussion on what's new on the hiphop scene? That'd make perfect sense to me - but then that alone would fall somewhat outside of the Atlantic purview and be more like a piece by Sascha Frere-Jones at the New Yorker. No, the roundtable participants are musing over hiphop as something Potentially Important. It is this treatment of the music that has confused and bemused me for years.

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American Idle

"Without the Cold War," Rabbit Angstrom asks in John Updike's Rabbit at Rest, "what's the point of being an American?" Rabbit's question, which he posed in 1990, anticipated something in the national mood during the decade that followed. In 1995, social critic Christopher Lasch wrote that the United States had descended into a "democratic malaise," the most telling symptom of which, Harvard public policy scholar Robert Putnam wrote, was a decline in civic engagement.

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Misjudged

LAST YEAR, CONSERVATIVES responded to Lawrence v. Texas—in which the Supreme Court struck down all 13 state anti-sodomy statutes and overruled Bowers v. Hardwick, the infamous 1986 case that denied “a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy”—with dire warnings that the decision would open the floodgates to radical social changes, including the advent of gay marriage.

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Leon Wieseltier on the Jewish question.

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On a recent afternoon in Washington, D.C., a group of Christian evangelicals and social activists met at the offices of the conservative Family Research Council to watch a short home movie. The twenty-minute film, smuggled out of the People’s Republic of China, depicted Chinese Christians involved in the illegal faith known as the home church movement. The audience watched scenes of hundreds of worshipers at passionate prayer— swaying, chanting—in the caves and fields where they secretly meet.

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John Judis on the revival of Alvin and Heidi Toffler.

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"Why don't I learn? The answers to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle. They're on TV!"—Homer Simpson A thirty-second spot on ABC's "Roseanne" will cost advertisers $375,000 next year. "Roseanne" is the No. 1 show of the past television season. It's a comedy of lower-middle-class resentment, of a particularly modern kind. The heroine is a woman who struggles to balance the obligations of holding a job and raising a family in a world of sexism, oppressive bosses, dead-end jobs, pinched finances, and other social forces generally unhelpful to people in her position.

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Roboflop

Despite his pee-pants performance in the Omaha debate against Lloyd Bentsen, it looks as if Dan Quayle, 41, will be president one of these days. Consider the politico-actuarial probabilities. Assuming the Republican lead endures, the junior senator from Indiana will be elected vice president. This alone will give him an even chance of becoming president. Three out of the last five presidents were vice president first. Seven out of the last ten vice presidents have ended up heading a national ticket, and four (five if you presumptively count George Bush) got all the way to the Oval Office.

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NOT SO LONG ago, intellectuals seemed to be the most picked-on weaklings in the school yard of American politics. When George Wallace ran for president in 1972, he blamed "pointy-headed intellectuals" for everything from rising crime and changing sexual mores to busing and the stalemate in Vietnam. Vice President Spiro Agnew had exploited the same theme in 1970 when he attacked the country's "effete corps of impudent snobs," those "nattering nabobs of negativism" who opposed the Nixon administration. Two decades earlier the vocabulary was different but the mood was similar.

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