Clearing my spindle

I’ve been saving a number of items to write about that I want to present for your information without further comment. In one way or another, they are interesting and informative.
The trial of al Qaeda terrorists in federal court will undoubtedly give us many moments like those afforded by the trial of “Lady al Qaeda” (Aafia Siddiqui). From Siddiqui’s trial comes this week’s New York Daily News report “Lady al Qaeda cries foul: Accused terrorist Aafia Siddiqui says toss Jews from jury pool.” Lady al Qaeda is not only concerned about the jury pool; she also has a bad feeling about Judge Richard Berman.
The indomitable Heather Mac Donald inquires “why decades of community organizing haven’t stemmed [Chicago’s] youth violence.” She answers the question in “Chicago’s real crime story,” the lead essay in the current issue of City Journal. Saul Alinsky and Barack Obama are recurring figures in Mac Donald’s characteristically excellent essay, which emphasizes “the disappearance of the black two-parent family.”
Christopher Coates is the former chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. He was relieved of his post on January 5 and “transferred” to South Carolina for an 18-month assignment with the U.S. Attorney’s office. See Hans von Spakovsky’s NRO column “Politicizing the law.”
Von Spakovsky notes that Coates is a former ACLU attorney who has received many awards for his work in the area of civil rights over the past four decades. Coates had a going-away event on January 4 that was attended by the entire staff of the Voting Section and several members of the Civil Rights Division’s new political leadership, including the assistant attorney general. Von Spakovsy subsequently reconstructed Coates’s speech at the event, writing that “[i]t’s one that every Justice Department employee should hear, particularly at a time when politics seems to be driving so many law-enforcement decisions at the Justice Department.”
Why have Barack Obama’s initial public reactions to the Fort Hood and Northwest Flight 253 terrorist attacks been so strangely discordant with the facts? Rabbi Aryeh Spero examines a number of Obama’s statements regarding Islam and makes sense of Obama’s initial public reactions to the terrorist attacks in “President Obama must choose sides.”
Professor Bradley Smith may be America’s foremost scholarly critic of what goes under the name of campaign finance reform. His latest contribution is “The myth of campaign finance reform” in the current issue of National Affairs. (Smith’s “In defense of anonymity” in the current issue of City Journal is not yet available online, but is coming soon.)
Our friend David Horowitz has written an eight-part series exploring Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. He explains how the modern Left has put Alinsky’s ideas into practice. The entire series on Alinsky’s Rules has been posted here.
The Right Coast is the group blog of four smart University of San Diego law professors, including my former Temple Beth El (Fargo) nursery school classmate Maimon Schwarzschild. (The great Mrs. Mullenbein was our teacher.) Two recent posts caught my attention. In “New taxes on health care plan, unless you’re in a union,” Tom Smith asks: “Why don’t they just make it, you pay new taxes, unless you vote Democrat?” In “Haiti,” Maimon reflects on the devastation wrought by the earthquake this week.
I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book as much as I have enjoyed Professor John Fleming’s The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War. Fleming is professor emeritus of comparative literature at Princeton, where he taught Chaucer, among other things. Professor Fleming’s aptly named blog is Gladly Lerne, Gladly Teche, derived from Chaucer’s description of the Oxford philosophy student in the prologue to the Canterbury Tales.
Professor Fleming posts to his blog at a leisurely weekly pace. Of his recent posts I particularly enjoyed “Lawyered up, solecismed over, and bummed out” (about Umar Abdulmutallab) and “Guide for the perplexed” (about his “genius son-in-law” and their trip to Israel).
John Yoo’s new book is Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush . Professor Yoo induced Jon Stewart’s current crisis in the command of his reputation as the result of his appearance promoting the book on Stewart’s show. Stewart sounded like a particularly slow student of Yoo’s.
Pulitzer Prize-winning professor of American history Gordon Wood writes from what might be a moderate libertarian perspective for journals such as the New York Review of Books and the New Republic. Professor Wood describes Yoo’s book as advocating “an expansive understanding of presidential authority,” but also “a remarkably persuasive one.” Professor Wood’s long and interesting review of Yoo’s book — a review that does not appear either in the NYRB or TNR — is “American monarch.”
I took issue with Roger Lowenstein’s New York Times Magazine column “Walk away from your mortgage!” in this post. In the post I quoted Socrates’ famous last words, according to Plato in the Phaedo: “Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?”
Asclepius was the Greek god of medicine and healing; Socrates was asking Crito to perform a ritual sacrifice to Asclepius. But why? in a scholarly paper that I found posted online, University of Minnesota philosophy professor Sandra Peterson collects 21 scholarly interpretations of Socrates’ last words.