The last chapter problem

Columnist Ezra Klein introduces a useful concept, the “last chapter problem”: In March, the historian David Greenberg wrote an essay on “why last chapters disappoint.” He began by reviewing “Public Opinion,” Walter Lippmann’s 1922 treatise arguing that the longtime dream of a rational, enlightened democracy was being undercut by the complexity of policy issues and the irrationalities of the voting public. The critics agreed: Lippmann’s book was brilliant. At least, until the final chapter, in which Lippmann offered gauzy and... Read more

Bringing down an empire with words

Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright who spent 5 years in prison for undermining the communist regime, has died.  After communism in Russia and eastern Europe was so discredited that it fell apart, Havel was elected president of his newly freed nation. It was the writers who did more than anyone else–yes, more than Ronald Reagan and more than the Pope–to bring down the communist system.  It isn’t enough–though it’s very important–for outsiders to stand strong against an evil empire.  The... Read more

Why Ann Coulter supports Romney

There are all kinds of questions about whether Romney, or Gingrich, or Perry, or whoever, is a true conservative.  Surely Ann Coulter is a true conservative, yea, a bona fide right winger to a fault.  She is supporting Romney.  She says, “of the available candidates, Romney is by far the most conservative, tied with Michele Bachmann.”   Most importantly, she says, he is the only one who can beat Barack Obama.   Here is her case for Romney: There may be... Read more

A bad year for dictators

The North Korean “dear leader” Kim Jong-Il is dead.  His son, twenty-something Kim Jong-Un, has been named his successor.  The military is running a missile-test, as if to warn the world to stay back. 2011:  A bad year for dictators.  Gaddafi overthrown and killed.  Mubarak thrown out.  Hassad and Putin facing unrest.  And now this. What do you think will happen now?  Will North Korea take the chance to join with its prosperous relatives in the South, or keep the... Read more

The weekly holidays

What I don’t understand is why the militant secularists are expending so much energy to remove Christmas from the cultural calendar while ignoring Christianity’s more immediate influence on the patterns of everyday life:  the weekly calendar. Government workers, students in public schools, and many other employees get Sunday off.   That is a direct influence of the Christian religion.  Observance of the “Lord’s Day” used to manifest itself in all kinds of so-called “blue laws” mandating the closing of businesses on... Read more

Ron Paul, uniter

American politics is polarized.   Our government is in a state of paralysis.  Conservatives, liberals, and moderates are at each other’s throats.  National unity is no more.   And yet, I see a presidential candidate who might be able to bring the country together:  Ron Paul. He has the support of the Tea Party dissidents on the right who yearn for a more limited, more constitutional government.  But he also has significant support from the Occupy Wall Street dissidents on the... Read more

The death of Christians’ favorite atheist

Christopher Hitchens, one of the “new atheists,” has died of cancer at age 62.  An iconoclast skeptical not only about religion but about conventional liberalism, Hitchens won wide respect, including that of many Christians who debated him.  One of his sparring partners, Doug Wilson, has written a good account of the man and his unbelief for Christianity Today (which also links to their written debates): Christopher Hitchens Has Died, Doug Wilson Reflects | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.... Read more

The Iraq war is over

Yesterday the war in Iraq officially came to an end.  The American flag in Baghdad was taken down, a somber ceremony was held (with no representation from the Iraqi government), and peace was declared. The war lasted 9 years, with 4,500 Americans giving their lives. So it’s over.  Where is the jubilation?  Where is the celebration in Times Square?  The Washington Post put the story on p.3. We conquered the country and overthrew Saddam Hussein.  Doesn’t that count as a... Read more

The ex-Lutheran Republican primary

Newt Gingrich grew up Lutheran!  So did Ron Paul.  So did Michele Bachmann.  And Jon Huntsman, though a Mormon, went to a Lutheran school in Los Angeles. That Paul and Bachmann used to be Lutherans is common knowledge, but I did not know about Gingrich.  (The article, below, says that he grew up in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, which has three ELCA congregations, not that that body existed back then.  Paul also was raised in a non-LCMS congregation, as I recall, but... Read more

Tattoo regrets

Despite the current economic doldrums, a new business is booming:   the tattoo removal industry.  Emily Wax reports: She arrives quietly, coming in from the rain after work. She lies down on her stomach atop a sleek, white reclining chair. She lifts her shirt and tugs down her jeans slightly. It’s enough to unveil a large pink flower tattoo with fat, webby green leaves, which she’s here to have lasered off her lower back. She wants to become a mother... Read more
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