History

The Evil Empire Is Back

Featured image So Obama, ever the bright and prompt one when it comes to foreign affairs, has declared the Soviet Union Russia to be in violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—Ronald Reagan’s famous “zero option.”  The violation occurred in 2009.  Guess it would have got in the way of that whole “reset” thing to have brought it up at the time. As it happens, I’m working on a new »

The Great War and Modern Memory

Featured image Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia—the official beginning of hostilities of what became World War I.  There’s a ton of new books about the Great War (as it was called before the sequel caused a re-numbering), but in many ways my favorite remains Paul Fussell’s treatment of the literary legacy of the war from the 1970s, The Great War and Modern Memory. A few »

Harry Jaffa on the Famous “Extremism” Speech

Featured image Paul noted yesterday the 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater’s famous—or infamous—convention speech in 1964.  Has there ever been another convention speech before or since that is as well recalled for a single line?  Only William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech comes close. Harry Jaffa, who turns 96 in a few weeks, reflected some time ago about the famous line—”Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”—and his role in »

This week in conservative history — Goldwater’s acceptance speech

Featured image 50 years ago this week, Barry Goldwater accepted the Republican nomination for president with this speech. Today, it makes for a great and timely read. But the speech should really be viewed (and can be here; watch for Richard Nixon’s reactions) in order to understand its impact. The main impact of the speech, unfortunately, was to scare Americans. Indeed, although Lyndon Johnson’s campaign did a masterful job of scaring Americans »

The College Board, the Common Core, and “the world without America”

Featured image Years ago, Richard Rorty, the left-wing pragmatist philosopher, defended the leftist slant in university instruction by arguing that it was an antidote to the rah-rah, pro-American indoctrination students received in high school. In Hegelian-Marxist terms, high school instruction was the “thesis,” college instruction was the “antithesis,” and students could work out their own “synthesis.” Rorty’s argument was characteristically clever. But the content of high school education was always destined to »

Is Administrative Law Unlawful? (2): July 4 edition

Featured image In advance of the holiday weekend and late in the afternoon yesterday, the Obama administration released 1,300 pages of new Obamacare regulations, adding to the more than 10,000 pages previously promulgated. This is the way we live now under the regime of the administrative state, subject to regulations dwarfing the laws duly enacted by Congress. Continuing our series of excerpts from Columbia Law School Professor Philip Hamburger’s important new book »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day

Featured image On July 9, 1858, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas gave a campaign speech to a raucous throng from the balcony of the Tremont Hotel in Chicago. Abraham Lincoln was in the audience as Douglas prepared to speak. Douglas graciously invited Lincoln to join him on the balcony to listen to the speech. In his speech Douglas sounded the themes of the momentous campaign that Lincoln and Douglas waged that summer and »

The improbable lives of Louis Zamperini

Featured image I am saddened to learn of the death yesterday of the remarkable Louis Zamperini. What a man; what a great American. The New York Times obituary by Ira Berkow is here. I wrote about Mr. Zamperini on Power Line after I finished reading Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling biography of him (linked below). The following comments are adapted from what I wrote then. In November 2010 the Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Review »

Revisiting the Obama-Ayers connection

Featured image Many of you probably watched portions, if not all of, Megyn Kelly’s interviews with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant domestic terrorist of yesteryear. Kelly did her usual excellent job of pressing Ayers on his violent past. But Stanley Kurtz wishes she had pressed Ayers more about his relationship with Barack Obama. For, as Kurtz points out, Ayers and Obama had a much tighter political alliance than Ayers admitted to on Kelly’s »

Would the civil rights act of 1964 pass Congress today?

Featured image Today marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It passed Congress over the strenuous opposition, and indeed filibuster, of Southern Democrats. At Politico, Todd Purdum seizes on the occasion to argue that this landmark legislation could not pass Congress today. This is mainly true, he asserts, because “sometime in the 1980s” the Barry Goldwater wing of the Republican Party seized control causing the »

“The Dread Signal of Armageddon”

Featured image Today is the 100th anniversary of Gavrilo Princep’s assassination of the Archduke Francis Fertinand and his consort in Sarajevo, what Churchill called “the dread signal of Armageddon.”  We’re about to start a four-year palooza of commemorations of the signal episodes from the Great War, including lots of chin-stroking about whether something like it could happen again in the heart of Europe (or on the periphery, like, say, Ukraine).  I offered »

Don’t Know Much About History, Hillary Edition

Featured image We have commented a number of times about Barack Obama’s below-average knowledge of history. But he is not alone: his would-be successor in the White House, Hillary Clinton, wouldn’t fare well in a high school American history class, either. The Free Beacon covers her book-promoting appearance with Rahm Emanuel. Note that her blunder isn’t a mere slip of the tongue, but rather part of an extended analogy that she draws »

Revisionist history on hold

Featured image D-Day seems to have been well commemorated in France on its 70th anniversary. President Obama apparently saw fit to chew gum while Queen Elizabeth II was welcomed and during the playing of the Marseillaise. But as far as I can tell, the Europeans behaved with dignity and gratitude, as well they should. There is, though, an unflattering revisionist history of the Normandy invasion that has gained some currency in France. »

Normandy 2014 [Updated]

Featured image The 70th anniversary of D-Day has rightfully drawn a great deal of attention. Coincidentally, my youngest child, a high school junior, went on a school trip to England and France over spring break, in March, with members of her European history class. (When I was in high school we went on a school trip, too; as I recall, it was an afternoon in Sioux Falls.) One of the highlights of »

The ordeal of Omaha Beach

Featured image Seventy years ago today our fellow Americans and their allies stormed the beaches of Normandy to vanquish the Nazis’ supposed thousand-year regime. In his D-Day message to the troops, General Eisenhower declared: “We accept nothing less than full victory!” The landing was necessary if the war was to be won. In 1984 President Reagan called it “a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.” Yet success was far from inevitable. Eisenhower »

CRB: Mucking around

Featured image We welcome the publication of the Spring issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here) this week. In keeping with custom our friends at the Claremont Institute have allowed us to preview three pieces I chose for our readers. We began on Monday with CRB senior editor William Voegeli’s essay “The Redskins and Their Offense.” Yesterday we highlighted “Whistleblowers and traitors,” Hudson Institute senior fellow Gabriel Schoenfeld’s review of »

A Less-Is-More Presidency? (And Who Ruined It in the First Place?) [with comment by Paul]

Featured image A few days ago George Will devoted a column to advocating that a good presidential candidate—and by extension a good president—would be someone who talked less and promised less: All modern presidents of both parties have been too much with us. Talking incessantly, they have put politics unhealthily at the center of America’s consciousness. Promising promiscuously, they have exaggerated government’s proper scope and actual competence, making the public perpetually disappointed »