February 2012

The Wisdom of G.H.W. Bush – and Barack Obama

February 28, 2012

. Whatever one’s judgment about the goal of the Gulf War of 1991, it is difficult to argue (which hardly means that no one will) that it was not superbly managed and prosecuted. The deeply and broadly experienced George Herbert Walker Bush, in contrast to his shallow but zealously missionary son G.W., famously chose, after [...]


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Freedom from Religion

February 26, 2012

. If freedom of religion as a concept is to be understood in its fullest sense, it must include freedom from religion. To have the freedom to practice one’s own religion must perforce mean to be free of the impositions of other religions, or of any religion at all. The “no establishment” clause of the [...]


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What Can “Free” Palestine

February 24, 2012

. On Wednesday The New York Times published an OpEd by Mustafa Barghouthi, a member of the Palestinian Parliament and “secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative.” The article is entitled “Peaceful Protest Can Free Palestine.” Peace is always a good start to resolving disputes. Here is what else would help to “free” Palestine. The [...]


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Some of the Words Are Theirs

February 22, 2012

. My column from the spring 2012 issue of West:  Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It and an exercise in the craft of poetry. The close of The Great Gatsby is probably the most famous and referenced ending of any American novel. Lyricized in a lushly romantic invocation of American promise, somehow gone wrong in the [...]


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The Nativist GOP and MSM Dereliction

February 20, 2012

. What is happening to the Republican Party is historic, and mainstream news organizations are missing the story. They are missing the story because they are a part of a governing-media complex that revels in its centrality to power and the clubbiness of its associations. Nowhere is this clubbiness more seductive and debilitating of the [...]


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Trita Parsi’s Three-Card Monte Argument Against Iran Sanctions

February 16, 2012

. Trita Parsi is never at a loss to provide excuses for Iran or explanations for how U.S. and Western policies toward Iran are mistaken. If you believe Parsi, those policies are even the source of conflict. Parsi’s latest argument appears at the Boston Review Online. Titled “Blunt Instrument: Sanctions Don’t Promote Democratic Change,” the [...]


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Penelope in Charge

February 14, 2012

. I’m still taken away by the first weeks of a heavy teaching load this semester, so I thought I’d take a moment, then, to honor the day – Penelope‘s 14th birtday, on February 14th, Valentine’s Day. If you don’t know Penelope, more’s the loss, but here’s a chance to get aquainted. I wrote about [...]


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CineFile – The City

February 12, 2012

. The remarkable The City, which ran for two years at the 1939 World’s Fair “City of Tomorrow” exhibit, is not so much a documentary in any sense of reportorial filmmaking as much as it is an early film essay on the nature of the modern industrial city and the planned green city. It was directed [...]


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Eating Poetry (XXX) – “Every telling has a tailing”

February 11, 2012

. In 1929, James Joyce recorded this rendition of “Anna Livia Plurabelle,” from Finnegans Wake. It is one of only two recordings of Joyce reading from his work, after a a much more sonically primitive 1924 reading of an excerpt from Ulysses. This wonderful animation by savagecabbage offers subtitles to aide in deciphering Joyce’s luccious vocalization of an [...]


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The Top Fifteen

February 7, 2012

    Amid the tedium of unpacking from our trip to Ecuador and the almost countless other occupations I should have been taking up, I’ve practiced some avoidance by futzing around here at the blog. What, I wondered, have been the most frequently read posts in my just over three years of blogging? The results [...]


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Why Obama’s Contraception Mandate for Religiously Affiliated Hospitals is Right

February 5, 2012

. “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” It’s the old categorical confusion again, doubly so in this debate. Religious freedom is protected in religious practice. Once cannot reasonably extend the umbrella of religious exception to the public sphere. The limited exemption (human sacrifice is frowned upon) of recognized [...]


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How We Lived On It (46) – “The Caging Of America”

February 4, 2012

. The temptation is to quote it all. This selection gives you an idea. From Adam Gopnik’s stunning New Yorker article on the sowing and reaping of American criminal justice. For most privileged, professional people, the experience of confinement is a mere brush, encountered after a kid’s arrest, say. For a great many poor people [...]


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“Israel Firster”: Anatomy of a Smear

February 2, 2012

. There are many aspects to the current controversy over use of the “Israel Firster” term. There are people who use the term – continue to use it, resistantly defending its use – and there are those who criticize them for it. The critics claim that adopters of the term are continuing an ages-old anti-Semitic [...]


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