A Must-read
March 01, 2007

A few days ago, TNR Online published a powerhouse essay by Alvin Rosenfeld, a distinguished literary scholar at Indiana Univeristy, on anti-Semitism and left and liberal criticism of Israel. Maybe you didn't read it. If so, here's another chance. The very provocative website Augean Stables has entered the debate, expanding on Rosenfeld's article. Forgive me for telling you what to read.

Bad Teeth
February 28, 2007

The Washington Post has a horrifying story today about a 12-year-old kid who died of a toothache. The family had lost its Medicaid coverage and couldn't afford a routine tooth extraction, and so bacteria from the abscess spread to the kid's brain and he died--that is, after six weeks of hospital care and two operations that cost the state over $250,000. It's an extreme case, but it underscores the fact that the lack of dental coverage for low-income families is a much more serious problem than often thought.

Nothing On Obama
February 28, 2007

The right must have absolutely no good opposition research on Barack Obama. Here was Sean Hannity last night, really scraping the bottom of the barrel: You know, according to The Chicago Tribune, I'm trying to do a lot of research on this today. I haven't gotten a 100 percent definitive answer.But they report he's been an active member of Chicago's Trinity Unity Church of Christ for the last 20 years.

Short Books That Changed The World
February 27, 2007

by Linda Hirshman The minute I pressed the send button on my plea for a little more discipline in the writing trades, I knew someone would come up with a list of indispensable doorstop books. But now that the topic is on the table, I am delighted that others are willing to warn us away from authorial excess, even in otherwise excellent choices.

60s Nostalgia... Or A 60s Nightmare
February 27, 2007

The SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) is back! Or is it? Actually, I hadn't noticed that it was. But Maurice Isserman, an honest American historian at Hamilton College with an SDS past and a familial Communist background, has written a story for the current Chronicle of Higher Education on whether or not the organization actually exists and what it really is. Isserman can't resist a bit of nostalgia for the old mole, and he writes about this gently and gracefully.

Science Doorstops Worth A Look
February 26, 2007

by John McWhorter In the vein of using this blog to shine a light on authors who don't get the attention they deserve, two books on how genetic data is revising what we know about early human migrations by Stephen Oppenheimer have been major eye openers for me. The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa, from 2003, shows how data from mutations in mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome are now allowing us pinpoint the pathways that humankind took from Africa in often bracing detail.

Partisan Dance
February 25, 2007

by Jacob T. Levy There is a nice dilemma at work in Canadian politics at the moment; I've never seen anything quite like it. Elections are coming up soon in Quebec and at the federal level. At the federal level, Stephen Harper's current minority Conservative government is hoping to gain enough seats to become a majority, but isn't by any means guaranteed even to remain a minority government.

Detainee Chic
February 25, 2007

In this week's TNR, Jeffrey Rosen's terrific chronicle of his visit to Guantanamo Bay contains a funny aside: Those notorious orange jumpsuits (65 poly/35 cotton) are apparently "made in South Africa for the Bob Barker Company." The Bob Barker?? Alas, no, it seems the longtime "Price Is Right" host has not transitioned into the detention-gear supply biz. However I did Google up the actual Bob Barker Company in question, and its website is a real hoot.

The Problem With Bill Maher
February 24, 2007

If I were a conservative bent on converting the country to my ideology, I'd make sure more people watched Bill Maher's HBO show, Real Time. The audience, which is clearly chock-full of robotic liberals, breaks up every potentially good conversation by mindlessely clapping for even the most negligible talking point.

Kerry's Book
February 23, 2007

You are not going to believe this. John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry have written a book. When the Public Affairs Books Spring catalogue came along a few weeks ago, it didn't have a title. But by now, on the publisher's web site, it does. And, my God, would you believe it? It's called, This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future. Do you imagine that they've made room for Al Gore? It's 352 pages and cost $26.00, minus your discount at Powell's. I've not seen it.