The Spine

Anna Wintour’s Bitching Makes It To The (London) Independent
July 25, 2010

To page three, no less. Well, it's about a new restaurant. And a liquor license. And the (kind of) people who will come there. And the enormous common garden, called MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens, accessible only to 22 private houses of which Anna Wintour's is one.  The community meeting where Anna spoke up is written about in Saturday's chic left The Independent.  "I am completely concerned...This is a unique historic neighborhood." A few days earlier the New York Post posted her grievances.

The Ghoulish Regime In Pyongyang
July 25, 2010

You can’t have missed the fiendish photograph of a North Korean soldier  hovering through a window over Hillary Clinton as she stands in a hut  at the “truce village” at Panmunjom in no-man’s land just below what  her husband had called after a trip “the scariest place on earth.”    The conflict between North Korea and South Korea was the hottest  encounter in the Cold War. Nobody really won that war.

The Firing of Octavia Nasr Is No Tragedy…And No Assault On The Freedom Of The Press Either
July 23, 2010

Somehow I missed this move by CNN. I hadn’t seen anything about it until I read Tom Friedman’s column in the Times and, then, Jack Shafer’s insistently simple-minded article in Slate. Here’s Octavia Nasr’s offending Tweet: Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot. It is a stupid piece of journalism, and distorted besides.

If I Were A Catholic, I Wouldn’t Rush To Accuse The Jews Of Ethnic Cleansing
July 23, 2010

The brilliant young(ish) Catholic intellectual Michael Sean Winters has alerted us in the National Catholic Reporter to a venomous streak among “progressives” of the faith. The particularly repulsive iteration of this streak appeared in The American Catholic. Here is its essence: Is the ultimate plan of the Israeli braintrust to find a rationale for one big war to ethnically cleanse most of the rest of the Palestinians into Jordan/Egypt/Lebanon et al? Catholics have too much collective experience themselves in the ethnic cleansing of Jews to ever speculate on their intentions in this regard.

Rest Assured, Ladies. Protecting Rights in Afghanistan, Mrs. Clinton Assures, "Is A Personal Commitment of Mine."
July 22, 2010

The Kabul conference has come and gone, a half day fest which put the finishing touches on the plans for Afghani security and how it can be helped by fully 70 governments, all in attendance, and, of course, with the United Nations represented by its secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. On Monday, Mrs. Clinton was in Pakistan; on Tuesday, Kabul; on Wednesday, South Korea, right onto the edge of its demilitarized zone with North Korea. Today, she is in Hanoi and, of course, she has reproached the government of Vietnam for its well-documented contempt for human rights. So we know she travels well.

Why The Rich Should Be Taxed At Lower Rates Than The Middle Class
July 21, 2010

It's not exactly an explanation of the position. But it does make some sense to the very wealthy. From El Pais: Translation: "we avoid paying taxes because we don't want to flaunt our wealth."

O.K., The President May Have Difficulties With Europeans. But the American People Don't.
July 20, 2010

In any case, the nations with which Barack Obama seems to think he clicks are not especially respected (or liked) by the people he represents. And these presidentially favored nations don't really seem to respect either him or us. Basta with the Muslim orbit. Obama wants to run after Recip Tayyit Erdogan let him.   Frankly, I believe that the Anglophobia of the administration is a much over-estimated quantum. By the time you read this, moreover, the president and David Cameron will have had whatever set-to they were destined to have, or not to have.

Obama's Strange Defense of the Hijab, and Syria's Defiance of It.
July 20, 2010

One of President Obama's weirdest causes is his defense of the hijab or the niqab. Not that I want to take the veil away from any Muslim women... anywhere. Still, he is president of the United States and might just want to limit his special pleadings to truly significant ones. Anyway, he didn't. He tried out the trope in Cairo last year and followed it up during the Ramadan fest at the White House. These turned out to be not very successful interventions. As we learn from this morning's newspaper, even Syria has turned its back (or Bashaar Assad, his) on Obama's pleadings.

Abbas Does Not Want to Negotiate with Israel; He Demands That Israel Concede
July 19, 2010

It is as clear as daylight, and my particular information with all the caveats and special emphases comes from the most respectable pro- Palestinian journalist there is.  His name is Tobias Buck and he writes for the Financial Times where every piece published about the Jewish state--whose capital, in case you didn't know, is Tel Aviv--is jaundiced.  Jaundiced as in exhibiting distaste and hostility. Buck has a story in today's FT about the state of the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  They are, as I've been suggesting for months they would be, going nowhere.  George Mitche

Maureen Dowd, Garry Wills, and the Holy Father
July 19, 2010

I understand the obsessions of writers, and I certainly understand Maureen Dowd's fixations on her church and how the Vicar of Christ has disillusioned so many of the faithful. In her last searing column on this matter, she alludes to an essay by Garry Wills, also about pain and disenchantment.  As Maureen points out, that piece was in The New Republic.  Just in case you haven't read it, here it is.

Pages