Friday, March 19, 2004
THE WOLFOWITZ TESTAMENT. On the occasion of the first anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war--and in the wake of massive bombings in Baghdad and Madrid--the deputy secretary of defense is still optimistic. This op-ed appeared in today's New York Post.
BE CAREFUL--VERY, VERY CAREFUL---WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT CUBA...if you are a Cuban living on the island. Past service to the regime and professional attainment won't protect you from the wrath of El Maximo. This story from the Sun-Sentinel recounts the outrageous sufferings of those "dissident" intellectuals imprisoned a year ago by Castro.
THE WEST AS "FALL GUY" FOR THE DECLINE OF ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION. That's the thesis put forward by Tom Sowell in his column yesterday with--as might be expected from an economist--particular stress on how they muffed their economic opportunities and advantages.
MURDER IS O.K. WHEN DONE BY "FREEDOM FIGHTERS"...so argue two BBC guests without any contradiction from the talk show host. A British friend called this to our attention and sent along this commentary by Melanie Phillips.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS...not with a bang or a whimper but (possibly) A BIG RIP!! That is the serious speculation forced upon some astrophysicists by the abundance of dark energy that is now discovered to be everywhere in abundant supply. The details are well conveyed in this article from yesterday's New York Times.
HOW HERMANN GOERING OUTFOXED ROBERT JACKSON. This fascinating article by two Minneapolis lawyers examines the trial dialogue between the second ranking Nazi and the American prosecutor--and argues that the former got the better (temporarily) of the latter. Some lessons for contemporary prosecutors are drawn but the deeper interest is in the review of the Nazi horrors as such. Appended and linked is the full transcript of the Nuremberg trials of 1945-46 now available through the Avalon Project at Yale.
AND EVERYTHING SHE WRITES IS SHARP, CORRECT AND ELEGANT! The author of this profile from the New York Observer could have started with that judgement of his subject--the redoubtable Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal. Still, it is a boon to have this humanized portait of one of the very best of the opinion journalists.
ON THE MAKING OF A NEOCONSERVATIVE INTELLECTUAL. Norman Podhoretz, together with Irving Kristol, virtually defined and established the species. A recent collection of his random essays illuminates what happened to him and how according to this review/essay from the New Criterion.
THE ONTOLOGICAL PROOF OF GOD'S EXISTENCE...or, St. Anselm over a good bottle of Arnmagnac on a recent night in Paris. Jonathan Barnes, in this bit of badinage from The Spectator provides a painless lesson in the higher sophistry.
IT WAS BETTER THAN "COTTON COMES TO HARLEM"...when Jayson Blair settled in for a session with the customers at the Hue-Man bookstore on 125th Steet. This account from the Village Voice is palimpsestic in its many levels of meaning...and is, as well, riveting reading.
THE MARRYING KIND IN JEDDAH. Saleh Al Saieri is up to wife #58 and has only two more to go! This was surely worth a prominent space as a feature in today's issue of Arab News.
THE KING OF COUNTRY MUSIC...back a few decades ago was Roy Acuff who, when he wsn;t presiding at Grand Ol' Opry ran for governor of Tennessee. Here is a sampling of his pure, melodic--and often religious--repertoire.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
ZAWAHIRI IS IN THE TRAP...MAYBE. This report is just in on Thursday afternoon and one hopes for plenty of confirming detail by tonight. But, don't be surprised if it all evaporates.
A COMPARATIVE RARITY THESES DAYS...is a column or essay that still fully endorses--and predicts good consequences from--our action in Iraq. One such effort that argues the case well is this from the American Enterprise Institute.
CAN WE (OR IRAQ) AFFORD CHALABI? Arnaud de Borchgrave--who once thought better of the man--now sees Ahmad Chalabi as the leading power broker in Iraq, and it does not advantage either nation for that to be the case. The piece appaeared in the Washington Times last week--but it escaped our notice until now.
COUNTER-TERRORISM, RUSSIAN STYLE. This article is translated from a leading Russian military journal. General E.A. Karpov and his colleagues lay out some basic considerations even as they lightly fault the American approach.
THE MINROS RUN IT ALL! Who? The military-industrial-neoconservative-Republican oligarchs...and they are piping the tune to which the naive country is dancing. Max Boot explains it all in this slightly hilarious piece from the Los Angeles Times.
AN ATHEIST ARGUES FOR RELIGION...or, rather, for its prime importance in promoting and maintaining "decency." The author of this piece from the New Statesman has been a guest on Extension 720.
ANOTHER FINE POLITICO-LITERARY ESSAY FROM HITCHENS. This time, in the current issue of The Atlantic, he takes on Edmund Burke and, with his usual bravura cadence, makes the great conservative live.
A FRIEND IS PROFILED. Joe Epstein IS a small, fabulous Jew and, all in all, this profile from January magazine is not grossly mistaken. JE is, of course, a rather frequent guest on our program.
ON THE OTHER HAND--HERE'S ANOTHER WAY TO SOLVE THE OSAMA PROBLEM. Scott Burgess at the Daily Ablution blog suggests (now remember, this is satire!) some carrots instead of a big stick.
THE SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION OF CLAIMS OF THE PARANORMAL...CIRCA, 1895! As a board member of CSICOP, the prorietor was delighted to find this record of the investigation (and showing up) of a paranormal performer more than a hundred years ago.
A GIFT FOR THE FELLOW WHO HAS EVERYTHING...including anhedonia. For a mere $400,000.00 you too can play at being double-oh seven.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
AN EXPLOSIVE VOTE...turned the Spanish election and invited further terrorism. So opines the Wall Street Journal this morning in one of the best commentaries we have seen about the Pain in Spain.
AND AFTER SPAIN, THE US AGAIN? The speculation was and is inevitable: Will the political influence exerted through the terrorism in Spain activate a pre-election duplication here? The AP White House reporter samples some scary opinions in this story.
AND YET ANOTHER. We thought that David Brooks' commentary--in the New York Times today--on the Spanish election was particularly wise and, risking redundancy, here it is.
MUSHARRAF GOES AFTER HIS WOULD-BE ASSASSINS. Apparently, the struggle against Wahabist terrorism IS being renewed by the Pakistani regime. This story from Reuters makes clear that the promised, serious push against those sheltering Al Qaeda has begun.
ALL ABOUT NOTHING. The point is that in modern physics "nothingness" can lead to "everything" we need to understand. And to understand that gnomic utterance do read this fine review--from the American Scientist--of two recent works of astrophysical pertinence.
A MAJOR HISTORIAN OF THE HOLOCAUST...is Christopher Browning who has appeared a number of times on our program. His important book, Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers, is reviewed here at the H-Net scholarly site.
THE KERRYS OF VIENNA. They are fairly close relatives, descended from a common grandfather; but "ganz mitteleuropisch!" This inevitably fascinating story is from the Boston Globe.
GERMANY GETS READY FOR GIBSON'S CHRIST. The German premiere comes on Thursday and, inevitably, the controversy is already raging as here reported by Deutsche Welle.
ARRIVEDERCI LUCIANO. He has sung his final opera performance at the Met, but will probably be concertising for a few more years. This appropriately indulgent review of his last New York Cavaradossi is from yesterday's Washington Post.
WHERE THE RICH GIRLS GO. This interesting glimpse into the shifting geographic and stylistic preferences of the smart set has just appeared in the New York Observer...and, in happy relief, is of no importance whatsoever.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN SETS RIMBAUD. The Illuminations were a series of prose poems done by the eighteen year old French poet. Britten set them to music in the late 1930s and they are performed here with striking strangeness.
Monday, March 15, 2004
THE SHAME OF SPAIN TO THE WEST GIVES MAINLY PAIN. Sunday's vote (reversing the predicted outcome) was a national act of appeasement. It rewards Wahhabist terrorists and encourages more of the same when Italy, Poland (and even France!) are on the eve of national elections. Here's an update on the Spanish capitulation.
HOW IRAQ LOOKS A YEAR LATER...to the neo-conservatives at the Weekly Standard. Kagan and Kristol were among those who strongly supported the invasion. Now, in this article just published, they evaluate what has been accomplished and what has been well and poorly done.
REALPOLITIK REQUIRES THE SPREAD OF DEMOCRACY. So asserts a former foreign service officer in this strongly stated essay just published in In The National Interest. The editors probably intend it to stand as a rationale for U.S. involvement in Iraq and for other carefully chosen initiatives to come.
HITCHENS EXPLAINS KERRY TO THE ENGLISH. Turning out a presidential-race primer for his countrymen, Hitch is discernably less explosive and contemptuous, more amused and bemused than in his American fulminations. The arguable case he makes in this piece from the London Mirror is that his lack of enthusiasm for Kerry is shared by all.
DYSFUNCTION AND PATHOLOGY. JUST WHAT WE NEED IN THE SENATE! Back here in Illinois we go to the primary polls tomorrow--and most of the senatorial candidates are now vying to tell us of their sins. It took a reporter for the Los Angeles Times to master all the confessional detail.
THE PAST IS PRESENT...and particles are vibrating strings...and, uh, like that. A Washington Post reporter tries to make sense out of the dazzling apercus of the latest physics guru...and a good time is had by all, including the reader.
STILL UNACCOUNTABLY EVIL AFTER ALL THESE YEARS! Stalin's murder, in the 1930s, of hundreds of thousands of loyal bolsheviks still beggars comprehension. A new book has appeared that attempts to penetrate the mystery. Though it fails, says this reviewer, it leads us to new understanding of the distortions of mind and action which were inherent in twentieth century totalitarianism.
THE APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA OF JAYSON BLAIR. The miscreant who brought the New York Times to (deserved?) disrepute has now evoked the standard cop out that "to know all is to forgive all." But Nicholas Lemann, in this review from the New Yorker, finds Blair lacking in self-knowledge and still untrustworthy.
THE INTERNAL CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS. A religio-academic argues that there are two Americas now: "observant" and "unobservant." The time has come, he suggests in this essay from the Denver Post, to end the culture war between these two Americas. Or else...what?
WHY SO FEW "CONSERVATIVE" PROFESSORS...at least in the humanities and social sciences? The question has been much debated over the last year. We found this commentary by blogger Jane Galt particularly well-observed and well-argued.
THE MYSTERY OF EASTER ISLAND APPROACHES SOLUTION...says Jared Diamond, one of our favorite program guests, in this review/essay from the current New York Review of Books. That he derives a sort of greenpeace meaning from it all is predictable but, all the same, worthy of serious consideration.
ALLEN ON MEYERS ON MAUGHAM. Jeffrey Meyers is an incorrigible literary biographer...and usually an insightful and entertaining one. Now he has got around to Maugham and here's the emminently readable review by Brooke Allen that appeared in yesterday's New York Times.
LORD MACAULAY DESTROYS ANOTHER AUTHOR. When he wasn't working on the next volume of his great histories, Macaulay amused himself by savaging such authors as came his way. This classic literary assassination was published in 1831 and still makes one shudder empathically (when not snickering in schadenfreulich delight) for poor John Wilson Croker.