David Satter: Understanding Putin

Featured image In its September 2009 number GQ carried an interesting article by Scott Anderson on the September 1999 apartment bombings in Russia that left hundreds dead and led to Vladimir Putin’s rise to power. The piece profiled former Russian FSB officer Mikhail Trepashkin and collected evidence suggesting that the bombings were perpetrated by the FSB rather than by Chechen terrorists. It was the kind of intriguing investigative piece that most publications »

Appropriate this

Featured image Lionel Shriver is an American novelist who lives in London. I will only add that she is a woman because her adopted name Lionel might lead one to infer otherwise (photo below). On September 8 Shriver gave the keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival. Her speech opposed the concept of “cultural appropriation.” The Guardian has posted the text of Shriver’s speech here. Shriver elaborated on her speech in the »

Those Angry Days

Featured image Earlier this year I finished reading Lynne Olson’s Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941. I recommend the book unreservedly. There is so much intensely interesting history in the book. Much of the interest derives from the incredible cast of characters that populates the book. The Century Group, with which I was previously unfamiliar, alone supplies a panoply. The text runs over 450 pages »

Stronger unread, WaPo edition

Featured image Yesterday in “Better unread” I noted the humorous Amazon reviews of the new book allegedly by Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. I want to add that the Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada is as harsh as the Amazon commenters, but then Lozada actually had to read the book: “By the time I finished this book, I resented its existence….I don’t understand why this book was compiled — ‘written’ is too generous »

Stronger unread

Featured image Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine claim the authorship of the campaign manifesto Stronger Together, released in paperback by Simon & Schuster on September 6. The book opens with the kind of bold statement that has served Clinton well in the course of her long career in public life: “It has been said that America is great because America is good. We agree.” Let it not be said that she has »

“Shall we wake the president?”

Featured image Our friend Tevi Troy, author of the excellent What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted, has written a new book. It’s called Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office. Tevi is a presidential historian and served as an aide to President George W. Bush. He knows whereof he speaks. The book is just out and I haven’t read it. However, Tevi offers »

The secret history of Keith Ellison

Featured image I’m speaking this morning to the Maple Grove Critical Thinking Discussion Group at the Maple Grove Community Center. The meeting convenes at 10:00 a.m. The title of my talk is “The Secret History of Keith Ellison.” Now the title is facetious. Ellison’s history only became “secret” when he ran for Congress in 2006 and staked his campaign on three lies about his involvement with the Nation of Islam. I have »

Bech in Czech

Featured image Paul Mirengoff’s tribute to the courage and the sacrifice of the Czech Olympic champion Vera Caslavska brought to mind one of my favorite passages in the works of John Updike that I have managed to read. Updike was a voluminous and accomplished writer in every literary form, though I think he was a master of the short story in particular. Updike wrote enough stories to fill three small volumes about »

Lies of “Truth” revisited

Featured image This past October 16 the Rathergate film Truth opened in more than a thousand theaters around the country. John and I warned viewers not to take the film at face value in the Weekly Standard article “Rather shameful.” On the film’s opening weekend the Star Tribune also carried my column reminding readers of the film’s factual background. The column was published as “Lies upon lies: The sad state of the »

To the person sitting in darkness

Featured image We have lost the power at home twice this week, each time for several hours overnight. It seems to happen every time we have a serious summer thunderstorm. The utter silence and lack of light tend to disturb my sleep. We should have a generator, but we don’t. As I sat the dark thinking about the powerlessness, the title “To the person sitting in darkness” came to mind. Who wrote »

CRB: No buyer for Breyer

Featured image Stephen Breyer seems to me the ne plus ultra leftist progressive on the Supreme Court. I assume that’s one of the reasons why Justice Scalia relished sparring with him. No left-wing dogma is beyond Breyer and he seeks to overlay the absurd with an intellectual patina. His interest in the United States Constitution approaches nullity. Indeed, to borrow a famous Athenian indictment, Justice Breyer seeks to introduce new gods into »

Jean Edward Smith’s Burning Bush

Featured image I’m not going to read Jean Edward Smith’s new biography of George W. Bush for three reasons, one of them coming directly from Smith himself. Smith, the acclaimed biographer of John Marshall, Lucius Clay, and Dwight Eisenhower, once advised me: “Never write a biography of a living person.” He gave lots of good reasons for this counsel, many of which can be easily surmised. I was a little surprised, therefore, »

Our Fractured Republic

Featured image In a recent podcast, Steve talked with Yuval Levin about his brilliant new book, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in an Age of Individualism. In the interview, Yuval summarized the book’s themes and some of its key arguments. The discussion begins at around the 19 minute mark. At 21 minutes, Yuval sets forth his core thesis. At 23 minutes, he begins his critique of contemporary conservatism. I can’t »

Catch-22, IRS style

Featured image This past Friday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals partly reinstated the lawsuits brought by two groups — True the Vote and Linchpins of Liberty — that had sued the IRS over its targeting of conservative or Tea Party-type organizations seeking 501(1)(c)(3) status. The court has resurrected the groups’ claims for relief enjoining the IRS against continued discriminatory treatment. The D.C. Circuit opinion is posted here and is worth reading. »

The Power Line Show, Episode 40: DNC First Reads, Scott Pumps Iron with Charlie Rangel, and Yuval Levin

Featured image Tune in for Episode #40 of the Power Line Show, which offers our reactions and analysis to the first night of the Democratic National Convention as well as reflections on Trump’s coronation last week; also, we rib Scott Johnson for running away to a Trump-branded health spa in Florida that did not offer Trump steaks, but did offer Scott the opportunity to exercise with legendary Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel. Finally, »

Summer reading

Featured image NRO takes time out from politics to offer summer reading suggestions. The recommendations come from Richard Brookhiser, Nancy French, Kathryn Jean Lopez, David Pryce-Jones, Tevi Troy, Ian Tuttle, Hans von Spakovsky, and Kevin Williamson. I can recommend two of the books cited. The first is Karl Rove’s The Triumph of William McKinley. I wrote about that book here and here. The second is Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic, a brilliant »

Heather Mac Donald: Our legal order frays

Featured image Heather Mac Donald is the author of the book of the moment if not the year: The War On Cops: How the New Attack On Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. This is the book’s chapter 11, “America’s Legal Order Begins to Fray.” Heather writes: “I’m deliberately not getting involved in things I would have in the 1990s and 2000s,” an emergency-services officer in New York City tells me. »