Director

Board to Death

To the frustration of many a cabinet secretary, the Obama administration is a little behind on its appointments. At this point—with only five weeks to go before the Senate breaks for recess—a little over half of the 514 positions that need filling have been filled. Some jobs are really important: The nominee for the Office of Legal Counsel has been held up for months. Obama’s choice for a USAID director came down just today. U.S. attorney nominations have slowed to a crawl. Other jobs?

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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books.To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports. When John Wilkes Booth opened fire on President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre in April 1865, the media was puzzled.

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Rembrandt’s J’Accuse Film Forum The Maid Elephant Eye Films  Peter Greenaway, the British director who was educated as a painter, first came to wide attention in 1982 with The Draughtsman’s Contract, a silky comedy about seventeenth-century aristocrats. Greenaway then promptly set out not to build on this success, undertaking one eccentric film project after another. It was almost as if he were determined not to grow cumulatively, as most of the best directors have done. Of the Greenaway works that I have seen, only two of them--quite unlike each other--stand out in memory.

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Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University, author of The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream, and an occasional contributor to The Treatment. Diane Archer is the director of the Health Care Project at the Institute for America's Future and the founder and past president of the Medicare Rights Center. How short memories are in Washington.

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'Toyetic'

For anyone who fears he or she may hold Hollywood studio executives in insufficiently low esteem, the Wall Street Journal offers this trend story: Soon to be starring in his own feature-length film with Universal Pictures: Stretch Armstrong, the pliant, muscle-bound doll whose roots go back to the 1970s. Big Wheel, the plastic tricycle, has its own TV show in the works. Even the board game Risk has a deal for a film, to be co-produced by star Will Smith.... John Fogelman represents the likes of Courteney Cox, Whoopi Goldberg and director J.J.

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I don't usually re-publish emails straight from political parties, but this collection of quotes following the 2001 elections, emailed by the DNC, is pretty telling. NRCC Talking Point: “The 2001 Off-Year Elections Have No Bearing On Next Year’s Mid-Term Elections. These Races Revolved Around Local Issues And Local Candidates. There Were No Discernable National Trends.” NRCC Talking Points: “The 2001 off-year elections have no bearing on next year's mid-term elections. These races revolved around local issues and local candidates.

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Now Google is in. In compelling testimony to the Energy and Public Works Committee last week, the director of climate change and energy initiatives for the company's philanthropy (Google.org), Dan Reicher, mounted a powerful argument that the federal government should invest at least $15 billion a year of climate bill revenues in clean energy research and development. Declared Reicher: Putting a price on carbon, while absolutely necessary, is not sufficient to address the climate problem and importantly, will not put the U.S.

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Someone, somewhere, has surely commented that you can tell a lot about a person from what he or she happens to find funny. For this reason, I have always thought that the roars of approval which greeted P.J. O'Rourke's jokes about homeless people said it all about the 80s.

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Disorganized

Tea partiers, townhall protesters, Texas secessionists--for the past few months, grassroots organizing has seemed to be mostly the domain of the right. And for a period this summer, they (okay, not the Texas secessionists, but the others) appeared to be successfully tugging the national debate in their direction.

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Topic number one in health care reform right now is the public option--and, in particular, Senator Harry Reid's decision to push a bill that includes an "opt-out" proposal. But Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, had relatively little to say about it on Tuesday, when she appeared at TNR's health reform conference. Her keynote address barely touched upon the subject.

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