January 2013

They of All People

January 30, 2013

. (Updated) It has been a fascinating week in anti-Semitism, but then they all are. The more I witness it, the more persuaded I become of the identity of the purer, more direct forms and the ignorant forms. After all, much ignorance – lack of knowledge and sophistication – is open with wonder and without [...]


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Two Epistemic Closures: The GOP and Israel-Critics

January 28, 2013

. (This commentary originally appeared in the Algemeiner on January 25, 2013.) What do Tuesday’s election results remind us of? They should recall the result of November’s U.S. elections. Against all evidence – and here I do mean all evidence – Mitt Romney and Republicans of every stripe, from Tea Party to establishment, genuinely believed that they [...]


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Finessing Foreign Policy

January 25, 2013

. In his testimony at yesterday’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry said, It is also imperative that in implementing President Obama’s vision for the world as he ends more than a decade of war, we join together to augment our message to the world. President Obama and every one of us [...]


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Inaugurations and Occasional Poetry

January 23, 2013

. How shall we receive Richard Blanco’s poem for the occasion of President Obama’s second inauguration? Occasional poems – poems written in honor of an occasion – may be as old as poetry itself. They have a great tradition, but quite arguably that tradition has significantly diminished. Why? One easily distinguished difference in the origination [...]


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Aaron Swartz and “Hactivision”

January 22, 2013

. When did it happen? When did technology become knowledge? When did code become wisdom? When did Greek gods become geek gods? When did the new product rollout or the tech-conference stage and back screen become lectern and altar, the new stained-glass backdrop for the church of futurism? An eighteen or thirty or twenty-five year [...]


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Picture This: 6 – Herman Leonard

January 20, 2013

. We visited the Grammy Museum Friday evening, on Figueroa Sweet at LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles. I expected something glitzy and promotional, fit for Universal City Walk and while there are elements, it is a serious small museum, focused on listening experiences, where one can gain a beginning university education in the history and features of twentieth-century American popular music. [...]


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Breaking Downton Abbey Bad

January 17, 2013

. Downton Abbey is remarkably instructive about story telling. The common wisdom is that while the audience grew during the show’s second season, the show actually went astray by descending into soap opera. ‘These observations raise the question of what exactly constitutes soap opera and why the audience nonetheless grew. Aside from the superficial, though genuine answer of [...]


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Why Obama Hearts Hagel

January 14, 2013

. This commentary first appeared in the Algemeiner on January 11.  The last time I wrote about President Obama’s then only rumored selection of Chuck Hagel I said two things I knew I would wish to revise. The first, rhetorically, was the question: “What was he thinking?” The second was a quotation from Gil Troy’s generally very good writing [...]


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Whistle Blowing and Blowing Smoke

January 9, 2013

. On Sunday, Scott Shane published an article in The New York Times about the prosecution of ex-CIA operative John C. Kiriakou for having revealed to a reporter the name of another, active and covert CIA agent. The back story is complex. I encourage you to read about it. Like many others, I think the context of [...]


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The Gun Party Crazies

January 8, 2013

. Talking Points Memo has a piece today about how “The White House Just Set Gun Rights Activists Ablaze.” Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported the gun violence task force led by Vice President Biden is considering gun legislation “far broader and more comprehensive…than simply reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition.” …. [...]


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The Hagelian Dialectic

January 7, 2013

. This commentary first appeared in the Algemeiner on January 4. Today, President Obama announced his nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense. The Chuck Hagel trial balloon has been aloft for weeks now, not to burst or land – since its lofting was never officially acknowledged – until either he [...]


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The Hastert Rule

January 3, 2013

. It is such a given so little reflected upon by its participants and observers, that political life leads to cynicism, that even when reflection periodically takes place, much is lost in the glare. Consider in this regard the already commonplace observation that in clambering back atop the “fiscal cliff” on Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House [...]


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