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Roger’s Rules

‘The Law Requires . . .’

June 1st, 2014 - 6:32 am

What a quaint phrase!  Not quaint for you and me, of course.  For us plebs, what the law requires is, well, what the law requires. To the letter, Kemo Sabe.  But how about for our masters in Washington, especially for the master-in-chief, Barack Obama?  What, exactly, does the law require of him?  That he follow and (see Article II of the U.S. Constitution) “faithfully execute” the laws?  Not hardly. Andrew McCarthy’s new book Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment (not officially published until Tuesday but available now on Amazon) provides a sort of catalogue or cornucopia of Obama’s lawlessness. I won’t rehearse that litany here except to mention these key words:

When it comes to lawlessness, Obama is the gift that keeps on giving. If Congress passes a law that is Constitutional but that he happens not to like: no problem. He just won’t enforce it (ask the folks in Arizona about immigration laws).  Perhaps Congress fails to pass a law about something that he does want done: that’s no problem, either, because he has learned that there is no cost to governing by decree. The latest instance of presidential lawlessness concerns the Taliban’s release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan in exchange for five high-level Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Naturally, one rejoices at the release of an American solider after nearly five years of captivity in the savage hell-hole of Afghanistan. But as Rep. Howard McKeon and Sen. James Inhofe observed yesterday, “America has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason. Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.” Prediction: you’ll see many more Americans captured and held for ransom now that the Taliban knows our policy of not negotiating with terrorists implies that, if you push a little, we will happily negotiate with terrorists.

There’s also the little matter of how the transfer was arranged. As the Washington Post reports, “Lawmakers were not notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred.” But, the report continues, “the law requires the defense secretary to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before making any transfers of prisoners, to explain the reason and to provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to reengage in activities that could threaten the United States or its interests.” “The law requires.” Ha, ha, ha. This is King Obama we’re talking about, not you or me. Apparently, he can do whatever he pleases, from calling on the IRS to harass his political opponents to selectively enforcing to law to imprisoning video makers who are convenient scapegoats. But wait, there’s more. 

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Here’s a thought experiment: what if a Republican administration, six years into its term, had inadvertently blown the cover of its top CIA operative in a war-torn hellhole during a surprise visit by a president who had undertaken the trip in a desperate effort to shore up his sagging popularity in the wake of numerous scandals, including one involving widespread and deadly corruption in the administration of Veterans Administration hospitals.  To ask the question is to answer it: the legacy (formerly the “mainstream” media) would be skirling with criticism of the administration’s dangerous incompetence.  Every day there would be scathing articles dilating on the president’s fecklessness and the fecklessness, if not, indeed, the criminal negligence of those around him. And it would be endlessly (and correctly) pointed out that, at the end of the day, it was the president, not his underlings who must bear the brunt of the criticism, for along with the stupendou power in the president, the Constitution also invest in him a great burden of public trust. Thus is was that James Madison, in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 insisted that there had to be a mechanism for removing a president not just for “treason” or “bribery” but for “incapacity, negligence, or perfidy.” To protect the country, incompetence and other instances of what another Founder, George Mason, called “maladministration” as well as criminal behavior were grounds for impeachment and removal.

But what if, to continue the thought experiment, the administration in question was Democratic rather than Republican? Once again, the question is self-answering. In that case, the media’s excuse factory would go into overtime.  The specific articles produced by this exercise in extenuation vary according to circumstance. Sometimes it’s a matter of camouflage — “nothing to see here, move along” — sometimes it’s a sort of distorting mirror in which the large appear small and vice-versa. Sometimes it’s simply a sort of white-noise machine in which the ambient static cancels out unpleasant revelations from outside and induces slumber.

But I wonder just what is going to happen in the aftermath of this latest scandal. Is there anyone — anyone — who still believes that there was “not even,” as the President said, “a smidgeon of corruption” in the IRS — that it was merely happenstance, or the work of a few “rogue” employees, that explains why the overwhelming majority of citizens the IRS harassed were conservatives? Is there anyone — anyone outside the corridors of The New York Times, that is — who still believes the administration’s story about the Benghazi massacre — that it was sparked by a “rogue” internet video about Mohammed? Is there anyone who believes anything the administration says about Obamacare — “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health plan, period,” etc., etc. As I write, there is also the disgusting scandal surrounding the Veterans Administration, whose callous maladministration and “secret waiting lists” for infirm veterans has caused many deaths and untold suffering. The President says he’s “mad as hell” about it, but exactly what has he done?

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The Lesson of the EU Election

May 26th, 2014 - 5:50 am

“Shock,” “Anger,” “Earthquake”—those are among the more frequent epithets employed to describe this weekend’s European elections.  All across the continent, voters turned out to deliver a resounding defeat to the top-down, politically correct, big-government, Brussels-centric, rule-by-unaccountable-elites project that is the European Union.  For years, Brussels has demanded allegiance to its mildly socialist species of transnational progressivism.  Local initiatives were everywhere forced to give way to the whimsical diktats disgorged by distant bureaucrats. The healthy, homegrown sentiments of national identity and robust patriotism were systematically stymied as Brussels-based politicians set about imposing their anemic version of utopia in which there would be no Frenchmen or Germans or Italians or Englishmen but only that shadowy abstraction a “European,” a creature that doesn’t actually exist but might be willed into being by a regulatory superstate that was environmentally sensitive, always and everywhere alert to signs of racism and Islamophobia, reflexively suspicious of capitalism, hostile to Israel, and contemptuous of the United States.  It didn’t work and now the voters, in a gigantic act of political reverse peristalsis, have delivered the first step in what promises to be a thoroughgoing rejection of the European project. 

The response from the organs of establishment sentiment has oscillated between astonishment and anxiety. The Financial Times, under the headline “Eurosceptics storm Brussels,” leads with the news that “France’s far-right Front National stormed to victory in European elections on Sunday night, leading an unprecedented surge in support for anti-EU parties across Europe that was set to reverberate far beyond Brussels politics.”  The fact that the FN is led by Marine Le Pen, daughter of the much-maligned Jean-Marie Le Pen, adds a dash of horror to the mix.  How can this be happening? How is it that in Great Britain, Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party snapped up 30 percent of the popular vote and increased its seats in the European Parliament from 11 to 24?  It was only a couple of years ago that Farage and UKIP were dismissed as a “fringe” party, a congeries of unappealing political neanderthals who, in a more enlightened world, would either be locked up or not exist.  And yet here they were, “the biggest winner,” as the FT mournfully reports, in the UK’s European race. Geert Wilders, the charismatic Dutch populist, did not do as well as many of his euro-sceptic confrères. But “among other eurosceptic parties,” the FT notes, “the Danish People’s party was set to become the biggest in Denmark with about 25 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Austria’s populist party, the FPÖ, is set to finish third with 20 percent of the vote – against 12.7 percent in 2009.”

What is going on? Jean-Francois Copé, president of France’s center-right UMP, observed that the vote for Le Pen’s Freedom Party was  a sign of “gigantic anger” among the French electorate.  He got that right.  But the anger is directed not just against the confiscatory socialist policies of President François Hollande. It is directed more broadly against the anti-nation-state bias of the European Union. The architects of the EU envision a European superstate in which national identity is subordinated to the abstraction of “Europe.” The regime would be internationalist but only titularly democratic: the real power (as has been traditional on the continent) would reside in a technocratic elite, not the people. But the people, it seems, have just awakened to this reality and it turns out they don’t like it. Marine Le Pen was surely correct yesterday when she said: “What has happened tonight is a massive rejection of the EU.” 

What happens next is anyone’s guess. But one take-away from yesterday’s election is this: when conservative parties cease providing a natural home for the community-binding sentiments of patriotism and national identity—when, that is to say, conservative parties cease being conservative—those parts of the population not indentured to the apparatus of dependency look elsewhere.  What Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, said of the victory of  Le Pen’s Freedom Party is true of eurosceptic victories across the continent: it is, he said,“a shock, an earthquake that all responsible leaders must respond to.” We’ll see how many responsible leaders there are who will acknowledge the obligation.

Related from Michael Ledeen: Is Italy’s Center-Left Prime Minister Really a Neocon?

‘Law of the Land’

May 8th, 2014 - 5:13 am

To help while away the time while whittling away the calories, I generally listen to something while wheeling along the treadmill. One current favorite is the long-running English discussion program “In Our Time” with Melvyn Bragg.  Yesterday, I happened to puff away to a discussion of Magna Carta, the great foundational document of democracy that the barons imposed upon the evil King John (remember the Sheriff of Nottingham? Sir Guy of Gisbourne?) at Runnymede in 1215. (The operative bits date mostly from the charter of 1225, but 1215 is the date impressed upon our school memories.)

Bragg began his show by quoting one of the most famous sections of the Great Charter, clause 39: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Here for once the “emanations and penumbras” that William O. Douglas discerned some centuries later really do cast their reverberations. For what these few lines limn is what we now call the right of due process, with hints about a presumption of innocence, habeas corpus, and a good deal more of the machinery of modern civil rights.

Above all, however, Magna Carta revolves around two checks on tyranny, outlining the protections individuals enjoy against the arbitrary coercive power of the state and, just as important, declaring the subjection of the sovereign to the law of the land.

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More P.C. Crap from the Ivy League

April 29th, 2014 - 5:22 am

Daniela Hernandez: who’s that? Why that’s the ever-so-sensitive junior at Dartmouth who shut down a charity event, intended to benefit cardiac patients, because she found the theme of the event—“Phiesta,” i.e. “Fiesta”—offensive.

Yes, that’s right. As The Daily Caller reports, the self-described “Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color”  (where’s the air-sickness bag?) didn’t like “the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo,” so too bad for those blokes with dodgy tickers.

Listen to the rancid, semi-literate P.C.-speak from this embarrassing beneficiary of the American educational system:

There are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, and I am sure that we, as a Dartmouth community, could learn from the extensive literature written about the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities.

Give me a break.

But what’s even more dismaying than Hernandez’s little pout is the reaction of Taylor Cathcart, the president of Phi Delta Alpha, the fraternity that had planned the event, as you’ll see on the next page.

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A Body Blow to Racial Discrimination

April 22nd, 2014 - 5:52 pm

Yes, you read it here: the Supreme Court of the United  States, in a 6-2 decision (Elena Kagan took no part in the case), upheld Michigan’s ban on racial discrimination in college admissions, overturning a lower court’s intervention to reverse a 2006 referendum in which Michigan voters decisively rejected the invidious process.

You’ll be reading a lot about this in the coming weeks, of course, but I suspect that most of the stories you’ll read will use the phrase “affirmative action” in stead of “racial discrimination.”  That is understandable, not least because the SCOTUS decision employs the phrase in the headnote to its decision: “SCHUETTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN v. COALITION TO DEFEND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, INTEGRATION AND IMMIGRATION RIGHTS AND FIGHT FOR EQUALITY BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY (BAMN) ET AL.”

“By any means necessary,” forsooth.  Where have you heard that before? If I forbear to employ the mendacious phrase “affirmative action” it is because it is a sterling piece of left-wing Newspeak. “Racial discrimination” doesn’t sound nice to our civilized ears. So we rename it “affirmative action” and it makes us feel better about tearing off the blindfold on the figure of Justice on courts of law and doing the same thing in the admissions offices of our colleges and universities.

G.K. Chesterton once described the “false idea of progress” as “changing the test instead of trying to pass the test.” That is so-called “affirmative  action,” i.e., discrimination on the basis of race, or sex, or whatever this weeks favored “victim” category may be.

Right on cue, Justice Sotomayor wheeled out the “centuries of racial discrimination” meme. Guess what — we know there was chattel slavery in this  country (as there was in nearly every other society known to man) and we know, too, that it ended rather late here. But end it did, almost 150 years ago. If you want to know why slavery persisted in parts of the United States, read Gene Dattel’s brilliant Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Costs of Economic Power.  Are you looking for someone to blame for all that misery?  You might try Eli Whitney and his clever invention for carding cotton. Or maybe you should blame the English, who had a greedy appetite for our cotton.

But I digress. There will, as I say, be a lot of ink spilled about this decision. The New York Times has already weighed in with a piece of sanctimonious handwringing  (“ . . . a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions among the justices over what role the government should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities.”) Expect more of the same tomorrow.

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More on ‘President Asterisk’

April 21st, 2014 - 9:55 am

This morning, Instapundit dipped its cup into the growing current of stories about the lies and lawlessness that have characterized the Obama administration.  One story, “Barack Obama and the Politics of Lies,” is from the Washington Examiner and it ought to give anyone, Democrat or Republican,  pause. Citing the president’s recent “victory dance” over the (distinctly suspect) statistic that eight million people have signed up for Obamacare, the Examiner noted with some asperity that “a president who is viewed by most Americans as less than honest has no business crowing about a victory that remains anything but obvious.” Moreover, the Examiner continued, the president “certainly should not heap insults on people who for four years have profoundly disagreed with him on the wisdom of Obamacare”:

To put this as “less than honest” is to be charitable. What Fox News found in its most recent public opinion survey was that 61 percent of Americans believe Obama “lies” about important public issues either “most of the time” or “some of the time.” No other president in living memory has conducted himself in a manner that warranted even asking if such a description was appropriate.

“No other President in living memory,” indeed. I suspect that the flapping sound that’s emanating in ever more exigent waves from the corridors of power in and around the richest spot in the country — viz Washington, D.C. — is the sound of chickens flying home to roost. The Examiner notes that the president’s defenders have gone into attack mode about that Fox News survey. But consider this:

It was the president, not Fox News, who repeatedly and knowingly misled the American people with two infamous Obamacare lies: “You can keep your health insurance if you like it. Period. You can keep your doctor. Period.” For better or worse, Obama will forever be known as the president who chose repeatedly to propagate two falsehoods. Those two lies were profoundly significant because they were designed to hide the truth about how Obamacare would affect the daily lives and health of hundreds of millions of Americans.

And that, it almost goes without saying, is the very tip of the proverbial iceberg. Barack Obama has been lying — lying, not “mis-stating,” not somehow getting it wrong because he was misinformed, ill-advised, out to lunch — no, he has been lying to the American public since 2009. Here is a little recap of 36 times he promised that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period.” It’s less than 3 minutes long.  Watch it a couple of times. Then ask yourself — especially if you voted for Barack Obama — ask yourself, was he telling the truth?

That’s the thing about credibility. Its loss is infectious, corrosive. Lose it here, and you find that you’ve lost it over there as well. The Examiner is quite right, “it has been increasingly difficult for many Americans to continue accepting at face value his statements on other major public issues. In both the Benghazi and IRS scandals, for example, Obama claimed to have known nothing about them until they were reported in the national media.” Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! (Quoth Dorothy: “If you were really great and powerful, you’d keep your promises.”)  Flap, flap, flap: here they come!  If it it were true (don’t you love the subjunctive?), if, I say, it were true that Obama was just as ignorant as you or I about what happened in Benghazi or the IRS until the media told him then why the huge cover up? Why, as the Examiner asks,  “has the president’s attorney general and so many other of his most prominent appointees withheld thousands of documents subpoenaed by Congress and requested by journalists under the Freedom of Information Act? Are there passages in those withheld documents that make it clear Obama knew much more than he has admitted?” What do you think? (While were at it, why can’t we see Barack Obama’s Occidental College records? Are there items there that prove he applied to the college as a foreign student, thus committing fraud?  What do you think?)

Such questions bring me to the other story Instapundit scooped up this morning, “President Asterisk” in James Taranto’s indispensable “Best of the Web” column in The Wall Street Journal.  Taranto begins with an obeisance to Barack Obama’s political prowess. “No one,” Taranto writes, can deny that the president is “a highly skilled politician, at least by the measure of election outcomes.  . . . His 2008 presidential victory, after a fraction of a term in the U.S. Senate, was especially dazzling. It disproved those who said that Hillary Clinton was invincible, that a left-wing Democrat couldn’t win, and that America wasn’t ready for a black president.”

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Easter Thoughts

April 20th, 2014 - 5:32 am

Dear friends (and others),

Now that the Winter that Wouldn’t End seems finally to be vanquished (we woke up last Wednesday, April 16, to find a dusting snow — snow! — on the ground), my thoughts turn to green and budding things. And here on this glorious Easter morning, the bracing snap that accompanied the sunrise is already softening into a coaxing Spring morning. Before we toddle off to church with friends, and before we pop the champers, uncork the Vosne Romanee, and unveil the perfectly roasted lamb, I thought I would repost an updated version of what has become my traditional Easter meditation:

Yesterday, Holy Saturday, was glorious, and I am happy to report that Easter dawned bright and sunny here on the East coast of southern Connecticut.  Winter was long and brutal this year,  but Spring is definitely here now: the snow drops are behind us and everywhere the purple-lavender  crowns of crocuses announce the season.  Clumps of forsythia are beginning their yellow triumph by the roadside, and daffodils are set to trumpet the season any day.  Other buds and shoots are crowding in the wings: in just a week or two the  flowering cherries and pears will be bursting with blossoms. We are back in our house after having been evicted for more than six months by Hurricane Sandy. The apple tree outside my study window has bedecked itself with thousands of tightly wrought green promises just waiting to blossom into a glory of white and pink. In short, as Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in “God’s Grandeur,” one of his most magnificent poems, although “all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil,” although “the soil is bare now,” yet “for all this nature is never spent.”

And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—

I have loved Hopkins’s poem since I first read it in high school — the incantatory diction, haunting music, emotion compressed, distilled, stripped bare in language that trembles to contain all it seeks to impart (“there lives the dearest freshness deep down things”).

Easter, as I noted in a post marking the holiday last year,  is the traditional time when the Catholic Church receives converts into the fold. I went back to read what I’d written a couple of Easters ago and thought some readers might like to be reminded of what I had to say then:

All souls are equal in the sight of God, but here on earth some converts elicit particular attention. The announcement yesterday that Magdi Allam, the 55-year-old an Egyptian-born Italian journalist, had converted from his native Islam to Catholic Christianity, is a case in point. Apostasy from Islam is, as my fellow PJM blogger Michael Ledeen points out, punishable by death if you happen to be in one of the many atavistic bulwarks of barbarism that make the Religion of Peace an object of obloquy among civilized people.

[UPDATE: Robert Spencer shows that, as usual, I was being too generous to the Religion of Peace. As Spencer explains, "all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that apostates must be executed. But don't take my word for it. Here's the great Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, who has been praised by John Esposito as a 'reformist':

That is why the Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed...]

This particular baptism is sure to arouse the ire of fanatical Muslims, but, as the blogger at Tigerhawk put it, kudos to the Pope [that would be Pope Benedict] for performing the service in public: “If the Roman church does not draw a line against Islamist intimidation, who will?” [ANOTHER UPDATE: the story of Magdi Allam does not have an edifying ending.]

Good question. While you ponder it, allow me to introduce a more meditative note. Last year at Easter, I posted this thought for the day about the mysterious subject of time; a few people have asked me about it, so I thought I would reproduce it on this chilly (but sunny) Easter morn:

“So long as no one asks me,” St. Augustine says, reflecting on the mystery of time in Confessions, “I know what it is. But as soon as I try to say what time is I am baffled”

Well, St. Augustine has many interesting things to say about time in Book XI of Confessions, and he is perhaps most interesting (if also least helpful) when he wonders whether time is somehow “an extension of the mind itself” – most interesting because it is clear that our experience of time is deeply implicated with the movements of our mind, that it differs radically from one moment, and one phase of life to the next. But St. Augustine’s suggestion is also not particularly helpful when it comes to one of life’s most awful facts: that time passes, sweeping all that it “contains” (right word?) before it.

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More Drudge juxtaposition genius

April 18th, 2014 - 7:24 am

Herewith another installment of the juxtaposition genius Matt Drudge from today’s home page of the Drudge Report:

Dems warned: Don’t say ‘recovery’…

FLASHBACK WHITE HOUSE: ‘Summer of Recovery’…

FLASHBACK TREASURY: ‘Welcome to the recovery’…

FLASHBACK HARRY REID: ‘We are in a recovery’…

FLASHBACK BIDEN: ‘recovery.gov’…

 

An evening with Simone Dinnerstein

April 2nd, 2014 - 7:12 am

Glenn Gould used to be my favorite interpreter of Bach. Since Simone Dinnerstein’s recordings of Bach began appearing, beginning with her Goldberg Variations in 2007, Gould has assumed the somewhat less exalted status as “one of my favorite interpreters” of Bach.  My absolute favorite these past 6 or 7 years is Dinnerstein. Indeed, she is not only my favorite interpreter of Bach, she is my favorite pianist, period (if one can still enjoy that now-freighted locution.)

Membership, as the AMEX people keep telling you,  has its privileges. Last night, at a semi-secure undisclosed location, members of the Friends of The New Criterion, were thrilled to have Ms. Dinnerstein perform Schumann’s haunting “Kinderszenen,” the 13 “Scenes of Childhood” that Schumann wrote in 1838, followed by Bach’s “Inventions,” the 15 short pieces Bach wrote to introduce his children and students to the mysteries of counterpoint. (Ms. Dinnerstein has just released a CD of Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias for Sony, and she often performs one or more of the Kinderszenen.) It was a magical evening, reminiscent of the evening some of us spent at Bill Buckley’s New York apartment in 2007 where Ms. Dinnerstein performed all 32 of the Goldberg Variations for a rapt audience.

I have written about Simone Dinnerstein in the space before (here, for example, and here). Last night’s performance prompts me to repeat what I wrote in 2008 after hearing her perform at Lincoln Center:

Perhaps the most ravishing musical experience of my life was listening to Simone Dinnerstein play Bach’s Goldberg Variations’s at the home of a friend in Manhattan last autumn. In the weeks before the performance, I had listened several times to a CD of Dinnerstein’s remarkable 2007 interpretation of the work, but hearing her en famille, as it were, in the intimate setting of a living room with a dozen friends dramatically heightened the experience.

But it was the performance as well as the setting that made the evening so special. Hitherto my gold standard for renditions of this majestic piece of music was Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording. (Gould made a second recording shortly before his death, age fifty, in the early 1980s.) I especially admired the astringent clarity and architecture of Gould’s playing. Gould burrowed deep into the structure of Bach’s music, revealing its bones and sinews. His astonishing technical command allowed him to exhibit latent conversations within the music, rhythmic and emotional exfoliations that elaborated themselves with pristine lucidity, like crystals forming and dissolving in an ice-cold, light-inflected mountain stream.

Dinnerstein’s Bach is a warmer, but no less lucid creature. Like Gould, Dinnerstein commands a breathtaking technical mastery. And like him, she has made the music her own. She does not simply play the Goldbergs. She inhabits them, moving through its 30 variations like the rising sun through the rooms of a palace. Each chamber is suddenly illuminated and its distinctive character gradually revealed as the light lingers in loving dialogue with the soul’s furniture. And just as each day’s light has its own discoveries and omissions, so it was with Dinnerstein’s performances of the Goldbergs. Anyone who had heard the CD of her performing the work would have instantly recognized her stamp on the performance that evening. But what was remarkable was how distinctive each rendition was: like a familiar landscape seen at noon and then again an hour before dusk.

Dinnerstein is a master of rubato–listen, for example, to the way she coaxes Variation 4 to unfold itself before us–but also she handles the presto passages with breathtaking aplomb: her joyful unpacking of Variation 14 is a case in point. Dinnerstein’s Bach is perhaps less cerebral than Gould’s, but no less intelligent. There is an amplitude to her convocations that Gould’s austerity wouldn’t countenance.

But I revisit Dinnerstein’s Goldbergs merely as a prelude to mentioning her performance yesterday at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. Her late-morning concert, part of the Center’s Great Performers series, included two preludes and fugues (numbers 9 in E-major and 3 in C-sharp-major) from book II of the Well-tempered Clavier, Beethoven’s Sonata 13 in E-flat major, and Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik, a curious, amusing and bemusing work by the contemporary American composer George Crumb. As an encore, Dinnerstein played the lovely A-major intermezzo from Brahms’s opus 118 suite of piano pieces.

It was a memorable occasion. Dinnerstein’s signature combination of technical command and patient lusciousness informed every moment. Her playing is less idiosyncratic than Gould’s, but no less distinctive. Her taste – witness the Crumb – ranges widely, yet there is a clarifying purity to her playing that inoculates it against mannerism. Her personality touches and enlivens all she plays, but one always feels that the focus is on the music, not the music maker. This is true artistry, a sort of musical midwifery in which the point is not the performer but the thing performed. I hope you’ll have an opportunity to hear her (her concert schedule is posted here). You’ll certainly be hearing a lot more about her.

And so you, if you pay any attention at all to classical music, have.  Dinnerstein’s Goldbergs catapulted her to classical musical stardom, and her several subsequent CDs — I recommend in particular “Bach: A Strange Beauty” — have consolidated that impressive debut.