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September 30, 2011


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Paula B

Sir C, if it were not for a two-week vacation, I'd be in that slump with you, wallowing around in blogger's muck. Just look at all the craziness we've been subjected to over the past few months! Throw in the recession, loss of jobs, bad weather, the deterioration of the Red Sox, and you wonder where or how anyone could find hope today. Certainly not in the news! When the best thing you can point to is the capture or assassination of terrorists, you know the ground beneath us has shifted.
On a related note -- now that I am back on my own computer and not trying to peck out misspellings on a clunky Kindle keyboard -- I'd like refer to an earlier post by Joe S in which he says Obama is all but finished. If this week's ball games taught us nothing else, we should understand fully how counterproductive it is to predict a winner until very late in the game.
PS---I didn't see this open-thread post until after I inappropriately commented on the Amazon story. Please forgive, l-t-c.


I like to point out to people that the line, "May you live in interesting times," is an old Chinese curse. Unfortunately these times are indeed interesting.

I'm home from work with a virus that is messing up my voice (hard to do my job when I can't talk), so I'm going to spend my afternoon with the first round of playoff games.


The times have been interesting since Bush v. Gore.


Here's Leon Wieseltier on Douthat's 'words' on the death penalty.

Sir C -- As to a unified theory on the meaning of all this, I think that much of how all this hangs together depends on our ability to be abstract at a safe remove. Douthat's thoughts are reflective of that, certainly. Seems the theme that runs both directions. When I give people the back of the hand using a phrase like "low-information voter," I'm not helping out much either.

Oddjob. Agreed. Remember knowing what we were in for immediately? I read somewhere yesterday about how Diebold machines can be interfered with at the voting booth.

Sir Charles


I couldn't read the whole Wieseltier piece as a non-subscriber, but it was off to a promising start. Douthat is a shameless charlatan and sophist. I liked this comment by GeoffG very much:

"For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

Then Ross appeared. "But Lord, if I took you in when you were hungry, it would be a moral evasion. I'd be so proud of myself for feeding you, I'd forget all about the bigger picture of what causes hunger in the first place, like tariffs and agricultural price supports and misguided environmental policies that might someday be enacted. Not to mention, if I just gave you food, you'd never learn to fend for yourself. Believe me, you'd be worse off if all you had to do was stick your hand out to get fed.

And you're making the exact same mistake when you ask me - virtuous, hard-working, God-fearing me - to give you clothes, water or shelter. Sheesh - we can't possibly solve all the world's problems by taking care of them one at a time. Someday, there will be fresh water, clothes and decent housing for everyone, but until then, it's wrong to help individuals in need. Really, it's for their own good.

That bit about being sick and in prison really grates. You know I'm all about criminal justice reform. I have been willing to devote dozens of words to vague hand-waving about what reformers should be focusing on instead of wrongful executions. Just listen: 'Criminal justice reformers should point out that too often our punishments don’t fit the crime — that sentences for many drug crimes are disproportionate to the offenses, for instance, or that rape and sexual assault have become an implicit part of many prison terms.' Now, I know that many criminal justice reformers have devoted their lives to making precisely these arguments, and that they are attacked by conservatives for making them - a standard attack line is that reformers have more sympathy for criminals than for their victims. Still, if reformers just keep making the argument, at some point conservatives will tire of the demagoguery and fully embrace a humane justice system. No one will welcome that day more than me, Lord. But, until then, you need to learn the virtue of patience, and stop worrying so much about yourself that you miss the bigger picture."



Very funny pic.


Sorry about the TNR paywall -- I did test before posting and thought the site had allowed the link. Seems a fruitless business model, that. I did notice that while I thought they'd ridded themselves of Peretz, he's still "Publisher Emeritus" or some such. His odious presence is still hovering.

re bbw's link. That's a howler. Don't leave quickly though. If you scroll to the bottom you can treat yourself to Groucho and Jack Benny, together circa 1955. I always pause for either of these two -- had never seen them together. :-))


The Wall Street demonstrations seem to be getting the usual lack of respect from our media. Peaceful silly theatrical liberals...pffft. Personally I'd say the street demos are surprisingly overdue but welcome. Sullivan's readers are responding and I give the nod to reader number three. Spotting Cornel West is rarely a good thing. Media will show up for the first thrown rock. Until then, nada.

Oddjob -- Warren Buffett and Elizabeth Warren are giving me some hope. "...my class won". That's the refrain in a nutshell for sure.

Sir Charles


It took me a minute to realize that the site that bbw had linked to belonged to a once beloved DJ from Boston from back in our youth. He was just an extraordinarily funny guy who also played great music. I remember almost spitting out my morning coffee one day when he was playing a quiz game with his listeners and characterized a questions as the "John Silber swimming in circles consolation question" -- Silber, the highly controverisal president of Boston University and later unsuccessful candidate for governor of Massachusetts had but one arm.

Peretz is even more repugnant than Silber -- I actually read one of his screeds a week or two ago and could only conclude that the man is mentally hill. Such amazing hatred and bitterness for a guy who has had such a charmed life.

I wish the Wall Street protest was a little more connected to an immediate event -- it seems slightly abstract. Although if they take Jaime Diamond out and hang him from a lamp post I might get on board.



omg "swimming in circles consolation question." lol in spite of myself.

re peretz. spouse and i awarded him our all-time name dropper award when he used to begin his missives with "on the flight to tel aviv with my good friend yo-yo ma, moshe safdie, itzhak perlman...yada yada...week after captive week. yeah, and then add the over-the-top hatred. inexplicable.


I like a number of TNR writers--Jon Chait (who just left), and Jon Cohn in particular--but avoid Peretz at all costs. He's just a better-educated Rush Limbaugh or Lou Dobbs. People like that are pure poison.

Paula B

Sir C---re: "difficulty feeling like I have something adequate to say at the moment. I think that we are living through momentous times -- not in a good way -- and that it is difficult right now to assess precisely what is happening"

Nance Meeker posted this Wendell Berry poem on Mature Landscaping last week. Seems like a good day to read it.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
- Wendell Berry

Sir Charles

nancy and becky,

In the 1980s I read TNR pretty religiously, which was a mixed bag -- but Peretz was horrible even then -- and just racist as crap. His name dropping was unbelievable -- I thought he got free airline coupons for bringing Yo Yo Ma with him or something.



I am troubled, of course, by what's going on, but more than that I am trying to figure out intellectually some overall critique and approach to what is happening here. It seems to me that existing approaches are not adequate to the magnitude of what is happening.


Paula--I've always liked that poem, thank you.


Van Jones (yes, that Van Jones) discusses his opinion of the import of the Wall Street demonstrations. James Fallows has stayed with the story as well, noting the NYPD angle and how it's gained attention because it was caught on camera and the middle-class composition of the crowd. The presence of a camera was apparently an actual provocation. And SirC, the point might seem too broad-brush, but I'm happy to see political action from the left again. Obviously we're looking at needing to stay in practice.

Now having learned that corporations are citizens too, I suggest the occupiers start demanding to see some birth certificates. :-)

Sir Charles

That pepper spray incident made my blood boil.

As do police attacks on people videotaping them.

These assholes should be sued until they've got nothing left.

I think on balance that the Wall Street stuff is positive -- I think its aims are a bit amorphous for my taste, but I, too, like the idea of people taking it to the streets a little bit.

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