Friday, January 24, 2014

Sarah Silverman Is Visited by Tony DiNozzo Pretending to be Jesus Christ.

Sarah Silverman Is Visited by Jesus Christ. Video. Sarah Silverman, January 21, 2014. YouTube.

Wait’ll You Hear What Jesus Tells Sarah Silverman In Her New PSA. By Ross Luippold. The Huffington Post, January 21, 2014.

Sarah Silverman Chats With Jesus About Reproductive Rights in New Video. By Sara Ivry. Tablet, January 24, 2014.

Why Women Do Not Love Mike Huckabee. By Michael Tomasky.

Why Women Do Not Love Mike Huckabee. By Michael Tomasky. The Daily Beast, January 23, 2014.

Sarah Silverman: Mike Huckabee’s remarks “gross.” By Andrea Drusch. Politico, January 23, 2014.

The Media Cries Huckabee! By Charles C.W. Cooke. National Review Online, January 24, 2014.

Mike Huckabee reacts to criticism of comments on women. Video. The Kelly File. Fox News, January 24, 2014. YouTube.

Huckabee: Democrats Pitch Women on Birth Control. Video. AssociatedPress, January 24, 2014. YouTube. Also here.


Women I know are outraged that the Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication. Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them, it’s a war for them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America, because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say, “Enough of that nonsense.”

Demonization and Hatred. By Howard P. Segal.

Demonization and Hatred. By Howard P. Segal. History News Network, January 16, 2014.

Boycott of Israel Goes Too Far. By Howard P. Segal. Lewiston Sun Journal [ME], December 29, 2013.

Segal [Sun Journal]:

Soon after I started graduate school at Princeton in 1970, I joined the American Studies Association and have been a faithful member ever since. I have served on the editorial advisory board of its distinguished journal, American Quarterly, and have contributed occasionally to it.
What began in the post-World War II years as an organization composed primarily of scholars and teachers of American literature, art, politics, history and philosophy, has grown into an ever more interdisciplinary organization on the cutting edge of several new specialties and radically revised older ones. “Post-modernism” is the best term I can come up with to describe the ethos of the ASA today.
Always leaning toward the left, the ASA has now, in my opinion, gone beyond the pale in its new boycott of Israel.
About two-thirds of those voting endorsed the unanimous recommendation of the ASA’s governing council to condemn Israel in the by now painfully familiar ways found in many other academic, political and union organizations in, especially, Canada and England. Israel is simply the worst country in the world, and no other country need be linked to it. Indeed, there are never any condemnations of any other countries with, to many of us, far worse violations of human rights than Israel. One needn’t defend all current Israeli policies toward Palestinians to acknowledge this fact of life.
Instead, we have the now annual “Israel Apartheid Week” in several Canadian universities and, even worse, the “Queers Against Israel” annual marches in Montreal and Toronto as part of parades otherwise celebrating gay and trans-gender rights. It hardly takes an expert to wonder how those avowedly out of the closet would fare if they tried to march in any Middle East country, save Israel.
But their blindness toward every other country’s human rights problems reflects, at heart, a rarely acknowledged real agenda: a hatred of not just Israel but of Judaism overall, often expressed in perverse insistence in there being no difference between Nazi Germany and contemporary Israel. Israel must be crushed, just as Nazi Germany was crushed.
As has been noted in recent days, those most passionate about the boycott do not devote a nanosecond to considering their own hypocrisy in not boycotting the ASA itself, given white Americans’ treatment of Native Americans and of African Americans. As Samuel Johnson famously said, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of slaves?”
The University of Maine, alas, lacks an American Studies program at any level. By contrast, USM’s wholly graduate American and New England Studies Program consists of several distinguished scholars from different fields and is surely one of USM’s academic jewels.
Let me be clear: I’d never suggest to my colleagues at USM how to handle the now official boycott of Israel. Indeed, it’s none of my business as to how they voted. But it does make me curious as to how this and other American Studies programs nationwide will respond.
As for me, I may well resign from the ASA in protest of this outrageous boycott.

Segal [HNN]:

I recall the revelations found in the latest book by the eminent US historian Bernard Bailyn, The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America, The Conflict of Civilizations 1600-1675. In a generally depressing account of endless sickness, death, war, and religious and cultural conflicts, it is revealing that white settlers’ greatest savagery towards Native Americans occurred when the latter were deemed the Anti-Christ – as were, to be sure, some white religious dissenters as well.

Eric Foner: You Have to Know History to Actually Teach It. By David Cutler.

“You Have to Know History to Actually Teach It.” Eric Foner interviewed by David Cutler. The Atlantic, January 10, 2014.

Our Complex President. By Michael Gerson.

Our Complex President. By Michael Gerson. Real Clear Politics, January 24, 2014. Also at the Washington Post.


There have always been two not entirely consistent elements of Barack Obama’s powerful political appeal: his aspirational ambition and his personal sense of complexity and limits.
The aspirational — the promise of transcending our national divisions, resetting our relations with Russia and the Muslim world, slowing the rise of the oceans and healing the planet — is behind us. In a recent, remarkable interview with David Remnick of the New Yorker, Obama admits as much. Assuming the role of political commentator, the president talks of being overexposed “after six, seven years of me being on the national stage” and asks, “Is there somebody else out there who can give [people] that spark of inspiration or excitement?” Perhaps someone else is the change we have been waiting for.
But it is exactly this objectivity — this ability to emotionally distance himself from, well, himself — that impresses many journalists and commentators. Remnick calls it the “archetypal Obama habit of mind and politics, the calm, professorial immersion in complexity.” Like many before him, Remnick is impressed with Obama’s “philosophical ambivalences” and his ability to “nimbly” argue the other side of debates.
Obama seems impressed with these traits as well. In the course of the interview, he states: “I’m not a purist.” And: “I’m pretty pragmatic.” And: “I’m not a particularly ideological person.” And: “I do think one of my strengths is temperament. I am comfortable with complexity.” On marijuana legalization, Obama convincingly argues for every possible side of the issue. On parenting, he favors both open-mindedness and structure. On federalism, he sees virtues and drawbacks. On pro football, he is a big fan but would not allow his son to play. Every question is an opportunity for a seminar.
I have to admit — like many people in the business of producing and distributing symbolic knowledge — that I love seminars. Writers, commentators, journalists and historians have often chosen their profession because they never wanted their late-night dorm room discussions to end. Those who write about politics have a natural affinity for Obama’s mode of discourse. This is not so much an ideological bias — though that can play a part — as a kinship of intellectual approach and style. Just as Middle America found Richard Nixon to be “one of us,” America’s knowledge class knows that Obama is very much like them.
Remnick’s portrait of Obama typically leaves out the less attractive side of the academic persona — the tendency to view opponents as rubes and knaves. Few presidents have more consistently or aggressively questioned the motives of their political rivals. None, to my knowledge, used an inaugural address the way Obama used his second — to accuse his opponents of mistaking “absolutism for principle” and treating “name-calling as reasoned debate,” and wanting the twilight years of seniors “spent in poverty” and ensuring that parents of disabled children have “nowhere to turn,” and reserving freedom “for the lucky.” Those outside the seminar aren’t treated quite as well.
But even judged on the terms of Remnick’s praise, Obama is in deep, second-term trouble. The president who embraces complexity is now besieged by complexity on every front. The U.S. health-care system has not responded as planned to the joystick manipulations of the Affordable Care Act. On the evidence of the article, Obama and his closest advisers are in denial about the structural failures of the program — the stingy coverage, narrow provider networks, high deductibles and adverse-selection spirals already underway in several states.
And complexity is not a sufficient word to describe the chaos in the Middle East. Here Remnick raises questions about the utility of ambivalence in Obama’s approach to Syria. In the article, the president recounts the careful, systematic study that preceded inaction, as more than 100,000 people died and U.S.-affiliated groups were crushed. “We have looked at this from every angle,” he insists.
In fact, at the outset of the struggle, Obama declared that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go without having a plan to make him go. Then the Obama administration announced it would supply arms to the rebels, which never materialized on a serious scale. This is a case where disengagement has undermined national credibility and betrayed friends. Obama is likely to spend a portion of his post-presidency defending his studied inaction in the face of mass atrocities.
The largest question raised by the Remnick article goes unasked: Is the intellectual style that journalists find so amenable actually an effective governing strategy? The answer, it turns out, is complex.