The media coverage blares that Anthony Weiner has been “at it again” - sexting to women, this time with his 4 year old son next to him in bed. But the date on the text tells a different story; this actually occurred more than a year ago on July 31, 2015. Why then has it just been splashed across front pages and tv screens? The eponymous legal title - Latin for who benefits - may offer some plausible explanations.
Every news cycle brings more and more outrageous news. I’m talking about the Washington Post and the New York Times pursuit of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Opening the paper in the morning was like getting the latest baseball box score when it came to Watergate. Enterprising reporters were finding more links and leaks about Nixon’s burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate office building and about his ultimately failed attempt to cover it up.
People seem plenty panicked about recent reports of Russian war planes using an Iranian air base for bombing runs into Syria as part of its ongoing support for the beleaguered regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The guns of August — a phrase first used to describe the outbreak of World War I — is a real phenomenon. Maybe it’s the heat, but there’s something about the eighth month that seems to inspire armed conflict. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The collapse of the Soviet Union began with a coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991. Reports of North Vietnamese attacks against U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 gave President Lyndon Johnson the pretext to win broad congressional approval for an expansion of the war. Adolf Hitler readied the invasion of Poland in August 1939 and attacked on Sept. 1.
At a prestigious Eastern college, non-Hispanic students wearing sombreros at a tequila party are chastised by the administration and punished for their insensitivity and “cultural appropriation.” Same story for a non-black person sporting dreadlocks at another campus, and we all know the narrative of Yale’s concern for its minority sensibilities during Halloween of 2015. So it’s with some amused shock that I read Nicholas Kristof’s article in Thursday’s Times titled “Anne Frank Today is a Syrian Girl.” Kristof wrote this piece without a trace of irony, notwithstanding the fact that had Anne been in Syria in 1941, she would have been persecuted by a Syria controlled by the Vichy French who were as intent on persecuting Jews as the compliant Dutch were. In addition to Syria, the vicious Vichy-ites controlled Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and their denial of rights to Jews and internment in camps were imposed in all these jurisdictions. Henri Dentz, The Vichy High Commissioner, was planning to open concentration camps when the British and Free French occupied Syria in 1944. Had Anne Frank survived the war, the independent Syrian government would have prohibited her from immigrating to Palestine and continued to persecute her until her family, like other Syrian Jews, fled without their earthly belongings.
Republican nominee Donald Trump’s recently unveiled economic plan was roundly praised for its aggressive pro-growth, job-creating proposals. He would cut income tax rates; increase exemptions for individuals; reduce the number of personal income tax brackets from seven to three; slash the corporate tax to 15 percent, taking it from the highest in the developed world to nearly the lowest; and eliminate the death tax and the destructive alternative minimum tax. Dramatic tax reform is a political winner given the oppressive burdens imposed by the current Byzantine tax code.
In Election Year 2008, I recall thinking that here we are in the middle of jihad, and yet we’re having this rather quaint national fight about race. I felt in a time warp. Eight years later, jihad has ratcheted up from al Qaeda to ISIS, and from one major attack a year to one or two a month. And unbelievably, our race war throwback has escalated to the physical and is playing out in the streets regularly, this time in Milwaukee. After almost 50 years, Charles Manson is suddenly relevant again.
Every four years like clockwork, the two major presidential nominees present their competing visions for the future of the country. This year, however, those visions are so starkly different as to be nearly irreconcilable. They may, in fact, indicate a breach far deeper and more searing than previously thought.
True to its brand name, Fox News styles its women as vixens with furry false lashes, short pencil skirts and stratospheric shoes that might be dangerous if anyone had to actually walk in them. But seated so that their long legs show more thigh than one-time bathing suits, the women cross their legs and let the camera help their heels to send a loud, clear message of sexual availability. With the except of Greta von Susteren, whose name alone sounds like an admonition to step back, the Foxy ladies exude sex appeal - Kimberly Guillfoyle, Megyn Kelly, the erstwhile Gretchen Carlson even had glamorous names to go with their form-fitting latex dresses, their sleeveless arms even in winter, their long wavy hair, their perfectly made-up faces no matter the time of day. Since all the Fox women are super-bright and ambitious, one can only question how they failed to get the message of the part they were designed to play. Were they so naive that they didn’t think their attractiveness was essential to their being hired? When they looked at their boss and heard his instructions as to their Stepford-similar make-up and get-ups, did it never cross their minds that this gig might come with the expectations of extra-curricular activity?
According to the media, not all grieving parents of fallen servicemen are created equal. Whether those parents are protected, defended and respected or ignored, dismissed and smeared depends on their political affiliation — and how useful they are to the “right” side.
I haven’t read Phillip Roth’s “Indignation,” but the most interesting and subtle part of James Schamus’ screenplay adaptation is the backstory hinted at in the shiksa heroine’s past. The characters of Marcus Messer, the brilliant college student; his over-protective Jewish father, his kvelling Jewish mother, the over-bearing mildly anti-semitic college Dean - are all stock caricatures who each gets at least one opportunity to break out of their defined molds. But the character of Olivia Hutton, the beautiful blonde co-ed who performs a first date sex act that wasn’t common in the early 50’s, is developed with snatches of dialogue that seem to have sailed over the heads of most reviewers.
The Times headline on Aug 1 was positive and congratulatory: “Pupils at Troubled Schools Keep Pace With Peers.” We read that 40 out of 63 struggling schools in New York increased their proficiency rates in math while 59 had an increase in English But the troubled schools in the euphemistically named Renewal Program had a scant 12.8% of their tested students reach this level. Nowhere in the article are we told what a “proficiency score” is but if you go on the Dept of Education website, you will be shocked to discover that it is 3 out of a possible 4.7 - an obfuscating way to say approximately 63% If we look at the regular city schools, we discover that ony 38% of students are proficient in English and 36% in math. To make matters worse, this year’s tests were both un-timed and shorter than previous years. If you saw these numbers on a chart of survival rates in city hospitals, you would consider health care to be in terminal straits, requiring immediate crisis management. Reversing the equation, two thirds of students in New York public schools are incapable of achieving even what used to be considered a failing grade in English and math. 93% of students in failing schools are black and Hispanic. This alarming statistic should concern the Black Lives Matter activists currently camped out in City Hall Park demanding that Commissioner Bratton be fired, among other things. The surest path to becoming a criminal is not succeeding in school and dropping out.