Friday, April 23, 2004
CAN BIN LADEN BE "CAUGHT"...and, if so, how and by whom? This symposium with three counter-terrorism specialists from the RAND Corporation was published today in Front Page magazine.
WHY HAS BUSH RISEN (A BIT MORE THAN SLIGHTLY) IN THE POLLS? We have published a few interpretations from pro-Bush sources. Here is one from an associate editor at the New Republic which, by any standard except their Middle East policy, is a major liberal and pro-Kerry source. This op-ed was published today in the New York Times.
MORE ON THE POLL PARADOX...this time from Krauthammer in his column in today's Washington Post and with a special focus on the Kerry plan to revise our Iraq policy.
THE "SHARON INITIATIVE"...can be "built upon" in a way that may advance the movement toward a real settlement between Israel and Palestine. But, says Dennis Ross, who was President Clinton's special mid-east envoy, the peace-oriented Palestinian leaders must step forward NOW. This important commentary appeared last week in the Los Angeles Times but seems to have been lost in the rapid flow of other crises.
HAMAS, POST-RANTISI. Where will their secret leadership take then now? Some informed, but inevitably speculative, possibilites are laid out in this intelligence-brief from the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University.
THE "USEFUL (LEGAL) IDIOTS" IN NORTH KOREA. We carried the item yesterday--as published in Front Page--detailing the trip of a delegation of american lawyers to North Korea. As members of the long-established and super-leftist National Lawyers Guild they were obviously expected by their hosts to report some favorable impressions of the last Stalinist state. But they have outdone the expectations of their hosts and someone's going to get a medal--maybe even a square meal--back in the People's Paradise Public Relations Ministry when they read this report recently released by the friendly visitors from NLG. Our thanks to Mike DeBow of "Southern Appeal" for alerting us to this lengthy leftist lapse into lunancy.
FIRST AMENDMENT VIOLATIONS OF THE THIRD (PC) KIND...continue to degrade the quality of life at many American universities. As witness this infuriating tale from Missouri State University. The tale is told by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education upon whose advisory board the proprietor serves.
HOW TO GET AROUND POOR PERFORMANCE ON ACHIEVEMENT TESTS. Throw away the tests, of course! Still, the rationale from the social science left deserves close attention. It is presented here, in an article from The Nation, as well as possible, while still preserving a modicum of respect for the intelligence of the reader.
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE WAS FORMED BY SAXONS, ROMANS, DANES, FRENCH...AND SHAKESPEARE! Two new books investigate and list the phrases and operative metaphors put into the language by that one "sweet swan." Here is a partial accounting just published in--of all places--The National Geographic.
THE EVANGELICALS YOU SHALL ALWAYS HAVE AMONG YOU...and they are closely--but not consensually--viewed in three recent works described in this article from today's Chronicle of Higher Education.
THE LIAR IS INVARIABLY AND UNIVERSALLY DESPISED...said Samuel Johnson in this famous essay written in 1753. Can any publicist, professor or politician read this and simply laugh it off?
FEAR AND TREMBLING OVER THE ATHENS OLYMPICS. We didn't know that the apprehension over terrorist targeting of the games was so high as to cast a pall--rather than a happy glow--over this coming August in Athens. This informative report is from the British journal, Spiked.
THE OTHER GREAT FAUST--NOT GOUNOD BUT BERLIOZ! This was composed not as an opera but as a "dramatic work for chorus and soloists" and it has the special power and idiosyncratic musical vocabulary of all of Berlioz's major works. The performance was recorded in 1999 and is conducted by Valery Gergiev.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
BOOMERANG, SYMPATHY OR "RALLY ROUND THE FLAG," CONTD. The question, in the light of recent polls, is "Why the race is looking so good for Bush." Here's an interesting set of answers provided by Howard Fineman at MSNBC.
MORE ON THE BUSH REVIVAL...this time in an interesting piece from Joan Venocchi of the Boston Globe.
HEADLINE: U.N. DECLINES ON VIRTUEMETER SCALE. Whowoodathunkit? There are, apparently, some people at that Valhalla on the East River who are capable of seeking less-than-totally-legitimate gain....and at some inconvenience to the nations and populations they are supposed to serve. The latest on the oil-for-fraud scandal is told here by The Economist.
STRANGE ANTI-BUSH BEDFELLOWS. They have come together because of their shared opposition to the "imperial" intentions that they pereceive to have motivated the Iraq intervention. We think that perception to be grossly inaccurate and have argued as much on our program with the new group's presiding intellectual leader, John Mearshimer. This article from American Prospect--the unofficial organ of the Democratic Leadership Council--has just appeared and it does reveal what is afoot but, of course, does not put the emerging consensus shaped by Mearshimer/Buchanan/Cato Libertarians to any critical examination.
STEYN CUTS THROUGH IT. Through what? Let's call it obfuscation, or pessimism, or unrelenting partisanship. Whatever the anti-Iraq-policy claque is pushing these days, in this piece from the Jerusalem Post, Mark Steyn lays on, with his usual verbal pyrotechnics, some heartening realism.
ARE WE LOSING (OR WILL WE LOSE) OUR TECHNOLOGICAL EDGE? Tom Friedman of the New York Times is good at finding things to worry about...and today he seems to have struck pay dirt.
WE HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD NORTH KOREA ALL THESE YEARS...but we are fortunate indeed to have a delegation of uhhh, "liberal" lawyers to give us the true and favorable picture of this left-over Stalinist paradise. This rather astonishing article appeared today in Front Page magazine.
TWO CRITICS OF FREUD CRITICIZE ONE ANOTHER. Add this, though it was published some seven years ago, to the list of great public-argumentative exchanges. It appeared in the Times Literary Supplement...and, of course, the argument persists as to whether there is anything of lasting worth in Freud.
ARISE YE EXPLOITED TEACHING ASSISTANTS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY. A columnist for the Seattle Times views the campaigns at Columbia, Yale and University of Washington with some skepticism. But...
U.S.GRANT AND MARK TWAIN. This fine review/essay by Larry McMurtry takes is in response to a new book about the friendship--and working relationship--between those two outstanding figures of post-civil war America.
EUGENE, WE HARDLY KNEW YOU! A political biography of Gene McCarthy has just appeared. Like the reviewer, Michael Janeway, the proprietor also knew him a bit and was, at times equally confounded. A good review, from the New York Observer, of what sounds like a book well worth reading.
A SCHOLARLY TAKE ON THE WELLS-DOYLE CONNECTION. This brisk article (well, brisk for an academic, that is) draws some interesting connections between Sherlock Holmes and the Time Machine of H.G. Wells.
JAZZ, BLUES AND POP FROM THE THIRTIES. These recordings have been well restored and--though varying in musical quality--give a sense of the rich music of that time. Noteworthy for serious listening: Benny Goodman, Fats Waller, Bunny Berigan.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
IS IT BOOMERANG OR "RALLY ROUND THE FLAG?" However you interpret it, the polls of the last few days have shown a decided (but single digit) surge for Bush over Kerry. How and, possibly, why are addressed in this story from the Bloomberg bunch.
AND WILL THE WASHINGTON POST BE NEXT? Where do the newspaper scandals end? Are falsification and plagiarism now the basic way of playing the reportorial game as Jayson Blair recently contended? He is, of course, the current champion established liar. Still...one wonders and subliminally shudders. Here is Howie Kurtz's account, published in the Washington Post, of the latest eruption--this time at USA Today.
DID THE ISRAELIS ENGAGE IN "ETHNIC CLEANSING" IN 47-48? David Gutmann, a distinguished senior figure in my own porofession (academic psychology), was there as an American volunteer with Palmach. His account, published today in Front Page, is a valuable corrective to the prevailing mythic version of the history of that first Arab/Israeli war.
THE NEW EU CONSTITUTION COULD SQUELCH "NEW EUROPE"...by putting it, effectively, under the control of Germany, France and the rest of "old Europe." So argues Frank Gaffney in this important and worried prediction piece published today.
A REJECTION OF THE NEW HUNTINGTON THESIS. Alan Wolfe argues that Sam Huntington has relapsed into a kind of ill-considered, immigrant-bashing. We think that that isn't what Sam meant at all--but this critique--vigorously and emphaticaly written--deserves a serious reading. The editors at Foreign Affairs agree and have made it one of their lead articles in their May/June issue.
MEXICANS (EVEN "UNDOCUMENTED") ARE GOOD FOR US...said Tamar Jacoby in her new book and on our program last week. Not quite so says Derbyshire of the National Review. Ultimately we need to import (or build) robots!! Read on...it will all become clear in an instant.
EINSTEIN ON THE SATELLITE. Here, from the BBC, is the rationale for the newest experiment to "test" relativity theory.
JACK AND JACKIE SEEN THROUGH ANOTHER BOOK DARKLY. We have been reading the same work that Bill Safire writes about in this column from today's New York Times. Bedell Smith has talked to almost "everybody" and the resulting history confirms and augments what Seymour Hersh reorted some years ago in "The Dark Side of Camelot."
LAUGH, I THOUGHT I'D DIE. From Wikipedia, a discursis on the ultimate joke--than which there can be nothing funnier. Three or four candidates are to be found here. Our favorite is the one supplied by the British psychiatrist.
WHEN LONGFELLOW WROTE HIAWATHA...he thought he had captured the authentic intonation and rythmic cadence of Indian epic song. Lewis Carroll was, to say the least, bemused and then went on to amuse with one of the great parodies of western literature. And now, without further ado...
WHAT DID THE BRITISH MILITARY BAND PLAY AT THE YORKTOWN SURRENDER? Everyone knows the answer: A tune wonderfully titled--The World Turned Upside Down. However, historo-musical scholarship finds no evidence that it was played and much evidence that it wasn't...and perhaps that there was no such tune in existence at the time! Here, in a wonderfully precise investigative essay, is...the rest of the story.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
DOES TODAY'S POLL REFLECT A BOOMERANG EFFECT? It could be that the "revile and mock" assaults upon Bush have created a sympathy reaction among some of "undecided." At any rate, as one examines these results from Gallup one does wonder whether the O'Franken Factor nets out as a boon for the Bush/Cheney campaign.
SO WHAT ABOUT GORELICK AND THE "OBJECTIVITY" OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION? Left and right have lined up on this one--but beyond the political game now undermining the commission's value, lie some intractable facts. Andrew McCarthy examines them and reasons therefrom in this column from today's National Review.
HITCHENS' SECOND LOOK AT THE IRAQ WAR. Everyone's doing it in response to the spate of critical books and the hard few weeks squelching the "uprisings." Hitch, as usual, does it with high brio and no particular words minced.
THE IRAQI MURDER INDICTMENT OF AL-SADR. There is a significant story here that has been largely ignored in the Western press. A leading Australian journalist has been looking into the history of the case and here is his valuable report as published yesterday in The Australian.
THE MIDEAST EVALUATED BY AN "UNFRIEND." That would be The Economist magazine which, in this lead article, views Sharon critically and Bush worriedly. Still, their analysis of the present moment (pre-Gaza withdrawl, post-Rantisi assasination) is bounded by cautionary realism.
IS THERE A DISTINCTIVE AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY...and, if so, is it essentially "neoconservative?" In this historically-attuned essay Zachary Selden, a high bureaucrat at NATO, answers "yes" to both questions and examines the contrast in working assumptions between the U.S. and its erstwhile European allies. The essay is from Policy Review, the journal of the Hoover Institution.
GIVING UP THE F WORD IS SO HARD TO DO...if one were to believe Bono, Penn (and Teller?) and Margaret Cho and Minnesota Public Radio (huh?). Here's the latest on the effort to punish, and thus limit, broadcast indecency. We stand with the FCC on this one.
THE ANNALS OF POST-FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS. None of the Deux Magots crowd (including Sartre and Foucault) made more out of less than the once premier psychoanalytic theorist of France. Lacanism still persists in American humanities departments; thus this critical history by Richard Webster has considerable corrective value--as well as being a first-rate intellectual entertainment.
THE RELIGION OF THE LEGIONS OF ROME...was, more than any other, Mithraism. Thus the fellows who scourged Jesus (as on view in the recent Gibson film) probably worked off the tension through rituals rather like those described here.
THE WIFE OF BRITAIN'S CHIEF FASCIST...was one of the Mitford Girls. One of her sisters hung around with Hitler; another became a leading member of the American Communist Party. And here's an informative review of a biographical study of Lady Diana that appeared a few years ago. A new one is, we are reliably informed, in the works.
FOR NATIONAL SECRETARY'S DAY...A REALLY GREAT SECRETARY! It is time that Donald Rumsfeld got proper recognition for the things he does so well. The Onion renders him all due deference and appreciation in this story published a few days ago.
GREAT DUETS FROM GREAT OPERAS AND SUNG BY GREAT SINGERS! For starters, try Jan Peerce and Licia Albanese in the selection from La Traviata--and don't miss Callas and Gobbi from Tosca.
Monday, April 19, 2004
ZAKARIA ON HOW TO SNATCH VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF CONFUSION. As always, we find the editor of Newsweek's International Edition a wise commentator...and we recommend this article from the new issue not only to our blogvisitors but to the White House inner circle.
BROOKS OF THE TIMES: I STILL BELIEVE BUSH DID THE RIGHT THING! The reference is, of course, to the invasion of Iraq. The reasoning, as given in this weekend column, notes that some serious mistakes were made but predicts that, in twenty years, all will see the value and neccessity of the operation that now stirs such deep controversy.
MORE APPLICABLE WISDOM ABOUT IRAQ...published in (of all places!) the New York Times yesterday. The author, a historian who knows how to use the past to illumine the present, argues that inappropriare comparisons to Vietnam must be resisted as we buckle down to the tasks now required of us.
SOME VOICES FROM IRAQ....as encountered on the internet and interpreted by Richard Brookhiser in the New York Observer yesterday. There are now a number of valuable blogs originating in Iraq and we have added some to a list of recommended sites.
ARE THE NEW IMMIGRANTS FROM MEXICO RESISTING ASSIMILATION? That is the contention of Sam Huntington whose recent article on the matter was featured here. Tamar Jacoby, editor of the book Reinventing the Melting Pot, disagrees and said so on our program last week. Now, the former Foreign Minister of Mexico gets in on the argument with this op-ed from the Los Angeles Times.
FIVE YEARS AFTER COLUMBINE...all the experts seem to think that something as bad or--probably--worse is bound to happen again. The story was worked up through extensive interviews and was published a few days ago in the Denver Post.
LOOKING FOURTEEN BILLION YEARS BACK. That's just what they did last month at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Here is the full story of how they did it and of what new knowledge about our cosmic origins will now become available. The Hubble image is available for your analytic perusal.
THE NEW BIOGRAPHY OF EDWARD TELLER...is obviously a rather critical one if this article by its author is predictive. Still, the character of the "father of the hydrogen bomb" was and, a few years after his death, remains a subject of controversy. By the way, Goodchild is surely wrong in his judgement that Teller ruined the career of Oppenheimer. The latter did go on, after all, to head the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton for many years after he lost his security clearance.
ET TU, NABOKOV? A mystery, perhaps hinted in his Pale Fire, now surrounds the origins of Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita." Ron Rosenbaum, who has a great interest in the unravelling of secrets (whether about Hitler or Skull and Bones--both treated in books of his composition) takes on the task, in this article published yesterday, of unravelling this particulary tangled web.
THE INVENTED "VIA DOLOROSO." Whatever path Jesus may have followed to the crucifixion, it was not the one shown to tourists in Jerusalem or to the world by Mel Gibson in his film version of The Passion. Archeological evidence is nil--except for evidence of a fair amount of faking, according to this expert report from the journal of the Archeological Institute of America.
WHO WERE THE MOST MEMORABLE MOVIE CHARACTERS? Don Corleone ranks first according to this article in Premiere magazine. For ranks 2-100, read on!
THE GREAT JAZZ TROMBONIST, JACK TEAGARDEN...was also a consummate vocalist. He is heard in both capacities with this band that he fronted during the 1930s. Essential to hear: Stars Fell on Alabama; Rockin' Chair; I Got a Right to Sing the Blues.