History

The Great Society’s greatest achievement isn’t so great

Featured image The Washington Post is running a series called “The Great Society at 50.” At times, the project seems like an effort on behalf of progressivism to revive the reputation of a shockingly bad liberal president, just as the buzz around Thomas Piketty’s new book seems like an effort to revive shockingly bad economic doctrine. It happens that my father had a ringside seat for the launch of the Great Society »

Gabriel Kolko, RIP

Featured image About 10 days back I flagged for a pick Ron Radosh’s obituary of Martin Sklar, a Marxist-inspired historian whose works on the rise of the regulatory state in the late 19th century were ironically popular with conservatives and libertarians.  Funny thing about some Marxists; they often stumbled across the truth, but, to borrow Churchill’s line about Stanley Baldwin, dusted themselves off and carried on as though nothing had happened.  Actually »

Brown v. Board and court worship

Featured image Those who believe the Supreme Court should take an “activist” approach often cite Brown v. Board of Education as an example of the Court’s ability to do good where other institutions and the body politic come up short. It’s a decent example, but not sufficient to make the general case. Keep in mind first that before giving us Brown, the Court gave us Plessy v. Ferguson. It upheld, by a »

A tour de megaforce

Featured image Terry Teachout traces his interest in Louis Armstrong to the time his mother called him in from outdoors to see Armstrong sing (probably “Hello, Dolly”) on the Ed Sullivan Show. His mother beckoned him with the sage admonition, “He won’t be around forever.” By the same token, if you are in the vicinity of New York City, or visiting some time soon, I urge you to come in and see »

When hell was in session

Featured image Admiral Jeremiah Denton died yesterday at the age of 89. Admiral Denton served seven-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Denton’s name should be known by every American. In captivity he gave something beyond the last full measure of devotion, if that is possible. His is a story of almost unbelievable endurance, courage and patriotism. Here is a short course courtesy of the Denton »

A word from Edmund Levin

Featured image Edmund Levin is the author of A Child of Christian Blood: Murder and Conspiracy in Tsarist Russia – The Beilis Blood Libel, just published by Schocken Books. The book is about the 1913 trial in Kiev of the Russian Jewish factory worker Mendel Beilis on a charge of ritually murdering a Christian boy and draining his blood to make Passover matzo. Mr. Levin wrote the book as a labor of »

Peace, they say: Nordlinger vs. Lundestad

Featured image The Nobel Peace Prize Forum was held in Minneapolis on the campus of the University of Minnesota over the weekend. Yesterday was Global Day. I’m not sure what made it Global Day, but it was. However, I am sure what the highlight of the day was. It was previewed in the Star Tribune here. At noon Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, debated National Review senior »

CRB: Digging up a new past

Featured image The new issue of the Claremont Review of Books that we have been featuring this week includes pieces by Charles Murray, Harvey Mansfield, Walter Russell Mead, John Bolton, Joseph Epstein, Michael Nelson, and many others. The new issue lives up to my billing of the CRB as providing a virtual education in politics with each issue, if a reader thinks through the implications of the arguments made in the issue’s »

CRB: Schoolmaster to the world

Featured image Was our twenty-eighth president nuts? Reviewing A. Scott Berg’s new biography of Woodrow Wilson in the just-released Winter edition of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here for $19.95), Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell finds little evidence to doubt it. That Wilson’s sanctimonious pabulum (“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”— shoot, strike that—”Sometimes people call me an idealist…well, that is the way I know I am an »

CRB: The High-Low Coalition

Featured image I am advised by those who should know that Thomas Sowell has declared the Claremont Review of Books to be the best book review around, by far. That may be proof three thousand and thirty-six that Dr. Sowell is a man of great taste and erudition. Subscribe here for the unreasonably low price of $19.95 and get immediate online access to the magazine thrown in for good measure. In keeping »

Remembering the indispensable man

Featured image Today is the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington’s greatness was the rarest and the most needed. At this remove in time, it is also the hardest to comprehend. Take, for example, Washington’s contribution to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Washington’s mere presence lent the undertaking and its handiwork the legitimacy that resulted »

George Washington resigns

Featured image I believe in celebrating our greatest presidents on the anniversaries of their birth, not some Monday in the vicinity. I therefore celebrated Abraham Lincoln last week and look forward to celebrating George Washington this coming Saturday. Because John has suggested I might have something today, however, let’s kick off the Washington celebration. If only I had the knowledge necessary to do so, I would keep at it all week. We »

Was Ellsberg justified?

Featured image I wrote about the interesting Intelligence Squared debate on Edward Snowden in “Was Snowden justified?” Video of the debate is posted at the link. A transcript of the debate is posted here. I thought the debate was interesting in part because it revealed the weakness of the arguments in favor of Snowden by Ben Wizner, a legal adviser to Snowden and an authoritative source on his case, such as it »

Remembering Mr. Lincoln

Featured image Today is of course the anniversary of the birth of America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. As a politician and as president, Lincoln was a profound student of the Constitution and constitutional history. Perhaps most important, Lincoln was America’s indispensable teacher of the moral ground of political freedom at the exact moment when the country was on the threshold of abandoning what he called its “ancient faith” that all men are »

Contain this

Featured image Writing as “Mr. X,” George Kennan promulgated the doctrine of containment of the Soviet Union in his famous 1947 Foreign Affairs article “The sources of Soviet conduct.” Kennan’s conclusion was that “the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” The State Department Office of the Historian explains: “Containment provided a »

The Not-So-Great Society: Back to the Future?

Featured image Nothing so surely signals that liberalism has lost its mind than the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Great Society under way this week.  Has there been a greater self-evident social policy failure in American history?  More importantly, are today’s young liberal journalists completely ignorant of the fact that even liberals despaired of the Great Society by the end of the 1960s—that it completely shattered liberal optimism?  (Don’t bother »

The year in reading

Featured image Scott has done a great job handling the year-end list department. But I thought I would add Tevi Troy’s discussion of his year of reading. Tevi offers praise for two books about the 2012 presidential race — Mark Halperin’s Double Down and Dan Balz’s Collision 2012. As much as I respect Tevi, I’m going to pass on these two works The 2012 campaign was too painful, and I could never »