Words As Balm: The Joe Biden Inauguration

Listening today to the words Joe Biden spoke (excerpted in italic sections below), how surpassingly important they were, how important the words we speak always are, I was thrown back on the paradoxical notion that nothing exemplifies that truth more than the often cutting and cruel words of the now departed president, slinking off to Florida without so much as a public nod or acknowledgement of the person whose soaring rhetoric at the lectern mere hours later stood as a repudiation-by-example of the finally departed one, and as a kind of down payment on the immense investment it will require to heal America in the coming months and years.

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Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded. We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile...

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Ten Reasons Why Impeachment Was Necessary…And Conviction Even More So

I  know, I know—it’s a mess, any way we try to slice it. Just days to go, on his way out the door, it will let him play the martyr, further inflame his base, perhaps hamper the new president’s crucial first weeks, shouldn’t we focus on “healing” now?

Thought about those, bought a few of them for a time, tossed & turned about them in sleep that seems to have come in half-hour slices the past 10 days, and have come out, in a slight spin on a then newly elected congressmember’s indelicate, admittedly inappropriate but nevertheless delicious phrase from her victory celebration in early 2019, a full year before Impeachment #1, “We needed to impeach, and now we have to convict the m—–f—-r….” 

I’m also well aware that conviction is not bloody likely to happen in the Senate, but here are ten reasons why it should.

ONE  Because he was the direct, most significant cause of the riot that took five lives and many ...

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Taking America’s Measure: Walt Whitman’s “Years of the Modern”

On this unprecedented day marked by a second impeachment of a sitting president, I could not bring myself to watch or listen much to the all-too-predictable denunciations and defenses of a man with blood on his hands, a man whose dark and chaotic presidency should long since have turned the stomachs of every person concerned with the fate of America.

In times of national tremor such as we are experiencing now, it can sometimes help to pull back and employ a wider angle lens on history, on nation building, and on the relationship of the individual to society.

In other words: the lens Walt Whitman used to sketch a vision of America very much his own, and which he bequeathed to the country as a gift that has resounded for generations, and will likely do so for many more.

Most observers regard Whitman as a grand optimist, lifting up in his imagination a vision for America commensurate with its size and ambitio...

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Jimmy Carter (Our First) Rock & Roll President

In a 2018 interview that opens the recently released documentary, “Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President,” the now 96-year-old ex-POTUS places a vinyl record on a small turntable at his home in Plains, Georgia. The sight of a record, with the familiar red (“Columbia”) inner circle that tells you the album information, comes as almost a shock, a sudden time-warpy escort into a warm bath of nostalgia for people of a certain age.

And then Carter, with that trademark grin of a genuinely good and happy man, true Christian to his bones, settles into a chair and nods his head in approval as he remarks, “All right! Sounds familiar.” 

The sounds we hear with him are the opening guitar strums of Bob Dylan before he begins, “Heyyyy, Mr. Tambourine Man…”

A hilarious anecdote in this grin-inducing documentary involves bad boy gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson’s visit to the White House, a kind of refr...

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Out! Get Out of Our House!

The images overwhelmed, just as waves of gleeful rioters overwhelmed the shockingly sparse police presence in surging through mere barricades and glass windows, easily mounting the ramparts and invading the halls of Congress.

There they frolicked and trampled, leaderless lords of flies inspired by a malevolent cult figure who had incited them earlier with another in a long line of delusional, muddled rants that reeked of mental illness.

“American carnage,” 2021.

And dispiriting as it was, none of it was surprising. None of it.

He has been the chaos president because his life is built on his chaotic character, on the dark hole at the center of it, on the belligerence that is his animating principle. He savages everyone who gets in his way, which eventually is everyone, given the relentlessness of his self-regard.

It felt like a violation, as if this throng had entered our own homes, breaking through wind...

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