Jack Lew to head budget office, deal with flood of red ink

The job will look familiar, but when Jack Lew takes over as director of the Office of Management and Budget the challenges will look a whole lot more daunting than when he held the post during the last two years of the Bill Clinton administration.

Meg Ryan, the "cultural intifada" and stupid PR tricks

First the term was used by Palestinians, referring to artsy events meant as protests against Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank; now Israelis and their supporters here are using “cultural intifada” to describe the accelerating trend of pop music and Hollywood stars who've decided to boycott Israel.

Cool; I'm sure Israel's brilliant PR mavens are patting themselves on the back for co-opting the phrase .

One Haircut Away from Love: A Single Gal Gets a Do-Over

If there is a word for falling in love with your therapist, what’s the word for falling for your hair stylist?

Because that was exactly what went down today at a salon stuck smack dab in the middle of a very kitschy, very loud, very Israeli mall in Jerusalem.

And by “loud” I mean it’s the chofesh hagadol, as they say here, which is another way of saying, the kids have been let out of school and if you thought it was loud before, you ain't heard nothing yet.

Chelsea Clinton And Me

 I'm on vacation in beautiful, but rainy, Maine (never fear, my home is being guarded by fierce, pistol-wielding house sitters and a pack of Dobermans -- and there's nothing of value in there anyway since I took the laptop and iPod along!)  

Weiner - Abedin nuptials: the headline says it all

What does the Jewish religious community think of Rep. Anthony Weiner's marriage to longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin?

Weiner, after all, is one of the most outspoken defenders of Jewish causes on Capitol Hill, while Abedin is a Muslim who grew up in Saudi Arabia. The two were married on Saturday by former President Bill Clinton.

How, exactly, Clinton was able to perform the ceremony remains unclear. A mail-order ordination, perhaps?

The Presbyterians, Israel and the value of community relations

In a world where Israel has fewer and fewer friends, Jewish groups here increasingly face a choice: do they treat Israel's critics as implacable adversaries? Or do they look for ways to work with some critics and perhaps change their mind on some issues?

Increasingly, muscular pro-Israel groups take the first approach; the second, which defines  the whole Jewish community relations movement, is in disfavor in many Jewish circles.

The last word on the Netanyahu - Obama summit: what we don't know

What we know after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Washington visit this week: both the Israeli leader and President Obama have decided that for various reasons it's best not to be quarreling, especially in public. Both have a strong vested interest in restoring the public trappings of the “special” U.S.-Israel relationship.

The problem is what we don't  know; the pomp-rich visit leaves us with more questions than answers:

The Book of Love

You know the Elvis Costello song, Everyday I Write the Book?

I could listen to that song every minute of every day and never get bored.

Even if I can't quite make out his words, there is something about that song that gets under my skin and I think it has everything to do with his…glasses.

You know what I'm a talking about: those big, black clunkers that take over his face with all the subtlety of a jet bomber.

Frank Gehry's Genius = Gefilte Fish

When Vanity Fair released the results of its poll for the best piece of architecture built in the last 30 years, Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao Museum had the most votes by far. Twenty-eight of the 52 people surveyed--most of them leading architects, academics and critics--voted for the Bilbao museum, compared with the next best thing, Renzo Piano's Menil Collection museum in Houston, which got nine.

Gehry's lopsided victory inspired a lenghty piece in the magazine by Matt Tyrnauer, a Vanity Fair editor who oversaw the survey. The piece does an excellent job explaining Gehry's artistic evolution, from his first inspired moment seeing the Chartes Cathedral, to his later influences like seeing the combines of Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.  But perhaps most interesting, Tyrnauer notes the importance of fish. Gehry's fascination with the species lend his mature work their nautical, silvery and often bulbous shape.  Often, you see their shiny curves, and think, salmon! Or if you're Jewish, lox!

Gehry is of course Jewish (ne Goldberg). So you can't help but wonder whether his fascination with fish actually has something to do with lox. That's what I was thinking when I read Tyrnauer's essay, but I was wrong.  Lox has nothing to do it.

It's actually gefilte fish.

Michael Steele: right on Afghanistan, sort of?

The whole Michael Steele controversy – the latest in a long series for the foot-in-mouth-prone Republican National Committee chairman – must be making Jewish liberals very uncomfortable.

Steele is getting savaged by fellow Republicans for saying the Afghanistan war is a “war of Obama's choosing,” and that the one thing the President should know is that you “don't ... engage in a land war in Afghanistan... because everyone who's tried over a thousand years of history has failed."

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