Friday, February 12, 2016

A lively terror

Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama inspecting the Jacob Epstein bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office (not the identical one loaned by the British Embassy to George W. Bush, which was returned to the embassy after Bush left the White House), July 2010, photo by Pete De Souza. Via ABC News. 
Speaking as an old Boomer who yields to none in my loathing for that bloodsucker and intellectual mediocrity Henry Kissinger, I was not sorry to hear Bernie Sanders last night calling Hillary Clinton out for her friendliness with the criminal advocate of mass murder in Cambodia, Chile, East Timor, and who knows where else, but taken aback, by the same token, when he was nominating two leaders, one domestic and one foreign, who would "influence his foreign policy decisions", in answer to Judy Woodruff's question.

He started off by naming Franklin Roosevelt, not a bad choice at all, but failed to mention any of FDR's foreign policy ideas or moves in his explanation, which made him sound a little like Marco Rubio playing pin the sound bite on the donkey, if you know what I mean, and then his other choice was none other than Sir Winston Churchill, defended in terms that weren't too different, logically, from Clinton's defense of Kissinger (she may "disagree" with him "on a number of things" but he went to China) earlier in the debate:

Maybe I'm amazed

Buster Keaton in The General (1926)? [corrections welcome], from the Tumblr of yet another idiot who can't understand the concept of crediting an image, so screw them.
Shorter David Brooks, "Livin' Bernie Sanders's Danish Dream", New York Times, February 12 2016:
If Bernie Sanders becomes president, government spending will go through the roof! There will be centralized economic planning and the Washington establishment will control American life! Taxes will be so high you won't be able to choose your own lifestyle! Entrepreneurs will have no incentive to entreprenate! American colleges and universities will become tawdry nests of hippies like Cambridge and Uppsala instead of forward-looking profit centers like the University of Phoenix! You'll have to wait in line for your rationed health care! Not that there's anything wrong with that, I've lived in northern Europe myself, but it's not Tocqueville's America, and I find it amazing—amazing—that our young people should think of it as a good idea.
(Is he trolling me today, doubling down on "amazing"? 141st and 142nd career uses of the adjective and its corresponding adverb in the Times column.)

I got you Abe

Happy birthday to America's first socialist president, Abraham Lincoln, who wrote, in his 1847 "Fragments of a Tariff Discussion", the year before the publication of Marx's and Engels's Communist Manifesto,
...inasmuch [as] most good things are produced by labour, it follows that [all] such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have laboured, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To [secure] to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.

The Rail Splitter. Painting by J.L.G. Ferris, ca. 1909, via Honest Abe Blog.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Don't do anything you'll regret

Little Snowy River sunrise, New Hampshire. Photo by Dana Clemons.
One of the pleasant things you could do watching the primary results come in in New Hampshire was to think of it as a big nonpartisan primary, since independents can vote in either, and see that not only was Sanders blowing Trump out of the water, as the horserace guys say, but Clinton was beating him as well. This didn't last into the morning's numbers, in which Trump has slipped ahead of Clinton, but they're still pretty close, at 89% of the vote counted:
  • Sanders 138,716
  • Trump 92,417
  • Clinton 88,827
  • Kasich 41,813
  • Cruz 30,416
And a gigantic preference for what we liberals refer to as optimism, Brooksy, in the top three candidates against all the groaning declinist movement conservatives. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow!

Update: The bad news, from BooMan, is that a lot more Republicans than Democrats came out, suggesting one side is more energized than the other, as in Iowa.


Speaking of thinking about tomorrow, beloved commenter Suzan was saying yesterday,

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Brooks discovers Barack

Art from an essay by Steven Hayward from 2010 that opens up, "With the stunning victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts it appears the long night of the soul for conservatives may be over. The last two years have been tough for the Right. In terms of political power, conservatism is at its lowest point in more than 30 years..."
Verbatim David Brooks, "I Miss Barack Obama", New York Times, February 9 2016:
As this primary season has gone along, a strange sensation has come over me: I miss Barack Obama.
Well, that is a pretty strange sensation. Because he didn't go anywhere yet, you know? If you'd like to see him, he's still around. He's the president of the United States. He just sent a new budget up the Hill this morning, for Pete's sake, though the Republicans up there are doing their best to pretend it doesn't exist:
In a harsh partisan snub, the Republican chairmen of the Senate and House budget committees — Senator Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming and Representative Tom Price of Georgia — have chosen not to invite Shaun Donovan, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to testify about the administration’s plan, set to be released on Tuesday as part of the traditional budget week festivities.
Even though Obama is wrong about stuff, in Brooks's humble opinion, he has a good character, on five main parameters: basic integrity, basic humanity, soundness in his decision-making process, grace under pressure, and a resilient sense of optimism (I wonder what a sense of optimism is, like you can smell it when it's in the room? and what it is when it's not resilient, but let that pass). It's noteworthy, as Driftglass cheerfully points out, that Brooks has not always had such a high opinion of the president, but maybe he was only dreaming then, or maybe he's only dreaming now, does it make a difference?

Happy New Year! 猴年大吉!

Hóu Nián dà jí! Lots of luck in the Monkey Year!

Chen Yi's 1997 Spring Dreams, because New Year is the Spring Festival, setting a Tang-dynasty poem by Meng Haoran (translation somewhat original):

Chūn mián bù jué xiǎo,
chùchù wén tíniǎo.
Yè lái fēngyǔ shēng,
Huā luò zhī duōshǎo.

Spring mornings you sleep in, without noticing dawn,
though everywhere you hear the cries of birds.
At night, it was the sound of wind and rain
blowing the blossoms to ground, who knows how many.

Monday, February 8, 2016

West of Eden: Deeply unpleasant

Olive groves in Farata, West Bank, during the settler attacks of October 2010, via Piglipstick.
And here's our old friend, dean of the foreign correspondents, the gracious-living A.J. Liebling of the postmodern era, Steven Erlanger, who has for some reason given the Times his Yelp review of a disappointing holiday spot in the um Occupied West Bank, or Samaria as the locals call it, well, some of the locals, if you know what I mean, at a "studio house" in the illegal settlement (so illegal the Israeli government has attempted to demolish it every once in a while) of Havat Gilad, booked through Aibnb for just $111 a night, with
several rooms, sparely furnished and not completely finished, and a lot of junk outside, including empty ammunition crates used for storage. The views over the hills are of a Palestinian village, Farata, and another hilltop Israeli settlement, Ramat Gilad.
Ah, charming Farata. Did he see any of the famous olive trees, I wonder?

Bernie for saint?

Robespierre and Danton. Oil and collage by Zuka, 1988.
Charles Blow's take on the state of the Democratic campaign wonders mentions an ominous number I haven't seen before:
Iowa did see a record number of caucusgoers … for the Republican candidate. The number of Democratic caucusgoers fell significantly, and half of those went to Clinton.
As RealClearPolitics reported:
“The trend line is positive for Republicans (turnout up 54 percent from 2012) and negative for Democrats (turnout was down 22 percent from 2008).”
It's just one state, and a pretty peculiar one at that, but if it does indicate anything it doesn't look good for the political revolution, or the "half a revolution" Clinton proposes either. I wonder, too—given the evidence, such as it is, that negative campaigning may tend to discourage Democratic turnout in particular—if the increasing nastiness of the atmosphere, between the "Bernie bros", to whatever extent they exist, and Gloria Steinem, might be making things worse. It's certainly having a dispiriting effect on me. When I see old Bill Clinton out slinging poison as we do this morning

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cheap shots: Ted Cruz faces his kidnapped member

Not really, it's mostly about Rubio. But the loved member was my favorite moment in the debate.

"Repetition. Repetition. Repetition." Image via La Generalista.

Talking about Rubio's "25-second speeches" put me in mind of an earworm he's been repeating in this annoying way for the past three weeks:

(1) Rubio in the January 14 debate:
She wouldn’t just be a disaster. Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Someone who cannot handle intelligence information appropriately cannot be Commander-in-Chief and someone who lies to the families of those four victims in Benghazi cannot be President of the United States.
For pity's sake, please, just one more time:

The water she's swimming in

From He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #12.
On May 9 2011, a subsidiary of the Swiss bank UBS, UBS Wealth Management Americas, held a private event at Lincoln Center in New York thought to have been devoted to the firm's newly released report, Revitalizing America: Forging a New Path Toward Economic Prosperity, which discussed the (asserted) need for "entitlement reform, regulatory streamlining, education overhaul, innovation reinvigoration and tax simplification" along lines that would require "neither a Republican nor a Democratic approach... but instead a comprehensively American one" though that agenda sounds Republican enough to me.

But the big-name speakers at the panel discussion, ex-presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, apparently didn't talk about regulatory streamlining or innovation reinvigoration, whatever those are, as much as about Osama Bin Laden, who had been killed just a week earlier. Or so CNBC was told by anonymous sources, since they couldn't get anybody to talk about it on the record.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Cheap shot: Truss Ted

Because if the Rapture turns out to be a Rupture, you're going to need Support!

So BAD it's good: Blogroll Amnesty Day 2016

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo reminds us: It's Blogroll Amnesty Day 2016!

Here are some very fine, excellent, huuuuge links—

Mad Kane, limericist

NTodd! (Dohiyi Mir)


Simply Left Behind (The Non-Rapturists' Guide to the Galaxy)

Pine View Farm

Sadly, No!!! (Re-emerging from the slough, please encourage this)

Vixen Strangely Makes Uncommon Sense

The Deep Issues, and Shopping Too

From Segundo de Chomón, La Maison Ensorcelée (1908).
Shorter David Brooks, "A Question of Moral Radicalism", New York Times, February 5 2016:
Should we be moral radicals, giving our all to others and retaining nothing for ourselves, or should we be more moral moderates, giving and taking and having a beer once in a while and stuff like that, or is there some kind of compromise between these positions? Philosophers have been discussing this kind of issue since like 1982 and they still haven't gotten to the bottom of it, is that heavy or what?
Starting off with a Readers' Digest condensation of the Roddie Edmonds Righteous Among the Nations story (leading a group captured by Wehrmacht troops, he saved Jewish soldiers by telling the captors "We're all Jewish") as told by President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, with link to the official text. Possibly Brooks trying to let us know he was invited again (went last year and gave the president high marks even in the face of disagreement from Andrea Mitchell, which goes to show what kind of courage and originality he himself possesses.)
That kind of moral heroism took place in extraordinary circumstances. But even today there are moral heroes making similar if less celebrated sacrifices than those soldiers were ready to make.
I'd like you to focus on the grammar of that sentence, with its totally unfair implication that the soldiers were only ready to make sacrifices if they were going to be fairly intensively celebrated.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Close reading: Needless Alexandrines

Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, illumination on parchment, French, late 12th century. Wikimedia Commons.
I've never noticed this before, but apparently National Review runs a poem from time to time, mostly in the monastery garden behind the broken glass–topped old stones of the paywall I suppose, but sometimes it winds up visible to the profane in The Corner, where I noticed one today. The rubric is edited by Kathryn Jean Lopez, obviously, and I like to think of her, slightly envious of us atheists and Marxists and abortion supporters with our Katha Pollitt, explicitly looking for a figure of equivalent charisma on the right, a poetess of stature but also of more decorous opinions, preferably scanning and rhyming and staying away from some of these detestable innovations that have been brought on the scene by young whippersnappers like Miss Millay and Mr. cummings, not that there's anything wrong with being modern up to a point or even a little racy once in a while, but you'll never get to "Tears, idle tears" that way, will you?

Anyway, today's offering, by Jennifer Reeser, is a part-Petrarchan sonnet in its rhyme scheme, with a half-breed octave (half Italian, abba, and half Sicilian, abab), and the totally unexpected meter of iambic hexameter (not actual wounded-snake Alexandrines, which demand a caesura after the sixth syllable, but six-footers all the same, which is a pretty limp meter in English), and the poet handles them with a good deal of confidence and adequate syllable-counting, though to my ear she lands some of the stresses in pretty awkward places. Explaining it, on the other hand, is not that easy. Imma just go ahead and lay it out with some helpful interpretive glosses.