Friday, March 15, 2013

When the political becomes personal

I see that Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has come out (so to speak) in favor of gay marriage, after his son identified himself as homosexual. His rationale:
"As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples," Portman writes in an editorial published today in the Columbus Dispatch. "Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way." In 2011 Will, then in his first year at Yale, told his parents that he is gay; that knowledge, Portman writes, "prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective." Deciding that the Bible's "overarching themes of love and compassion" and gay couples' status as a "a potential source of renewed strength" for the conservative instution of marriage overrode his faith-based objections, Portman had a "change of heart": "I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage."
Portman's reference to the Bible is almost laughable as it seems that only now has he discovered love and compassion in his Christianity. I.e., there really is more to the issue than Leviticus 18:22. In a nutsehell, this pretty much demonstrates the narrow mindedness of Republicans. Viz., only when an issue becomes personal can they be counted on to show any kind of integrity. Arthur Miller wrote an entire play regarding a similar issue and came to the same conclusion: It isn't enough to zero in on one's own comforts; rather, one must regard everyone (or, at the very least, one's constituents) as "all of our sons and daughters."

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Stax/Motown/King, etc. Records One Shouldn't Be Without

Universal Remote

The List: Ask The Lonely - Four Tops Bernadette - Four Tops Can I Get A Witness - Marvin Gaye Cold Sweat - James Brown Everybody Needs Someone To Love - Solomon Burke Get Ready - Temptations Hitchhike - Marvin Gaye Hold On, I'm Coming - Sam & Dave I Can't Get Next To You - Temptations I Thank You - Sam & Dave I Want To Testify - Parliaments I Wish It Would Rain - Temptations

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Morning song

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Today's morning song is "Time Is On My Side" (a video of which can be found here.) In my opinion, this is a pretty crappy cover of a terrific song originally recorded by the Queen of New Orleans Blues, Irma Thomas. Alas, the Stones were young when they recorded the song, and at the time their musicianship was, ahem, incipient. Anyway, on this date in 1964, I watched the Stones perform this song on the Ed Sullivan Show in front of a bunch of adoring screaming fans. In fact, the fans were so obstreperous that they
practically [tore] the studio seats apart. Sullivan declare[d] to reporters: "I promise you they'll never be back on our show. It took me 17 years to build this up, I'm not going to have it destroyed in a matter of weeks. We won't book any more rock 'n' roll groups. Frankly, I didn't see the group until the day before the broadcast. I was shocked when I saw them." The group return[ed] to the program five times.
(Furthermore, I see that
all 17 of the Rolling Stones' performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" will be released Nov. 1 in a deluxe package from Universal Music Enterprises and Sofa Entertainment. An abridged version of the Stones on "Sullivan" [was] released Oct. 4.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

George Washington: Prophet

MANIFESTO

On this day in 1796, George Washington had published his Farewell Address and retired to Mt. Vernon to live out his final brief years. I've always gotten a kick out of the piece (I taught it for two decades.) for its tenets that are so contrary to what the US has become. Especially interesting in these times of virtually incredible partisanship are his warnings about the dangers of party politics. Viz.,
All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests ...

This spirit [of factionalism], unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.

Take that, Dems and Repubs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Romney and his tax returns

MANIFESTO

I can't help thinking that Mitt Romney's latest tax return apologia is comparable to the saga of the infamous Watergate tapes. I.e., first, they were never going to be shared, then a transcript of the tapes was finally submitted, and then the tapes were finally allowed to be heard by all. It seems to me that we're in the second phase when it comes to Mittens' disclosure of his tax returns. That is, he's looked them over and let us "see" their contents. And the contents indicate that he never paid less than a 13% tax rate in the last decade. Like the release of the transcripts of the tapes nearly forty years ago, this disclosure will only whet the public's appetite for more information, and a resolution of the release of the actual return seems inevitable.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On the NYC cheating scandal

MANIFESTO

Item:
A student at [Brooklyn's] Stuyvesant HS has been booted for allegedly using a cellphone during a Regents exam last week—exposing a far-reaching cheating ring involving more than 50 students at the school.
One can tell by the tone of the lede that educationists are falling all over themselves regarding this violation of education's most sacrosanct of traditions. And therein lies the problem: The administration of these 19th century tests in their present form has long passed, but the Board of Regents continues to administer them in the same antiquated manner. As generals invariably find themselves "fighting the preceding war," so too do schools consistently find themselves behind the times when it comes to participating in contemporary society. If I can ascertain the number of calories in a product just by pointing my iPhone at its bar code, then the days of pencil and paper tests have long passed. The issue, of course, is money. Schools simply cannot keep up with the technological times. This is unfortunate, but is the reason I don't share the hysteria regarding Nayeem Ahsan that the NYC schools and media do. And it certainly won't get better. In the meantime, students will be using 21st century technologies while schools try to figure out how to combat them—instead of trying to employ them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Reverend Wright Reappears

MANIFESTO

What with the moronic Republicans trying to bring back Jeremiah Wright's erstwhile association with Barack Obama (an association that the president cravenly and callously renounced in 2008), I'd like to throw in my two cents about the Reverend Wright. The sermon of April 13, 2003 is well known by now—or at least its money paragraph is:
And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them in slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton fields, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into position of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing “God Bless America.” No, no, no. Not “God Bless America”; God Damn America! That’s in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating her citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme!
The form of this is about as prophetic as you can get and is no different from what can be found in Isaiah's or Amos's complaints about Israel. Yet, Republicans, whose knowledge of the Old Testament seems to begin and end with Leviticus 18:22, derogate this prophetic tradition (and its modern-day prophet) for the purposes of political gain and promoting American exceptionalism. Carrying this derogation to its logical conclusion, I can only infer that Republicans (and our president, unfortunately) actually sanction the treatment the country gave to the Japanese, Native Americans, and African-Americans in its midst. God knows I'm not an active evangelical, but this is certainly not what Jesus of Nazareth had in mind when he visited the temple in his home town and articulated what his purpose on the planet was. The "Christians" among us have other agendas. Wright was right, but the power grabbers and the surfeit of morons among us will never understand.