A Cautious Man
October 31, 2009
Spirits In The Night
Haven't posted much lately, but just wanted to share this article from a site on my reading list to the right. It's an article on Street Prophets called "Halloween Before Halloween", and it's a nice overview.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear the doorbell ...

October 14, 2009
Trying To Learn How To Walk Like Heroes
We Thought We Had To Be

The Republican Party, it its ongoing effort to be "cool" and "happenin' ", has a new website. One of their pages has a list of "Republican Heroes". Of course, they have Reagan, and Eisenhower, and (naturally) Abraham Lincoln. Reagan and Senator Ed Brooke of Massachusetts are the only two from after 1964, which is a significant year for the Republican Party, as the following will attest.

They also include Jackie Robinson, and they describe him as follows:

In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play major league baseball in the United States, as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Not only was he a great athlete, Jackie Robinson was also a great Republican. He campaigned for Richard Nixon's presidential campaign in 1960 and then supported Nelson Rockefeller (R-NY) for the Republican nomination in 1964. Robinson worked as a special assistant in Governor Rockefeller’s administration.
Unfortunately for the GOP, the folks who put Mr. Robinson on the list didn't read his 1972 autobiography, in which he describes the "welcome" that Nelson Rockefeller received at the 1964 convention, and his own impressions of what the party had become.

I was not as sold on the Republican party as I was on the governor. Every chance I got, while I was campaigning, I said plainly what I thought of the right-wing Republicans and the harm they were doing. I felt the GOP was a minority party in term of numbers of registered voters and could not win unless they updated their social philosophy and sponsored candidates and principles to attract the young, the black, and the independent voter. I said this often from public, and frequently Republican, platforms. By and large Republicans had ignored blacks and sometimes handpicked a few servile leaders in the black community to be their token "n*****s". How would I sound trying to go all out to sell Republicans to black people? They're not buying. They know better.

I wasn’t altogether caught of guard by the victory of the reactionary forces in the Republican party, but I was appalled by the tactics they used to stifle their liberal opposition. I was a special delegate to the convention through an arrangement made by the Rockefeller office. That convention was one of the most unforgettable and frightening experiences of my life. The hatred I saw was unique to me because it was hatred directed against a white man. It embodied a revulsion for all he stood for, including his enlightened attitude toward black people.

A new breed of Republicans had taken over the GOP. As I watched this steamroller operation in San Francisco, I had a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.

The same high-handed methods had been there.

The same belief in the superiority of one religious or racial group over another was here. Liberals who fought so hard and so vainly were afraid not only of what would happen to the GOP but of what would happen to America. The Goldwaterites were afraid – afraid not to hew strictly to the line they had been spoon-fed, afraid to listen to logic and reason if it was not in their script.

I will never forget the fantastic scene of Governor Rockefeller’s ordeal as he endured what must have been three minutes of hysterical abuse and booing which interrupted his fighting statement which the convention managers had managed to delay until the wee hours of the morning. Since the telecast was coming from the West Coast, that meant that many people in other sections of the country, because of the time differential, would be in their beds. I don’t think he has ever stood taller than that night when he refused to be silenced until he had had his say.

It was a terrible hour for the relatively few black delegates who were present. Distinguished in their communities, identified with the cause of Republicanism, an extremely unpopular cause among blacks, they had been served notice that the party they had fought for considered them just another bunch of “n*****s”. They had no real standing in the convention, no clout. They were unimportant and ignored. One bigot from one of the Deep South states actually threw acid on a black delegate’s suit jacket and burned it. Another one, from the Alabama delegation where I was standing at the time of the Rockefeller speech, turned on me menacingly while I was shouting “C’mon Rocky” as the governor stood his ground. He started up in his seat as if to come after me. His wife grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
Now, we could just chalk this up to ignorance on the part of the GOP, but I don't think we should be that kind. In an era where the GOP is actively encouraging expressions of hatred for the first African-American to be elected President of the United States, their attempt to claim Jackie Robinson as a "great Republican", and a supporter of their efforts is (literally) p*ssing on the man's grave.

I would add that they should be ashamed of themselves, but it's clear that they have no shame.

[Edited to add] And Jon Stewart's also picked up on this!

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October 13, 2009
NOTHING Funny 'Bout Peace, Love And Understanding
Via the Catholic Sensibility blog, the official statement by Cardinal George on behalf of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. Caution: anybody who was dismayed by, or even signed a petition against, Mr. Obama's address at Notre Dame University in May, should probably not read further.

In the name of the Catholic Bishops of the United States, I would like to offer congratulations to President Barack Obama on his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

As he has graciously said, much of the work of realizing a more peaceful and just world for all persons and nations remains to be done; but the prize was given because as President of the United States he has already changed the international conversation.

In our own country, the remarkable and historic achievement of his election has changed the relationships between men and women of all races. The rich diversity of United States society is now more surely anchored in a national unity that is better able to foster the peace we all are challenged to pursue. Our prayer is that almighty God will bless the president and his family.

Does this mean that Cardinal George joins the ranks of "Catholics in Name Only", leaving us with only Newt Gingrich and William Donohue as representing the One True Church in the United States?

A Fight Against The Blood And Hatred In The Air
Perusing DailyKos this morning, I was directed to an extremely misguided column by Richard Cohen regarding the recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. In a nutshell, we Americans ought to be insulted by the attitude of those Europeans.

The European view that Obama is some sort of accidental president, that he does not truly represent the essence of America, is a bit disturbing as well as insulting. I think a bit of it is a greater fixation on Obama's race than you will find here and, concurrently, a misguided belief that Obama's race makes him less of an American in America than a white person would be. Europeans have always had a good time with American racism, finding it very comforting in its confirmation of our essential boorishness. In this sense, the Nobel was meant to encourage us in our new, admirable path -- keep it up, Yanks. Thanks, Olaf.
What. A. Load. Of. Cr@p. I added a comment to the Kos "pundit wrap-up" which contained that gem, basically noting the following:

Mr. Cohen has it exactly backwards. It's not the Europeans who think "that he does not truly represent the essence of America". That's a stock argument of tea-baggers and town-hall shouters, and has been continually pushed by right-wing radio ranters and "respected" columnists, even before the election. Anyone remember Kathleen Parker's infamous "blood equity" column?
Full-bloodedness is an old coin that’s gaining currency in the new American realm. Meaning: Politics may no longer be so much about race and gender as about heritage, core values, and made-in-America. Just as we once and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide.

Who “gets” America? And who doesn’t?

The answer has nothing to do with a flag lapel pin, which Obama donned for a campaign swing through West Virginia, or even military service, though that helps. It’s also not about flagpoles in front yards or magnetic ribbons stuck on tailgates.

It’s about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.

It was the anti-Obama side (aided and abetted by the Richard Cohens of the elite commentariat) which claimed that Obama "does not truly represent the essence of America". The American people resoundingly rejected that notion.

Having commented to this effect, I now realize that the latest Cohen column is so internally, self-evidentially full of backwards reasoning, that there was no need to point out its obvious flaws. After all, he also includes in it his new, after-the-fact "reasoning" concerning the President's earlier journey to boost Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.

In my estimation, the distance Obama put between himself and what came before him encouraged the International Olympic Committee not to see him as the president of the United States and thus, as with some supplicating mayor, to dismiss his entreaty. At that moment, he was the president of Chicago, commander in chief of Cook County and not the entire United States. A lesson learned, I hope.

So, to conclude, Mr. Cohen is insulted that the Europeans view Obama as somehow not fully American, even if it is Obama's fault for putting that idea into their heads.

October 12, 2009
Blonde on Blonde
A news item, and a comment to follow -

LINWOOD, N.J., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Miss America Organization (MAO)
announced today that Rush Limbaugh has been named as one of the national
judges for the 2010 Miss America Pageant, which will be held at Planet
Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 30 and broadcast
live on TLC.

Limbaugh will be one of a panel of seven distinguished judges that will help
decide which of the 53 contestants will capture the Miss America 2010 title
and serve as the Goodwill Ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network, as
well as introduce the first Go Green platform for MAO.

My comment? If each state pageant follows the best strategy to have their contestant win, the contest will consist of 53 Carrie Prejean clones.

October 11, 2009
Killer Graces And Secret Places
I think this goes into the "Don't wish for something, or you may get it" file.

Good news for Dan Brown:
A front page review of his new book, The Lost Symbol, in the New York Times Book Review.

The Less Good News for Dan Brown:
They handed the book to Maureen Dowd to review.

It's not just the snarkiest book review I've seen in a long time, but it's also incredibly on the money!
The new Dan Brown puzzler is the scariest one yet.

It’s not so much the barbarous machinations of the villain, another one-dimensional, self-mortifying hulk, that sends chills down your spine. Or the plot, which is an Oedipal MacGuffin.

No, the terrifying thing about “The Lost Symbol” is that Brown — who did not flinch when the Vatican both condemned the “The Da Vinci Code” and curtailed the filming of “Angels & Demons” in Rome — clearly got spooked by that other powerful, secretive ancient sect, the Masons.

His book is a desperate attempt to ingratiate himself with the Masons, rather than to interpret the bizarre Masonic rites and symbols that illuminate — as in Illuminati! — how the ultimate elite private boys’ club has conspired to shape the nation’s capital and Western civilization ever since George Washington laid the cornerstone for the Capitol building in a Masonic ritual wearing full Masonic regalia, including a darling little fringed satin apron. If the Masons are more intimidating than the Vatican, if Brown has now become part of their semiotic smoke screen, then all I can say is, God help us all.
And as the essay plays with Mr. Brown's fondness for italics, it concludes -

In the end, as with “The Da Vinci Code,” there’s no payoff. Brown should stop worrying about unfinished pyramids and worry about unfinished novels. At least Spielberg and Lucas gave us an Ark and swirling, dissolving humans. We don’t get any ancient wisdom that “will profoundly change the world as you know it” — just a lot of New Agey piffle about how we are the gods we’ve been waiting for. (And a father-son struggle for global domination, as though we didn’t get enough of that with the Bushes.)

What the hell, Dan?!

October 10, 2009
Saturday Afternoon Springsteen -
"Last Time" Edition

The Cautious Wife and I attended the last Springsteen concert (and the last concert ever) at Giants Stadium last night. The place is going to be torn down at the end of football season, and the action moved to the new stadium that's being completed right next to the place. It was a lo-o-o-o-ng show, but the crowd was so energized - and the performers were so energized - that the time flew by.

The band accepted a request towards the end of the show, and so provided a one-time-only performance of the Rolling Stones' "Last Time".

Too cool.

October 09, 2009
Surprise, Surprise
Shorter John Bolton on President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize -

"Yo, I'm a let you finish, but Teddy Roosevelt had some of the best Presidential peace-making of all time!"

Okay, so it may not make the list of "Top Ten Kanye West Interruption Parodies" ...

("Shorter" concept learned from these guys.)

October 04, 2009
Sunday Night Springsteen
... is some "Saturday Night Springsteen" from last night.

As mentioned in an earlier post, my brother and his spouse joined me and the Cautious Wife at the Springsteen concert on Saturday, at Giants Stadium. Their tearing that place down at the end of football season, and the E Street Band is celebrating the last concerts there.

One moment early in the show was somewhat unbelievable, if we hadn't seen it with our own eyes. During "Hungry Heart", Mr. Springsteen runs on a platform around the large "pit", which contains the fans who are closest to the stage. As he is standing on the far side, opposite where the stage is, he suddenly asks the fans there, "Can you get me back to the stage?" And then he "crowd surfs" (still leading the song and cueing the band) about 30 yards back to the stage.

I guess that's something that's only done by a performer when he knows that he's among some of his most enthusiastic fans, in a stadium full of them.

It's fun to watch, and the "crowd surf" starts at about 2:40 in the video below.

Yes, There Is A "Religious Left"
On DailyKos, where oftentimes people who post in support of progressive efforts from a religious perspective get jeered, Michael Moore elaborated on the thesis of his new movie, "Capitalism", from his own religious perspective, in a piece entitled "For Those of You on Your Way to Church This Morning..." -

In my new film I speak for the first time in one of my movies about my own spiritual beliefs. I have always believed that one's religious leanings are deeply personal and should be kept private. After all, we've heard enough yammerin' in the past three decades about how one should "behave," and I have to say I'm pretty burned out on pieties and platitudes considering we are a violent nation who invades other countries and punishes our own for having the audacity to fall on hard times.

Amidst all the Wall Street bad guys and corrupt members of Congress exposed in "Capitalism: A Love Story," I pose a simple question in the movie: "Is capitalism a sin?" I go on to ask, "Would Jesus be a capitalist?" Would he belong to a hedge fund? Would he sell short? Would he approve of a system that has allowed the richest 1% to have more financial wealth than the 95% under them combined?

I have come to believe that there is no getting around the fact that capitalism is opposite everything that Jesus (and Moses and Mohammed and Buddha) taught. All the great religions are clear about one thing: It is evil to take the majority of the pie and leave what's left for everyone to fight over. Jesus said that the rich man would have a very hard time getting into heaven. He told us that we had to be our brother's and sister's keepers and that the riches that did exist were to be divided fairly. He said that if you failed to house the homeless and feed the hungry, you'd have a hard time finding the pin code to the pearly gates.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb in saying that this is essentially the same point of view of Pope Benedict XVI, who as we observed here last July wrote in his latest encyclical, Caritas In Veritate -

Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end that provides a sense both of how to produce it and how to make good use of it. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.

I would suggest that you read the whole thing.


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