Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deficit Whores

Why I love E. J. Dionne.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Another one of those occasions when the onus is on the men to perform, so to speak. (The list includes, at minimum, the anniversary, the birthday, Mother's Day for many, and this one.) Having been married for 15 years this coming June--yes, you read that correctly, you are all getting old--I have basically given up on the creative Valentine's day gift. It's a short list of options, when you get down to it, really.

I was talking to a (younger) work colleague, who is married, and he was like, "Oh, we don't really celebrate Valentine's Day. It's commercial, blah blah blah." A word of advice (and I did share this with him, as is my wont): Your wife/partner/significant other can believe this, but still appreciate a thoughtful present at the same time! More importantly, your w/p/so can believe this, and still note the lack of a gift at the same time. It isn't necessarily one or the other.

Any big plans out there?

Full disclosure: Jewelry. (Like I said, not a long list of options.)

Salinger's War Record

"It's hard to think of another American writer who had more combat experience." This is interesting. I remembered this a little from Hasting's Armageddon.

Of course, one can think of "American writers" with substantial combat experience, but they tend to be folks who actually wrote about the war. Eugene Sledge, for example, or Bob Leckie. Both featured in the HBO miniseries . . . If you haven't watched The Pacific, I would recommend it, if you like that sort of thing. But it's no Band of Brothers, just as the Pacific War was not the European theater.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Winter of Our Content

Allahu Akbar! . . . Mazel tov!. . . . Yee haaaa!!

Searching for the right words for our friends in Egypt. It is a glorious day. May the Egyptian sun shine upon many, many more.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Patriots and Pinheads

Lots of buzz about the freshman Tea Party reps who voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act. I wouldn't get too excited about these guys "libertarian" bona fides. Since all the polls show that the actual TPs have no such high-minded instincts (they're just uber-wingers who hate abortion, gays, and Obama, but love torture, imperialism, and Glenn Beck), there's a simpler explanation: this is just another knee jerk anti-Obama vote. They think he's using the census to stock his concentration camps, after all. I'll believe these clowns care about civil liberties when they vote to limit the power of a GOP president. Once Sarah Palin comes calling, asking for power to grill a few Muslims on the White House lawn, this crowd will smile, salute, and pass the slaw.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Our Porcelain Overlords

On Hardball tonight they discussed Obama's image problem with the American business community. Even after saving global capitalism, backing TARP, resurrecting Detroit, and defending Wall Street against radical reform, Obama gets no love. Why? on Hardball, one lead theory was that Obama's "populist rhetoric" hurt their widdle iddle feeeewwwings. We've been hearing this a lot lately, especially from Politico, driver of Beltway narratives.

It does seem a paradox, at least if you think that politics centers on economic interests. But it doesn't. Identity trumps interests. The problem is that we're so used to thinking about "identity politics" as a left-wing phenomenon that we don't see how great its influence has been on the right, with white southerners, Christian evangelicals, farmers, and especially the business community. For the latter, Obama's real sin is not the populist rhetoric--when the hell was that supposed to have happened!?!?--it's that he shatters their illusion of triumphal, even messianic, self-sufficiency and virtue. As ideology, laissez-faire has always been a patent fraud, false as history and idiotic as policy. The American business community was built, brick by brick, by the federal government. It was Hamilton's great legacy, and it makes every businessman in America a "welfare queen." But as in so many things, Americans walk Hamiltonian but talk Jeffersonian. As we groom ourselves in the mirror, we see how good we think we used to look, back when we were young and free. As Nietzsche argued, no one is so impressed with the glorious freedom (and righteousness) of its own will as is the ruling class. They mistake the feeling of power (a practical effect) for the self-justifying morality of private conscience (a mythic cause). "Of course, I have free will--I won, and I'm awesome!"

No matter how much money Obama puts in their pockets, he will always be the guy who revealed their feet of clay. He said that government had a critical role to play in improving the economy, and he was right. No matter how many pretty speeches Obama gives to the Chambers of Commerce, he just can't repent a sin that stains as deep as having been right when those who by definition cannot sin were so wrong.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Any Bets?

I'm gonna pick Team Rapist over Team Communist 20-17.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Full Force Gail

It's rarely noted, but NYT's Gail Collins, week in and week out, is one of America's very best columnists. And funniest. Aside from her acute moral sense, her greatest gift may be her ability to savagely puncture her target's pretensions while somehow never coming across as angry or mean, a remarkable feat in the blog era, one that I have never been able to replicate myself, and yet one that I envy.

This week she goes after the pro-life hit on Planned Parenthood (by some James O'Keefe epigones), a column that might as well have been titled "Return of the Ratfuckers," were it not for her gentility and the Times's censors. At what point are we allowed to call what the right is doing what it is: "class warfare"?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

You're Lucky If You Don't Have a Family Member Who Has

Angry Fox Geezer Syndrome.

I try to watch Glen Beck from time to time. I actually do. But it is completely unwatchable. I must be immune, despite my premature aging.

400 Years

The King James Bible turns 400 this year! Hard to imagine, isn't it? Seems like the English Civil War was just yesterday . . . oh, hush. It's a cliche, of course, but to we English-speaking folks, it's up there with Shakespeare in shaping our language and thought. It also contains some of the most beautiful writing. (But of course God writes masterfully in his Mother Tongue!)

A few favorites of mine, starting with Genesis, Chapter 1:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry [land] appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry [land] Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that [it was] good.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.
And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that [it was] good.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.
And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Nothing influential in there, eh? One major, usually un-noted influence, was the run-on sentence. God clearly does not consider starting a sentence with a conjunction to be a sin. But even yet, the best opening of any book I've read. Lays it right out for you. And of course the 23rd Psalm:

The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Maybe a bit from the New Testament later. Have to get moving now.