Category Politics/Culture

Year of Decision on the Trump Presidency

Every day, a fresh revelation, a new indictment, an ever more outrageous, rudderless expression of falsehoods, disdain, and amorality. Nothing is stable, nothing true, whatever was done or said yesterday or an hour ago is inoperative, a passing wisp descending to a graveyard where words go to be drained of all their life-giving blood.

We live in an eternal, impulsive now of rampant, chthonic chaos, of bottomless depravity, of such clear danger to our national identity, our very character as a sovereign, self-examining people, that all else seems to pale in importance.

One summons the angels that still beckon in family, friends, the arts, the comforts of a long walk, a good book or a warming drink on a winter night. But increasingly, those comforts feel if not cold, at least clammy, begetting an intermittent case of vertigo.

One yearns for the normal, for norms that may yet be remembered and reasserted as g...

Read More

The Paul Ryan Bye-Bye Blues

i was handsome and smart
or so the nuns all told me,
eyes of blue with
a winsome smile,
a thinker, a tinkerer
a fine midwestern demeanor

but if all that were true,
what’s up with these
Paul Ryan Bye-Bye Blues?

that ryan boy will go far,
the farm folk all claimed
d.c.’s a brutal place
he’ll know how to tame

a bright light
in a dark time
is what they said,
solid and sober and
steady of hand
the world my oyster
as i bestrode this land.

so much promise and
potential to share,
a prophet of profit
with a kindly stare

but if all that were true,
why am i singing these
Paul Ryan Bye-Bye Blues?

it all turned to crap,
they’re all now saying,
from the left and the right,
nothing but braying

i’m smarmy i’m stuffy
an unprincipled hussy.
as if i’m some snake,
just can’t catch a break,
oh, i got me a bad case of
the Paul Ryan Bye-Bye Blues

how did this happen
to good-hearted paul ryan
who answered the call,
an...

Read More

What Democrats SHOULD Be Saying About That Damn Wall

A couple of recent news items, the first from PBS: “Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, said Democrats will not fund Trump’s ‘immoral, ineffective and expensive wall.’”

And from The Hill: “Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in an interview Sunday knocked President Trump’s proposed border wall, saying that Democrats will not spend money on a ‘fourth century strategy’ as a partial government shutdown stretches into its second day.”

Of those two comments, Democrats should be pounding the table with Merkley’s point, complete with its evocation of a “fourth century” scene involving barbarians clad in beaver pelts storming a walled city, inside of which frightened residents are hurling rocks and sending crude fireballs reigning down upon the alien invaders.

What Democrats should do without, however, is even the faintest suggestion that any type of border security is abou...

Read More

Mourning for Democracy in Wisconsin: A Short Howl of Outrage

There is more than a little bit of irony on this day of mourning for an ex-president widely reputed for his decency and placing love of country above party and partisanship, when in Wisconsin and Michigan, just as occurred in North Carolina in 2016, those values are being systematically trashed by the very party he led.

A news item from PBS:

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republicans moved quickly Monday with a rare lame-duck session that would change the 2020 presidential primary date and make sweeping changes to the duties of the governor and attorney general’s offices.

The changes being sought would shift power to the GOP-controlled Legislature and allow outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker to make one last major mark on the state’s political landscape after he lost re-election in November.

Republicans forged ahead despite threats of lawsuits, claims by Democratic Gov...

Read More

Mid-Term Musing: The Coarsening of the American Mind

Thirty-one years ago, the late political philosopher and cultural critic Allan Bloom wrote a book that his publishers expected would sell a paltry few copies to university types. Instead, it went on, in an improbable pre-Internet version of “going viral,” to occupy a high perch on best-seller lists for four months. (And generate heated discussion among the intelligentsia for years after that.)

Its title: “The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students.”

In it, Bloom, a classicist who was admitted to the University of Chicago at age 15 and graduated three years later, excoriated what he saw as the flabbiness of thought, discourse and morality among ‘60s-influenced students and faculty...

Read More