Person Education

Arthur Miller By Christopher Bigsby (Harvard University Press, 739 pp., $35) I. Arthur Miller could hardly have hoped for a more sympathetic biographer than Christopher Bigsby. He is the director of the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies at the University of East Anglia, and the author of a long commentary on Miller’s work and a book-length interview with the playwright.

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Want a hint about what the president will say tonight? Check out the guest list for the First Lady's box, which the White House just published.

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What A City Needs

Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City By Anthony Flint (Random House, 256 pp., $27)   For urbanists and others, the battle between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs was the great titanic struggle of the twentieth century. Like the bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, their conflict has magnified significance, as the two figures have become symbols. Jacobs is the secular saint of street life, representing a humane approach to urban planning grounded in the messy interactions of the neighborhood.

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The Courtship

In the spring of 2005, New York Times columnist David Brooks arrived at then-Senator Barack Obama’s office for a chat. Brooks, a conservative writer who joined the Times in 2003 from The Weekly Standard, had never met Obama before. But, as they chewed over the finer points of Edmund Burke, it didn’t take long for the two men to click. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me.

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Locked Up for Life

In his column today, Nicholas Kristof argues that the United States wastes massive amounts of money on its prison system. Why? Because we unnecessarily imprison some nonviolent offenders, namely drug users and dealers. The result, Kristof says, is that the government is investing vast sums in keeping people who aren't necessarily dangerous under lock and key--while our education and health care systems suffer from underfunding. "California spends $216,000 annually on each inmate in the juvenile justice system," he writes.

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Uncommon Ground

In May, The Boston Globe conducted a poll to find out what Bostonians think of their city's mayor, Tom Menino. Most of the questions were common to public-opinion surveys about elected officials: Do you approve or disapprove of the way he is doing his job? Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him?

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Condi Rice, Team Player

What's Condoleeza Rice's life like now that she's left government and is back at Stanford? Leave it to Sports Illustrated's Kevin Armstrong to provide a glimpse: Late one morning a few weeks ago, Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins was showing Harrison Barnes, the nation's top basketball prospect, around campus when he looked at his watch. It was 11:15. Their next meeting was at 11:30 with "Professor Rice." Punctuality, Dawkins stressed, was important to the faculty.

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Ben Smith has the White House's Armenian Remembrance Day statement, in which Obama breaks--or, to be charitable, defers--a very explicit campaign promise to officially brand what happened to more than one million Armenians after World War I as "genocide." I see that the statement, which focuses on recent advances in Turkish-Armenian relations, somewhat defensively notes that I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. Fine.

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Earth To Eric Holder

I like Eric Holder. And, no, despite what Peter Wehner wrote in today's Contentions, Holder is not responsible for the pardon given Marc Rich in the late dusk of the Clinton administration. This was Bill Clinton's smarmy move, and his alone.But I, too, am mystified by Holder's remarks, reported by the Associated Press and CNN today, basically denying the progress that Americans have made in their relentless and ongoing march to racial equality.

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The Other Emanuel

There are three Emanuel brothers. All of you know two of them. The first is Rahm, about whom I blogged even before the inauguration of Barack Obama, whom he serves as chief of staff. The second is Ari E. who you know not as the top man at Endeavor, the real Hollywood talent agency, but as the fictitious Ari Gold, the top man at the fictitious talent agency Entourage. Both are friends of mine, and each is impressive in his own way. Very impressive.But the third brother, Exzekiel, really has gravitas.

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