Posts Tagged: read

Sep 10

Are Your Children Being Indoctrinated? Examining What Schools Give Them To Read

By Barry Rubin

Are your children being indoctrinated? In past Rubin Reports I pointed out that almost the entire social studies’ curriculum of my son’s fourth grade class last year consisted of three topics:

-America has not kept its promises and has been a racist and often bad country. The main example was the World War Two internment of Japanese which was the focus of reading material.

-Immigration is always good (with no mention of illegal immigration or any resulting problems).

-Man-made global warming is a serious threat to human survival.

Other viewpoints—indeed other issues generally—weren’t presented on any of these issues. There was little positive about America.

My son was upset at the portrayal of Israel in Junior Scholastic magazine of September 6, 2010, given to his fifth-grade class to read. So I gave that issue a thorough evaluation, trying to be fair and reasonable in doing so.

Main Article: “Obama’s In-Box” pp. 6-8. An article about challenges facing the President. Most of the short items are balanced—immigration, oil spill, terrorism (domestic only), Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea- in that they present more than one side and avoid partisan language.

There are three exceptions, however:

-The Middle East: This is seriously slanted. After being told Obama wants to make peace the kids are instructed:

“Muslim extremists often use U.S. support for Israel as an excuse to commit terrorist acts. But some Israeli policies, Obama says, work against peace.”

While the first sentence is certainly true, in this context (with no other factors being presented) the kids are being taught that U.S. support for Israel threatens their lives. (Obvious answer: Protect yourself by ending support for Israel.)

As for the second sentence, Obama’s considerable prestige is thrown in to blame Israel for the lack of peace. That’s it. No criticism of the Palestinians. Nothing about Hamas or any hint of anti-Israel terrorism or the goal of wiping Israel off the map.

Do I think this was conscious and deliberate? Probably not. Is it damaging and dangerous? Definitely yes.

-Jobs and the Economy: There’s still a recession, the kids are told, but good news! “In the last two years, the federal government has spent billions of dollars to try to save and create jobs. This has helped pull the nation out of a recession. But unemployment is still nearly 10 percent, and the housing market remains shaky.” An unnamed expert explains: the economy is growing but still slowly.

While the third and fourth sentence provides some balance, this is an endorsement of government high-spending policy. Has this really worked? No contrary view—Stimulus failed; cut spending, recession far from over- is given. Moreover, it should always be pointed out that money being spent doesn’t come from government but from taxpayers.

-Climate Change: This is presented as a major threat to the world. It quotes Obama as saying the United States must act before “the effects of climate change become `irreversible.’” There is no hint that anyone might disagree even with the proposition that minor human actions like cutting auto emissions would make a difference.

Article pp. 2-3: “Beyond the Cleanup: What’s The Long-Term Impact of the Gulf Oil Disaster”

[Important Note: This article is partly balanced by a debate on page 9 over off-shore drilling between the presidents of the National Resources Defense Council and the American Petroleum Institute.]

Message: We must reduce oil use even if this means lower living standards and go to alternative fuels(often unproven) even if they cost more.

Not mentioned: The blow-out was exceptional, deep-drilling was a response to environmental demands. This is almost like saying that the crash of an improperly maintained airplane shows Americans must reduce their dependence on air travel.


“What’s less clear [is] whether this disaster will finally get Americans to reduce their dependence on oil.”

While BP is mainly to blame “Americans also bear at least some indirect responsibility. The U.S. consumes more oil than any other country….This has led to drilling in riskier areas, including ever-deeper sites offshore.” That argument is simply untrue. There are vast areas closer in to shore and elsewhere where drilling has been forbidden by the U.S. government.

Your living standards are too high: “An estimated 71 percent of the oil we use fuels transportation. Most of the rest goes into making products that we often toss out in massive quantities. ”

Quote from fisherman—on National Public Radio (of course)—saying “I don’t see a future for us to catch fresh fish ever again—oysters, crabs.” This is clearly alarmist and is not matched by less extreme quote (terrible damage but we will come back).

Only one proposed solution offered: “President Barack Obama has called for the development of alternative fuels as one way to reduce our dependence. But much more will be needed. Are Americans willing to change their energy habits?”

Article: “We Are Americans Too!” Pages 16-19:

Important Note: The one quote from the play that is arguably balancing is also published as a large cut line prominently displayed: “They don’t know what’s in our hearts. They don’t know that we are loyal.”

Oh no, the Japanese internment story seems to be the main theme of American education. In the play, the father of the family is falsely accused of using his fishing boat to spy and smuggle in supplies for the Japanese army? This is NOT a true story but a PBS play and I doubt that anyone was specifically accused of espionage like this.

The focus is on how badly they are treated, insults, etc. I’m not going over the issue in detail here, only to say that while the action seems wrong and unnecessary from the perspective of almost 70 years later, at the time it was a reasonable thing to do given the lack of information about Japanese immigrant views, genuine fear of a Japanese attack on the Pacific coast, the fact that extensive spying had been done to prepare the Pearl Harbor attack (we now know mainly by the Japanese consulate in Hawaii), the existence of militant Japanese nationalist societies, the legitimacy of the existing Japanese government (in contrast to the usurper regimes in Germany and Italy), and the centrality of obedience to the emperor in the Shinto tradition. None of these points is mentioned in the article and these are never explained in the study of the issue in elementary schools.

I was puzzled by this obsession until I read what Daniel Pipes wrote on the subject. He explains that the subject is deliberately intended as a parallel showing why the main threat is Islamophobia and not Islamist terrorism and similar things. His article also shows additional reasons why authorities implemented an internament policy.

I should also note that the point is never explicitly made that not a single internee was killed, injured, or tortured, adding to the credit accruing to American behavior in the past. Finally, students are never taught about how Americans and others were tortured and mistreated in Japanese internment camps. This would NOT justify similar behavior by Americans, of course, but shows something vital for students to learn: Other peoples often behave badly, Americans and those in democratic countries almost always behave better.

My conclusion is that Junior Scholastic editors are partly trying to be balanced and do a better job of it than much of the mass media but that there are still serious examples of indoctrination on some issues.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).


Sep 10

A Cautionary Polling Tale: A Read On NY GOV

If this week has taught us anything, it’s that different polls — with different methodologies — can paint wildly different pictures of the same race. Case in point: The New York governor’s race and the 4 polls that surveyed it in the last 3 days.

A new poll out Friday shows New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) with a comfortable lead over developer Carl Paladino (R) and former Rep. Rick Lazio (R), who won the Conservative Party nomination.

The Marist College survey shows Cuomo leading Paladino among likely voters, 53% to 34%, with Lazio at 10%. Just 3% of voters are undecided. Among all voters, Cuomo has a larger lead over Paladino, 55% to 29%, with Lazio at 10%.

A silver lining for Paladino: The race is a dead heat among voters who said they were very enthusiastic about voting, while Cuomo has a huge lead among voters who said they were only “enthusiastic” or “not enthusiastic.” It’s possible that could be a sort of post-primary bounce, but it also is consistent with other polls nationwide that show Republican voters more energized than Democrats.

The Marist survey comes amid a series of polls released this week that have shown Cuomo with leads of anywhere between 6 and 33 points.

Hotline On Call

Sep 10

Concerning the current Kennedy generation: They need to read JFK’s speech on taxes

It’s remarkable what happens to a family with too much money after a few generations.  They just fall apart intellectually.  Now we read Teddy Jr’s so-called defense of his Uncle Jack’s words - proffered as a rebuttal to Linda McMahon’s political ad.

Lil Teddy needs to set aside the sauce and actually read JFK’s speech.  I wrote about it on the 45th anniversary of when it was given.

At one time, the Kennedys were a net-plus to this country.  Now they are just a bunch of rich kids with no compass, moral or otherwise.

Liberty Pundits Blog

Sep 10

When headline writers don’t read the articles

YNet, on its front page, shows this link to an article:

So is Amazon Associates offering a discount for this weekend - 20% off all machzorim and kittels?

Elder of Ziyon

Sep 10

Did Dodd Read His Own Bill?

(Jonathan H. Adler)

In the past few days there has been speculation that President Obama would name Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren to be the interim head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.  What did Senator Chris Dodd think of this? TPMDC reports:

In dismissing the rumor last night, though, Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd — who authored the law — claimed he’d never heard of the interim appointment power.

“I don’t know what it is. I never heard of it before,” said a flabbergasted Dodd to TPMDC. “It’s kind of unique isn’t it?”

Yes it is somewhat unique — the interim appointment would be different than, say, a recess appointment — but the Dodd-Frank legislation provides for interim stewardship of the agency. From TPMDC:

The authority for the Treasury Department to grant an interim appointment — distinct from a “recess appointment” — comes from the financial reform law itself.

To be fair to Senator Dodd, the law does not use the phrase “interim appointment,” but it expressly authorizes the Treasury Secretary to “perform the functions of the Bureau . . . until the Director of the Bureau is confirmed by the Senate.”  This authority would entail naming someone to head the agency until an official director could be confirmed by the Senate.  Presumably this provision was included for a reason, such as to ensure that the new agency could begin work even if either the President or the Senate drags their feet in naming or confirming a new agency head.  But don’t ask Senator Dodd about it.  Even though he was lead sponsor on the bill, he can’t be expected to know everything that’s in it.

(Hat tip: Daniel Foster at NRO)

The Volokh Conspiracy

Sep 10

Don’t burn the Koran, read it

How different the world would have been if our main stream papers like the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal had published the Koran immediately after the Iranian revolution?
American Thinker Blog

Sep 10

The Koran: Don’t burn it. Read it.

Provocateur pastor Terry Jones is getting his 15 minutes of fame with a “burn-the-Koran” day. The media and politicians are providing him with plenty of attention oxygen. Our America-bashing State Department has dubbed his First Amendment-protected exercise of fame-seeking “un-American.” And the usual grievance-mongers are doing their thing.

Gen. Petraeus says the provocation endangers the troops. But what’s in the Koran is far more of an inflammatory threat to American soldiers than any match with which to light it. What’s in the Koran has inspired decades of bloody warfare by Muslim operatives targeting our troops, civilians, and Western infidels around the world.

Don’t take my word for it. Take the time to re-read Ft. Hood massacre suspect and Muslim avenger Nidal Hasan’s own powerpoint presentation on “The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military.”

Slide 12:

Slide 42:

Instead of burning the Koran, Americans need to be reading it, understanding it, and educating themselves about the Koran passages, Islamic history, and jihadi context that brought us to this 9th anniversary year of the 9/11 attacks.

Flashback: It’s In the Koran…

Reminder via Timothy Furnish in the Middle East Quarterly:

Groups such as Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unity and Jihad) and Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Hasan bin Mahmud’s Ansar al-Sunna (Defenders of [Prophetic] Tradition)[10] justify the decapitation of prisoners with Qur’anic scripture. Sura (chapter) 47 contains the ayah (verse): “When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly.”[11] The Qur’anic Arabic terms are generally straightforward: kafaru means “those who blaspheme/are irreligious,” although Darb ar-riqab is less clear. Darb can mean “striking or hitting” while ar-riqab translates to “necks, slaves, persons.” With little variation, scholars have translated the verse as, “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks.”[12]

For centuries, leading Islamic scholars have interpreted this verse literally. The famous Iranian historian and Qur’an commentator Muhammad b. Jarir at-Tabari (d. 923 C.E.) wrote that “striking at the necks” is simply God’s sanction of ferocious opposition to non-Muslims.[13] Mahmud b. Umar az-Zamakhshari (d. 1143 C.E.), in a major commentary studied for centuries by Sunni religious scholars, suggested that any prescription to “strike at the necks” commands to avoid striking elsewhere so as to confirm death and not simply wound.[14]

Many recent interpretations remain consistent with those of a millennium ago. In his Saudi-distributed translation of the Qur’an, ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali (d. 1953) wrote that the injunction to “smite at their necks,” should be taken both literally and figuratively. “You cannot wage war with kid gloves,” Yusuf ‘Ali argued.[15] Muhammad Muhammad Khatib, in a modern Sunni commentary bearing the imprimatur of Al-Azhar university in Cairo, says that while traditionalist Muslims tend to see this passage as only applying to the Prophet’s time, Shi’ites “think it is a universal precept.”[16] Ironically, then in this view, Zarqawi has adopted the exegesis of his religious nemeses. Perhaps the most influential modern recapitulation of this passage was provided by the influential Pakistani scholar and leading Islamist thinker S. Abul A’ la Mawdudi (d. 1979), who argued that the sura provided the first Qur’anic prescriptions on the laws of war. Mawdudi argued

Under no circumstances should the Muslim lose sight of this aim and start taking the enemy soldiers as captives. Captives should be taken after the enemy has been completely crushed.[17]

Accordingly, for soldiers of Islam, victory should be the only consideration. Status of prisoners of war was open to interpretation. Mawdudi maintained that the verse did not clearly forbid execution of prisoners but that “the Holy Prophet understood this intention of Allah’s command, and that if there was a special reason for which the ruler of an Islamic government regarded it as necessary to kill a particular prisoner (or prisoners), he could do so.”[18] As do many Islamists, Mawdudi cited historical examples of the Prophet Muhammad ordering the execution of prisoners, such as some Meccans captured at the Battle of Badr in 624 C.E. and at least one Meccan seized at the Battle of Uhud in the following year. While such examples do not directly address decapitation, they do allow for murder of prisoners-of-war. Mawdudi’s interpretation, though, does not sanction the execution of hostages. Only the government, and not individual Muslim soldiers, could determine the fate of captives.[19]

Another, albeit less-frequently, cited Qur’anic passage also sanctions beheadings of non-Muslims. Sura 8:12 reads: “I will cast dread into the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads, then, and strike off all of their fingertips.” In the original text, the relevant phrase is adrabu fawq al-’anaq, “strike over their necks.” This verse is, then, a corollary to Sura 47:3. Yusuf ‘Ali is one of the few modern commentators who addresses this passage, interpreting it as utilitarian: the neck is among the only areas not protected by armor, and mutilating an opponent’s hands prevents him from again wielding his sword or spear.[20] The point of this opening phrase—to “cast dread” or, as some translations have it, “instill terror”—has now been adopted by Islamist terrorists to justify decapitation of hostages…

…Islamic civilization is not a historical anomaly in its sanction of decapitation.[36] The Roman Empire beheaded citizens (such as the Christian Saint Paul) while they crucified noncitizens (such as Jesus Christ). French revolutionaries employed the guillotine to decapitate opponents. Nevertheless, Islam is the only major world religion today that is cited by both state and non-state actors to legitimize beheadings. And two major aspects of decapitation in an Islamic context should be noted: first, the practice has both Qur’anic and historical sanction. It is not the product of a fabricated tradition. Second, in contradiction to the assertions of apologists, both Muslim and non-Muslim, these beheadings are not simply a brutal method of drawing attention to the Islamist political agenda and weakening opponents’ will to fight. Zarqawi and other Islamists who practice decapitation believe that God has ordained them to obliterate their enemies in this manner. Islam is, for this determined minority of Muslims, anything but a “religion of peace.” It is, rather, a religion of the sword with the blade forever at the throat of the unbeliever.

Related: The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims

Related: The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America

Michelle Malkin

Sep 10

‘Education’ in America: Read the Fine Print

I wrote a few comments reflecting on Dr. E’s and Shaun Mullen’s “tag team” article, “We Have The World’s Finest Universities, Why Then Is America Such A Mess?”

Then Dr. E. suggested I turn my comments into a post—and who can refuse Dr. E.?

However, writing a post deserves more thought, research and analysis than writing “mere comments.” (No offense to our comments writers who generally have superb, well-researched, well thought-out comments)

So the first thing I did, was to re-read Dr. E.’s and Shaun’s post. I then realized that the article was mainly about “higher education,” or college/university education.

My comments were mostly directed at High School education and Junior College education…many years ago.

So the moral of the story is that when one hears that “education” is so bad (or so great) in our country, one should first ascertain what level of “education” we are talking about and when the studies were done.

For example, discussing a November 2007 study, the New York Times said at the time:

American students even in low-performing states like Alabama do better on math and science tests than students in most foreign countries, including Italy and Norway, according to a new study released Wednesday. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that students in Singapore and several other Asian countries significantly outperform American students, even those in high-achieving states like Massachusetts, the study found.

However, a 2006 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), study I quoted in my comments, ranked the U.S. 35th in Math and 29th in Science worldwide.

The NYT referenced study used standardized test scores of eighth-grade students in each of the 50 states with those of their peers in 45 countries.

Additionally, the tests were administered in the United States in 2005 and 2007. For foreign students, the tests were administered worldwide in 2003.

The PISA survey was conducted with 15-year-olds (Junior High school?) and the results were published in 2006.

I am neither current nor an expert on our university system and how they compare worldwide, albeit I am sure there are similar studies, surveys and results as for our secondary education.

But back to my anecdotal comments on my personal experiences in U.S. and foreign education.

I believe that education in the U.S. is good, but it can be better, much better, especially since we are the best in so many areas—why can’t we the best in education, instead of 35th, 25th or even 5th.

As to “The U.S. is ranked 35th in Math and 29th in Science worldwide,” I can attest to this personally—at least as of the late 50s, early 60s (I am sure things have changed somewhat).

When I emigrated to the U.S. in 1957 from the Netherlands, I discovered to my delight, then, that my Dutch High School education—especially in math and science—was equivalent to the first two years in an American college. Therefore, when I started college here, I was able to “breeze” through those subjects. Of course, it was a different story with other subjects such as English, literature, history, etc.

But I can also say that things are improving. I religiously help my 11-year old grandson—he is now in 6th grade—with his homework, especially math and science. To my pleasant surprise, the way math is being taught today and “here” is so much superior to the almost-rote-memory way I learned mine in the Netherlands and, more importantly, my grandson is already being introduced to math subjects that I didn’t learn about until I started High School “over there.” So things are perhaps improving.

Addressing a couple of comments in Dr. E’s and Shaun’s article:


As Dr. E rightly laments, “the cost of a university education is out of reach of the average middle class citizen…” You’re telling me! Ever since my grandson was born I have been consistently putting away some funds every month into one of those college savings plans, but it is like bailing water out of a sinking row boat. Equally consistent are the fund managers’ almost monthly reminders of how skyrocketing college costs make a mockery of almost any savings plan.

I am so proud of our Democratic legislators who persevered during the previous administration and were able to pass the New GI Education Bill. At least our returning heroes will be able to afford a higher education.


While I have heard of “souls who happen to be college students looking drunken and drugged, and at that moment, having little interest beyond a whole other pc route,” I have not personally experienced much of this during my teaching career. Probably because most of my teaching at colleges and universities has been in evening schools, to adults and even seniors eager to learn, eager to make good grades, eager to (finally) graduate, and eager to better support their growing families who are also sacrificing while the breadwinner slugs it out evenings, late nights and weekends. My hat off to them.

Back to those surveys and studies.

These are some of the key findings of the 2006 OECD PISA survey:

Finland, with an average of 563 score points, was the highest-performing country on the PISA 2006 science scale.

Six other high-scoring countries had mean scores of 530 to 542 points: Canada, Japan and New Zealand and the partner countries/economies Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei and Estonia. Australia, the Netherlands, Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Ireland, and the partner countries/economies Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Macao-China also scored above the OECD average of 500 score points.

On average across OECD countries, 1.3% of 15-year-olds reached Level 6 of the PISA 2006 science scale, the highest proficiency level. These students could consistently identify, explain and apply scientific knowledge, and knowledge about science, in a variety of complex life situations. In New Zealand and Finland this figure was at least 3.9%, three times the OECD average. In the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and Canada, as well as the partner countries/economies Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Hong Kong-China, between 2 and 3% reached Level 6.

Results of the PISA 2009 survey will be released in December of this year.

Finally, the fabulous web site, “Connect a Million Minds,” (CAMM)* discusses “how attitudes and beliefs among young Americans contribute to our poor rankings” and how, to better understand such attitudes CAMM “traveled to three countries that rank significantly higher in math and science literacy – Finland, China and Australia – and interviewed young people, parents and teachers about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and related issues.” CAMM then compared what they heard from those nations to responses from interviews conducted here in the U.S.

Here is what they heard:

Youth from outside the U.S. take it as a given that if they want to be successful in life, they have to do well in math and science. We did not hear this from the U.S kids.

Youth from outside the U.S. are more aware that they will compete in a global marketplace and not just against kids in their own country.

Outside the U.S., there is much less of a social stigma attached to being smart and doing well in school. In fact, the smart kids are considered cool.

Please read more about CAMM** here.

* “CAMM Worldwide is a new campaign, a Time Warner Cable’s philanthropic commitment to connect youth to ideas, people and opportunities that will inspire them to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.*

The Moderate Voice

Aug 10

Read Between the Lines: Murkowski Doesn’t Endorse Miller

Tonight, Sen. Murkowski conceded the “Republican Nomination” for the U.S. Senate. She did not endorse Joe Miller. She did not take questions at her press conference. Also, she did not concede the overall election.


Sources in Alaska confirm that her campaign is in talks with the Libertarian Party in Alaska. Big Government originally broke the story that the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party voted to deny her their ballot slot. Big Government, however, has learned that some members of the Libertarian Party are discussing “options” with Sen. Murkowski. (Tells you everything you need to know about the Libertarian Party.)

The next 24-48 hours are critical. Sen. Murkowski is going away with her family. There is still time for the public voice it’s opinion.

Big Government

Aug 10

What I read on my summer vacation

Enormous thanks to Dylan Matthews, Suzy Khimm, Justin Fox, and John Sides, all of whom made it possible for me to take some much-appreciated vacation. And what did I do on my vacation? Read books, mostly. In particular, these books:

Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager, by N+1. Quite unexpectedly, my favorite book written about the financial crisis. It’s not a thrilling narrative, and it’s not studded with juicy scenes. It’s just a chronicle of a very smart guy trying to figure out what’s going on and explain it clearly. Highly recommended. If the anonymous hedge fund manager is out there somewhere and wants to shoot me an e-mail, he should.

Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart. Felt like an Infinite Jest rip-off — or maybe homage? Imagine if David Foster Wallace had been an absurdist comic writing a romance rather than a tragic supercomputer creating a Sierpinski Gasket in the form of a novel.

Common as Air, by Lewis Hyde. I didn’t finish this one. It’s about how the Founding Fathers thought about intellectual property, and since I don’t like books that are about how such-and-such historical figures thought about so-and-so, I should’ve known I wouldn’t take to it.

Chaos: Making a New Science, by James Gleick. Convinced me that chaos theory is a lot less interesting than Jurassic Park led me to believe. Had a lot in common some of the financial crisis books (notably Michael Lewis’s ‘The Big Short’) in its efforts to profile the type of person whose willing to upend dominant assumptions and embrace radical new ideas. Oh, and speaking of Michael Lewis…

Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, by Michael Lewis. No, I’m not expecting. I’d read Michael Lewis talking about his favorite t-shirts. But this book is pretty thin. Even the title is lazy: The book isn’t a guide to fatherhood, and there’s nothing accidental about any of it. Didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth.

Filibustering: A Political History of Obstruction in the House and the Senate, by Gregory Koger. Reread this in anticipation of a panel I’m on later this week. The writing is very academic, but the two main points are good: First, filibustering (or obstruction, if you prefer) used to be more common in the House than the Senate, and that changed when the House eventually became too dysfunctional and changed its rules. People who say the Senate was “meant” to be more obstructive don’t often address that. Second, filibusters has become more effective in the Senate because the majority is less willing to take the time to break them. That implies that filibusters are less of a problem for marquee issues like health-care reform, where the majority will take the time, and more of a problem for small actions like nominations, where the majority won’t take the time.

Eating the Dinosaur, by Chuck Klosterman. The worst of his books, but still one of his books, and so still fun to read. The second half is better than the first half. I liked his point that the introduction of New Coke and subsequent wave of nostalgia for Classic Coke was, purposefully or not, one of the greatest advertising coups of all time.

Lost in the City, by Edward P. Jones. Very beautiful and very sad. Particularly recommended for people who live in DC.

Senate - Filibuster - Shopping - Books - United States
Ezra Klein