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Patriot Act

Reporting the Report

It was almost 11:30 a.m., July 22, 2004, and we were awaiting the arrival of the ten members of the National Commission on the Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (informally known as the 9/11 Commission). Most of the journalists gathered in the cavernous marble hall under the gilt dome of the Mellon Auditorium had been there for hours, busily skimming the 570-page final report of the Commission with the aid of the accompanying cheat sheet, looking for any juicy tidbits—new details, shocking revelations, finger-pointing.

Writing Life: The Universal in the Particular

Enraged to discover that Germany did not possess any work by Michelangelo, his favorite artist, Hitler was mildly consoled to find a painting by Caravaggio—Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio—whom Hitler thought was the same person as Michelangelo Buonarroti. Next, he became enchanted by Correggio's erotic depiction of Leda and the Swan, though when his guide discovered him, transfixed before the painting, Hitler insisted he was only admiring the subtle play of light and shadow.

The Ministry of False Alarms

In post-9/11 America there has come to be what I think of as the Ministry of False Alarms. The Ministry of False Alarms constantly raises the level of fear inside the United States. I’m not sure what these various rainbow-colored alerts are supposed to do: How does one react when the alert goes from yellow to orange? What does one do to deal with orange danger that one would not do in dealing with yellow danger? How do you relax when the level drops? The only purpose of these alerts is to scare people.