The Elbridge Newton House in Somerville, MA, built in 1898 and revived from dormancy by Thomas and Mrs. Lifson in the eighties, is now on the National Register of Historic Places
One of the most treasured unforeseen consequences of blogging is that you sometimes get esoteric bits of information from fellow bloggers that open your eyes to previously unknown wonders in your own back yard. We made Thomas Lifson's restored Queen Anne/Dutch Colonial/Shingle Style mansion in Somerville the raison d'etre of our Sunday "Read the Landscape" walk today and were not disappointed.
"George W. Bush is the most daring, transformative president since FDR," writes Tony Snow, reviewing John Podhoretz' Bush Country: How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane:
Yet he is also the most traditional and archaic. He has advanced a vision of American destiny that shows off our signal virtues - our courage in fighting determined enemies such as al Qaeda, our selflessness in taking on despots like Saddam Hussein, our decency in spending billions to combat AIDS and our idealism in seeking to spread democracy throughout the most benighted lands on the globe. Who else would articulate a foreign policy that embraces both pre-emption and democracy?
The book advances a clean, simple thesis: Democrats loathe and misunderestimate the president, and keep their bile boiling by embracing eight myths about him. They regard the commander-in-chief as a moron, a puppet, a fanatic, a Nazi, a cad, a wastrel, a cowboy and a lying thief. (The book is a bonanza for Bush lovers and haters, because it gathers together some of the most fevered and hilarious vitriol aimed at the president.)
Podhoretz unravels the libels in slow, delicious detail, basting them with proper portions of amused detachment. According to his portrait of the president, Bush loves for enemies to think ill of him - and even goads them into new frenzies of disgust by incorporating drawls that would appall a Snopes or firing off a Bushism that vindicates their view that he's an illiterate, faux-amiable, vicious, conniving, puppy-torturing cur. Such contempt is catnip for any worthy Southern politician because it provides ample opportunity to operate more freely and thus to effectively shape the political landscape.
"They apportioned the amounts according to politics," said an Iraqi Ministry of Trade official quoted in Susan Sachs' New York Times article today on the Iraqi/UN Oil-For-Food Scandal:
Iraq's sanctions-busting has long been an open secret. Two years ago, the General Accounting Office estimated that oil smuggling had generated nearly $900 million a year for Iraq. Oil companies had complained that Iraq was squeezing them for illegal surcharges, and Mr. Hussein's lavish spending on palaces and monuments provided more evidence of his access to unrestricted cash.
As ministry officials and government documents portrayed it, the oil-for-food program quickly evolved into an open bazaar of payoffs, favoritism and kickbacks . . .
"There would be an order that out of $2 billion for the Trade Ministry and Health Ministry, $1 million would have be given to Russian companies and $500 million to Egyptians," said Nidhal R. Mardood, a 30-year veteran employee of the Iraqi Ministry of Trade, where he is now the director-general for finance.
"It depended on what was going on in New York at the U.N. and which country was on the Security Council" . . .
Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker gives a thumbs up to Mel Gibson's "Passion" and sees it as a good thing that the controversial film has gotten people talking:
Most fundamentally, Jesus is himself portrayed as a Jew, even addressed as “Rabbi” by Judas himself. The film portrays two groups of people, Jews and Romans. Historically, these are the people who happened to populate and govern the territory where the story actually happened. The story is about Good and Evil. In order to tell this story, there must be good and evil people. Naturally, some of the evil people were Jewish. To pretend otherwise would not only violate Scripture, it would turn the movie into a politically correct cartoon . . .
I strongly suspect that "The Passion of the Christ" will get people talking. About not just the film, and not just the story. Not just about Jews and their role in the story of Christ (his life AND his death), and the broader theme of Jewish-Christian relations. Talking about the deeper themes. You know: the ones which have been with us since the beginning. The important ones.
It has certainly gotten people talking about the various paths Christianity has followed through the years in this great land of ours. Take Stephen Prothero's historically-rich offering in Opinion Journal:
At least until now, modern American iconography of Jesus has accented the resurrection over the crucifixion, glory over the gory. The most popular such image is Warner Sallman's "Head of Christ," which has been reproduced roughly 500 million times. In this head-and-shoulders portrait, Jesus radiates peace and serenity. His hair is perfectly coiffed, his skin unblemished. And in an artistic coup that recalls the Mona Lisa's smile, he somehow gazes toward God while gazing lovingly at us. Mr. Gibson's Jesus, by contrast, radiates the torment of a divinity committed to taking on a world of sin. In the movie's opening scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, he does battle with Satan while his pores ooze blood. The rest of the movie feels like one long Munch-ish scream.
While admitting she "ADORED the blue-eyed Jeffrey Hunter in the 1961 'King of Kings,'" our familial correspondent adds this caveat:
Anybody can make any kind of movie about Jesus. He's public property, is dead, and will earn no residuals. BUT . . . It cheapens faith, and His legacy, to bring Him to the Big Screen.
"Some of the most spectacular plant movements are nastic movements," says Plants-in-Motion, an Indiana University Biology Department website with streaming videos that reveal the secret movements of plants, normally too slow for the human eye to detect:
I supported the war and people called me a right-winger and refused to accept my liberal credentials. Now I go after the Bush administration over free speech and Howard Stern and also don't like Gibson's Passion and the right-wingers call me a left-winger. Those who hated me one week love me the next; those who loved me one week hate me the next; and a few smart people sit back and laugh. Life becomes very confusing when you have only one litmus test by which to judge mankind.
We felt pretty smart when we found ourselves sitting back and laughing out loud.
Two years after the brave and flamboyant homosexual Pym Fortuyn sounded the alarm in Holland regarding the threat of fundamentalist Islam to his relaxed and liberal homeland, the Dutch establishment that had previously condemned him as a bigot has suddenly done an about face and adopted his agenda . . . [admitting] that the immigrant Muslims top the “no” list: they have the highest incidence of unemployment, domestic violence, disability payments, truancy and crime. And, after three generations in Holland, at least 30 per cent of them return to their “home country” to marry and bring back a spouse.
MacQueen surveys related developments in France, Germany and Denmark and worries about Britain's continuing cluelessness:
As British conservative columnist Melanie Phillips wrote recently, “in Britain, the corrosive idea which seethes beneath the whole immigration controversy is the belief in fashionable circles that such a national identity is somehow illegitimate and that to defend it is ‘xenophobic’.”
"The US should avoid the misleading metaphor of empire as a guide to its foreign policy," writes Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government Joseph S. Nye in his "Monthly Commentary on International Affairs" at Project Syndicate:
In many ways, the metaphor of empire is seductive. The American military has a global reach, with bases around the world, and its regional commanders sometimes act like proconsuls. English is a lingua franca like Latin. The US economy is the largest in the world, and American culture serves as a magnet. But it is a mistake to confuse primacy with empire . . .
To be sure, the US now has more power resources relative to other countries than Britain had at its imperial peak. But the US has less power - in the sense of control over other countries' internal behavior - than Britain did when it ruled a quarter of the globe.
In the global information age, strategic power is simply not so highly concentrated. Instead, it is distributed among countries in a pattern that resembles a complex three-dimensional chess game. On the top chessboard, military power is largely unipolar, but on the economic board, the US is not a hegemon or an empire, and it must bargain as an equal when, for example, Europe acts in a unified way. On the bottom chessboard of transnational relations, power is chaotically dispersed, and it makes no sense to use traditional terms such as unipolarity, hegemony, or American empire . . .
Indeed, opinion polls in America show little popular taste for empire and continuing support for multilateralism and using the UN. Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian advocate of the imperial metaphor, qualifies it by referring to America's role in the world as "Empire Lite."
In fact, the problem of creating an American empire might better be termed imperial underreach.