Ninety-nine years ago Louis Brandeis explained why letting investment bankers ruin the country was a bad idea. Bankers were lousy managers; they ran companies with an eye to increasing the value of stock, rather than efficiently providing a service or product; they – contrary to stereotype – exhibited “financial recklessness.” By their very bigness alone they posed a threat to politics and the economy. Running his eye over and over the various problems with the money trust, he kept coming up with the name J.P. Morgan.
It is enough shame that we are facing the exact same problems the Progressives and the New Dealers laboriously fixed. But it adds an extra pain to the historically aware that we are dealing with zombie malefactors bearing the exact same names as their forebears.
It’s going to be very hard to tell my older boy that Maurice Sendak has died. I suppose I’ll sit down with the boy, watch the Colbert interview (here and here), and then break the bad news to him. Also, I still get a kick out of this (warning: self-referential).
Late edit: this, today’s Fresh Air, is quite moving, though I find that Terry Gross interviewing Maurice Sendak is a serious confluence of Jews. A conjewence?
The always-worth-reading David Greenberg on the passing of John Morton Blum, who is somehow in my academic family tree (Blum was one of David M. Kennedy’s advisors, I think).
As is often the case I want to quibble a little with David, who writes, “John Morton Blum—who always used the very Jewish-sounding “Morton” in his professional byline”—to me, the “Morton” made the name sound less, rather than more, Jewish. As someone who doesn’t professionally use his middle name, I sometimes think about these things.
A senior Vatican priest speaking at a Good Friday service compared the uproar over sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church — which have included reports about Pope Benedict XVI’s oversight role in two cases — to the persecution of the Jews, sharply raising the volume in the Vatican’s counterattack.
The remarks, on the day Christians mark the crucifixion, underscored how much the Catholic Church has felt under attack from recent news reports and criticism over how it has handled charges of child molestation against priests in the past, and sought to focus attention on the church as the central victim.
What do you make of this, Rabbi?
Rabbi Riccardo di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, who hosted Benedict at the Rome synagogue in January on a visit that helped calm waters after a year of tensions, laughed in seeming disbelief when asked about Father Cantalamessa’s…
So, the centerpiece of any even-slightly-traditional Seder is a detailed recounting of the Exodus story. But, as I understand it, Biblical archaeologists have complicated things lately by insisting that the Jews weren’t in Egypt for any lengthy period of time during the era in question.* “Hold on, Mr. PhD in Archaeology Smartypants, how do we know this for sure?” asks the obnoxious Jew.** Because the Egyptians were excellent record keepers, even taking detailed note of the many peoples they brutally subjugated. Which is all well and good, at least from the perspective of someone interested in the intersection of history and memory. In other words, it’s not unusual for discrepancies, rooted in methodological, epistemological, or political differences, over how the past is recalled to crop up from time to time.
But then there’s this: why would the long-ago Jews have invented this…
Lately, you seem to have forsaken me, and I’m just not sure I can take much more of this. So if it’s not too much to ask, I’m hoping that you won’t visit a Favre-Manning Super Bowl upon a nation that’s already reeling. But if it’s got to be one or the other, I suppose Vikings fans have suffered enough through the years. And even you, despite your infinite compassion, must see that Peyton Manning, whining Republican that he is, is an abomination. Also, while we’re chatting, how about reminding the president that uplifting the poor and healing the sick is Godly work.
Thanks for your consideration,
p.s. If you hook me up this once, I promise to stop laying tefillin on airplanes.
A religious Jew wearing a series of black boxes and leather straps called tefillin or phylacteries inadvertently set off a bomb scare on a US Airways flight to Kentucky.
The plane was diverted to Philadelphia.
A 17-year-old boy on Flight 3079 traveling from New York to Louisville was using tefillin boxes which are attached to the arm and forehead and contain prayer scrolls and have long leather straps which wrap around the arm, said Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore.
“It’s something that the average person is not going to see very often, if ever,” FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver said.
Klaver, as the Forvertsadmits, is probably factually correct. But technically, it wasn’t the religious Jew who set off the bomb scare, it was the pants-wetting pearl-clutcher who thought he was a “security situation.”
But look: isn’t secular holiday music something we can all agree on? I mean, it sucks. It really does.
No, we can’t agree on that, you big square Grinch. Top of the list of things I would rather hear than a moany Muzak version of “Adeste Fidelis” is going to include the following, but most of all Mitch Benn’s “True Meaning of Christmas” and other songs, here.
On this day in 1916, the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed decision on Woodrow Wilson’s nomination of Louis D. Brandeis to the Supreme Court of the United States so it could wrangle further over whether he had “the temperament” to be a Justice. Anti-Semites.
Or perhaps they were more than anti-Semitic. Maybe the real problem was that Brandeis, as Senator Thomas Walsh (Democrat of Montana) said, “has exposed the iniquities of men in high places in our financial system. He has not stood in awe of the majesty of wealth.”
Litbrit, writing at cogitamus, celebrates the news that director Spike Jonze has adapted Where the Wild Things Are. While I echo her enthusiasm for the original source material, I’m not convinced by the above trailer that the film will satisfy my discerning tastes. For I share with the fans of Watchmen a sense that some printed texts are sacred and should not be rendered in moving pictures.
Kevin’s an odd name for a Jewish kid, isn’t it? And do Jews still take inordinate pride in the few professional athletes who are MOTs? When I was growing up, I learned at Hebrew school, before I got got kicked out* for insubordination, that Sandy Koufax was a very big deal. Hank Greenberg, too.**
* I was always a rebel.
** No, I’m not as old as John McCain***. That’s my point. People**** were still, as late as the 1980s, talking about these guys.
*** Not Jewish. Obama? A little. The part that’s not Shi’a.
**** Well, Hebrew school teachers at least. So maybe not exactly “people.”
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is an associate professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).