The Spine

Divided Dubai
October 24, 2006

Hassan Fattah used to write for The New Republic. See, for example, here, here, and here. He is a fine journalist, and we were proud to have him in our pages, and we poached on his own pride seeing him regularly as a Middle East correspondent for The New York Times.

Mitt Romney's Mormon Problem
October 23, 2006

As everyone knows, although he has not yet announced, Mitt Romney is running for president. Or, rather, he is running for the Republican nomination for president. I am not sure that he is actually the first Mormon to do so. But being a Mormon is clearly part of his strategy to win. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't know whether Al Smith mobilized Catholic clergy to help secure him the Democratic nod in 1928. But he certainly based the initial enthusiasm of his campaign in the immigrant big cities, many of them Catholic.

Penny Pincher
October 23, 2006

Many Democratic pols are flush with campaign cash. I don't mean their own private money. This is also worth a look. How much, say, has John Forbes Kerry personally contributed to Democratic House and Senate candidates for whom extra contributions might mean the difference between victory and defeat? I don't really know. My guess is: not much. But we do know from Saturday's Boston Globe that with $14 million in his campaign chest, that is, other people's money, all he has given--and that in 2005--is $15,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Secret Tunnels
October 23, 2006

A few months ago, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak agreed to take over the policing and prevention of arms smuggling from the Sinai to Gaza. He did take it over. But the smuggling only increased, and it is now epidemiological. Mubarak may have had good intentions. He does not want Hamas to rule over Gaza and destabilize his country's relationship with Israel. But what he wants doesn't much constrain the Palestinian militias or the smugglers in the Sinai, perhaps Muslim Brotherhood fanatics, to desist.

Money For Nothing
October 22, 2006

Just in case you don't think there's lots of money to be made in the anti-Israel trade, here's some news that will set you aright. You remember John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, they of the shabby pretend-scholarly JFK School paper "The Israel Lobby." It was much talked and written about, with almost every commentary being either a serious demolition of the work or, at best for the authors, "well, yes, they did go off the deep end, didn't they?" There were a few academics who found the document bolstered their own anti-Israel politics.

Extreme Makeover
October 22, 2006

Here's the case of another forthcoming book, The Diaries of Rachel Corrie. The book is being published by the highly respected house, W.W. Norton. Shocked word from inside the house is that Norton plans to sell this as a latter Diary of Anne Frank. Anne Frank Rachel Corrie was not. The thought that she might be made over to be boggles the imagination. Rachel Corrie was the young American woman who was killed in confronting an Israeli Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza in March of 2003.

Fair Detention
October 19, 2006

You don't often find in the Boston Globe an article that puts forth Israel as a model for the legal treatment of terrorist detainee rights--or, for that matter, as an exemplar of anything good. Except insofar as it puts the United States in a terrible light. I don't think that was the intent of the authors of yesterday morning's op-ed, "The Israeli model for detainee rights," by Professor Martha Minow and Assistant Professor Gabriella Blum, both of the Harvard Law School and formidable legal scholars. I don't know Blum. But I do know Minow, and she is a very exacting civil libertarian.

Youtube 'this'
October 19, 2006

An article by Lee Gomes in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal points out that Google, TiVo and YouTube are now used as both verbs and adjectives. I do say "google it," and I have heard of TiVo. I have even watched it. But I don't know how to verbalize or adjectiveize it. And, frankly, I don't know what service YouTube provides or what product it makes. All that I do know about the last of the companies (and this not only from Gomes) is that the price Google is paying for YouTube is $1.6 billion.

Easy Answers
October 19, 2006

Gee, I wonder why I didn't think of this. The Boston Globe is constantly editorializing about how to put the Middle East on to a path of reconciliation: "The soundest way to resist the spread of Iran's influence -- which worries Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf States as much as it does Israel -- would be for Washington to change the status quo by shepherding Israel and Palestinians into an end-of-conflict peace accord." Gee, I wish I had thought of this myself.

October 19, 2006

I hope the Neo-Cons don't go after Brown University for the stirring report by its committee recommending doing something in the present to atone for the sins of its past. Brown, like other educational institutions in America, was founded and sustained by the grim profits of the slave trade and of slavery itself. This has cast a grievous shadow over our entire national history and still stalks our society. Creating a center for the study of slavery at Brown is an appropriate way to focus on the scars that black slaves bore and that Brown and Western Civilization still bear.