During the latter years of President George W. Bush’s presidency, I remember watching a petite wisp of a woman step to the podium of the White House briefing room and answer the pointed barbs and hostile questions of a profoundly belligerent press corps. I admired her poise as she faced the daily barrage — and the deep loyalty she so obviously felt for her boss. As one who had worked with an equally reviled former president, Richard Nixon, I felt an affinity with Dana Perino, so I am delighted to now call her a colleague at Fox News — and a friend.
James Comey, former US Attorney and current head of the FBI, gave a speech at the Holocaust Museum in Washington last week commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. He stated: “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, Poland and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.” (NYTimes, 4/21/15) Immediately, the Polish president took umbrage at this, reminding us that Poland was a victim, not an aggressor during the war and that Mr. Comey’s comments were the result of “ignorance, lack of historical knowledge and possibly large personal aversion” towards Poles. Rick Lyman, the Times reporter offered the following clarification: “And while there were certainly episodes in which Poles were responsible for the deaths of Jews, there was no widespread complicity with the Nazi policy of extermination.” Let’s be grateful for small favors.
The successful Republican candidate for president will have to be many things: fearless fighter, relentless advocate for conservative principles, articulate spokesperson for the forgotten middle class, a likable charismatic personality, expert on the complicated dynamics of foreign policy and national security strategy.
With the “historic” clasp of hands in Panama City, Panama last week with Raul Castro, President Obama took the next fateful step toward normalizing relations with the Western Hemisphere’s most repressive regime.
It’s become habitual for movies to pair ordinary (Ben Stiller) or geeky (Adam Driver) comedic men with unusually beautiful women like Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfriend. Of course we would accept this if these men were playing the movie stars they actually are but that type of unbalanced casting starts us off being incredulous when the males are playing losers (Ben Stiller) or wannabes (Adam Driver). The latter is more than a foot taller than Stiller yet there’s a scene where Ben dons Adam’s jacket and roller-blades - both of which fit perfectly. It’s a minor moment but another peg for the incredulity board which is disconcerting in a movie that purports to poke fun in the mores of contemporary urban twenty and forty-somethings. If the object of the poke isn’t recognizably authentic, there’s no stuffing in the satire.
Check this: In a brazen move, the People’s Republic of China is now building “islands” in the South China Sea to bolster its position against several other East Asian countries — and the United States.
“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a chilling 1843 short story by Edgar Allan Poe about a man whose disturbed conscience is haunted by the sound of a heart that will not stop beating. The real life tell-tale heart is the tragic story of 13 year-old Jahi McMath, who was diagnosed as “brain dead” over a year ago but whose heart still beats. The case generated a lawsuit last month that could overturn a half-century of established belief and haunt the conscience of medicine.
On the afternoon of Jan. 20, 1961, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower slipped away from the Inauguration Day festivities, piled into their 1955 Chrysler Imperial and famously drove to their farm at Gettsyburg, Pa. Contrary to myth, they were not alone — two servants and a chauffeur, Leonard Dry, were with them, but even then, the ex-president felt “an eerie loneliness about the absence of motorcycle escorts and caravans of Secret Service and press cars” according to Ike’s grandson, David.
Rolling Stone finally admitted that its recent story about a vicious rape on the University of Virginia campus was a lie. Adding journalistic insult to injury, the magazine announced that the “reporter” who made it up will face no disciplinary action. In fact, she gets to keep her job at the magazine.
Let’s be honest, the joint comprehensive plan of action announced last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, between the P5+1 (U.S., France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany) and Iran is essentially a Rorschach inkblot test.
Reading came late for me. I was eight years old and being home schooled (bad idea!) when the tumblers fell into place and reading began. My Dad was teaching me how to read with Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea. Apparently, he thought I was smarter than I was. Meanwhile, my Mom was teaching me how to read with a children’s book about Daniel Boone. Mom won. I was a huge fan of the TV show Daniel Boone, starring Fess Parker, at the time, and the children’s book was way easier than Hemingway, for an eight year old.
A rule for Republicans, credited to the iconic William F. Buckley, suggests voting for the most conservative candidate who can win. This sounds reasonable at first. What good is there in expending time, energy and money behind a principled conservative if the candidate is doomed to fail?
The Benghazi Select Committee, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, has formally requested that Hillary Clinton turn over the private server she used to keep under her control all of her communications while secretary of state. That assumes that the server hasn’t been reduced to subatomic particles by now.
Yesterday, Pamela Geller was good enough to take a minute from — literally — saving the world, to cross-post Aleksandra Rebic’s open letter marking March 24th. She preceded it with the following introduction and my note to her:
Madonna has been dissed, and she is not happy. The 56-year-old proclaimed Queen of Pop, with more record sales than any woman in history, received a distinctly unroyal reception by the British radio station BBC Radio 1, which recently banished her latest single, “Living For Love,” from its playlist.
We all know that the only reason you would deliberately and premeditatedly set up a private email address and server is to have total control over your communications — to keep people away from those communications and to retain the ability to edit and delete your content.
For the past few days, the Times has been particularly consumed with the issue of income disparity and extreme inequality. First came Paul Krugman who found the presence of this disparity in Israel to be the worst in the advanced world with portentous consequences in store. On Wednesday, the lead editorial with the noxious headline “An Israeli Election Turns Ugly,” bemoaned the fact that “although the economy has grown, the country (Israel) itself has experienced widening income disparities and is now one of the most unequal societies in the advanced world.” (NYT 3/18) So it is with a proper degree of head-scratching that I call your attention to today’s review in the Food Section of Eleven Madison Park, a four-star restaurant which offers a tasting menu for $225/per each one-percenter.
Perhaps it was because Jodi Rudoren had the day off on Monday that Paul Krugman took up her usual cudgel and declared that “Israel does less to lift people out of poverty than any other advanced country - yes, even less than the U.S.” (Israel’s Gilded Cage, NYT, 3/16).
All these years later, we are still fascinated and flummoxed by the Kennedy assassination. Was there are conspiracy? Was it the act of a lone gunman? Were Lee Harvey Oswald and his killer, Jack Ruby, connected beforehand in some way? Was it the Mob? Castro? Rogue elements of the CIA?
A better title for this latest film from David Cronenberg would be “Shooting Fish in a Barrel,” as there is not one target of this tired satire of Hollywood that hasn’t been done to death too many times over. Every single character - the obnoxious addicted teen star, the middle-aged actress desperate to retain her valued perch, the fraudulent therapeutic huckster to the damaged over-privileged, the stage mother submerged in guilt and fear of losing the family’s cash cow, the schizoid arsonist who is the spawn of incest - is an over-the-top cliché that cries out for condemnation Of the writer and director, that is, not the characters themselves as they are simply exaggerations of cartoons that were stale forty years ago. Not one among them elicits any emotional reaction from us save disdainful incredulity.
Remember the kudos that Target got last month over its employees going above and beyond by teaching a teen how to tie a tie? It’s a no-brainer that the story got some of its virility from the gush we feel, especially in racially charged times, when the helpful employees are white and the teen is black (and vice versa). But think of the kvelling that ensued — by media and Target alike — when it was learned that the black teen’s name was Yasir.
Americans are a punitive bunch. We love to punish people. Nearly 3 percent of American adults are in prison, jail, probation or parole, a figure far beyond any other industrialized nation. But that’s only the beginning. We entertain ourselves with elaborate revenge fantasies on TV and in the movies, and of course arm ourselves in order to deliver swift justice to anybody who might cross us, changing the laws to better encourage each other to stand our ground. While vengeance feasts, forgiveness starves, which is part of what drew my interest to a thin new book—155 pages—by Jeanne Bishop titled Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and
The conventional wisdom at the moment, is that the 2016 presidential election is going to come down to Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. On the bright side, the conventional wisdom on national elections is almost always wrong.
Of his many disgraceful blow-offs of our key allies — returning the bust of Winston Churchill to Great Britain, refusing to march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, vetoing the Keystone XL pipeline coming from Canada — President Obama’s epic dis of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week takes the cake.