"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
"No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumph of war."
This line from TR's Speech to the Naval War College in 1897 tops my list of Quotes I'd Like to See Posted to the Outdoor Message Board of the Quaint Local Unitarian Parish But Never Will Be.
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In the NY Sun, Theodore Roosevelt Association Executive Director John Gable surveys the flourishing TR book industry. I'm currently reading I Rose Like a Rocket, which takes a particular interest in TR's formation in Albany politics, and is quite good. You do get a sense of what an odd bird he must have seemed to many of his contemporaries.
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Have come across some splendid Rough Rider sites while TR surfing:
The regiment had three mascots; the two most characteristic—a young mountain lion brought by the Arizona troops, and a war eagle brought by the New Mexicans—we had been forced to leave behind in Tampa. The third, a rather disreputable but exceedingly knowing little dog named Cuba, had accompanied us through all the vicissitudes of the campaign. The mountain lion, Josephine, possessed an infernal temper; whereas both Cuba and the eagle, which have been named in my honor, were extremely good-humored. Josephine was kept tied up. She sometimes escaped. One cool night in early September she wandered off and, entering the tent of a Third Cavalry man, got into bed with him; whereupon he fled into the darkness with yells, much more unnerved than he would have been by the arrival of any number of Spaniards. The eagle was let loose and not only walked at will up and down the company streets, but also at times flew wherever he wished. He was a young bird, having been taken out of his nest when a fledgling. Josephine hated him and was always trying to make a meal of him, especially when we endeavored to take their photographs together. The eagle, though good-natured, was an entirely competent individual and ready at any moment to beat Josephine off. Cuba was also oppressed at times by Josephine, and was of course no match for her, but was frequently able to overawe by simple decision of character.
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Rough Rider veterans pledged to meet yearly "'til none remain." In 1905 they chipped in to buy an artificial leg for a member who had lost his own in a bar fight. The last remaining Rough Rider, Jesse Langdon, died in 1975.
The Llama Butchers have birthdays covered this week. In noting C.S. Lewis' anniversary yesterday they pointed the way to a striking website devoted to the great man, Into the Wardrobe.
As The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been bedtime reading in recent days, the gallery of Pauline Baynes illustrations is particularly appreciated – as is news that the story is being made into a movie, with Tilda Swinton cast as the White Witch. (It says a great deal for the tale that it was able to overcome the beaver suits in the 1988 BBC version. Here's to special effects in the new production.)
Monday, November 29, 2004 This BlogBurst piece is cross-posted by participating websites, to commemorate a milestone in Israel's history. The list of the participating sites is appended at the end of this post.
A Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! If you're so inclined, while waiting for stuffing and squash pie, scroll down at Perfessor Bill's for a playing of "The Turkey Trot."
Today's Medford-Malden game is the 117th in the second-oldest high-school football rivalry in the country. Ed Convery recalls the old days when the Thanksgiving Day game would draw 18,000 to Medford's Fulton Street field. Onward, Mighty Mustangs!
The Library of Congress' Today in History page, always worth a daily visit, notes the Pierce anniversary along with that of the Battle of Chattanooga. (Not noted, remarkably: the most celebrated of Hail Mary passes.)
Granite State revelers: Hear "The Old Man of the Mountain" performed by the Mills Brothers.
UPDATE: Robert the Llama Butcher offers a Thurber connection to the Charge up Missionary Ridge. And while it has nothing to do with the Battle of Chattanooga, I would like to recommend the Thurber piece "A Friend to Alexander," about a man who dreams that Aaron Burr keeps picking fights with him at parties.
Meantime, thanks to Blimpish and to Random Jottings, both of which have been happily added to the bookmarks at left. (It's the least I could do!)
Many happy returns to the Llama Butchers, this week marking a second year of tasty bits &c. No luck finding an appropriate celebratory rendering of "The Vicuna Stomp," but Art Landry and his Call of the North Orchestra offer a feisty rendition of "The Camel Walk." (Should that be Camelid Walk?) Yip, yip, yip.
“We in this country, in this generation, are, by destiny rather than choice, the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, goodwill toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”
John F. Kennedy
Undelivered luncheon speech
Nov. 22, 1963
"After a day of candle burning we found about 20 times as much as by a busy road," Theo de Kok, the author of the study, told Reuters. "These levels were so unbelievably high we thought we should report it to the public." The air at a Maastricht basilica contained 20 times the European Union limit of PM10 particles after a simulated mass ceremony.
When St. John de Brito almost died of a childhood illness, his mother vowed he would wear a Jesuit cassock for a year if he were spared. He went on to indeed become a Jesuit missionary to India, where he went native, adopting local cultural practices in his evangelization – and where, for his efforts, a raja had him beheaded by scimitar.
St. Modesto Andlauer for example, was murdered by Chinese Boxers, his head stuck on a village gate as a warning to Christians. St. Edmund Arrowsmith was convicted of being a priest, high treason in England in 1628, and hanged, drawn and quartered. What the Cossacks did to St. Andrew Bobola is ghastly to relate.
In a review of Jonathan Wright's history of the Jesuits, God's Soldiers, Montreal Gazette editor-in-chief Peter Stockland writes:
Evangelization, under the Jesuit impulse, had the modern characteristic of being equal parts education, science, politics, newfound mobility and persecution - inexhaustible persecution.
At our tag end of the modern project, it is boilerplate to blame religious faith as a primary source of humanity's cruelty. It is sobering to be reminded, as Wright reminds readers so effectively, of the centuries of inhuman torment inflicted on Jesuit missionaries and, for a time, on the Society itself. Christianity makes for a convenient cultural scapegoat, but the Jesuit martyrs are testimony to the darkness that could be found in the pre-Christian as much as the post-Christian heart.
At least the Portuguese noblewoman who bit off Francis Xavier's fifth toe in the anecdote that opens the book had the decency to wait until he was a corpse lying on a slab in Goa. Other Jesuits, as Wright details, were not so lucky. By the hundreds, if not thousands, they were tortured, hacked, burned and butchered in all corners of the globe simply for daring to proclaim their faith in the face of local or tribal hostility.
Among the most compelling sections of God's Soldiers is Wright's account of the mistreatment of the Jesuits at the hands of their own European tribes during the suppression, and ultimate liquidation, of the Society in the mid-18th century. The account reads like a macabre prefiguring of the techniques of oppression used two decades later to such hideous effect in the French Revolution and two centuries later in the totalitarian exterminations conducted by Hitlerites, Stalinists and Maoists.
Of course, the Jesuits did rise again to soldier on, much as humanity itself has done in emerging from the previous century's death camps, gulags and killing fields.
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It is that time of year when the Catholic campus Peace 'n' Justice ® lobby dispatches its delegations to join Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon in protesting the School of the Americas and reprising the 1980s battle over US policy in Central America. An added note: This year marks the 15th anniversary of the deaths of The Jesuit Martyrs, the six slain by right-wing militia in El Salvador in 1989.
Why doesn't the Central American Peace 'n' Justice ® crowd turn its attention to totalitarian Cuba, where 26 journalists languish in prison, and where dissenters' only hope of escape is to go down to the (shark-infested) sea in rafts?
If the aim is to recall Jesuit martyrs in countries that have overcome civil strife to become democracies, why not pay tribute to the 122 Jesuits slain in the Spanish Civil War? They weren't in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, though.
Is recalling the 47 Jesuit martyrs of post-WWII Communist regimes inconvenient for the internacionalistas?
The SOA Watch site is a veritable moonbat's cornucopia.
I particularly like this Columbus Ledger-Enquirerarticle linked at the site:
Puppetistas combine art, fervor
Some faces take longer to get ready than others.
The face of "Democracy" is taking a couple of days.
That's understandable, since it's 16 feet from the top of the head to the chin.
"When finished," said David Solnit, "it's going to be the largest puppet of its kind in the world."
As he spoke Thursday, he was standing on Democracy's face applying a gallon of red paint with a long-handled roller brush.
This puppet, which will have a 20-foot arm span, is one of about 200 that will be on display Sunday at this year's SOA Watch protest procession outside the entrance of Fort Benning.
"This puppet is going to be so big, so colorful, that 10,000 people will see the image and be drawn to the message that, in a true democracy, everyone has a voice," said Abi Miller of Virginia, one of the self-proclaimed puppetistas in town for the annual event.
Fifteen people will be needed to carry Democracy down the road.
Grounding: before ritual, during action, as a daily practice so you can do it instantly. Together with breathing from the belly, it's a prime "Don't Panic!" technique. Moving while grounding. Wide attention, eye contact -- staying present.
Casting a circle: Both for making sacred space, and for protection, with variations for invisiblity, changing the energy in a rotten place (like jail).
Calling the elements: Basic familiarity with correspondences of air, fire, water and earth, calling them in in tense and difficult situations, drawing vitality and energy (even through concrete), working with the elemental powers.
Invoking the sacred/deity: Finding your personal allies and the allies for the work of the action, getting to know them, invoking under stress.
Visualization: Clarifying a ritual/action intention Developing an image/anchor to hold that intention Visualization practice__being handcuffed
Energy work: Basic energy sensing Identifying how we already do sense energy
Shifting group energy: songs, chants, story telling Building a cone of power/grounding Hands on healing
"Changing consciousness at will": Anchoring to a core state of being
Inflated/deflated self practice Speaking/acting from core
Closure and cleansing: Returning from intense states Cleansing techniques: brushdown, salt water Caring for the body/ food and drink Devoking. letting intensity go
The 121st meeting between the Ivy rivals is scheduled this Saturday at Cambridge.
Tom Lehrer's classic "Fight Fiercely, Harvard" is among the Ivy League fight songs collected here. The Harvard Band has a few clips, too, while Yale's Rochester alumni club is the place to go for "Boola Boola," the "Whiffenpoof Song," &c.
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In 1990, Sports Illustrated profiled Hamilton Fish, Harvard '10, then 101 and the last surviving member of Walter Camp's all-time All-America football team, a former Republican congressman who'd been notorious for his isolationism and fierce opposition to FDR, and a crusty old bird:
Five years ago Fish attended his 75th reunion, and as a member of the class of 1910, he confidently expected to lead the parade as the oldest alumnus present. His grandnephew J. Winthrop (Winty) Aldrich was there attending his 20th Harvard reunion, and as Aldrich says, "The scene that followed was vintage Ham Fish. He came upon an infirm, sickly old man clutching a walker and a sign that said 1906. Brandishing his cane at the man with the walker, Uncle Ham shouted, `That man is an imposter! He was behind me!' " It turned out that the man was indeed a member of the class of 1906, but it also proved that trying to upstage Fish is a daunting task for anyone.
William F. Buckley conveyed a similar sense of the Fish cantankerousness.
George Plimpton once asked the old Harvard All-American how he thought football had changed over the years. "Son," he said, "football's never been the same since they changed the shape of the ball."
Fish is remembered as an archconservativeisolationist, but he began his political life as a Progressive, elected to the New York Assembly in 1912 as a member of the Bull Moose Party.
In combat in France with the 369th, Fish won the Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action.
In 1977, filmmaker William Miles used long-forgotten footage to make a movie, Men of Bronze, about the 369th. Fish and Ham III attended the premiere together at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. "We sat up in a box with other members of the cast, separated from the rest of the audience in the theater," Ham III recalls. "It was a remarkable and moving film. When the lights went on afterward, the 2,000 people in the audience, many of them liberals from the Upper West Side, turned and looked up at my grandfather and gave him a standing ovation."
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Harvard Stadium Images:
From the Boston Public Library collection: Colonnade, circa 1950 * Ivied North Gate, 1949 * Cheering crowd, 1952 * Throngs cross bridge to stadium for Harvard-Yale game, 1946 * The Game, 1914 * Crowd crossing Charles to stadium for Harvard-Yale Game, before 1925.
Meantime, Erik Keilholtz is on about yodeling, while planning his "anti-Thanksgiving menu…intended as an alternative to celebrating the arrival and survival of the pestilence of Puritanism on these shores."
And New Orleans cemetery images posted by TS O'Rama include a classic mourning angel.
Did you know Thomas Jefferson asked Lewis & Clark to scour the West for mastodons? It was felt the great beasts would demonstrate the extraordinariness of New World fauna to the snooty French.
Historian Paul Semonin describes how the mastodon, or American incognitum, became a symbol of national identity. (The Great American Incognitum is my idea of a national symbol. Would make a pretty good name for a blog, too.)
The Beyond Red & Blue analysis of the 2004 vote shows Appalachia has become the most Republican region in the country, particularly interesting in light of a recent piece on the enduring impact of the Scots Irish on American politics and culture.
Meantime, a remarkable piece at the Chronicle of Higher Ed on the leftish groupthink that prevails in academia explains why the recent election results caused spilled lattes in faculty lounges from Brunswick to Palo Alto.
The first protocol of academic society might be called the Common Assumption. The assumption is that all the strangers in the room at professional gatherings are liberals. Liberalism at humanities meetings serves the same purpose that scientific method does at science assemblies. It provides a base of accord. The Assumption proves correct often enough for it to join other forms of trust that enable collegial events. A fellowship is intimated, and members may speak their minds without worrying about justifying basic beliefs or curbing emotions.
The Common Assumption usually pans out and passes unnoticed -- except for those who don't share it, to whom it is an overt fact of professional life. Yet usually even they remain quiet in the face of the Common Assumption. There is no joy in breaking up fellow feeling, and the awkward pause that accompanies the moment when someone comes out of the conservative closet marks a quarantine that only the institutionally secure are willing to endure.
Writer Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory who by now probably has been crossed off the Lacanian Society invite list (not necessarily a bad thing), closes with a sensible recommendation:
There are no administrative or professional reasons to bring conservatism into academe, to be sure, but there are good intellectual and social reasons for doing so.
Those reasons are, in brief: One, a wider spectrum of opinion accords with the claims of diversity. Two, facing real antagonists strengthens one's own position. Three, to earn a public role in American society, professors must engage the full range of public opinion.
Finally, to create a livelier climate on the campus, professors must end the routine setups that pass for dialogue. Panels on issues like Iraq, racism, imperialism, and terrorism that stack the dais provide lots of passion, but little excitement. Syllabi that include the same roster of voices make learning ever more desultory. Add a few rightists, and the debate picks up. Perhaps that is the most persuasive internal case for infusing conservatism into academic discourse and activities. Without genuine dissent in the classroom and the committee room, academic life is simply boring.
We beg rock-ribbed Manhattan correspondent Steve M's forbearance for an Armistice Day tribute to Capt. Harry Truman, who served with courage in France, and later, as president.
At a time when it's possible to drive from Virginia Beach to the Pacific without passing through a blue state, the Democrats would do well to reacquaint themselves with Harry Truman, the Common Man personified, who didn't belittle the farmers and shopkeepers of small-town America, but was belittled because he was one of them, and whose America rebuilt postwar Western Europe and stood for the free world against totalitarian aggression.
One wonders how many of today's Democratic Party leaders might say, as Truman did, in announcing the Truman Doctrine: "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressure."
One wonders how many of today's Democratic politicians would end a talk to Congress as Truman did his first: "I humbly pray God in the words of King Solomon, 'Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?'"
Or would end a message to the United Nations as Truman did his first: "May He lead our steps in His own righteous path of peace."
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What currently prevails in the Democratic Party isn't the spirit of Truman but of Henry Wallace, who ran against Truman in 1948 as the proto-Peace 'n' Justice ® candidate of the Progressive Party.
Henry Wallace was a unique character in American political history, whose inventiveness in agricultural science was remarkable, but whose visionary tendencies in politics led him to be an outright dupe of Stalin, whose banjo-picking fellow-travelers in this country ran the Progressive Party as an extension of the Popular Front.
A favorable review of a recent sympathetic biography of Iowa's most famous political son by former US Sen. John Culver and former Des Moines Register reporter John Hyde duly notes Wallace's "endearingly kooky" taste in the New Age spirituality of the day.
A lifelong fascination with mysticism and the occult appears to have made him an easy mark for charlatans, among them a faux-Indian medicine man and opera composer named Charles Roos, who was given to addressing Wallace as “Poo-Yaw” and “Chief Cornplanter.” Wallace considered Roos a soul-mate. In the 1930s the two men purchased a tract of land together near Taylor Falls, Minnesota intended for spiritual retreats where they could, in Wallace’s words, “find the religious key note of the new age.” More politically damaging was his friendship and correspondence with an expatriate Russian artist and “guru”—complete with bald head and Fu Manchu mustache—named Nicholas Roerich. Wallace eventually gave Roerich a Department of Agriculture expense account and sent him on a $75,000 expedition to Central Asia in search of drought resistant grasses. The raucous story of Roerich’s fleecing of Wallace and the U.S. government is straight out of a Preston Sturges comedy and is one of the many highlights of American Dreamer. Regrettably for Wallace, a cache of the nutty letters he penned to Roerich was made public and unquestionably tarnished his reputation. Critic Dwight Macdonald famously dismissed Wallace as a “corn-fed mystic” during the 1948 Presidential campaign.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr's review of the book for the LA Times is titled, "Who Was Henry A. Wallace? The Story of a Perplexing and Indomitably Naive Public Servant."
Schlesinger recalls the split in the American Left at the time of the '48 campaign:
The onset of the Cold War had divided American liberals. Most New Dealers believed that liberalism and communism had nothing in common, either as to means or as to ends, and joined Americans for Democratic Action, a new liberal organization that excluded Communists. On the other hand, the Progressive Party represented the last hurrah of the Popular Front of the 1930s. As the radical journalist I.F. Stone wrote in 1950, "The Communists have been the dominant influence in the Progressive Party. . . . If it had not been for the Communists, there would have been no Progressive Party."
Wallace, in a messianic mood, saw himself as the designated savior of the republic. Naively oblivious to the Communist role in his campaign, he roundly attacked the Marshall Plan, blamed Truman for Stalin's takeover of Czechoslovakia and predicted that Truman's "bipartisan reactionary war policy" would end with American soldiers "lying in their Arctic suits in the Russian snow." The United States, Wallace said, was heading into fascism: "We recognize Hitlerite methods when we see them in our own land." He became in effect a Soviet apologist...
In their sympathy for their subject, Culver and Hyde do not do justice to the principled objections American liberals had to Wallace's alliance with the Communists. Eleanor Roosevelt herself led the repudiation of Wallace in column after column…
Culver and Hyde do not quite defend the Wallace of 1948, but they let him down more easily than he deserves. In the end, he came in fourth, behind even the Dixiecrat candidate, Gov. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
* * *
It says here the Dems would do well to nominate another Harry Truman. But you get the sense the party, as currently constituted, would sooner support a Henry Wallace – especially if he were from Iowa.
Spirituality for Dummies? Read the first three lines of the letter the new Episcopal Bishop of Arizona recently sent out to the diocese:
My first Convention as your new bishop has come and gone. In spite of my initial nervousness chairing such a gathering (I didn't let the Parliamentarian get too far from my side), I enjoyed myself immensely. I especially enjoyed having the chance to introduce my ventriloquial puppet Dexter to all of you…
It would take an encyclopedia to catalog all of the evil Arafat committed. But that is no excuse for not trying to recall at least some of it.
Perhaps his signal contribution to the practice of political terror was the introduction of warfare against children. On one black date in May 1974, three PLO terrorists slipped from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Ma'alot. They murdered two parents and a child whom they found at home, then seized a local school, taking more than 100 boys and girls hostage and threatening to kill them unless a number of imprisoned terrorists were released. When Israeli troops attempted a rescue, the terrorists exploded hand grenades and opened fire on the students. By the time the horror ended, 25 people were dead; 21 of them were children.
Thirty years later, no one speaks of Ma'alot anymore. The dead children have been forgotten. Everyone knows Arafat's name, but who ever recalls the names of his victims?
So let us recall them: Ilana Turgeman. Rachel Aputa. Yocheved Mazoz. Sarah Ben-Shim'on. Yona Sabag. Yafa Cohen. Shoshana Cohen. Michal Sitrok. Malka Amrosy. Aviva Saada. Yocheved Diyi. Yaakov Levi. Yaakov Kabla. Rina Cohen. Ilana Ne'eman. Sarah Madar. Tamar Dahan. Sarah Soper. Lili Morad. David Madar. Yehudit Madar. The 21 dead children of Ma'alot -- 21 of the thousands of who died at Arafat's command.
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Nov. 06, 2004) -- Amid the thunder of artillery and weapons fire, pipers are heard around Camp Fallujah blaring melodies from their age-old Celtic instruments.
Every day Lt. Col. Paul Sweeney, judge advocate lawyer, and Sgt. Steven Ammer, motor transportation specialist, hone their piping skills, unknowingly raising spirits as their tunes float on the wind to fellow Marines throughout the base.
But Ammer and Sweeney aren’t the first Marines to pick up the bagpipes to play in a war zone. Several Marine pipers played during the bloody Battle of Peleliu. A Marine lieutenant was observed piping his amphibian tractor ashore on Iwo Jima. In Korea, Sgt. F.H. "Timmy" Killeen piped for his company of the 7th Marines during the numerous Inchon-Seoul night firefights.
John Cahill has more on Black Watch piping at Fallujah (Nov. 9). The Innkeeper also likely will appreciate this account of Her Majesty the Queen learning the answer to the age-old question about Highlanders and their kilts.
Some of my parents' good friends were men from Boston who served with the Marines in the South Pacific before coming back home to lead their lives and raise their families. There were passing, matter-of-fact mentions of what that service had entailed – flamethrowers and no Japanese prisoners taken – but growing up at a time when it was just a given that everyone's father had served during World War II or Korea, I never appreciated what many of those men had gone through.
Belmont Club has been providing perspective on the battle, which as a showcase of the latest in modern warfare does sound like a horribly lethal video game.
Writes Wretchard: All over Fallujah virtual teams of snipers and fire-control observers are jockeying for lines of sight to deal death to the enemy. For many jihadis that one peek over a sill could be their last.
A techno-rave staged to attract young people back to church drew thousands to the Cathedral at Metz in France. The French news program 20 Heures has astounding footage of the spectacle. Scroll and click on the segment (fourth from the bottom) headlined "L'église catholique recrute sur un air de techno." Quite a go-go dancer they had.
According to this account, translated here in English, two DJs were invited by a Franciscan youth ministry to "make the vaults of the building – built between the 13th and 15th centuries and known for its Chagall stained glass – resound to the sound of 'house' music." Photos here.
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Is he drunk? Or is the celebrant in this Gospel Procession video clip simply carried away with a Fiddler On the Roof-meets-Arthur Murray spirit? He also employs the dervish routine, this time with naked baby, in the accompanying baptism clip. (Via Andrew Cusack)
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Will the Polka Mass play in Peoria? It did, and very nicely, apparently, until the recent retirement of the Polka Mass Choir.
National Review editors hope staunchly anti-abortion Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) of the Senate Judiciary Committee can be convinced to lead a Stop Specter move, and suggest readers encourage the Ohio senator by e-mail. (Via SomeGuy)
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Macaulay, Burke, Lord Curzon, Wolfe Tone: Just a few of the famous personages enshrined in the Cigar Band Museum.
Head-punched, ready to light, and now only five cents: That's the appeal of the Edmund Burke brand in this gallery of cigar box labels.
These snoozing baby jaguars were snapped at the zoo this weekend. Inspired by El Tigre of the Americas, here's a version of what has become the site theme, "Tiger Rag," played by Bix Beiderbecke. For more, try the Jack Hylton gallery, right under "Tid-dle-id-dle-um-pum!"
Which brings us to Bertie Wooster: A new biography of P. G. Wodehouse is reviewed in the Atlantic Monthly by Christopher Hitchens, who's clearly an admirer but not a hagiographer:
Indeed, if anything could ever put one off being a Wodehouse fan, it would be the somewhat cultish element among his admirers and biographers. Such people have a tendency to allude to him as "The Master." They publish monographs about the exact geographical location of Blandings Castle, or the Drones Club. They hold dinners at which breadstuffs are thrown. Their English branch publishes the quarterly Wooster Sauce, and their American branch publishes the quarterly Plum Lines: two painfully unfunny titles. They materialize, in other words, Evelyn Waugh's view that Wodehouse created a delightful, self-contained world of his own. The only modern comparison I can think of is to the sterner "Irregulars" who have their shrine at 221b Baker Street.
Robert McCrum is by no means immune from the lure of all this, but his biography has a tendency to let in daylight upon the magic. Wodehouse was a rather beefy, hearty chap, with a lifelong interest in the sporting subculture of the English boarding school and a highly developed instinct for the main chance. He had no sex life or love life worth recording, and seemed to reserve his affections primarily for animals. He was so self-absorbed that he was duped into collaboration with the Nazis and had to plead the "bloody fool" defense. His subsequently wrecked reputation was redeemed only by an almost manic focus on work, and by an insistence on reproducing a lost and dreamy world of English innocence.
Hitchens provides some illustrative snippets of the Wodehouse style:
Simile and metaphor provide so much of the energy of Wodehouse's narration: "He writhed like an electric fan"; "He wilted like a salted snail"; "Ice formed on the butler's upper slopes"; "There came a sound like that of Mr. G. K. Chesterton falling onto a sheet of tin"; "He looked like a sheep with a secret sorrow"; "A lifetime of lunches had caused his chest to slip down to the mezzanine floor"; "Aunt calling to aunt, like mastodons bellowing across the primeval swamp."
A man who wore a tie that went twice round the neck was sure, sooner or later, to inflict some hideous insult on helpless womanhood. Add tortoiseshell-rimmed glasses, and you had what practically amounted to a fiend in human shape.
She looked at me like someone who has just solved the crossword puzzle with a shrewd ``Emu'' in the top right hand corner.
It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.
I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanour was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down express on the small of the back.
Roderick Spode? Big chap with a small moustache and the sort of eye that can open an oyster at sixty paces?
I didn't intend to get off on the tangent of religion. I'm not particularly religious myself, after all. Nevertheless, I think the great irony of this election is that for all the talk of how the bigoted Right won, the Left's loss has sparked far more bigotry. Their clever trick is to defend their hatred of the religious by calling it a hatred of bigotry itself — a rationalization no liberal would tolerate from any other kind of bigot.
This cartoon by Edward Windsor Kemble ran in Harper's Weekly after Big Bill Taft's victory in 1908. I've been on an E. W. Kemble kick this week since coming across his political illustrations at the HarpWeek 1908 election site.
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Lo, the moonbats do bark. Jane Smiley's piece in Slate on "Why America Hates Democrats" offers itself as Exhibit A.
Jonah Goldberg is succinct: If you've been waiting for one writer to combine all of the sandpounding stupidity and visceral hatred of the left's reaction to "red America" this may be what you're looking for.
Writes Wretchard at Belmont Club:In this account, the bulk of Ms. Smiley's enemies consist of a single, undifferentiated mass of red staters with the bestial appetites and intelligence of retarded slugs.
For me the best part of Smiley's effort is when she denounces the Gadarene swine ... er ... Red State Voters…for their Manichean worldview, while at the same time insisting that the nation has been divided into the Land of Light and the Domain of Darkness.
The irony of that comes pretty close to exceeding my Required Daily Allowance of irony, frankly.
The Dems would do much better to heed the Backseat Philosopher, who offers exceedingly sane advice to his party:
Our error is that we Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. "Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that." "Republicans who never served in war are hypocrites to send young men to die. " "Republicans are homophobes, probably because they can't deal with their secret desires." Anything but actually listening and responding to the arguments being made.
The essay is outstanding, and – worth noting – the blogger's first, meaning the Backseat Philosopher not only is sage, but batting .1000 on Instalanches.
Her grandfather described her as "the most beautiful flower in our world, cut from us."
Her mother said:
"She was a delightful girl, beautiful with blonde hair. She was very intelligent; so much so, that sometimes I could not understand what she wanted, because she made so many explanations. Her kindergarten teacher told me she contributes so much. I think they [the kindergarten class] will be very sad.
"I'm crying enough tears to fill an ocean."
As Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat readies for his eternal, and one expects, just, reward, it is only fitting to remember this child and so many others lost to his hateful cause.
Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night, notes Thos Fitzpatrick, who is mounting a Pope's Day defense of Pickering Wharf.
Mark the day by occasion by lighting a bonfire and sending a Gunpowder Plot e-card, but remember to be considerate toward the firemen and the horses.
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Go Nats: The Washington NL baseball team reportedly will call itself the Nationals, the George Will- and Irish Elk-preferred nickname, and it says here, a good choice. The "Nationals" was long a primary name of the old AL team, as you can see on the Washington cards in this classic 1955 Topps set, and makes even more sense for a National League team.
Happy Days Are Here Again: Manhattan correspondent Steve M. watched the results come in Tuesday night with the New Criterion crowd at Fitz's, and files this report:
The mood at Fitz's went from caution to jubilation as Election Night progressed. The New Criterion folks had the media alignment established perfectly from the start: One big TV stayed on Fox all night. In the first few hours a second TV was allocated the task of telling us what the non-loony Left was thinking--via NBC's coverage of the returns. High fives and demands for another round were therefore available twice for each victory--once on Fox, and, after an interval that was perfect for our pace of consumption, then following a confirmation from a reluctant, but rational, NBC.
Three members of the NYPD stationed themselves right outside on the corner of Second Avenue and 85th Street. Looking in the window, they would give a "What happened?" hand gesture each time the crowd erupted. One of us would then run out and report, and we quickly learned that the NYPD was silently pulling for Bush. When the police asked why there no Kerry supporters in a bar so deeply imbedded behind enemy lines, I explained "We threw out all the Kerry supporters and shoved them towards the bar across the street." Realizing that this sounded like a possible felony, I quickly added--"We did it gently." That got a quick NYPD blessing: "Go ahead and throw them out!"
When Ohio was called by Fox, Dawn ("Special Projects") Steeves set up a line of red, white and blue shots. (With the NYPD hovering, this was a wise replacement for her original promise of a burning French flag.) James Panero, Stefan Beck and a still thirsty host of supporters promptly made the shots vanish along with Michael Moore's hopes for a better America.
Just for a few final laughs, we did switch a TV from NBC to CBS after NBC called Ohio for Bush. Dan Rather looked grim, and it was most amusing to listen to him attempt to construct a scenario for a Kerry victory without adding France or North Korea as the 51st state. The Electoral College does not meet for another six weeks or so--perhaps CBS can find a long lost amendment to the Constitution. Perhaps one that says George Soros gets to decide.
Here is TBogg, a blogger on the Left who averages more than 7,300 visits a day, and who was not pleased with Tuesday's election results:
Four more years of scientific decisions being made by people who believe in a ghost in the clouds.
Four more years of debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off.
Four more years of racists and lunatics for judicial appointments.
Four more years of looting the treasury and squandering it on corporate cronies.
Four more years of making enemies faster than we can kill them.
Four more years of fear and darkness and racism and hatred and stupidity and guns and bad country music.
I look at the big map and all of the red in flyover country and I feel like I've been locked in a room with the slow learners. We have become the country that pulls a dry cleaning bag over its head to play astronaut.
James Wolcott nails it with a sledgehammer:
"Good, Go Ahead, America, Choke on Your Own Vomit, You Deserve to Die."
This condescending jackass may not speak for everyone on the Left, but he reflects a tendency that has become far too prevalent in the Democratic Party of Michael Moore, and which the supposed Party of the Common Man should shake unless it really wants to consign itself permanently to minority status.
Seething contempt for those who disagree with you - in this case, a majority of American voters - is not liberal but profoundly illiberal.
It is not tolerant but profoundly intolerant.
It is not democratic but profoundly un-democratic.
It indicates not sympathy but profound dislike for the masses of common folk.
And it says more about the purveyor than about the supposed fools being dismissed.
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This election could be one of the best things that ever happened to the Democratic Party, if the party accepts the need to remake itself. I still think a great many - perhaps most - Americans would be inclined to vote Democratic if the party presented centrist candidates who looked out for the little guy while respecting the little guy's faith and values; who championed the small and local and colorful in the face of the corporate juggernaut; who challenged citizens to sacrifice as well as to do great things, and who advanced a positive vision of America as a force for good in the world.
The Wall Street Journal writes today in an editorial titled "The Moral Minority":
[L]et's be candid with our Democratic friends: On Tuesday, a majority of the American electorate took a look at their party and asked, "Who are these people?" Who are George Soros, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, Susan Sontag, Teresa Heinz Kerry and all these other self-anointed spokespersons for everything good and true? And what does a party that is dominated by a loose coalition of the coastal intelligentsia, billionaires with too much spare time, the trial lawyers' association, the Hollywood Actors' Guild, rock stars and unionized labor have in common with what's quaintly known as Middle America? The majority's answers were (a) not us; and (b) not a whole lot.
This is a Democratic Party in which nostalgia for tradition is too often considered racism, opposition to gay marriage is bigotry, misgiving about abortion is misogyny, Christian fundamentalism is like Islamic fundamentalism, discussion about gender roles is sexism, and confidence in America's global purpose is cultural imperialism. To put it mildly,
this is not the values system to which most Americans adhere.
Now, however, Democrats have an opportunity to reassess their attitudes. With luck, the election will finally have shattered the myth that Mr. Bush is a "selected," democratically illegitimate president. Democrats may also take the lesson that a political strategy which invites Americans to share in their contempt for the President's intelligence, moral values and religious beliefs -- basically, the Al Gore sighing technique writ large -- is not a winner. That's especially true when the President's intelligence, values and beliefs roughly coincide with those of middle Americans.
Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief...the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America.
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At The Poor Man, the suggestion that the Democratic Party must shift rightward to compete nationally leads one commenter to respond:
No. As Truman said, "If you give people a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they'll choose the Republican".
The thing is, this is not Harry Truman's Democratic Party: the Left that has steered the party since '72 is, if anything, heir to the tradition of the banjo-Bolshevik Pete Seeger-Paul Robeson Henry Wallace Progressives who ran against Harry Truman in '48.
Harry Truman would never have let Michael Moore sit in the presidential box.
Meantime, re the dying -- or perhaps already dead - murderous rag-head, Jonah Goldberg:
THE ARAFAT EXCEPTION
I am generally sympathetic to the notion that you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. The recently dead, that is. I don't think there's anything wrong with speaking ill of the long dead. Woodrow Wilson was a terrible man, for example. But when political opponents go, the temptation is to score points. Most liberals behaved admirably when Ronald Reagan passed away and I would like to think that conservatives would do the same when various stars of the liberal pantheon depart.
But all that goes out the window with murderers and terrorists. This tradition is predicated on the assumption that ones opponents are not ones enemies. A political opponent shares a bedrock faith in political norms and (small L) liberal rules.
None of this applies to Yasser Arafat in my opinion. He's a bad man who's been terrible for his people and if there's any justice, when he dies he will receive 72 virgins who look exactly like him.
Claudia Rosett sent me a note saying: "If he's dead, how fitting that he died in France."
To which I responded: Yes, but how ironic that he dies in bed.
She rejoined: "Or maybe how perfectly hypocritical and corrupt, to the very end.
"Symbolically, it's sort of hideously beautiful. It would have delighted Balzac. A killer billionaire dies in a Paris bed ...having abandoned in his final hours the nest he fouled so thoroughly that he himself, in his final hours, instead of choosing to die in the place he said he'd give his life for, went off to France to croak in comfort."
I hope the Democratic party goes to the woodshed and reinvents itself. They must…They must open the doors and windows of the woodshed and let out the dust and damp, and breathe new life into their party. We would be a stronger nation for it. The GOP has control of all branches of government. That's a mandate to the Democrats to get their heads out of the pot smoke of the Sixties and get serious.
Now, in a new era of national security crisis, Democrats face a choice: Pray for a new Republican scandal (or try again to engineer one), or become credible on national security; follow the lead of Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rep. Jim Marshall rather than Howard Dean, Michael Moore and George Soros.
I sincerely hope Democrats pursue the second alternative.