As far as I can tell, the thesis of this article is that if only Barack Obama had visited all 50 states, partisan polarization would disappear:
So Mr. Obama has not given North Dakota his time. It is one of six states he has not visited as president, along with South Dakota, Arkansas, Idaho, South Carolina and Utah. He has gone just once to Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Tennessee and Wyoming.
Mr. Obama’s near-complete absence from more than 25 percent of the states, from which he is politically estranged, is no surprise, in that it reflects routine cost-benefit calculations of the modern presidency. But in a country splintered by partisanship and race, it may also have consequences.
America’s 21st-century politics, as underscored by the immigration debate now embroiling Congress, increasingly pits the preferences of a dwindling, Republican-leaning white majority…
(Guest post! Lon Strauss (full bio at the end) wrote his dissertation on an earlier version of the American surveillance state. He’s here to give us some historical context to the NSA revelations.)
There has been a recent uptick in the news over concern about the United States becoming a surveillance state. The Guardian and the Washington Post published articles about the National Security Agency’s practices that have sparked a renewed debate over surveillance, national security, and civil liberties in America. Journalists have posed questions about whether a democratic surveillance state is possible and the role of US companies willingly handing personal information to a government agency. While there are and should be real concerns regarding national security and civil liberties, it will surprise no one that this discussion is not new. When engaging complex historical debates, it …
(Guest post! Ben Schmidt is the visiting graduate fellow at the Cultural Observatory at Harvard, and a graduate student in history at Princeton University. His research is in intellectual and cultural history and the use of computational techniques for historical research. He writes about digital humanities on the blog Sapping Attention. Beginning fall 2013, he will be an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University. He blogs at Sapping Attention. I’m glad to have him here to give his analysis of the crisis in the humanities. Thanks, Ben!).
One of the delights of reading Marbury v. Madison is the logical bind that John Marshall puts Thomas Jefferson. Marshall will give Jefferson what he wants in the case, but only if Jefferson concedes that the Supreme Court can decide the constitutionality of laws, something Jefferson resolutely did not want to do. Writing to Abigail Adams after the decision, Jefferson said:
The Constitution . . . meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch
Americans describe things as “constitutional,” and “unconstitutional.” They talk about the “Bill of Rights” and the “Second Amendment.” These descriptors seem like they should be timeless or, at least, in consistent use since the beginning of the USA.
Note that both have been used pretty consistently since 1800. There haven’t been great fluctuations. Obviously, this is just one measure, but it seems that Americans have long thought about things as constitutional or unconstitutional.
Here, the story is different. Starting in the New Deal Era, mentions of the Bill of Rights in American books more than doubled, suggesting that as government grew, Americans became much more concerned about individual rights and their guarantees.
“Kill the Foreigners!” was the motto of China’s red-sashed Boxers, as they were dismissively known in the west. Members of the Righteous Fists of Harmony opposed imperialism and Christianity and took up arms to drive out their representatives. An eight-nation alliance that included the U.S., Germany and Japan invaded China and, after a quick victory, divided up Beijing.
[Guest post! Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai of Angelo State University is kind enough to write for Edge on reconciliation and memory in modern day Texas. Post and photos copyright K. Wongsrichanalai 2013]
Dedicating a new monument
Living in San Angelo, Texas, I often feel like I am living precisely at the edge of the American West. There seems to be a constant drought, the summers are punishing, and the temperature can fluctuate wildly, going from triple digits to freezing in a matter of hours. When I first arrived in this city of nearly 100,000, I wondered what kind of people would settle here. As it turns out, Fort Concho, established by the United States Army in 1867, marked the beginning of this frontier settlement. Buffalo soldiers manned the fort and attempted to keep the Comanche in check as settlers and ranchers moved westward. Some of the individuals who came to West Texas we…
Commuting has been part of the human experience since the Industrial Revolution. Ever since the workplace and the home got firmly disentangled, people have been waking up and resignedly making their way to their place of employment. The amount of culture that has developed about the idea of commuting is enormous, including the “knocker-up” of 19th and early 20th century Britain who served, before the advent of universal alarm clocks, as a wake-up call for workers by tapping on their windows in the morning with a long pole.
It is probably safe to say that few have ever really enjoyed their commute , a feeling best exemplified by the opening scene of the movie Office Space, from which this excerpt comes (warning, very bad language):
Commuting has had a fair amount of academic analysis applied to it. The…
Charlaine Harris is the author of a massively successful series of novels with a southern heroine, Sookie Stackhouse. There have been 13 books, and a (ahem, so NSFW) HBO series. But now Harris is looking to be done with Stackhouse and the current novel is intended to be the last one:
But after more than a decade, Ms. Harris, a cheerful 61-year-old grandmother, grew tired of the characters, even as her hyper-dedicated followers lusted for more. She ran out of fresh story lines about her bubbly blond protagonist, Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress who tangles with an ever-expanding supernatural cast of vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, demons, goblins, elves, witches and fairies. She struggled to keep track of the convoluted mythology she’d invented. Things that used to excite her, like unveiling new supernatural creatures, started to feel stale.
The charge of homophobia is equally easy to refute. If I really were a “gay-basher”, as some headline writers so crassly suggested, why would I have asked Andrew Sullivan, of all people, to be the godfather of one of my sons, or to give one of the readings at my wedding?
The caveat here is that many of the Democrats were southern, and LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) alienated quite a few of them (Much honor to “Smilin’ Ralph” Yarborough, Democratic Senator of Texas, and the only Southern Democrat in the Senate to vote for the CRA). The flip side, of course, is there was still that rare and mythical beast, a liberal Republican, in those times. Six of those Republicans voted for the CRA, helping break the filibuster.
Now comes the hard part: Can movie studios, mired in a steep box-office slump, keep the momentum going?
Between the first weekend in May and Labor Day, a period that typically accounts for 40 percent of annual movie ticket sales, Hollywood rapidly parades its biggest floats — loud, visual-effects-laden behemoths like the coming “Man of Steel” and “Lone Ranger” that cost $200 million (or more) to make and $150 million to market globally.
I note that May to September is a four-month stretch, i.e. roughly 33% of the year. Getting 40% of revenue in 33% of the year hardly strikes me as hugely disproportionate. Certainly, it’s substantial, but not really worthy of the “tent-pole” treatment that summer gets in the movie industry, yet the Times reports the figure breathlessly and with grave import.
The Cato Institute discovers that – during hard times – the government spends more.
Being the Cato Institute however, that’s not interesting, so they spin it around. More government spending leads to lower GDP:
Higher government spending growth in a year corresponds to reduced private GDP growth that year. For example, if real government spending growth was zero, private GDP would be expected to grow at 4.2 percent. If real government spending growth was 5 percent, private GDP growth would be expected to fall to 2.8 percent.
IT’S THE GOVERNMENT’S FAULT. BIG GOVERNMENT BAD, LITTLE GOVERNMENT GOOD. DROWN IT IN THE BATHTUB.
What’s really happening, of course, is that during recessions, government spending goes up because of unemployment insurance and welfare programs in general get more (unfortunately) customers. It’s not that government spending knocks down private GDP, it’s that …
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is an associate professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).