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January, 2011Back to Top
The Democrats and Health Care
by Tevi Troy
The passage of Barack Obama’s health-care legislation in the spring of 2010 proved profoundly injurious to the president and his party in the November midterm elections.

Is Obama’s Fate Already Sealed?
by John Podhoretz
The infectious, rresistible parlor game of the moment is the 2012 election. What about Palin? Can Obama survive the economy (a different question from whether the economy can survive Obama)? What about Palin? Will Obama’s accession to Republicans on tax cuts end the enthusiasm for his re-election on the left that he needs to ensure Democratic voter turnout? Not to mention, What about Palin? Given that a week is a lifetime in politics, that no one will be voting for another year, and that there’s no way of knowing what the immediate landscape will be like when voters begin to make decisions, why does this talk of 2012 fascinate us so? We love this game because it has a definable timeline.

Global Poverty and Its Sad Persistence
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In “The Global Poverty Paradox” [October], Nicholas Eberstadt uses a Western yardstick to measure results in non-Western places.

The Pointed Finger
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Ruth R. Wisse makes cogent comments on the forces aligned against Israel in her article on anti-Semitism [“The Anti-Semite’s Pointed Finger,” November].

T.S. Eliot’s Importance
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Joseph Epstein’s learned article about the literary and intellectual excellence of T.S. Eliot leaves me wondering what it would take to persuade the author that Eliot was profoundly anti-Semitic [“T.S.

The Rushdie Rules
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Daniel Pipes describes Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie as unprecedented, since “no head of government had ever called for the execution of a novelist living in another country” [“Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules,” October].

The Love on the Couch Joke
by Joseph Epstein
Every month in this space, Joseph Epstein tells a Jewish joke and invites you, the COMMENTARY reader, to offer an exegesis of it in 250 words or less.

The Problem with Printing Money
by James Pethokoukis
The Federal Reserve’s dramatic new intervention into the U.S. economy—a $600 billion purchase of Treasury bonds that was immediately branded with the nautical nickname of QE2—had barely gotten underway in November 2010 before the Fed itself began sending signals that it had a public-relations disaster on its hands.

Where Did the Stimulus Go?
During the recent recession, the U.S. Congress passed two large economic stimulus programs. President Bush’s February 2008 program totaled $152 billion.

The WikiLeaks War on America
by Jonathan Foreman
The indefinable international organization known as WikiLeaks was relatively unknown between its setting up in 2006 and the April 2010 premiere it staged at the National Press Club in Washington of the “Collateral Murder” video—a selection of stolen and decrypted gun-camera footage that purportedly shows the unlawful killing of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists by the crew of a U.S.

Wild About Harry
by Joseph Epstein
One of my first memories of my Uncle Harry is of him sitting on the edge of my bed, just discharged from the Navy after World War II, emptying his duffel bag, extracting gifts for me, his only nephew: one of his white duty hats, a Japanese flag, a canteen, a duty belt, a couple of loose insignia, his dog tags.

A Peaceful Palestinian’s Perplexing Plan
by Elliott Abrams
What Is a Palestinian State Worth? By Sari Nusseibeh Harvard, 234 pages Sari Nusseibeh is a man without a country. Nusseibeh is a member of one of the most distinguished Arab Jerusalem families and is now president of Al-Quds University there.

Decider in Chief
by Douglas Murray
Decision Points By George W. Bush Crown, 512 pages I recall the exact moment I realized that anything, anything at all, could be said about George W.

Don’t Try This at Home
by Michael Rosen
The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America By Daniel Hannan HarperCollins, 224 pages "We weren’t out in the streets holding banners and trying to change minds," said a participant last February in Britain’s first-ever Tea Party meeting.

Strong Tea
by James Taranto
Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America By Kate Zernike Times Books, 256 pages The author of Boiling Mad is a New York Times reporter, and the title suggests a hostile view of the Tea Party movement as a cauldron of undifferentiated rage.

The Twain Shall Meet
by Naomi Riley
City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era By Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner Moody Publishers, 144 pages Halfway through their book City of Man, Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner describe the evolution of Jerry Falwell.

The Memory Book of the Intifada
by Daniel Gordis
A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism By Giulio Meotti Encounter Books, 428 pages Toward the end of the Shoah, and in its aftermath, as the remnants of Eastern European Jewish communities began to internalize the extent of their devastation, the need to preserve the memory of what had once been became pressing.

Methodological Morality
by Aaron Rothstein
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values By Sam Harris Free Press, 304 pages The American neuroscientist Sam Harris is best known as one quarter of “the Four Horsemen,” an informal posse of popular intellectuals that traverses the media circuit condemning religious belief and defending atheism.

Be the Stronger
by David Frum
Prelude to Catastrophe: FDR’s Jews and the Menace of Nazism By Robert Shogan Ivan R. Dee, 312 pages American Jewry will never cease to be haunted by the question: Could we have done more to rescue the victims of the Nazi Holocaust? It’s a question that has gained new resonance in our time, as the rulers of Iran race to complete a nuclear weapon.

A Monument to Themselves
by Jonathan Tobin
[caption id="attachment_257071" align="alignleft" width="219" caption="The National Museum of American Jewish History"][/caption] Speculating about the Jewish identity of celebrities has been a popular parlor game for generations of Jews, most notably played in recent years in Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” in which the comedian lists famous people who are Jewish or “half-Jewish.” The song itself is a mark of a people’s progress.

America’s Philosophic Declaration of Independence
by Peter Savodnik
The Heart of William James Edited and with an introduction by Robert Richardson Harvard, 337 pages At the very core of American identity is the conviction that the United States has never been a place or a people so much as an idea.

The Battlefields of Hasidic History
by Gil Student
Untold Tales of the Hasidim: Crisis and Discontent in the History of Hasidism By David Assaf Brandeis, 364 pages Though much of contemporary popular culture seems to have been drained of even the slightest remnant of modesty or restraint, there are still some sectors where respect for the memories of the deceased and the privacy of the living, and concern for the ideological underpinnings of society, serve as powerful deterrents to candid tell-all histories.

The Case for Cab Calloway
by Terry Teachout
Few cinematic cameos have been more galvanizing than Cab Calloway’s in The Blues Brothers. In the 1980 film, he plays a janitor who suddenly dons white tie and tails, gets up on stage in front of an admiring group of long-haired rock and soul musicians, and proceeds to steal the show not only from its stars, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, but also from James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin, all of whom made cameo appearances of their own.

PRESS MAN: R U Tweeting 2 Much?
by Andrew Ferguson
I had most of the week in a far country, where the cell-phone coverage is poor. When I arrived at dawn on Saturday to make the only weekend flight home, I was glad to find, in the lounge of the tiny regional airport, a free Wi-Fi signal.

February, 2011Back to Top
Manipulating a Massacre
by John Podhoretz
The political attacks on the right that instantly followed the assassination attempt on Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords represented a brazen effort on the part of liberals and the left to discredit, delegitimize, and silence their conservative opposition.

Crisis in Liberal Land
by Our Readers
To the Editor: The reasons President Obama might be defeated in 2012 are simpler and more fundamental than those suggested by John Podhoretz [“The Liberal Crisis,” December 2010].

The Martians in Manhattan Joke
by Joseph Epstein
Every month in this space, Joseph Epstein tells a Jewish joke and invites you, the COMMENTARY reader, to offer an exegesis of it in 250 words or less.

How to Think About the Tea Party
by Paul Rahe
On February 19, 2009, when the finance commentator Rick Santelli indulged in a rant against the newly unveiled “stimulus” bill on the CNBC cable network and called for a demonstration in Chicago modeled on the Boston Tea Party, he fired a shot heard round the country.

Late Converts
by Frederic Raphael
The Jews of San Nicandro By John Davis Yale University Press, 252 pages Apulia is the least typically Italian region of Italy. Facing the Adriatic Sea, it extends from the high, carbuncular peninsula of Gargano, north of Bari, all the way down to the heel of Italy’s boot.

Defining the Blues
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Terry Teachout’s definition of the origins of blues is as limited as the misconceptions he seeks to dispel [“De-Romanticizing the Blues,” November 2010].

Class Warfare
by Our Readers
To the Editor: William Voegeli (“Americans Don’t Hate the Rich,” December 2010) defends lower taxes on the wealthy. Yet he complains that “no party or politician has offered a plausible way to return to the golden age of American prosperity, from roughly 1945 to 1973, when our leaders seemed to know how to propitiate the economic gods and deliver steadily rising living standards and increasing economic security.” We note that the peak income-tax rate during most of the years from 1945-1963 was 91 percent.

How to Understand Rush Limbaugh
by Wilfred McClay
One of the many strategic errors made by the Obama administration in the early days of 2009 was its decision to take on talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh—though it was, perhaps, hard to blame the president and his people for trying.

Irving Kristol's Neoconservative Persuasion
by Gertrude Himmelfarb
The memoir by my husband introducing his last volume of essays in 1995, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, opens with a typical Irving Kristol quip. Is there such a thing as a “neo” gene? I ask that question because, looking back over a lifetime of my opinions, I am struck by the fact that they all qualify as “neo.” I have been a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-socialist, a neoliberal, and finally a neoconservative.

Terrorism and Piracy: The New Alliance
With the tragic news that four Americans have been killed by Somali pirates, the scourge of modern-day pirate militias is driven home as something more than an occasional colorful nuisance.

Let's Get Westoxicated!
by Sohrab Ahmari
My middle-school archnemesis in Tehran was Mr. Pourmand, a Koran teacher and fanatical devotee of Iran’s clerical regime. We often clashed over my preference for Jules Verne and Metallica over labyrinthine Koranic passages.

Painting the Culture Red
by Lauren Weiner
Abraham Lincoln was a Communist. But you knew that, didn’t you? Our 16th president’s bicentennial birthday, celebrated in 2009 with great fanfare, brought forth traces of an oddly far-left Lincoln, an image harking back to American Communism’s mid-20th-century heyday. A special edition of PBS’s Bill Moyers Journal featured actor Sam Waterston reciting Lincoln-related literary passages.

by Karl Greenfeld
There was among the other little girls a desperate yearning to please Cooper, which felt to her as familiar and nurturing as her mother’s embrace.

The Eternal Educational Return
by Liam Julian
The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas By Frederick M. Hess Harvard, 304 pages Frederick M. Hess has written an important book that seeks to bring sobriety to an education-policy realm too often besotted with the panacean, the faddish, the naive, and the antiquated.

Premarital Wrecks
by Naomi Riley
Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think About Marrying By Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker Oxford, 312 pages A professor at  Notre Dame once lamented to me that the parents he encounters don’t worry that their kids will engage in sexual activity during their undergraduate career.

Crisis Mismanagement
by Michael Rubin
The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America, and the Rumors of War By Dana H. Allin and Steven Simon Oxford, 224 pages Since World War II, successive crises have tied American security ever closer to the events and players of the Middle East.

Leon Fleisher Returns—Again
by Terry Teachout
The unusual and tragic career of Leon Fleisher has always been one of the great classical-music mysteries of the age.

Graying the Line
by Sam Munson
A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction By Ruth Franklin Oxford, 256 pages Despite our enduring national fascination with the Holocaust, there has been little serious American study of its effects on literature.

Don't Eat That Lotus
by D.G. Myers
Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka By Rodger Kamenetz Nextbook/Schocken, 361 pages Students of Gershom Scholem liked to quote the great and intransigent 20th-century scholar of Jewish mysticism as saying that anyone who hoped to understand the Kabbalah had better read Franz Kafka first.

Haley Barbour's Close Shave
by Andrew Ferguson
If I were a professor of journalism—anyone? anyone?—and I wanted my eager young scholars to ponder a case study in the rhythms of modern newsmaking, I’d have them pick over the rough patch Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi went through in mid-December.

March, 2011Back to Top
The Coming Rift
by Abe Greenwald
Pundits are fond of talking about the disconnect between the GOP and the American electorate. Conservatives are out of step, so the wisdom goes.

'Fire in the Minds of Men'
by John Podhoretz
The popular revolt in Egypt is a profoundly confusing event. It is clearly a true expression of the powerful yearning for change on the part of a people denied any promise of a better future by the heavy hand of a kleptocratic, bureaucratic, autocratic regime.

by Our Readers
To the Editor: In “The  WikiLeaks War on America” [January], Jonathan Foreman provides copious evidence indicating that Julian Assange is pompous, egomaniacal, and drunk on his own power and notoriety.

FDR's Jews
by Our Readers
To the Editor: What if American Jews [at the time of the Holocaust] had followed the passionate example of Ben Hecht, tirelessly trumpeting news of the slaughter of the Jews of Europe?” asks David Frum in his review of Robert Shogan’s Prelude to Catastrophe [“Be the Stronger,” January].

Revisiting the Rosenbergs
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In his review of Walter Schneir’s Final Verdict, Ronald Radosh reveals his unwillingness to view the case of my parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, in any way other than through a Cold War lens [December 2010].

by Our Readers
To the Editor: In his stimulating “Press Man” article “They’ll Always Have NPR” [December 2010], Andrew Ferguson falls victim to one chronic bit of National Public Radio spin: he refers to NPR’s “small but vital federal subsidy.” Network executives routinely denigrate the subsidy.

The Holocaust and the Church
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Kevin J. Madigan’s thesis about the superiority of Pius XI to Pius XII is quite correct [“Two Popes, One Holocaust,” December 2010], and there is indeed a lot more to be said on the topic.

The Three Jewish-Mother Jokes
by Joseph Epstein
Every month in this space, Joseph Epstein tells a Jewish joke and invites you, the COMMENTARY reader, to offer an exegesis of it in 250 words or less. First off, this month’s new joke. _____________ The Three Jewish-Mother Jokes I. [caption id="attachment_751054" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="Joseph Epstein's joke for March 2011"][/caption] Mrs.

The Bloomberg Bubble Bursts
In the narrative crafted by Michael Bloomberg’s public-relations team throughout the first nine years of his mayoralty, he was the fabulously successful businessman who saved New York’s economy after the 9/11 attacks and then went on to master urban governance without breaking a sweat.

The Road to Tahrir Square
by Michael Rubin
On December 17, 2010, after his wares were confiscated by police, Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight to protest corruption.

ObamaCare Repudiated?
by Tevi Troy
Over the past few months, President Barack Obama’s health-care law has been subjected to three devastating blows. First was the electoral repudiation of the Democrats in November 2010, based in large part on Obama’s overreach when it came to both his political mandate and the boundaries of the Constitution.

The Return of Anarchism
by Abe Greenwald
In late 2010, several organizations with mysterious names made impressive claims on the world’s attention. During a two-day period in the first week of November, more than a dozen parcel bombs arrived at embassies in Athens and at the offices of leading politicians in three European cities.

The Pollard Spy Case, 25 Years Later
by Jonathan Tobin
On January 4 of this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally requested that President Barack Obama release Jonathan Pollard. He is the former U.S.

Law Schools and Leftist Orthodoxy
by Walter Olson
The nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of an identifiably conservative figure tends to set off a flurry of noisy opposition from the ranks of legal academia, and that of Judge Samuel Alito in 2005 was no exception.

The Genius of the Place
by Algis Valiunas
Cities are the places to be for those who crave wealth, renown, intellectual companionship, choice food and drink, splendid art, high conviviality, sex any way you like it: the richest possibilities shimmer before your eyes as you walk down the street.

The Name Changer
by John Clayton
David Breuer, lying in his hospital bed, listens down into himself, waiting for his aorta to burst. Not that he’s impatient.

Cracking Open the Iron Curtain
by Jeff Jacoby
When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry By Gal Beckerman Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 608 pages In October 1963, a group of Cleveland rabbis signed a telegram urging President John F.

That 70s Woe
by Brian Anderson
Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right By Dominic Sandbrook Alfred A. Knopf, 508 pages "I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” shouted the unhinged anchorman Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network.

Cogs in the Machine
by Kay Hymowitz
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement By David Brooks Random House, 448 pages Once philosophers, theologians, and poets asked the question: What is man? These days, cognitive scientists have taken over the job.

Mickey or Bugs?
by Rob Long
The Oxford Book of Parodies Edited by John Gross Oxford, 416 pages For decades, comedy writers have puzzled over a mystery: Why is Mickey Mouse more famous than Bugs Bunny? Mickey isn’t funny or interesting.

America's Greatest Playwright?
by Terry Teachout
Through most of the 20th century, there was no contest for the title of America’s greatest playwright. Eugene O’Neill’s standing appeared to be secure not merely in theatrical and intellectual circles but also among the middlebrows: he was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes and won the Nobel for good measure.

All the Self­Congratulation That's Fit to Print
by Andrew Ferguson
At one point or another during the saga of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, when Assange joined with the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers to unloose an avalanche of government secrets, two of the most respected newspaper editors in the world began to realize they were dealing with a creep.

April, 2011Back to Top
Tea Time
by Our Readers
To the Editor: After reading Paul A. Rahe’s “How to Think About the Tea Party” [February], I was reminded of the insight on our “fundamental principles,” as outlined in the Federalist Papers, several of which were cited by Judge Roger Vinson in his ObamaCare opinion.

A Jewish Museum
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In “A Monument to Themselves” [January], Jonathan S. Tobin offers readers a confusing and somewhat disjointed review of the new National Museum of American Jewish History.

Two Passover Jokes
by Joseph Epstein
Every month in this space, Joseph Epstein tells a Jewish joke and invites you, the COMMENTARY reader, to offer an exegesis of it in 250 words or less. First off, this month’s new joke. _____________ Two Passover Jokes I. Bill O’Brien, a blind scholar, is invited to his first seder at his colleague and friend Sam Brodsky’s house.

The Reformist Right and the Reactionary Left
by Daniel DiSalvo
In late February, the nation’s attention snapped back and forth from protests in the Middle East to protests in the Middle West.

Egypt's Islamists: A Cautionary Tale
On March 20, Egypt held a referendum vote, and it is the common consensus that the results indicate the degree of support and power for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Unemployment—­Or Welfare
by Cheryl Einhorn
The father of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck, first introduced unemployment insurance in the 1880s. Bismarck conceived of this new social mandate as a way to generate goodwill among the growing working class and prevent socialists from calling for more radical action.

The Worst Study Ever?
by Scott Atlas
The World Health Organization’s World Health Report 2000, which ranked the health-care systems of nearly 200 nations, stands as one of the most influential social-science studies in history.

The Russian Reset: A Eulogy
by James Kirchick
Last April in Prague, President Barack Obama met his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, to sign the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.

The Preposterous Politics of Passover
by Michael Medved
For all those who have nourished an intense if unspoken yearning to experience a Passover seder with veteran news stars Steve and Cokie Roberts, your long wait is finally over: March 2011 has brought us Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families.

My Uncle, Oscar Hammerstein
by John Gordon
Seeing him, or observing how he lived his life, you might have thought him the head of a major Wall Street bank or law firm.

Tiger, Tiger, All Too Bright
by Christine Rosen
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother By Amy Chua Penguin, 256 pages American parents have an inexhaustible appetite for being bossed around. Every year publishers let loose an avalanche of books intended to remind the country’s mothers and fathers about the need to perfect everything about their children, from diet to fine motor skills. These books usually adopt a kindly tone; remonstrances, when offered, are done with the parent’s fragile ego in mind, and an overall spirit of hopefulness pervades each page.

The Man Out of the Arena
by Philip Terzian
Colonel Roosevelt By Edmund Morris Random House, 784 pages When Theodore Roosevelt ended his second term as president, in March 1909, he was 50 years old: no longer youthful, by any measure, but not especially old, either, even by the standards of the day.

Trashing the President's House
by Michael J. Lewis
When John Russell Pope was commissioned in 1935 to design a memorial to Thomas Jefferson, he had the inspired idea of taking the Roman Pantheon as his model.

Richler Man, Poor Man
by Sam Sacks
The characters who populate the work of the Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler—who is now enjoying a posthumous moment in the sun owing to the release of a new movie based on his final novel, Barney’s Version—never change.

Humphrey Bogart, Grown-Up
by Terry Teachout
Each generation redefines what it wants in the stars it admires, emulates, and ultimately abandons. No wonder, then, that so few of the male actors who became famous in the days of Hollywood’s long-defunct studio system are widely known to American film-goers under the age of 50.

The 'Real' Rumsfeld
by Andrew Ferguson
During the book tour to celebrate his recently published memoir, the worldview of Donald Rumsfeld collided, not for the first time, with the worldview of contemporary journalism, and as I write, it is still too early to judge who emerged from the wreckage in better shape.

May, 2011Back to Top
The Choice of Richard Goldstone
by John Podhoretz
In early April, Richard Goldstone took to the pages of the Washington Post to offer an astounding partial retraction of the 2009 United Nations report that immortalized his otherwise obscure name for the ages.

Rush Limbaugh
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Wilfred M. McClay may understand Rush Limbaugh [“How to Understand Rush Limbaugh,” February]. But he does not appreciate that Limbaugh’s shows don’t help Republicans.

Jonathan Pollard
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I recognized Jonathan S. Tobin’s talent when he was a very young man and have admired his articles ever since.

The Cigar Joke
by Joseph Epstein
Every month in this space, Joseph Epstein tells a Jewish joke and invites you, the COMMENTARY reader, to offer an exegesis of it in 250 words or fewer. First off, this month’s new joke. _____________ The Cigar Joke Leslie Horowitz runs into Arnie Feldman, whom he hasn’t seen since their days at Roosevelt High School 50 years ago.

The B'Tselem Witch Trials
by Noah Pollak
When the United Nations released the so-called Goldstone Report in September 2009, Israelis and their supporters around the world were astonished by the blunt words near its conclusion: “There is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.” The report declared that virtually everything Israel had done during Operation Cast Lead—Israel’s attempt in late 2008 and early 2009 to stop Hamas’s rocket war on Israeli civilians—had been a crime.

The Goldstone Witch Hunt
by Omri Ceren
A “vicious lie.” Those were the words of Israel Defense Forces advocate general Avichai Mandelblit in response to the September 2009 claim by the United Nations Fact-Finding Commission on the Gaza Conflict that his country had intentionally targeted civilians during its incursion into the territory controlled by Hamas nine months earlier.

The Other Rosenberg Case
by George Russell
Guilty as hell. Free as a bird. America is a great country. —William Ayers On November 3, 1984, Susan Lisa Rosenberg was apprehended by police as she and a cohort were hiding 740 pounds of high explosive, 14 guns (including semiautomatic weapons), and hundreds of phony IDs in a storage facility in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The Sanest Man Ever
by Algis Valiunas
The modern essay began with Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), a member of the minor French nobility, a Bordeaux vintner, a political official pretty much in spite of himself, who retired from public life at the age of 37 to read, think, and set down his thoughts in some of the best prose ever.

by Linda Chavez
She held the large plastic bucket in front of her as the midwife severed the umbilical cord with a blood-smeared butcher knife before tossing the squirming infant into the pail.

The King's Shilling
by Elliott Abrams
King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East By Jack O’Connell with Vernon Loeb Norton, 288 pages The revolts that began earlier this year all across the Arab Middle East appear to have caught the U.S.

Why Eagleton Is Wrong
by Kevin Williamson
Why Marx Was Right By Terry Eagleton Yale University Press, 272 pages The word “capitalism,” invented by Karl Marx as a term of ignominy, has become a term of celebration; in much the same way that gangsta rappers have made the traditional term of abuse directed at black people their own property, economic liberals have laid claim to Marx’s term of disparagement.

The Real Russian Superpower
by Peter Savodnik
The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB By Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan Public Affairs, 299 pages President Obama’s entire policy vis-à-vis the withering behemoth known as Russia might be reduced to: yes, we know the forces of reaction and chauvinism control the Kremlin, but we’re going to work with them whenever our interests overlap—on, say, slashing nuclear stockpiles, curbing tuberculosis, or exporting Twitter to deepest Siberia.

They Grow Up So Slow
by Cheryl Miller
Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys By Kay S. Hymowitz Basic Books, 248 pages It is not enough to note that today’s young men—or more precisely, guys—do not know when to put away childish things.

A Symphonic Suicide Attempt
by Terry Teachout
Wisconsin’s ongoing battle over public-sector unions is not the country’s only noteworthy labor dispute. In October 2010 the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra went on strike, claiming that the orchestra’s management was demanding unreasonable salary cuts and seeking to impose unacceptable work rules.

The Elongator
by Michael J. Lewis
Modigliani: A Life By Meryle Secrest Knopf, 387 pages [caption id="attachment_752207" align="alignleft" width="238" caption="Jeanne Hébuterne, 1919"][/caption] Some artists are recognizable by their subject matter, others by their mannerisms, but with a tiny handful the mannerisms are so pronounced as to become the subject itself.

The Other Founding Fathers
by John Gordon
The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World By Edward Dolnick Harper, 378 pages In what may well be the most devastating one-sentence book review in the history of English literature, Samuel Johnson said of John Milton’s Paradise Lost that “none ever wished it longer than it is.” Edward Dolnick’s The Clockwork Universe is the opposite—a book so well and entertainingly written and so filled with interesting material that it is one of those rare volumes the reader regrets reaching the end of.

Press Man: Foxed Out
by Andrew Ferguson
Media Matters, the popular left-wing “media watchdog” funded in part by George Soros and overseen by a former conservative journalist named David Brock, has announced that it is launching an explicit campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” against the Fox News Channel.

June, 2011Back to Top
by John Podhoretz
I just turned 50, and I discovered that when you turn 50, your friends decide they must reassure you, as though you have become mired in that anxious moment after a doctor has ordered up some tests but before the results have come back. “Fifty is the new 30,” they say, because they clearly worry that saying “50 is the new 40” will still bring on the feeling that you are under assault by the ravages of time.

The Commentary Report
by Jonathan Tobin
Reform’s Time of Choosing The naming of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as the new head of the Union for Reform Judaism has set off a debate about the Reform movement’s commitment to the state of Israel.

Bloomberg Undone
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In “The Bloomberg Bubble Bursts” [March], Fred Siegel and Sol Stern claim that teachers’ salary increases came with almost no return effort on the teachers’ part.

Reformers and Reactionaries
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Daniel DiSalvo, in his thoughtful article “The Reformist Right and the Reactionary Left” [April], points out many ways in which the left and right have switched sides.

The Rabbi’s Widow Joke
by Joseph Epstein
Every month in this space, Joseph Epstein tells a Jewish joke and invites you, the COMMENTARY reader, to offer an exegesis of it in 250 words or fewer. First off, this month’s new joke. _____________ The Rabbi’s Widow Joke When the Rabbi of Boiberik died, his young widow was so disconsolate that everyone decided she must remarry.

Fatah, Hamas, and the Statehood Gambit
by Jonathan Schanzer
On May 3,  Hamas and Fatah, the two largest and most influential Palestinian factions, created a unity government. Following a brutal civil war in 2007 that left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip, the two foes appeared to be locked in an intractable conflict.

Duh, Bor-ing
by Joseph Epstein
Somewhere I have read that boredom is the torment of hell that Dante forgot.–Albert Speer, Spandau: The Secret Diaries Unrequited love, as Lorenz Hart instructed us, is a bore, but then so are a great many other things: old friends gone somewhat dotty from whom it is too late to disengage, the important social-science-based book of the month, 95 percent of the items on the evening news, discussions about the Internet, arguments against the existence of God, people who overestimate their charm, all talk about wine, New York Times editorials, lengthy lists (like this one), and, not least, oneself. Some people claim never to have been bored.

After Bin Laden
by Michael Rubin
“Tonight, President Barack Obama announced on May 2, “I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda.” His speech centered on the long effort that culminated in bin Laden’s death.

Why Corporations Love Regulation
by William Voegeli
The tsunami-driven crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in March reinforced Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson’s conviction that governments the world over must devise more regulations and enforce them with greater vigor.

The Rumsfeld Version
by Jonathan Foreman
“He’s pure evil, isn’t he?” a British colleague ventured when I told him I was reviewing Donald Rumsfeld’s autobiography. That an intelligent, well-informed person who had initially supported the Iraq war might believe such a thing hints at the challenge that Rumsfeld faced in writing Known and Unknown (Sentinel, 832 pages).

Are Young Rabbis Turning on Israel?
by Daniel Gordis
No day of the year in Israel is more agonizing than Yom Ha-Zikaron—the Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars.

The Con Man and His Pet Columnist
by James Kirchick
When Greg Mortenson—the Montana nurse who earned worldwide fame with his campaign to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then recounted the tale in his mammoth international bestseller Three Cups of Tea—was exposed as a fraud in April, there was one prominent media figure he could count on for support: the Pulitzer-prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “One of the people I’ve enormously admired in recent years is Greg Mortenson,” Kristof wrote in his April 20 column.

The Levantine Crucible
by Sohrab Ahmari
The Road to Fatima Gate: The Beirut Spring, the Riseof Hezbollah, and the Iranian War Against Israel By Michael J. Totten Encounter, 360 pages Modern terrorist attacks, Régis Debray has argued, are “manifestos written in other people’s blood.” In the winter of 2005, one such manifesto was inscribed in the blood of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 20 of his associates.

The Lochner Ness Monster
by Glenn Reynolds
Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights Against Progressive Reform By David E. Bernstein University of Chicago, 208 pages With the possible exception of Plessy v.

Walled In
by Daniel Johnson
Berlin 1961 By Frederick Kempe Putnam, 608 pages I was four years old when the Berlin Wall was built. I was 32 when it fell.

The Race Case
by Michael Goodwin
The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding By Sarah Burns Knopf, 256 pages Say the words “Central Park jogger” and most New Yorkers of a certain vintage get a queasy feeling and want to change the subject.

The Two-Way Street
by Terry Teachout
For much of his very long life, Irving Berlin was dogged by rumors that he had plagiarized many of his best-known songs.

The Free Reputation
by Sam Munson
The Free World: A Novel By David Bezmozgis Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 356 pages In 2004, at the age of 31, David Bezmozgis published a slender collection called Natasha and Other Stories.

Everybody—With a Capital “E”
by Andrew Ferguson
It was well past my bedtime on that glorious Sunday night when President Obama told the nation that Osama bin Laden had been brought to justice—or rather that justice, in the form of U.S.

July, 2011Back to Top
And the War Came
by Algis Valiunas
One hundred fifty years ago, on April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter, the Union garrison just off the coast of Charleston, and the Civil War began.

Anthony Weiner and the National Adultery Ritual
by Kay Hymowitz
If the headlines seem to tell us one thing about our culture, it is that we are living in the Age of Adultery.

Can Israel Survive This Presidency?
by Jonathan Tobin
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boarded a plane home in late May, the cheers of an adoring United States Congress were still echoing in his ears.

A Post-Clinton Childhood
by John Podhoretz
Though  my oldest daughter, now seven, lives   in New York and has a father who writes a column for one of the city’s tabloids, she does not know who Anthony Weiner is.

Iran: The Worm Turns
by Jonathan Tobin
Ever since last fall’s news of the Stuxnet computer virus that allegedly threw Iran’s nuclear program into disarray, interest in the nuclear threat from that Islamist tyranny has dropped.

Pope Jill the First
by Andrew Ferguson
A few months ago, a journalist named Melinda Henneberger had an interesting encounter with the left-wing media gadfly Jay Rosen. He had said he would like reporters to disclose more about themselves in the course of their work—“what they think are the biggest challenges facing the nation, who their heroes and villains are,” and so on. I think his idea is pretty good for the same reasons Rosen gave: that routine disclosures like this would expose the “fake impartiality” of most mainstream journalism.

Dis Bard
by Joseph Tartakovsky
A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare’s Plays Teach Us About Justice By Kenji Yoshino Ecco, 320 pages As a young man, Kenji Yoshino was torn between pursuing “justice represented in fiction”—literature—or “justice itself.” He chose the latter and is now a professor at New York University School of Law.

Political Passover
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I would wish Michael Medved a retroactive sweet Passover, as is the custom, but it’s clear he would prefer a sour one.

B’Tselem on the Stand
by Our Readers
To the Editor: There is an inherent contradiction in smear attacks like Noah Pollak’s tirade against B’Tselem [“The B’Tselem Witch Trials,” May].

The Ballad of Abigail and John
by Richard Samuelson
First Family: Abigail and John Adams By Joseph J. Ellis Knopf, 320 pages In First Family, Joseph J. Ellis tells the story of John and Abigail Adams from their first meeting in her father’s parlor in 1759 to Abigail’s death in 1818 with John at her side, lamenting, “I wish I could lie down beside her and die too.” The tale of this extraordinary marriage of minds and hearts then splits in two.  First there are the outlines of John’s ascent to the American Founding and the presidency.

Tony Kushner’s Characters Should Stop Talking Now
by Terry Teachout
Ever since his two-play cycle Angels in America opened on Broadway in 1993, Tony Kushner has been the sole American playwright to approach the pinnacle of broad-based cultural réclame that Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams attained in the 1940s and Edward Albee in the 1960s.

X Men
by Philip Terzian
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention By Manning Marable Viking, 608 pages It was the great good fortune of the modern civil rights movement that its leadership was equal to its mission and principles.

The World-Traveler Joke
by Joseph Epstein
Mrs. Ida Gomberg, the dentist’s widow, has become a world traveler in her later years, mostly by way of expensive cruises.

Faulty Towers
by David Kimble
The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For By Naomi Schaefer Riley Ivan R. Dee, 216 pages In 2008, the yearly tab for a four-year private college averaged some $27,000, up from $10,000 in 1980.

The Survivor
by James Kirchick
The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe By Peter Godwin Little, Brown, 384 pagesToday, the full title of the British edition of Peter Godwin’s latest effort, The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe, seems sanguine, to say the least.

Obama (and Bush) at War
by Michael Rosen
The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama By Stephen L. Carter Beast Books, 272 pages Conventional wisdom among Barack Obama’s enthusiasts and detractors alike holds that in foreign affairs the president has adopted, sometimes reluctantly, many elements of the Bush Doctrine.

The Truther Style
by Omri Ceren
Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground By Jonathan Kay HarperCollins, 340 pages Scholars and journalists trying to describe and explain conspiracy theories gravitate toward one of two arguments.

Arnheim & Sons
by Joseph Epstein
Arnheim & Sons Optical, Inc., is in its fourth generation. The fraternal twins Eugene and Paul Arnheim took the business over from their father Chaim, who had learned the craft of lensmaking from his father and grandfather in Amsterdam.

The Obama Doctrine Defined
The words “vacillating” and “aimless” are commonly used by both left and right to describe President Barack Obama’s approach to the Libya war.

Growth: The Only Way Out of This Mess
by John Gordon
The American economy is unwell. The growth of manufacturing slowed in the spring, as did job growth, which was a dismal 54,000 jobs in May.

The Piano Lesson
by Kelly Cherry
Music is a mystery, the way it speaks without words, telling you what your heart thinks. This was how Jessie felt, and it was why she loved her Thursday piano lessons.

The Jews of the North
by Karl Greenfeld
Ezekiel knew it was the common opinion that he had fled south, though others speculated he had gone into hiding, in the months before the destruction of the community.

The Other Lieberman
by Seth Mandel
The Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman recently found a novel way to highlight the causes for the enthusiasm he generates and the hostility he provokes.

September, 2011Back to Top
What We Got Right in the War on Terror
by Abe Greenwald
1. ClosureOn May 1, 2011, U.S. Navy SEALs put one bullet through the chest and one through the head of Osama bin Laden—nine years, seven months, and 20 days after al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people in the name of Islam.

Is This Standard & Poor’s America, or Alexander Hamilton’s America?
by John Podhoretz
I write this on a Monday morning as the world reacts to the astonishingly blasé decision by Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the creditworthiness of the United States of America.

Spinning to Catastrophe
by Jonathan Tobin
Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been given short shrift recently by the mainstream media and official Washington, but this doesn’t mean Tehran isn’t continuing its work toward its goal of developing a nuclear weapon.

Radical Rosenberg
by Our Readers
To the Editor:In reading George Russell’s “The Other Rosenberg Case,” I was taken aback to learn about the many 1960s terrorists pardoned by Bill Clinton [May].

Israel & America
by Our Readers
To the Editor:In “Can Israel Survive This Presidency?” Jonathan S. Tobin points out: “Since 1967, Israel has continued to say no” to American administrations [July?/?August].

The Evil of Bin Laden
by Our Readers
To the Editor:If I could convince everyone that the great debate over the Middle East fundamentally pitted soft-spoken liberals against, say, radical Israeli settlers, I could ensure that more nuanced conservative voices such as Michael Rubin’s were ignored.

Marx, Still Wrong
by Our Readers
To the Editor:Kevin D. Williamson’s review of Terry Eagleton’s Why Marx Was Right confirms what I have suspected for a while [“Why Eagleton Is Wrong,” May].

Enjoying Boredom
by Our Readers
To the Editor:Joseph Epstein has done a wonderful job in his essay on boredom [“Duh, Bor-ing,” June]. He disturbed my own blessed boredom by prompting laughs that, hearty as they were, caused me no lasting harm.

The Divorce Joke
Hear ye, hear ye!” says the bailiff. “Marriage and Family Court is now in session, the Honorable Judge Harlan Brubaker presiding.

Neoconservatives and the Arab Spring
by Joshua Muravchik
"Be careful what you wish for,” it is said. Are neoconservatives soon to regret their wish for democratization in the Middle East? This was the very issue that thrust them into prominence in the early 2000s, and it gave neoconservatism a second lease on life after a decade of quiescence in the wake of the Cold War.

Mr. Gates’s Farewell
by Max Boot
Robert Gates left his job as secretary of defense at the end of June to virtually universal hosannas. Retrospectives of his four and a half years in office invariably noted he was the first defense secretary to serve presidents of two different parties.

Did Obama Make It Worse?
by James Pethokoukis
What if the president of the United States hadn’t proposed an $800 billion stimulus plan back in 2009—but one twice as large? That is the question haunting the intellectual left, led by the economist and columnist Paul Krugman, especially since the economy is mired in what might charitably be considered the doldrums.

The Fog of Mediscare
by Tevi Troy
If you wonder what the central issue of the 2012 election will be, Nancy Pelosi has a three-word proposal: “Medicare, Medicare, Medicare.” In a front-page profile in the Washington Post, the former Speaker of the House stated that the health-insurance program for the elderly will occupy all three slots in her list of the top three priorities.

Kazin’s Complaint
by Joseph Epstein
The American literary critic Alfred Kazin was born with an undescended testicle, soon developed a stammer, and grew up, he tells us, in loneliness and shame.

Commentary Controversy
From the June issue of our publication, Daniel Gordis’s article ‘Are Young Rabbis Turning on Israel?’ has occasioned impassioned debate around the world, with a flood of responses coming into our offices by e-mail, through our website, and, yes, even in envelopes with stamps on them.

The Not-So-Innocent Abroad
by Elliott Abrams
In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with SyriaBy Andrew TablerLawrence Hill Books, 240 pagesAmong the more vocal critics of the Assad regime in Syria this year has been Andrew Tabler, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who lived in Syria from 2001 to 2008.

Bad Habits
by Sohrab Ahmari
Thinking in an Emergency By Elaine Scarry W.W. Norton, 157 pagesAmerican concern about the fundamental tension between liberty and security in times of national crisis goes back to the country’s founding, but only since 9/11 has it so overwhelmingly dominated legal discussions, with law school courses and hundreds of seminars devoted to the topic.

Picture Imperfect
by Michael J. Lewis
Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of PhotographyBy Errol MorrisPenguin Press, 336 pages Who today trusts photographs? In half an hour, anyone with a cheap computer can produce a photographic hoax plausible enough to dupe an expert.

The Rise and Fall of the Original-Cast Album
by Terry Teachout
The original-cast album of The Book of Mormon, among the most popular new musicals to open on Broadway in recent seasons, reached the #3 slot on Billboard’s album-sales chart on June 16.

Their So-Called Lives
by Mark Bauerlein
Forty years ago, if you were a 15-year-old caught up in customary concerns—friends, clothes, kissing, music—television didn’t provide much germane material.

Found in Translation
by Frederic Raphael
A Most Dangerous Book By Christopher Krebs W.W. Norton, 303 pagesIn 98 C.E., Cornelius Tacitus, a young Roman patrician who would mature into the archetypal stylish historian, wrote a prolonged essay entitled Germania.

Press Man: The Prisoner of Zandi
by Andrew Ferguson
I’ve spent much of my summer trying to dodge Mark Zandi. I pick up my newspaper, I turn on the TV, I tap-tap my iPad, and there he is: explaining the past, divining the future, teasing insights from the tumultuous present.

October, 2011Back to Top
The Squash Joke
It’s 1947, and Liebowitz the dress salesman has a meeting with Smithson, the head buyer at Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue.

Palestinian Independence, for Real
by Jonathan Tobin
In the weeks before the UN General Assembly began debating a resolution that would recognize an independent Palestinian state, the world got a preview of what the creation of such a nation would mean.

A Doctrine of Retreat?
by Our Readers
To the Editor:I certainly agree with Douglas J. Feith and Seth Cropsey regarding American goodness and even American exceptionalism [“The Obama Doctrine Defined,” July/August].

Adultery and Equal Suffering
by Our Readers
To the Editor:After reading Kay Hymowitz’s article, “The National Adultery Ritual” [July/August], I would suggest that part of the reason the phenomenon of celebrity adultery continues to be an issue—on both sides of the political aisle—is that it is the last area of concrete agreement between conservatives and liberals.

To Russia, with Votes
by Our Readers
To the Editor:Seth Mandel doubts the ability of Avigdor Lieberman, the controversial leader of the secular nationalist, predominately Russian immigrants’ party Yisrael Beiteinu to reach out to American Jews [“The Other Lieberman,” July/August].

Been There, Taxed That
by Our Readers
To the Editor:John Steele Gordon’s “Growth: The Only Way Out of This Mess” [July/August] omits one important point and misstates another.

The Liberal Misappropriation of a Conservative President
by Steven Hayward
Of all the unlikely developments in American politics over the last two decades, the most astonishing is this: liberals suddenly love Ronald Reagan.

The Buffett Tax Gambit
by Ira Stoll
On September 18, the Obama administration signaled that it would be incorporating the so-called “Buffet Rule” for millionaires into the president’s new plan to increase tax revenues.

The Israeli Left: A Political Obituary
by Mati Wagner
After an unimpressive filibuster by members of the centrist Kadima party and the left-wing Labor and Meretz parties on the evening of July 10, Israel’s parliament ratified a law that gives individuals, institutions, and businesses standing to sue those who implement or even advocate anti-Israel boycotts.

Reforming Israel
by Evelyn Gordon
As they observed the massive economic protests that convulsed Israel this summer, Americans and Europeans had reason to wonder why Israelis would have cause to complain about their economic situation.

Why They Rioted in London
by Jonathan Foreman
The riots that erupted in London on August 6 finally petered out after four days. By then thousands of police officers had been drafted from other parts of the United Kingdom to stand guard on the streets of London and the city’s own Metropolitan Police had finally taken a more active tack against the looting, including driving armored vehicles toward clumps of rioting youths.

Reenacting Evil
by Robert Slayton
In the midst of last year’s election season, the website of the Atlantic revealed that Richard Iott, then Republican nominee for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, had an unusual hobby.

Shoah Business
by Simon Wynberg
An 18th-century fortress town an hour north of Prague, Terezín provided the Nazis with a convenient transit center and the venue for a sham “model” camp.

Borough Hallmark
by Sam Sacks
Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City LifeBy Evan HughesHenry Holt and Company, 352 pagesIs there a Brooklyn style of writing? There certainly are Brooklyn writers, God help us, in every converted loft and coffee shop from Williamsburg to Sheepshead Bay.

The Three Lives of Tony Bennett
by Terry Teachout
In 1972, Tony Bennett hit the skids. For two decades he had been one of Columbia Records’s best-selling artists, but when rock came to dominate the popular-music scene, the label’s executives pushed him to start recording watered-down cover versions of top-40 hits instead of the standards that had made him a household name.

Press Man: Cheney Reaction
by Andrew Ferguson
I remember when it was socially acceptable to like and even admire Dick Cheney, whose memoir In My Time was greeted last month with unanimous catcalls from members of the mainstream press.

Redeeming American Psychos
by D.G. Myers
In 1799, Charles Brockden Brown packed three grisly killings into Ormond, and ever since, the American novel has churned with ambivalence toward murder.

Dream When You’re Feeling Blue
by Ronald Radosh
American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a NationBy Michael KazinKnopf, 352 pagesMichael Kazin—coeditor of Dissent magazine, one-time leader of the Harvard chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, and now a professor at Georgetown University—is up to something interesting in his new book, American Dreamers.

The Hack’s Gospel
by Jeremy Rozansky
A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish NationBy Jeremy Ben-AmiPalgrave Macmillan, 256 pagesWhen the self-dubbed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby group J Street came to the University of Chicago to help set up a campus chapter last fall, I spoke to one of the directors of the new organization’s college operation.

A Bumpy Flight
by Sabrina Schaeffer
Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real SexEdited by Erica JongEcco, 256 pagesWhen Erica Jong’s autobiographical novel Fear of Flying was published in 1973, women around the globe ravenously consumed this “manifesto of liberation,” one that helped initiate a new cultural conversation about sexuality, especially female eroticism.For many women, the novel’s portrayal of “zipless” sex—an encounter “free of ulterior motives,” with “no power game,” no one trying to “prove anything” or “get anything”—represented a paradigm shift.

November, 2011Back to Top
New Commentaries
by John Podhoretz
In the summer of 2010, I was joined by scores of Commentary readers on a weeklong cruise in Alaska. The cruise ship in question had 1,100 passengers.

Press Man: Cyberutopian Cyberloney
by Andrew Ferguson
"I am a public man,” declares Jeff Jarvis, a blogger, founding editor of Entertainment Weekly, and well-paid consultant to Internet start-ups.

The Art of Being First
by D.G. Myers
The decline of the novel as American culture’s depth-measuring gauge might be dated to the rise of big-bank premieres. Until very recently, first novels were a publisher’s gamble.

Are You Optimistic or Pessimistic About America’s Future?
by 41 Authors
This Symposium was made possible by a generous grant from the Gale Foundation._____________Brooke Allen:I am pessimistic. Let me count the ways!First of all, there is our government: no longer merely dysfunctional, it has now entirely ceased to operate in a coherent manner.

The Sabbath Keeper
by Jonathan Tobin
The Gift of Rest:Rediscovering the Beauty of the SabbathBy Joseph I. Lieberman with David KlinghofferHoward Books, 230 pages Joseph I. Lieberman has had a notable political career that has seen him rise from the Connecticut legislature to the United States Senate, where he is currently finishing out his fourth term.

Hard Szell
by Terry Teachout
In 1966, NBC broadcast a Bell Telephone Hour program about George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra called “One Man’s Triumph.” Nowadays, most viewers would find it presumptuous for that phrase to be used as the title of a TV documentary about a hundred-man ensemble whose members included some of America’s top instrumentalists.

The Case for Optimism
by John Podhoretz
This article is from our special November issue, which focuses on the future of America. Also in the issue is Mark Steyn’s Case for Pessimism and a COMMENTARY symposium featuring 41 American thinkers and writers who answer the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?  We will be posting two symposium contributions daily on our blog.

The Case for Pessimism
by Mark Steyn
This article is from our special November issue, which focuses on the future of America. Also in the issue is John Podhoretz's Case for Optimism and a COMMENTARY symposium featuring 41 American thinkers and writers who answer the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?  We will be posting two symposium contributions daily on our blog.

The Interfaith Dialogue Joke
The universally revered scholar, Rav Pinchik the Wise, arrives with his son Mendel at the Vatican for the first interfaith meeting between a Jewish leader and the pope.They are greeted by the College of Cardinals.

Abbas’s War on Peace
by Jonathan Tobin
Abbas’s War on Peace Mahmoud Abbas’s effort to bypass negotiations and demand the United Nations grant him a state without first making peace with Israel isn’t just a blow to American foreign policy and Israeli hopes for an accord.

Whose Country ’Tis of Thee?
by Joseph Epstein
A friend’s son, 27 years old, has recently departed for Brazil, where, if things work out, he plans to spend the rest of his life.

The War Came, and So Did the British
by Frederic Raphael
A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War By Amanda Foreman Random House, 1,008 pagesAmanda Foreman has found a lively, bifocal way of revisiting the Civil War in her new history, A World on Fire.

Spin Class
by Josh Lerner
Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind By Tim Groseclose St. Martin’s Press, 304 pagesThe notion that America’s mainstream news organizations exhibit a liberal bias has become commonplace on the right and is a source of discomfiture everywhere else—with journalists asserting falsely that they succeed in their efforts at objectivity and many leftists arguing unconvincingly that corporate ownership actually causes the mainstream media to tilt rightward.The political scientist Tim Groseclose wants to take the controversy in a different direction.

The Unmaking of Gershom Gorenberg
by Lazar Berman
The Unmaking of IsraelBy Gershom GorenbergHarper, 336 pagesThe central question in the debate over Israel’s future is this: Can it remain both Jewish and democratic? Israel’s defenders answer with an enthusiastic yes.

Alfred Kazin, On and Off the Page
by Our Readers
To the Editor:Joseph Epstein’s essay on Alfred Kazin [“Kazin’s Complaint,” September] is far too dismissive of such a major American Jewish writer.

True Cost of the Stimulus
by Our Readers
To the Editor:James Pethokoukis’s article [“Did Obama Make It Worse?” September] inadvertently makes the case against its premise and is far from an indictment of the stimulus bill.

Parental Advisory
by Our Readers
To the Editor:Mark Bauerlein is surely correct [“Their So-Called Lives,” September] when he observes that teens with modern communication devices are required to be in hyper-social contact with one another; that the sharing of teen values is therefore effectively unlimited; and that media broadcasts aimed at teens “impart a complete habitat in which adolescent values and interests dominate.”But he is wrong to say that all this has “upset the delicate balance of peer influence and adult influence.” It is adults who are the owners, producers, promoters, and vendors of the hardware and software, the media, and the messages aimed at teens.

What We Got Right
by Our Readers
To the Editor:Abe Greenwald offers a nice abbreviated history of the Iraq war [“What We Got Right in the War on Terror,” September] but fails miserably to establish “The Centrality of Iraq.” We came face to face with the worst of al Qaeda and prevailed, at a cost of more than two trillion dollars? We botched the first five years, lost 4,000 lives among the best Americans we have, got 35,000 wounded, and took our eye off Afghanistan.

December, 2011Back to Top
How the Catholic Church Sheltered Nazi War Criminals
by Kevin Madigan
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, an Austrian wandered into Rome looking for a Catholic prelate. He needed the help of a bishop he thought was named Hulda (actually Hudal).

Barack and Bibi, Every Day
by John Podhoretz
Does it matter that a private conversation between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama in October turned into a Two-Minute Hate directed not at Emmanuel Goldstein, Big Brother’s chosen scapegoat in George Orwell’s 1984, but at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Sarkozy said he despised Netanyahu, whom he called a “liar.” The American president trumped the French president by complaining he had to deal with Netanyahu “every day.”It shouldn’t matter, not at all.

Oh, Kael
by Algis Valiunas
What do readers expect of cultural critics, and what do critics demand of themselves and the culture they write about? In “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” (1865), Matthew Arnold declared that criticism must be “a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world, and thus to establish a current of fresh and true ideas.” Arnold’s heroes included Homer, Chaucer, Milton, Samuel Johnson, Goethe.

Dirty Hari
by Jonathan Foreman
This year saw two major scandals in the British media. The one that received the most attention concerned cell-phone “hacking” by a private detective hired by the now-shuttered News of the World.

How We Can Avoid Becoming Like Japan
by David Smick
These days, it is said, the industrialized world economy is like a beauty pageant for the unattractive in which the victor will be the contestant deemed the least ugly.

How Israel's Defense Industry Can Help Save America
by Arthur Herman
Kibbutz Sasa sits one mile from Israel’s Lebanese border. Founded in 1949, it is the site of the tomb of the second-century rabbi Levi ben Sisi.

The Nice Jewish Mother Joke
Mrs. Rubin is sitting down to her morning coffee in her apartment in Flatbush when the phone rings.“Hello?”“Oh, Ma.”“What?” she says.

The Death of the Soviet Union, 20 Years Later
by Seth Mandel
Speaking to an audience in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill looked almost too serious for the moment. It was March 5, 1946, six months since Soviet Russia helped secure the Allied victory in the Second World War.

Flotilla U
On November 4, 2010, more than 300 students, teachers, and activists packed a student center on Rutgers University’s Busch campus in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Thomas Sowell: Peerless Nerd
by Kevin Williamson
Thomas Sowell is that rarest of things among serious academics: plainspoken. This characteristic, a by-product of both his innate temperament and the intellectual courage for which nature does not deserve the credit, surely has been bad for his career.

A Monument to American Ambition
by Michael J. Lewis
[caption id="attachment_775937" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Gem of the valley: a view of the museum's restaurant bridge (right) and gallery spaces."][/caption]The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened last month in the middle of America, which also happens to be in the middle of nowhere.

The Himmelfarb Declaration
by David Frum
The People of the Book: Philosemitism in England, from Cromwell to Churchill By Gertrude Himmelfarb Encounter, 183 pagesThese are tough economic times, so everyone should appreciate that Gertrude Himmelfarb has frugally packed two important books into one compact volume entitled The People of the Book.

The Tao of Steve
by Daniel Casse
Steve JobsBy Walter IsaacsonSimon & Schuster, 656 pagesIn 2008, after a six-month leave for a liver transplant made necessary by pancreatic cancer, Steve Jobs returned to Apple headquarters to resume his daily routine.

Dual Indemnity
by Noemie Emery
Dangerous Ambition: Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson: New Women in Search of Love and Power By Susan Hertog Ballantine Books, 512 pagesBefore the late 1960s, when Gloria Steinem invented repression, there were some women of superstar status, among them Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson, journalists-to-the-world and friends of long standing.

The Cunningly-Inventive Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
by Leon Aron
Short stories by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn? Many readers might be required to recalibrate their sense of the man before sitting down to Apricot Jam and Other Stories (Counterpoint, 352 pages), a posthumous collection published last August in English.

Press Man: The Steve Jobs Snow Job
by Andrew Ferguson
Of the dead you shall speak no ill, the ancients taught, and as an often dazzled, frequently frustrated, occasionally maddened user of his company’s products, I’ve had no reason to think or speak ill of Steve Jobs since his death in October.

The Eclipse of Spencer Tracy
by Terry Teachout
Throughout much of his career, Spencer Tracy was one of America’s most successful and beloved film stars. A poll published by Fortune in 1939 showed him to be America’s “favorite movie actor” (Clark Gable came in second).

Bearing Witness
by D.G. Myers
"Can’t repeat the past?" Jay Gatsby says incredulously. “Why of course you can.” The novel might seem to be a literary vehicle uniquely designed for revisiting the past, a smooth-running time machine, but not many contemporary American novelists would agree.

Winter Stories
by Wilfred McClay
A Point in Time: The Search for Redemption in This Life and the Next By David Horowitz Regnery, 256 pagesThere are only three chapters in David Horowitz’s brief, poignant, and gracefully written memoir, A Point in Time.

Kitsch or Courage?
by Our Readers
To the Editor:I am writing as someone who has devoted much of his career to remembrance of the Holocaust and justice for its victims, to express the gravest objections to the gross misrepresentations in an article by Simon Wynberg [“Shoah Business,” October].

Buffett's Plan
by Our Readers
To the Editor:With regard to Ira Stoll’s “The Buffett Tax Gambit” [October], I wanted to ask for clarification on a couple of points.

Getting Serious About Syria
by Our Readers
To the Editor:Elliott Abrams is a wise and smart man, a scarred survivor of policy battles that would have felled practitioners with less intelligence and fewer principles.

Rating S&P
by Our Readers
To the Editor:John Podhoretz is far too dismissive of Standard & Poor’s concerns over our ability to deal seriously with our debt burden [“Is This Standard & Poor’s America, or Alexander Hamilton’s America?” September].Of course we intend to pay our debts.

Celebrating Terror
by Jonathan Tobin
Celebrating Terror While Israelis and their foreign supporters were debating the merits of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to release more than 1,000 terrorists in order to secure the freedom of Gilad Shalit, a soldier kidnapped by Hamas five years ago, Palestinians reacted to the exchange with rare unanimity.

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