This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: Interview broadcast on NBC Nightly News (7-31-07)
Gordon Brown: I enjoyed my discussions with him. I think what what I particularly enjoyed about my discussions is his sense of history.
SOURCE: David Greenberg in the WaPo (7-29-07)
Joining this lengthening queue is Jeremi Suri, a historian at the University of Wisconsin, with a useful, idiosyncratic study, Henry Kissinger and the American Century. Suri isn't trying to compete -- for audience or authoritativeness -- with Dallek's Nixon and Kissinger or MacMillan's Nixon and Mao, which combine scholarly rigor with popular appeal. Rather, he's gambling that less can be more. Suri's Kissinger is an academic rumination on the cerebral Harvard professor-turned-showboating national security adviser that, while intentionally narrow in scope, is bold in its reach....
... In describing the legacy he wished to leave, Kissinger once said that he wanted to erect a lasting international framework that would reflect not his own preferences but the basic interests of the United States. Yet, ironically, his grand scheme required that it all rest on his personal touch.
As the years pass, the case for Kissinger's greatness becomes increasingly hard to sustain. His academic reputation has long since been deflated. Most scholars now agree that Nixon conceived and directed his own policy (except when incapacitated by Watergate), with Kissinger functioning as his agent. Even the perennial accusations of war crimes against Henry sound like overwrought sloganeering -- too lofty a charge to level at a mere deputy.
Kissinger is, in the end, a smart man -- not a genius, not even unusually brilliant -- whose lot it was to serve a president whose mania for acclaim, dreams of grandeur and taste for secrecy and deceit matched his own. In one sense, hitching his star to Nixon's was unfortunate for Kissinger, because the shame of Nixon will always be his shame, too. But in another sense it was lucky, because in the Cold War's last years Nixon unleashed him to pursue their shared ambitions on the world stage, not without some benefit. When Nixon fell, Kissinger remained standing, poised with a sly smile to gather the credit.
SOURCE: Andrew Leonard at Salon.com (7-31-07)
How the World Works' own opinion is that our sample size for determining Malthusian veracity is simply too small. Judged against the history of human civilization, the 200 years or so since the industrial revolution hasn't been long enough to settle whether humanity will survive its own ingenuity. Right now, how you answer the question is more of a personality test than a scientifically provable fact. Glass half-full? We'll figure out a way. Glass half-empty? We're doomed.
Be that as it may, there's a great big goofy hole in Ferguson's dour argument.
Ferguson recapitulates Malthus' basic premise: "'Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio,' he observed. but 'subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio.'"
Malthus concluded from this inexorable divergence between population and food supply that there must be "a strong and constantly operating check on population."
This would take two forms: "misery" (famines and epidemics) and "vice", by which he meant not only alcohol abuse but also contraception and abortion (he was, after all, an ordained Anglican minister).
Even with the great advances in agricultural yields spawned by the green revolution, argues Ferguson, agricultural yields have indeed only grown linearly. But so too, he suggests, has human population, because Malthusian limits have already been operating.
Meanwhile, vice and misery have been operating just as Malthus foresaw to prevent the human population from exploding geometrically.
On the one hand, contraception and abortion have been employed to reduce family sizes. On the other hand, wars, epidemics, disasters and famines have significantly increased mortality.
Together, vice and misery have ensured that the global population has grown at an arithmetic rather than a geometric rate. Indeed, they've managed to reduce the rate of population growth from 2.2 per cent per annum in the early Sixties to around 1.1 per cent today.
Ferguson has an esteemed reputation as a historian, but if this is an example of his normal intellectual coherency, one wonders on what basis he attained his fame.
Population size has stabilized or is actually declining in most of the economically developed nations of the world -- but to argue that this is due to "vice and misery" requires intellectual sleight-of-hand: defining birth control as "vice." If famine, epidemics or war have been responsible for population declines in Italy or Japan in the last few decades, it's the first I've heard of it. The actual evidence available suggests that people in rich countries have fewer children.
The facts seem pretty clear: Economic affluence checks population growth. And only a disingenuous pessimist could consider that reality to be a dire Malthusian limit.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed. (7-31-07)
He was charged under Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code, which has been used frequently against journalists, academics, and writers, and which Amnesty International says “poses a direct threat to the fundamental right to freedom of expression.”
Mr. Akçam was charged with Article 301 violations when he wrote an article in support of Mr. Dink, a friend, before his death, and he says that he has also received many death threats and has been subjected to online harassment, for example through false entries in his online Wikipedia biography.
SOURCE: Letter to the editor of the WSJ by Robert Higgs (7-30-07)
Randy E. Barnett's explication of why some libertarians support the war in Iraq (July 17) cries out for criticism on many grounds, but two points in particular seem most urgently in need of expression.
First, as Barnett affirms, all libertarians believe in an individual right of self-defense. He proceeds, however, to confound the actions an individual might take in self-defense with the actions a state takes when it goes to war. Individuals have rights that each of them may properly defend; a state has no rights whatsoever, but only powers, many of which it uses routinely to violate the just rights of individuals in its jurisdiction. To draw an analogy between self-defense and warfare is to run off the rails at the outset. Warmaking is a state enterprise, regardless of what the state's leaders may claim about its benefits to the people at large. And because the U.S. state has an undeniable history of mendacity, only a fool would take its claims at face value in any event.
Second, Barnett regrets that libertarian opposition to the Iraq war might inhibit a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people. But the American people have no greater interest than the preservation of their own liberty, and nothing threatens that liberty so greatly as the U.S. state's engagement in warfare. Throughout our history, notwithstanding all the pious propaganda claiming that the state's wars aimed only at preserving American liberties, the net result of every major war since the War Between the States has been that when the war was over, the American people found the state stronger and, for the great majority, their own liberties weaker than they had been before the war began.
I have devoted the greater part of the past twenty-five years to documenting and analyzing this repeated pattern, which I call the ratchet effect of national emergency on the growth of government, most recently in my book Neither Liberty Nor Safety. It is unfortunate that Barnett fails to recognize warfare for what it has long been: the master key with which the state gains entry into every formerly protected area of American life, overriding long-established rights and suppressing long-established liberties. No libertarian with a firm understanding of our history can accept his de facto defense of the Iraq war, which is in fact as clear a case of international aggression as anyone can find and has already done much to undermine our remaining liberties.
Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow, The Independent Institute
SOURCE: IFEX (7-30-07)
Akcam wrote an article entitled "Gündüz Aktan and the Saik Problem in the Genocide". It was published by "Agos" on 6, 20 and 27 January and 3, 10 and 17 February 2007. Elekdag filed a suit for 20,000 YTL (approx. US$15,315) claiming that the article "violated" his personal rights and "insulted" him.
The court agreed on a compensation claim of 10,000 YTL (approx. US$7,676) to be paid by Akcam and the newspaper.
The lawyers of "Agos" stated that the court decree was incongruous with the European Convention on Human Rights and other decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights. They are planning an appeal.
The article in question was first published in the "Birikim Journal" in November 2005 and then as a series in the "Agos" newspaper.
SOURCE: Concord Monitor (7-29-07)
"You don't get rid of violence," Rhodes said. "What you do is bring violence under social control."
Rhodes, 70, won a 1988 Pulitzer Prize for The Making of the Atomic Bomb and has also written books on the hydrogen bomb, Hitler's SS and why people kill. He was in Manchester the past several days as a visiting professor with the fiction and nonfiction writing program at Southern New Hampshire University.
In a wide-ranging interview, Rhodes spoke about 9/11 and its aftermath, the nuclear arms race during the Cold War, the nuclear perils of today and the perennial debate over the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But despite a firm grasp on the political follies of modern history and our own time, Rhodes presents a glass-half-full perspective.
"We've found ways to limit violence," he said. "The ways that the West found were access to courts of law by the common people and strong central governments."...
SOURCE: Radio Public of Armenia (7-29-07)
Let us remind that introduced on January 30th by Rep. Adam Schiff along with Representative George Radanovich (R-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), the Armenian Genocide resolution calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide. A similar resolution in the Senate (S.Res.106), introduced by Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) currently has 31 cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
SOURCE: NYT (7-30-07)
While Mr. Smith begins by warning against the court’s entering into “the vortex of American politics,” insisting that “the court’s authority extends only to legal issues,” he ends by criticizing the current court majority for “thumbing its nose at popular values.”
But popular values are not the stuff of constitutional doctrine. Indeed, the very purpose of a written Constitution is to insulate certain bedrock principles and protections from being undermined by the popular values of the times, even if they represent the current view of the majority.
Under our system of constitutional government, popular values are to be debated and applied in that “vortex of American politics” into which Mr. Smith insists the court not enter. They are not supposed to provide a basis for resolving the legal issues to which Mr. Smith rightly insists the court confine itself.
John L. Strauch
Cleveland, July 26, 2007
To the Editor:
Jean Edward Smith focuses on adjusting the number of Supreme Court justices as a corrective to the ideological rigidity of the current court. This misdirects attention from the real structural flaw that makes court appointments so politically poisonous: tenure.
The fact that each new justice is likely to serve for decades allows a president to impose a set of extremist ideological values on the nation long after those values have been rejected at the ballot box.
Sensible reform would limit each justice to a single 10-year term. Each president would then have plenty of opportunities to restock the court from the nation’s overabundant pool of legal talent.
The court, deprived of the prospect of decades of ideological consolidation, would be forced to seek a stable judicial consensus that genuinely reflects the nation’s political values.
Chicago, July 26, 2007
To the Editor:
Jean Edward Smith seems to have the same feeling about the courts that many modern citizens do — namely, that they are entitled to a court that holds their “manifestly ideological agenda,” and if it doesn’t, someone must “bring the court to heel” and “set it straight.”
The court’s purpose, however, is not to hold any particular political agenda, but rather to interpret the Constitution and our laws — as written and originally intended by those who wrote them.
If you do not like the original intent of the Constitution or our laws, you are free to elect officials and try to change them, but it is not the role of the judiciary to, in effect, make these changes for you.
Changing the number of justices would clearly be an attempt by the executive and legislative branches to undermine the judiciary in order to achieve political gains they could not earn in the court of public opinion.
Atlanta, July 26, 2007
To the Editor:
Jean Edward Smith argues that Congress should increase the number of Supreme Court justices apparently because the court is “thumbing its nose at popular values.”
Of course, this really means that the court issued decisions with which Mr. Smith disagrees.
For example, would upholding the constitutionality of a late-term abortion law that was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress constitute thumbing one’s nose at public values?
Indeed, it’s rather telling that criticisms of decisions of the Roberts court usually center around why the critic finds the outcome distasteful rather than any cogent critique of the legal reasoning employed.
Mr. Smith’s proposal is a request that Democrats extort the Supreme Court with threats of “stacking” to coerce it to follow their ideological agenda.
Michael J. Gelfand
Jericho, N.Y., July 26, 2007
To the Editor:
Life tenure for federal judges came about in reaction to court-packing abuses by Charles I in the 1630s. As our republic has evolved into a truly representative democracy, this concept has become ever more troubling.
To avoid blatant political manipulation of the federal courts, I propose amending the Constitution to: (1) make the terms of circuit and appellate federal judges 14 years, with retirement mandatory at age 75; and (2) fix the Supreme Court at nine members, give the chief justice life tenure and stagger the associate justices at 16-year terms, with one term expiring every odd year.
This would give every sitting president two Supreme Court nominations, with Senate confirmation, and would ensure regular input by the other two branches of the federal government.
Lewis B. Shrady
Irvington, N.Y., July 26, 2007
To the Editor:
Jean Edward Smith, my old thesis supervisor, makes the simplistic proposition that at any given historical instant a partisan majority should pack the Supreme Court to ensure that it reflects and fixes in law the preferences of a passing political moment.
Does he suggest that such defense of the one true legal religion (against the other one) must only be done or attempted, as it was in the past, in times of national emergency, like the Civil War or the Great Depression?
No. He proposes to employ majoritarian bullying to overturn the legal and constitutional balance of power for the vapid purpose of upholding “popular values,” whatever and whose ever those are.
Such radical propositions often make good seminar debates, but never good constitutional or lawful order.
Cathal J. Nolan
Boston, July 26, 2007
The writer is executive director of the International History Institute, Boston University.
To the Editor:
Jean Edward Smith posits that if the current five-man majority on the Supreme Court “persists in thumbing its nose at popular values,” a new president and Congress could provide a corrective.
It is a preposterous notion that the role of the court is to rubber-stamp or even reflect either “popular values” or popular culture. Nothing could be more dangerous.
The court’s role is to protect us from and look past transient mores and defend the Constitution.
New York, July 26, 2007
To the Editor:
Jean Edward Smith’s reminder that the country need not remain at the mercy of an “ideological” Supreme Court any longer than the next election prompts the comment that it is just plain wrong for a court with eight men and one woman to have the power to determine questions that affect women far more than they affect men.
Congress and the next president should add four women to the Court, and the Constitution should be amended to provide that future Supreme Court vacancies be filled so as to maintain alternating male and female five-to-one ratios.
Jetson E. Lincoln
Montclair, N. J., July 26, 2007
Next Article in Opinion (8 of 11) »
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov at frontpagemag.com (7-30-07)
FP: Kevin R. C. Gutzman, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Gutzman: I'm glad to be here.
FP: What inspired you to write this book?
Gutzman: In the summer of 1987, I interned for a congressman in Washington and spent my free time reading a couple of dozen books on public policy and constitutional history. I anticipated that this would stand me in good stead when, in the fall of that year, I entered law school at the University of Texas. What I learned at UT Law, however, was that the "constitutional law" we live under -- the judges' decisions supposedly implementing the Constitution -- is in many ways radically at odds with, and in some important respects entirely contrary to -- the actual Constitution. As I was coming to that realization, the Bork nomination was playing out on C-SPAN, including on monitors posted in the entryway to the school's law library. I was shocked. At that point, then, I conceived of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution.
FP: What were your thoughts on the Bork nomination?
Gutzman: Bork was reputed to be a principled originalist at the time, and several of his exchanges with senators provided philosophical justification for originalism. As he showed in The Tempting of America, there were no few senators whose knowledge of constitutional history left much to be desired. However, in the end, he bowed to the pressure to provide outcome-directed arguments, most famously when he called Bolling v. Sharpe constitutionally unjustifiable one morning and then "corrected" himself in the afternoon.
FP: Can you talk a little bit about the inconsistency between constitutional law and the rule of law?
Gutzman: Certainly. The chief thing to understand here is that the federal Constitution was explained by its proponents during the ratification process as intended to establish a federal, republican, limited-government model for the United States. Almost from the first, however, nationalists such as Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall worked to undermine, one might say "subvert," those three principles, and to substitute a centralized government with discretionary powers, one in which the courts and the executive had far larger roles than the people had been led to believe they would have, in its stead. At that point, their party -- the Federalist Party -- was so thoroughly rejected that it ceased to exist.
By now, despite their defeat in the Revolution of 1800, we have come to live under the kind of government those people -- some avowed monarchists, others simply anti-republicans -- preferred. The chief mechanism through which this has been accomplished is judicial review. "Constitutional law," the product of judicial review, is not really law at all, but the judges' whims gussied up in a legalistic argot. It is, if we understand the real Constitution as being the one the people actually ratified, in the sense they ratified it, absolutely anti-constitutional.
FP: How did such an anti-constitutional way of government become normalized?
Gutzman: With the elimination of the centrifugal pressures on the federal system provided by the threats of nullification and secession in the nineteenth century and the elimination of state governments' role in selecting senators in the twentieth, the way was open for the federal government to claim authority over virtually all political issues.
In other words, the old check and balance between state and federal authority -- the Constitution's mechanisms for safeguarding the principle of federalism -- had been eliminated, and so the centripetal pressure in the system proved overwhelming. Once that happened, it could not be long before the states' reserved powers were usurped by Congress and the federal courts; that is the chief theme of the history of American "constitutional law."
FP: So how can the Supreme Court be reined in to its proper role?
Gutzman: Ah, Mr. Glazov, but I am a mere historian! The chief problem, it seems to me, is that although judicial review was said by the Constitution's proponents in some states to be among the powers federal courts were intended to have -- and thus is legitimate -- the people were not told that it would be exercised by federal courts over state statutes. They certainly were not told that under the title of a "living, breathing" constitution, the federal courts would be empowered to disallow enforcement basically of any state statute they disliked. They also were not told that the federal courts would effectively write the Tenth Amendment federalism principle out of the Constitution, thus allowing Congress to do more or less anything it wanted. Far from it! In fact, they were told the opposite, and, as James Madison noted in response to McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), if the people had known in 1787-88 how the courts were going to remake the Constitution through "interpretation," they would never have ratified it.
So, there needs to be a check on judicial review. Judges, being mere mortals, will exercise all the power they have at hand. We cannot rely on them to restrain themselves from it. We must somehow, as Jefferson put it in another context, bind them down with the chains of the Constitution. This will require either impeachment of judicial imperialists, legislation to strip courts of jurisdiction in areas in which their behavior has been abusive, amendment of the Constitution to overrule imperialistic judges' gravest misdeeds, and/or creation of a mechanism through which state governments can review federal courts' constitutional decisions.
FP: What are some politically incorrect realities about the Constitution?
Gutzman: During the ratification process, the states reserved the right to secede. The principle of separation of church and state, insofar as it is a principle enforceable by federal courts against state governments, is not constitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment provided only a few basic rights, not a general grab-bag of new rights such as the right to abortion, the right to homosexual sodomy, the right to burn a flag, "one man, one vote" in state elections, the right of illegal aliens to have their children educated in public schools, etc. The Commerce Clause gives Congress only the power to regulate commerce. I could go on ....
FP: How has your book been received? How have some ideological enemies reacted?
Gutzman: To this point, the feedback I have received has been almost entirely positive. Imagine my surprise! What criticism of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution and my argument generally I have seen has tended to be of the "but doesn't the Equal Protection Clause legitimate a federal district court's imposition of a tax increase on the whole state of Missouri?" variety -- pretty much uncomprehending. In short, the people who have taken issue with me seemed not to have read the book. Beyond that, radio interviewers, callers, bloggers, online reviewers, and the public at large have been very positive.
FP: What do you hope the book may help to accomplish?
Gutzman: My chief hope is that it will awaken people to the incontestable fact that "constitutional law" has virtually nothing to do with the Constitution. In other words, I want the public to become aware that much of what federal judges force us to do is grounded in nothing more than their personal whims. It is not constitutional at all. If people understood that, they would call upon their elected officials to resist the often literally anti-constitutional edicts of federal judges.
FP: Kevin R. C. Gutzman, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
SOURCE: http://www.wvgazette.com (7-29-07)
Born in 1848, Lewis wrote the first textbook of West Virginian history ever used in public schools. In the early 1900s, he served as the first state historian and archivist. He founded the West Virginia Historical Society and the Southern Historical Magazine.
But now, 95 years after Lewis’ death, some in Mason County fear that the remnants of his own personal history are fading away.
In 1979, his 141-year-old home in the town of Mason was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the musty structure is slowly deteriorating.
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov at frontpagemag.com (7-26-07)
FP: Amity Shlaes, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Shlaes: Good to be here.
FP: What inspired you to write The Forgotten Man?
Shlaes: After working in policy-land all these years, I'm interested both in policy and policy people. Policy people suffer their own kind of agony and no wonder. After all, what is the average life of the policy person? You go into government if you are lucky, do your best, aren't appreciated, take all the blame for policies for which you are only partly responsible, leave, realize your reputation has been damaged, maybe permanently.
One of my characters, Rex Tugwell, finds for example he can't get his old job back at Columbia, his column is spiked.
FP: What is your book's main argument?
Shlaes: That government actions, from Hoover to Roosevelt, were what made the Depression great in magnitude. Neither Herbert Hoover nor FDR appreciated the economy. Hoover did not recognize the share of economic growth that was real in the 1920s.
FP: In other words, and the liberal-Left will probably be traumatized to hear this, if the government had kept hands off of the economy during the difficult 1930s things would have actually been better?
Shlaes: I just spent the weekend with a bunch of economists, Clinton administration economists, Bush administration economists, non-political economists. They were brought together by the fact they were all pretty good scholars, not their ideology. I don't think anyone of them would have said that the New Deal was great economics. Lots of people nowadays see the limits of Keynesianism. Over dinner of the Democratic-leaning economists was complaining because he had been jumped on for questioning one aspect of one New Deal law. "They just don't let you touch it," he said. This seemed to him crazy, since he saw lots of flaws there.
Plenty of non-right policymakers want to change some of the New Deal edifice. That is basically what Secretary Rubin did at the Treasury when he was there. The principal error of the late New Deal was underestimating the damage of uncertainty. Rubin made reducing uncertainty his mantra, he zeroed in on uncertainty, he even used the word "Uncertain" in his book title ("In an Uncertain World.") I've criticized Rubin a lot in print, but the things he and Chairman Greenspan did in the 1990s were the opposite of what New Dealers did. Rubin and Greenspan had learned the bitter lesson of the Depression so well.
All of which is a long-winded answer to saying: only left-leaners who haven't thought about markets still believe that that the New Deal helped a lot.
The big difference is that those on the left or center probably believe the good in the New Deal outweighed the bad significantly, whereas my research suggests to me the bad outweighed the good, somewhat.
FP: What is original and unique about your book?
Shlaes: If there is anything original it is the narrative format. This isn't a debate club book -- the seven reasons why the Depression happened. It is the story of the people who lived through the period from their point of view. I follow Tugwell, all the way through the story, for example. I also describe the hidden heroes who have been obscured by the standard version of the period history -- Father Divine, for example, a Harlem cult leader, and Bill W., the founder of AA. These are part our Depression legacies we forgot. And, after all, didn't the AA have more impact on the country than the AAA?
FP: John Updike in the New Yorker and the Economist magazine were the two big negative reviews of The Forgotten Man. Why do you think they were negative?
Shlaes: I'm grateful first of all that the New Yorker and John Updike devoted so much space to the book. I don't think Updike's review is really negative. He just concludes differently, saying -- forgive the paraphrase -- that moot mathematics don't count and our heartfelt relationship with FDR is what mattered. I disagree. Two in ten unemployed, the rate that obtained even, at points, in the late 1930s, five or six years into FDR's tenure, do matter.
The Economist: Don't know why they didn't like it. Maybe because they haven't read some of the good histories such as that of Jim Powell and the wonderful new primer by Gene Smiley, "Rethinking the Great Depression." My book doesn't march through the arguments in that English-y way. To me a roster of arguments is tedious. But the Economist signalled that that was what it was looking for. In doing so they were someone at odds with their own forerunners at the magazine, who commented, surveying what FDR did, that America seemed to have forgotten how to grow.
There is a fairytale-ish aspect to the New Deal that we are unwilling to surrender. My son once said to me, only half ironically, "Why don't you write a children's book. Why don't you write how it was Mary's fault that the lamb followed her all around?" Roosevelt is a nearly holy figure to most journalists so anyone who criticizes him has to expect lots of skepticism.
But the bad side of Roosevelt is something many Democrats understand. Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin was so conscious of where the New Deal had gone wrong that he avoided its mistakes. The result was that President Clinton has a strong record to look back on. Rubin told Clinton: don't scare markets with egregious action and statement. Cut taxes (they cut the capital gains tax).
FP: What surprised you about the reaction to your book?
Shlaes: The superlatives in the praise. I've had books before, even another national bestseller, but never superlatives like this time. I feel really lucky.
The amazing support of numerous economists and chatmeisters in Blog Land. Arnold Kling for example devoted thousands of words to this book; Powerlineblog, one of the best blogs in the country, has been beyond enthusiastic.
Also the interest that politicians have shown -- Newt Gingrich compared the Forgotten Man's message to that of Nicholas Sarkozy.
FP: Who is your hero in the The Forgotten Man?
Shlaes: The hero who tells the story is Wendell Willkie, who understood the damage the New Deal was doing. Another is Mellon, who never caved to the prosecutors who hounded him; another is Sam Insull. The Forgotten Man is also the economy itself, which both Hoover and Roosevelt in different ways forgot.
FP: What if any economic value is there added in your book?
Shlaes: The emphasis that I place on the damage of uncertainty. Uncertainty can lengthen a Depression and it did lengthen this one. The New Dealers prosecuted the Greenspan of their day -- Mellon -- and the Steve Jobs figure -- Sam Insull. Roosevelt said he sought "an instrument of unimagined power."
We know now the damage such behavior can do-- all you have to do is watch a markets tv channel to know how an erratic and arrogant government can kill a recovery. But the New Dealers didn't know it.
And, after all, Keynesianism as practiced in the U.S. ignores the damage uncertainty does. "Bold persistent experimentation" sounds good -- Roosevelt's phrase. And it is in some instances -- Roosevelt finally realized the U.S. was in a deflation, not an inflation, as he and Hoover had thought. But FDR's experimenting generally and that of his colleagues made the Depression years longer than it had to be.
FP: What books do you like about the period?
Shlaes: Paul Douglas, the late Senator, wrote a brilliant book about his career, including that period: "In the Fullness of Time."
Paul Hollander and Sylvia Margulies wrote on the influence of Soviet communism upon the New Deal.
Beyond Jim Powell's, "FDR's Folly," and Gene Smiley's, I love Ray Moley's "27 Masters of Politics" and Benjamin Anderson's wonderful reports he wrote for Chase bank. Robert Higgs, "Depression War and Cold War'' is some of the best work on the uncertainty.
Larry Reed of the Mackinac Center has a darn good summary on his website. Burt Folsom, also of the Mackinac Center, is at work on what will be an important book. "Government Project" by Edward C Banfield -- impossible to get, but great.
Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway, "Out of Work," does the work on unemployment. Marian C McKenna, a legal genius, did a giant book on the court packing. More people will want to read it. "Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Great Constitutional War: The Court Packing Crisis of 1937."
FP: So how can your findings and conclusions have a positive influence on the debate over our economy today?
Shlaes: Two ways: The first is recognizing that the forgotten man today is the young generation -- those who will pay the taxes we burden them down with because we don't have the guts to question some aspects of our own New Deal nostalgia.
Here are the taxes that will go up in the next decade: Social Security tax, income tax, and Medicare taxes.
The second way knowing New Deal history helps now is by reminding us that policy matters. These day people treat the economy like weather -- they hope it will stay good, and they assume there is nothing they can do about it. Sunshine or Katrina, they still throw up their hands.
The lesson of the 1930s is: bad policy changes the course of the economy. Had Hoover and Roosevelt not screwed up so often, the economic weather would have been a lot better.
Since we know a lot more know about how economies work than they did, there is less excuse to ignore the importance of policy.
FP: Amity Shlaes, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Shlaes: Thank you Jamie.
SOURCE: Daily Show (7-26-07)
SOURCE: NYT (7-28-07)
Mr. Bushman would do himself a favor, the professor told him, to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints behind as a relic of his upbringing.
“I reacted just the opposite,” Professor Bushman said in a phone interview. “I said, ‘You’re not going to bully me, you big representative of Harvard culture.’ ”
That was 57 years ago. Since then, Professor Bushman has retained his Mormon faith even while forging an Ivy League academic career, earning posts at Columbia and Harvard.
In fact, as his teaching and research focused on colonial American history, Professor Bushman also managed to become something of an ambassador for Mormonism to the outside world....
SOURCE: Canberra Times (7-28-07)
His troops stretched thin on the ground, First Australian Taskforce commander Brigadier Stuart Graham deemed the minefield necessary to protect his soldiers.
Now Colonel Maizey and his fellow Vietnam veterans are fighting a rearguard action to protect their former commander's reputation after an explosive new history branded the decision as an act of "strategic self-destruction".
Historian Greg Lockhart made the claim in The Canberra Times this month, after detailing research which found that the minefield caused as many as 500 Allied casualties throughout the war.
Without adequate personnel to properly patrol the minefield, Vietnamese guerrillas were able to lift the US M16 mines and redeploy them against Australian and New Zealand troops.
Colonel Maizey was the senior operations officer of the First Australian Taskforce in 1967 and wrote the "Military Appreciation" plan, which recommended that Australian forces build the minefield.
He rejected Mr Lockhart's claim that Brigadier Graham acted against the advice of senior army personnel, who warned that the mines could be lifted.
"Brigadier Graham discussed the plan with those who would be required to execute it," he said.
"There were about 10 people present; I was one of them".
"At no time did anyone object to the plan, nor did any of the officers then present, raise any concerns or objections with me afterwards.
"To insinuate that Brigadier Graham made the decision unilaterally and against all advice is rubbish and, had he been alive, defamatory."
While Colonel Maizey said Australians had died as a result of the minefield, he maintained that the casualty list would have been much higher if it had not been built....
SOURCE: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (7-27-07)
Unfortunately, since the bill passed the Judiciary Committee floor consideration has been stymied by a “hold” placed on the bill by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) at the behest of the Bush administration. An attempt was recently made by the Democratic majority to bring the bill to the floor, which was opposed by the Republican leadership. The National Coalition for History strongly supports FOIA reform legislation and we are urging readers to contact the Senate and voice your support for bringing S. 849 to the floor.
SOURCE: Jean Edward Smith in a NYT op ed (7-26-07)
... When the court overreaches, the Constitution provides checks and balances. In 1805, after persistent political activity by Justice Samuel Chase, Congress responded with its power of impeachment. Chase was acquitted, but never again did he step across the line to mingle law and politics. After the Civil War, when a Republican Congress feared the court might tamper with Reconstruction in the South, it removed those questions from the court’s appellate jurisdiction.
But the method most frequently employed to bring the court to heel has been increasing or decreasing its membership. The size of the Supreme Court is not fixed by the Constitution. It is determined by Congress....
The most recent attempt to alter the size of the court was by Franklin Roosevelt in 1937. But instead of simply requesting that Congress add an additional justice or two, Roosevelt’s convoluted scheme fooled no one and ultimately sank under its own weight.
Roosevelt claimed the justices were too old to keep up with the workload, and urged that for every justice who reached the age of 70 and did not retire within six months, the president should be able to appoint a younger justice to help out. Six of the Supreme Court justices in 1937 were older than 70. But the court was not behind in its docket, and Roosevelt’s subterfuge was exposed. In the Senate, the president could muster only 20 supporters.
Still, there is nothing sacrosanct about having nine justices on the Supreme Court. Roosevelt’s 1937 chicanery has given court-packing a bad name, but it is a hallowed American political tradition participated in by Republicans and Democrats alike.
If the current five-man majority persists in thumbing its nose at popular values, the election of a Democratic president and Congress could provide a corrective. It requires only a majority vote in both houses to add a justice or two. Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative colleagues might do well to bear in mind that the roll call of presidents who have used this option includes not just Roosevelt but also Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Grant.
SOURCE: Press Release--Library of Congress (6-20-07)
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will start at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.
The event is sponsored by the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center and the National History Center, and is presented in conjunction with the National History Center’s Second International Research Seminar on Decolonization, held in Washington D.C., from July 9 through Aug. 4.
Young’s talk will cover the final phase of the African colonial state, its confrontation with African nationalism and the terms of power transfer. He believes that in its final phase after World War II the African colonial state was strengthened by rapidly increasing revenues, yet fatally weakened by the swiftly deepening challenge of African nationalism. For the first time, major public investments were made in social infrastructure, and the scale and scope of state action expanded dramatically. Yet the growing success of nationalist movements in mobilizing anti-colonial protest compelled the colonizer to accede to a power transfer timetable far more compressed than anticipated.
Young is the Rupert Emerson & H. Edwin Young Professor (emeritus) of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, where he taught from 1963 to 2001. He has written and edited a number of award-winning books and articles on Africa, including "The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective" (1994); "The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State" (co-authored with Thomas Turner, 1985); and "Ideology and Development in Africa" (1982). He has served as visiting professor and taught in Congo-Kinshasa, Uganda and Senegal. A former president of the African Studies Association, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a member of the Scholars’ Council at the Library of Congress.
Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the fellowships, grants and programs offered by the John W. Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge.
The National History Center promotes research, teaching and learning in all fields of history. Created by the American Historical Association in 2002, the center is a public trust dedicated to the study and teaching of history, as well as to the advancement of historical knowledge in government, business and the public at large. For more information about the National History Center and the Second International Research Seminar on Decolonization, visit www.loc.gov/kluge. The National History Center's seminar on decolonization has been made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
SOURCE: NY Sun (7-26-07)
Maher was best known for his contributions to Alec Wilder's "American Popular Song," a classic of musical scholarship, and for his prominence in the 2001 Ken Burns documentary "Jazz."
Maher began his career as a journalist in his native Cleveland, covering sports for the Plain Dealer in 1934. While a student at Ohio State University, he met Benny Goodman for the first time, albeit casually; the two later became friends.
SOURCE: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn (7-26-07)
Quoc, from the southern province of Dong Nai, was re-elected to the 12th NA last May. "What’s important is that the blog will be able to link me with voters and to everyone who is interested in the activities of NA deputies."
Quoc, the general director of the Association of Vietnamese Historians and editor-in-chief of Xua Va Nay (Now and Then) magazine, is well-known at home and abroad for his research on national history and for articles on architectural preservation.
His outspoken speeches delivered at the 11th NA against waste and corruption received warm approval from voters around the country.
"Initially I spent months arranging my stories which were published in newspapers over the years, making them more orderly before uploading them on the blog," Quoc said.
These stories are not only about history but his thoughts about national affairs that are reflected in the mind of an historian and an NA deputy.
SOURCE: http://www.dailytidings.com (7-25-07)
Some might feel inclined to ask what exactly a historic preservationist does, and they wouldn't be alone. Kramer himself describes his work as "a little bit of historian, architect, builder, planner, attorney and accountant." As the job title would suggest, Kramer is a man of many talents. He came to Oregon in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in History, and began work as a building contractor.
"I naturally gravitated toward working on older buildings," he said. Tired of what he described as "designing office furniture," he returned to school and received his master's degree in historic preservation from the University of Oregon. It would be the perfect match: his love of history coupled with years of practical experience in construction and architecture.
"I had the foolish idea to think I could actually make a living doing it." Armed with a master's degree and a foolish idea, he established Kramer & Company, a historic preservation and consultation business, in 1989. "There wasn't really anyone who had done what I was trained to do."
He began by traveling around the state, speaking to anyone who would listen about the merits of restoration and preservation. Slowly but surely, local governments became aware of his work, and he became involved in numerous city-planning projects throughout Oregon and northern California. By that point, realtors and contractors alike were coming to him from all over the state in request of his services. Any doubts he had about his line of work by then had vanished.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) (7-26-07)
The settlement completes a saga that started six years ago, when a Simon Fraser search committee nominated Mr. Noble, a professor of history at York University, in Ontario, to hold its J.S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities. Administrators at Simon Fraser blocked the appointment, arguing that Mr. Noble's curriculum vitae was too short and his personal style too abrasive.
But Mr. Noble said he had been blackballed because of his vehement opposition to online education, a stance expressed most famously in a series of articles called"Digital Diploma Mills."
In 2003 the Canadian Association of University Teachers issued a report chiding Simon Fraser officials and recommending that the university renew its invitation to the controversial professor. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Noble filed suit, and the report -- which had been released only to the professor and the university -- was leaked to the news media. Simon Fraser administrators disputed the report's findings, reiterating their stance that the university's appointment process had worked properly.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and Mr. Noble said on Wednesday that he was prohibited from discussing the deal. But he said he was glad to see the protracted legal wrangling, which he called"a slog," come to an end....
[HNN: Noble is in a legal controversy at York. In 2005 he sued the university after he was criticized for handing out literature that was deemed anti-Jewish. (Noble is Jewish.) He has asked for nearly $10 million in damages.]
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (Click on SOURCE for embedded links.) (7-26-07)
SOURCE: Fred Kaplan at Slate.com in an article predicting the surge will fail (7-25-07)
... The idea of extending the alliances may have come, in part, from Stephen Biddle, a military historian and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who, according to the Times, was a member of the "Joint Strategic Assessment Team" that helped conceive the new U.S. strategy.
In a July 12 interview at the Council, conducted by Bernard Gwertzman, Biddle said that the only way to secure all of Iraq is "to negotiate a series of cease-fire deals with Iraq's current combatants in which, even though they retain the ability to fight, they decide it's in their own self-interest to … decline to fight."
He referred to Anbar as "a model" for this concept, and added, "There are now similar negotiations ongoing in a variety of other places around Iraq." In Anbar, he said, the alliance "dropped into our lap"; the Sunni sheiks came to us and asked for help. "If it's going to happen elsewhere, we're going to have to take a more proactive role. … We have to start using the military not as a device to secure everything uniformly but as a device for creating incentives and disincentives—sticks and carrots—to push along the process of local cease-fires with particular factions." For instance, he said, we would have to tell each faction: "We will defend you if you cooperate; if you don't cooperate, we will attack you."
Biddle is a very smart strategist. His writings on the Afghanistan war were shrewdly reasoned and diligently researched, and his book, Military Power, is a modern classic. But I'm puzzled by his idea here. The deals with the Sunni sheiks are explicitly opportunistic. Assuming that the alliances of convenience whip the jihadists, there is nothing preventing the Sunnis and Shiites (and Americans) from going back to killing one another....
SOURCE: NY Post, Page Six (7-21-07)
SOURCE: Press Release--IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships (7-25-07)
*Academics, established researchers, and professors from Iraq in any field or discipline may qualify. Preference will be given to scholars with a Ph.D. or other highest degree in their field; who have been employed in scholarly activities at a university, college or other institution of higher learning during the last four years (excluding displacement or prohibition); who demonstrate superior academic accomplishment or promise; and whose selection is likely to benefit the academic community in Iraq and/or host country or region. Applications from female scholars are encouraged.
* Fellowship recipients will be expected to resume their teaching, lecturing, research, writing and publishing at a host academic institution. Fellowship recipients will also be expected to participate in the Fund's efforts to continue the education of Iraqi students, both within and outside of Iraq.
* The host institution will be determined based on the qualifications of the fellowship recipient. Candidates are encouraged to contact universities or institutions who may potentially act as host for the fellowship. Placement within the Middle East and North Africa region will be encouraged.
* Fellowships will be awarded for visiting academic positions of up to two years. A living stipend and relocation expenses for scholars and their families will be included in the fellowship. To apply for a fellowship or to learn more, please send an email to SRFIraq@iie.org . Kindly include SRF Iraq Project in the subject line of your message.
For universities and colleges interested in potentially hosting an SRF Iraq fellow, please also contact SRFIraq@iie.org