Archive: Politics

Reagan's blend of stagecraft and statecraft

The presidential election of 1980 inaugurated the conservative revolution. It also demonstrated the dazzling skill of Ronald Reagan in blending stagecraft with statecraft. Craig Shirley chronicles the 1980 campaign in "Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America." Reagan wasn't alone, however, in understanding the role of...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 25, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Dangers of over-zealous intellectual property cops

Worries about the poaching of intellectual property certainly didn't start with illegal downloads of Lady Gaga. Tensions between producers of art and ideas and those who wish to steal them have existed through history. At the same time, attempts to crack down on intellectual piracy have had their own unintended...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 24, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

New Yorker's Remnick to write Obama biography

Knopf announced Monday that it will publish a biography of Barack Obama by New Yorker editor David Remnick that charts the president's evolution from a confused, biracial young man to an icon of hope. "The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama" will be released April 6. Remnick is...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 22, 2010; 12:12 PM ET | Comments (4)

Socialist books in the White House library? A blog provides photo evidence but only part of the story

By Stephen Lowman In this era of blog wildfires, one fast-moving flame can be quenched before it scorches the facts: First Lady Michelle Obama did not stock the White House library with socialist books. The controversy erupted after a conservative radio host and blogger from North Dakota took the White...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 18, 2010; 04:11 PM ET | Comments (16)

How the conservative media harm democracy

Stalemate. Partisanship. The absence of any middle ground. If politicians actually try to govern, these are the challenges that often block effective action. In their book, "Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment," recently released in paperback by Oxford University Press, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph N. Cappella...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 18, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (30)

The secret behind the hot sales of "The Road to Serfdom" by free-market economist F. A. Hayek

By Bruce Caldwell Friedrich Hayek, Nobel-prize winning economist and well-known proponent of free markets, is having a big month. He was last seen rap-debating with John Maynard Keynes in the viral video above, (in which Hayek is portrayed as the sober voice of reason while Keynes overindulges at a...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 17, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

America's founders and presidential prerogative

George W. Bush certainly wasn't the first president to claim presidential prerogative during a national emergency. Several others, including Abraham Lincoln who suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, have taken such action. In "Outside the Law: Emergency and Executive Power," published by Johns Hopkins University Press, Clement Fatovic traces...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 16, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (10)

The cost of partisanship on national security

Conflict between Republicans and Democrats over domestic policy issues -- especially when elections are looming -- has long shaped America's national security debates. The head-to-head confrontations President Obama has encountered are, therefore, nothing new. A historical perspective, however, provides some insight and potential lessons for the combatants, as Julian E....

By Steven E. Levingston | February 12, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (7)

Sen. Scott Brown seeking publisher for his life story

Newly minted senator, Scott Brown, has hired high-powered Washington attorney and agent Robert Barnett to shop his life story to book publishers, the Boston Globe reports....

By Steven E. Levingston | February 11, 2010; 03:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

How to be hopeful in Washington--a 12-step program

With the electorate growing impatient with President Obama and his message of hope and change (witness the Massachusetts surprise, Sen. Scott Brown), author Anthony Scioli has some advice for a leader -- and a nation -- trying to keep hope alive in the face of adversity. In "Hope in the...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 8, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama and the deficit: lessons from history

President Obama has recently sent strong political signals that he hopes to reduce the deficit while still maintaining support for a weak economy. Success will require a deft tightrope walk. In "The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush," recently published by University...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 5, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

The best political fiction and nonfiction of all time

Our colleague, Chris Cillizza of The Fix, asked readers to recommend their favorite political fiction and nonfiction books. Here's the list, so far. To see how the list came together, go to The Fix FICTION "Jack Gance" by Ward Just "The Wanting of Levine" by Michael Halberstam "The People's Choice"...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 4, 2010; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Antidepressants no more effective than placebos, leading researcher claims in new book

By Steven Levingston Antidepressants are little more than placebos, argues a new book on sale this week, adding to a long-brewing controversy over the drugs' effectiveness and raising questions about how America treats patients suffering from mental illness. Irving Kirsch, a psychologist who has researched placebos and antidepressants for more...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 4, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Worse than identity theft? Legal use by government and industry of our private data

We all know identity thieves are out there -- ready to grab our personal information for their own criminal purposes. But is that our worst nightmare in the battle to keep our private selves private? James B. Rule sees a far scarier scenario: the legal use of our private data...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 2, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sarah Palin uses PAC funds to buy thousands of copies of her memoir "Going Rogue"

Sarah Palin has spend more than $63,000 from her political action committee to buy thousands of copies of her book, "Going Rogue," ABC News reports. The copies were mailed to her donors, ABC said, citing newly filed campaign records....

By Steven E. Levingston | February 1, 2010; 02:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

Revolution in the air? Not quite so fast

By Steven Levingston If revolution is coming, it's on slow burn. Bruce Judson, a senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management, has raised the warning in his book, "It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink." He argues that the threat of a violent political revolution is "real...

By Steven E. Levingston | February 1, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

In Paulson's book "On the Brink" -- a Bush-Sarkozy battle, Clint Eastwood advice, Reagan principles and worries over Sarah Palin's grasp of the crisis

By Steven Levingston During his sleep-deprived campaign to save America from financial collapse, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson watched as former President George W. Bush beat back efforts by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to steal into the limelight, got advice from Clint Eastwood on how to handle House Speaker Nancy...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 28, 2010; 06:43 PM ET | Comments (11)

Corporate balancing act: how businesses can bolster profits while protecting the environment

Ray Anderson set out to prove a point: you can do good business and do good for the environment. He put his now billion-dollar carpet company on a path to achieve 100 percent sustainability and still boost production and profitability. In "Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 28, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's in Obama's head?

By Steven Levingston As President Obama tackles the big issues on all fronts - war, economy, health care, Republican electoral momentum - now more than ever it would be instructive to know what's really in his head. A new book, "Inside Obama's Brain" (Portfolio, $24.95), offers to provide just that....

By Steven E. Levingston | January 27, 2010; 11:17 AM ET | Comments (1)

China is not likely to surpass United States as global economic superpower, new book predicts

By Steven Levingston Joel Kotkin has some reassuring words for Americans worried that their country is in decline. In a book due out next month, the international futurist says China isn't likely to overtake the United States as the world's economic superpower in coming decades, countering predictions of some forecasters...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 26, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (12)

Obama's dilemma: Whither the Iranian revolution?

One of President Obama's trickiest foreign policy challenges is Iran. Obama has taken tentative steps to defuse tensions with a country President Bush included in his axis of evil. But understanding Iran may come only by better understanding the nature of its long-running revolution. Saïd Amir Arjomand, founder and former...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 25, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

A call to conservative pessimism

Look no further than John Derbyshire's photo on the book jacket to know what's in his mind. The National Review contributing editor scowls above his bow-tie, his eyebrows narrowed in cartoonish dyspepsia. The countenance suits the mood of his humorous but deadly serious blast at Republicans: "We Are Doomed: Reclaiming...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 22, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Exaggerating the alarm over a nuclear attack

How much should the prospect of a nuclear attack frighten us? In the view of John Meuller, a professor of political science at Ohio State University, our worries about nuclear weapons and their use by sovereign states and stateless terrorists border on obsession. Fact is, he points out in "Atomic...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 21, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

How to build a grassroots movement

Stephen Noble Smith is a young grassroots organizer educated at Harvard and trained in political action on campus, in Bostwana and Chicago. In "Stoking the Fire of Democracy: Our Generation's Introduction to Grassroots Organizing," Smith lays out the steps to effective political action for his generation. The book describes how...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 20, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wacky world of political predictions: Everything you ever feared - and desired - never happened

By Steven Levingston For as long as we've been blessed with imagination, we sorry dreamers have turned it to faulty prediction. Besides the obvious goofy expectations - flying cars, moon bases and plankton as our main source of sustenance - we've dished out scores of ridiculous forecasts on the political...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 19, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Unresolved gender wars in the science lab

Gender bias is the usual explanation for why few women reach the top levels of academic science. But what if the explanation is more complex than that? "The Science on Women and Science," a collection of articles published by the AEI Press and edited by Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 15, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Staving off stimulus disaster: 'The Great Money Binge' argues for a return to supply-side policies

George Melloan, who spent 54 years at The Wall Street Journal, many of them on the editorial page, is no fan of giant government stimulus packages to restore America's economic fortunes. Far from it. In "The Great Money Binge: Spending Our Way to Socialism," published in November by Simon &...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 14, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

'Game Change' reveals Obama-Clinton tensions, Biden's loose tongue, Edwards's complicated marriage, Palin's shading of the truth

WHIP IT UP: "Game Change," a new gossipy book about the 2008 campaign has already sparked controversy over comments Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made about Barack Obama's race and dialect. The book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin paints a sharp portrait of the behind-the-scenes battles, personalities and...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 13, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Has the Supreme Court eroded freedom?

The power of our highest court occupies center stage in "The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom" by Robert A. Levy and William Mellor, now out in paperback. Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute, and Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 12, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (30)

U.S. foes' nuclear ambitions -- past and present

Today, it's the nuclear ambitions of places like Iran and North Korea. In the late 1940s, America had the same worries about the Soviet Union. After 60 years, one thing remains unchanged: Americans are stuck with an abiding uncertainty over what's brewing on the nuclear front in distant lands that...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 11, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Assessing the justice of capital punishment cases

It's the severest penalty in the land: the death sentence. But often the rulings that put inmates on death row are riddled with questions. Did the defendant get adequate counsel? Was the witnesses' testimony reliable? Were the defendant's actions influenced by mental retardation or mental illness? In his book "The...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 7, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Refocusing U.S. policy on the war on terror

President Barack Obama walks away from the podium after speaking about security enhancements on Tuesday.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, worries that America is losing the war on terror and sees three central failings in U.S. policy. In his book, "Winning the...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 6, 2010; 01:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Dangerous art -- and what, if anything, to do about it

Is art a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment? And if so, what are the boundaries? When does a visual work of art -- film, painting, even nude dancing -- cross the line? Randall P. Bezanson, the David H. Vernon Professor of Law at the University of...

By Steven E. Levingston | January 5, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Mayors across America: ready for their close-up

By Stephen Lowman Heads would turn and eyebrows would rise when Ed Morris and his riding partner Tim Hovey pedaled into town. Sporting Spandex shorts and probably a bit sweaty, they would hop off their bicycles and ask a local if they knew the mayor. Why? Morris wanted to take...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 30, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

The people's Supreme Court

(Alex Wong/Getty Images) The Supreme Court often is either loved or hated: liberals love the liberal decisions, conservatives love the conservative ones - and each side deplores the court when it goes the wrong way. It is just this kind of strong public opinion that keeps unaccountable justices accountable,...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 29, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

The coming wave of minority advancement

As the baby boom generation retires, new opportunities will arise for America's minorities. Jobs once held largely by white workers will become available to an ever more diverse workforce, raising the prospect of greater mobility for minorities. In his book, "Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 28, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

A bounty of Obama kid lit

By Stephen Lowman Plenty of books have been written about President Obama this year. Journalists and political insiders have turned out hardbacks promising thrilling new details. In his book "The Audacity to Win," campaign manager David Plouffe wrote "The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory." Conservatives have...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 23, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Why Demjanjuk matters

Defendant John Demjanjuk lies on a stretcher on his way to the court room for his trial in Munich on Dec. 22. (AP Photo/Joerg Koch) Efraim Zuroff is watching the John Demjanjuk trial now under way in Munich, along with millions of others. But his perspective is different. As...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 22, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (14)

Whither American Conservatism?

Democratic control of the White House and Congress has prompted some profound soul-searching among conservatives. How did the powerful reign of the Right fall into such disarray? George H. Nash, a prominent historian of modern conservatism, has pondered the arc of conservative power for decades. In his latest book, "Reappraising...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 21, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (17)

America's unfulfilled promise to women

Linda Tarr-Whelan has long advocated for women's rights and improved access to positions of leadership. Her book, "Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World," published by Berrett-Koehler in October, explores ways women can bolster their own success. Tomorrow's anniversary of a critical...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 17, 2009; 01:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

'Climategate''s lesson for science

The "climategate" brouhaha that was ignited late last month underscores the messiness of scientific research that the lay world often doesn't understand. The controversy erupted when hacked emails of top climate scientists found their way onto the Internet and appeared to show the researchers playing less than fair with some...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 17, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Recovery from financial disaster: the Icelandic way

The Blue Lagoon geo-thermal pools in Iceland near Reykjavik. (Steve Allen/Getty Images) Time was Iceland counted itself as the happiest of nations. With the highest per-capita GDP in the world, this nation of 300,000 tumbled hard in the global financial crisis. In "Meltdown Iceland: Lessons on the World Financial...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 16, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

How to reinvigorate public universities

With 80 percent of the nation's college students on their campuses, America's public universities need a strong blueprint for efficiency and educational excellence. James C. Garland, a former professor at Ohio State University, believes he has a plan to address the struggles of these institutions brought on by tight state...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 15, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Muhammad as human and prophet

For many in the West, Muhammad is still something of a blur even though his name has had sharp resonance since Sept. 11, 2001. Omid Safi, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina and a leading American Muslim intellectual, brings the prophet into clearer focus with his...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 14, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sarah Palin ends her book tour where it all began

Sarah Palin shakes hands with Mark Hamilton, from Post Falls, as he makes his way through the autograph line on Dec. 10 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. (AP Photo/Coeur d'Alene Press, Jerome A. Pollos) Former Vice-Presidential nominee, former Alaskan Governor and (briefly) former infant resident Sarah Palin returned to Sandpoint,...

By Ron Charles | December 11, 2009; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (17)

The fractious debate over Iraqi women's rights

Women vote in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in Dec. 2005. (Ann Scott Tyson/The Washington Post) Women in Iraq had freer lives than women in other Arab states before the war erupted. Now, it seems, the clock has rolled backwards and women face tougher choices and narrowed...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 10, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Author Kessler: Salahi incident "the result of serial shortcomings and corner-cutting" at Secret Service

Ronald Kessler roiled the Secret Service in August with release of his latest book, "In the President's Secret Service." Kessler claimed he had interviewed more than100 former and current agents for his inside-the -White-House account, which was full of gossip and presidential escapades. Now, the Salahi gate crashing of a...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 9, 2009; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Scourge of toxic chemicals in the environment

When Joyce Egginton's "The Poisoning of Michigan" was published in 1980, it opened eyes to the massive chemical contamination of Michigan's dairy cattle and food supply. The chemical culprit was polybrominated biphenyl, or PBB, a highly toxic fire retardant that persists in the soil and bodies of animals and humans....

By Steven E. Levingston | December 9, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Plouffe takes on Palin book juggernaut

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, has won the big one and now clearly thinks anything is possible. For one day, today -- Tuesday, Dec. 8 -- he is hoping to push his own book, "The Audacity to Win" past the roaring best seller of Obama's vice-presidential opponent, that literary phenom...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 8, 2009; 05:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

Where are the neocons today?

The neocons face their latest challenge in Barack Obama. His election and new vision on foreign policy opens the next chapter in the long-running clash -- and sometimes fraternity -- between presidents and neoconservatives. In their book, "The Forty Years War: the Rise and Fall of the Neocons, from Nixon...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 8, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (12)

A job is good -- a good job is better

The conversation about employment these days is often a simple one: Do you have a job and, if you do, how do you keep it? If you don't, how do you get one? Lost in the desperation is an issue that persists in good and bad times: the quality of...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 7, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Homer Simpson and America's energy problem

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Our energy dilemma stirs lots of questions but few solutions. In "Who Turned Out the Lights: Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis," published by Harper in October, Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson look for answers that will sustain the country through shifting economic conditions. Bittle...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 4, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

The secret to capitalism's future

The financial meltdown and global recession have given capitalism a black eye. But far from heralding the system's collapse, the hard times provide an opportunity for a return to fundamentals that work. In Howard Bloom's view, civilization will stir again on the productive imagination of capitalists -- not by means...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 3, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

If hip-hop culture reshaped our justice system...

Paul Butler is a Harvard Law grad and former federal prosecutor who believes that the American criminal justice system is broken. In his book, "Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Punishment," published by The New Press, he offers a vision of justice that he hopes would lead to fewer...

By Steven E. Levingston | December 1, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (8)

Probing Genesis for scientific truth

Andrew Parker is a respected evolutionary biologist, a professor at the Natural History Museum in London and a honorary fellow at Oxford University. In his previous book, "In the Blink of an Eye: How Vision Sparked the Big Bang of Evolution," he argued that the development of sight was pivotal...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 30, 2009; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (11)

Sin, Redemption and the State

So you've sinned. Now what? Gary A. Anderson, a professor in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame, may have an answer for you. In his book "Sin: A History," published by Yale University Press in September, Anderson explores the roots of sin and atonement. Hint: help the poor. But...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 17, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fort Hood and the invisibility of Arab Americans

A memorial to the victims of the Fort Hood shooting stands on the grounds of Casa Del Norte, the apartment complex where the gunman Maj. Nadil Malik Hasan lived in Killeen, Texas. (Eli Meir Kaplan/Getty Images) The Fort Hood shootings have re-ignited conversation about the place of Arab and...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 16, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (14)

Top 10 most destructive government actions

Martin L. Gross has a beef with the way Washington works, or rather, the way Washington has of mucking things up. In "National Suicide: How Washington Is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z," Gross lays out how tax dollars are wasted, government programs fail and scams are perpetrated....

By Steven E. Levingston | November 13, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (16)

The new Cold War: the War on Terror

An Afghan mobile vender pushes his cart through war damaged buildings in Kabul, Afghanistan, last week. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP) Some policies die hard. In "America's Cold War: the Politics of Insecurity," published by Harvard University Press in October, authors Campbell Craig and Fredrik Logevall argue that American policy formed during...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 12, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Racial reconciliation: Mississippi leading the way?

In "The Past Is Never Dead: The Trial of James Ford Seale and Mississippi's Struggle for Redemption," Harry N. MacLean explores the issue of racial reconciliation. The book wonders whether the conviction of former Klansman Seale can atone for an era of racially motivated sins. We asked MacLean to reflect...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 11, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Animal empathy and its political implications

Primatologist Frans de Waal has some surprising news about human empathy: among the beasts of the animal kingdom, we are not alone in this emotion. De Waal says research shows that both lab rats and elephants, among other creatures, have an instinctual tendency toward empathetic behavior. We asked de Waal,...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 10, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Evangelicals' political clout: real or imagined?

Every election cycle the political power of evangelicals and the Christian Right seems to come under fresh scrutiny. But what is the actual impact of the group's excellent mobilization efforts. Steven Brint, professor of sociology and associate dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the University...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 9, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

'Going Rouge': The Sarah Palin coloring book

By Stephen Lowman Love her or hate her, people are drawn to Sarah Palin. Now, a new book wants you to color her. (Images courtesy of Michael Stinson; Click to Enlarge) One year after the race for the White House, publishers have released several books about the GOP vice presidential...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 6, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (15)

Racism without racists

Rich Benjamin spent two years traveling through white America and discovered a country filled with kind and endearing white individuals. In his book "Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America," published by Hyperion in October, Benjamin reveals that he also found something else: a legacy...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 5, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (47)

Iran, the bomb, and religious devotion

A security guard hides his face from a photographer outside the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, last February. (Sajad Safari/Bloomberg News) In his book "Dying for Heaven: Holy Pleasure and Suicide Bombers -- Why the Best Qualities of Religion Are Also Its Most Dangerous" author Ariel Glucklich...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 4, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (6)

A prescription for mental health care reform

As Congress struggles to bring about health care reform, those suffering from mental illness can only hope some improvement comes to the nation's mental health services. Author Timothy A. Kelly has a prescription for reform in his book "Healing the Broken Mind: Transforming America's Failed Mental Health System" published in...

By Steven E. Levingston | November 2, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Liberals under Nazism: lessons for today?

It's a common belief that German liberal democrats fled their homeland at the rise of Nazism, or at least resisted Nazi policies. Not so, says historian Eric Kurlander in "Living With Hitler: Liberal Democrats in the Third Reich," published in August by Yale University Press. Many liberals stuck it out,...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 28, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (5)

Novel comparison: Ayn Rand and Ralph Nader

By Justin Moyer Ralph Nader -- capital-L Liberal, safety-fetishist, and presidential-election spoiler -- might not want to share a bookshelf with Ayn Rand -- small-l liberal, objectivist, and all-around mean girl. Yet, both authors felt it necessary to produce lengthy works of fiction to present their fuming ideologies: Rand's published...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 23, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

In Praise of Human Organ Sales

Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary S. Becker has long used economic principles to challenge social preconceptions. In 2004, he teamed up with the jurist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner to jointly write a blog. Together, they have spoken out on a wide range of issues including sex and marriage, jobs...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 22, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (6)

Cleland on recovery from emotional wounds of war

By Stephen Lowman In his memoir "Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove," former Georgia Democratic Senator Max Cleland writes about painful moments from his past with candor and frankness -- qualities seldom associated with politicians. How did he think...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 20, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (5)

Easing the Pain of War

Michael Anthony comes from a military family - his grandfather, father, four brothers and a sister were all service members. It was nothing extraordinary for him to enlist, and he went off to Iraq as an operating room medic. But what he discovered about war and the men and women...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 16, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Plea for Politics of Moderation

Is it possible to have to strong opinions without shouting others down? Perhaps -- if we can develop a healthy appreciation of doubt, says Peter L. Berger, university professor emeritus at Boston University. In his book, "In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions Without Becoming a Fanatic," co-written with...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 13, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Muslim Middle Class at Odds With Extremism

A Palestinian man sells sweets as Palestinians prepare for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr at a market in Gaza City last September. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem) The Muslim future lies in the rising middle class not in extremist fundamentalism. So argues Vali Nasr, professor of international politics at the Fletcher...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 8, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (8)

Era of Washington Harrumphing

President Bush meets with his speechwriting staff. Matt Latimer is seated on the couch, to the left of the President. (The White House) Matt Latimer, former speechwriter for President Bush, is getting the back of the hand from his one-time colleagues in the administration because of his memoir, "Speech-less:...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 7, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Guns and Democracy

The intent of the second amendment right to bear arms has come under debate since health reform protesters showed up with guns at town hall meetings last month. We asked Joshua Horwitz, a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and executive director of the Coalition...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 6, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (58)

Protecting Free Speech in the Digital Age

Who should control the Internet? Author Dawn Nunziato says regulators are at a crossroads in determining the future of online communications. Nunziato, a professor of law at the George Washington University Law School, is author of "Virtual Freedom: Net Neutrality and Free Speech in the Internet Age," published by Stanford...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 5, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Path to a Pashtun Rebellion in Afghanistan

Pashtun children make their way from an armored personnel carrier toward Marines on patrol in the Helmand province of Afghanistan last August. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson/file) In the debate over U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, author Seth G. Jones believes the path to success lies in facilitating a Pashtun revolt against...

By Steven E. Levingston | October 2, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (8)

ACORN Author Wades Into Public

By Stephen Lowman "Some of you may have heard of ACORN recently," said Busboys and Poets' Don Allen last night as he introduced ACORN founder Wade Rathke. It was a safe bet on Allen's part. After all, half of the two dozen people in attendance at the beginning of...

By Steven E. Levingston | September 30, 2009; 12:09 PM ET | Comments (2)

Reagan Lessons for Obama?

President Obama has the charm of a predecessor from the other side of the political spectrum: Ronald Reagan. What lessons might Obama take from the Gipper? We asked Steven F. Hayward, author of "The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counter-Revolution, 1980-1989," to weigh in. Hayward is a resident scholar at...

By Steven E. Levingston | September 30, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (9)

Baby Steps on the Environment

Earth's inhabitants got a welcome surprise in the past year: Greenhouse gas emissions shrank thanks in large measure to the sluggish economy. David Owen, author of "Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability," published this month by Riverhead, urges Americans to keep...

By Steven E. Levingston | September 29, 2009; 05:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

Lamenting a Lack of Common Ground

Discord is the political language of the moment. Democrats turn a deaf ear to Republicans, and Republicans aren't listening to Democrats. In his new book "I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug and Terminally Self-Righteous," Harry Stein wonders...

By Steven E. Levingston | September 25, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Missile Defense and the Geopolitics of Proliferation

A demonstrator carries a banner during a protest march in May 2007 in downtown Prague against a possible location of a U.S. missile defense radar system in the Czech Republic. (Petr David Josek/AP) President Obama's decision to scrap a missile defense system has prompted questions about the motives and...

By Steven E. Levingston | September 22, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Jaycee Dugard and Sex Offender Registry Laws

Marchers wear buttons as they parade through South Lake Tahoe to celebrate the reappearance of Jaycee Dugard. (Max Whittaker/Reuters) GUEST BLOGGER: Wayne A. Logan When Phillip Garrido was arrested in connection with the kidnapping 18 years ago of Jaycee Dugard, questions immediately arose how Garrido, a man with a...

By Steven E. Levingston | September 9, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (46)

Blagojevich's Profits, Glenn Beck vs. O'Reilly et al., Tom Ridge's Surprise at 'Hyperventilating' Public

Rod Blagojevich, the impeached former Illinois governor, may have profits from his new book stripped from him if he is convicted of charges against him; a new state law would allow it ... "Glenn Beck's Common Sense" lacks the personality of Bill O'Reilly's political books, the heft of Pat Buchanan's,...

By Steven E. Levingston | September 3, 2009; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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