Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Moonlight and hate songs...

... never out of date. Apparently, we must remember this.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Okay, not really. Just another I-told-you-so from Paul Kassandra. From his mouth/pen/keyboard to Gallup's/Silver's/Pew's ears.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Good polls

This is most encouraging. Of course, it may not only be because people "see through the lies," as Sirota chooses to emphasize. It may also simply be that these pension plans are familiar and trusted. But it's heartening, at the very least, that teachers aren't demonized by a large majority. Bodes well not only for public pensions but also for a pushback against education deform.

Also, it's nice to see Pew called out -- especially at the moment Andy Kohut is going on NPR pushing the meme that the problems with Obamacare's rollout are the political equivalent of Hurricane Katrina. Right.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I haven't done any Shakespeare here, but the "Great Performances" broadcast of Henry IV Part One, in their "Hollow Crown" series (the second quartet of history plays, Richard II through Henry V) prompts a brief and rueful note.

This production does neither my nom de plume nor us any favors. Simon Russell Beale (as the corpulent knight) and director Robert Goold have drained most of the energy and joy from this most exuberant figure in world literature. No longer witty in himself, he is barely the cause that wit is in other men.

Perhaps they decided that there was no way to outdo Orson Welles for sympathetic theatricality, and sought to go small. Perhaps they were single-mindedly focused on the titular kings of these plays, and needed to reduce Falstaff to a bit player in order to let Hal own the action. Whatever their motivation, however, the result is neither the play nor the great improvisatory genius Shakespeare wrote. We get instead a nervous, petty, plangent hanger-on, more fearfully introspective than expansive and free. This is the story as it might have been dramatized by flacks for the shape-shifting political animal Henry V, not by sweet, kind, true, valiant and therefore more valiant, being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff. 

They have banished from Harry's and our company the Life Force of Eastcheap... and so have banished all the world.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Robert Reich puts it pithily: "The Republican Party is no longer capable of governing the nation. It's now a fanatical group run out of right-wing states by a cadre of nihilists, Know-nothings, and a handful of billionaires."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Breathless - updated

Norm Ornstein is a sane person, and therefore is a bout de souffle about today's Repugs. Honestly, how can anyone look himself or herself in the mirror today while Republican? Even when you understand why, maybe none dare call it treason, but it sure is cruel and unusual.

Update: Maybe the mirrors are too dusty. Or, more likely, we're on the other side of the looking glass.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Go global

This plea for moderation is well-meaning, but misses the key point. If simply pounding one's six-point fist of values on the table were enough to produce a modern society, today's Middle East would be a very different place.

The underlying problem is that the region has been addicted to a drug -- oil money -- and has to break its habit. Its economy has to make the difficult shift to a multi-industry, global base. Both the Isamists and the legacy dictators are seeking to own the oil money -- this is a boardroom struggle for control of OPEC. Neither is a friend of a more diverse economy, because that requires skills and legitimacy neither possesses or is capable of acquiring. The deeper irony, of course, is that they're fighting to have the best deck chairs on the Titanic -- but that only increases the desperation of their struggle.

The only hope here is for the new generations of the Arab countries to embrace globalization, like their age cohort in Asia and Latin America (and now like those to their south in Africa). This struggle cannot be resolved by one abstraction ("modernism") defeating another abstraction ("traditionalism" or "fundamentalism" or "extremism"). That way "Wars on Terror" lie. Such struggles are inherently irresolvable -- they are struggles between Good and Evil, God and Satan. They are, in fact, built not to be resolved; their subtext is the impossibility of resolution or progress, period. (Adam Curtis shows this kind of meeting of the fundamentalist minds nicely in his famous documentary, The Power of Nightmares.)

Of course, there are problems inherent in globalization. Its critics on the Left believe it to be nothing more than the propaganda of corporatism, and they think that embracing it is just another form of slavery. I disagree. The unreconstructed Marxist Left is as much of a religion, with as cardboard a Satan, as any of these other traditional cults. To become one planet is not inherently corporatist, any more than it is inherently religious or proletarian. If it has an unquestioned belief, it is the belief in the science of complexity, emergence and networks. I'm sure we'll eventually figure out what's wrong with that paradigm -- as we have with those of Ptolemy and Newton. But for now, I'll stick with it, and I'll maintain that the politics and economics it implies are inherently global and inherently liberal and progressive. I'll therefore further maintain that putting chips down on that square -- e.g., embracing free trade... taking a whole-earth view of production, as well as of the natural environment... focusing attention of the emerging global cities of the urbanizing planet... and more -- holds out the best hope for actually building and sustaining modern, tolerant, innovative, equitable societies.