In the main building of the Liberty University campus in Lynchburg, Va., there is a Jerry Falwell museum. The first exhibit you see when you walk through the door is devoted to Falwell's father. Carey Falwell was a nonbeliever, a successful entrepreneur, a hoodlum, bootlegger and gunman who shot his own brother dead two years before the end of Prohibition — not the kind of family skeleton usually put on public display by a university founder.
Eight decades have done nothing to alter the essential character of England's Fourth Estate. That was demonstrated last week, at the convention of the National Union of British Journalists when, by 66 to 54, delegates of the 40,000-member group voted to impose a boycott on Israeli goods.
Yesterday, by decree of Major League Baseball, was Jackie Robinson Day. A player on each big league team was designated to wear Robinson's uniform number, 42. The Dodgers, Robinson's club in its Brooklyn incarnation, intend to go one better; every player will wear the hallowed number. Jackie Robinson Day is an exercise in racial public relations. Baseball desperately wants to repair its connection to the black community, whose younger generation seems to regard the national pastime as only slightly more relevant than curling.
Until recently, Micheal Ray Richardson (that's how he spells it) was slightly famous for having once told a sportswriter that his team, the New York Knicks, was "a sinking ship." When the writer asked how far the ship might sink, Richardson replied, "The sky's the limit." That remark, however, wasn't what got Richardson into trouble; repeated drug use did. He wound up banned from the NBA, a vagabond basketball player in Europe. Lately he has been making a comeback as coach of the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Assn.
Rudy Giuliani's supporters call him "America's Mayor." But he is something more: the first serious presidential candidate in history with a vowel at the end of his name. Oddly, so far in this year of ethnic — and gender — identity politics, Rudy's Italian-American heritage hasn't been much of an issue. Much more attention has gone to Hillary's "favorite daughter" campaign, Barack Obama's quest for African-American authenticity, Bill Richardson self-depiction as the first Hispanic candidate and the Mormon beliefs of Mitt Romney.
Israeli leaders just appeared before the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C., and took sides in U.S. politics. They also highlighted the split in the fabric of American Jewish unity. "When America succeeds in Iraq, Israel is safer," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the conference via satellite. "The friends of Israel know it. The friends who care about Israel know it. They will keep the Americans strong, powerful and convincing."
Question: How can the gun-controlling, abortion-supporting, gay-friendly Rudy Giuliani be 25 percentage points ahead of John McCain, his nearest GOP presidential competitor, in the latest Newsweek poll?
Listening to Rep. John Murtha's arguments against the American troop surge in Iraq reminds me of a scene in "Bananas." Facing an insurgency, the Latin American dictator in that Woody Allen classic reaches out for American aid. But he mistakenly calls in not the CIA, but the UJA — the United Jewish Appeal. Black-hatted rabbis, holding little charity boxes, are soon wandering through the chaotic battle zone.
Last weekend, the Sunday Times of London reported that Israel is preparing a strike on the Iranian nuclear program at several bases scattered throughout the country. The paper claimed that the attack would be carried out with tactical nuclear "bunker busters" supplied by the United States.