Of War and Syria: Two Views Against

Common Sense Says Don't Bomb Syria White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough recently claimed, "The common-sense test says he (Syrian President Assad) is responsible" for the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria and "should be held to account" (http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/U-S-Common-sense-test-shows-Syria-used-gas-4797534.php).  In fact, "common sense" would dictate just the opposite: That Assad would … [Read more...]

Esophagus and I: A Medical Tale


Early on a recent, bright late Summer morning, I entered the emergency department of a hospital in suburban Philadelphia.  It was my second experience of American emergency medicine.  The first, almost 20 years ago for complications of a spinal surgery, was on a early Fall Sunday afternoon at a large teaching hospital in central Philadelphia where I sat and waited among the stabbing victims, the survivors of domestic … [Read more...]

An Angle Heretofore Unknown (A Review)

Fenton_Cover square

War and the literature of war are siblings, perhaps even twins.  As long as there has been conflict over scarce resources and fertile land, competing visions of the good life for humans, and bruised feelings among the uneasy powerful, there has an accompanying literature praising the brave, memorializing the proud dead, singing the virtue of the leaders of the victorious side, and preparing for the inevitable next … [Read more...]

General Injustice: The Asymmetry of the Cases of Private Manning and General McChrystal


The central intuition behind our concept of justice is that like cases should be treated alike.   John Rawls in his immensely influential book A Theory of Justice states that justice is “the first virtue” of social institutions; adherence to the requirements of justice is a test of such institutions.   When the requirements of justice are blatantly unmet, that is, when seemingly like cases are treated radically … [Read more...]

The Stranger


[ MEMOIR ] For several months after my discharge from the Air Force at the beginning of November 1969, I lived with my father.  The two of us alone in the large 4-bedroom twin house from which he had walked 6 days a week to work in a steel plant by the Schuylkill River in Eastern Pennsylvania at a time when American industry was the envy of the world and produced the things the world wanted, the house in which I had … [Read more...]

What Makes a Man? (A Book Review)

Bill Ehrhart

The Bodies Beneath the Table is Bill Ehrhart’s eighth book of poetry, and because it is the first in 11 years, an event for those of us who have followed his work.  Ehrhart has also written some of the best memoirs and contemplations of the years and times and tumult simply known as “Vietnam,” especially Ordinary Lives: Platoon 1005 and the Vietnam War; Passing Time: Memoir of a Vietnam Veteran Against the War; and … [Read more...]