March 26, 2010


Berman, Eli, Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: The MIT Press, 2009) ("What makes some terrorist organizations viable while other fail? The economics we teach in business school . . . suggests an answer. Some organizations are more resilient than others. Much of this book will be about the vulnerabilities of terrorist organizations. I will argue that successful militias and terrorist organizations share one common characteristic. They have found a way to control defection, the Achilles' heel of coordinated violence. The more destructive terrorist organizations become, the more governments are willing to spend in order to buy information and bribe operatives into defection, and the more worried terrorist operatives must be about leaks and defection among their comrades." Id. at 14. "What we will see . . . is that violent radical religious organizations survive, and even thrive, because they can limit leaks and defections. Why? The answer will be quite surprising. It has to do with a subtle relationship between defection and a very benign activity--mutual aid. . . . By mutual aid I mean individual members providing goods and services through acts of charity with the community. . . ." Id. at 15-16.).

Buruma, Ian, Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2010) (This book "consists of three parts, one on church and state relations in Europe and the United States, one on religious authority in China and Japan, and one on the challenges of Islam in contemporary Europe. The thread that runs through these inquires, despite their wide diversity in space and time, is the question posed by Tocqueville: what is needed, apart from freedom of speech and the right to vote, to hold democratic societies together? Is the rule of law enough, or do we need common values, ethics, mores? And what is the role of religion in all of this; is it a help or a hindrance to liberal democracy?" Id. at 3. "The challenge posed by Muslims in Europe, then, is not cultural, civilization, or even, in the end, religious. It is social and political. The challenge is how to accommodate communities, whether they be Muslims, Christian, Jews, Sikhs, or any other group of believers, who wish to assert their own norms and beliefs in public. Forcing people to conform to norms set by the state, as is the tendency in France, is illiberal, to say the least. Encouraging people to stick to their own ways, as has been the tendency in Britain, does not foster a sense of inclusion. The way forward, then, is not to insist on social, let alone theological, conformity, but on observance of the law and of the basic rules of democratic society. As long as people play by the rule of free speech, free expression, independent judiciaries, and free elections, they are democratic citizens, whatever they choose to wear on their heads." Id. at 114-114. A thoughtful, and thought provoking, read.).

Caputo, Philip, Horn of Africa (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980) ("Certainly we would have been indicted if everything had happened in a place where lawyers and judges stage the little dumb-show we call justice; but it all took place in an empty desert in the midst of a revolution, neither of which allowed the slow workings of the law." Id. at 4. "And it was just the beginning. There would be more horrors and greater bloodshed because his lust for violence was like an addiction, requiring ever larger doses to satiate it. Murdering five men had not satisfied him. The battle had not satisfied him, and this latest outrage would not satisfy him. No catharsis would ever purge the murderous poisons within him. His appetite was limitless. I feared him, had respected his strength, had admired the power of his convictions; but now all I felt toward him was immeasurable disgust. He had come to Africa seeking a forbidden liberty, the freedom of man in isolation, and the price of that freedom was an enslavement to his miscreant impulses. And so I had a moment of enlightenment. I had had to kill to gain it, to cast myself into the darkness to see, but at least I saw him for what he was: neither madman nor monster, but the embodiment of all that was wrong with me, all that is wrong with our crippled natures." Id. 398.).

Nagel, Thomas, Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament Essays 2002-2008 (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2010) (From the essay, "Problem of Global Justice": "What is the overall moral outlook that best fits the political conception of justice? . . ." "The normative force of the most basic human rights against violence, enslavement, and coercion, and of the most basic humanitarian duties of rescue from immediate danger, depends only on our capacity to put ourselves in other people's shoes. The interests protected by such moral requirements are so fundamental, and the burdens they impose, considered statistically, so much slighter, that a criterion of universality of the Kantian type clearly supports them. . . ." "This minimal humanitarian morality governs our relations to all other persons. It does not require us to make their ends our own, but it does require us to pursue our ends within boundaries that leave them free to pursue theirs, and to relieve them from extreme threats and obstacles to such freedom if we can do so without serious sacrifice of our own ends. . . ." "This moral minimum does not depend on the existence of any institutional connection between ourselves and other persons: It governs our relations with everyone in the world. However, it may be impossible to fulfill even our minimal moral duties to others without the help of institutions of some kind short of sovereignty. We do not need institutions to enable us to refrain from violating other people's rights, but institutions are indispensable to enable us to fulfill the duty of rescue toward people in dire straits all over the world. Further, it seems clear that human rights generate a secondary obligation to do something, if we can, to protect people outside of our society against their most egregious violation, and this is practically impossible, on a world scale, without some institutionalized method of verification and enforcement." Id. at 61, 76-77. From the book jacket: "This volume collects recent essays and reviews by Thomas Nagel in three subject areas. The first section . . . is concerned with religious belief and some of the philosophical questions connected with it, such as the relation between religion and evolutionary theory, the question of why there is something rather than nothing, and the significance for human life of our place in the cosmos. It includes a defense of the relevance of religion to science education. The second section concerns the interpretation of liberal political theory, especially in the international context. A substantial essay argues that the principles of distributive justice that apply within individual nation-states do not apply to the world as a whole. The third section discusses the distinctive contributions of four philosophers to our understanding of what it is to be human--the form of human consciousness and the source of human values." The four philosophers discussed by Nagal are Bernard Williams, David Wiggins, Brian O'Shaughnessy, and Jean-Paul Sartre.).

Weber, Katherine, True Confections: A Novel (New York: Shaye Areheart Books, 2010)
("'Truth is truth to the end of reckoning.' That's Shakespeare, Irene, Measure for Measure, which I happen to know you have never read or probably even heard of because you haven't been curious about what you don't know for a very long time, not since college. And even then, when that expensive education was at your disposal, when you could have done anything, gone anywhere, studied anything, thought about anything, you didn't have time for Shakespeare, because you were too busy reading about gendered space in the workplace and the sociology of heterosexuality and feminist environmentalism." Id. at 273.).

March 21, 2010


Berlin, Ira, The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations (New York: Viking, 2010) ("The Making of African America is a history of the three great migrations that made and remade African and African American life in the United State--and American--society. . . . "The first of the great migrations, the forcible deportation from Africa to mainland North America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, enslaved roughly 400,000 free men and women and transformed the many people of Africa--Angloans, Igbos, Kongos, Minas, Mandes, and others--into Africans and, in time, African Americans." "The second forced transfer . . . transported some one million men and women from the Atlantic seaboard to the Southern interior during the first half of the nineteenth century to create a new slave regime in the Deep South. It transformed tobacco and rice cultivators into growers of cotton and sugar, setting African American life on a new course." "That course changed in the middle decades of the twentieth century, when some six million black people . . . fled the South for the cities of the North, making urban wageworkers out of sharecroppers and once again reconstructing black life in the United States." "Finally, at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries, people of African descent entered the United States from all over the world--Africa, the greater Caribbean, South America, and Europe--again changing the composition, character, and cultures of the black population of the United States. . . ." Id. at 14-15).

Ferris, Joshua, The Unnamed: A Novel (New York: Reagan Arthur Book/Little, Brown, 2010) (See Jay McInerney's review, "Long March," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 1/24/10.).

Gawande, Atul, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010) ("All learned occupations have a definition of professionalism, a code of conduct. It is where they spell out their ideas and duties. . . . [T]hey all have at least three common elements." "First is an expectation of selflessness: that we who accept responsibility for others . . . will place the needs and concerns of those who depend on us above our own. Second is an expectation of skill: that we will aim for excellence in our knowledge and expertise. Third is an expectation of trustworthiness: that we will be responsible in our personal behavior toward our charges." "Aviators, however, add a fourth expectation, discipline: discipline in following prudent procedure and in functioning with others. This is a concept almost entirely outside the lexicon of most professions. . . . The closest our professional codes come to articulating the goal is an occasional plea for 'collegiality.' What is needed, however, isn't just that people working together be nice to each other. It is discipline." Id. at 182-183. See Sandeep Jauhar's review, "One Thing After Another," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 1/24/10.).

Heilemann, John & Mark Halperin, Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (New York: Harper, 2010) (Two comments. One, sometimes the whole (story) is less (i.e., worse) than the sum of its parts. Two, were this a work of fiction, no one would believe it. See Jacob Heilbrunn's review, "Election Confidential," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 1/17/10.).

Jin, Ha, A Good Fall: Stories (New York: Pantheon, 2009) (See Colm Toibin's review, "Exiles From Themselves," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 1/3/10.).

Patel, Raj, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy ( New York: Picador, 2010) (Nice polemic. "I am not, however, arguing for a world without markets. The idea of a market as a place in which people with diverse needs exchange goods is one that can be found in every human civilization. What characterizes today's markets is exchange driven not by needs, but by profits. It is pure ideology to think that the best way for markets to operate is to let markets seek profits, and that the best way for markets to function is with minimal interference. The terms on which markets operate are set by the powerful; our tragedy is to have let this happen. The blindness, the anosognosia here, is our faith in a faculty that routinely betrays us--in the demonstrably false promise that profit-driven markets can point to true value." Id. at 22. "Reclaiming the ability to engage market society, reclaiming the right to have rights, is difficult work. To begin with, it means regaining an appetite for conflict. It means understanding that some entities in the private sector are structurally part of the problem, not part of the solution, and that they need to be successfully challenged. Every philosophy of social change has had an understanding of enmity. . . . Movements around the world have developed the psychological tools to deal with conflict, guided by principles of equality and a desire to control the term of inclusion." "Of course, this threatens the status quo, which is why many of the movements I've discussed . . . have been branded criminals and hooligans. Turning dissenters into criminals doesn't happen by magic--it happens because today's market society has an ideology in which those who challenge the fragile consensus around the role of the market cannot be tolerated. The activist Abbie Hoffman once observed, 'You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives assimilated conformists.' By that metric, there's not much democracy around." Id. at 176-177.).

Sacco, Joe, Footnotes in Gaza (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2009) (See Patrick Cockburn's review, "They Planted Hatred in Our Hearts," NYT, 12/24/09/ According to Cockburn, "Joe Sacco's gripping, important book about two long-forgotten mass killings of Palestinians in Gaze stands out as one of the few contemporary works on the Israeli-Palestinian struggle likely to outlive the era in which they were written.").

Shepard, Sam, Days Out of Days: Stories (New York: Knopf, 2010) (From "Things You Learn from Others": "What you don't learn, though, is how to protect others from your own manifestations of cruelty and malice which you've learned so insidiously through skin and blood and find impossible to shake free from no matter how much you'd like to be thought of as a decent, wholesome person." Id. at 250. See Walter Kern's review, "The Highwayman," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 1/17/10.).

Smith, Zadie, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (New York: The Penguin Press, 2009) (See Pankaj Mishra's review, "Other Voices, Other Selves," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 1/17/10.).

Sowell, Thomas, Intellectuals and Society (New York: Basic Books, 2009) ("We must be clear about what we mean by intellectuals. Here 'intellectuals' refers to an occupational category, people whose occupations deal primarily with ideas--writers, academics, and the like. Most of us do not think of brain surgeons or engineers as intellectuals, despite the demanding mental training that each goes through, and virtually no one regards even the most brilliant and successful financial wizard as an intellectual." "An intellectual's work begins and ends with ideas, however influential those ideas may be on concrete things--in the hands of others. . . ." "The quintessential intellectuals of the academic world, for example, are those in fields more pervaded by ideas, as such. A university's business school, engineering school, medical school, or athletic department is not what usually comes to mind when we think of academic intellectuals. . . ." Id. at 2-3. From the jacket cover:"This is a study of how intellectuals as a class affect modern societies by shaping the climate of opinion in which official policies develop on issues ranging from economics to law to war and peace" "The thesis of Intellectuals and Society is that the influence on intellectuals is not only greater than in previous eras but also takes a very different form from that envisioned by those like Machiavelli and others who have wanted ed to directly influence rulers. It has not been by shaping the opinions or directing the actions of the holders of power that modern intellectuals have most influenced the course of events, but by shaping public opinion in ways that affect the actions of power holders in democratic societies, whether or not those power holders accept the general vision or particular policies favored by intellectuals Even government leaders with disdain or contempt for intellectuals have had to bend to the climate of opinion shaped by those intellectuals." I think that Sowell is a bit over the top in this book. Nonetheless, Sowell as agent-provocateur is in fine form. Of course, those grounded in the anti-intellectual tradition of American life will cheer his arguments.).

Stiglitz, Joseph E., Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy (New York: Norton, 2010) ("Several commentators have referred to the massive bailouts and government interventions in the economy as socialism with American characteristics, something akin to China's march to what it calls 'a market economy with Chinese characteristics.' But, as one Chinese friend pointed out, the description is inaccurate: socialism is supposed to care about people. Socialism American-style didn't do that. Had the money been spent on helping those who were losing their homes, it might have been a correct characterization. As it was, it was just an expanded version of Corporate Welfarism American-style." Id. at 145. "There is an obvious solution to the too-big-to-fail banks: break them up. If they are too big to fail, they are too big to exist." Id. at 164-165. "The United States will still remain the largest economy, but the way the world views America has changed, and China's influence will grow. Even before the crisis the dollar was no longer viewed as a good store of value; it value was volatile and declining. Now, with the ballooning of America's debt and the unremitting printing of money by the Fed, confidence has eroded further. This will have a long-term impact on America and its standing, but it has already generated a demand for a new global financial order. If a new global reserve system, and, more broadly, new frameworks for governing the global economic system, can be created, that would be one of the few silver linings to this otherwise dismal cloud." Id. at 211. "In the end, why should we Americans care that the world has become disillusioned with the American model of Capitalism? The ideology that we promoted has been tarnished, sure, but perhaps it is a good thing that it may be tarnished beyond repair. Can't we survive--even thrive--if not everyone adheres to the American way?" 'Inevitably, our influence will be diminished, but that, in many ways, was already happening. We used to play a pivotal role in managing global capital because others believed that we had special talent for managing risk and allocating financial resources. No one thinks that now, and Asia--where much of the world's savings occurs today--is already developing its own financial centers. We are no longer the world's chief source of capital. The world's top three banks are now Chinese; America's largest bank is down at the number-five spot." Id. at 223-224. Also see Kevin Phillips's review, "Moving the Deck Chairs," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 2/7/10. This is a very worthwhile, and nontechnical, read, especially for those Americans who are prepared to acknowledge, taking responsibility for, and begin to task of solving our financial woes. Unfortunately, the average American is a modern-day Nero. While America declines, over 100 million Americans were watching the Super Bowl. We are not a serious people. We are in constant want of entertainment.).

Tuck, Stephen, We Ain't What We Ought To Be: The Black Freedom Struggle From Emancipation to Obama (Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("[T]he struggle of black Americans for meaningful freedom was not confined to the world-famous southern Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Indeed, that movement was not the climax of protest, nor even the prototype of African American protest in the United States. Rather, the struggle for full racial equality was fought--and needed to be fought--in many different ways and in all regions and in every generation from emancipation. In 1926 A. Philip Randolph wrote of the 'unfinished task of emancipation.' That, in short is what this book is about." Id. at 1-2. "Obama recognized, too, that racial divisions were not so much a consequence of attitudes . . . . Rather, the problem of race in the twenty-first century remained the embedded gap between black (and Latino) Americans and white Americans on virtually every socioeconomic indicator, from incarceration and unemployment rates to home ownership and educational achievements. The optimism Americans felt on the racial front after the election should have been tempered by (though it may have been a salve for) memory of the floods in New Orleans. . . . At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Katrina's devastation and Obama victory represented both the pain and the promise of race in America." Id. at 418-419.).

Vieux-Chauvet, Marie, Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy translated from the French by Rpse-Mayriam Rejois and Val Vinikur (New York: Modern Library, 2009) (See the review "Meanness of the Hear," The Economist, 8/15/09; and Liesl Schillinger, "Untamed Hear," The NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/18/09.).

Walter, Jess, The Financial Lives of Poets: A Novel (New York: Harper, 2009).

March 18, 2010


Anthony T. Grafton has an essay, 'Britain: The Disgrace of the Universities,' in the New York Review of Books, April 8, 2010, at 32. It underscores some of the reason universities are under attack as places of scholarship and learning. "At King's College London, the head of arts and humanities has already informed world-famous professors--one . . . in paleography, the study of ancient scripts, and two in philosophy--that their positions will be discontinued at the end of the academic year. . . . "The cuts are not intended to stop with the first victims. All other members of the arts and humanities faculty at King's are being forced to reapply for their jobs. When the evaluation is finished, around twenty-two of them will have been voted off the island. Even the official statement makes clear that these faculty members will be let go not because they have ceased to do basic research or to teach effectively, but because their fields are fashionable and don't spin money. . . ." "Accept the short term as your standard-support only what students want to study right now and outside agencies want to fund right now and--and you lose your future. . . . Slow scholarship--like Slow Food--is deeper and richer and more nourishing than the fast stuff. But it takes longer to make, and to do it properly, you have to employ eccentric people who insist on doing things their own way. The British used to know that, but now they've streaked by us [Americans and American universities] on the way to the other extreme." None of this will be new for those who have been paying attention the last two decades. The ability to entertain has replaced the ability to actually teach substance. Glibness has replaced intellectual depth. The comfortable quarter-truth preferred over the unpleasant truth. The money-culture has replaced . . . CULTURE. Ideas dont' matter; only revenues and profits, balance sheets, and cost-benefit analysis matter. 'Keep the Customers Satisfied.' The barbarians are winning. Without the arts and without the humanities--or, to be more accurate, without the people in the arts and the people in the humanities--, the barbarians win. Win period.

March 3, 2010


Biskupic, Joan, American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (New York: Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) (In his review, "Man of Influence," NYT Book Review, 1/3/10, Jeffrey Rosen is correct when he write, "It's hard to write a fair-minded biography of such a polarizing figure, but that's what Joan Biskupic has dome with "American Original." When one reads a Scalia in his owen words, such as the in the following passage, one can hear his honesty, hear his anger, hear his resentment, yet hear his tin ear. "'My father came to this country when he was a teen-ager,' Scalia said, launching into a lesson in ethnic resentment during his Washington University speech. 'Not only had he never profited from the sweat of any black man's brow, I don't think he had ever seen a black man. There are, of course, many white ethnic groups that came to this country in great numbers relatively late in its history--Italians, Jews, Irish, Poles--who not only took no part in, and derived no profit from, the major historic suppression of the currently acknowledged minority groups, but were, in fact, themselves the object of discrimination by the dominant Anglo-Saxon majority . . . [T]o compare their racial debt . . . with that of those who plied the slave trade, and who maintained a formal caste system for many years hereafter, is to confuse a mountain with a molehill.'" Referring to the white judges who were responsible for such rulings, Scalia also said, '[C]uriously enough, we find that in the system of restorative justice established by the [John Minor] Wisdoms and the [Lewis F.] Powells and he [Byron R.] Whites, it is precisely these groups [the Italian, Jews, Irish, Poles] that do most of the restoring. It is they who, to a disproportionate degree, are the competitors with the urban blacks and Hispanics for jobs, housing, education--all those things that enable one to scramble to the top of the social heap where one can speak eloquently (and quite safely) of restorative justice.'" Id. at 70-71 (citation omitted). I have asked myself, what makes a person a 'true American' (or a 'true German' or a 'true Scot'). This is not the question of what makes someone a 'patriotic American.' It seemed to me that the accident of place of birth, parents, etc., or the legalities of citizenship or naturalization are at the essence of being a 'true American.' I think it requires that one both knows and embraces the particular country's long history, both the good and the bad. It requires one to not simply be proud for the many great things its peoples have accomplished (including it continued efforts at democracy), but also to be disgusted with oneself (ourselves) for its peoples' gross failures: slavery, Indian removal, Japanese-American internments, etc. It is not enough to acknowledge these as part of our distant past, or as something that others did. To be an American is to say that 'I am part of the WE that did those things. I think it is what it means to be a people rather than a rag tag collection of individuals who just happen to occupy a particular time and place. Scalia does not view himself as part of that particular vision of "We the people." Originalist that he is, he does not see his personal history as having a branch that weaves back to, and includes, the injustices that we Americans inflicted upon each other for centuries. Note: As cosmopolites, however, we should aspire toward being citizens of the world, a highly connected, integrated, global community.).

Bollinger, Lee C., Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open: A Free Press For a New Century(Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2010) (This is a short, thoughtful book utilizing the history of freedom of the press under the First Amendment to identify and arguing for the need to secure a free (i.e., uninhibited, robust, and wide-open) global press in the twenty-first century.).

Dreisbach, Daniel L. & Mark David Hall, eds., The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009).

Friedman, Barry, The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) ("As often as not, fights over judicial power really are fights over the meaning of the Constitution. This is not to say that judicial power isn't an issue in and of itself; it is always a fair question in a democracy whether a public official has too much power, or is insufficiently accountable to the people. But judicial power becomes an issue precisely because judges interpret the Constitution and because judicial decisions seem so very final. This has been the case from the start. . . ." "Caught up in immediate controversy, Americans can overlook this point. They fail to see that what looks to be a roaring battle over judicial power is simply the latest round in a much broader struggle over the proper interpretation of the Constitution. In a constitutional democracy, majority will regularly is pitted against minority rights. This tension, which is at the heart of constitutional democracy, would exist even if there were no judges. It is the meaning of the Constitution itself that is up for grabs, and judicial power is nothing more than a pawn in that battle." "In a sense, the history of the relationship between judicial review and the popular will has been one of great continuity. The justices decide cases involving constitutional questions of substantial importance to the American people. Given the seemingly finality of judicial decisions, those who disagree with the justices lash out at the Court and the power of judicial review. Those who agree with the justices jump to their defense waving the Constitution. And a fight over the Constitution becomes one about the judges." Id. at 8-9. This is an interesting and worthwhile read, which it not to say that it is right on all points.).

Lipsky, Seth, The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide (New York: Basic Books, 2009) (See Adam Liptak's review, "More Perfect," NYT Book Review, 1/10/10. Also see my comments on Jack Rakove's book below.).

Marshall, John, Writings selected by Charles F. Hobson (New York: Library of America, 2010) (From a letter to Joseph Story: "I am truly delighted that your commentaries are published. I shall read them eagerly myself, and wish most ardently that they may be read by others to whom they would be still more useful. The copy intended for the schools will do much good where the teachers introduce it. I greatly fear that, south of the Potomack, where it is most wanted, it will be least used. It is a Mahomedan rule, I understand, 'never to dispute with the ignorant,' and we of the true faith in the South abjure the contamination of infidel political works. It would give our orthodox Nullifyer a fever to read the heresies of your commentaries. A whole school might be infected by the atmosphere of a single copy should it be placed on one of the shelves of a book case." Id. at 834, 835.).

Nussbaum, Martha C., From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2010) (Nussbaum discusses what she characterizes as a transition from the 'politics of disgust' to the 'politics of humanity.' The latter, I think, might be better labeled and understood as the 'politics of empathy.' This would underscore that the politics of humanity/empathy no less essentially appeals to the emotional, as opposed to appeal to the rational, than does the politics of disgust. The basis for ending discriminatory and inferior treatment of women, of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, of most forms of physical disabilities, etc., is not that men, members of the racial, ethnic, and religious majorities, of the nondisabled (or, as they say, the temporarily able) empathize with the former. Rather, such discrimination ought to cease because such discrimination actually makes little sense (i.e., it is actually rather stupid), and is socially and economically destructive. Appeals to disgust and empathy are appeals to our lesser capabilities. Then again, maybe our brains are not developed enough to reason these issues through, so we fall back exclusively on our emotional intelligence. Moreover, 'disgust' is easily thought of as something which can be quantified (i.e., units, levels, intensities, etc., of disgust). 'Humanity' is, I think, less thought of as quantifiable. So, again, I would suggest "empathy' rather than 'humanity' (i.e., units, levels, intensities, etc., of empathy). Also, empathy is not a very stable sentiment. Appeal to empathy may well be quite useful, even necessary, in motivating people to rethink their positions. I am less convince that empathy is a solid foundation upon which to maintain social and political institutions. Empathizing with slaves may have motivated many northerners to oppose slavery, but it did not result in strong sentiment toward social, political, or legal equality with those slaves, former slaves, and fellow citizens. One might also note that between the extremes of disgust and empathy, there is a place called "indifference." From the vantage points of disgust and empathy, indifference appears to be a negative state. But that truly so? If a person is indifferent as to whether someone is a practicing Roman Catholic, Anabaptist, a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, or whatever, is that a bad attitude to have? If not, cannot the same be said regarding a person's indifference as to the sexual preference/orientations? So, maybe disgust is bad and empathy is ideal; but perhaps indifference is good enough. All that said, Nussbaum is a worthwhile, nontechnical read.).

Rakove, Jack N., ed., The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2009) (I often wonder as to the percentage of Americans who have read the suubject documents period; with what frequency they reread these documents; what percentage of practicing American lawyers and/or law professors read these documents on an annual basis; etc. In regards to the latter, I would suggest that practising American lawyers and law professors at American law schools--if not all citizens and residents of the United States--- should read and think about these documents annually. Rakove annotated versions of these documents would make it a productive annual event. Also see Adam Liptak's review mention in comments on Seth Lipsky's book above.).

Tribe, Laurence H., The Invisible Constitution(Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2008) ("The Ninth Amendment . . . expressly says, 'The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.' In plain English, there's more there than meets the eye." "Whether people trying to figure out what that instruction means, or what anything else in the Constitution means, are to consult what the words meant to those who wrote them, or the ordinary person in the public to whom they were originally addressed, or to readers of the text at the time it is being interpreted and appled, are issues that the Constitution's own text can't hope to resolve. Pursuing each of these possible sources of meaning entails investigating matters of empirical fact. And making choices among those sources of ne=meaning is a task on which the Constitution's text is silent. Thus, in resolving such matters, readers are compelled to look outside of and beyond the text--to various possible historical accounts, to political and moral philosophy, to theories of language and meaning . . . , to functional and pragmatic considerations of how well various alternative would work, to institutional factors (who 's asking and why?), and to a host of other sources beyond the Constitution that we can all see and read. Indeed, one of the ways the Constitution works is that it puts us all to work, pushing us to look more deeply into our shared and separate histories and values, making us conform what we might otherwise not notice or might even positively avoid. In reading it, we discover matter beyond its horizons that we must take into account in deciding who we are to become, or avoid becoming." Id. at 7-8. Several points: (1) Any student taking Constitutional Law should buy and read this book. (2) Any person who decides to open his or her mouth to express an opinion as to what the Constitution says or means, what their or another's constitutional rights are or are not, etc., should read this book. (3) Everyone, but particularly law students and the law teachers, should read and reread the passage I have quoted. Not just because of what it says about how to approach and work with the Constitution, but because of what it says about competency. ASSUMING YOU WANT TO GET BEYOND THE SUPERFICIAL, THEN YOU GOT TO KNOW STUFF, A WHOLE LOT OF STUFF, TO BEGIN TO BE COMPETENT IN KNOWING HOW SOMETHING REALLY WORKS. AND THAT REQUIRES A LOT OF READING TO APPRECIATE WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID, WRITTEN, TRIED, ARGUED, ETC. So, try to know stuff. It can't hurt, and usually helps.).

Wills, Garry, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and The National Security State (New York: The Penguin Press, 2010) ("This book has a basic thesis, that the Bomb altered our subsequent history down to its deepest constitutional roots. It redefined the presidency, as in all respects America's 'Commander in Chief' (a term that took on a new and unconstitutional meaning in this period). It fostered an anxiety of continuing crisis, so that society was pervasively militarized. It redefined the government as a National Security State, with an apparatus of secrecy and executive control. It redefined Congress, as an executor of the executive. Only one part of the government had the supreme power, the Bomb, and all else must defer to it, for the good of the nation, for the good of the world, for the custody of the future, in a world of perpetual emergency superseding ordinary constitutional restrictions" Id. at 1. This book should be read in conjunction with Yoo's book below. Also, see the Walter Isaacson's review of both book, "Who Declares War?", NYT Book Review, 1/24/10.).

Yoo, John, Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power From George Washington to George W. Bush (New York: Kaplan Publishing, 2009) (See comments on Wills above. I am unconvinced by Yoo's skewed reading of history. Moreover, I am reminded of the problem of management by crisis. It is one thing to be an effective manager when there is an actual crisis; it is another thing to adopt 'crisis' as one's management style. The latter has a tendency--and I suspect that it is intentional--to quash informed decision-making because it cuts off discussion, varied perspectives, and consideration of alternatives. That is, there is no time for meaningful debate and discussion because there is an alleged crisis. Everyone, therefore, must defer to the one. It reflects a power grab by the decision maker (i.e., "the decider"). However, though it may project power, it actually reflects weakness: the inability of the deccision-maker to risk that his or her perspective, ideas, thoughts, strategies, goals, etc., are not the best and would not have prevailed were they forced to compete opening. Garry Wills is correct to suggest that the United States has placed itself in permanent crisis, or war, mode. I would argue that we have ceased to be a republic, let alone a truly representative democracy, as more and more power has been vested in the presidency because of the constant state of crisis and emergency, both real and manufactured.).

Zuckert, Michael P. & Derek A. Webb, eds., The Anti-Federalist Writings of the Melancton Smith Circle (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009).