An Envoi For Christopher Hitchens At The Pearly Gates

On April 20 there’s a memorial for Christopher Hitchens at the Cooper Union in Manhattan. There’s a PEN tribute, also in Manhattan, on April 30. Here’s my own little envoi. The regular Diary, tumbrils and all, will resume next week. SCENE ONE Antechamber to Heaven, a large reception room in the Baroque style. A door […]

Farewell, Gastro-Porn

This has been a bad year for grand restaurants in the three- to four-star range and the clang of their closing doors raises the question — is the whole gastro-frenzy that stirred into life in the mid-1970s finally lurching towards closure? Goodbye Iron Chefs, sayonara “molecular gastronomy” in the style of Ferran Adria, farewell those […]

The Myth Of The ‘Knowledge Economy’

“In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a first-class education,” President Obama famously declared in his 2010 State of the Union Address, just as millions of high schoolers across the nation were embarking on the annual ritual of picking their preferred colleges and preparing the grand tour of the prospects, with parents […]

Massacre Fatigue In Afghanistan

In the wake of the lethal rampage by a US staff sergeant who killed 16 Afghans in the early hours of March 11, the Taliban have put a halt to talks with the Americans and President Hamid Karzai has demanded that NATO troops pull out of the villages and return to their camps. As with […]

Pardon Power

The Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld two-term Republican Gov. Haley Barbour’s pardons. This quintessential southern good old boy issued 203 of them in January on his last day in office, a hefty total for Mississippi. Barbour’s predecessor, Ronnie Musgrove, issued just one, to a fellow in the joint for a marijuana bust. Under fierce attack, […]

Sunspots & Republicans

Suddenly the right has gone truly crazy. It must be sunspots. We’re three years into sunspot cycle number 24 and it crests in activity with 59 sunspots in early 2013, the weakest sunspot cycle in a hundred years, therefore not much help in the earth’s current cooling phase, during which — contrary to warmist doctrine […]

Time On The Cross With Rick Santorum

Surely Rick Santorum is the most fanatical Christian to run for the Republican nomination in the modern era, maybe any era. Next to him Pat Robertson, billionaire founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, who ran for the nomination in 1988, has the tolerant, glassy-eyed bonhomie of the late Dean Martin. Robertson has always been in […]

Hypocrisy & Syria

Few spectacles have been more surreal than senior US officials — starting with the President, the Secretary of State and the US ambassador to the UN — solemnly lecturing Assad and his beleaguered Syrian government on the need to accommodate rebel forces whose GCC sponsors are intent on slaughtering the ruling Alawite minority or driving […]

Goodbye To Afghanistan

The day after the Florida primary, when all eyes were fixed in astonishment on the victorious Gov. Romney expressing his indifference to the sufferings of the poor, the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, gave a speech in Brussels. He said that as early as mid-2013 American forces in Afghanistan will step back from a combat role. […]