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Thursday, February 09, 2012

From the woods to Orwell and Dickens

Call this a musing or a ramble, whatever.  I went for a long walk in the woods with my dog, Todd, which ought to mean, since it was in the woods in Maine, that I then read Thoreau; but after our walk I was initially interrupted by a partial journey through Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut" (with an interlude to eat my very first cara cara orange, which I highly recommend) and a full viewing of "Interstellar Overdrive."  

Then on to read Christopher Hitchens' last essay, which was on G.K. Chesterton, which I confess to not really understand since I'm not very aware of Chesterton and only marginally more so of T.S. Eliot, who is also quoted often in that piece.  But then on to an article in The Atlantic regarding the writing of Hitch's final essay, which then lead me on to something that would not be surprising if you knew Hitch and again not surprising if you know me.  What is it?  Orwell's essay on Dickens, of course.  But before you read the link to the essay, I want to share this gem of a quote from Orwell:
“One is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals.”
 Since Hitchens is what truly sparked me to write this personal piece, I will likely end my day with a little of Mr. Walker's amber restorative.

Now back to the Orwell essay to put in a teaser quote:
attacked English institutions with a ferocity that has never since been
approached. Yet he managed to do it without making himself hated, and,
more than this, the very people he attacked have swallowed him so
completely that he has become a national institution himself. In its
attitude towards Dickens the English public has always been a little like
the elephant which feels a blow with a walking-stick as a delightful tickling.
And then one more, which I hope will help to tie some of these themes together, at least what it was about Orwell that Hitchens admired.  In this quote you see Orwell's pragmatic outlook on society as he explains Dickens' similar view:
Whatever else Dickens may have been, he was not a hole-and-corner
soul-saver, the kind of well-meaning idiot who thinks that the world will
be perfect if you amend a few bylaws and abolish a few anomalies. It is
worth comparing him with Charles Reade, for instance. Reade was a much
better-informed man than Dickens, and in some ways more public-spirited.
He really hated the abuses he could understand, he showed them up in a
series of novels which for all their absurdity are extremely readable,
and he probably helped to alter public opinion on a few minor but
important points. But it was quite beyond him to grasp that, given the
existing form of society, certain evils CANNOT be remedied. Fasten upon
this or that minor abuse, expose it, drag it into the open, bring it
before a British jury, and all will be well that is how he sees it.
Dickens at any rate never imagined that you can cure pimples by cutting
them off. In every page of his work one can see a consciousness that
society is wrong somewhere at the root. It is when one asks 'Which root?'
that one begins to grasp his position.

Are you lost yet?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Carl Rove is offended -- not upset, offended -- by the Chrysler Corporation ad with Clint Eastwood that aired during the Super Bowl.  First, let me step back.  Hey Carl, who the fuck are you anyway?  On what basis do you have a right to be offended by anything anyone does, unless it was directed at you?  Get your fat, egotistical head out of your selfish ass.
The other point I'd like to make loud and clear is this:  Ask yourself what response the Carl Roves of the world would have if someone of liberal leanings were to ever be so bold as to disagree, say nothing about being offended by, with anything Clint Eastwood said or did?  That's right, they would've called you a pinko, commie, liberal, unAmerican so-and-so, and ask that you leave their country at once.  (The same crowd, by the way, that places bumper stickers on their trucks saying "If you don't love America, leave it" right next to their rebel flag bumper sticker)
So I have to say, not for the first time either, that Carl Rove is unAmerican and his umbrage is anti-American.  What other response is there to someone who takes offense at something done by arguably the most iconic of American symbols?
Here's the ad, if you haven't seen it.  Tell me what could possibly be offensive about asking us all to unite and knock off the partisan horseshit?

And for the sake of full disclosure: I am a liberal, a proud American who served his country, a huge Clint Eastwood fan and a Mopar guy. So this commercial is pure love for me. I guarantee The Greaseman had a boner when he saw the commercial.

UPDATE:  Here is a link to article regarding Clint's response to the uproar about the ad, as well as at the top you'll now find a link that contains Rove's comment, which I forgot to include.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Lamestream Media?

The "moral majority" is always raving that the mainstream liberal media is biased and lies, at least when the right doesn't like what that media reports.  You would think if they didn't trust and believe what is printed in the liberal media, they wouldn't be so easily fooled by the likes of The Onion, which they perceive to be part of the liberal media.  In my opinion this is a very good insight into what the right truly believes regarding the veracity of the liberal media.  They may say the media is not to be trusted as a tool to control their nodding masses but it's pretty obvious they know the liberal media is usually spot on regarding most issues.
The Onion, if you didn't know, is a parody online news source.  Today's headline there is basically that Eli Manning, after winning his second Super Bowl yesterday, is asking his dad if he can now finally quit playing football.  Being fooled by The Onion is the modern equivalent of being fooled in the old days by Mad Magazine.  So what does it say that Louisiana Republican Representative John Fleming was fooled by an article in The Onion claiming that Planned Parenthood (ooooh, evil) was readying to open a billion dollar abortion factory.  From Huffington Post this morning: 
Fleming shared a link on Facebook to an article from the satirical newspaper headlined "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex."
"More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale," he wrote.
 Unfortunately, you're more likely to get accurate information regarding Planned Parenthood from The Onion than you are by getting your information from the GOP.

(Planned Parenthood) 

I got this chart from an excellent article by Ezra Klein in the Washington Post

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Drug Test Them Instead

The constant, constant chatter from the right regarding drug testing anyone who receives support from the taxpayers prompts this brief post.  Why is it always so easy to blame the defenseless for something that isn't occurring to veil your contempt for the unfortunate?  Why don't you just come out and say that you don't want to pay taxes for any reasons but most especially for the disadvantaged?
The people who should be drug tested are those who constantly ring this false alarm because they're ignoring the data that repeatedly shows that the incidence of welfare recipients who use drugs is far, far below the percentage of people applying for state and federal jobs who pop on piss tests.  Florida is learning that right now, where I believe the percentage of welfare recipients who've tested positive is 2% and the percentage of people drug tested for other reasons is 7 to 9%.  Welfare recipients want to feed and house their family, and want to get back on their feet and be self sufficient.  There are those wanting to scam the system wherever you look but getting rid of subsidies to Monsanto or getting GE to pay taxes of any kind is much more worth the effort than this old boondoggle.  And don't even get me started on the fact that in Florida the company running the drug tests is a company "formerly" owned by the same Governor who pushed the legislation.
These cries come from the same side of the aisle who claim they want less government, less government intrusion into the rights of citizens and a reduction in government spending.  More money is spent implementing, carrying out and analyzing these programs than the money saved by catching the rare welfare recipient smoking pot.
Cross posted on For Consideration