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So boy get running, It's the best years of your life they want to steal

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In less happy times- notably, the day after the 2004 election, I was fond of quoting Greil Marcus at some length:
 
In Berkeley in the mid-1960s, I used to marvel at the way friends made the world anew each day by cartwheeling down the street, moment to moment exchanging Trotskyism for anarchism for Stalinism for the occult for drugs for religion while Professors who in the 1930s were Communists and were now Freudians explained it all. In every case there was a received answer to every question, which meant that there were no questions. Everything seemed possible, and the prospect was terrifying-- so "nothing is true", one basis for "everything is possible", was exchanged for one Truth, whatever it was. Everything was present save a critical spirit, which might have made real the great adventure in doubt that, as Descartes described it, lay behind his "Cogito, ergo sum": his dead slogan. No doubt the mad multiplication of choice by which "the sixties" are known led straight to a surrender of choice in the next decades, a surrender to authoritarian religion, authoritarian politics- for some, freedom from doubt was always the point, peace of mind worth any price. An aide to Senator Jesse Helms, tribune of the American right, could speak of the need to go back beyond Descartes, explaining that inside all the vulgar propaganda of fetus murder and racist nightmare was a true project: the repeal of the Enlightenment, the rebuilding of a world where the affirmation of one’s own thoughts was a sin, the return of the will to God. Everyone knows history moves in circles; the surprise is how big the circles are.
 

I've been thinking about that today, and thinking that it's not always so bad that history moves in circles- there are good things to be found in the past, shining moments when decency and justice have found their way, against horrendous odds and the pernicious scheming of petty and evil men, back into the forefront of civic life.



Tonight, on NBC Nightly News, there was an interview with an 87 year old veteran of the US Tuskegee Airmen. In a beautiful gesture, the surviving members have been invited to the inauguration. Asked how he's going to feel watching Barack Obama take the oath of office, this old man, this hero, said: "Well, I can't really say what's going to happen, because I've never seen such a thing before, and thought I never would. I think it's going to feel a bit like... Heaven."
 

I couldn't presume to add anything to that.
 


I don't know if Gary Trudeau has ever done a rerun of a Doonesbury cartoon, but he could do worse this Tuesday than to reprint this masterpiece from September 2, 1974:







Welcome back, America. We've missed you.
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I have never before actually uttered the phrase "In the immortal words of Gerald Ford".

Ladies and gentlemen, in the immortal words of Gerald Ford:

"Our long national nightmare is over."

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So I'm sitting here idly watching television, and PBS is showing Ken Burns' latest series: The War.

I've not seen any of it yet, so I figure what the heck. If nothing else, the sonorous narration of another Burns series is bound to help me get some sleep.

But then, just as it was about to start, I sat up and took notice, for in its now typical introduction, PBS has an announcer say:

"Corporate funding for The War is provided by..."

I am speechless.

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If you live on Birchman Avenue between Sanguinet and Eldridge Streets in Fort Worth, Texas, and you own a pit bull named Bear:

Thank you so much for encouraging your dog to chase me as I rode my Y-foil past your house this afternoon. I haven't done enough speed work lately; three blocks going all-out in 53/14 sprinting away from your snarling animal was exhilarating and quite good for my cardiovascular fitness. I could have done without having to blow through two stop signs at 24 MPH, but I guess that's the price you have to pay to get a good workout in the city.

I do apologize for having left Bear behind when he collapsed, panting in the road. A more concerned cyclist would have gone back to check on him, since you were apparently unable to get up out of your lawn chair.

All the best

-Your pal,

Pete

Current Mood:
Panting
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Then the first plane hits the towers. Then the second, followed in turn by the dreadful collapse. Within a very short time you make the joyful discovery that you are not a misanthrope after all. Phoenix-like, your heart is reborn from the ashes, bouyed in part by the shameful sensation of lightness that comes from knowing they were somebody else's ashes. You love the human race. At least you love Rudy Giuliani. And firemen. And New Yorkers. How could you not? Everybody on earth, in fact, except terrorists, and those who harbor terrorists, and those who support terror, and those who might be doing any or all of the above, and perhaps also those too squeamish to see the wisdom of the articles that begin to appear in respected national publications discussing the imminent necessity of torture, and all of a sudden, in the words of Yeats and in the manner of Celine, "a terrible beauty is born."

-Garret Keizer, "How the Devil Falls In Love: Misanthropy, Prejudice, and Other Follies", Harper's Magazine, August 2002.


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Keith Olbermann is my new hero. Posted without comment:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

We end the countdown where we began, our #1 story.with a special comment on Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday. It demands the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American. For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty - of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land;Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants - our employees - with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right - and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless. That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone to England. It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords. It knew that the hard evidence it had received, which contradicted it’s own policies, it’s own conclusions - it’s own omniscience - needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth. Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile - at best morally or intellectually confused. That critic’s name… was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England - had taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts. Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute and exclusive in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modernversion of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient Ones.

That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this:

This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count - not just his. Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago- about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego. But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris. Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of America?


The confusion we - as its citizens - must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light and we can too. The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that - though probably not in the way he thought he meant it. This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow. But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral." Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954.

"We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."

And so, good night, and good luck.

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This image is just too disturbing to pass up. Please, someone provide a caption.

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I guess there had to come a time when I would find something worthy of actually posting, and this sentence from google is it:

Your search - "developers live in fantasyland" - did not match any documents.

Never saw that one coming.

Current Mood:
cynical cynical
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