Friday, August 31, 2012

"the government" is us

A smiling lobbyist who later was appointed as a judge told me in the 90s that Bill Clinton got elected because the Republicans were perceived as having become too extreme, moving too far to "the right."

He said that was the same thing that happened in 1972 to George McGovern -- the Democrats were perceived as having moved too far to "the left." 

Both of these perceptions, on the part of voters, were probably wrong. 

Democrats had not moved too far to the "left" in 1972 -- but some of the more extreme types in that political wing had attached themselves to the Dem. party because it was closer to what they would have liked (or thought they wanted) than the Repub. party. 

I think it was the same thing in the nineties with the Republicans, the core of the party had not moved too far to the "right" but right-wing extremists were attaching themselves to the Repub. party because it's closer to the way they feel about things than the Democrats.

If you are a conservative, a liberal is not your "enemy."
Your enemy, or rather, the thing you have to be concerned about, is an
in either the liberal, or the conservative, line of thought.

If you are a liberal, a conservative is not your "enemy."

Your enemy, or rather, the thing you have to be concerned about, is an
in either the conservative, or the liberal, line of thought.


Liberalism, taken to an extreme, becomes communism.

Conservatism, taken to an extreme, becomes fascism.

Communism and fascism, coming from opposite so-called "sides" of the so-called "political spectrum," are --

Both are inherently abusive systems because they are repressive and oppressive.

We have democracy to let us save ourselves
either extreme, left or right,

(which are the Same, once they're in the Extreme area) 
taking us over and
putting us in concentration camps
and / or
killing us.

That's why
"Democracy is the worst form of government there is,
except for all the others."


Thursday, August 30, 2012

freedom of choice

has a good article about the late Neil Armstrong, written by Martin Snapp.

The Republican Convention speeches generated some commentary on the internet.
Quotes from Reddit participants (they sound like people who are young):

"Hold the ----ing phone. Are you being serious right now? Did she really say she had to eat macaroni and tuna off an ironing board?"

"Yes, she said they were struggling while living off Mitt's dad's stocks."

"He's not kidding, that is exactly what she claimed they were doing in their basement apartment.

Everyone else seems to have liked the speech. I found it condescending and sanctimonious. "See, I struggled too and I'm just like you, now vote for my husband so he can make sure rich people hardly ever pay taxes again!" If I heard her say that she liked Romney because he made her laugh and they met at a high school dance one more time, I was going to gag."

It seems like when people -- famous people, politicians and stuff -- talk about their love life, or personal life, it doesn't tend to come off as well as a person would like.  I'm not sure why that is.  Maybe because some of these kids experience it as "condescending and sanctimonious."  [The name of a new punk band:  Condescending-and-Sanctimonious!  ...and the "!" would be part of the band's name.]
And -- women do tend to say, in speeches or sound bites, that their (Wonderful) Husband "makes them laugh" and "we met at a high school dance."  It's like -- too much repetition, or something.  That part, while not making me feel like I "was going to gag" did recall part of that Don McLean song, "American Pie":

Now do you believe in rock and roll?

Can music save your mortal soul?

And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you're in love with him

Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym

You both kicked off your shoes

Man, I dig those rhythm and blues--ooz!--

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day --

the mus--    ic died
[nah nah nah Nah nah na--]

I started singin'

Bye, bye Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry…

Was Mr. Romney a lonely teenager?
Was there a pink carnation?
Can't picture him being out of luck.

--------------------------------------- --------------------------------------- [youngster comments from Reddit continued]:   "I'm a liberal, but I think you're wrong in saying all republicans are dumb. Just because someone believes in small gov't and free economy doesn't mean they agree with all the other nonsense the GOP has been doing lately.

The problem is fundamentalist whackjobs and corporate puppets have hijacked a once-legitimate political party."

-----------------------And here's my thought on the above:  the Republican party (or maybe its -- people you hire to help you win, political operatives, or something) wanted to "hijack" what the commenter calls the "fundamentalist whackjobs and corporate puppets," drawing them into the party & get the support of their votes, and then the jobs-and-pets, having been drawn in, hijacked the party...------------------

"Conservatives aren't dumb. Republicans are."

"When we say Republicans here we mean the American republican platform for the past 20+ years. It's hard to separate the the two when it's been that way for all if not most of many of our lives."

---------------[And that's where my personal experience differs from these folks:  that's the only Republican Party they've known, so that's it -- on the other hand many of us who lived through that evolution, or some would call it de-evolution (another punk, or New Wave band, Devo) -- we experience that yucky/horrible feeling when something changes for the worse instead of the better, and you want it to go back but it doesn't....]--------------------

"Anybody who believes in small government and the free market but none of the other GOP nonsense has no business still being a member of that party, IMO."

IMO.  (In My Opinion - ?) Mh.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

on the clock

“Some people see things that are,
and ask, Why?

Some people dream of things that never were,
and ask, Why not?

Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that.”

― George Carlin


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

runnin' after subway trains

Last Sunday morning, the sunshine felt like rain.

Week before, they all seemed the same.

With the help of God and true friends, I come to realize

I still had two strong legs, and even wings to fly.

And oh I, ain't wastin time no more

'Cause time goes by like --

-- hurricanes, ...
and faster things....

Lord, lord Miss Sally, why all your cryin'?

Been around here three long days, you're lookin' like you're dyin'.

Just step yourself outside, and look up at the stars above

Go on downtown baby, find somebody to love.

Meanwhile I ain't wastin' time no more

'Cause time goes by like

pouring rain, --

and much faster things.

You don't need no gypsy to tell you why

You can't let one precious day slip by.

Look inside yourself, and if you don't see what you want,

Maybe sometimes then you don't,

But leave your mind alone and just get high.

Well by and by, way after many years have gone,

And all the war freaks die off, leavin' us alone.

We'll raise our children in the peaceful way we can,

It's up to you and me brother

To try and try again.

Well, hear us now, we ain't wastin' time no more

'Cause time goes by like --

hurricanes --

Runnin' after subway trains

Don't forget the pouring rain. ...

Songwriter: ALLMAN, GREGG L.

Transcribed by Joshua Zemel

"Ain't Wastin' Time No More"
The Allman Brothers
Eat A Peach album, 1972
on the Capricorn record label

This album was released in February, the same month as President Nixon's historic visit to China.

A site called The History Place notes, on a Vietnam war timeline written in the present tense,

"Nixon's visit causes great concern in Hanoi that their wartime ally China might be inclined to agree to an unfavorable settlement of the war to improve Chinese relations with the U.S."

..."to try and try again..."


Monday, August 27, 2012

keeping Saint Monday

"Keeping Saint Monday"
is the title of the fifth chapter in the Witold Rybczynski book, Waiting for the Weekend.

[excerpt]------------------------------- Throughout the eighteenth century, the work-week ended on Saturday evening; Sunday was the weekly day off.  The Reformation and, later, Puritanism had made Sunday the weekly holy day in an attempt to displace the saints' days and religious festivals of Catholicism.  Although the taboo on work was more or less respected, the strictures of Sabbatarianism that prohibited merriment and levity on the Lord's Day were rejected by most Englishmen, who saw the holiday as a chance to drink, gamble, and generally have a good time.

Having only one official weekly holiday did not necessarily mean that the life of the average British worker was one of unremitting toil.  Far from it.  Work was always interrupted to commemorate the annual feasts of Christmas, New Year, and Whitsuntide (the days following the seventh Sunday after Easter).  These traditional holidays were universally observed, but the length of the breaks varied.  Depending on local convention, work stopped for anywhere from a few days to two weeks. 

In addition to the religious holidays, villages and rural parishes observed their own annual festivals or "wakes."  These celebratory rituals, which dated from medieval times, were mainly secular and involved sports, dancing, and other public amusements.

...There were also communal holidays associated with special, occasional events such as prize-fights, horse races, and other sporting competitions, as well as fairs, circuses, and traveling menageries.  When one of these attractions arrived in a village or town, regular work more or less stopped....

The idea of spontaneously closing up shop or leaving the workbench for the pursuit of pleasure strikes the modern reader as irresponsible, but for the eighteenth-century worker the line between work and play was blurred; work was engaged in with a certain amount of playfulness, and play was always given serious attention.  Moreover, many recreational activities were directly linked to the workplace, since trade guilds often organized their own outings, had their own singing and drinking clubs and their own preferred taverns.

...Whenever people had a choice in the was characterized by an irregular mixture of days on and days off, a pattern that the historian E.P. Thompson described as "alternate bouts of intense labor and of idleness."  The irregularity was exacerbated by the way holidays were prolonged....It was not unusual for sporting events, fairs, and other celebrations to last several days.  Since Sunday was always the official holiday, it was usually the days following that were added on.  This produced a regular custom of staying away from work on Monday, frequently also on Tuesday, and then working long hours at the end of the week to catch up. 

Among some trades, the Monday holiday achieved what amounted to an official status.  Weavers and miners, for example, regularly took a holiday on the Monday after payday -- which occurred weekly, or biweekly.  This practice became so common that it was called "keeping Saint Monday."

The habit of keeping Saint Monday was not ancient -- it probably started at the end of the eighteenth century.  It was directly linked to industrialization, since it was a way for workers to redress the balance between their free time and the longer and longer workdays being demanded by factory owners.  This improvised temporal device also allowed the worker to thumb his nose at authority and assert his traditional freedom to come and go from the workplace as he willed. 

Once the practice of keeping Saint Monday took hold, it was hard to dislodge....Thomas Wright's well-known book on the habits and customs of the working classes, which appeared in 1867, describes Saint Monday as "the most noticeable holiday, the most thoroughly self-made and characteristic of them all. . . that greatest of small holidays." 

Wright described himself as a journeyman engineer, that is, a mechanic, and his views are therefore those of someone who was not unsympathetic to his subject.  On Monday, he wrote, "[the workers] are refreshed by the rest of the previous day; the money received on the Saturday is not all spent; and those among them who consign their best suits to the custody of the pawnbroker during the greatest part of each week are still in the possession of the suits which they have redeemed from limbo on Saturday night."  Dressed in his Sunday clothes, with a few shillings in his pocket, the idle worker could go out on the town and enjoy himself.  Not a small part of this enjoyment was meeting friends and fellow tradesmen who were engaged in the same recreation.

...[Saint Monday's] popularity during the 1850s and '60s was ensured by the enterprise of the leisure industry.  During that period, most sporting events such as horse races and cricket matches took place on Mondays, since their organizers knew that many of their working-class customers would be prepared to take the day off.
------------------------------ [end excerpt]

{Waiting for the Weekend, by Witold Rybczynski.
Copyright, 1991.  Pub. by the Penguin Group.  Viking
Penguin, a division of Penguin books USA Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York
10014, U.S.A.}


Friday, August 24, 2012

up the standards

...And speaking of Pat Paulsen, the Wikipedia organization has a readable post about the comedian's life and finishes it off with a list of some of his jokes & lines, including the following, and a person should imagine these lines being said in a very serious, not intense but slightly sad, or weary, style:  deadpan -----------

"All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian."

On network censorship: "I feel proud to be living in a country where people are not afraid to laugh at themselves and where political satire is tolerated by the government, if not the television network."

"I don’t want to say too much about illegal immigration. I’m afraid my views will be reported on the Cinco O’Clock News." 

On the Miranda warning: "Why should we tell kidnappers, murderers, and embezzlers their rights? If they don't know their rights, they shouldn't be in the business."

"A good many people feel that our present draft laws are unjust. These people are called soldiers."

Presidential campaign slogan: "I've upped my standards. Now, up yours."

"I am neither left wing nor right wing. I am middle-of-the-bird."

"Marijuana should be licensed and kept out of the hands of teenagers. It's too good for them."

When asked if he believed in the right to bear arms: "No, I believe in the right to arm bears."

And some people say Norwegians don't have a sense of humor. ...

A lobbyist said that to me, actually -- after a state of the state address given by the governor in 1990, or 91 maybe -- I said I expected the speech to be more -- I don't know, entertaning, or something, with some relevant wit, like Kennedy -- the lobbyist said, "Oh no, he's like that; they're -- they're Norwegian."

(And that guy was German!--he's one to talk....)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

up all night, baby

"beachhead of cooperation,"


...Let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved. 

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.

But let us begin.
[Pres. Kennedy inaugural address]

I guess I like this speech because it looks at the whole big picture, and has positive ideas and proposals, and because it's beautiful, and most importantly because it is --

for everybody.

It is like the music of Bob Dylan:  it's for everybody.  It is offered to anybody and everybody who wants to partake, listen, consider, be inspired, question, wonder....It's offered to all the People.  It's open to everybody.  "With liberty and justice for all."  That's kind of what America means, for me.

Well, I ride on a mailtrain, baby, can't buy a thrill

Well, I've been up all night, baby, leanin' on the window sill

Well, if I die on top of the hill

And if I don't make it, you know my baby will.

Don't the moon look good, mama, shinin' through the trees?

Don't the brakeman look good, mama, flagging down the "Double E"?

Don't the sun look good goin' down over the sea?

Don't my gal look fine when she's comin' after me?

Now the wintertime is coming, the windows are filled with frost

I went to tell everybody, but I could not get across

Well, I wanna be your lover, baby, I don't wanna be your boss

Don't say I never warned you --

when your train gets lost. ...

------- "It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry"
Highway 61 Revisited album.  Columbia Records,

It's like now, Bob Dylan continues to tour.  He wouldn't need to make money; he's just a troubadour, bringing his music to the people.  Similar to John F. Kennedy -- with giant family wealth behind him, he didn't need the presidency as a high-salary job -- he did the thing, to do it.

Once I stayed in the same hotel as Bob Dylan.  (Not in same room.)  In about 2001 or 2....I was in a town for work & to see the concert, and I wondered if he might stay in that same establishment....I never saw him, but I did spot a man in the lobby area who looked like he wasn't "from here."  Just some kind of unique "energy field" about him -- he was talking on a cell phone and when he hung up I asked him if he was with the Bob Dylan tour.

He was.

He talked to me -- he didn't mind.  When I asked him how long the current tour had been going on, he looked at me and said seriously, in a low-key and precise manner, "Dylan's basically been on tour for ten years."

(So, now -- that would make 20 years.)

Thank goodness I saw the tour member, and not Bob Dylan.  I'd have made a fool of myself. 
(I saw Pat Paulsen once when I was 17 -- not on-stage, but just walking along, in Chicago.  I told him who he was.  Two or three times.
"You're Pat Paulsen!
You're Pat Paulsen!"...yikes.)

And -- a guy who was either a roadie or a back-up musician, can't remember which, with a country band, told me once, "You're actually probably luckier if you don't meet your favorite singer, or rock star, or whatever, because some of those guys are assholes.  They've just had too much adoration, admiration, and just -- too much people," or something like that....And I realized before he was done talking that he was probably right. 

I don't need to tell Bob Dylan who he is.  Or get his autograph.
(There's a great film clip in "No Direction Home," Scorsese's documentary, where you see Dylan being followed and badgered by fans and press, in the 60s, & some girl wants his autograph, and he says, "You don't need it.  If you needed it, I've give it to you."  And when you watch that you know instinctively exactly what he's saying:  we don't need the artist, we need the art.)


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

let us go forth

Researching a little on others' analyses of Pres. Kennedy's inauguration speech, I find references to

"rhetorical techniques"

but no mention of that
beachfront of cooperation
pushing back those
jungles of suspicion.

That's getting to be my favorite part.

On a site called "Mr. Media Training" Brad Phillips wrote an article about the "Ask not" speech on January 20th, 2011. 
[excerpt]---------------------------Kennedy used many rhetorical devices during his speech; these three are among the most notable:

Antimetabole: Although President Kennedy deploys many rhetorical devices throughout the speech, none was as memorable as one called antimetabole, in which the same words are used in successive clauses, but in reverse order:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

Anaphora: Note the repetition of the word “to” at the beginning of six consecutive paragraphs: “To those old allies,” “To those new states,” “To those peoples,” “To our sister republics,” “To that world assembly,” and “Finally, to those nations.” That rhetorical device is known as anaphora, since the repetition occurred at the beginning of each subsequent thought.

Alliteration: This type of phrasing refers to a repeated sound in words, phrases, or sentences. In his last sentence, Kennedy used the phrase, “…let us go forth to lead the land we love,” a terrific use of alliteration.
--------------------------[end excerpt]

When I was in grade school you always heard the Pres. Kennedy quotation, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." 

I think when we learned typing in 9th grade we typed that out for practice.
Or maybe it was "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."
Maybe it was both.

Theodore Sorensen helped Pres. Kennedy write that speech.  Sorensen was from Nebraska.  (They weren't all East-Coasters...!)


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I say, Why not?

Reading over President Kennedy's Inaugural Address, I found it really interesting, the way he said things -- the use of language, and there were a couple of weird things that I didn't expect.

Like -- he says the energy, faith, and devotion people bring to the project of defending freedom will "light our country and all who serve it."  Then he said, the glow from that fire can truly "light the world."

Oprah used to encourage her audiences to "light the world" -- I thought she made that up!  Now I guess she was probably quoting President Kennedy.

And then just as I'm really enjoying these rocking images and rolling metaphors, I come to:

And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both...

(Wait a minute! -- the who of the what??)

If the
beachhead of cooperation
push back the
jungle of suspicion...

(Okay.  Gotta watch those jungles of suspicion....)

If I were good at drawing, I would (respectfully) make a cartoon of a
beachhead of cooperation
giving some hell to a
jungle of suspicion.

I'll bet one of Kennedy's more creative speechwriters, on a sort of post-election high-good-mood, wrote that, and JFK probably read it and said -- Hmmh, do I want to...?  Oh what the hell let it stay in....

------------------------- So, it says:

"And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor -- not a new balance of power, but a new world of law --

where the strong are just,

and the weak secure,

and the peace preserved."

And further on it says,
-------------- "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.

I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it.

I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world."

I like that where he says, "I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it."  (If communists were coming after me, I would probably feel shrink-y.  [If a person were to run-screaming-from-the-room, would that count as "shrinking" from it?  Probably.])

Is that why we need leaders?
To say brave things even if they don't always feel them --
so that we the people can
feel brave even if we don't always
say it?


Monday, August 20, 2012

let us begin


I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you

Beat or cheat or mistreat you

Simplify you, classify you

Deny, defy or crucify you --

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you.

No, and I ain’t lookin’ to fight with you

Frighten you or tighten you

Drag you down or drain you down

Chain you down or bring you down --

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you.

I ain’t lookin’ to block you up

Shock or knock or lock you up

Analyze you, categorize you

Finalize you or advertise you --

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you.

I don’t want to straight-face you

Race or chase you, track or trace you

Or disgrace you or displace you

Or define you or confine you --

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you.

I don’t want to meet your kin

Make you spin or do you in

Or select you or dissect you

Or inspect you or reject you

All I really want to do --

Is, baby, be friends with you.

I don’t want to fake you out

Take or shake or forsake you out

I ain’t lookin’ for you to feel like me

See like me or be like me

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you.

> Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music


Friday, August 17, 2012

instead of belaboring

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens:

We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom -- symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning -- signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge -- and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do -- for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom -- and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required -- not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge: to convert our good words into good deeds, in a new alliance for progress, to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support -- to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course -- both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah -- to "undo the heavy burdens, and [to] let the oppressed go free."¹

And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor -- not a new balance of power, but a new world of law -- where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,"² a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

I give up

I never say the words, "I give up," or think them.
I typed that sentence in as a title for this post, and felt like was typing the "f" word.
It's like -- heresy.
(Oooh--you can't say that.)

Typed "I give up" on Google and got a list of items, one of them a site called PAID TO EXIST, and a post titled, The Best Way to Solve a Problem:  Give Up.

It began:  "Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. Sometimes the smartest choice is giving up."

Another site gave a list of reasons to not give up, including following items:

Believe In Your Dreams

As Long As You Are Alive Anything Is Possible


Be Realistic
(Been there, done that.)

Michael Jordan
(Uh -- I'm not him.)

Lance Armstrong

Muhammad Ali
(Give me a break.)

You Are Strong
(No, I'm not.)

Prove Yourself
(Been there, done that.)

Nelson Mandela
(Oh, come on!)

-------------------------- There were more "Reasons" on the list, but honestly I'm all out of patience.

...A pay phone was ringing

It just about blew my mind

When I picked it up and said hello

This foot came through the line

Well, by this time I was fed up

At tryin’ to make a stab

At bringin’ back any help

For my friends and Captain Arab

I decided to flip a coin ...

-- lyrics from "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream"
on the Bringing It All Back Home album,


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the mysterious clue of the secret simple pleasure

The Hidden Staircase
The Clue in the Jewel Box
The Clue of the Leaning Chimney
The Moonstone Castle Mystery
The Phantom of Pine Hill

These are some of my favorite titles of Nancy Drew mystery books. 
But really I love all of the titles, of the original, or "main" series that I was familiar with during elementary school and part of junior high. 

The books had bright yellow spines --  making a long line of easily recognizable canary-bright hard-covers at McGraw-Eckler book store in Ravenna, Ohio.

The first Nancy Drew mystery I ever had, I read in third grade -- The Witch Tree Symbol.  Nancy solves an Amish mystery.

Parents and teachers don't always push Nancy Drew books very hard -- they're not considered literature -- and then there was the Big Discovery that the books were "ghost-written" (there was no "Carolyn Keene"!) -- THE MYSTERY OF THE UNIDENTIFIED AUTHORS!
"The Clue of the Children's Book Cover-Up!"

But those criticisms and faint whining and picking of adults diluted none of the enjoyment children got from these stories.

Criticism:  "All the books are alike."
Answer:  "Yes!"
Criticism:  "They're written according to a formula."
Answer:  "Thank goodness!  That way I know I'm going to enjoy ALL of them!"
Criticism:  "Instead of Nancy Drew, you should be reading books by Rumer Godden."
Answer:  "I'll get to Rumer Godden's books someday.  Right now I'm reading The Mystery of the 99 Steps."
Criticism:  "If anyone really got hit over the head and knocked unconscious as many times as Nancy Drew does in those stories, they'd have brain damage."
Answer:  "It's FICTION!"
Criticism:  "Here is a good book to teach you about adolescence."
Answer:  "Leave me alone."

Just the titles of the books -- they are voluptuously entrancing and texturously inviting.
(More mystery!  And everything will come out all right....)

The Secret of the Old Clock
The Hidden Staircase
The Bungalow Mystery
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
The Secret of Shadow Ranch
The Secret of Red Gate Farm
The Clue in the Diary
Nancy's Mysterious Letter
The Sign of the Twisted Candles
The Password to Larkspur Lane
The Clue of the Broken Locket
The Message in the Hollow Oak
The Mystery of the Ivory Charm
Mostly it's "The Secret" or "The Mystery" or "The Clue"
but then you get those exceptions --

The Haunted Bridge
The Whispering Statue
The Quest of the Missing Map
The Ghost of Blackwood Hall
I also especially like the idea of "The Hidden Window Mystery."

Just the titles alone are such a trip.  Not that the stories themselves are terribly memorable -- the grown-ups were right! I'm not arguing! -- it was the ambience, the idea of endless mysteries to be solved, clues to be found, situations to be figured out, reasons to be sifted out and understood.

----------------- {excerpt}-----------A moment later the wind began to howl.  It struck the boat with a force which made Helen grasp the railing next to her for support.  Another dazzling flash of lightning illuminated the sky, and simultaneously a deluge of rain began to descend.

Nancy peered ahead into the dimness.  The shore line had vanished and the blinding rain made it impossible for her to see more than a few feet beyond the bow of the boat.

"At least we have half a tank of fuel," Nancy announced, trying to sound optimistic.  "We'll reach shore soon, I'm sure."

"I wouldn't bet on that," Helen said nervously.
A worried expression furrowed the young pilot's brow.    The boat was making little progress against the wind.   If anything happened to the motor they would be at the mercy of the waves.

-------------- {excerpt, The Bungalow Mystery, by Carolyn Keene.  Grosset & Dunlap, 1930}


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

thin glamour

In the movie Birth of the Blues, a singer played by Mary Martin (mother of Larry Hagman -- "J.R. Ewing" on Dallas) asks a guy to teach her how to sing in a more jazzy, "hot" style -- he says, "Well you take a song, and you sing it exactly how it hasn't been written."...

It seemed to me what he was talking about is what the kids -- the hip-hop people -- call
a "re-mix"
a "mash-up."

So I ventured to try a tiny "mash-up" in my title for that post --
after reviewing
"the waiter and the porter and the upstairs maid"
"the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe"
I put it together as
"Waiting for the porter on the Santa Fe"
which changes it,
mixes it up,
mixes it together
and makes a new phrase
which is still in the style of the Johnny Mercer phrases which went before.

I'll try anything once.

(That's not true, but it sounds good.)

I will try that, once.

Maybe I could begin a new trend:  Free-styling rap-hip-hop Mash-ups while Wearing Clothes. 

Perpetrated --
er, I meant performed --
by ancient humans.

Glancing across the internet, see a headline:
"Vogue Paris Gets New Look With September 2012 Issue".

So -- I click on that, to see this "NEW LOOK" on Vogue,
and I see a magazine cover with a
very glamorous and thin
wearing a very glamorous and expensive
and staring forward into the lens with that expression of patient annoyance so popular with models.
And I'm like -- what is "new" about this "look"?
That is how Vogue always looks.
Which is fine.

Maybe there was something new about it that I just didn't "get."  Meanwhile the thing I did notice about the photograph of the model (Kate Moss) was that her right shoulder is showing and her neck-lines, and shoulder, and -- I think it's the "clavicle" -- are pronounced by her thin-ness, still I noted that she doesn't appear to have this bony bump that I've noticed during Academy Awards ceremonies on some of the actresses -- there's this bump that a lot of them have, on the shoulder, sort of mid-way between the base of the neck and the tip of the shoulder.

I don't have that and I used to look at my shoulders, and go, "Is there something wrong with me, am I supposed to have this bump?  Why do these actresses have this bump on their shoulder and I don't?"

If I were thin enough, would I attain this bony bump?

And then, stepping back, with common sense speaking to the self-esteem which wavers and shrinks a little, in the face of so much concentrated glamour, I heard my own Common Sense telling me, "You don't even like the bump!  It looks -- abrupt,, and...bumpy.  Who needs it?  If you had the shoulder-bump, you wouldn't want it!  Chill out!!  Be happy, already!!!"

And now I see that even Kate Moss doesn't have the bump on the shoulder.  So I'm going to let that particular source of anxiety go. ...


Monday, August 13, 2012

waiting for the porter on the Santa Fe

Johnny Mercer
is the name of a songwriter:
if you listen to people who know a lot about American popular music, you will hear them mention Johnny Mercer.

(John Eaton on the CD "Indiana On Our Minds" is the first one I'm thinking of....)

Just looked him up because this weekend, saw a film with Bing Crosby in it, called Birth of the Blues:
it has a song in it where they sing about leaving the main party to find the best music in the kitchen and out back...
being performed by --

"the waiter and the porter and the upstairs maid" - !

A jaunty rhythmic chorus which seemed in my listening mind to correspond with the chorus of another old song from a movie --

"the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe" - !

Both phrases / choruses --

have the same beat and twelve syllables.

Googling, discover, both songs written by Johnny Mercer.



Friday, August 10, 2012

time, inexorable

I want to re-print on my blog excerpts from an article about Gore Vidal which appeared in the National Post, a paper with which I was unfamiliar.  Between the words National and Post is a cloverleaf, so think is Canadian.

The author of the piece is Philip Marchand.

Before I put in the excerpts, I have to say the repeated use of the word "cohort" was jarring to me because I only ever thought the word "cohort" would mean -- one of your comrades, or team-mates, or something.  Like -- "this gentleman and his cohorts"...having maybe an implication of "partners in crime" though perhaps not literal crime...just an expression.

But Mr. Marchand uses "cohort" to mean like a group of people -- the group, not the individual, is the "cohort."  I actually thought he was using it wrong -- but went to online Dictionary, and learned that "cohort" can mean the whole group.  That was new to me.  Maybe Canadians use it that way more often than we do in the "lower 48."

Now, am caught up, & wanted to mention in case anyone would read it here and be confused, as I was.

excerpts, Philip Marchand's article entitled, "Gore Vidal:  Last of his Kind"----------------It was not because he was a gifted essayist and novelist and not because he was a master of the cool medium of television — “I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television,” he once confessed — and not because he was an outrageous character with outrageous opinions that the heart saddened at the news of Gore Vidal’s passing.

He was the last of a cohort of writers — Norman Mailer, William Styron, John Cheever, Joseph Heller, J.D. Salinger, Saul Bellow, Jack Kerouac, Bernard Malamud, Kurt Vonnegut — who wore the uniform of the U.S. military or served in the merchant marine during the Second World War. (Malamud was the sole exception, but he, too, was formed by the atmosphere of that conflict.) For some of these writers — Heller {author, Catch-22}, Vonnegut, Mailer — their wartime experience figured directly in their fiction. For others, such as Vidal, the experience touched them relatively lightly, but still reinforced something profound about their love/hate relationship with the American Republic.

What cannot be denied is that the work of these Second World War veterans resulted in the most creative period in American literary history. …

~     ~     ~     ~     ~
Boomer novelists certainly have never escaped the shadow of this cohort. One reason for this is that members of the cohort were also the last generation of writers to grow up wholly innocent of television. We will never know how this affected their work, but it did make their minds work differently than the generation that grew up afterward.

In Vidal’s case, TV celebrity though he was, the medium sharpened his awareness of television’s threat to prose fiction.

Mailer recalls Vidal lamenting, in 1963, “with a certain bitter joy,” the decline of the novel. Of course, writers in all periods like to complain, “with a certain bitter joy,” of the decay of literature. Novels do continue to be written despite this. But for Vidal, the flowering of the American novel occurred in a very brief period. “No one has yet captured the sense of excitement of the literary scene in the Forties,” he wrote in a 1968 essay. “Between VJ Day and the beginning of the Korean War, it looked as if we were going to have a most marvellous time in all the arts; and the novel was very much alive.”

That time passed. “It may well be that the form will become extinct now that we have entered the age which Professor Marshall McLuhan has termed post-Gutenberg,” Vidal wrote in a 1967 essay. “Novel reading is not a pastime of the young now being educated, nor, for that matter, is it a preoccupation of any but a very few of those who came of age in the last warm years of linear type’s hegemony.” His conclusion: “Our lovely, vulgar and most human art is at an end.”

That’s premature, of course, but cyberspace looks more and more like the place where novels, long since devastated by the end of “linear type’s hegemony,” go to die.
 ~     ~     ~     ~     ~
...Most importantly, with this novel {Julian} Vidal seems to have come to terms with his satirical talents. As the critic Wyndham Lewis points out, satire is focused on the exteriors of people — any attempt to portray the mind of a character, the play of his or her thoughts, is death to satire….

--------------------- [end excerpt]
I thought his article was very good, though I don't know if that last part about satire is true or not.  I don't think it has to be all about the exteriors of people.  But maybe I have a different concept of satire than the author of the article.  (Maybe it's in a cohort.... : )

And about novels being a thing of the past -- every week in the New York Times brand new novels are reviewed...printed on paper...YES!  And someone just told me yesterday or the day before that she found Jana Deleon's "Mudbug" novels online & read one, and thoroughly enjoyed it, and she's one of the people who really doesn't "have time" to read -- working, raising family, etc.

There's Trouble in Mudbug, Mischief in Mudbug, and Showdown in Mudbug.

Mailer, Malamud, Marchand -- meet Mudbug.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

I walked 47 miles of barbed wire

I walked 47 miles of barbed wire,

Used a cobra snake for a neck tie.

Got a brand new house on the roadside,

Made out of rattlesnake hide.

I got a brand new chimney made on top,

Made out of human skulls.

Now come on darling let's take a little walk, tell me,

Who do you love,

Who do you love, Who do you love, Who do you love.

Arlene took me by the hand,

And said oooh eeeh daddy I understand.

Who do you love,

Who do you love, Who do you love, Who do you love.

The night was black and the night was blue,

And around the corner an ice wagon flew.

A bump was a hittin' lord and somebody screamed,

You should have heard just what I seen.

Who do you love, (wah-wah)
Who do you love, (er-er)
Who do you love, (nah-nah)
Who do you love -- Aaaaaruuuggghh!...
[guitars and band jam]

Arlene took me by my hand, she said Ooo-ee Bo you know I understand

I got a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind,

I lived long enough and I ain't scared of dying.

Who do you love --

Who do you love --

Who do you love --

Who do you love --

written by Bo Diddley

On You Tube one can type in
"who do you love  the band"
and get a very interesting performance of
that song.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Christianity and Power Politics

Yesterday I typed on this blog some excerpts from an article about the late Gore Vidal, & the story from which I quoted contained this paragraph:

He held an interest in politics and government from childhood, the descendant of a uniquely American style of aristocracy, gone now, that for good or ill, saw commitment to the general welfare as essential to its noblesse oblige philosophy.
[end quote]

"Noblesse oblige" -- the obligations that go along with nobility -- the idea that if you're from a family with the advantages of wealth and power, then you have obligations to do positive things for the rest of society, to serve....

That's OK as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. We all have an obligation to do positive things for society and our country,  and we all should feel a commitment to the general welfare.   If our families don't have as much wealth and power as Gore Vidal's family had, we all have those same obligations.  We all are obligated by noblesse oblige, even if we don't know those words, or that phrase.    And we all have the power of the vote.   In his biography of Jacqueline Kennedy, Donald Spoto wrote, She refused to believe -- in the fashionably bogus humility that began to characterize so much in American life -- that she was unimportant or that her life was negligible, that she could do little, that she bore no responsibility.  Her attitude and actions counted, she believed; her inner stance determined what contributions she could make -- not only to the lives of those she loved but also to a larger world.   ...As 1960 began, then, Jackie...took up, to the mute astonishment of her husband's buddies and counselors, the writings of the American Protestant theologian and ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr.  He had been writing for years, in books such as Moral Man and Immoral Society and Christianity and Power Politics, about the profoundest kind of faith. ... What did Jack think of his wife's recondite interests?  "I never know what she's going to do," he replied...with genuine wonder.... [end excerpt]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"wish I'd said that"

Many articles around, about Gore Vidal, because of his passing -- even one hatchet-job, which seems weird, but I guess there are people who "beat up on" someone even if they're dead. 
One Commenter added this:
When Norman Mailer decked Gore Vidal at a party for a bad review, Vidal got up and said, “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer.” ...

A piece in Huff Post Politics written by Michael Winship gives some illumination....
Mr. Winship recalls an interview where he asked Gore Vidal for a reading list to "get people through the Reagan years"...Hmmmh.
QUOTE, Winship article:
The books he chose? The Federalist Papers, because with Reagan in office, he said, all of us should have a better understanding of the Constitution and the lengths of thought and debate that had gone into it.

… The other book he recommended was Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, the ancient Greek historian's chronicle of the fight between Sparta and Athens in the 5th century, BC. Reagan's America was dangerously like Sparta, Vidal said, ruled by an elite, bound by tradition, xenophobic, not a democracy but a "militarized republic" too eager for confrontation.

Thucydides wrote, "We Greeks believe that a man who takes no part in public affairs is not merely lazy, but good for nothing," …

In his writing and commentary, including his plays and movie scripts, he [Gore Vidal, not Thucydides] was fully engaged in America's public affairs, even running for office twice. His knowledge of history, overall erudition and outspoken, contrarian and often outrageous, opinions -- frequently mean but only slightly mean --

were an asset to the national discourse

whether you agreed with him or not.

He held an interest in politics and government from childhood, the descendant of a uniquely American style of aristocracy, gone now, that for good or ill, saw commitment to the general welfare as essential to its noblesse oblige philosophy.

Wealth and privilege no longer mean obligation but are simply the motives for more wealth and privilege.

Ten years ago, in The Decline and Fall of the American Empire, Vidal wrote -- presciently -- "Any individual who is able to raise [enough money] to be considered presidential is not going to be much use to the people at large. He will represent... whatever moneyed entities are paying for him... Hence, the sense of despair throughout the land as incomes fall, businesses fail and there is no redress." A message that transcends time and party affiliation.

He was smart, acerbic, funny and astoundingly prolific. Once I was in attendance at a studio from which a short-lived attempt at a weekly, public TV quiz show was being broadcast; Gore Vidal was one of the guests. The moderator had asked the panel to identify the source of an especially pithy and eloquent quote. Each was dumbfounded until the host came to Vidal, who thought a moment, then said, "Was it me?"

It wasn't. But it could have been.

---------------------------- end QUOTE from article


Monday, August 6, 2012

restore the republic

Gore Vidal died; and so articles about him drenching the internet. 

I haven't read any of Gore Vidal's books.  Reading the critics, it sounds like Burr would be the one to start with, & his essays.

I always heard of Gore Vidal when I was a little child growing up.  I must have heard it at home; I'm pretty sure they didn't tell us about Gore Vidal in elementary school....

--------------------------- [excerpt, Interview with Gore Vidal, 1992, by Terry Gross on NPR]--------------  GROSS: Savage, let's go with savage, OK, savage, acid. Acid?

VIDAL: I am savage about what has been done to the United States by its rulers.

GROSS: OK, so is it - is it a contradiction for someone who is patrician to be savage at the same time?

VIDAL: Patricians can be savage. I think what you're trying to say is: Why should a member of the ruling class question the ruling class?

GROSS: There you go.

VIDAL: That's it.


VIDAL: Because no reform ever came from the bottom, and it was always people who understood how the ruling class worked who turned out to be the reformers.

GROSS: This is great. So you think, like, the noblesse oblige, as it applies to you, is to kind of help stir up revolution.


VIDAL: Well, I didn't say that, you said that, but if - revolution - it's a dissolution is what's coming, and I would like to see it in an orderly way, and I'd like to restore. I'm a true reactionary. Like all patricians, I'd like to restore the original republic, which we lost 40 years ago when Harry Truman imposed the national security state on us, which has kept us at war, hot or cold, for almost half a century, and it's got us $4 trillion into debt.

Well, now to point that out is to be outrageous, vicious, vitriolic because I'm taking on the entire ruling class of the country, which has decided in the corporate boardrooms that this is the way we were going to live all those years.

GROSS: I must, for better or worse, pursue this patrician line of questioning one step further. One of your more famous television appearances was in 1968, when you and William Buckley, also a patrician...

VIDAL: Not by my measurement.


GROSS: OK, well, you were both on as commentators during the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, and you were commentators for ABC. And you called Buckley a crypto-fascist, and do you remember what he said to you?

VIDAL: No, but I remember laughing at him, and he was climbing the wall.

GROSS: OK, what Buckley said after you called him a crypto-fascist, he said: Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-fascist, or I'll sock you in the g-damned face, and you'll stay plastered. Did you and Buckley have words off the air after your go-around on the air?

VIDAL: No, I never spoke to him again.

GROSS: You've said that your upbringing was in a way very similar to George Bush's, although you certainly see the world very differently. What were the similarities in your upbringing?

VIDAL: Well, he's the son of a senator; I'm the grandson of a senator. My father was in the Cabinet. We're both Washington children, government children, both politically ambitious. I was at Exeter; he was at Andover. He's a year older than I am. When I was 17, I enlisted in the Army; when he was 18, he enlisted in the Navy. And we were both in the Second World War. So we've had parallel lives.

... VIDAL:  I have a questioning mind. I was born a writer; he was born somebody who wants to be appointed to political office and then eventually elected to political office.

I was intrigued and drawn to that, it was the family business, but after all, I wrote my first novel when I was 19 in the Pacific, and I've supported myself as a writer since I was 20. Also, you can't be both a writer and a politician, at least not a good writer. A writer must always tell the truth as he sees it. And the politician must never give the game away.

Now these are two opposing forces, and whenever I am in active politics, I stop writing. And when I'm writing, I don't politick.

GROSS: Gore Vidal, recorded in 1992. He died Tuesday at the age of 86. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

[National Public Radio.  personal and noncommercial]


Sunday, August 5, 2012

the long run

There's a saying, "Politics is the art of the possible."  (Like -- What CAN we do?  What's possible?  Setting aside pessimism and and seeing what you can do.)...In this book one of President Kennedy's advisers is quoted as saying, "Politics is not the art of the possible, it's choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."


[excerpt, Dallek biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson]----------------------------..."The basic decision in Southeast Asia is here," Johnson asserted.  "We must decide whether to help these countries to the best of our ability or throw in the towel in the area and pull back our defenses to San Francisco and a 'Fortress America' concept."  Though Johnson did not mention Munich, memories of appeasement in 1938 echo through his advice to Kennedy on Vietnam.  Failure to take a stand would mean retreat and defeat and greater ultimate dangers to the national security.

[You read this,  & you know he's right, all the people who were saying that were right, and yet then you read the next paragraph where John Kenneth Galbraith says pissing around in this sinkhole that is Vietnam isn't going to accomplish anything and just get a lot of our guys killed and from the vantage point of decades later, you know he is right, at well.

But at the same time you had the communists (which was Soviet Union, huge, & their silent {potential} partner, huger still, China & they didn't care how many of their people had to get killed, they'd just pour 'em down on you until you said "uncle" if they ever roused up out of their Quiet and joined up with the Soviets) -- communists and communism pushing, pushing -- pushing here, pushing there...Vietnam, Berlin, look out where will they pop up next...The first guy, V.P. Johnson was right....But so is Galbraith....]

Kennedy had other advice.  John Kenneth Galbraith, who described himself as "sadly out of step with the Establishment," warned against an expanded U.S. role in Vietnam.  Spending "our billions in these distant jungles" would do the U.S. no good and the Soviets no harm.  "Incidentally, who is the man in your administration who decides what countries are strategic?  I would like to...ask him what is so important about this real estate in the space age."  Galbraith also advised seizing the opportunithy to make "any kind of a political settlement."  Though it would bring political attacks, these would be better than "increasing involvement.  Politics is not the art of the possible.  It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.  I wonder if those who talk in terms of a ten year war really know what they are saying in terms of American attitudes."

[He said a mouthful there.]

But Johnson's view of Vietnam represented the prevailing wisdom in the administration, the Congress, and the press.  Defeat in Vietnam would mean the loss of all Southeast Asia and worse.  In the grip of the World War II experience, when one uncontested Hitler aggression led inevitably to the next, most Americans, including JFK, shared Johnson's exaggerated fear that a Communist victory in Vietnam would become the prelude to a Red tide sweeping across the Pacific.  In consequence, between 1961 and 1963, the Kennedy administration expanded the number of U.S. military advisers from 692 to 16,700 and increased material aid to a level that marked a "transition from advice to partnership" in the war.

...The one instance in which LBJ played more than a peripheral role in foreign affairs was during a crisis over Berlin in August 1961.  An exodus of many of the best-trained citizens from East Germany through Berlin moved the Communists to build a wall sealing off the eastern part of the city. 

Unclear as to whether this was a prelude to more aggressive action against West Berlin,

unwilling to order an assault against the wall, as some in Germany asked,

and eager to counter demoralization in the American, British, and French zones,

Kennedy ordered Johnson to make a symbolic trip to Berlin.

Johnson was reluctant to go.  He believed that such a journey might produce more recrimination over U.S. weakness than hope that America intended to stand up to Soviet expansion.  If he were right, as the President's representative, he would then take some, if not much, of the heat for a gesture that was too little and too late.  Kennedy ordered 1500 U.S. troops to move from West Germany to West Berlin as a show of American determination.  But believing this was insufficient to boost morale in West Berlin, he wanted Johnson to make a very public appearance in the city as a demonstration "to the Russians that Berlin was an ultimate American commitment."

[Sometimes, even if it's not "enough" or "a clear win" you have to -- Do The Thing.]

Despite his doubts, Johnson took on the assignment with characteristic energy and preparation.  He stayed up all night on his trans-Atlantic flight discussing his itinerary and speeches that would give meaning to his trip.  Landing in Bonn, where West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer met him, Johnson refused to be drawn into the current election campaign between Adenauer and West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt.  He refused Adenauer's request to travel together to West Berlin.  Instead, he focused on giving the West German crowd greeting him a message from President Kennedy that America was "determined to fulfill all our obligations and to honor all our commitments."  We will "dare to the end to do our duty."

Johnson's trip to West Berlin was a triumphal tour.  After an eighty-minute flight to Tempelhof Airport, LBJ rode to the city center in an open car cheered by 100,000 spectators.  Stopping repeatedly to shake hands with the people lining the curbs, he was greeted with unmistakable enthusiasm.  At City Hall, where 300,000 Berliners had gathered, he declared himself in Berlin at the direction of President Kennedy to convey the same commitment that "our ancestors pledged in forming the United States:  'Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.'"  The wall, Johnson presciently declared, was a testimony to Communism's failure.  This was not a time for despair, but for understanding that "in the long run this unwise effort will fail....This is a time, then, for confidence, for poise, and for faith -- for faith in yourselves.  It is also a time for faith in your allies, everywhere throughout the world.  This island does not stand alone."

The next day, Sunday morning at 9 a.m., Johnson and General Lucius Clay, former High Commissioner for Berlin, who Kennedy had asked to join the Vice President, went to the Helmstedt entrance to West Berlin, where they awaited the arrival of the 1500 troops traveling along a 104-mile stretch of Autobahn.  President Kennedy, who normally spent his summer weekends in Hyannis Port, stayed in Washington to await word of the convoy's unimpeded arrival.  When the column of tanks and troops reached the city at 10 a.m., Berliners greeted them with shouts, tears, and flowers.  The commanding officer remembered the occasion as "the most exciting and impressive thing I've ever seen in my life, with the possible exception of the liberation of Paris."--------------------------- [end excerpt]

{Flawed Giant.  Robert Dallek.  1998.  Oxford.  New York}


Saturday, August 4, 2012


"Invaluable" is a weird word.  It means really really valuable.  But it kind of sounds like it means NOT-valuable.
Like the word "ingratitude" means the person is Not grateful.
But "invaluable" means they're Super-valuable.

People who learn English as a second language say it's the hardest one, and maybe I believe them, except for Chinese.

[excerpt, Flawed Giant:  Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961 - 1973]--------------
"I can't afford to have my Vice President, who knows every reporter in Washington, going around saying we're all screwed up, so we're going to keep him happy," JFK told White House aide Kenneth O'Donnell.

...Kennedy...did not wish to provoke him into becoming a covert opponent, as John Nance Garner, FDR's first Vice President, had been....

[President Kennedy] had genuine regard for Johnson as a "political operator"....He viewed him as someone who, despite the limitations of the vice presidency, could contribute to the national well-being in foreign and domestic affairs and, by so doing, make Kennedy a more effective President.

JFK gave some careful thought to Johnson's role in the administration.  He did not want him managing its legislative program and creating the impression that the President was following the lead of his Vice President, a more experienced legislator.  Kennedy was happy to have Johnson gather intelligence on what senators and representatives were thinking, but he had no intention of allowing him to become the point man or administration leader on major bills.  Besides, he understood that Johnson no longer had the means he used as Majority Leader to drive bills through the Senate.  Instead, he wanted Johnson to head a new Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (CEEO), chair the National Aeronautics and Space Council, and represent the United States on trips abroad.

Kennedy knew that civil rights was going to be a major issue during the next four years.  The campaign in the fifties by Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference against racial segregation made civil rights a compelling question for JFK's administration.  He doubted, however, that a cautious Congress dominated by southern Democrats would be favorably disposed to a bill assuring black Americans the right to vote and access to public facilities across the South. 

Consequently, he planned to rely on executive action as an immediate device for advancing black equality.  He wanted the CEEO to combat discriminatory hiring practices in the federal government and by private businesses with federal contracts.  Lyndon Johnson was to be one of the principal figures implementing this strategy.  As a southern moderate who had led a major civil rights law through the Congress in 1957 and believed the national well-being required equal treatment for blacks, Johnson could be invaluable in advancing a rational response to a highly charged issue and preventing southern alienation from the administration.

...Kennedy insisted that his staff treat Johnson with the same respect they would have wanted shown him were their positions reversed.  "You are dealing with a very insecure, sensitive man with a huge ego," JFK told O'Donnell.  "I want you literally to kiss his fanny from one end of Washington to the other." 

Kennedy also asked Angier Biddle Duke, White House Chief of Protocol, to take care of the Johnsons.  "'I want you to...see that they're not ignored, not only when you see them but at all other occasions.'"  Kennedy explained that everyone in the administration eventually would be so busy they would forget about Johnson, and he wanted Duke "to remember."  And so during White House photo sessions, when Lyndon "would always hang in the back as if he felt he was unwanted," Duke "would say in a loud voice, 'Mr. Vice President, Mr. Vice President,' and then the president would look around and say, 'Where's Lyndon?  Where's Lyndon?'  Johnson liked that, and he'd come up front."

[I can imagine that, with JFK's particular Boston accent:  "Way-ahz Lyndon?  Way-ahz Lyndon?"...]

New York Times columnist Arthur Krock remembered Kennedy's "often" expressing concern about Lyndon, saying, "'I've got to keep him happy somehow.'"  'To appease Johnson, who would descend on him with personal complaints, Kennedy worked out a routine with O'Donnell.  JFK would first hear Lyndon out, and then call in O'Donnell for a tongue-lashing about Johnson's problem.  Johnson would then "go away somewhat happier."  Johnson told Secretary of State Dean Rusk that he "had been treated better than any other Vice President in history and knew it."
--------------------------- [end excerpt]

{Flawed Giant:  Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961 - 1973.
Robert Dallek.  Copyright, 1998.  Oxford University Press, New York, New York.}


Friday, August 3, 2012

some funky guitar

I can see her lyin' back in her satin dress

In a room where you do what you don't confess,

Sundown you better take care

If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs.

Sundown you better take care

If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs.

She's been lookin' like a queen in a sailor's dream

And she don't always say what she really means...

Sometimes -- I think it's a shame

When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain

Sometimes I think it's a shame

When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain

I can picture every move that a man could make

Getting lost in her lovin' is your first mistake --

-- Sundown, you better take care

If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs.

Sometimes -- I think it's a sin

When I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin again ...

[Na na na nanana-nuh, bah - ba-da-buh-bahh...Na na na
nah-mah -- nah na nana nananana...]

I can see her lookin' fast in her faded jeans

She's a hard lovin' woman, got me feelin' mean -- [guitar]

Sometimes I think it's a shame

When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain

Sundown you better take care

If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs

Sundown y' better take care

If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs.

Some - times, I think it's a sin

When I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin' again

(... fade to Blues)

{"Sundown"    Gordon Lightfoot    March 1974}


Thursday, August 2, 2012


Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,

We're finally on our own.

This summer I hear the drumming,

Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it

Soldiers are cutting us down

Should have been done long ago.

What if you knew her

And found her dead on the ground

How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it

Soldiers are cutting us down

Should have been done long ago.

What if you knew her

And found her dead on the ground

How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,

We're finally on our own.

This summer I hear the drumming,

Four dead in Ohio.

---------------------------------- {"Ohio"  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young June 1970}   -30-

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

read the instructions

During the past weekend surfing in Robert Dallek's second book on Lyndon Johnson, Flawed Giant:  Lyndon Johnson and his Times, 1961 - 1973...
it's almost difficult / painful to read, at times, because it's like reliving the unremitting
other tensions related to the Thing known as

It's like -- it's interesting, and I'm curious, and I want to read it and yet, after you read some paragraphs --
Dean Rusk, Bob McNamara, Mac Bundy, Hubert Humphrey, Bobby Kennedy, riots in the cities, escalation, get the South Vietnamese to fight their own war... you feel like, "Hey I need a break I can't wait for the weekend."
And then realize -- Wait a minute, this is the weekend.
I need a break from the break. ...

Read about Somebody-or-other whom LBJ believed "couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel"...

and a central point that we can see now --
the book says what the North Vietnamese / Soviets did was, however many troops we sent in, they put in same amount.
25,000 U.S. troops in;
25,000 pro-communist Northern forces in;
40,000 U.S. in;
40,000 communists in --

and reading that made me remember a scene in the movie Charlie Wilson's War, where the CIA guy tells Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) that in Afghanistan (late 70s) America was supporting the Afghans' struggle against the invading Soviets only as much as necessary to keep the Soviets engaged, and frustrated, not enough for the Afghans to actually win. 

The CIA guy says, " that they [the Soviets] keep sendin' in guns and men and money, and guns and men and money, until they go out of their f----n' minds the way we pay 'em back for Vietnam."

Charlie Wilson:  "You mean to tell me, the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to have the Afghans keep walkin' into machine-gun fire until the Soviets run outta bullets...."

In a sense you could say it wasn't the phrase that we heard a billion times at the time:

"the Vietnam war"
-- what it was, was a battle between the United States of America and the U.S.S.R, fought in Vietnam.