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Playing President

By Robert Scheer
Paperback $13.16

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
$26.00

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Tag: History


propublica.org

2008 Bailouts to Cost More Than All Others Combined

Assuming the administration’s $700-billion scheme is approved, the total price tag for bailouts this year—including Bear Stearns, AIG and Freddie and Fannie—will be roughly three times greater than all other U.S. bailouts ever. Because $1.015 trillion is a hard figure to wrap one’s head around, ProPublica puts the numbers in perspective.

Posted on Sep 24, 2008 READ MORE


In Defense of Elitism

When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. “They think they’re better than you!” is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. “Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!” Yes, all too ordinary.

Posted on Sep 23, 2008 READ MORE



commons.wikimedia.org

Wall Street Has a Lousy Monday

While lawmakers debated exactly how to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at Wall Street, the Dow dropped 372 points on Monday. The price of oil, meanwhile, had a $25 surge that took many analysts by surprise.

Posted on Sep 22, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / scriptingnews

Sam Harris on Sarah Palin and ‘Mediocrity’

The trailblazing atheist and Truthdig contributor takes on Sarah Barracuda in the new Newsweek: “When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. ‘They think they’re better than you!’ is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again.”

Posted on Sep 21, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Does the Cold War Have Lessons for Today?

Carolyn Eisenberg takes a close look at Melvyn Leffler’s “For the Soul of Mankind” to ask whether our current troubles are rooted in a history that continues to haunt us.

Posted on Sep 19, 2008 READ MORE


The ‘Reform’ McCain Wants to Forget

With the markets in frightening turmoil and the public outraged by financial irresponsibility and excessive greed, John McCain has suddenly rediscovered the importance of strong, watchful government.

Posted on Sep 17, 2008 READ MORE


Palin Keeps Lying, and Lying, and ...

What kind of person tells a self-aggrandizing lie, gets called on it, admits publicly that the truth is not at all what she originally claimed—and then goes out and starts telling the original lie again without changing a word?

Posted on Sep 15, 2008 READ MORE


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Jane Ciabattari on Emily Dickinson’s Friendship With Abolitionist

A new book by Brenda Wineapple sheds light on the little-known relationship of the reclusive genius poet with one of America’s most fervent radicals.

Posted on Sep 11, 2008 READ MORE


A Campaign Without Ideas

There was a time when Republicans campaigned on their ideas, programs and values. This year—lacking ideas, programs or values—John McCain and Sarah Palin are running for the White House on an elaborate fictional narrative of victimhood.

Posted on Sep 11, 2008 READ MORE


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Robert Christgau on America’s Secret Fundamentalists

Just how dangerous are evangelical zealots? A new book by Jeff Sharlet takes a close and disturbing look at the group known as The Family and its disturbing and apparently widespread influence on mainstream political culture.

Posted on Sep 5, 2008 READ MORE


Memoir Politics

Talk about role reversal. The Republican Party, which scoffs at the nonsense of “identity politics,” has staked everything on the compelling life stories of its presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Posted on Sep 4, 2008 READ MORE


Making Goliath Walk

In the imminent confrontation over the Employee Free Choice Act, an almost embarrassingly modest proposal, corporations are actually billing themselves as the underdog—the poor, overmatched peasant David against the Philistine monster Goliath.

Posted on Sep 4, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Ted S. Warren

Yes He Can

In a speech that rose beyond the occasion, Sen. Barack Obama changed the dynamics of the presidential campaign. With fire in his eyes and politeness thankfully forgotten, he finally put Sen. John McCain on the defensive, most notably mocking the Republican’s claim that he’s best suited to be commander in chief.

Posted on Aug 29, 2008 READ MORE


Gov. Sarah Palin
news.aol.com

Sarah Palin: Maverick or Just a Neophyte?

The McCain camp’s announcement Friday morning that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be the Republican vice presidential candidate is nothing more than a performance in the politics of cynicism, a cynicism that may prove to be somewhat of a strategic miracle for the Republicans as they try to follow the Democrats’ much-publicized rock concert, or national convention, in Denver this week.

Posted on Aug 29, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Jonathan Shapiro on the Hamdan Case

In Jonathan Mahler’s new book, George W. Bush emerges as the most lawless president in American history, the first to usurp the law as a matter of policy.

Posted on Aug 29, 2008 READ MORE


In the Footsteps of Hubert H. Humphrey

In 1948, a young Minneapolis mayor electrified Democratic delegates gathered in Philadelphia with a bold endorsement of President Harry Truman’s civil rights policies and the “promise of a land where all men are free and equal.”

Posted on Aug 28, 2008 READ MORE


A Moment in History

“I cried on Monday when Michelle spoke,” Rep. John Lewis told me Wednesday at the Pepsi Center, “and I know that on Thursday night at the stadium I’ll cry again.”

Posted on Aug 28, 2008 READ MORE


Backstage at the Democratic National Convention

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Posted on Aug 28, 2008 READ MORE


Clinton on Obama and Race

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Posted on Aug 28, 2008 READ MORE    


The Mountaintop

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Posted on Aug 28, 2008 READ MORE


Hillary Made History Enough

Democrats have provided nearly all the drama of this campaign season, an 18-month run, a narrative with two compelling leads, a race between two people to open the door of history. A door that could only admit one at a time.

Posted on Aug 27, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Rafiq Maqbool

Pouring Gas on the Afghanistan Bonfire

Mounting bombing raids and widespread detentions of Afghans are rapidly turning Afghanistan into the mirror image of Iraq. But these very real events, which will have devastating consequences over the next few months and years, are largely ignored by us.

Posted on Aug 25, 2008 READ MORE


The Happy Warrior

In selecting Joe Biden, Barack Obama has signaled clearly what this week’s Democratic National Convention will be about: He intends to move aggressively to ease the problems that have worried so many Democrats in recent weeks—problems, it turns out, that Obama is worried about, too.

Posted on Aug 25, 2008 READ MORE


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James Blight on the Cuban Missile Crisis

In “One Minute to Midnight,” Michael Dobbs’ definitive book on the 1962 crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation, the question of lessons learned and unlearned remains as acute as ever.

Posted on Aug 21, 2008 READ MORE



commons.wikimedia.org

McCain: ‘We Are All Georgians’

If there is any doubt that John McCain is gulping down the neocon Kool-Aid on Georgia, one need only read his new manifesto in The Wall Street Journal, where he once again flaunts his Wikipedia-sourced foreign policy expertise.

Posted on Aug 14, 2008 READ MORE


Cold War Spin Only Compounds Georgian Crisis

History—not democracy—provides the explanation for the crisis in Georgia, in which the United States is recklessly involving itself.

Posted on Aug 14, 2008 READ MORE


When Minorities Are in the Majority

Census data project that in just 34 years, today’s minority groups together will make up the majority of the U.S. population, outnumbering “non-Hispanic whites.” Contrary to what Lou Dobbs and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps would have you believe, the change in demographics has more to do with procreation than immigration.

Posted on Aug 14, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Musa Sadulayev

Georgia Conflict Primer

For those who never heard of South Ossetia before fighting between Russians and Georgians erupted there, the BBC’s Paul Reynolds provides some needed background and analysis, including this pearl of wisdom: “Do not punch a bear on the nose unless it is tied down.”

Posted on Aug 11, 2008 READ MORE


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Zachary Karabell on the Middle East

What is it about the region that provokes intense sectarian passions, prompting seemingly endless vendettas? “Kingmakers,” by Karl Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, tells the story of British and American entanglement and how the modern Middle East was invented. It also offers an exemplary history of hubris.

Posted on Aug 8, 2008 READ MORE


China’s Sins in the Spotlight

World attention, in addition to fixing on the spectacle of the Olympics and the Chinese economic miracle, will be cast on a record of human rights abuse and environmental degradation.

Posted on Aug 7, 2008 READ MORE


China’s Quest for Olympic Glory

The Chinese authorities’ anxiety that the Olympic Games will be a success reflects their need to find international confirmation of their general political and economic policies of the past 20 years.

Posted on Aug 6, 2008 READ MORE


McCain’s Race-Baiting Scoundrels

I’m confident that Sen. Lindsey Graham and the rest of John McCain’s front-line surrogates know full well what messages they’re sending about Barack Obama and race. On the off chance that they—or, more likely, some of the white voters they’re trying to reach—don’t know text from subtext from context, here’s a deconstruction.

Posted on Aug 4, 2008 READ MORE


Getting Past the ‘Race Card’

Will the race issue go back into the closet for the rest of the presidential campaign? Of course not, so where do we go from here?

Posted on Aug 4, 2008 READ MORE


Putin and Castro
commons.wikimedia.org

Russia and Cuba, Together Again

Forty-six years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he wants “to rebuild our positions in Cuba” by strengthening economic cooperation with the island nation. The push could be a retort to America’s resolve to build a missile shield on Russia’s doorstep.

Posted on Aug 4, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian

A War of Self-Destruction

An attack on Iran, which Israeli and Bush administration officials appear set to carry out if Iranian uranium enrichment is not halted, would ignite a regional war in the Middle East and lead to economic collapse and political upheaval in the United States.

Posted on Aug 4, 2008 READ MORE


McCain’s Evil Twin

It’s awfully early for John McCain to be running such a desperate, ugly campaign against Barack Obama. But I guess it’s useful for Democrats to get a reminder that the Republican Party plays presidential politics by the same moral code that guided the bad-boy Oakland Raiders in their heyday: “Just win, baby.”

Posted on Jul 31, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Brennan Linsley

Acts of War

The war between the United States and Iran is on. American taxpayer dollars are being used, with the permission of Congress, to fund activities that result in Iranians being killed and wounded, and Iranian property destroyed. This wanton violation of a nation’s sovereignty would not be tolerated if the tables were turned.

Posted on Jul 29, 2008 READ MORE



Mr. Fish

Ray Bradbury on Literature and Love

The renowned author sits down with Truthdig literary editor Steve Wasserman to tell stories about his books, the many loves of his life—including dinosaurs and Halloween—and his own starring role in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to fame.

Posted on Jul 28, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Nikki Keddie on Iran

In “Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies,” Barbara Slavin, a leading Middle East reporter for USA Today, offers a refreshingly nuanced and revelatory taxonomy of power within theocratic Iran that sheds light on its leaders and their ambitions.

Posted on Jul 25, 2008 READ MORE


Six Little Words

History books teem with six-word phrases, from the comforting (“Nothing to fear but fear itself”) to the inspiring (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”) to the embarrassing (“Read my lips, no new taxes”). But the six words “on the basis of union membership” could be more momentous than any of those.

Posted on Jul 24, 2008 READ MORE


Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
commons.wikimedia.org

Still Secret After All These Years

A federal judge has ruled that the testimony of David Greenglass, who helped convict his sister in one of the most famous trials in American history, shall remain secret. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed 55 years ago for conspiracy to commit espionage. Greenglass has since recanted parts of his testimony.

Posted on Jul 22, 2008 READ MORE


Obama’s Audition

To win the presidency, Barack Obama needs only to battle John McCain to a tie on foreign policy and national security. That means Obama has no need for a great triumph during his trip this week to the Middle East and Europe. His goal is to look safe, sound and competent, and that’s how he’s playing things.

Posted on Jul 21, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Mark Lennihan

Bad Days for Newsrooms—and Democracy

The decline of newspapers is not about the replacement of the antiquated technology of news print with the lightning speed of the Internet. It does not signal an inevitable and salutary change. It is not a form of progress.

Posted on Jul 21, 2008 READ MORE


‘Kafka Comes to America’

Steven Wax’s new book provides an insider’s view of some of the most hideous practices our country has allowed since the 9/11 attacks. And that’s without giving accounts of torture and abuse of detainees.

Posted on Jul 16, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Ellen Garrison on ‘All the Sad Young Literary Men’

Are Keith Gessen and his posse really the voice of the Zeitgeist, the intellectual heirs to Norman Mailer and George Plimpton? Or just the highbrow version of Judd Apatow?

Posted on Jul 10, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Kevin Sanders, file

Surviving the Fourth of July

I survive the degradation that has become America—a land that exalts itself as a bastion of freedom and liberty while it tortures human beings, stripped of their rights, in offshore penal colonies, a land that wages wars defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, a land that turns its back on its poor, its weak, its mentally ill, in a relentless drive to embrace totalitarian capitalism—because I read books.

Posted on Jul 7, 2008 READ MORE


On Black Patriotism

The fact that African-American patriotism is never simple doesn’t mean it’s in any way halfhearted; to the contrary, complicated relationships tend to be the deepest and strongest.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Obama’s Leap of Faith

Barack Obama keeps trying to end the wars over culture and religion, and good for him. The 1960s are so 40 years ago. But Obama’s opponents, as well as some of his friends, won’t let him do it.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Bush’s Loose Ends

George W. Bush’s presidency seems exhausted and irrelevant, but that’s a dangerous illusion.

Posted on Jun 30, 2008 READ MORE


Battle for the Bench

If the long conservative era that began with Ronald Reagan’s election is over, will the judges appointed during the right’s ascendancy be able to block, frustrate and undermine the efforts of a new progressive majority?

Posted on Jun 30, 2008 READ MORE


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