I hope it doesn’t become too obvious that economics is not my “trump card.” But what American is sufficiently insulated from local or national economic policy to the point where he or she can ignore it? Who, in however inchoate a way, doesn’t imagine exclusively economic solutions to their own or the nation’s problems? We know darn well from the evidence that the outcome of elections are very often determined by economic factors, or whether or not a majority of the electorate is feeling economically secure or optimistic. You’ll no doubt recall that cynical, flat-footed declaration by Democrat advisor/pundit James Carville prior to Bill Clinton’s election, “it’s the economy, stupid.” And a temporarily flagging national economy probably did do in the Presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush. Continue reading “THE FORGOTTEN ENTREPRENEURS”
Does it matter that Bob Dylan wrote and sang a song in romanticized tribute to Joey Gallo, the Mafia murderer and thug? I’m just asking. I guess that was balanced out by the fact that Dylan also wrote and sang a song in defense of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the African-American boxer ruled to have been wrongfully convicted of murder after spending twenty years in prison. And, I suppose, Dylan, when writing and singing, can do no wrong, at least in this era. I’m sure another era will measure him by its standards and, if found culpable of socially dubious acts or pronouncements and if someone was foolish enough to erect a statue to him, he’ll become an enemy of the people and his statues defaced and pulled down and all his music burned. They’ll wonder how the Nobel Committee could ever have considered for their exalted prize someone who (FILL IN THE BLANK WITH ACTIONS, SUNG OR SPOKEN, DEEMED, IN DEEP RETROSPECT, TO BE OFFENSIVE TO THE PEOPLE OF THE LATE 21ST CENTURY) Continue reading “THEN THEY CAME FOR KATE SMITH….”
Say, did you hear that James Bennett, the opinion editor of the New York Times, got fired this month for publishing — an opinion?
Arkansas Republic Senator Tom Cotton, a graduate of Harvard Law School and member of the Armed Services Committee and hence identifiable as no mere slouch who wandered in from Time Square, opined on the Times’ op-ed page that the U.S. should invoke the very old and seldom invoked Insurrection Act, which empowers the president to use troops to secure order and public safety when local authorities have lost the ability to do so and are seeking federal help. His reasoning apparently was that extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. This was at a time when The Times was well aware that large sections of a dozen major American cities were being destroyed by out-of-control riotous looting and arson.
Some Times staffers went haywire, insisting Cotton’s words felt roughly as if someone were literally pointing a gun at them, exposing them to physical danger. Bennett retreated, begged for his professional life but got the proverbial bullet behind the ear anyway. Out of a job! His replacement has vowed not to publish anything that makes people uncomfortable.
Remember that it was the Marxists who came up with the phrase “politically correct.” They weren’t using it sarcastically. It was the rule.
The way things are going, we may be standing on a cold platform watching one Times editor after another board the train for the Gulag. Okay, okay….over the top! But is it far-fetched to think someday we may be handing “controversial”, which is to say Politically Incorrect, written thoughts under the table?
Meanwhile, even tonight — it’s apparently Portland’s turn — our cities are burning. And mayors are allegedly upset that the president has sent in federal agents to quell the destruction, even when it’s federal property, including a federal court house, that is being threatened. I guess they feel they don’t need any Act to handle things. Or that, if Democrats, they feel an obligation reflexively to reject anything that comes from this President.
It was the French mystic Leon Bloy who is said to have stood on Montmartre, looking out over wayward Paris and intoned for all to hear, “man left to man — that’s what I call ‘the wrath of God.’
Just past midsummer — July 20 — living for however long in a peninsula (Florida) of most intense summers, I find myself dreaming of that place where summer is just among the long multi-tonal movements in the six-movement symphony (each state being a movement) that is New England. And I’m thinking of Cape Cod, a storied sand bar in that symphony of places and seasons. We always read more into places than is really there — at least the places we have tried to like or even loved once. Florida is in that category. So is the Cape.
Now, understand that I walked today amid the subtropical beauty of a Pinellas County, Florida public park. They have many beautiful parks here and much savage raw beauty. It was very hot, but there was a breeze and I looked over a lake at a line of slash pine and there were pine and palm all around me and live oak and Spanish moss and tropical and domestic and some migratory birds calling and singing and shade and moving shadows of mountains of clouds so typical of summers here. Beautiful! I should feel at home — if I were a tropical bird. (Well, that’s a little churlish of me. And ungrateful.)
The landscape, of course, is flat — it is flat on the Cape, too. It is often flat where there is only sand and scrub pine. And it was about 92; has been 92 most days and will be close to 92 until October. One lives in air conditioning down here.
But then, I’m hearing it’s very hot up north — as hot as 98 — so when summer simmers up in extreme ways up there, down here where summer is always consistently a matter of clean 90 plus temperatures, it get’s even hotter.
But — I’m thinking of the Cape Cod of sand dunes, and cedar shingle cottages and lobster pots we hope to find when we go there, crossing over those bridges and trying not to think of cluttered, ordinary, traffic-ridden Hyannis, for instance– off we go over the steel at Bourne and Sagamore, and rumbling over the mental bridges that take us into memories. Like all places that we see on postcards, there is always the modern reality — that roadside, utility wired, squalid reality, social and topographical. As a reporter, I’ve covered murders and other terrible crimes on Cape Cod — and here in Florida.
What am I trying to say? I need to get that book called Going Home in a Homeless World.
I guess I’m just thinking many thoughts of home while I’m without a home now — and no, that I don’t have a home, really– home being ultimately more than the state, for better or rose, where I was born — and being, in many ways a state of mind. And I’m feeling lost, meaning away from anything that feels like home — struggling with a swarm of personal regrets and frustrations of the kind for which nostalgia is a temporary antidote. Temporary. But the search for peace, that painful, hopefully gainful search, must begin and may never end. We move through life like turtles, burdened. Hopeful.
I will go feed turtles now in a pond that swarms with turtles about a half mile away. A pond that is “home” to turtles. And in the old-man face of the youngest turtle looking for a pellet of food — a small turtle on whom that shell sometimes seems like a freakish misfortune and burden to be carried for life and from which the creature within might long to be freed if they only knew it — I will try to forget this unhappy moment, this angry moment that I, frankly, am having trouble truly articulating. I’ll go see the turtles…. I’ll feed them.
The editors of the Associated Press Stylebook announced on Twitter that they will no longer use the “archaic and sexist” term “mistress.” They now recommend as alternatives, “companion” or “friend” or “lover.” The reason, if you consider this “reasonable” is: “mistress” isn’t “gender neutral” I guess that’s in case your husband is stepping out with a guy. You don’t want the poor guy to be offended. Second reason: “mistress” supposedly places the blame on the woman rather than the man. Well, okay. I don’t see it, but I also wouldn’t want to see the woman taking the blame. But then, the “person” your wife/husband is cheating with — given that your husband or wife pledged to be faithful to you forever — plainly must be aware they are aiding and abetting that breach of faith.
But let’s face it: “friend” or “companion” do not imply, in my style book, the sacred and intimate sexual violation that the supposedly archaic word “mistress” seems to carry with it — dating back, as it does, to those times when the sharing of the sexual bond was unalterably understood to be, yes, sacred and exclusive (under penalty of sin, if not civil law). Call me old fashioned, I guess.
As for “lover” — who’s to say there’s any love involved? Maybe it’s all about money. You know — “sugar daddy” — or, lest I be sexist — “sugar mommy.” In fact, the AP Stylebook had stipulated that “mistress” should apply only to those instances where there is a long-term sexual relationship with a married man from whom the woman is receiving financial support. That sounds right.
To me, there is something appropriately odious about the word — “mistress.” But…friends, companions, lovers, countrymen…and countrypersons….let’s just quit the hanky-panky, okay? (Now there’s a phrase you probably won’t find in the AP Stylebook.)
And by the way, what happens when you change the headline BEZOS PROBE CONCLUDES MISTRESS’ BROTHER WAS ENQUIRER SOURCE to COMPANION’S BROTHER WAS ENQUIRER SOURCE. In the former, as I read it, you instantly detect a possibly malicious intent; in the latter — well, some “companion” at the party just let it slip. We all know companions — and friends — can’t keep secrets. Lovers — maybe.
Whatever. There must be something else I can waste my time writing about tonight, since, pace the poet Marvell, I do have “world enough, and time….”
If there were no eternal conciousness in man, if at the foundation of all there lay only a wildly seething power which, writhing with obscure passion produces everything that is great and everything that is insignificant…what then would life be but despair?
–Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him?
–Alexander Solzhenitsyn – Harvard Commencement Address, June 8, 1978
What is man that the electron should be mindful of him! Man is but a foundling in the cosmos, abandoned by the forces that created him. Unparented, unassisted and undireced by omniscient or benevolent authority, he must fend for himself, and with the aid of his own limited intelligence find his way about in an indifferent universe.
Carl Becker, describing a radical humanist point of view in The Heavenly City
But what am I?
An infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light
And with no language but a cry.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam”
“Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man’s life and society’s activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?
If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.
This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but — upward.”
–“A World Split Apart”
from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Commencement Address, June 8, 1978
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”
–William Butler Yeats