Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the July/August 2011 issue

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CNN
In his weekly column written exclusively for CNN, David Frum(p) makes another attempt at being Barack Obama’s new best friend:

So much to say about the long-awaited visiting of justice upon Osama bin Laden.

But there’s one effect on U.S. domestic politics that deserves a thought:

Here’s hoping that we have at last seen the end of this ugly insinuation that there is something less than fully American about the black president with the exotic name….

Those of us who oppose this administration’s economic and foreign policies have had so many valid points to make.

Yet some have insisted on travelling beyond those valid points. They have called the president “post American.” A “Third-world dictator.” An individual whose behavior could only be interpreted as “Kenyan post-colonial.” A “thug in chief.”

They have tried to present U.S. politics not as a choice between liberal and conservative but as a choice between American and non-American, between real Americans and between a dangerous dark-skinned intruder.
(May 2, 2011)

Washington Post
And here in his syndicated column is E. J. Dionne, presenting the “dangerous dark-skinned intruder” interpretation of Barack Obama?

Barack Obama is not the man many Americans thought he was.…Obama is hard to understand because he is many things and not just one thing. He has now proved that he can be bold at an operational level, even as he remains cautious at a philosophical level.

His proclivity to gather facts and weigh alternatives does not lead automatically…
(May 4, 2011)

In These Times
One tremendously sonorous belch for Art from someone called Lisa Yun Lee, an obvious vegan:

Poets, artists, writers and other cultural workers create the engines for our imaginations and build the framework for our dissent. They provide new ways for us to communicate across lines of difference. They help us find creative ways to imagine solidarity and to remake the world.

Progressives today should learn from the progressives of yesterday. More art! More poetry!
(March 2011)

The Nation
So ends yet another effort by the comrades at the Nation to prove that the United States of America prospered from socialism much as Bulgaria prospered from socialism and, of course, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics:

Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy were not socialists. But the nation benefited from their borrowing of socialist and social democratic ideas. Barack Obama is certainly not a socialist. But he, and the nation he leads, would be well served by a similar borrowing from the people who once imagined Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the War on Poverty.
(May 2, 2011)

Rolling Stone
In an interview with one of America’s great intellectual reviews, Bill Maher, comic genius, begins the long dissent into the realm of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Cleaning ladies give this man a wide berth:

You came under fire last week for calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” in your stand-up:

Fox News ginned up this so-called controversy. I don’t just walk out there and say, ‘Sarah Palin’s a cunt! Good night!’ It’s a carefully crafted routine that has been in my act for over a year. This is not a word that we can get along without, because it’s a word that talks about a specific type of person—and it can be a man or a woman.

I said I’d take it out of my act because of HBO—we’re a good fit for each other. Every once in a while you just have to say, ‘I’m going to pick my battles.’ I don’t need to be a martyr for Sarah Palin’s cunt…whoops, I did it again.
(April 28, 2011)

The Progressive
The sporting life as reported by outdoors writer Dave Zirin on the literary pages of The Prog:

I don’t know where you were raised, but I lived with rats. I used to kill rats. We had a .22 rifle, and we would lay [sic] in the kitchen and shoot them on the floor. One thing my grandmother taught me was that if you got a rat trapped, you’ve got to give his ass a way out because he will fight you if he has to.
(May 2011)

New York Times
More lewd thoughts from the scantily clad Maureen Dowd:

Oh, she wanted it.

She wanted it bad.

That’s what every hard-working, God-fearing, young widow who breaks her back doing menial labor at a Times Square hotel to support her teenage daughter, justify her immigration status and take advantage of the opportunities in America wants—a crazed, rutting, wrinkly old satyr charging naked out of a bathroom, lunging at her and dragging her around the room, caveman-style.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s reputation as a thrice-married French seducer loses something in the translation.
(May 18, 2011)

New York Review of Books
Professor Ronald Dworkin, suffering bladder impairment, thus begins another tiresome diatribe:

Five conservative justices now dominate our Supreme Court—Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. They continue to revise our historical Constitution and two new cases show that the arguments they offer continue to be embarrassingly bad. One concerns contributions to religious schools; the other, public financing of elections. I will describe those cases and defend that criticism, but it might be well to notice, first, why the justices have had to resort to arguments of such poor quality.
(May 26, 2011)

From the Archives
Timeless Tosh from Current Wisdoms Past
(July 1991)

University of California Press
In the fall catalogue of the University of California Press, a sprightly notice for a study of a precursor of the National Organization for Women:

Women of the Klan
Racism and Gender in the 1920s
Kathleen M. Blee

Ignorant. Brutal. Male. These stereotypes of the Ku Klux Klan offer a misleading picture. In Women of the Klan, sociologist Kathleen Blee unveils an accurate portrait of a racist movement that appealed to ordinary people throughout the country. In so doing she dismantles the popular notion that politically involved women are always inspired by pacifism, equality and justice.

“All the better people,” a former Klanswoman assures us, were in the Klan. During the 1920s, when the Klan was at its largest (about 5 million), perhaps half a million white native-born Protestant women joined the Women’s Ku Klux Klan (WKKK). Like their male counterparts, Klanswomen held reactionary views on race, nationality, and religion. But their perspectives on gender roles were often progressive.
(Fall 1991)

Boston Herald
In Boston’s greatest daily, ace reporter Howie Carr traps Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on the record just after the avuncular senator’s three-martini breakfast:

“There’s some additional something going on here, vaguely, and it’s going to involve some kind of, uh, sexual harassment on Willie that because I was not told, I was not told ever, ever was told that the Palm Beach Police wanted to speak to me about an alleged incident of Willie Smith raping some girl.

“I was never told that. And the record when you see it and when it comes out will never, will not suggest that I was, and since that time that, uh, I found out that was the allegation, I have been available, uh, to the police and responded to all those questions and I certainly would have if I knew that the charge had been rape, would have done it.

“But that was never, that was never. I was never told that. If I had been told that, if I had been told that I certainly would have. But I was never told that and you’re gonna have to look at the records of who told what to who.”
(May 11, 1991)

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