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    As the sad red earth Turns

    As you know if you have been a follower of this blog, I have withdrawn from the regular blogging of the past nearly five years in order to devote more of that time and energy to longer-form and more varied writing projects. The sad red earth is transforming into my writing website, where I will maintain the archives of the blog and where passages from and links to my latest writing elsewhere will appear, along with re-posts of commentary published at other sites, and some occasional essays just for the blog. I have been trying to offer something, in whatever form, once a week. Yet I find I cannot hush…

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    A Second Look: What About Chas Freeman?

    . Whenever they become topically relevant, I am going to offer a scond look at some older pieces still worth reading. Yesterday, the anti-semitic Mondoweiss blog reposted a recent speech by Chas Freeman at A National Interest discussion about “Israel’s fraying image.” I do not link to Mondoweiss, but you can find Freeman’s comments at his own site, here. My interest is less in these particular comments of Freeman, of a piece with longstanding attitudes toward Israel, than in his decision to permit them to be published on Mondoweiss. The fact that Mondoweiss has an inexcusable respectability in some left quarters diminishes not at all its true and readily apparent nature…

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    Response to Judith Butler at Brooklyn College

    . This commentary first appeared in the Algemeiner on February 15.  The ironic and the disingenuous are kin. Their commonality resides in a gap, which is the distance between what is said and something else. With the ironic, the distance is between what one says and what one means. With the disingenuous, the distance is between what one says and what one has reason to recognize as true. Judith Butler is not an ironist – not intentionally so, or perhaps only once, when she opened her remarks at Brooklyn College by referring to the controversy surrounding her appearance with Omar Barghouti at the Students for Justice in Palestine BDS event as a Megillah: “What a Megillah!”…

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    Eating Poetry (XLIV) – “After Experience Taught Me …”

    . Offered without comment because all the words belong to Snodgrass. “After Experience Taught Me …” W. D. Snograss After experience taught me that all the ordinary Surroundings of social life are futile and vain; I’m going to show you something very Ugly: someday, it might save your life. Seeing that none of the things I feared contain In themselves anything either good or bad What if you get caught without a knife; Nothing—even a loop of piano wire; Excepting only in the effect they had Upon my mind, I resolved to inquire Take the first two fingers of this hand; Fork them out—kind of a “V for Victory”— Whether…

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    Why Obama Hearts Hagel

    . This commentary first appeared in the Algemeiner on January 11.  The last time I wrote about President Obama’s then only rumored selection of Chuck Hagel I said two things I knew I would wish to revise. The first, rhetorically, was the question: “What was he thinking?” The second was a quotation from Gil Troy’s generally very good writing on this subject, which I qualified then as “[p]erhaps overstating the case.” In attempting to answer the rhetorical question, I need to begin by deepening my critique of the passage I quoted from Troy. Troy wrote, The question of where Obama stands regarding Israel has often pivoted on this deeper question of which Obama shows up…

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    Head Reconstituted

    . My previous post accounts for why I have spent the past 26 hours feeling miserably reptilian, tossed to the side of the road, catatonic on my back. Tssssssssssss. I am miserably persistent, too.  I researched data recovery programs – free data recovery programs, which are, especially in trial forms, as good at the full-price software – and I selected five of the most commonly lauded. The first program, MiniTool Power Data Recovery 6.6, with a little date and extension filtering, was able to discover the never saved and named file: 2,547 words researched and linked over six hours. I am, one might say, saved. I proceed to finish writing. See…

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    Exploded Head

    . My head has exploded after working for six hours yesterday on 2000 difficult words that I did not save and for which no variation on Microsoft Word auto recovery has worked to find even a temp file. I will be back online and among the barely recognizably human after I have recovered the pieces, reconstituted the head and then not proceeded to shoot myself while screaming goddamned stupid ignoramus at myself in the mirror. Thank you very much. Exploding Head Syndrome – Wikipedia Exploding Head Syndrome – American Sleep Association Musician’s head explodes trying to hit a high note How To Tell If Your Head’s About To Blow Up  

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    Anti-Labor, Anti-Free Press, Anti-Gay, Anti-Israel

    . Some people never get the point. Some people once got the point, or claimed to, claimed to see it – there it is, over there – and then they got their hands on the point and stretched the point, to make a point, turned it inside out, inverted and perverted the point, developed a string theory of the point, and later conceived an alternate universe of the point. From Eric Lee, examining the role of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre on the contemporary history of left anti-Semitism: This may be news to some, but what is today commonplace was once quite rare. I’m referring to anti-Semitism on the far…

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    The Unselfconscious Thinker

    . Catching up on some reading shelved for later, I came across a few posts by Glenn Greenwald, soon to be carrying out his sorties from the even more muscularly composed redoubt  of the Guardian. (Having learned less than nothing, Salon.com, his former base, is now hosting the anti-Semitic Mondoweiss.) The excerpt below, to which I believe I was led by Chris Hayes’s thank you tweet, serves as its own kind of sendoff. The Nation‘s Editor-at-Large and MSNBC’s weekend host, Chris Hayes, recently published a book documenting the fundamental failure of America’s elite institutions and exploring the causes and solutions:Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy. What makes this book…

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    Playing Politics with Jews

    . This post previously appeared in the Algemeiner on August 1, 2012. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), in his best Captain Renault form – which includes being entirely insincere and unconvincing – is shocked, shocked to discover that there is politics going on in the U.S. of A. Never played any of that sort of thing himself. Though, actually, feigning shock at the discovery of politics going on right there in the city of the Casa Blanca is, well (cover the children’s ears) an act of playing politics. Reported The Hill (and everyone else covering the jerk-my-chain political beat), Cantor, said in a statement Sunday that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.)…

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    Eating Poetry (XL) – As from a Quiver of Arrows

    . A poem about loss, or the end of things, if there is an end to things, or transformation, or it maybe being the nature in things to be lost, and remembered, so how remembered? Or maybe it is forgetting we want, and where is that, and if we do forget, what was it? To work against forgetting, or not. And who would we be? AS FROM A QUIVER OF ARROWS by Carl Phillips What do we do with the body, do we burn it, do we set it in dirt or in stone, do we wrap it in balm, honey, oil, and then gauze and tip it onto and…

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    The Real Dispute behind the Supreme Court’s Health Care Vote

    . If you pay attention to the expert analysis and the more general opining, you might think from either that the argument over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding it, hast to do with the Commerce Clause and taxation. This thinking represents two kinds of pretense. The first, common pretense is that lay people hold opinions on the matter based upon their reading of the Constitution and on a coherent conception of it as a whole, and of the Commerce Clause’s place in that whole. This is nonsense. Most people derive their opinion on such policy disputes from their existing political dispositions.…

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    Nothing Doing

    . Cosmologist Laurence Kruass’s latest book is A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. Originally intended to contain a foreword by Christopher Hitchens, the book makes bold to tackle through physics a question to which religion has historically provided the comforting answer and over which contemporary philosophy long ago dismissively threw up its hands. Says Krauss, If we live in a universe full of stuff, how did it get here? And many people think that very question implies the need for a creator. But what’s truly been amazing, and what the book’s about is the revolutionary developments in both cosmology and particle physics over the past…

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    Rush Limbaugh and the Free Market of Speech

    . It’s hard enough sharing the country with a bunch of jerks, why do so many of them have to be so full of shit? (Or is that a contradictory complaint?) The jerks, of course, are those who stand for everything you detest.  You know – the other side. The full-of-shit are fairly equally distributed, though some shit smells sweeter than the rest. Rush Limbaugh, let’s be clear about it, is a jerk. He may be your jerk, you may like the way he jerks, you may forgive his jerknsess because the people he attacks are, in your expert opinion, jerkier than he is, but he’s a jerk. If you…

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    The Whole at the Center of the Trayvon Martin Case

    . The two central elements of the Trayvon Martin controversy have been race and “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws. I have focused on the legal element, as a non-lawyer considering the reasoning and politics behind SYG. Florida law, it is said, adds the additional factor of a presumption in favor of a person claiming to have stood his ground. This is what is stated, for instance, at the web site of the Slavin Law Firm of Tampa Bay, which I cited the other day: The “Stand Your Ground” Law introduced two (2) conclusive presumptions that favor a criminal defendant who is making a self-defense claim: The presumption that the defendant…

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    The Internationalist Cover for Anti-Semitism

    . One of the consequences of the fall of Communism has been a kind of analytical disjunction in recognizing ideological continuities on the far left. Communism as a significant modern organizing ideology of nation states came to an end, so the focus it provided for a host of Western political parties and tendencies was lost. Too often since, the far left in its alliances and antipathies has been spoken of by liberals and social democrats as a shocking ethical outlier. But it has ever been thus. Nothing has changed. One line of continuity is seen in left manifestations of anti-Semitism. On the far right, as an active strain, anti-Semitism is…