The Clinton email kerfuffle

So the Department of State’s inspector general released the report that FOX News and ratings-starved “Morning Joe” have anticipated since the New York Times broke the story fifteen months ago: Hillary Clinton did not keep the emails she received on the personal account for which she got no permission to use and didn’t bother askingContinue reading “The Clinton email kerfuffle”

Without ideals or violence: the best Bob Dylan tracks

Who’s the dude praising a woman’s sexy body in that godawful croak? My introduction to Robert Zimmerman was auspicious: the solo verses on the Traveling Wilburys’ “Dirty World.” Over seven hundred overdubbed acoustic guitars, a “Yakkety Yak” sax, and four other cooing coots, Dylan went on to celebrate her five-speed gear box — and dispositionContinue reading “Without ideals or violence: the best Bob Dylan tracks”

David Brooks: solving problems ‘from the bottom up’

David Brooks posted his latest suicide note: There are just a few essential reads if you want to understand the American social and political landscape today. Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids,” Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” and a few other books deserve to be on that list. Today, I’d add Yuval Levin’s fantastic new book, “The FracturedContinue reading “David Brooks: solving problems ‘from the bottom up’”

Who stands to lose in November

In his assurances that foreign entanglements, trade deals, immigration problems, and domestic criticism must be squelched, Donald Trump has the mien of a fascist — just look to me, he promises, and I’ll ignore constitutional norms. “Fascism” has lost its power to define because it has lost its power to shock. Opponents have called strongContinue reading “Who stands to lose in November”

She’s got the moves, baby: Madonna’s best album tracks

Revisiting after Prince’s death Eric Henderson and Sal Cinquemani’s 2013 list of Madonna’s best album tracks led me back to 1989’s co-write/co-production “Love Song,” which in turn reminded me of what I already knew: boy, Madonna has more essential album tracks than her singles reputation suggests, and they proliferated after 1989.

Welfare reform and its discontents

Twenty years after Bill Clinton signed a bill that promised to “end welfare as we know it,” he has kept his word: Nationally, the number of people receiving cash assistance has fallen to 4.1 million, from 12.3 million in 1996. In Arizona, the number of cash assistance recipients has plummeted to 20,495, from a monthlyContinue reading “Welfare reform and its discontents”

Thirteen ways of looking at a Bill bird

This Vanity Fair profile of Bill Clinton proposes several ways in which the forty-second president can help or hinder his wife’s presidential campaign. His rhetorical powers, once considerable, look uneven: He recalled his college roommate, a Marine who had been stationed nearby; but what seemed like a quick geographical touch point soon spun into aContinue reading “Thirteen ways of looking at a Bill bird”

Singles 5/20

An excellent week, from which consensus rarely emerged. I heard signs of life in Garbage’s fourth or fifth comeback single; maybe my affection for Version 2.0 keeps me caring. And the #1 song in the country has a lightness and litheness that its forebears lacked. A wizardly singer, Pharrell is a below average singer, soContinue reading “Singles 5/20”

A romp through convention platforms past

An excerpt from the Democratic Party platform of 1972: We hold that the federal tax structure should reflect the following principles: The cost of government must be distributed more fairly among income classes. We reaffirm the long-established principle of progressive taxation —allocating the burden according to ability to pay —which is all but a deadContinue reading “A romp through convention platforms past”

Man and beast co-habitate in rodeo film ‘Neon Bull’

Asked to size up a certain novel by her husband Scott’s disloyal friend Ernest Hemingway, Zelda Fitzgerald said, “Bull riding, bull slinging, and bullshit.” Neon Bull is like that, a narrative-allergic depiction of the Brazilian vaqueiro (rodeo) scene. Amid the dirt and dung, passion and danger commingle. Audiences looking for exotic locations and mild genderContinue reading “Man and beast co-habitate in rodeo film ‘Neon Bull’”

Bob Bennett: ‘He wanted to apologize on behalf of the Republican Party’

In 2010, Colorado senator Bob Bennett got his comeuppance when his support for TARP won him the ire of Tea Party members, then at the apogee of their power. The abortion and gay marriage opponent and Patriot Act supporter famously lost a primary to the curiously illiterate Mike Lee, often considered an expert on aContinue reading “Bob Bennett: ‘He wanted to apologize on behalf of the Republican Party’”