The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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The other day a writer I greatly esteem, lauding a new biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote a sentence that left me near apoplexy: that “of Roosevelt’s greatness there can be no question.” In the first place, I think it’s always risky to say there is no room for a second opinion on matters where... Read More
Last week a friend dropped by with a big gift: the opulent new Modern Library edition of the works of Shakespeare, more than 2,000 pages long, produced in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company, whose excellent Coriolanus my friend, his father, and I had just seen at the Kennedy Center two weeks earlier. As if... Read More
Am I the only one who still remembers Manuel Noriega? He’s one of the reasons we have a Department of Defense. When he was running Panama, the first President George Bush (am I the only one who still remembers him too?) decided he was such a threat, like Hitler (of course you remember him!), that... Read More
Two years ago, after foot surgery, I started walking with a cane. The ankle has healed, but I’ve kept the cane. I like it. It helps my balance, it’s funny, and it strengthens my faith. In this allegedly Darwinian world, where life is a ruthless competition for survival, my cane is magic. It causes young... Read More
How the mighty are fallen! Or falling, anyway. Tony Blair is finished. George W. Bush is being deserted by the party he has wrecked, the submerging Republican majority. And Rudy Giuliani, only recently the front-runner for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, looks like a goner. Thanks to Pope Benedict, he probably has no hope of... Read More
The most beautiful religious movie I’ve ever seen is the 1947 French film Monsieur Vincent, which dramatizes the later life of St. Vincent de Paul, best known for his organizational genius in ministering to the poor. It ends with a wise insight. The dying priest, played by the great Pierre Fresnay, tells a young nun... Read More
Thirty years ago, Laurence Olivier said a startling thing. He’d just seen the musical Sugar Babies, starring Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller, and he pronounced Rooney “my favorite actor.” I thought Olivier was joking, or maybe sarcastically putting down his rivals in the classical theater. I took Rooney for a minor Hollywood has-been, more notable... Read More
Guess what this is about: Ruth Marcus, a pundit for the Washington Post, uses the abstract word procedure eleven times in a single column. She doesn’t use the word kill even once! If you guessed that she is writing about abortion, you are correct. More specifically, she’s defending gruesome late-term abortions against a recent ruling... Read More
Even before they’d finished mopping up the blood at Virginia Tech, the Washington Post had some editorial counsel for Virginia: Adopt tougher gun control laws. Thanks for the free advice, guys! If we citizens of Jefferson’s state adopt laws as strict as Washington’s, maybe we can get our murder rate down — possibly as low... Read More
Nothing against Jackie Robinson, a great and brave ballplayer, and the anniversary of his arrival is giving all us white folks a delicious opportunity to feel virtuously bad about ourselves; but maybe it’s time for a little historical perspective. The Imus uproar — all over a single dumb, insulting wisecrack — points up a cultural... Read More
All the experts agree: Global warming is really happening, and man is to blame. Only more powerful government (and less personal freedom) can save us. Slam dunk. Observe that no crisis ever warrants less government and more freedom. So why don’t I believe in global warming? Because I get just a wee bit suspicious when... Read More
So Barack Obama has Big Momma on the canvas. When it comes to fundraising, he has essentially beaten La Hillary at her own game, nearly matching her $26 million but with far more donors. And since we’re all a wee bit tired of her, he’s the sentimental favorite. It’s the young underdog versus the aging... Read More
It’s nearly Easter, and the atheists, God bless them, are writing bestselling books to prove the good Lord’s nonexistence. Truly, they have their reward. One of the most famous of them, a British professor named Richard Dawkins, says atheists are generally smarter than Christians. I wouldn’t doubt it. After all, St. Paul says God has... Read More
Sandy. That would be Koufax. I’ve written about him before. Outstanding left-hander. For five magical years, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was the best. Not quite perfect, maybe, except the night of September 9, 1965, against the Chicago Cubs. That night the losing pitcher, Bob Hendley, was nearly perfect too, giving up only one... Read More
My enemies, who call themselves “the United States Government,” appear formidable at first glance. They have a global empire (democracy, you know), the power to make arbitrary laws, a vast prison system, the Internal Revenue Service (service? Well, no doubt it’s serving someone), the allegiance of the American people, plus a few thousand nuclear weapons,... Read More
Today I’ll be discussing what is called “sex,” drawing on my own personal experience, so I hope the reader will put up with some frank language. Chiefly I’ve learned that a woman doesn’t have to be “sexy.” She just has to be female. It started back in Michigan with my first girlfriend, Sandy, when I... Read More
We seldom know what our adversaries are doing behind our backs until it’s too late, but sometimes, when we are fortunate, they expose themselves without realizing it. Writing in the Washington Post, Stanley Wells, doyen of Shakespeare scholars, asserts that there is “overwhelming evidence” that “William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the plays and poems for... Read More
A little tired of politics? Of course you are. We all are. Well, I have a treat for you: Shakespeare’s least-known great play, Coriolanus, the story of a brave and honest (though not always amiable) man who hates politics with all his heart. It’s a tragedy fraught with magnetic eloquence and unexpected lessons for our... Read More
It was around this time of year over two millennia ago — in Lent, just before St. Patrick’s Day — that Julius Caesar was struck down. Of course Rome was not yet a Catholic city, let alone Irish, but it had a powerful criminal element, its senate. Thanks to Shakespeare, the official version of the... Read More
As a boy growing up in Michigan half a century ago, thousands of miles from London during the golden age of Shakespearean acting, I wished I could have seen Laurence Olivier on the stage as Macbeth, or Paul Scofield as Hamlet, or Richard Burton as Coriolanus, or Alec Guinness as Lear’s Fool. England was crawling... Read More
Despite Seymour Hersh’s latest lurid allegations in The New Yorker, I don’t think the Bush administration really wants to nuke Iran. Thinking outside the box, it has merely realized that an obvious solution to global warming is nuclear winter. And if Iran strikes back, so much the better, in the long run. So this may... Read More
In 1598, Francis Meres praised “mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare.” He added, “The Muses would speak with Shakespeare’s fine-filed phrase, if they would speak English.” To celebrate my birthday this week, I’ve gathered a bouquet of Shakespeare’s short phrases, hoping especially that young readers will fall in love with his astonishing inspiration, as I once did.... Read More
As I write, Anna Nicole’s remarkable corpse is still in a Florida morgue and closure appears to be a long way off. The cremation compromise is not an option. This is a case which, as the judge himself has suggested, even Solomon couldn’t resolve. Nobody even thinks of putting Anna Nicole behind us. Fox News... Read More
After long study, I’ve concluded that our leaders are not necessarily trying to be funny. But you are entitled to draw your own conclusions. All I really know is what I see on the cable news channels. This was my only contact with the outside world for several days recently, when my furnace was dead... Read More
After accusing various popes, saints, politicians, celebrities, and even my humble self of anti-Semitism over the years, the columnist Richard Cohen is shocked to find that he has been accused of anti-Semitism himself. I’m surprised that he is shocked. He has written critically of the state of Israel, and he’s now one of a number... Read More
How did the U.S. economy perform under George Washington? And how did he bring regional stability to troubled areas of the world? Give up? Let’s start by observing that people didn’t talk or think in such terms in those days. The president wasn’t a “leader” (a dictator or demagogue) or a popularly elected super-representative. He... Read More
In 1984, when Walter Mondale chose Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, the media went wild over this “historic” step forward for women. Some milestone. What was all the excitement about? Women had already been senators, cabinet members, and prime ministers for a long time. We’ve also been coached to respond to other “historic”... Read More
Dozens of people have announced their candidacies for the White House in 2008, and if I had to bet at this point, I would put my money on the old woman. Hillary may be awful, but at least she is predictable. I suppose I can learn to resign myself to her. What difference does it... Read More
Before you pull that lever for Barack Obama, latest darling of the liberal media, ask yourself a simple question: At this point in our history, can we afford to bestow the nation’s highest office on a suicide bomber? I know, I know. The Clinton camp is denying it had anything to do with the story... Read More
Now that Barack Obama has all but thrown his halo into the ring, we could use a little skepticism. He makes an awfully good first impression, like a champion high-school orator, but what has he done to excite such messianic hopes in so many people — especially journalists? His outstanding quality is his lack of... Read More
As I watched President Bush Tuesday night, for the first time I felt pity for him, in the same way you can’t help feeling sorry for any man at the end of his rope, even if he has brought it on himself. It isn’t a matter of desert; it’s beyond that. I felt a similar... Read More
Last week history was made. A woman, Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, was chosen speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and anyone within hearing distance of a television set heard the word historic hundreds of times. To listen to the media hype, you’d have thought it was the most exciting event since Lindbergh’s solo flight... Read More
What a contrast between the quiet passing of a former president here and the embittered execution of one in Iraq. The hanging of Saddam Hussein, hardly undeserved, degenerated into something like a sectarian lynching, aggravating anger at the invaders rather than giving the satisfaction of condign justice. It made one grateful to live under some... Read More
They’re still making James Bond and Rocky movies, and the latest ones are getting surprisingly good reviews. A guy named Daniel Craig has now taken the role of Bond, which I guess means that George Lazenby has lost his box-office magic, but Sylvester Stallone is still playing Rocky Balboa, who, at age 60, is making... Read More
Some people would — correction: do — accuse me of having a low taste in films. For example, I got an outraged reaction from the egghead community when I suggested that some of Ingmar Bergman’s earlier films might be much improved if they were colorized. Blasphemy! One reader (and I can’t actually prove it was... Read More
My friend Robert Maday died last week in Michigan. Cancer finally got him, but he didn’t suffer too much. We’d been pals for 46 years. We were classmates by my good luck, because though Bob was a year older than I was, his asthma had caused him to be held back a year. He seemed... Read More
I’ve made a career of writing about politics, but I’ve never had political ambitions myself. It just never crossed my mind to go into politics (unless you count the short time that I was a candidate for vice president). Just the opposite. I wanted politics to leave my family and me alone. Communism, the ultimate... Read More
If Rip Van Winkle were to awaken today, one would hardly know where to start. Explaining rap music and “ultimate fighting” would be the easy part. This week’s big news in the Republican Party is that Mary Cheney, usually described as “Vice President Dick Cheney’s openly lesbian daughter,” is going to have a baby. Maybe... Read More
Kwanzaa is imminent, but I’m planning to observe the holidays in a more traditional manner, curling up with The Snoop Dogg Christmas Album. Mutatis mutandis, Snoop Dogg is this generation’s Nat “King” Cole, and I look forward to his interpretation of that old chestnut “The Christmas Song.” Yes, there are obvious superficial differences between Cole... Read More
Some readers accuse me of having nothing good to say about President Bush, but I can hardly help that. He swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and even his defenders don’t seriously say he has done so. I can easily imagine a movie called Mr. Bush Goes to Washington and America Goes to Hell.... Read More
The columnist George Will, who would probably stand out for prissy pomposity at a nudist colony, with or without his bow tie, is not, shall we say, crippled by a sense of irony about himself. He has accused Virginia’s senator-elect, Jim Webb, of being “a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language,” as... Read More
I just heard on the radio that the publication of O.J. Simpson’s new book has been canceled. Literature’s loss, I guess. This particular Literary Event of the Season was aborted because of widespread disgust that Simpson was still profiting from crimes he says he didn’t commit. Like many other observers, I take his denial with... Read More
Those who like to portray President Bush as a nincompoop always fasten on his alleged mispronunciation of nuclear. It apparently never occurs to these intellectual snobs that maybe he is the only one pronouncing it correctly and the rest of us have been getting it wrong. A trivial matter, you say? We may soon face... Read More
Though I try to keep abreast of new ideas, the conclusions of modern science are often, as they say, “counterintuitive” — that is, contrary to what common sense might lead you to expect. In the realm of physics, this is true of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and the currently fashionable... Read More
Hallelujah! Yippee! Hooray! Gloria in excelsis! Goody- goody! O frabjous day! Hot diggety dog! Heh-heh-heh. In short, it’s beginning to look a lot like Kwanzaa. Yes, I’m pleased with the result. Okay, it wasn’t quite the blowout the drive-by media predicted, and it was clouded by the news that Britney and Kevin are divorcing; but... Read More
As I write, tomorrow is election day and though I’m not foolish enough to vote, I can’t help sharing the excitement. If you haven’t been listening to Rush Limbaugh, you have no excuse for acting surprised when the Republicans win by a landslide, contrary to what the drive-by media have been telling you. Rush really... Read More
After a lapse of several years, I have cable television again. I got it just in time to watch the Detroit Tigers play like a bunch of Republicans in the World Series, their pitchers firing fastballs at more than 100 miles an hour at hitters but hopelessly inept at tossing balls to first and third... Read More
Nowadays, in startling contrast to my youth, it’s very fashionable to claim to be a conservative. Back in the Sixties, conservatism was still rather a fugitive thing, and the fashion was liberalism or even radicalism. By the late Eighties, liberal had become “the L-word,” and liberals were looking for a less alarming euphemism, such as... Read More
In 1932, when most Americans feared the wolf at the door, the Democrats swept to a tremendous electoral victory, capturing the presidency and both houses of Congress. It was more than a momentary triumph; the once-mighty Republicans were nearly wiped out and the Democrats remained dominant for the next generation. Today the country is almost... Read More
The great sociologist Robert Nisbet once wrote that if America’s Founding Fathers could come back, the feature of today’s America that would most astound and appall them would be the vast scale of its military system and the penetration of militaristic assumptions into American life. As always, Nisbet had a point, but I would put... Read More
Analyzing the History of a Controversial Movement
Becker update V1.3.2
The Shaping Event of Our Modern World
The Surprising Elements of Talmudic Judaism
How America was neoconned into World War IV