Saturday, September 13, 2008

Literary Interlude: On His Blindness

On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."
-John Milton

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meanderings: Stick a Fork

The phone rings a few nights ago. It is the little one, who is now not quite so little. In fact, she is calling from a gala in Washington, DC. She is there, having flown in from LA, because she has won a scholarship for film school from a very worthy Hispanic arts group. She is thrilled, overwhelmed by some of the heavy hitters she has spoken with.... I am thrilled for her. The kid deserves it.

...Years ago before I was truly old enough to understand, let alone appreciate, the thought, I was reading the Times Sunday Magazine. Yeah, I've been known to read it once or twice. Anyway, there was an essay in which the writer maintained that there came a time in the life of every man when he realized that he would never ever play short stop for a major league team. I'm taking liberties with the precise wording, as I am depending on memory here. "Oh, kinda silly," I thought. Still it stayed with me.

Then for years as I rejected the rat race, hesitated to put myself out there, relegated my needs to those of others, pooh-pooed my dreams, wondered what my dreams were, I always had a sense that there would be time. There would be time, once I knew. But then, the once seemingly endless stretch of that commodity yawning before me evaporated, almost at once.

It was then I began to understand. There comes a time when you know. You know that certain achievements are now beyond your physical abilities, when you realize that you no longer have the time to reach others. I thought I had made peace with that notion. But speaking on that phone that evening, drowning in the illness and dysfunction which surrounds me, rattling around the house by myself, grateful for the lonely intimacy of peace, I thought, "I'm done. My life is over." And so it is.

Actually, my story is done; the rest is denouement. The story is about her and the millions of others just coming into their own in a world of infinite possibility. This is not necessarily bad, as there is a great deal of relief there. I don't have to worry about achieving. I don't have to worry about romance. It's about being now. I can get joy from the rays streaming through the curtains as I write this. Tomorrow I will cultivate the garden and glory in the sunshine even as the sweat running into my eyes starts to sting. I will live in the moment, a luxury not afforded the younger.

And as I hung up the phone that night, I had to acknowledge that I never took the big chances. I never had that kind of confidence. I never mortgaged my future to a dream. But then that's not quite true. By following the precepts I was taught, maintaining the primacy of family above all, I was risking all. I just didn't know it. But now I do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Which I Defend President Bush, Definitely!

The incomparable and sometimes indefensible Anne Coulter hits it out of the ballpark in her column today. Those of us who work in liberal land have learned that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to our sitting President, as the feeblest of defenses often leads to one's interlocutor forcibly removing handfuls of hair from his or her own pate while gesticulating wildly and frothing at the mouth. Don't believe me? It even has a name: Bush Derangement Syndrome.

My reticence has nothing to do, then, with my feelings toward W. Simply put, he has been a most misunderestimated leader. Yes, he has disappointed. But he has, nonetheless, kept us safe. As I am fond of thinking, every jihadi who died in Iraq is one less on the streets of San Francisco. But that's a simplistic way of characterizing an entire administration.

But back to Anne Coulter who in her incisive way zeroes in on the laudable in the very epithet so often used to put down the President:

George Bush is Gary Cooper in the classic western "High Noon." The sheriff is about to leave office when a marauding gang is coming to town. He could leave, but he waits to face the killers as all his friends and all the townspeople, who supported him during his years of keeping them safe, slowly abandon him. In the end, he walks alone to meet the killers, because someone has to.

That's Bush. Name one other person in Washington who would be willing to stand alone if he had to, because someone had to.

OK, there is one, but she's not in Washington yet. Appropriately, at the end of "High Noon," Cooper is surrounded by the last two highwaymen when, suddenly, his wife (Grace Kelly) appears out of nowhere and blows away one of the killers! The aging sheriff is saved by a beautiful, gun-toting woman.

I am old enough to remember the contempt heaped upon Reagan while he was in office. The verdict of history is often not the same one pronounced by contemporaries.

The entire column here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Which I Defend Obama, Maybe...

C'mon folks, is there one among you who hasn't put the proverbial hoof in mouth? I think it is entirely conceivable that Mr. Barack Obama was not consciously picturing Gov. Palin when he made the now infamous "lipstick" remark. First is the question of derivation, that is to say that the economy and the market have been in the headlines as of late, which may very well have influenced his choice of figurative language. "Putting lipstick on a pig" is a time honored way of describing talking up a dud stock. See, the economy, stock market, lipstick, pig. Trust me, I know a bit about loose association.

There is another way to view this flap and that is to picture Mr. Obama as a Machiavellian strategist. You see, Mr. Obama there; he's got himself some right "plausible deniability." It is undoubtedly suspicious that the two images he used relate to females in an unfavorable way. This way, he gets to say "Oops, I didn't mean that." Now just for the fun of it, let's assume that he had no conscious purpose in using the lipstick and fish analogies. Could it be that subconsciously Gov. Palin weighs so heavily and unfavorably in his mind that those were the images that came spontaneously to his previously golden tongue?

In any case, he could check with his running mate as to how difficult it can be to remove said extremity from one's esophagus. Remember "clean and articulate"? There's no hope for it, he's gonna have to take the blow back. That's the way of all politics. But this time, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Today, Anastasio Blanco broached an idea that seems to have been percolating in a few minds, including mine. What if these hurricanes signal the beginning of the end for the Havana Commission? It is an idea that you tend to beat back in your mind. First and foremost, there is the suffering occurring in Cuba this very minute. Second, nothing seems to kill off the malignancy that has been eating away at the island for a half century.

Still, I'll leave you with these quirky factoids:
1. The hurricane is named Ike. Eisenhower? A stretch, I know.
2. Ike entered the Bay of Nipe, the same place where the Virgin appeared to the three storm-tossed fishermen. (Incidentally also the setting for much of Telex from Cuba.)
3. The first hurricane hit the tobacco growing region; this one, their mining concerns. Two of the regime's major sources of foreign currency.
4. The Santeria Priests this year- although maintaining fidel's inviolability- did make noises about nature. I figured they had gotten politically correct and took it to mean global warming.
(Twilight zone music.)

Seriously, I suspect that our relationship with the island nation will change based on the humanitarian crisis. Whether for good or for ill, I who have not one iota of ESP cannot predict.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Just How Far Have Women Come?

(I was originally going to post this one in the round up, but it demanded a bit more.)

Much has been said and written about Sarah Palin and her role as a mother, including the duties incumbent upon her as such. There has been a near universal volte face pulled by political parties, feminists, and media types. It would be easy to accuse Democrats & Co of hypocrisy, which is true, and leave it at that, but that would not be complete.

Some of Ms. Palin's chief critics are working mothers themselves. Here we witness hypocrisy of different stripe. Working women are reacting out of their own experience. They know the challenges and omissions of working outside the home. And most of them don't have a male at home to pick up the slack. There is a suspicion, at least, that someone is getting short changed. The idea that anyone would be vice president- just how much does one do- while raising five children sends shivers down the spine. But it is a case of "Do as I say and not as I do."

Many women are not in high-powered careers nor are they working to put food on the table, at least they wouldn't be if they didn't have the SUV and nifty car, both of recent vintage, in the driveway of the McMansion. And what ever happened to Formica? Why does everyone need to have granite countertops? Question them and you will find that they believe they have to work, yet they but help support the household in the style to which they feel entitled. At the same time, they are exhausted. They fear that on some level their children are deprived. I know it sounds harsh, but I've been there.

Frankly, it is up to Gov. Palin and her family to make these calls. I would not presume to judge her choices. I do know that perhaps it is time to rethink some of the feminist tenets we have held dear for so long. Let me be clear. Some women have no choice. Others are called to achieve something. I do not advocate a return to the "bad old days." I remember them. But the reactions to the Palin situation would seem to indicate that perhaps it is time to begin a new discussion.

Sunday Stories: The Political Edition

An embarassment of riches this week.

Northern Exposure. In a piece that's reminscent of the affectionate treatment hitherto reserved for the Obamameister, Nathan Thornburgh in Time gives us a slice of Palin life in Wasilla, AK. A good local color piece.

Pinky and the Brain. To be honest, I've never thought of McCain in terms of his intelligence; his character has always been to the fore. Perhaps I've been the victim of the media bias discussed here at Bloggers for McCain. Caroline B Glick in this Townhall column voices what I have come to suspect, namely that I have underestimated the man. Shrewd cookie, that old Ol' Mac. Tomorrow, he takes over the world.

Cold Case. At the National Review Online, Bill Whittle says it for me and for many others when he professes himself proud of the GOP. McCain's sincerity, his love of country, willingness to accept responsibility, and optimistic vision of America made me proud. Read it here. (Got this one from Babalu)

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Here's a pretty cogent explanation of the Fannie/Freddie morass from John Schoen on MSNBC. Either way, it ain't gonna be pretty. I refer to my earlier post on the state of our economy. Also in terms of explanations, there's an interesting discussion of which two Americas here.

Cheaters. Don't blame them. Genetics made them do it. Swedish researchers have found that a goodly portion of men share the same cheating with other philandering rodents. Other scientists are not so sure. Read it here.

Murder, She Wrote. A Swedish magazine inadvertently confused two herbs in their recipe, making the result potentially life threatening. The story here, followed by an exploration of more toxic seasonings.