Friday, February 13, 2004
ZARKARWI'S CRIE DE COEUR. Here is the full text of the letter supposedly sent to Al Qaida Central by their main man in Iraq. The National Review is the source of this full translation.
NOVAK FINDS BUSH LACKING, AT LEAST ON TV. Here is his somewhat delayed response to the president's performance when grilled by Tim Russert last Sunday.
MEANWHILE THERE'S STILL HOWARD DEAN. What keeps him running--and spending? As usual Walter Shapiro has useful information, reasonable interpretation and sharp, stylish writing. Here's his latest from Wisconsin as reported for USA Today.
KRAUTHAMMER PONDERS THE MYSTERY...of the missing second shoe: i.e. why has Al Qaeda not attempted to duplicate 9/11? The answer, if one knew it, would have clear bearing upon future policy. But what is clear to Krauthammer is that the "forward strategy" was--and remains--necessary.
WHAT IF ALL THE PUNDITS WERE RIGHT? At today's edition of the National Review website, Victor Davis Hanson asks the question and examines what a wonderful world that would be--and then goes on to remind us of what the world is really like.
WELL, THEY ARE STILL NEW AT THE GAME. That's about the only excuse we can think of for the way the Russian Presidential Race Follies is playing through. But, at this point one can't quite decide whether this should be classified as tragedy or farce.
THE WEST, DIVIDED AND THREATENED. This important dialogue between Sam Huntington (source of the "clash of civilizations" model) and Anthony Giddens was published last fall by New Perspectives Quarterly. The discussion is haunted by an awareness of the threat posed by "militant Islam." A close reading is recommended.
AN AUSTRALIAN TAKE ON GIBSON'S CHRIST. This, from a leading Australian magazine, is informative, intelligent and, finally, just as confused in its judgement of the man and his message (Gibson, that is), as all the other commentaries we have seen.
A SCARY BROADSIDE ABOUT TERESA HEINZ KERRY. This appeared today in David Horowitz's Front Page. They do sometimes overshoot the mark but, at the same time, they often turn up important material that the mainline press misses. Undoubtedly the claims made here--and the interpretations presented--will stir a lot of reaction in the blogosphere and far beyond.
WHO KILLED THE SOVIET UNION? A new book argues that it wasn't Reagan (by forcing them to military spending that courted bankruptcy). It was Khrushchev and Gorbachev! Jody Lipford, writing for the Independent Review, conveys the basic argument of this recent (2001) but undeservedly neglected book by Stephen Kotkin.
PEOPLE WHO AGREE TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER. That seems to be the simple verity behind the fascinating mathematical-analytical footwork done by these scholars who claim to be able to predict which marriages will collapse within four years of their initiation. New Scientist is on the case.
BY THEIR SCIECE FICTION SHALL YE KNOW THEM. Apparently, it flourishes in Israel. So says this article in today's Jerusalem Post which goes on to clarify just how and why it isn't just Heinlein, Azimov or Clarke with a Hebrew accent.
BUT IN AUSTRALIA ROMANCE IS THE TICKET. At least if you are a publisher. This story from the Melbourne Age is an interesting contrast to the one above from the Jerusalem Post.
COUNTRY AT ITS BEST! This generous collection from the '70s features, among many other great perormers, Willie Nelson, Ton T. Hall, Charlie Rich, Dolly Parton and the Statler Brothers. And don't miss "Don't All The Girls Get Prettier At Closing Time?"
Thursday, February 12, 2004
MORE ON BUSH AS A FOREIGN POLICY INNOVATOR. We ran an item yesterday about John Paul Gaddis's new book in which he makes and supports that assertion. Here is an interview with him as conducted by a perceptive interlocutor from the Boston Globe.
WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CLARK? Here is the New York Times' assessment of why the General's campaign finally faltered.
ISLAMIST (BUT NOT ISLAMIC) INTENTIONS TOWARD THE REST OF US. MEMRI has done its usual thorough research in primary sources and has come up with a dismaying review of how and why they want to dispatch the Jews, Christians and western secularists to termination. This is a long, but riveting, read.
THE ULTIMATE IN NANOTECHNOLOGY: COMPUTERS MADE FROM ORGANIC MOLECULES! And for a while there were people at Bell Labs who thought that one of their colleagues had done it. But he was lying. This transcript of a program that appeared on the BBC last week conveys the fascinating story.
NON-CARDINALS NEED NOT APPLY...for the position of Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. But, if the College of Cardinals need some help in thinking through the choice they will eventually (if not much sooner) have to make, Scott Appleby--a rather frequent guest on our program--offers some guidelines in this well-turned memorandum published recently in Foreign Policy magazine.
THIS MAY NOT EXPLAIN THE CRUCIFIXION BUT IT HELPS TO EXPLAIN MEL GIBSON. Newsweek's attempt at sorting it all out is informative and features some quite interesting sidebars.
AMERICA'S LEADING HOLOCAUST HISTORIAN...is Christopher Browning who has visited with us on Extension 720 a number of times. His views on the genesis of the Holocaust, which remain contested by Daniel Goldhagen and other "intentionalists," are examined in this interview from the Atlantic magazine site.
HANNAH AND MARTIN (THE NAZI). In academia many still wonder how Hannah Arendt could have resumed a correspondence and friendship with her former mentor and lover who did not, says this article from Nextbook, ever put aside his Nazi weltanschauung.
EUROPE IS IN CULTURAL DECLINE...because of secularization, depopulation and Islamization, says George Weigel in this essay from First Things. And, he fears, if no restorative neasures are taken, this is an augury of things to come on both sides of the ocean.
THE ODDS ON HAMLET VS. LAERTES. The bookmakers rundown on the fifth act duel remains--after four centuries--rather confusing. In this delightful discussion from the Times Literary Supplement, Frank Kermode, Anthony Holden, Ken Follett and others try to clear it up--but don't quite succeed.
DO YOU REMEMBER ROBERT HEINLEIN? If you read science fiction as a young enthusiast (guilty!) you probably thought him the equivalent of H.G. Wells. But did you know that he was one of the fathers of libertarianism? Nor did we till we read this rather assertive article from the American Spectator.
NET LINGO AS THE NEW LINGUA FRANCA. Or, you could call it cyber-speak. But, text messaging is something else again. For clarification--and exemplification--this article from Walrus, the new Canadian magazine, will be of use and/or amusement.
A MOVING ELEGY. Here is Ravel's Pavane pour une infante defunte movingly played by Paul Crossley on piano.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
THE WASHINGTON TIMES USUALLY ASSUMES THE WORST CASE...but, all the same, this article on Islamist-terrorist penetration of the West--and of the U.S. particularly--seems to be "well-sourced" and, to understate, it does give cause for serious concern.
WHAT DOES GEORGE W. HAVE IN COMMON WITH PRESIDENTS MONROE AND ROOSEVELT? Tony Blankley, in today's Washington Times, quotes an "eminent diplomatic historian" on the novelty and value of the Bush foreign policy.
IS HITCHENS KICKING A CANDIDATE WHEN HE'S DOWN? Well, yes, probably. But it isn't mere schadenfreude that commends this column from today's Wall Street Journal. Dean may have been less capable at disguising his disingenuousness than are most American politicians.
WHITHER THE JEWISH VOTE? Not neccesarily to their 1/4 cousin Kerry according to this analysis, from today's Slate, by the former editor of the Jerusalem Post.
UPPING THE ANTE FOR BROADCAST INDECENCY. The ACLU is bound to raise a fuss but this may be the way to get broadcast executives to take decency standards seriously. The amendment was provoked by the Janet Jackson caper, but has reference to the general "race toward the bottom" in television and radio. The subcommittee that oversees the FCC is holding hearings on this right now.
PR FROM THE FCC. The House hearings promise to stir things up on the indecency front. This story obviously has an FCC source--but it does not address the fact that the Commission has acted on virtually none of the thousands of "indecency complaints" it has received in recent years.
PARDON OUR OBSESSIVE INTEREST...in today's hearings on broadcasting but, after all, we are in the broadcasting business. This backgrounder from Netscape News gives a good deal of the background for today's bloodletting exercise.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT THE BBC? A fine, overall recounting of the history of the troubles at Portland Place is provided here by a major British journalist. The article is from the current issue of the Weekly Standard.
ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE "KHOMEINI REVOLUTION"...almost all of the "useful idiots" have been killed off or supressed. So what are the real Khomeinists up to now? This vauable op-ed by Amir Taheri appeared yesterday in the New York Post.
THE IMPRISONED CUBAN LIBRARIANS AND THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION. The latter will do nothing to protest the incarceration of their Cuban colleagues. This scandalous situation is reported and judged by Nat Hentoff in this biting article from the Village Voice.
BILL GATES, YES; WARREN BUFFETT, OF COURSE. But did you know about Li Ka-shing or Azim Premji. Has Forbes missed any multi-billionaire in your car-pool?
SHEER MUSICAL DELIGHT...was readily supplied by Carl Maria von Weber and never more so than in his music featuring the clarinet. Here, in a fine london performance, is his Clarinet Quintet in B Flat Major.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
WHAT BUSH MUST DO TO WIN. Lots of people will aspire to offer some pointed advice. A few may be heard--and one of them will probably be George Will. Thus, this column from last Sunday's Washington Post just might serve as a guide to how the Bush campaign will organize its arguments.
BROOKS SPEAKS FOR BUSH. The new conservative columnist for the New York Times replays last Sunday's Russert/Bush interview as--in his view--it should have been. An interesting attempt at providing a presidential apologia pro vita sua.
GAD SIR, LORD ACTON WAS RIGHT! Power does tend to corrupt...and that's why John Fund is worried about how the congressional Republicans (his people) are beginning to cash in, big time. This warning shot across the bow is from yesterday's Wall Street Journal.
TROUBLE ON THE ANTI-BUSH RIGHT. This insider account of life in the paleoconservative sphere (by a pricipled defector) has just appeared in Front Page magazine.
WOMEN IN THE ARAB WORLD. This wise, calm and informative study was recently put forward by the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. It is of middle length (12 pages) and worth your full attention.
WHAT IF THERE IS NO DARK MATTER...and no dark energy either? Then it would be back to the drawing board for all cosmological theorists who, lately, have said that the universe will expand forever. OK, so maybe it won't! Better get straight on where things stand (maybe!) with this report from the Economist.
AS THE SCHOLARS STILL STRUGGLE WITH THE HOLOCAUST. This review of a book that develops some "new perspectives" has just been reviewed at the H-Net site which is given over to servicing scholars of like mind.
THE STRANGE CASE OF MADALYN MURRAY O'HAIR. We tried to do a radio program with her a long time ago. But she pulled out because, we were told, she didn't trust Jews! A year or so later, she disappeared. Her life and death are recounted in a new biography reviewed here in Reason magazine.
SOMETIMES INFURIATING, SOMETIMES WRONG...but always well worth reading. What? The Forward, America's national Jewish newspaper. This recent article from the Columbia Journalism Review is a good introduction. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Levy's Rye Bread said the great ad of years ago; ditto for the Forward.
SARTRE VS. CAMUS: CAMUS WINS! Reviewing a new book about the falling out between the two leading Parisian existentialists, Edward Rothstein concludes that Camus had the more decent, more intelligent, and thus more lasting, understanding of political morality. And, in this, he anticipated (please don't tell Pat Buchanan!) modern neoconservatism.
GOODBYE TO ALL THAT. According to the always interesting Mark Steyn, Neil Simon's latest play is a funeral oration for Broadway itself. Interesting, even if not particularly true--though it probably is. The essay is from the current New Criterion.
CLASSIC JAZZ AT ITS BEST! Frankie Trumbauer recruited such great jazz figures as Pee Wee Russel, Bix Beiderbecke and Jack Teagarden into his band. These recordings, from the late twenties and through the thirties, comprise one of the best archives of larger ensemble jazz.
Monday, February 09, 2004
THE AWAKENED BEAR. Has Russia returned to an anti-Western stance in Europe? The evidence, as reviewed and interpreted here by William Safire in today's New York Times, suggests that some serious trouble may be coming from Rootin-Tootin-Putin. Extension 720 recently did a comprehensive discussion of the current state of Russia which can be heard here.
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PAKISTAN PROLIFERATION OPERATION. Here's an informative profile of Abdul Quadeer Khan from the Economist. The question remains: how complicit were Musharraf, his intelligence service and the Islamist-oriented sectors of the military command?
THE NORTH KOREAN HORROR! Final substantiation of these claims has not been provided. But, if the U.N. has any utility at all, it should instantly undertake an on-site investigation. This account of democide in North Korea appeared a week ago in the UK Guardian.
THE ELECTION WILL BE ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR. Walter Shapiro's reading of yesterday's Russert/Bush interview is, we think, on target. This has just appeared in USA Today.
PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS IS PERSONALITY NOW! Or, at least, success in the primaries and the general election depends on the persona--manufactured or otherwise--that the candidate's media team can get across to the voters. William Powers made the case, not unpersuasively, in the National Journal a few days ago. The provided links are worth checking.
A PROFESSOR WITH REAL INFLUENCE. Bernard Lewis--a guest on our program about a year ago--seems to have been the most important intellectual influence upon the framers of the administration's Iraqpolicy. This appreciative profile ran in the Wall Street Journal last week.
THE LITERARY CONSTRUCTION OF ROBERT E. LEE. This challenging essay appeared about a year ago in the scholarly journal, Civil War History. It relates to one of the main themes that we will be discussing tonight in our program about the Literature of the Civil War.
THEY USED TO BE SOVIETOLOGISTS...now they are controversialists and engaged in a great--and rather bitter--academic debate. At issue is whether the Stalinist and post-Stalinist regimes had significant popular support or, rather, stayed in power through intimidation. This interesting report is from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
THE LIFE, ACHIEVEMENT AND DEATH OF STEFAN ZWEIG. Anthony Daniels places an important--but almost forgotten--writer from mitteleuropa in historical context...and extracts significant meanings from his work and his despair. This excellent study is from the current issue of City Journal.
IS THE NY TIMES DUMBING DOWN THE BOOK REVIEW? Here's how the UK Guardian's man in New York is telling the story to the British readers. Actually, we have long thought that the Sunday Book Review was firmly located in lower middlebrow territory--but what's wrong with that?