HOUSE OF PLEASURES, which was shown on the film festival circuit under the more appropriate and less commercially exploitable title HOUSE OF TOLERANCE, is a stinging mood piece which explores the plight of a group of prostitutes in a high-end Parisian bordello at the turn of the 20th–century.
A hospital in Texas recently made the national news when it announced that it would no longer hire obese workers. According to the new employment policy at the Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas, all new employees — be they physicians, nurses, orderlies or janitors — must have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35.
While the Road to Serfdom is paved with good intentions gone awry; the road to self fulfillment—the dream of the modern person—is constructed with freedom stones resembling personal license. What is emerging in the United States, based in part on the empirical data in Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, is a selective version of morality. If it feels good, do it. The constraints inspired by the Judeo-Christian tradition, our genetic inheritance, even our sex, are mere trifles compared to personal choice and desire. To my astonishment, even murder is justified as an act of personal morality.
Let me suggest a solution to the fracking problem. The self-styled energy companies want to draw natural gas out of the shale deposits deep below the earth’s surface. Environmentalists like myself believe that fracking will foul the drinking water, damaging a much more crucial resource than the gas they’ll extract. We also think that if gas is so valuable, they wouldn’t be burning it off where it already comes up alongside oil wells. But that’s another story. Let’s stick to safety.
To echo the March 28th front page of the New York Times, “Adrienne Rich, a poet of towering reputation— and one of the best known American intellectuals— has died,— at the age of 82.” Author of two dozen volumes of superb and searing poetry, plus a half-dozen more of prose, all totaling close to a million copies in sales, she was for me and countless other committed readers, a revered teacher and prophet. As our nation approaches an historic crisis of conscience, a most appropriate tribute to this towering literary Titan is found in her own clairvoyant words, written in 1983 but amazing
Today Dr. James Hansen, the well known American climate scientist, will accept the prestigious Edinburgh Medal for his work on climate change science. The Edinburgh Medal is awarded each year to a person of science whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity. Dr. Hansen will reportedly use the occasion to talk about climate change as a moral issue of unprecedented scale.
IN DARKNESS, directed by Agnieszka Holland, tells the story of a coldhearted sewer worker and small-time criminal in Nazi-occupied Poland who hides a group of Jews who are in grave danger of being exterminated. He does so for profit only, but as time passes he forms a bond with his charges and becomes deeply involved in their lives, and their plights.
Where to begin with the current crop of republicans? We have newt Gingrich threatening to lock up any judge who dares to disagree with his edicts when he’s crowned king, I mean, elected president. We have Mitt Romney’s utter tone-deafness to the woes of the middle class. And we have Rick Santorum, a man evidently sprung full grown from some bronze-age cave, fully convinced that women are chattel, and gays should be burnt at the stake.
In testimony given to the Congress, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asserted that Congress’s war powers authority is irrelevant. As he described it, U.S. intervention in Libya, Syria or elsewhere would be justified by permission from “relevant” international tribunals, such as the U.N. Security Council and NATO. The approval of the congressional representatives being unnecessary.
Let’s understand what that argument about the health insurance mandate was about. Everybody agreed that a single payer system would have been constitutionally OK. It would have been based on the taxing power. However toxic taxes are to the public, legally they are not particularly toxic. Everyone admits the taxing power is broad.