October 13, 2010
Jamie Kirchick responds to my item criticizing his Wall Street Journal op-ed: Jon Chait writes that I "blame" American liberals "for the rise of European Islamophobia." But nowhere in my Wall Street Journal op-ed do I do such a thing. I merely point out what I believe to be the massive blind spot among many on the American left who went into a hyperbolic frenzy over opposition to the Park51 project while ignoring the genuine xenophobia of a continent and culture which they think America should emulate.
Are Liberals To Blame For Europe's Far Right?
October 12, 2010
My former colleague Jamie Kirchick, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, surveys the rise of Islamophobic far-right parties in Europe, and flays American liberals: Anyone who has traveled throughout Europe knows that its image as an exemplar of progressivism, and ethnic and religious diversity, is a fabrication of the American liberal mind. American liberals who ignore European bigotry while considering opposition to the Ground Zero mosque inexcusable bring to mind the mocking suggestion of German communist playwright Bertolt Brecht: "Would it not be easier in that case for the government to
October 07, 2010
The High Line New York City Millennium Park Chicago Citygarden St. Louis A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain.
It's Not Just D'Souza: British People Think Obama Is a Kenyan Anti-Colonialist, Too
September 28, 2010
The assertion of Newt Gingrich and of the conservative author Dinesh D’Souza that President Obama’s actions can somehow be explained by a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview has already been greeted with the ridicule it deserves. But the funny thing is that while this theory (let’s call it the “Kenya paranoia”) is silly, it also isn’t entirely new with Gingrich or D’Souza.
What’s Eating David Axelrod?
September 27, 2010
Among the many distinctions David Axelrod has achieved in his career, there is one that requires special elaboration: He is, it turns out, one of the few customers to have ever run a tab at Manny’s, the Chicago cafeteria and deli. This is not because the odd knish ($4.25) or side of potato chips ($0.75) threatened to leave him cash-poor. It is, rather, because Axelrod has long styled himself someone who accumulates wisdom at places regular people frequent, not the lacquered haunts of downtown Washington. What the Oval Room is to Beltway consultant-dom, Manny’s is to Axelrod.
The Road to Mastery
September 22, 2010
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong By Terry Teachout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 475 pp., $30) Duke Ellington’s America By Harvey G. Cohen (University of Chicago Press, 688 pp., $40) Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original By Robin D.G. Kelley (Free Press, 588 pp., $30) Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone By Nadine Cohodas (Pantheon, 449 pp., $30) I. During one of his engagements at the Cotton Club in the mid-’30s, Duke Ellington spotted Leopold Stokowski sitting near the stage a short time before the start of the show.
The Velvet Surrender
September 17, 2010
Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, is legendary for his lack of manners. When his country assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2009, Klaus—a stocky and vigorous man with close-cropped white hair and a fastidiously trimmed moustache—got into a scrap with a group of European politicians because he had refused to fly the EU flag above his office in Prague Castle. Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the snub “hurtful,” yet Klaus was anything but contrite. Instead, he used his first address to the European Parliament to compare the EU to the Soviet Union.
The Fortunate Journey
September 13, 2010
The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance By Henry Kamen (Yale University Press, 291 pp., $35) The historian Henry Kamen has spent a distinguished career presenting what he calls a “revisionist” history of early modern Spain.
Obama vs. the Republicans (With Full Speech Text)
September 08, 2010
I think it's safe to say that President Obama has given up on bipartisanship, at least for the foreseeable future. The White House just released prepared text of his economic speech to the City Club of Cleveland. A few weeks ago, House Minority Leader John Boehner gave a speech there, outlining his economic agenda (or, at least, what he claimed to be an economic agenda).
You Say Recession, I Say Depression
September 07, 2010
The terms “recession” and “depression” were once used to suggest that a downturn was not as bad as a “panic” or “crisis.” In fact, for the first years of his presidency, Herbert Hoover chose to refer to the downturn as a “depression” in an effort to convey that what the country was experiencing was just a temporary indentation. Only in 1931 did Hoover begin to speak of a “Great Depression.” Our current downturn has also been plagued by word games. Faced with the fear that the U.S.