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January, 2009Back to Top
Sacred & Profane
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I invariably read Hillel Halkin’s essays in Commentary with great interest, and “My Pocket Bible” [November 2008] was no exception.

Obama So Far
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In sounding the alarm about Barack Obama’s liberal ideology, Joshua Muravchik allows that “it is not unimaginable that he may rise to the challenge of the [presidency] and govern from the center” [“Obama’s Leftism,” October 2008].

Of Brothers & Keepers
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Ruth Wisse’s “Forgetting Zion” [October 2008] moves away from her usual well-mastered subject of Jewish literature and into the realm of boilerplate rhetoric about how the Diaspora has an overriding moral obligation to “secure the state of Israel.” What seems to me objectionable in her article is not her defense of the Israeli position from attacks of Arab sympathizers but rather her arrogation of a right to tell American Jews what policies they must espouse if they wish to escape condemnation by “history.” The rights and wrongs of the Israeli-Arab conflict are not the issue here; one can condemn Arab intransigence without directing American Jewish political and cultural energies to serve the needs of Israel.

Easy Money
by Our Readers
To the Editor: John Steele Gordon overstates the role played by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSE’s) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in precipitating the current financial crisis [“Speculators, Politicians, and Financial Disasters,” November 2008].

A Manifesto for Media Freedom by Brian C. Anderson and Adam D. Thierer
by David Lange
Unshackling Speech A Manifesto for Media Freedom by Brian C. Anderson and Adam D. Thierer Encounter. 200 pp. $21.95 The First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press.” Justice Hugo Black, who served on the Supreme Court from 1937 until his death in 1971, famously thought that “no law” meant no law.

Real Education by Charles Murray
by Wilfred McClay
Hard Knocks Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality by Charles Murray Crown Forum. 224 pp. $24.95 In no other area of American life is the gap between rhetoric and reality more pronounced or more persistent than in education.

Iron Fists by Steven Heller
by Michael J. Lewis
Art & Agitprop Iron Fists: Branding the 20th-century Totalitarian State by Steven Heller Phaidon. 224 pp. $90.00 You can appreciate the Sistine Chapel without being a Catholic, and respect the Parthenon without believing in Athena.

In the Shadow of the Oval Office by Ivo H. Daalder and I.M. Destler
by Daniel Casse
Policy vs. Proces In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents They Served—From JFK to George W.

My Favorite Classical Recordings
by Terry Teachout
In honor of Neal Kozodoy In 1969, at the age of thirteen, I bought my first classical album, a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Over the River with Christo & Jeanne-Claude
by Steven Munson
The exhibit Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Over the River, A Work in Progress,1 on view at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., through January 25, contains about 200 drawings, collages, and photographs documenting in painstaking detail the plan by the artists to suspend fabric sections horizontally over 5.9 miles of the Arkansas River in Colorado between, to quote the show’s catalogue, “mid-July and mid-August of any given year in the future, in 2012 at the earliest.” Christo and Jeanne-Claude are, of course, world famous for their large-scale installations using man-made fabric.

In the Ruins of Vilna
by Michael Kimmage
Vilnius, capital city of the independent Lithuanian Republic, is at the easternmost edge of the European Union. This year it will be the EU’s “cultural capital,” a rotating honor intended to showcase the continent’s glorious heritage.

No to Poe
by Algis Valiunas
Richard J. Daley, the late mayor of Chicago whose novel way with the American language still evokes wonder, once remarked of himself and a political comrade-in-arms that they had been boyhood friends all their lives.

Inventing Tibet
by Lydia Aran
For quite some time now, the cause of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism has enjoyed a phenomenal vogue in the advanced circles of the West.

The Jewish State & Its Arabs
by Hillel Halkin
Last October 9, the evening of Yom Kippur, Jewish-Arab riots broke out in the Israeli coastal city of Acre. They began with the stoning by Jewish youths of an Arab who drove his car through a Jewish neighborhood after the onset of the fast, the solemnity of which even secular Jews in Israel (but not Arabs in their own localities) respect by stilling their car engines.

AIDS and the President--An Inside Account
by Jay Lefkowitz
It will be years, maybe decades, before something resembling a consensus emerges on the Bush presidency. But if there is one area where Bush has already been given credit even by some of his harshest critics, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, it is for his leadership in combating the worldwide devastation inflicted by HIV/AIDS.

The Return of Carterism?
by Arthur Herman
Among the first duties of the Obama presidency, all agree, is the restoration of America’s standing in the world. Poll after poll has shown how unpopular America is overseas, from London to Damascus to Beijing.

Eradicating the “Little Satan”
by Ze’ev Maghen
The accession of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been accompanied by a sharp transformation in the Iranian attitude to, and depiction of, the state of Israel.

Maimonides by Joel L. Kraemer
by David Flatto
The Great Eagle Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds by Joel L. Kraemer Doubleday. 640 pp. $35.00 Writing in 1935, a year thought to mark the 800th anniversary of Moses Maimonides’ birth—now generally dated to 1138—the intellectual historian Solomon Zeitlin noted with surprise that no complete study had ever been written of the “greatest scholar the Jews [had] produced since the completion of the Talmud.” Zeitlin himself undertook to fill the lacuna, and, in the same year, so did a youthful Abraham Joshua Heschel.


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February, 2009Back to Top
Emily Post by Laura Claridge
by Jonathan Kay
Post Modern Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners by Laura Claridge Random House. 544 pp. $30.00 Emily Post (1872-1960) is an American literary institution.

Sex in Crisis by Dagmar Herzog
by Justin Shubow
The New Age of Sexual Anxiety Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics by Dagmar Herzog Basic Books.

So Damn Much Money by Robert G. Kaiser
by Dan DiSalvo
Lobbyists and Tigers and Bears—Oh My So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government by Robert G.

Innocent Abroad by Martin Indyk
by Dean Godson
Martinized Innocent Abroad: An Intimate History of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East by Martin Indyk Simon & Schuster. 512 pp. $28.00 Martin Indyk is very proud of the fact that he served as the first Jewish ambassador to Israel and the first Jewish assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs during the 1990’s.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
by Brian Anderson
Poor Malcolm’s Almanac Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell Little Brown. 320 pp. $27.99   Why do people succeed? Americans like to think the formula is a simple one: Work hard, show good judgment, and you can achieve extraordinary things, especially if you have some innate talent.

Royal Prerogrative
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I wish to offer a friendly amendment to Robert Satloff’s review of Avi Slaim’s biography of King Hussein, Lion of Jordan [Books in Review, November 2008].

“Raw Concrete”
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In his fine essay about Le Corbusier, Michael Lewis suggests that the architect’s machine aesthetic, with its hoisting of buildings on columns, “seems to repudiate the earth itself” [“The Architect and the Machine,” November 2008].

Iraq’s Progress
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Peter Wehner surveys the reactions of liberal pundits to the “surge” in Iraq, and finds them to have been both too pessimistic about its potential and too unwilling to acknowledge its ultimate successes in stabilizing Iraq [“Liberals and the Surge,” November 2008].

The Television Show That Says You’re Better Than Your Parents
by Sam Schulman
Over the course of two seasons and twenty-six episodes, Mad Men has received the most rapturous set of notices of any television series since The Sopranos concluded its run in the spring of 2007.

The Meaning of Sarah Palin
by Yuval Levin
Two political figures dominated the final months of the 2008 presidential campaign. One was the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. The other had been unknown to all but 670,000 Americans only a few minutes before she was first introduced by the Republican nominee, John McCain, at a rally in Ohio on the Friday before the Republican National Convention, only 66 days before the November election. By the close of that first weekend, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska had become a national sensation.

The Baby Moguls, Abbie Hoffman, and Me
by Roger Simon
The first time I met Richard Pryor, he was close to dead drunk. A tumbler of Scotch in hand, he stumbled into his home office, where I had been waiting for some time with Thom Mount and Sean Daniel—two executives at Universal Studios—and, after the briefest of introductions, turned to Daniel, stared at him for a second, and said, “You don’t like me, do you?” Daniel made a nervous denial, asserting that he liked the comic—who was then by far Universal’s highest-grossing star—very much.

The Trouble With Alfred Hitchcock
by Terry Teachout
In November of last year, Cahiers du Cinéma, the influential French film magazine, asked 78 French-speaking critics and scholars to choose the greatest film directors of all time.

From the Editor: A Magazine and Its Mission
by John Podhoretz
In the inaugural issue of this magazine, which was published in November 1945, its founder and editor, Elliot E. Cohen, offered a masterful summary of the role an intellectual journal can play in a free society.

The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff
by Joseph Epstein
Dr. A. Jerome Minkoff, family practitioner, three years a widower and coming up on his sixty-fourth birthday, met Larissa Friedman, two years into her widowhood and fifty-two, at a charity dinner at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago for ALS, dreaded, goddamn Lou Gehrig’s Disease, from which both their spouses had died.

The Iranian Gambit in Gaza
by Jonathan Schanzer
The Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip that began in late December has focused the world’s attention on the conflict between the Jewish state and the armed cadres of the Palestinian terror faction Hamas.

India’s Time of Reckoning
by Jonathan Foreman
The wind has changed in India’s capital, though not in a way that might disperse the ever more noxious smog produced by the thousands of new cars that hit the streets each week.

The Madoff Scandal and the Future of American Jewry
by Jonathan Tobin
Before December 11, 2008, few Americans had ever heard of Bernard L. Madoff. Yet after his arrest for running what authorities allege was the largest Ponzi scheme in history, Madoff not only achieved the sort of notoriety that is reserved for arch-criminals; he also became, in an instant, one of the most famous Jews in the world. Madoff had been managing billions of dollars for investors who thought they were beating the market with the steady gains he reported.

Jews and the 2008 Election
by Shmuel Rosner
The flirtation of the American Jewish voter with the Republican party over the past quarter-century has been, like all great flirtations, a lure and a torment.


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March, 2009Back to Top
Missions
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Many thanks for John Podhoretz’s eloquent statement of COMMENTARY’s mission in the years ahead [“A Magazine and Its Mission,” February].

How Odd of God
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In his defense of the Jewish idea of “chosenness,” Jon D. Levenson says that besides being an impartial judge, the biblical God “is also a father” [“Chosenness and Its Enemies,” December 2008].

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
by David Billet
Mr. Market The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder Bantam. 960 pp. $35.00 Warren Buffett is a fabled investor and money manager who has earned a fortune for himself while enriching others, and done so without the aid of Arabian oil, a rich father, or clever financial arrangements.

Evangelicals and Israel by Stephen Spector
by Jonathan Gurwitz
Friends in Deed Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism by Stephen Spector Oxford. 352 pp. $29.95   As international pressure mounted in late December for Israel to cease its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, a major pro-Israel group issued an urgent action alert.

In Defense of Religious Liberty by David Novak
by Benjamin Balint
Faith-Based Freedom? In Defense of Religious Liberty by David Novak ISI. 204 pp. $28.00   The Jews in Babylonian exile asked, “How do we sing the Lord’s song on strange ground?” Today, some religious Americans, feeling marginalized in a culture increasingly bleached of religious values, pose their own version of this plaint.

The Future of Liberalism by Alan Wolfe
by James Piereson
Big Bad Wolfe The Future of Liberalism by Alan Wolfe Knopf. 352 pp. $25.95 The liberal hour is at hand. A progressive Democratic President, an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, an opposition in disarray, a public mandate to “do something” to fix the economy and the financial system—these cascading conditions are providing American liberals with a rare opportunity to set national priorities and to enact their long-bottled-up domestic agenda. Alan Wolfe’s new book, The Future of Liberalism, is therefore appearing at a fortuitous moment.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
by Cheryl Miller
Mine, Mine, Mine A Mercy by Toni Morrison Knopf. 176 pp. $23.95 A  Mercy is Toni Morrison’s first novel in five years, after the two critical disappointments (1998’s Paradise and 2003’s Love) that appeared in the wake of the Nobel Prize for Literature she received in 1993.

Omissions of the “Times”
by Rick Richman
In his 2006 commencement address at Tufts University, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, praised his newspaper for adopting a journalism reflecting the “courage of our own convictions.” He meant it as a compliment, but his words had a different meaning to those who have had occasion to suspect that the news coverage of the Times is not infrequently driven by an agenda—its “own convictions”—rather than objectivity. Did the Times practice agenda journalism in its coverage of the recent fighting in Gaza? Many readers apparently thought so, and the Times made repeated attempts to rebut their adverse comments.

Now, About That “Proportionality”
by Ruth Wisse
The charge that Israel’s incursion into Gaza led to a “disproportionate” use of force against Palestinians, issued by the likes of former President Jimmy Carter and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, met with surprising rhetorical resistance in unexpected quarters (on this continent, at least) in the first few weeks after Israel began its operation at the end of December. “Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness,” wrote Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, who is better known as a critic than as a defender of Israel.

Believing in Flannery O’Connor
by Terry Teachout
In 1952, the landscape of American fiction was dominated by a group of literary celebrities who had published their first novels after or near the end of World War II.

Unclean in Tehran, Adrift in San Diego
by Iraj Rahmim
For some years after I arrived in America to study, when my mother called from Tehran every fortnight on Friday no matter what, illness or shortage or war or bombs, I would tell her to put the phone down and ring the outside doorbell of our house so that I could hear my dog, Lady, bark in response. The calls came very early in the morning.

And Where She Stops . . .
by Bruce Friedman
Her patients adored her. One was a ninety-year-old man who continued at each session to rail against his father. Another was an exquisite fashion model who was dissatisfied with her nose after half a dozen surgeries.

The “Waltz with Bashir” Two-Step
by Hillel Halkin
On June 6, 1982, following the collapse of a year-long truce between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Israeli army invaded a Lebanon torn by years of civil war.

The Syria Temptation—and Why Obama Must Resist It
by Bret Stephens
“Start with Syria.” Thus did Aaron David Miller advise the incoming Obama administration on where its Mideast peacemaking priorities should lie.

The Coming War on Sovereignty
by John Bolton
Barack Obama’s nascent presidency has brought forth the customary flood of policy proposals from the great and good, all hoping to influence his administration.

The Hunting of the Denby
by Mark Steyn
As I was finishing up David Denby’s new book, I received, as one does in the Internet age, the news that T-Shirt Hell, the company whose contribution to the last election was the “Retarded Babies for Palin” T-shirt, has decided to throw in the towel.

From the Editor: Exaggerating a Disaster
by John Podhoretz
Nothing captured quite so perfectly the manic state among those eager for the passage and implementation of the so-called “stimulus” as the wild remark by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, that “every month we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs.” There are only 300 million Americans in all, among them 75 million under the age of eighteen and 36 million over the age of sixty-five.

Stimulus: A History of Folly
by James Glassman
Before he was sworn in as President, Barack Obama began to lay out his plans for reviving an American economy that, it would later be discovered, had declined 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, its worst performance in 26 years.


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April, 2009Back to Top
Arab Citizenry?
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Try as Hillel Halkin might—he proposes various budget-stretching policies that Israel should adopt in order fully to integrate its Arab citizens into mainstream society—he cannot resolve the fundamental problem of modern Zionism [“The Jewish State & Its Arabs,” January].

Bush and AIDS: A Life-Saving Mission
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Jay P. Lefkowitz’s tribute to the Bush administration’s AIDS-prevention program glosses over an important element that does not speak to its favor [“AIDS and the President—An Inside Account,” January].

New Look, Old Truths
by John Podhoretz
The issue you hold introduces a new design for Commentary, as the rather dramatic difference in the appearance of the cover may already have indicated to you.

O Joy! O Sorrow! O Cheever!
by Algis Valiunas
Upon his death in 1982, John Cheever was hailed as one of the preeminent American writers of his time. Obituary writers eulogized his sweet ardor for the gloriously ordinary.

Let My People Go to the Buffet
by Jesse Kellerman
When I was four, we went to Oahu. It was the first time we celebrated Passover away from home. My only memory of the trip is of the ride to the Los Angeles airport.

The Only Way To Prevent Genocide
by Tod Lindberg
Have you ever found yourself in the position of asking, on your own behalf or on behalf of others, how many or precisely which people it would be useful to kill in order to secure a benefit for yourself or your cause? And just how to do it? No? Others have.

Created Equal by Joshua Berman
by Hillel Fradkin
The Torah's Freedom Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought By Joshua Berman Oxford, 264 pages, $39.95 For the better part of two centuries, the academic study of the Hebrew Bible has been dominated by the interpretative approach known as higher criticism.

The Myth of American Exceptionalism by Godfrey Hodgson
by Joshua Muravchik
Big Bad Us The Myth of American Exceptionalism By Godfrey Hodgson Yale U. Press, 221 pages, $26.00 Godfrey Hodgson is a British journalist who has spent more than four decades writing about the United States, in part because, as he explains, he has “always felt particularly comfortable with the rhythm and temper of American life.” Now he has taken pen to paper once again, this time in discomfort, for he fears that “the practice of American democracy, at home as well as abroad, is in mortal danger.” The peril came to a head as a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001, which “revealed [the] true values” of George W.

Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni
by Caitrin Nicol
Azadeh Moaveni, an American reporter of Iranian descent, landed in Tehran in early 2005 after publishing Lipstick Jihad, a memoir about her two years reporting inside Iran in the early years of this decade.

Did They Remember the Holocaust?
by Jonathan Tobin
For nearly forty years there has been a debate among historians and activists over the conduct of American Jews during the Holocaust.

Pope Benedict’s Crisis
by Daniel Johnson
If there is one man alive who has made me ashamed as a Catholic and an Englishman, it is Bishop Richard Williamson.

The Watchman of Ephraim Street
by Andi Arnovitz
His Israeli identity card lists his name as Saaid Abed Kalaf. It is spelled out there, in Hebrew, along with his identity number, his age and address, his mother’s name and his father’s name, where he was born, what year.

They’re Doing the J Street Jive
by Noah Pollak
In December 2008, two weeks before Hamas abandoned the six-month lull in its rocket war against Israel, the founder and executive director of the new lobbying group J Street delivered a message via YouTube to potential supporters.

When the Jews Came to Galveston
by Edward Brawley
Embarrassed! Who is Jacob Schiff to be embarrassed by my Uncle Benny Daynovsky?” This was the writer Calvin Trillin’s tongue-in-cheek reaction to learning the means by which his Jewish immigrant family had come to settle in Missouri a hundred years ago.

Come Back, William Inge
by Terry Teachout
A half-century ago, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams were universally reckoned the finest American dramatists of the postwar era. They still are.

The Art Instinct by Denis Dutton
by Kevin Shapiro
The Hard-Wired Aesthete The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution By Denis Dutton Bloomsbury, 288 pages, $25.00 Moviegoers looking for the bathroom in the basement of a rehabilitated theater in Dedham, Massachusetts may stumble across a unique, if perhaps not revered, cultural institution called the Museum of Bad Art (MoBA).

Such a Nice Boy Serial Killer
by Mark Lasswell
Mark Twitchell, a low-budget filmmaker in Edmonton, Alberta, was obsessed with Star Wars. He spent countless hours scouring the Internet, buying and selling Star Wars costumes, dolls, and other paraphernalia.

The Economic Contradictions of Obama-ism
by John Gordon
On February 9th, President Obama visited Elkhart, Indiana, the American community with the country’s highest unemployment rate, 15.3 percent. (It had been only 4.7 percent the year before.) He was there to sell his stimulus bill, then moving through Congress and since signed.


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May, 2009Back to Top
Reading By Ear
by David Frum
Four years ago, I resolved to get more seriously into shape. This least literary of decisions soon opened the way to the greatest revolution in my reading habits since I discovered books without pictures.

On Going to Synagogue
by George Goodman
Ron Wolfson of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles recently wrote in his “Synablog” that Jewish houses of worship are frequently failing to attract 20- and 30-somethings, which means their lifeline to the future is starting to fray.

Shelley's Heart by Charles McCarry
by D.G. Myers
Where Ideology Runs Amok Shelley’s Heart by Charles McCarry Ecco, 576 pages, $25.95 For reasons of ideology, the dean of the National Cathedral in Washington cannot bring himself to greet a conservative Republican as “Mr.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
by Algis Valiunas
Shakespeare Goes to the Dogs The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski Ecco, 576 pages, $25.95 David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was last summer’s megahit literary novel, rising as high as number five on the New York Times fiction best-seller list, and remaining suspended in that golden empyrean until this March.

Alec Guinness, the Great Little Briton
by Terry Teachout
When Alec Guinness died in 2000, obituary writers around the world mourned the passing of a beloved artist, one of the last survivors of the great generation of British actors born between the death of Queen Victoria and the coming of World War I.

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
by Christopher Caldwell
...And Less Than Kind The Kindly Ones By Jonathan Littell Harper, 992 pages, $29.99 Why, as the decades pass, do novelists—not to mention film-makers, biographers, and moral philosophers—grow more, not less, fascinated with Hitler, the Holocaust, and World War II? Maybe the Nazi era is made more approachable because our vision of its horrors has blurred with time.

Little Pink House by Jeff Benedict
by Jeff Jacoby
The Skin Left on the Sidewalk Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage by Jeff Benedict Grand Central, 397 pages, $26.99 On June 23, 2005, the U.S.

Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo
by James Kirchick
Assessing the Costs of the West’s African Pity Party Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 208 pages, $24.00 The political scientist Benedict Anderson once observed that Africa functioned as a kind of continental Rorschach blot for intellectuals, who tended to project onto it their grand ideas about economics and government.

The Persian Night by Amir Taheri
by Elliott Abrams
The Thirty Years’ War The Persian Night: Iran from Khomeini to Ahmadinejad by Amir Taheri Encounter, 423 pages, $25.95   For many societies, the journey to modernity has been painful and costly.

Golnick's Fortune
by Adam Langer
Marla Rossi was serving as part-time hostess at her father Don’s restaurant—Rossi’s: The Place for Steaks—during her winter break when she first met dishwasher Johnny “Tall Guy” Mondello.

New York on the Precipice
by Fred Siegel
Modern Washington, with its vast powers and giant bureaucracies, was created in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression that followed.

Liberal Hawks, RIP
by Abe Greenwald
The inauguration of a new president in January 2009 seemed to mark the close of an era for American foreign and security policy.

The Inflation Temptation
by John Gordon
The risk-taking New York real estate developer William Zeckendorf loved to say he would “rather be alive at 20 percent than dead at the prime rate.” But in 1980, four years after his death, the prime rate itself stood at 20 percent.

An Ominous Turn in Elite Opinion
by Jonathan Tobin
When Roger Cohen, the foreign-affairs columnist for the New York Times, traveled to Iran in January and February, the country he found was a revelation.

Israel Today, the West Tomorrow
by Mark Steyn
On Holocaust Memorial Day 2008, a group of just under 100 people—Londoners and a few visitors —took a guided tour of the old Jewish East End.

Israel’s Diplomatic Isolation
by John Bolton
Even though it shares the same island with some of the most imaginative theatrical talent in the world, the United Nations prefers comforting, dull, tedious repetition to interesting, unexpected, dramatic surprise.

How Obama's America Might Threaten Israel
by Norman Podhoretz
Is there a threat to Israel from the United States under Barack Obama? The question itself seems perverse. For in spite of the hostility to Israel in certain American quarters, this country has more often than not been the beleaguered Jewish state’s only friend in the face of threats coming from others.

New Look, Old Truths
by Our Readers
To the Editor: As the proud owner of all the issues of Commentary from 1972 to date, I confess I was slightly taken aback by the latest incarnation of my favorite publication.

Alfred Hitchcock: Is He Overrated or Underrated?
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Alfred Hitchcock is overrated, says Terry Teachout [“The Trouble with Alfred Hitchcock,” February]. He would have us believe that the legendary director, “far from being a great creative artist, was actually a minor master,” admittedly one with a certain knack for visual storytelling.

Good for the Jews?
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Jonathan S. Tobin asserts that efforts by the organized Jewish community in America to reach out to secular and intermarried families have been a failure, and that they have diverted precious resources from the core population of committed Jews.

Politics High and Low
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Yuval Levin’s assessment of Sarah Palin’s candidacy and his broader argument about the role of populism in American politics contain many valuable insights [“The Meaning of Sarah Palin,” February].

Shock Therapy
by Our Readers
To the Editor: James K. Glassman argues that the stimulative effect of fiscal policy during the Great Depression was “non-existent,” and that there is a consensus among economists that fiscal stimulus is useless at best in combating a recession [“Stimulus: A History of Folly,” March].

The Reset Button
by John Podhoretz
If anything can be said to encapsulate the Obama administration’s sense of mission in the realm of foreign policy, it would be the repeated use of the word “reset.” Vice President Biden used it first, telling a conference in Munich that his team was going to “press the reset button.” The president echoed him a few weeks later, suggesting there should either be a “reset” or a “reboot.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then embarrassed herself by presenting the Russian Foreign Minister with an actual reset button emblazoned with a word in Russian that was supposed to, but did not, mean “reset.” The whole business became an occasion for scorn among foreign-policy thinkers, Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post foremost among them: The reset button, she wrote, “is a deeply misleading, even vapid, metaphor for diplomatic relations.” She was right, of course, because while the voters of the United States put the policies of their government to a quadrennial test, the relations between the United States and other nations cannot be measured in four-year increments. It is sheer solipsism for an American politician to imagine that his election alone should or can instantly alter the relations between nations, which grow over time.

Seven Existential Threats
by Michael Oren
Rarely in modern history have nations faced genuine existential threats. Wars are waged to change regimes, alter borders, acquire resources, and impose ideologies, but almost never to eliminate another state and its people.

I.F. Stone, Soviet Agent—Case Closed
by John Haynes
When new information about Americans who had cooperated with the Soviet KGB began to emerge in the 1990s, no individual case generated as much controversy as that of the journalist I.F.


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June, 2009Back to Top
Saving America From Itself
by Our Readers
To the Editor: John Bolton bewails the erosion of the traditional Westphalian concept of sovereignty—which holds that individual nation-states have the right and responsibility to manage their own affairs within their own borders—and he warns that liberal thinkers and diplomats are pushing forward a new concept that subjects American policy to international restraints [“The Coming War on Sovereignty,” March]. This is a rather ironic plaint from someone who served in a government that strove so vigorously to undo the Westphalian arrangement.

Lost on the Road to Damascus
by Our Readers
Bret Stephens's dismissal of the idea that America should support peace talks between Syria and Israel conveniently ignores the fact that negotiations are a major desideratum of the Israeli political and defense establishments, and have been supported by numerous Israeli governments ["The Syria Temptation and Why Obama Must Resist it," March].

Bad Waltz
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Hillel Halkin's assessment of the Israeli film Waltz with Bashir is far too pallid and altogether misses the critical point ["The 'Waltz with Bashir' Two-Step," March].

One-Sided
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: My Wife, a loyal and supportive graduate of Vassar College, wrote to Vassar's president to complain of Joshua Schreier's brazenly "one-sided" course about Middle Eastern politics that Ruth R.

Buffetted
by Our Readers
To the Editor: David Billet's review of the recent biography of Warren Buffett seems to be a case of sour grapes, presumably over Buffett's liberal politics [Books in Review, March].

O’Connor, Believing
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Congratulations to Terry Teachout for his fine and subtle "Believing in Flannery O'Connor" [March]. He is certainly right that O'Connor's relationship with the Catholic Church was secure enough to make her immune to a crisis of faith at any point in her brief life.

Street Gang, by Michael Davis
by Jonathan Kay
Street Wise Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street By Michael Davis Viking, 384 pages, $27.95 The story of how a group of high-minded New York liberals created the most celebrated franchise in the history of children’s television is long and complicated.

Lost in the Meritocracy, by Walter Kirn
by Liam Julian
The Ugly and Damned Lost in the Meritocracy By Walter Kirn Doubleday, 288 pages, $24.95 The novelist Walter Kirn’s new memoir, Lost in the Meritocracy, contains several references to F.

A Jury of Her Peers, by Elaine Showalter
by Cheryl Miller
I Am Writer Hear Me Roar A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx By Elaine Showalter Knopf, 608 pages, $30 Elaine Showalter has long been on the forefront of feminist literary criticism.

Concurring With Arthur Miller
by Terry Teachout
When Arthur Miller died in 2005, most of the obituaries described him as a playwright of the first rank—though a few of the critical appraisals of his work that accompanied those obituaries were flecked with lingering doubts.

The Jewish Odyssey, by Gertrude Himmelfarb
by John Gross
The Book of Daniel The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot By Gertrude Himmelfarb Encounter, 250 pages, $25 In her novel of 1876, Daniel Deronda, George Eliot fa-mously foresaw the re-establishment of a Jewish state, and in the history of Zionism, the book is far more than a literary curiosity.

Columbine by Dave Cullen
by Jeremy Axelrod
Declaring War on the Human Race Columbine By Dave Cullen Hachette, 417 pages, $26.95 Early in 1999, the principal of Columbine High School installed four surveillance cameras in his cafeteria to keep students from leaving their trays out.

Flight from the Reich by Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt
by David Pryce-Jones
The Terrible Escape Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946 By Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt Norton, 312 pages, $35 Adolf Hitler made no secret of his racist intentions or of the violence he would use to fulfill them.

John Grisham’s Law
by Jennifer Rubin
The overall cost of litigation in the United States has now reached the vertiginous level of 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, around $300 billion.

Falling Backward
by Joanne Greenberg
The restaurant was pretentious. Even Dan could see that. Denver was trying too hard not to be a cow town.

The End of Medical Miracles?
by Tevi Troy
Americans have, at best, a love-hate relationship with the life-sciences industry—the term for the sector of the economy that produces pharmaceuticals, biologics (like vaccines), and medical devices.

The Truth About American Jews and Israel
by Jack Wertheimer
Reporting on the state of American Jewish relations with Israel, Time ran a headline announcing “The Diaspora’s Discontent.” For its part, Newsweek saw fit to inform us that American Jews who “loved Israel blindly” were now “learning to ask hard questions.” The New York Review of Books offered an analysis entitled “The Illusion of Jewish Unity” that limned the growing distance between the established American Jewish organizations and “the reality of Jewish opinion in America” about Israeli policies.

The Stabilization Plan
by Caroline Glick
Since 2002, the so-called “two-state solution” to the conflict between Israel and its neighbors has become the centerpiece of U.S.

The Federation Plan
by Hillel Halkin
Although the world and the new Obama administration continue to pin their hopes on it, a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would involve the removal of all Jewish settlements from a Palestine established along Israel’s 1967 borders with Jordan has no chance of coming to pass.

Wealth Creation Under Attack
by Francis Cianfrocca
That some should be rich shows that others may become rich,” said Abraham Lincoln, “and hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise.” Barack Obama has made it quite clear he wants to be seen as Lincoln’s heir.

Dreams From My President
by John Podhoretz
If you look at the lower right-hand corner of this month’s cover, you will see a grouping of two articles by two of Israel’s most formidable intellects under the common heading: “No More Peace Plans!” Indeed, what Hillel Halkin and Caroline B.

The Gitmo Myth and the Torture Canard
by Arthur Herman
On January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama issued his first executive order: He was closing the detention center at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba and calling a halt to  the military commissions created in late 2001 to try terrorist suspects detained there.


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July, 2009Back to Top
Clyde and Bonnie Died for Nihilism
by Stephen Hunter
Route 154 seems like a road out of a Beckett landscape, a long, hot, flat, dusty strip that runs through a featureless pine forest.

Leonard Bernstein, by Barry Seldes
by David Goldman
Bernstein the BetrayerLeonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician By Barry Seldes University of California, 296 pages, $24.95Leonard Bernstein wrote some of the best-loved music in American theater, and a few accessible but second-rate serious works.

Because They Asked Me To
by Frederic Raphael
I write this in a Paris hotel bedroom while waiting to see a producer whom I have never met, and never previously heard of, to discuss a project with a young director whose only film I have yet to see, with a view to writing a movie based on a book which, if I worked for Alfred A.

A Critic Takes a Bow
by Terry Teachout
On July 25, I expect to step from the wings of an opera house perched atop a 6,900-foot-high mesa in New Mexico, walk to center stage, look out at two thousand people, and take the first curtain call of my adult life.

Masters and Commanders, by Andrew Roberts
by Josiah Bunting III
Prosopographical Triumph Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945 By Andrew Roberts HarperCollins, 720 pages, $35 A good prosopography—a work in which an author undertakes to examine the behavior of persons engaged in a common enterprise—is a wondrous thing.

One State, Two States, by Benny Morris
by Elliot Jager
The Zero Sum Question One State, Two States By Benny Morris Yale, 256 pages, $26 The question of how or even whether to divide the strip of land that lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea has been something of an obsession for generations of world leaders and pundits, not to mention the Jews and Arabs who were directly affected in a conflict that was going on long before the State of Israel was created in 1948. The choices that have presented themselves for ending the fighting over the land of Israel/Palestine are stark: Either there can be one unitary state in which Jews and Arabs live happily or unhappily together or the disputed property can be split one way or another into Jewish and Arab states.

Hide and Seek, by Charles Duelfer
by Jamie Fly
The Never-Ending Story Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq By Charles Duelfer Public Affairs, 560 pages, $29.95 On May 29, 2003, less than three months after the U.S.

A Safe Haven, by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh
by Midge Decter
The Friend of Eddie Jacobson A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel By Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh HarperCollins, 448 pages, $27.99 In the 61 years since it became a formally recognized sovereign nation, Israel has spent much of its harrowing existence under pressure from its friends, occasionally effective, to make life-threatening concessions to its enemies.

The Pimstein Affair
by Hannah Brown
Jean heard the beeps that signaled the beginning of the radio news and put down the true-crime book she was reading about the murder of Susan Reinert and her children in a Pennsylvania suburb over 25 years ago.

Isaac, with Love and Squalor
by Joseph Epstein
Mention Isaac Rosenfeld’s name, even to people with literary interests, and they are likely to confuse it with that of Isaac Rosenberg, the English poet who died on the western front in France in 1918 at the age of twenty-eight and whose poem “Break of Day in the Trenches” some say is the greatest to come out of World War I.

The Judaism Rebooters
by D.G. Myers
A specter is haunting American Jewry—the specter of young urbanites in their twenties and early thirties whose identity consists almost entirely of the assurance that it is cool to be Jewish.

The Parents Who Don't Want to Be Adults
by Christine Rosen
Every generation of parents develops the anxieties it deserves. In the 1930s, the Maltine beverage company ran an advertisement in Parents magazine that featured four uniformed police officers peering intently into a crib where an infant slept.

The Steroids Morality Play
by Steven Goldman
On May 7, Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for using a banned substance linked to illegal drugs.

A Government Failure, Not a Market Failure
by John Makin
As a people we need, at all times, the encouragement of home ownership.  HERBERT HOOVER, 1932 The idea that home ownership confers special benefits on American society is deeply embedded in our culture—so much so that our national tax policy confers a special benefit of its own on it.

The War on Philanthropy
by David Billet
He is a kind of Society for th’ Prevention of Croolty to Money. If he finds a man misusin’ his money, he takes it away fr’m him an’ adopts it.

With Friends Like These . . .
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I would like to point out an overt lie in Noah Pollak’s article about the liberal Jewish lobbying group J Street [“They’re Doing the J Street Jive,” April].

Remembrances
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Jonathan S. Tobin’s review of my book We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust, 1945-1962, misses the point of my argument, and thus perpetuates the myth that I tried to dispel [“Did They Remember the Holocaust?,” April]. I do not contend that American Jewish Holocaust memorial projects of the early postwar period equaled in size, scope, funding, or public reception those of recent decades.

Stay Home, America?
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Tod Lindberg wants us to go it alone in saving Darfur, as if we haven’t been taking on too many of the world’s burdens [“The Only Way to Prevent Genocide,” April].

The Turn Against Israel
by John Podhoretz
Barack Obama began the first week of June with a series of interviews on the eve of his journey to Cairo to deliver his address to the “Muslim world.” In all of them, he spoke of the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the central importance of resolving it as part of his aim of beginning anew with the Arab and Muslim nations that have grown so disenchanted with the United States.

The Abandonment of Democracy
by Joshua Muravchik
The most surprising thing about the first half-year of Barack Obama’s presidency, at least in the realm of foreign policy, has been its indifference to the issues of human rights and democracy.


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September, 2009Back to Top
The First Decent Iraq-War Movie
by Stephen Hunter
At times during The Hurt Locker, a remarkable new movie about the war in Iraq, I began to wonder: Who wrote this, Thucydides or Xenophon? Actually, it was written by Mark Boal, a young journalist who logged time in Baghdad in 2004 (when the war was at its worst), hanging out with members of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

The Crafty Art of Alan Ayckbourn
by Terry Teachout
Of the plays that opened on Broadway last season, the one that stirred the most talk was the British revival of The Norman Conquests, Alan Ayckbourn’s 1973 comic triptych about the travails of a quarreling suburban family.

The Naked Novelist and the Dead Reputation
by Algis Valiunas
As the second anniversary of his passing approaches, it is worth asking: How is Norman Mailer, without question the most famous American writer of the second half of the 20th century, to be remembered? It is a measure of Mailer’s effect on the culture, for better or for worse, that answering the question is a pressing and valuable task.

Blood & Rage, by Michael Burleigh
by Keith Pavlischek
All Terrorists Are Not the Same Blood & Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism By Michael Burleigh Harper, 577 pages, $29.99 The task of creating an all-purpose profile of a typical terrorist has proved elusive for the Western law-enforcement and intelligence agencies that have tried to simplify the job of uncovering those most inclined to such activity.

The Next Founders, by Joshua Muravchik
by Michael Rubin
Listening to Freedom's Voices The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East By Joshua Muravchik Encounter, 350 pages, $25.95   On January 21, 2005, George W.

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, by Christopher Caldwell
by Daniel Johnson
Edmund Burke, Meet Tariq Ramadan Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West By Christopher Caldwell Doubleday, 422 pages, $30 In June 2009, an incident took place at Conway Hall in London’s Red Lion Square, the hallowed venue of secular leftist gatherings since the 1930s.

What Are Friends For?
by Joseph Epstein
This restaurant, Weinstein sensed immediately, was a mistake. M. Henry it was called, the M. apparently standing for Monsieur. He had driven past it many times, so he thought he might as well give it a try when his friend Buddy Berkson called to set up one of their regular monthly lunches.

Why Are Jews Liberals?—A Symposium
by Jonathan Sarna
A SymposiumNorman Podhoretz has been writing for COMMENTARY for 57 years, was its editor in chief for 35 years, and was its editor at large for 14 more.

The Most Precious Cargo
by Robert Slayton
More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, there can be no question about the significance of the event that crystallized the West’s determination to win the standoff with Communism.

The British Political Crisis
by Andrew Roberts
British politics is only just starting to emerge from its greatest period of political crisis since the sex-and-spy scandal surrounding the cabinet minister John Profumo in 1963, which caused the collapse of the Tory government of Harold Macmillan and ruined Macmillan’s health and career.

The Hazard of Moral Hazard
by James Glassman
When someone insures you against the consequences of a nasty event, oddly enough, he raises the incentives for you to behave in a way that will cause the event.

The Path to Republican Revival
by Peter Wehner
At some point about five years ago, America became a “One-Party Country”—and the party in question was the GOP. Such, at least, was the conclusion of Los Angeles Times reporters Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten in the book they wrote under that title following the 2004 presidential election.

The Art of Obama Worship
by Michael J. Lewis
Of all the images hurled forth by the last presidential election, none will live longer than Shepard Fairey’s poster of a red, white, and blue Barack Obama, gazing significantly into the distance, resting atop the single word Hope.

Hell of a Town
by Our Readers
To The Editor: It is not surprising that Fred Siegel, like other economic conservatives, looks at the current economic mess in New York and concludes that government should be reined in and the retirement and health-care security of public-sector workers sacrificed [“New York on the Precipice,” May].

Obama & Israel
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In mounting an argument that Barack Obama’s presidency could bode ill for Israel, Norman Podhoretz first rehearses Obama’s history of associations with less than enthusiastic supporters of the Jewish state [“How Obama’s America Might Threaten Israel,” May]. But let us stipulate that Obama does not quite share the affection that a George W.

On the Case Against I.F. Stone
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Most people justly assume that a “spy” is one who knowingly acts against the interests of his country by passing vital secrets to an enemy regime.

The Life of Conservatism
by John Podhoretz
Sam Tanenhaus has just published a short book entitled The Death of Conservatism. Tanenhaus, who is the editor of both the New York Times Book Review and the paper’s Week in Review section, is a very intelligent man and a very good -writer; the author of a splendid biography of -Whittaker Chambers, he has been working on a similar volume about William F.

The Path to Republican Revival
by Peter Wehner
At some point about five years ago, America became a “One-Party Country”—and the party in question was the GOP. Such, at least, was the conclusion of Los Angeles Times reporters Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten in the book they wrote under that title following the 2004 presidential election.


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October, 2009Back to Top
Obama's Enemies List
by Peter Wehner
I have argued before that the tone and manner in which one practices politics are undervalued commodities, especially at a presidential level.

Speaking of Jews, by Lila Corwin Berman
by Jeff Jacoby
Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity By Lila Corwin Berman University of California, 266 pages, $55 (hardcover), $22.95 (paperback) As a promising young scholar at New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary in the 1910s, Louis Finkelstein was close to its president, the eminent and elderly Rabbi Solomon Schechter.

The Greater of Two Loessers
by Terry Teachout
Among connoisseurs of popular song, Frank Loesser is universally regarded as a master. Not only did he write the scores for two major Broadway musicals, Guys and Dolls (1950) and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961), but he also wrote or co-wrote numerous songs that became standards after being introduced in Hollywood films, including “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” and “On a Slow Boat to China.” In addition, Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying were both turned into hit movies, and How to Succeed won a Pulitzer Prize for drama. Yet Loesser is less well known to the public at large than any of his peers, and even at the peak of his success, he was obscure by comparison with such popular-music celebrities as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter.

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, by Maile Meloy
by Cheryl Miller
Maile Meloy has a knack for picking titles. Take her latest offering, a collection of short stories: Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.

Inglourious Movie
by Frederic Raphael
We went to see Inglourious Basterds at our local cinema in the small town of Sarlat, in southwestern France. Having seen no reviews, I hoped only to be entertained and—yes, please—scandalized by the writer-director of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill, all of which revelled in the protracted dances of cruelty and death that have made Quentin Tarantino the reigning schlockmeister of the cinema. The movie starts with a neat defeat of modernist expectation by being divided into “chapters” (in homage to Jean-Luc Godard and his 1964 film Bande à Part, or Band of Outsiders, after which Tarantino named his own production company).

The Never-Ending Journey
by D.G. Myers
Lionel Trilling and Irving Howe: And Other Stories of  Literary Friendship By Edward Alexander Transaction, 124 pages, $34.95 The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism By Michael Kimmage Harvard, 419-pages, $45 Why the persistent fascination with Lionel Trilling? An English professor, literary critic, and one-book novelist, Trilling continues to generate interest three decades after his death, while his contemporaries—Newton Arvin, Cleanth Brooks, F.O.

The Mask of the Marranos
by Allan Nadler
The Other Within: The Marranos, Split Identity, and Emerging Modernity By Yirmiyahu Yovel Princeton, 490 pages, $35 The creation of the modern state of Israel has awakened many dormant cultural pursuits, perhaps none so dramatic as the discovery of long-lost Jews.

Nathan at the Speed of Light
by Peter Lopatin
It is March 15, 1933, and Nathan Lipinsky, age 20, is summoned to the office of his boss, Max Kessler, a stockbroker notable for prospering during this time of exceptional -economic privation.

The Shul at Loon Lake
by Ruth Wisse
The Loon Lake Jewish Center, about two-thirds of the way between Plattsburgh and Saranac Lake, New York, is a log cabin, a former hunting lodge, consisting of one large square room that serves as the sanctuary; an adjoining back room with a refrigerator, sink, and table; and a small corner bathroom with toilet and sink.

How Politics Destroyed a Great TV Show
by Jonah Goldberg
Either you are with me, or you are my enemy!” shouted a young Darth Vader in 2005’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, one of the execrable prequels to the original films by George Lucas.

The Petroleum-Tax Giveback
by Thomas Merrill
Is anyone in the United States happy, satisfied, or even comfortable with the national approach to energy? Michael Moore on the radical Left, Martin Peretz in the dead Center, Charles Krauthammer on the reasonable Right, and Ron Paul on the radical Right are as one when it comes to the deeply held conviction that the United States imports far too much oil from the Middle East and that the American oil “addiction” (a word all four men have used) has distorted American foreign, fiscal, and environmental policy.

The Keynes Bubble
by John Makin
As a former academic economist who at mid-career migrated into the worlds of policy and financial markets, I am sometimes asked how the latter experiences differ from the academic one.

The Labor Movement's Dangerous Wish List
by Jennifer Rubin
The new political alignment in Washington has revived the fortunes of the nation’s labor unions, whose power and authority have diminished radically since the 1960s.

Kennedyism at Rest
by Midge Decter
Over the past 40 years, how many American fathers with great ambitions for their sons have not spent at least a moment or two pondering the paternal methodology of the late Joseph P.

Will the World Buy Israel's New 'Brand'?
by Jonathan Tobin
When Israel’s consulate in New York City sponsored a party to celebrate a photo spread depicting female members of the Israel Defense Forces in the R-rated men’s magazine Maxim in June 2007, more than a few friends of the country wondered what on earth the officials responsible for this event could have been thinking.

A Certain People
by Our Readers
To the Editor: It is significant that Jack Wertheimer refers to American Jews as living in an autonomous “Diaspora” (from the Greek “strewing of seeds”) and not in the Galut (the Hebrew name of the exile from the land of the Jewish people).

Big Pharma
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Tevi Troy’s alarmist analysis of the perils supposedly faced by the pharmaceutical industry attempts to defend egregious misconduct on the part of Big Pharma while minimizing the contribution to medical innovation of non-industry players like the federal government’s National Institute of Health [“The End of Medical Miracles?,” June]. To a great extent, the industry has itself to blame for its limitations in discovering new cures.

'Roid Rage
by Our Readers
To the Editor:            Steven Goldman is right that for most baseball players, steroids provide very little by way of performance enhancement [“The Steroids Morality Play,” July-August].

Musical Furies
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I wish to correct certain misrepresentations in David P. Goldman’s review of my book, Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician [“Bernstein the Betrayer,” July-August].

The Return of Bad Ideas
by John Podhoretz
These days, one of the strangest places on earth is Times Square, but not for the reasons one would have expected a mere 15 years ago.


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November, 2009Back to Top
A Man in Thrall
by John Clayton
She clung to him as if she wanted their cells to merge, and she keened—because it seemed like the end, and tragic; or, more tragic, still more tragic, not the end. If I can’t live with you, I’ll die.

The Israel Test, by George Gilder
by Michael Medved
The Israel Test By George Gilder Richard Vigilante Books, 320 pages, $27.95 It wasn’t the author’s intention, to be sure, but George Gilder’s new book, The Israel Test, may infect some Jewish readers with a bad case of WASP envy: only a Protestant patrician with no hint of Hebraic background would dare to write so positively about Israel and the Jews.

1688, by Steve Pincus
by Paul Rahe
1688: The First Modern Revolution By Steve Pincus Yale, 647 pages, $40   The onset of the French Revolution in 1789 sparked a heated debate in England concerning the character of its own Glorious Revolution a century before.

The Making of Americans, by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
by Liam Julian
The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools By E.D. Hirsch Jr. Yale, 288 pages, $25   Facts. They are not always welcome in American public-school classrooms.

Intel and the Israelis
by Saul Singer
Four guys are standing on a street corner...an American, a Russian, a Chinese man, and an Israeli.... A reporter comes up to the group and says to them: “Excuse me....What’s your opinion on the meat shortage?” The American says: What’s a shortage? The Russian says: What’s meat? The Chinese man says: What’s an opinion? The Israeli says: What’s “Excuse me”?             —Mike Leigh, Two Thousand Years We did it the Israeli way; we argued our case to death.” That’s how Shmuel “Mooly” Eden sums up a months-long showdown between senior executives of the high-tech firm that gave Silicon Valley its name and an upstart group of the firm’s employees working in an outpost in Haifa.

What the Tories Have to Teach Us
by David Frum
Britain’s Conservatives are poised to return to power after a dozen years in the wilderness, even as America’s conservatives have the look of a movement whose desert wanderings have only just begun. This is an amazing reversal of fortune.

Toddlin’ Town
by Joseph Epstein
Time was, if you told me your address in Chicago, I could tell your ethnic origins, make a reasonably accurate guess at your family’s household income, know whether your parents ate in the kitchen or in the dining room and whether your father came to table in his undershirt.

The Real Irving Kristol
by Norman Podhoretz
The obituaries got most of the facts right: that Irving Kristol’s death at the age of 89 marked the passing of one of the most important public intellectuals of the past 40 years; that he began his political life on the radical Left, with a brief stint as a Trotskyist; that his rightward journey over the decades from that starting point on the Left to the neoconservatism of which he became known as the Godfather blazed a trail that a fair number of other intellectuals, myself included, would subsequently follow; that his influence was exerted not only through his own writings in a variety of publications (Commentary prominently among them) but also through the Public Interest, the quarterly journal he founded in 1965 and edited until it ceased publication in 2005; that the ideas he shaped and disseminated through these channels contributed mightily to a change in the climate of American public opinion; that this in turn helped bring about the great change in our political culture that paved the way for the election of a candidate as conservative as Ronald Reagan; and that the effects of his work are still being felt. All true.

What Price Popularity?
by James Kirchick
Barack Obama entered the White House riding a wave of popularity around the world unparalleled in recent political history. His margin of victory among American voters in last November’s presidential election was 6 percentage points; outside the United States, however, Obama was favored over his Republican rival John McCain by huge majorities.

Bonnie, Clyde & the Boomers
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Stephen Hunter’s dissent on Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde, like so much of the original criticism it generated, had little to do with the movie and much to do with making a political point [“Bonnie and Clyde Died for Nihilism,” July-August].

Satchmo and the Jews
by Terry Teachout
In addition to being the greatest jazz musician of the 20th century, Louis Armstrong was also the most beloved. “I never met anybody that didn’t love him that ever saw him work or ever has encountered him, had any connection or any business with him,” said Bing Crosby.

From Hungary
by Sam Munson
Hungarian literature has never quite been entirely in or entirely out of fashion among English readers. Since the years before the Second World War, when Hungarian writing first made itself known to English-speaking audiences, up through the present day, when the works of major writers like the Nobel laureate Imre Kertész and the novelist and essayist George Konrad can be easily obtained, Hungarian authors in translation have enjoyed a series of successes d’estime that has never quite crossed over into the ubiquity and global renown of other Central European literatures.

Afghanistan and the Liberal Collapse
by Abe Greenwald
In September with the war in Afghanistan soon to enter its ninth year, and U.S. commanders broadcasting a need for vital resources to reverse a losing effort, President Obama made a curious appeal: he asked General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S.

Thucydides, by Donald Kagan
by Algis Valiunas
Thucydides: The Reinvention of History By Donald Kagan Viking, 272 pages, $26.95   The Peloponnesian War is renowned, and notorious, as the most momentous and destructive conflict of the classical Greek world, surpassing the Trojan War memorialized in the works of Homer and the great tragedians, and the war between the Greeks and the Persians celebrated in Herodotus’ History.The principal combatants were the city-states of Athens and Sparta, and their clients, colonies, and friends in the Athenian Empire and the Spartan Alliance. Athens and Sparta represented polar opposites in political structure and civic temperament.

Charity Cases
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In “The War on Philanthropy” [July-August], David Billet sounds the alarm over a coming liberal/government takeover of charitable organizations.

Leaving Them Wanting More
by John Podhoretz
It has become commonplace for people to refer to Barack Obama as a “rock star” or a “global rock star,” in part because of his predilection for appearing in front of enormous crowds in stadiums with sets designed by Madonna’s production coordinator.

How We Can Win in Afghanistan
by Max Boot
The terms counterterrorism and counterinsurgency have become common currency this decade in the wake of September 11, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq.


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December, 2009Back to Top
Why Are Jews Liberals? Our Readers Respond
by Our Readers
In our September issue, we asked six prominent American Jewish thinkers to consider the question posed by Norman Podhoretz’s new book, Why Are Jews Liberals? That symposium, with contributions by David Wolpe, Jonathan Sarna, Michael Medved, William Kristol, Jeff Jacoby, and David Gelernter, provoked an extraordinary number of responses from COMMENTARY’s readers, all of whom, it seems, have their own opinions and answers to Podhoretz’s question.

False Certainty
by John Podhoretz
To know the future with certainty is the most ardent desire of humankind. It’s terrifying to think the future isn’t knowable, and so we do what we can to reduce the fear.

Whatever Happened to Preston Sturges
by Terry Teachout
Preston Sturges made seven successful film comedies, the first of which was released in 1940 and the last in 1944.

Doing a Reverse Bowdler
by Christine Rosen
Among the more surprising entries on the New York Times bestseller list in recent years is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a novel “co-authored” by Jane Austen and one Seth Grahame-Smith.

Writer on the Wild Side
by Algis Valiunas
Most of the old lions and the ambitious strivers after  lionhood—Bellow, Updike, Cheever, Styron, Mailer—are gone. A single writer on the long side of 80 who might be considered a major figure remains.

A Serious Film
by Ruth Wisse
If God rests in the details, Jewish filmmakers tend toward heresy. When I heard that the new Coen brothers movie opened with a short sequence in Yiddish, I expected the usual sloppy shtick, with comedy as the excuse for ignorance.

Dancing in the Dark, by Morris Dickstein
by Mark Steyn
Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression By Morris Dickstein Norton, 624 pages, $29.95 Morris Dickstein took 29 years to complete Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, which is longer than even the New Deal managed to keep it going for.

Mitzvah Girls, by Ayala Fader
by David Wolpe
Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Girls in Brooklyn By Ayala Fader Princeton, 280 pages, $22.95A considerable literature exists devoted to the “problem of other minds,” occasioned by the inconvenient fact that we cannot climb into each other’s heads.

Sin, by Gary A. Anderson
by Peter Lopatin
Sin: A History By Gary A. Anderson Yale, 253 pages, $30 In polite company, one speaks today of sin—if one speaks of such a thing at all—with no small measure of discomfort.

Trotsky, by Robert Service
by Peter Savodnik
Trotsky: A Biography By Robert Service Harvard, 648 pages, $35 Leon Trotsky is the paradigmatic revolutionary. More than any other Bolshevik, it was Trotsky, the penseur with the pince-nez, who became the brand of the revolution, and not just the revolution in Russia—revolution everywhere.

Tribeca Tale
by Karl Greenfeld
In the long  afternoon light, the yellow glow extending down the West-East thoroughfares from river to river, casting businessmen and bums and wives and bike messengers all, for a moment, in halo-like glow, so that the most repugnant and repulsive among us looked, for an instant, blessed and beatific, it was too easy to imagine that we had found our noble plot.

Higher Immigration, Lower Crime
by Daniel Griswold
Major Cities’ Plummeting Crime Rates Mystifying” proclaimed the headline atop a Washington Post article on July 20, 2009. Thestory went on to report that crime rates have dropped in New York, Los Angeles, and other large American cities to levels not seen in 40 years—“a trend criminologists describe as baffling and unexpected.” An FBI report in September showed that a nationwide plunge in violent crime dating back to the early 1990s has continued largely unabated; it too offered little by way of explanation. One plausible reason behind this welcome phenomenon, ironic as it may sound, is increased immigration, including low-skilled and illegal immigration.

"Dictatorships and Double Standards" Redux
by Ilan Wurman
Thirty years ago, an article criticizing the Carter administration’s foreign policy appeared in these pages under the title “Dictatorships and Double Standards.” Its author was Jeane Kirkpatrick, then a professor of political science at Georgetown University.

The Illegal-Settlements Myth
by David Phillips
The conviction that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal is now so commonly accepted, it hardly seems as though the matter is even open for discussion.

We're Number Two?
by Thomas Hazlett
At a swanky American resort in the summer of 2008, an elite policy discussion was underway, and the message could not have been more stark.

The Missile-Defense Betrayal
by Kejda Gjermani
It was not uncommon for a pharaoh to deface the monuments of his predecessors, insert his name in their inscriptions, or impose his likeness on the heads of their statues.

The 35-Year War on the CIA
by Arthur Herman
When your own outfit is trying to put you in jail, it’s time to go.” Those are the words of Robert Baer, once a CIA operative in the Middle East, describing the days in 1995 when he found himself under investigation by the Clinton administration, the FBI, and the CIA’s own inspector general.


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