by Sanford LevinsonDoes any serious person believe that the current rush to pass a new law with regard to modes of interrogation (i.e., the potential use of what most people would regard as torture) and to the possibility that many detainees, especially low-level ones, will spend their lives in prisons without the slightest semblance of due process, is anything other than an artifact of Karl Rove and George Bush's desperate desire to scare the country into voting for vulnerable Republican representatives and senators by ramping up the fear attached to the "war on terror"?
I received the letter below from an Israeli friend who has a sharp analytic mind and is willing to see when facts have gone wrong for his side. I should also say that he is extremely knowledgeable both about the situation on his side of the armistice lines (and that's what they are, dating back to 1949) and on the other side(s). And, without actually naming him, let me tell you that he was in this last war, up to his neck but not over his head--not by a long shot.
by David Bell A quick addendum to Darrin's interesting post on European ignorance of American history. Of the roughly 100 French universities and graduate centers in the humanities, fewer than ten presently employ any historians of the United States at all. The principal French center for North American history, CENA, currently has 46 members and associates, of whom less than a third hold full-time faculty appointments.
by Cass SunsteinJohn McWhorter, of this very blog, has recently suggested that people are excited about Barack Obama's future because "he is black," and Marty Peretz, over at The Spine, cites McWhorter's piece with approval. McWhorter complains, "Take away Mr.
by John McWhorter Having participated in the debate over racial preferences and "diversity" for a while, I approach new books on the topic expecting variations on a few key positions. However, in The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality, University of Illinois at Chicago English Professor Walter Benn Michaels has an interesting take on the terrain. Michaels condemns the diversity regime for its social calisthenics about our cultural differences while turning a blind eye to class-based inequity.
by Darrin McMahon In his post several days ago, Casey Blake alludes to a disturbing trend in European intellectual circles--the tendency to "read back from the present moment to a sweeping condemnation of American history as a whole." European attitudes toward America are of course varied and complex--it is something I have been thinking a lot about of late as a collaborator for a forthcoming PBS documentary on the subject (see a clip here at the website of the Center for New American Media).
Just before noon yesterday, Thursday, The New York Times released online a dispatch telling us that U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton ruled against the prosecutor in the trial of Scooter Libby on how much and what classified information could be made public in the proceedings. I know that this will distress so-called civil libertarians, because they don't want Libby to be able to exercise his procedural rights. On the other hand, and especially with prosecutions in terrorist cases, these same civil libertarians want the defendants to know absolutely everything.
David Sanger's informative piece in yesterday's New York Times (to which I linked yesterday) begins with a tiny mistake. The Bush administration thought that its policy of containing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would keep him in New York and at the United Nations. But, Sanger asserts correctly, the Iranian president had a different plan, plan B. He did have that, and he exercised his freedom to speak (that he terrorizes citizens of his country into not exercising) at a deflated Council of Foreign Relations session at the Intercontinental Hotel. So far correct.
The distinguished linguist John McWhorter has written for The New Republic (here, here, and here), and for our Open University blog (here and here). I appreciate the sharpness and bravery of his thought. He has now written a piece, "The Color of His Skin," for The New York Sun, arguing that the only reason there is great support for Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president is the color of of his skin.
DEBKAfile, an intelligence Internet site put together daily by ex-Mossad staffers and other former Israeli security personnel, has often been on target and prematurely so. Sometimes it has been wrong. I don't know whether what seems to me to be the quite plausible report on a military alliance cemented at the 14th conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana earlier this month is reliable or not. The coalition--uniting Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela--seems to be taking shape at the initiative of Hugo Chávez, but with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad providing the show weapons.