Category Archives: Arts – Poetry

Weird Thursday/Friday

Real headline, major paper:


Okay — I can believe Santos didn’t perform “45 minutes ago.” But on his way to Congress, it was one long costume performance, and a total drag. I can’t wait to see his version of the Orange Jump Suit Perp Walk Two-Step. (Now, how do you say that in Portugese?)

Continue reading Weird Thursday/Friday

Harvard, Affirmative Action, “Reparations,” & Me

An earlier exposés of legacy preference/WASP affirmative action, from 2006.

One of the most shopworn and least shocking of discoveries about USA higher education Is that of Ivy League “affirmative action” (aka preferential admissions) for the non-genius children of wealthy donors or powerful alumni (mainly WASPS). This “exposé” (which, to be fair, is also found at many other non-ivy schools) has been around about a century or so, and has since been repeatedly documented by many scholars, novelists, biographers, pretend radicals — and news editors who have not read much or got out enough.

Someone fairly high up on the editorial ladder at The Guardian — normally relatively up to date on such matters— evidently fits into one of these dim categories. At least they thought the scandal of legacy preference needed to be disclosed back in the unenlightened times of fourteen months ago, and then worth repeating, at least online, in January 2023. Continue reading Harvard, Affirmative Action, “Reparations,” & Me

Monday, Monday — Can’t Trust That Day! The Supreme Court Will Be Back

In a recent speech at Independence Hall, President Biden called on Americans to stand against an assault on democracy — the ongoing assault waged by insurrectionists and would-be patriots, by election deniers and other extremists. “We are not powerless in the face of these threats,” he insisted. “We are not bystanders.”

Yet that role — bystander — is exactly the one Mr. Biden seems to have assigned himself when it comes to the Supreme Court, which is posing a more profound challenge to the American system of self-government than any violent mob has managed.

The court’s conservative justices have issued a run of rulings that make it harder for many Americans, particularly citizens of color, to vote; make it easier for partisans to grab power by distorting the shape of legislative districts; and make it nearly impossible to counter the corrupting influence of money in politics. This is only a partial list — and is, most likely, only the beginning.

In the term that starts on Oct. 3, the conservative bloc, six justices strong and feeling its oats, will decide whether an Alabama congressional map discriminates against Black voters and will consider a novel theory that state legislatures should have a free hand, unconstrained by state courts, in setting rules for federal elections.

After the court, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, Mr. Biden stood in the White House and decried the decision as “the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law.” He hit the same refrain the next week, warning that an “extremist court” was “committed to moving America backwards.”

. . . While Mr. Biden promises to “build back better,” the court’s majority is a demolition crew, razing or gutting legislative landmarks — the Voting Rights Act, the Clean Air Act — by means of sweeping opinions. . . . [They are ] the defining project of the court’s conservatives: to lay waste to the welfare state and the administrative state, the civil rights revolution, the underpinnings of an accountable, workable government.

In Philadelphia and on the hustings, Mr. Biden has begun to acknowledge the tribal warfare that consumes this country. Yet the Roberts court is both a product and a sponsor of that conflict, and the president should say so. He needs to “take the country to school,” as Felix Frankfurter, who would later become a Supreme Court justice himself, urged Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, when another ideologically driven court had put democracy on the docket.

. . . In a similar spirit, Mr. Biden should view adverse rulings as opportunities to deliver his own dissents — to expose the designs of majority opinions, demystify them, debunk them, show whose interests they serve and whose they do not, and provide a countervailing view of the Constitution.

– Historian Jeff Shesol, in the New York Times

But Tuesday, Tuesday — And Soon  Tuesday will Be Voting Day . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Choice — No! But Guns Everywhere, Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

The Leak That’s Bleeding Women All Across The Map

 

 

 

Oh— Did We Forget to Mention —??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Lesson – Time to Re-Learn It . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This “Horton” Today Is Listening to — Who???

Dark Money, Babe — Definitely Not To You!

 

 

 

 

Video Treat of the Week: “Song of Myself,” Stanza 5

From the far out West, up against the curling, capricious lip of the Pacific, comes a dispatch from our Coastal Ocean & Fire Correspondent, Mitchell Santine Gould.

With it is a stunning animated setting of Stanza 5 from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, a keystone of the poet’s classic Leaves of Grass.

Mitch is a longtime student and celebrant of Whitman, and as we’ll see, does not lack deep artistic talent himself. His work deserves more attention, and will get a small measure of that here.

Mitch animated this stanza, and one can only begin to imagine how fabulous future installments might be.

The animation is only three minutes plus.

Yet in those brief moments it evokes much of Whitman’s continuing appeal and mystery: his modest origins, comfort with nature in all its aspects,

unabashed sensuality, human warmth, and easy, encompassing untheological mysticism.

From Stanza 5:

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valvèd voice.
If I may be pardoned a sectarian aside, Whitman overlaps at many points with Quakerism, though he did not join. As a youth he heard and was fascinated by the then-radical preaching of Elias Hicks; later, although not subject to the military draft in the Civil War, he spent many months doing an unofficial noncombat service in military hospitals, especially with gravely wounded and dying soldiers; he wrote essays in tribute to Hicks and George Fox; and more — which Mitch has been exploring and documenting for many years. (One small key chapter of it, from Quaker Theology, is here.)
And I can’t close without slipping in an unanimated addition, the next, sixth stanza of Song of Myself, which sticks in my memory perhaps more than any other:

Song of Myself 6

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, soon out of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

[The full text of Song of Myself is here.]

Thanks, Mitch — send more!

Ukraine, War Notes: The End of Euphoria, A Shift in The Odds

Washington Post: Ukraine is running out of ammunition as prospects dim on the battlefield

Hopes that Ukraine will be able to reverse Russian gains are fading in the face of superior firepower

By Siobhán O’Grady, Liz Sly and Ievgeniia Sivorka

June 10, 2022 – ET
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — The euphoria that accompanied Ukraine’s unforeseen early victories against bumbling Russian troops is fading as Moscow adapts its tactics, recovers its stride and asserts its overwhelming firepower against heavily outgunned Ukrainian forces.

Newly promised Western weapons systems are arriving, but too slowly and in insufficient quantities to prevent incremental but inexorable Russian gains in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, which is now the focus of the fight.

The Ukrainians are still fighting back, but they are running out of ammunition and suffering casualties at a far higher rate than in the initial stages of the war. Around 200 Ukrainian soldiers are now being killed every day, up from 100 late last month, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky told the BBC on Friday — meaning that as many as 1,000 Ukrainians are being taken out of the fight every day, including those who are injured.

The Russians are still making mistakes and are also losing men and equipment, albeit at a lesser rate than in the first months of the conflict. In one sign that they are suffering equipment shortages, they have been seen on videos posted on social media hauling hundreds of mothballed, Soviet-era T-62 tanks out of storage to be sent to Ukraine.

But the overall trajectory of the war has unmistakably shifted away from one of unexpectedly dismal Russian failures and tilted in favor of Russia as the demonstrably stronger force.

Ukrainian and U.S. hopes that the new supplies of Western weaponry would enable Ukraine to regain the initiative and eventually retake the estimated 20 percent of Ukrainian territory captured by Russia since its Feb. 24 invasion are starting to look premature, said Oleksandr V. Danylyuk, an adviser to the Ukrainian government on defense and intelligence issues. Continue reading Ukraine, War Notes: The End of Euphoria, A Shift in The Odds