The Authenticity Gap
June 04, 2007

by David GreenbergMichael Kazin's recent post about our hunger for authenticity in presidential candidates--really, in all politicians--takes on what I think is one of the most important and difficult issues in our political culture today. Although the charge of inauthenticity sticks to some politicians more than others--and not always fairly--few if any are immune. I wrote a book suggesting that in the post-World War II era Richard Nixon became a magnet for our collective anxieties about this kind of inauthenticity.

Quote Of The Day
June 04, 2007

Since TNR is now Porn Central... From the Times's front page story on how the adult film business is adjusting to the internet: "There's not a whole lot of story--it's basically right to the sex, but we're consistent with the quality," [a porn producer] said, noting that the company is also careful to pick interesting backdrops. "We use different locations, rooms and couches."[Italics Mine] Different couches! Wow. --Isaac Chotiner

Conventional-wisdom Roundup
June 04, 2007

One candidate seems to have emerged as the consensus winner of last night's Democratic debate: Hillary Clinton. Here's a sampling of opinion from around the Internet. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish "There were times when her robo-lecture act began to wear down my ear-drums, but, in general, Senator Clinton bestrode the debate as an authoritative figure. In fact, I've never witnessed a U.S. political debate in which a woman clearly dominated as she did tonight... It kills me to admit it. But there you are. And as it sinks in, a dreadful specter emerges. Think June 2008. Think Romney vs Clinton.

Not A Pretty Picture
June 02, 2007

Who says there is no vibrant civil society in Gaza? Why, groups and grouplets crop up all the time making their claim to the patriotic Palestinian people by doing real deeds. The Army of Islam emerged when it abducted the BBC's Alan Johnston, and it has kept him in captivity for three months. We've already experienced the Swords of Truth in the destruction of Christian bookshops and internet cafes in Gaza. This group actually does what it threatens.

Do Terrorists Love Computers?
May 31, 2007

"Jihadist Groups Fill a Palestinian Power Vacuum" says the headline in the New York Times over an extremely illuminating article by Steven Erlanger and Hassan M. Fatah. They write about Gaza and Lebanon, where the internecine battles among Palestinians have paradoxically left an opening for yet another set of terrorists to stake their claim among the population. The more of these types the sorrier, it would seem. But that's not how the Palestinians see it. One of the fascinating details of this dispatch is the fixation of the new brand of jihadists on the Internet.

Four Friends
May 31, 2007

I've got four friends involved in this fight, and each of them has his own advantages ... and liabilities. Oh yes, what's the fight about? Who will be prime minister of Israel. And when. The Labor Party primaries earlier this week pitted two of these friends against each other. Ehud Barak--who had been prime minister and was sacrificed by the Clinton administration to its delusions about impending peace with the Palestinians if only Israel gave this and if only Israel gave that (all of which Barak gave ...

Lower Education
May 30, 2007

I am not a big fan of those surveys ranking restaurants, doctors, lawyers, hairdressers, beers, and ice creams. I don't think much more of the surveys ranking universities and research institutions either. But when the faculties of three British universities initiate a boycott of all of the universities of one whole nation--in this case, you guessed it, of Israel-- I begin to think: What are those universities, anyway?

Secret Plots
May 30, 2007

Over at Planet Gore, Henry Payne explains that "enviro-activists" are only talking up the dangers of carbon dioxide because other air pollution has been cleaned up over the years--no word on why that might be--and now the greens need a new boogeyman, since "their power relies on keeping the public spooked." (It's not always apparent, but "enviro-activists" are incredibly powerful people.) Fascinating.

On "10 Percent" Plans
May 29, 2007

by Sanford Levinson Much has been written over the past decade about "10%plans" as an alternative to the use of self-conscious racial- and ethnic-preferences. The term largely derives from a Texas law, passed in the aftermath of the Hopwood decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down UT's affirmative action program.

A Scientific Titan
May 25, 2007

Steven Weinberg, the Nobel prize-winning physicist and professor at the University of Texas, has changed his mind about participating in an Imperial College, London event honoring a fellow Nobel laureate, the Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam. This is according to the Guardian. Here is a titan. And against him are arrayed a tawdry band of other academics and also the National Union of Journalists who are all pledged to boycott Israeli products. Wow.