Social Commentary

Life in China in the 1980s: Adrift With a Cormorant Called Kai

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Calamity and Comedy

-People are crazy and times are strange. [Bob Dylan] On January 13, 2010 the nation of Haiti was visited with calamity.  In response to this epic and awful emergency, the conscience of humankind has been moved to extraordinary sympathy, sorrow, and action.  Countless individuals and numerous nations have replied to the disaster with heartfelt grief and empathy, and with …

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Solidarity with the Solitary: Bill Bradley and LIFE ON THE RUN

A version of this essay originally appeared in The Hudson Review (Volume XXIX, Number 3, Autumn 1976). I originally wrote the piece because I respected Bill Bradley’s basketball game, I admired his first book, Life on the Run, and I hoped he one day would enter professional political life. I’m now revising and posting the …

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Mad As Hell

   Kathy I’m lost I said though I knew she was sleeping I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike They’ve all gone to look for America                         –Paul Simon, “America”   Americans have become so angry. Television pundits tee off at one another, the moderator, …

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Signs of the Times

– There is still a real magic in the action and reaction of minds on one another.  [Thomas Carlyle]  In 1829, a young man from Scotland published an essay entitled “Signs of the Times.”  Carlyle was unknown, and seemingly ill-equipped for consequence or celebrity.  Yet the essay seemed to all who read it utterly original, acutely …

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The United States of Delusion

  The vagabond who’s rapping at your door Is standing in the clothes that you once wore                                         – Bob Dylan The first New Hampshire Republican Party presidential debate will place on June 13th. This event marks not the beginning of the quadrennial U.S. national campaign: the campaign has been conducted intensely since the election …

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U.S. Relief Command

The recent events in Haiti demonstrate that the United States must develop a new Military Relief Command.  The U.S. Relief Command should be modeled on the Marine Corps:  an essentially autonomous, highly trained, pre-equipped rapid response body that swiftly can deliver and operate anywhere in the world: Emergency food, shelter, and sanitation supplies Earth-moving equipment Comprehensive emergency and …

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The Mandatory Mercy of Goldman Sachs

You have many contacts Among the lumberjacks To get you facts When someone attacks your imagination But nobody has any respect Anyway they already expect you To just give a check To tax-deductible charity organizations      – Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man”   The horrid, big, rich scoundrel.       – Anthony Trollope, The …

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Poor Poor Pitiful BP

Poor Poor Pitiful BP -with apologies to Warren Zevon Well, we blew open the bottom of the seas Plowing her depths for our ill-gotten grease Now our caps won’t work and because of that wretched AC Everyone on earth can witness our catastrophe Poor poor pitiful BP Poor poor pitiful BP Oh, Anderson Cooper won’t let …

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Karl Rove: The Paradigm of Struggle

Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight By Karl Rove Threshold Editions (March, 2010) The Paradigm of Struggle “I have become an adjective.” Karl Rove is a tactician deservedly acclaimed. As an electoral strategist, campaign manager, and presidential counselor he possesses stunning talents, consummate knowledge, astonishing energy, and a record of …

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The Audacity To Win

Book Review The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory by David Plouffe; published by Viking Books (November, 2009) For two years, Mom, Dad, and millions like them loved their country enough to change it. Many analysts agree that President Obama conducted a primary and general election campaign without …

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Lead From The Heart

“Which way am I heading? President Obama is a brilliant man, but he delivered a banal State of the Union address last week.  It was a speech shrouded in shrill anger, tedious sloganeering, tendentious posturing.  It was a performance rooted in ritualistic tilts, nods, bobs, weaves.  Our president sounded tired, and looked defeated.  In a …

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The Disease of Conceit

There’s a whole lot of people suffering tonight From the disease of conceit – Bob Dylan The Tea Party/CNN Republican Presidential Debate was conducted on September 12, 2011. The Fox News/Google iteration followed on September 22nd. I’ve watched both contests again and again, always with fascination and sorrow. Fascination at the passion, pageantry, and predictability …

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