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    Profiles in Cowardice

    My thoughts are with Paris today, and with Beirut. We were in the airport, waiting for a delayed flight, when the news broke Friday evening, and so the Paris new broke to us through cable TV and the Beirut news did not reach us at all. There is too much to say about these crimes. For now I can only say that the United States has, at this point, precisely the news media that terrorism wishes us to have.

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    Brett Foster Goes Out Singing

    I was blogging today about art, especially about poetry and about grief, but that post was interrupted by the news of an old friend's death. My own thoughts about grief can wait. I will still be thinking them tomorrow. Today I give way to the beautiful, kind-hearted poet and scholar Brett Foster, who has passed out of this world. He was a better man than I have ever been, and I will miss him.

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    Joseph's Pyramids and American Popular History

    Yes, Ben Carson, who is officially running for President, is happily telling people that the pyramids are not actually pharaohs' tombs, but grain storage built by Joseph from the Book of Genesis. Never mind that there are (for example) sarcophagi in the pyramids. And never mind that the Bible doesn't actually say anything about Joseph building pyramids or in fact building anything (Genesis Ch.

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    Praise for the Foremothers

    This is how it works: men and women do things - write books, build institutions, start movements - that change your life forever, and the men get into the history books. The women mysteriously fall out of the story, over and over. How many times have you heard or read the words, "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to be free"? How many of you can name the writer off the top of your head? That's what I'm talking about.

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    Where Is the GOP's Mr. Reliable?

    Last month when I blogged about the Republican primaries, I was struck by the fact that no front-runner has emerged as the role of the safe, electable choice. Primaries frequently resolve into contests between an establishment choice who runs on electability and an outsider or dark horse who runs on ideological closeness to the party base or, to pick up the dating metaphor from my earlier post, the primary becomes a choice between the safe, reliable suitor your parents want you to marry and the exciting boyfriend or girlfriend with shakier prospects.

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    What Is a "Good" College? Two Tentative Answers

    Sometimes, because of my job, people ask me advice about choosing colleges. It's always nice to be helpful, but talking about college reputations can be a minefield. Obviously, you learn quickly that you should never put any college or university down, but that's not enough. People can also get very prickly when you don't praise a particular college enough.

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    Dr. Cleveland's Rule for Evaluating Rumors of Affairs

    So, the latest Republican self-immolation in the House apparently has now also spun off nasty little rumors of an affair between two Members of the House. Let me say, straight off, that I don't give a damn whether or not that's true. My issue with today's Republicans is not the conduct of their private lives, but the scandalous and shocking conduct of their public lives.

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    What Just Happened to the House GOP?

    As you have all seen by now, Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has dramatically withdrawn from the race for Speaker of the House. As every news story has made clear, McCarthy was undone by the opposition of a group of hard-liners (probably about forty of them). What the news stories don't make clear is that those hard-liners could not have come close to beating McCarthy at the caucus election where McCarthy resigned.

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    Update from an Old Friend (or, Kevin Hogan Is Back!)

    Four years ago, I blogged about my old friend and colleague Kevin Hogan, a Massachusetts teacher who was ambushed in a parking lot by a Fox News reporter peddling a sex scandal.

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    Ask Me About Shakespeare, Round Two

    So, last year I had an Ask Me About Shakespeare thread that people seemed to enjoy. (Answers to the first round of questions are at the link.) Let's try it again.

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    Winnowing the GOP Field with Jane Austen

    Scott Walker has left the Republican presidential primaries: the first dropout who was once considered a major contender for the nomination. That, and the departure of Rick Perry, leaves us with only fourteen or fifteen candidates left. In fact, the real number is much smaller than that, because of an economic concept called the Pareto principle; there have never been sixteen choices, because the Pareto principle cuts the number down to a smaller number of practical options.

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    Loving Shakespeare's Language, Then and Now

    This Sunday's New York Times Magazine carries an elegantly written lament by Stephen Greenblatt of Harvard University, who has come to believe that his students don't love Shakespeare's poetry as poetry anymore:

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    In Praise of Fred Rogers

    A county clerk down in Kentucky, Kim Davis, is refusing to do her job, getting herself thrown in jail for contempt, and posing as a martyr. Once again, an extremist and divisive version of Christianity, obsessed with minor points of doctrine and followed by only a minority of Christians, is presented to the American public as "Christianity." This is nonsense, of course. Only a tiny, tiny minority of Christians believe that handing same-sex couples a wedding license is somehow sinful.

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    Goodbye, My Second City

    Although "Doctor Cleveland" is my nom du blog, I've been splitting time between two cities for years. Like many academics in my generation, I've struggled with the "two-body problem" as part of a couple with teaching jobs at universities in different places. We've had homes in both places, but I've been the primary commuter and my spouse has held down the home front.

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    Fox News at the Crossroads: or, the Great GOP Divide

    Fox News got record-breaking ratings for its Republican debate in Cleveland. It got one of the top-ten highest cable TV ratings of all time; the other nine are sporting events, mostly big bowl games on ESPN. So Chris Christie and the boys got better ratings than Tony Soprano, and if you'd like to make your own Mad Men joke, here's the place for it. On the other hand, thousands of Fox viewers have denounced Fox's moderators as biased and unfair.

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    Still Killing Citizens: The Death of Sam Dubose

    A University of Cincinnati cop has been indicted for murder. He killed an unarmed black citizen named Sam Dubose, whom he had initially stopped over a minor traffic issue: no front license plate. Why are we still doing this?

    We've heard this story before. A ridiculously minor offense, the kind of thing that cops routinely let go, escalates into homicide when a cop kills a black citizen who has no weapon. After Eric Garner and Mike Brown, after Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland and Walter Scott, we are still doing this. Why?

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    Citizen Vain: or, Trump the Narcissist

    Why did Donald Trump say in public that John McCain is ""not a war hero" because he got "captured?" Is Trump insane? Not quite, but close. Trump most likely has a major personality disorder. That's not a medical diagnosis, which I can't give; I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist, and I haven't met Trump.

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    Trump and the Polls

    I don't believe Donald Trump is really running for President. Even before The Donald decided to slam John McCain as "not a war hero" because he "got captured" (as if Trump, who did not serve, would ever have been trusted with a plane),  it hasn't looked like a real campaign. I'm not convinced that Trump will ever consent to a real FEC disclosure filing, and I don't believe he will ever expose his ego to the risk of public defeat at the ballot box. Trump will only stay in if he finds some built-in excuse for losing, like running as a third-party spoiler.

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    Lame Duck Amok (or, Barack Obama in Winter)

    So President Obama is having a couple of pretty good months for a lame-duck President. Obamacare upheld, same-sex marriage legalized nationwide, and the Confederacy-lovers suddenly on the ropes. Things can change fast in national politics, and this post might seem completely wrong in six weeks, but right now, today, Obama's opposition seems about as hapless as they've ever been: unable to cope with events, usually on the defensive and mostly on the wrong foot. And yes, some of this is the usual ups-and-downs of partisan politics.

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    Why Not Say It's Racism? The Charleston Massacre

    The murder of nine people in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston has left me sick and stunned, as it has left many of you. And what I needed badly, over the last two days, was national unity. But I didn't get it. Apparently, we're too divided as a nation to band together after a terrorist attack. We're so divided that some of us won't admit that the terrorist had the motives that he clearly proclaimed. Apparently, there are sides to take in everything, even this.

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