Ken Burns’s multipart documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, premiered last night. Damon Root reviews it:

[W]hile the film is clearly pro-Roosevelt in its leanings, it does make room for certain contrarian views. Among The Roosevelts‘ stable of talking heads, for example, is none other than conservative writer George Will, who pops up from time to time to remind viewers that the family’s impact was not always a benevolent one. “Building on the work of the first Roosevelt, the second Roosevelt gave us the idea, the shimmering, glittering idea of the heroic presidency. And with it the hope that complex problems would yield to charisma. This,” Will declares during one episode, “sets the country up for perpetual disappointment.”

But The Roosevelts is by no means a flawless film. For one thing, it sometimes fails to present an accurate picture of the family’s political opponents. Indeed, the film leaves the distinct impression that only reactionaries and fringe loonies ever dissented from the New Deal.

Harvey J. Kaye lodges other criticisms:

Read On

The Art Of The Personal Essay

Sep 15 2014 @ 8:09pm

Richard Rodriguez names the writers who influenced his approach to the form:

There was Joan Didion—the Didion of those glorious California essays of the sixties. Because she was from Sacramento and writing about the Central Valley when I first read her, it was she who taught me to imagine my own Sacramento as a literary landscape. About that same time, there was William Saroyan. There were voices in Saroyan, particularly the wondering boy in Fresno and the hungry writer’s voice in San Francisco, I have never forgotten. For all of the passion and energy in Saroyan, however, there was something sexless about him—the son of a Presbyterian minister.

He adds two more:

James Baldwin, the great Jimmy Baldwin. I began with Nobody Knows My Name and I never let go of him—through the years of the Negro Civil Rights movement on our small black-and-white TV, then the many decades after. What impressed me about Baldwin was his literary elegance, despite all. He was never more resolutely in control than when he was describing Jim Crow America. The hideousness of anti-black racism could not undermine the clean line of his prose. And Orwell! I learned from George Orwell that narrative was compatible with the essay, that it was possible to write what I call the “biography of an idea”—and trace the way an idea makes its way through a life. Beginning with my first book and in all the books after, I employed the fictional devices of the short-story writer in writing my essays. My best essays, I think, are unafraid to be stories. That’s Orwell’s influence.

Fear And Loathing In Lebanon

Sep 15 2014 @ 7:45pm

Sulome Anderson checks in from Tripoli, the northern Lebanese town that has become a microcosm of the Syrian civil war and which today “seems to lie in ISIS’s shadow”:

Although the extremist and ultraviolent Sunni group has few open supporters here, the appearance of pro-ISIS paraphernalia and graffiti, the clash last month in the Bekaa, and the fact that Tripoli’s Sunni-majority population has a historical tendency toward radicalism, have raised worries that the group might gain a foothold here and send the city into a spiral of deepening violence.

Local tensions in Tripoli follow essentially the same ethnic lines as those in Syria’s war:

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Can America “Destroy” ISIS?

Sep 15 2014 @ 7:14pm

Tomasky wishes Obama would treat Americans like grown ups and admit that we can’t:

We’ve been trying to destroy Al Qaeda for 13 years now. We have not. We will not. And we will not destroy ISIS. We can’t destroy these outfits. They’re too nimble and slippery and amorphous, and everybody knows it. So why say it? Why not say what we hopefully can do and what we should do: contain it. We have contained Al Qaeda. Some of the methods have been morally problematic (drone strikes that sometimes kill innocents, etc.), but the methods have worked. Al Qaeda, say the experts, is now probably not in a position to pull off a 9/11. Containment is fine. It does the job. But no, I guess a president can’t say that. A president has to sound like John Wayne. It’s depressing and appalling.

Containment, however, Tomasky supports with gusto:

Containing the Islamic State is important. If you can’t be bothered to care about, oh, the potential for unspeakable subjugation of 15 or 30 million women who might be forced to live under ISIS rule if the group achieves its stated goals, think about ISIS building a real nation-state out of Iraq and Syria. Al Qaeda trained in remote and backwards Afghanistan. Imagine the terrorist training facilities ISIS could set up with that much territory in the heart of the Middle East. Or imagine this (Sunni) state with nuclear capacity, which it surely would seek as counterweight to Shia Iran, if it becomes a nuclear power someday.

Steve Chapman explains why, in his view, the war against ISIS is unlikely to succeed:

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Face Of The Day

Sep 15 2014 @ 6:46pm

Morsi jailbreak trial adjourned to September 21

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy flashes rabia sign during a trial of the Wadi el-Natrun prison case at Cairo Police Academy in Egypt on September 15, 2014. Cairo Criminal Court adjourned the trial of Mohamed Morsi and 130 others to 21 September. By Ahmed Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Paternity Pays, Ctd

Sep 15 2014 @ 6:11pm

Kay Hymowitz responds to Claire Cain Miller:

The jumping off point of [Miller's] piece will be familiar to anyone who has kept a casual eye on gender gap research. Mothers earn less than fathers with similar credentials and laboring in similar occupations. Citing research by sociologist Michelle Budig, Miller notes that “childless, unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns, while married mothers earn 76 cents.” Men, on the other hand, get a parenthood bonus. Their earnings go up when they become fathers.

Now, there are two plausible reasons for the motherhood penalty and fatherhood bonus.

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Zoolander Award Nominee

Sep 15 2014 @ 5:43pm

The Zoolander Award for fashion absurdity has introduced Dish readers to everything from erotic Mickey Mouse ears to Holocaust-evoking children’s-wear. Abby Ohlheiser spots a new contender:

“Get it or regret it!” read the description for a “vintage,” one-of-a-kind Kent State sweatshirt that Urban Outfitters briefly offered for just $129. However, the fact that there was just one available for purchase is far from the most regrettable part of the item: the shirt was decorated with a blood spatter-like pattern, reminiscent of the 1970 “Kent State Massacre” that left four people dead. …

As outrage spread, Urban Outfitters issued an apology for the product on Monday morning, claiming that the product was “was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection.” The company added that the bright red stains and holes, which certainly seemed to suggest blood, were simply “discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.” The statement added: “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”

The View From Your Window

Sep 15 2014 @ 5:13pm

Busingen-Germany 8-40 am

Busingen, Germany, 8.40 am

Quote For The Day

Sep 15 2014 @ 4:46pm

“The economic arguments against independence seem not to be working — and may even be backfiring. I think I know why. Telling a Scot, ‘You can’t do this — if you do, terrible things will happen to you,’ has been a losing negotiating strategy since time immemorial. If you went into a Glasgow pub tonight and said to the average Glaswegian, ‘If you down that beer, you’ll get your head kicked in,’ he would react by draining his glass to the dregs and telling the barman, ‘Same again,'” – Niall Ferguson, who knows whereof he speaks.

Mental Health Break

Sep 15 2014 @ 4:20pm

Almost too much awww to handle: