From Counterpunch, are there really oil wars? Kevin Phillips on why the economy is worse than we know. Page by page, a good book can rewire your brain. From ResetDOC, a referendum on America: A forum with Andrew Arato, Benjamin Barber and Jim Sleeper (and part 2). From TAP, a look at why Obama is not a God; and an article on how the Left can avoid a new education war. Obama wonders what's up with all those "English-only" whiners — learn Spanish, already; and debates over language reflect the anxiety that some people feel about America's changing cultural landscape. Jesus loves you and your orgasm: The religious right is celebrating sex to stroke its conservative message; liberals better rise to a secular defense soon (and more on the war on sex). Why Fox News shouldn't be allowed to talk about sex. A review of The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head: Franz Kafka: A Biographical Essay by Louis Begley, and a review of Kafka's Letter to My Father (and more). A review of The Road He Travelled: The Revealing Biography of M. Scott Peck by Arthur Jones. From Modern Age, Robert Beum on the divinization of democracy. Ex-prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi accuses Bush of murder. After 40 years and 1,500 concerts, Joe Queenan is finally ready to say the unsayable: new classical music is absolute torture, and its fans have no reason to be so smug.

From Ethics & International Affairs, Campbell Craig (Southampton): The Resurgent Idea of World Government; a review of International Legitimacy and World Society by Ian Clark; James Sterba reviews Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor?, ed. Thomas Pogge; and a review of A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy by J. Timmons Roberts and Bradley Parks. From Carnegie Council, torture, rights, and values: Why the prohibition of torture is absolute. Was the new Pixar film “WALL-E” inspired by an American cultural theorist? Scott McLemee goes over the moon to find out. Frank Furedi on why facts won’t demolish the conspiracy theories. How the media ruined the G-8: It’s time to bring the Group of Eight back to its elitist roots. More on Richard Rorty: The Making of an American Philosopher by Neil Gross. From TLS, a review of Semi-Invisible Man: The life of Norman Lewis by Julian Evans; a review of A Poisonous Affairs: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja by Joost Hiltermann. Benjamin Wittes and Andrew McCarthy try to figure out how best to adapt our laws and retain our freedoms in a world of enemy combatants. Books pages in newspapers and magazines are shrinking, while reviewers are paid peanuts; where did it all go wrong?

Richard L. Kaplan (Illinois): Top Ten Myths of Social Security. From Boston Review, a special issue on Incarcerated America; Andrew Bacevich goes Inside Rumsfeld's Pentagon; American dreamers: William Hogeland on Pete Seeger, William F. Buckley, Jr., and public history; and Lew Daly, author of God and the Welfare State, weighs in on why Obama's policy embodies a genuine vision for fighting poverty, and why it is destined to fail. From The Wilson Quarterly, the Atlantic and Pacific now dominate the world’s politics and trade, but the Indian Ocean is emerging as a new locus of power that increasingly unites China, India, the Middle East, and Africa. From Christianity Today, a review of The Scandal of Evangelical Politics: Why Are Christians Missing the Chance to Really Change the World? by Ronald J. Sider; and a review of God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush by Randall Balmer. From TNR, Josie Delap and Robert Lane Greene on the Arab world vs. Barack Obama; how Islam and Christianity have dealt differently with their Jewish roots—and what that means for anti-Semitism today; and Javier Marias on how filthy, rude, tactless tourists are ruining the world's most treasured cities. From Harper's, Frank Bures goes in search of the magical penis thieves. William Saletan on why public toilets should pay you.