The Political Animal

The Firing of Melissa Click

February 26, 2016




This is where the faculty case against firing Melissa Click, otherwise correct in every respect, falls apart: But no one on the campus filed a complaint against the professor, Ms. Henrickson said, a step that would have triggered the university’s own procedures. “No one took the opportunity to avail themselves of that process,” she said, […]





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The Causes of ISIS

December 24, 2015




Establishing what caused ISIS has become, for many, something of a cause. I have not researched exactly when the debate began – what was, as it were, the cause of the debate over the cause of ISIS – but certainly soon after its sweep from Syria into Iraq began, and unsurprisingly if even earlier, people […]





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La Habana Nueva

August 14, 2015




(It is a historic day — the American flag raised over the American embassy for the first time in 54 years. It seemed a good time to share my poem, La Habana Nueva, composed in 2002.) In the new Havana which is the old Havana but older, as Dylan was younger than that now Cesar […]





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Announcing the Release of FOOTNOTE #1: A Literary Journal of History

August 13, 2015




It has been a long time in gestation, but Footnote, a new literary journal with a unique focus is now here, and I am pleased to say that I am a featured writer in its inaugural issue, which includes ten pieces of my poetry, creative nonfiction, and documentary journalism. Over the coming days and weeks, […]





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Discrediting Arguments on the Iran Deal

August 11, 2015




Argument and persuasion are not the same thing. An argument is a series of statements, or premises, arranged and propounded to entail a conclusion – to support a claim. Persuasion is the attempt to influence and change minds. Ideally, the former plays the major role in the latter, but in politics and policy, as in […]





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Arguments in Defense of the Iran Deal and Their Implications

August 4, 2015




There are many areas on which to focus one’s attention in the Iran deal. My own has been consistently drawn to the administration’s arguments in defense of the deal. Attended to, they are remarkably revealing in their implications about administration thinking, while not, in fact, actually being much remarked upon. It is a tediously if necessarily […]





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Penelope’s Last Day

July 28, 2015




When this blog was in its heyday, Penelope had a featured role on it. Julia photographed her. I wrote about her. Now that I prepare to modestly revive the blog, I feature Penelope one last time. Two months ago, after seventeen years, we lost Penelope, an eventuality I anticipated back when I was celebrating her. […]





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Iraq and “Last Days in Vietnam”

June 19, 2014




At the Los Angeles Film Festival I caught Rory Kennedy’s powerful and moving Last Days in Vietnam. If you think you are familiar with the story of the botched and frantic – and heroic – American evacuation of Vietnam, with the fall of Saigon, including some many tens of thousands of lucky Vietnamese, this film […]





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Ave Atque Vale

April 4, 2014




from Ave Atque Vale by Algernon Charles Swinburne XVIII For thee, O now a silent soul, my brother,       Take at my hands this garland, and farewell.       Thin is the leaf, and chill the wintry smell, And chill the solemn earth, a fatal mother,       With sadder than the Niobean womb,       And in the hollow of her breasts […]





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Ukraine and Legitimacy

March 17, 2014




It is fascinating to witness with events in Ukraine an enduring controversy of history in the making. Controversies arise all the time, of course, but some are drawn in more dramatic relief than others, and one of those is Ukraine, 2013-14. Most Western exponents of liberal democracy, of both right and left – by no […]





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The Revolution with No Name

March 11, 2014




When it seemed to some at the end of the Cold War that we had also reached the end of history, more than ever, every act of rebellion and revolution seemed cause to celebrate an elevated human spirit. After a long winter of merely staving off an enemy’s further success, now freedom was rising with […]





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A Misguided Argument About Anti-Semitism

February 18, 2014




(This essay originally appeared in the Algemeiner on February 11, 2014.) In the Wall Street Journal of February 3, Harvard’s Ruth R. Wisse published an Op-Ed titled “The Dark Side of the War on ‘the One Percent.” In the article, Wisse argues for a “structural” connection between “anti-Semitism and American class conflict.” First tracing the […]





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Academic Boycotts and Re-Colonization by Theory

February 3, 2014




(The full text of the following essay was published by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.) from “Academic Boycotts and Recolonization by Theory”  As a matter of international justice, however, conceptually distinguishing and crucial in consideration of what constitutes an indigenous people have been the following characteristics, developed for the Working Paper on the Concept […]





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A Second Look: Thinking Through the Iranian Dilemma

December 16, 2013




I posted the following on March 19 of last year. Nothing that has transpired since, not even the recently achieved, yet still not implemented short-term deal – which I think a basis for justified future military action just as it is, more hopefully, a foundation for peaceful resolution – has changed the balance of views […]





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A Second Look: Abraham Lincoln on the “Mud-Sill” Theory of Labor

December 2, 2013




The movement to increase the minimum wage, and to tie it legislatively to the cost of living, is growing. The obscenity of low-wage employment among adults – full-time employment that does not offer a living wage – is increasingly apparent. As Arindrajit Dube pointed out in The New York Times: the evidence suggests that around half of […]





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A Second Look: the End (of History, War, the Enlightenment, and Western Civilization) Or Not

November 18, 2013




My recent posts on Syria were argued against a more global backdrop: considerations of war and how it is entered into, with what achievable (or other) ends in mind, and, more specifically again, how the United States engages in it. In focus were questions of American empire and the nature of victory and whether it […]





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Syria, the Limits of Interventionism, and the International Order

November 11, 2013




Noted in the comments to the previous post, “A Plague: Contesting Syria, in Context,” is the posting of a reply to it at his blog from my ever wry blogging compadre, Snoopy the Goon. Please do  read it here. Below is my response to, ahem, the Goon. Dear Snoopy, How do we go on after […]





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A Plague: Contesting Syria, in Context

November 4, 2013




Context They are always there, sitting on both shoulders, sounding into your ears. On either side, they buzz insistently their ceaseless drone. Now, they speak of Syria, whisper and wheedle action or inaction as they wish. They have been singing their songs of superpower or imperial America since the end of World War II. In […]





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Norm of the Norm

October 22, 2013




I didn’t think I would write anything. I was not friend or family to Norm Geras, and so could speak nothing of the private man that those to whom he truly belonged had known. And how many were there who could say at least as much as I – that though I had never met […]





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Edward Snowden and the Question of Authority (a Surveillance of Terms)

October 14, 2013




Edward Snowden received the Integrity Award from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence this week, and WikiLeaks has posted several videos of the rarely-seen whistleblower during the event. The Huffington Post As opinions about Edward Snowden have flown wildly back and forth, the vocabulary of public debate has suffered woefully. The sorry truth is that […]





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A Second Look: James Madison & the Tea Party

October 2, 2013




The current government shut down over the Affordable Healthcare Act speaks directly to issues found in the nation’s beginnings. Among the many ironies of Tea Party foolishness is that while its adherents are enemies of federalism and shape minor deities of the nation’s founders, the nation’s founders very purposefully opted for federalism. This post from […]





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