August 25, 2019

Essentials

Trump’s Deal for Denmark Wasn’t Deft–Or Daft

To those of us of who learned our U.S. history from texts in the 1940s and ’50s, President Donald Trump’s brainstorm of acquiring Greenland fits into a venerable tradition of American expansionism. The story begins with colonial officer George Washington’s march out toward Fort Duquesne in 1754 and crushing defeat and near death at Fort…

The ‘Phantom Knights’

This is mighty discouraging. BuzzFeed News reports on the details behind a lawsuit accusing the Knights Of Columbus, the international, US-based Catholic fraternal organization, of falsely inflating membership numbers  so it could continue to profit from its life insurance business. The lawsuit claims that local Knights chapters were told by headquarters that they could not…

What Happens When Kim Stands Trump Up at the Altar?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with U.S. President Donald Trump during the Singapore summit June 12. Over the next several weeks, Korea watchers the world over will get the answer to the question they have been asking for at least two years. Can President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ink…

How Wokeness Made Her Son Neo-Nazi

A reader sends in this piece from Washingtonian magazine, from back in May: an anonymous essay by a liberal Jewish mom in the DC area who writes about how her 13-year-old son was sucked into the alt-right. Here’s how the kid’s radicalization started: The problems had started when Sam was 13, barely a month into…

Cold War Science, in Defense of Walt Whitman, and Sartre’s Bad Trip

Dense Plasma Device developed at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. c. 1968, via Wikimedia Commons The American government gave money to writers and scientists to help the country win the Cold War. That doesn’t mean the art or science is somehow tainted. In Boston Review, Michael D. Gordin reviews Audra J. Wolfe’s Freedom’s Laboratory: The…

What North Korea’s Anti-Pompeo Invective Means

Then-Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-KS, speaking at a rally in 2013. He faces a senate grilling for his secretary of state nomination today.Mark Taylor/Creative Commons It appears that North Korea has had just about all the swagger it can stomach: North Korea’s foreign minister on Friday called U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “poisonous plant…

How Trump’s New Fed Nominee Exposed the Soviet Union’s Debt

Credit: Bloomberg/YouTube Screenshot With his oft-stated affinity for all things Russia, President Donald Trump may be surprised to learn that his new Federal Reserve Board nominee made an early name for herself by shorting the Kremlin. As a young researcher and first-time author, Dr. Judy Shelton predicted the coming collapse of the Soviet Union two years before the tanks and…

When ‘Homeland’ Becomes a Politically Fraught Word

The German neighborhood of Marzahn is way out of town, near the end of the S-Bahn train line, in what used to be East Berlin. There aren’t many signs of the heady Cold War days, except the most obvious ones: endless rows of Stalinist apartment blocks. They’re plattenbau, housing constructed of prefabricated concrete slabs. From…

The Surprising History of American College Dorms

Hotels have received plenty of architectural attention, but unless you’re Howard Hughes or Coco Chanel you probably haven’t spent four years living in them. One space where most readers have likely spent just that long in residence–and that hasn’t attracted a fraction of that kind of attention—is the old-fashioned college dormitory, now ably addressed in…

Max Boot, Professional Former Republican

Credit: CNN/YouTube Screenshot Max Boot first came to public notice, or at least to mine, during the run-up to the Iraq war. He had persuaded a television producer somewhere to label him a “Defense Expert,” which, in the natural order of things, caused some people to mistake him for a defense expert. He had never…

Fascinating Pigeons, the New Treasures of Pompeii, and the Mystery of “Skeleton Lake”

Bones near Roopkund Lake. Photo by Schwiki, via Wikimedia Commons Helen Macdonald reviews a “joyous” book on pigeons: “A decade ago I went to a racing pigeon club meeting with my boyfriend of the time, who lived in a bungalow on a farm in the Midlands and kept a loft of Janssens, checkered blue racing…

What Happened to Putting Americans First?

President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly in October. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) Trump repeated his outrageous anti-Semitic statement earlier today: President Trump said Wednesday that Jewish Americans who vote for Democratic candidates are “very disloyal to Israel,” expanding on his remarks…

Forget Annexing Greenland, Start Breaking Up America

President Donald Trump wants to purchase Greenland, a self-governing territory of Denmark. “Strategically, it’s interesting,” he observed, though “it is not number one on the burner.” Alas, the Danes aren’t impressed. “Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland,” said Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Greenlanders were a bit blunter.…

Don’t Kill the Umps!

Jim Bouton died on the same July day that the Atlantic League conducted professional baseball’s first game-long experiment with robot umpires, the latter an event that might be likened to Richard Pryor’s introduction to freebasing cocaine, or John Bolton’s first dorm-room game of Risk. Something wicked this way comes. The free-spirited Bouton, whose Locker Room…

‘God Is A Tourist Attraction’ Says Baby-Boomer Bishop

Believe it or not, this is not from the Babylon Bee, but from the BBC: God would be “revelling” in the joy a “glorious” helter-skelter has brought to Norwich Cathedral, its bishop has told his congregation from its slide. The fairground ride had been in the nave of the cathedral for 11 days. It was…

When Eisenhower Republicans Censured Israel—Three Times

President Trump and much of his Republican Party have denounced first-term Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as “anti-Semites” and for “hating Israel”—labels that Mr. Trump will likely apply to varying degree to Democrats during the 2020 campaign.  Both congresswomen endorse boycotts, divestment, and sanctions—as well as UN censures of Israel—to support Palestinian rights. The…

Matrix 4, Hitler’s Art, and Why Conservatives Are Turning against Higher Ed

The problem with The New York Times’s 1619 Project: “Now, there is a lot to admire in the paper’s presentation of the 1619 Project — searing photographs, illuminating quotations from archival material, samples of poetry and fiction giving powerful voice to the black experience, and gripping journalistic summaries of scholarly histories. Much of it is…

The Novelist Whose Conservatism Robbed Him of Fame

John O’Hara published 374 short stories, 14 novels (seven of them bestsellers), and five plays in his four-decade writing career. It was, according to his biographer Matthew J. Bruccoli, “a body of work unsurpassed in American literature in scope and fidelity to American Life.” A master social writer, O’Hara influenced the writing of his contemporaries,…

50 Years Later, the Spirit of ’69 Feels Like a Hangover

The August 16 death of actor Peter Fonda comes as a jolt to Baby Boomers, including this one. Most of us will always think of Fonda as the young and vigorous star of the 1969 film Easy Rider. Perhaps Fonda, dying of lung cancer, willed himself to live long enough to see the golden anniversary…

Times to Think About the U.S.-Israeli Relationship

These days, when a couple of bullying white guys gang up on two prominent women of color, they are likely to create quite a stir. This is especially the case when the women are darlings of the liberal media, not to mention Democratic members of Congress, and the bullies are the president of the United…

These Hongkongers Are Not ‘a Few Violent Thugs’

One major reason why the Hong Kong protests have been so successful at capturing international attention is because they are having a huge impact on the tiny island nation’s thriving economy—whether through 11 weeks of massive street demonstrations, the sit-ins at the main airport, or widespread worker strikes throughout the city.  What this shows, really,…

Trump’s Risible Greenland Fixation Strikes Again

As Rod Dreher has already noted, Trump’s ridiculous fixation on Greenland has led him to cancel a meeting with an allied government: The President of the United States appears to have cancelled a meeting with a nation’s leader because she wouldn’t talk to him about selling part of her country to the US. Some of…

Europe’s Open Southern Borders

Everything Christopher Caldwell writes is a must-read, I find. Here’s a piece about the massive demographic challenge facing Europe this century, and about how elites there don’t want to face it. Excerpts: The population pressures emanating from the Middle East in recent decades, already sufficient to drive the European political system into convulsions, are going…

Forget ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ and Bring the Troops Home

U.S. Army officers and Soldiers receive awards during the closing ceremony of Exercise Noble Partner, Vaziani Training Area, Georgia, Aug. 12, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Shiloh Capers) President Trump is once again beating the drums about the need for greater burden-sharing by U.S. allies. The latest example is his demand that South Koreans…

Is Big Necessarily Bad?

When it comes to relations between consenting adults, size may not matter (or so one hears). But it’s a different story in regard to companies and the politically fraught area of antitrust law.  Today, a number of policymakers, economists, and legal scholars connect a host of problems—excessive wealth inequality, wage stagnation, political dysfunction, market distortions—directly…

Open Borders? The EU Has Hundreds of Miles of Walls

If you voted for Donald Trump on the basis of a three-word, three-syllable chant, it was probably “we will win,” “lock her up,” or “build the wall.” Regarding the latter, proponents of less immigration have reason to be frustrated. Prior to the midterm elections, the Republican-held presidency, Senate, and House barely moved an inch on…

When Can We Lay This Burden Down?

Friday, President Donald Trump met in New Jersey with his national security advisers and envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is negotiating with the Taliban to bring about peace, and a U.S. withdrawal from America’s longest war. U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, in a war that has cost 2,400 American lives. Following the…

Edmund Burke, Free Marketeer

“To provide for us in our necessities is not in the power of Government.” “Nobody has observed with any reflection what market is, without being astonished at the truth, the correctness with which the balance of wants is settled.” “That to which I attached myself the most particularly, was to fit the principle of a…

The Surreal NFL Scouting Combine, Graham Greene in Havana, and Mastering Nature

“One need never leave the confines of New York,” Frank O’Hara writes in “Meditations in an Emergency,” “to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life.” Greenery may…

TAC Bookshelf: Rome, From Bread and Circuses to Exhaustion

Gilbert Sewall, contributor: I am teaching a course this autumn titled “The Fall of the Roman Empire.” On this account, I am rereading bits of Juvenal’s Satires and Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, and pages from Edward Gibbon’s masterwork, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The 18th-century English historian Gibbon—no friend of religion and partial to antique culture—famously declared…

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