Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the October 2011 issue

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New York Review of Books (NYRblog)

A fictional excursus from Prof. Timothy Snyder:

Taxation without representation is not exactly a problem for wealthy Americans. They are represented by their local, state, and federal elected officials. They are also represented by campaign contributions, lobbies, and personal political access. Their problem, and the country’s, is that they are over-represented, and use their over-representation to ensure that the wealthy pay lower taxes than they should. If we must resort to analogies from the eighteenth century, then those who benefit from the Tea Party are not to be compared to the American rebels. They are rather the lords of the British parliament, using superior political power to ensure that those in weaker positions bear the necessary burden of taxes.
(August 17, 2011)

The Nation (Online)

Now working in an antique shop somewhere in California, New Leftist Tom Hayden files a bull to the Nation (online), and everyone has a good laugh:

I believe the existence of deep racist currents in America explain much of Obama’s caution—and his success. This is the source of his political centrism and what [Drew] Westen describes as his “risk-aversion.” We are at a demographic tipping-point in our inevitable evolution into a multiracial, multi-cultural, multi-lingual society. If Obama survives eight years in office, he will preside over much of this troubled transition. Ironically, he will be the magnet of hatred for his opposition while being derided as too moderate by his support base. The parallels may be with Abraham Lincoln.
(August 9, 2011)

Austin American-
Statesman

An epistle from Rick Perry country:

Early this morning, I found a small bat on the grounds of Zilker Park while walking my dog. Not touching the live critter, I gently transported it to the Austin Nature Center, where a capable staff member examined, then attended to this creature. On my way home, I reflected on how really wonderful our city and community are to hold our bats in high esteem and to have the staff and resources in place to assist this tiny wild friend of the city. It’s times like this I am so pleased to call Austin home.

Karin Richmond
Austin
(July 15, 2011)

Huffington Post

In the event you missed this important communiqué from HuffPo’s Ms. Marlo Thomas, a.k.a. Mrs. Phil Donahue, we reprint it as a public service: Gay Weddings: Is There a New Etiquette?

You know that moment we all look forward to at a wedding—when the bride comes down the aisle and, for the first time, we get to see that beautiful white dress? How magical that moment always is. Well, it’s even more magical when there are two white dresses. I experienced this for the first time when my niece, Tracy, married the love of her life, a woman also named Tracey (only hers has an “e”). At that moment, as I looked at their radiant faces, I remembered seeing Tracy, age 8, singing along to the record of Free to Be…You and Me. And I couldn’t help but think, at last, Tracy is truly free. For all of us who have long supported same-sex marriage, the depth of the justice of it all has never hit home for me as it did when I saw the these two dear, young women exchange their vows.

And everything was the same: the little kids giggling and running underfoot; the proud moms and dads wiping away a tear; the distant uncle sitting by himself, happily having one drink too many; and, as always, someone sneaking an early piece of the cake. Now in New York, this historic ritual is being celebrated with a new and liberating joy. And while the ceremony at the heart of these weddings is no different from any other we’ve ever witnessed, many people have asked if there’s any special etiquette that guests attending a gay wedding need to know—such as “Will I insult the couple if I ask what they’re going to call themselves—like husband and husband or wife and wife?”

According to Steven Petrow of Gay- Manners.com and author of Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay and Lesbian Manners, “Not at all! Intention is a big part of manners, so you don’t have to worry so much about making a faux pas. If you don’t know how to refer to a couple, just ask. “But there are some differences you
may notice as a guest at a gay wedding,” Steven told me. “For example, the seating may not be divided into the traditional bride and groom side, but instead will be mixed, to reflect one community supporting the couple. And you may find that members of the wedding party are different from what you usually see—the best man may be a woman, and the matron of honor may be a man. Also, you’ll likely find that the couple is paying for the wedding themselves.”
(July 28, 2011)

Washington Post

More bilge from Kathleen Parker, who apparently talks to cherries andthey talk back, at large and using her computer with a drink in her hand:

Fragging: “To intentionally kill or wound (one’s superior officer, etc.), esp. with a hand grenade.” Take names. Remember them. The behavior of certain Republicans who call themselves Tea Party conservatives makes them the most destructive posse of misguided “patriots” we’ve seen in recent memory. If the nation defaults on its financial obligations, the blame belongs to the Tea Party Republicans who fragged their own leader, John Boehner. They had victory in their hands and couldn’t bring themselves to support his debtceiling plan, which, if not perfect, was more than anyone could have imagined just a few months ago. No new taxes, significant spending cuts, a temporary debt-ceiling solution with the possibility of more spending cuts down the line as well as action on their beloved balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

These people wouldn’t recognize a hot fudge sundae if the cherry started talking to them.…The Tea Party was a movement that changed the conversation in Washington, but it has steeped too long and has become toxic. It’s time to toss it out.
(July 29, 2011)

Washington Monthly (Blog)

Civics lesson from Steve Benen, who apparently is in the work-release program at the good old Washington Monthly:

I think this is arguably one of the more important realizations to take away from the current political landscape. Republicans aren’t just radicalized, aren’t just pursuing an extreme agenda, and aren’t just allergic to compromise.

The congressional GOP is also changing the very nature of governing in ways with no modern precedent. Welcome to the normalization of extortion politics.…Indeed, it’s a reminder that of all the qualities Republicans lack—wisdom, humility, shame, integrity—it’s their nonexistent appreciation for limits that’s arguably the scariest.
(July 31, 2011)

Politico

Former Congressman and current lobbyist Martin Frost heaves in a good word for some potential clients:

Ten years ago, the Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed two gigantic figures of Buddha, carved into a hillside 18 centuries before. The world was aghast at this barbarian act taken in the name of religious purity. But was powerless to stop it. We now have a group of U.S. politicians seeking political purity, who seem to have much in common with the Taliban. They are tea party members; and because of blind adherence to smaller government, they seem intent on risking destroying what American political leaders have constructed in more than two centuries of hard, often painful work. Like the Taliban, they see compromise as an unacceptable alternative.
(July 29, 2011)

Hartford Courant

In the event that the local cock fights have been closed down the Hartford Courant offers helpful tops of forthcoming recreational activities for sophisticates of the Nutmeg state:

A Social Geography of Hair Do you love your hair? Hate your hair? It’s all about hair July 28 in North Adams, Mass., at the Down Street Art Festival. According to its website, the exhibition “A Social Geography of Hair” (July 28-August 21, 2011) curated by Izabel Galliera, “aims to map and provoke dialogue on the socially potent use of hair as an artistic and communicative medium for both conveying and transgressing accepted notions of beauty, individuality, gender and culture identity. The exhibition intends to trigger and transform hair’s ubiquitousness into a relational and locally contextualized activator for a shared and open public sphere.” ’Nuff said. Details: http://downstreetart.org.
(July 24, 2011)

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