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Archive for the 'USH: Post AP Ideas' Category

Originalist Sin: the Founding Fathers not only supported mandates, they passed laws imposing them

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

The five conservative justices on the Supreme Court—Thomas, Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Kennedy—cloak themselves in the myth that they are somehow channeling the wisdom and understanding of the Founding Fathers, the original intent that guided the drafting of the Constitution.  I believe the premise of their argument is itself suspect: It is not clear to me how much weight should be given  to non-textually based intent that is practically impossible to discern more than 200 years later. Most of the issues over which there is constitutional dispute today could not even have been envisioned when the document was drafted.

Interactive Map: Measure of America

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Play with the U.S. HDI map. Consider the questions the data raises. Come to your own conclusions.

You Say You Want a Devolution?

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

For most of the last century, America’s cultural landscape—its fashion, art, music, design, entertainment—changed dramatically every 20 years or so. But these days, even as technological and scientific leaps have continued to revolutionize life, popular style has been stuck on repeat, consuming the past instead of creating the new.

Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Social media can’t provide what social change has always required. (Gladwell from New Yorker)

What the Hell Just Happened? A Look Back at the Last Eight Years

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

As we move into the next era of American history, , and on how we — and not just George W. Bush — handled them.

we need to reflect on the bizarre sequence of events we’ve experienced since 2000

Not Fade Away: The myth of American decline

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Is the United States in decline, as so many seem to believe these days? Or are Americans in danger of committing pre-emptive superpower suicide out of a misplaced fear of their own declining power? A great deal depends on the answer to these questions.

The present world order—characterized by an unprecedented number of democratic nations; a greater global prosperity, even with the current crisis, than the world has ever known; and a long peace among great powers—reflects American principles and preferences, and was built and preserved by American power in all its political, economic, and military dimensions. If American power declines, this world order will decline with it. It will be replaced by some other kind of order, reflecting the desires and the qualities of other world powers. Or perhaps it will simply collapse, as the European world order collapsed in the first half of the twentieth century. The belief, held by many, that even with diminished American power “the underlying foundations of the liberal international order will survive and thrive,” as the political scientist G. John Ikenberry has argued, is a pleasant illusion. American decline, if it is real, will mean a different world for everyone.

Read Robert Kagan’s attempt to deconstruct the “myth”

Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Benjamin Franklin did it. Henry Ford did it. And American life is built on the faith that others can do it, too: rise from humble origins to economic heights. “Movin’ on up,” George Jefferson-style, is not only a sitcom song but a civil religion.

But many researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.

Interpreting The Constitution In The Digital Era

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

GPS monitors can track your every movement. Brain scans can now see lies forming in your brain. And advancements in genetic engineering may soon allow parents to engineer what their children will look and be like.

These new technologies are “challenging our Constitutional categories in really dramatic ways,” says George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen. “And what’s so striking is that none of the existing amendments give clear answers to the most basic questions we’re having today.”

Listen to this episode of Fresh Air, where Rosen, the co-editor of the  Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, details how technological changes that were unimaginable at the time of the Founding Fathers are challenging our notions of things like personal vs. private space, freedom of speech and our own individual autonomy.

The Paradox of the New Elite

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

It’s a puzzle: one dispossessed group after another — blacks, women, Hispanics and gays — has been gradually accepted in the United States, granted equal rights and brought into the mainstream.

At the same time, in economic terms, the United States has gone from being a comparatively egalitarian society to one of the most unequal democracies in the world.

The two shifts are each huge and hugely important: one shows a steady march toward democratic inclusion, the other toward a tolerance of economic stratification that would have been unthinkable a generation ago.

It’s a surprising contradiction. Is the confluence of these two movements a mere historical accident? Or are the two trends related?

Revisiting the Hoover Dam: A great feat of engineering, but no panacea for modern ills

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

As to whether America could build the dam today, Michael Hiltzik, its modern historian, says in his book “Colossus” that it probably could not. It was hard enough back then to overcome the rivalries of the seven states involved, but at least nobody gave a fig for the down-river rights of the south-western Indians, let alone the Mexicans, or the creatures whose habitats were eradicated when the river was dammed. Today a rampart of federal legislation, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, would block the way.