November 11, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 11:59 AM


A More Impressive Win Than in 2008, and a More Important One (James Fallows, NOV 7 2012, Atlantic)

The Party itself. For the first time in my conscious life, the Democratic party is now more organized and coherent, and less fractious and back-biting, than the Republicans. It is almost stupefying to imagine that.

But think about the facts: We've now had four of the past six presidential elections won by Democrats. In five of the past six, the Democrat has won the popular vote. The most effective advocate for the current Democratic incumbent was the previous Democratic president. The current president's toughest rival in the primaries is now his Secretary of State, and another former rival is his vice president. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the nominee dared not even mention the existence of the previous Republican president. His rivals in the primary were tepid at best in shows of support. Democrats now disagree about a lot, from their relationship with Wall Street to the ethics of drone wars. But they are a more coherent whole than through most of their recent history -- and much more coherent than the Republicans.

In ceding the argument for his own presidency to Bill Clinton, Mr. Obama cemented himself into the Third Way slot--a position he'd already staked out via the mandate.  Meanwhile, the cyclical nature of modern Anglospheric politics meant that the GOP was still so addled by Obamacare that it positioned itself as a First Way party.  Almost inevitably, in 2016 Republicans will nominate a Third Way candidate and Democrats a Second.

Posted by orrinj at 11:57 AM


Bipartisan immigration reform back on the table (Reuters, November 11, 2012)

The Graham and Schumer plan has four components: requiring high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; strengthening border security and enforcement of immigration laws; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a path to legal status for immigrants already in the country.

Schumer said the plan embraces "a path to citizenship that's fair, which says you have to learn English, you have to go to the back of the line, you've got to have a job, and you can't commit crimes."'s Part 5 that matters most, abolishing quotas.

Posted by orrinj at 9:46 AM


Boehner Tells House G.O.P. to Fall in Line (JONATHAN WEISMAN and JENNIFER STEINHAUER, 11/10/12, NY Times)

Members on the call, subdued and dark, murmured words of support -- even a few who had been a thorn in the speaker's side for much of this Congress.

It was a striking contrast to a similar call last year, when Mr. Boehner tried to persuade members to compromise with Democrats on a deal to extend a temporary cut in payroll taxes, only to have them loudly revolt.

With President Obama re-elected and Democrats cementing control of the Senate, Mr. Boehner will need to capitalize on the chastened faction of the House G.O.P. that wants to cut a deal to avert sudden tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts in January that could send the economy back into recession. After spending two years marooned between the will of his loud and fractious members and the Democratic Senate majority, the speaker is trying to assert control, and many members seem to be offering support.

"To have a voice at the bargaining table, John Boehner has to be strong," said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, one of the speaker's lieutenants. "Most members were just taught a lesson that you're not going to get everything that you want. It was that kind of election."

Posted by orrinj at 7:56 AM

Dee Dee Bridgewater On JazzSet (MARK SCHRAMM, 11/08/12, NPR)

Held each summer in the lovely hillside country of Westchester County, the Caramoor Jazz Festival is in a Venetian theatre in a rolling woods, about 40 miles northeast of New York City. All summer, Caramoor presents chamber music, opera, Latin music, a resident orchestra and more -- rain or shine. The 2012 jazz lineup featured Bridgewater, drummer extraordinaire Roy Haynes, solo pianist Kenny Barron, award-winning vocalist Gretchen Parlato and the smoking-hot Cookers all-star band.

Bridgewater's musical director is Edsel Gomez, arranger and pianist. He's her orchestra, pacesetter and descarga driver all in one. Craig "My Handyman" Handy on saxophone shadows and boxes with Bridgewater's voice. They revel in their closeness in "Besame Mucho." Michael Bowie played bass for Abbey Lincoln, one of Bridgewater's mentors and friends (as heard in her Tribute to Abbey on JazzSet). Bridgewater first heard Kenny Phelps last year in the house band at The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. He was accompanying finalists in the American Pianists Association competition. She loved the pianists, but she got Phelps' phone number on the spot.
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Posted by orrinj at 7:50 AM


The Return of Thomistic Political Philosophy, Part II (JOSEPH G. TRABBIC, 3/22/12, Thomistica) Some Catholic thinkers have criticized the notion of human rights, Alasdair MacIntyre for instance. How do you think Maritain would respond to critiques like MacIntyre's?

Dr. Dennehy: I have not read MacIntyre in some years, but my initial thought is that Maritain would respond to the communitarian argument in two ways. First, he would point out that the "society of free men" that he describes and defends is not individualist in the way that advocates of the laisssez faire conceived of society as a kind of heap of individuals struggling to ascend to the top and whose obligations to society were negatively conceived as not harming others by force, fraud, or intimidation. Maritain argues, on the contrary, that a society of free men has four characteristics; it is personalist, communal rather than individualistic, pluralist, and Christian or at least Theist. Thus for Maritain a society worthy of free persons must not only be just but also commit itself to "civic friendship." The second way that Maritain would reply to the communitarians is to call attention to the rights of the person as ontologically grounded in human nature in virtue of what it means to be a human being. The exigencies of the human person arise from that ontological fact: each human being is not simply a part of society but a whole as well. Unlike animal groups, human society has a common good, which Maritain describes as a moral good that pertains to society as a whole and yet flows over each of its members. If I am qualified to teach philosophy, society can compel me to teach the subject, but it cannot compel me to teach a particular philosophy as true. The reason is that each of us is a whole in himself has been created by God to exist by his own free will. Maritain borrows here from Aquinas who argues that just as the runner strives to win the race but cannot put all that he is and has in the effort to win (he knowledge of astronomy and the Bible, e.g.), so the person cannot put all that he is and has into serving society (his knowledge of God, the desire to know the truth, and to increase his "freedom of personal expansion," e.g.). Thus, for Maritain, the rights of the person follow from the nature of the person.

The second book in this volume, The Rights of Man and the Natural Law, contain seminal references to the human person that Maritain will develop more fully in his book, The Person and the Common Good, which appeared in print about 1948.

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Posted by orrinj at 7:48 AM


A King at the Height of His Reign (WILL FRIEDWALD, 11/10/12, WSJ)

The King of Rock 'n' Roll was at his all-time pinnacle in the early 1970s, and virtually every number during those 1972 New York performances, which have just been reissued in a deluxe concert CD and DVD package titled "Prince From Another Planet," is as moving as that climactic moment in Rapid City.

"Prince" marks Presley's evolution into an artist of the 1970s. He's moved beyond the three-chord rocker who shook up a generation in the 1950s with his gyrating hips and his brilliant synthesis of country, pop and R&B, and likewise transcended the more internationally focused movie star of the 1960s.

Concert-era Presley was different from any of his previous incarnations. A decade earlier he had begun to grow as a performer, in terms of vocal range but also material--his foray into songs in Italian, French and German, for instance, indicated he wanted to be more than just another hillbilly. That growth took a detour during his movie years, when his artistically short-sighted manager, Colonel Tom Parker, pressured him into recording songs they could own a piece of but weren't necessarily worthy of him.

Every song in the two Garden shows features Presley at his greatest. There's a portion of both concerts that covers his early hits, but even then the King isn't interested in simple nostalgia. He does "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Love Me Tender," but after coyly introducing "Hound Dog" as his "message song," the arrangement that follows is far from retro, deriving more from James Brown or some contemporary funk band than from the Elvis tradition.

There are only a few of the often trite songs of his early years (for example, "Teddy Bear"), but these are balanced by more mature country songs, like Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" and Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away," imbued with a depth and profundity that their composers could have hardly imagined. His own more recent hits, like the blockbuster "Suspicious Minds," sound better than their studio incarnations, and Presley is engaged throughout in an intimate and spontaneous relationship with the 20,000 members of his audience (he was the first artist to completely sell out four consecutive shows in the Garden) in a way that distinguishes the best blues artists. In fact, one of the most effective numbers from the afternoon show is a straight-up 12-bar blues, "Reconsider Baby," by Ray Charles's mentor, Lowell Fulson; it's a deeper, more stirring rendition than Presley's youthful interpretation more than a decade earlier.

Posted by orrinj at 7:42 AM


The absurd, irresistible Simon Templar lives on : The stories of The Saint - the most enduring of the Clubland Heroes of the 1920s - still prove as preposterous and readable as ever (Allan Massie, 10 Nov 2012, The Telegraph)

The Saint is wholly preposterous; that is part of the charm. His creator, Leslie Charteris, must have known this but, at least in the early books, he delighted in his creation, and wrote with an infectious exuberance, often wittily. (Eventually he became bored with him, and the later books were written by others, merely supervised by Charteris.) He was, despite an education at an English public school and Cambridge, somewhat of an outsider himself, his father being Chinese.

Perhaps this is why the Saint is an anti-establishment figure; unlike the other Clubland Heroes he has no friends in high places. He owes something to Raffles, E  W Hornung's gentleman-cracksman, but Raffles generally eschews violence. One sometimes thinks the Saint's true heirs are the superheroes of the comic books.

Reading the Charteris books must always have required a willing suspension of disbelief. Probability, especially when the Saint finds himself in a tight spot, was never something that concerned his author. Yet, somewhat to my surprise, the books are still enjoyable, principally because they are agreeably inventive and even more agreeably light-hearted. There is violence and there is killing, but it is done in jest, and the blood is only ketchup. [...]

There was never any pretence that they were realistic. Raymond Chandler, tired of the genteel school of mysteries where bodies are found in country-house libraries and murderers employ untraceable poisons, praised Dashiell Hammett for giving murder back to the sort of people who commit it. His opinion may be questioned, for all sorts of people, after all, commit murder. Nevertheless, crime fiction has mostly followed Chandler's route. Death in the modern crime novel is no fun, rarely for laughs. The Saint is different, a court jester of crime - though of course a beautifully dressed jester.

The sign of The Saint, which appears on virtua...

The sign of The Saint, which appears on virtually every edition of every Simon Templar adventure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Posted by orrinj at 7:34 AM

Wanda Jackson On Mountain Stage (NPR, November 5, 2012)

The Queen of Rockabilly performs songs from a 40-year catalog. Jackson began her career in high school but soon found herself touring with the likes of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, who encouraged her to perform rock 'n' roll. Last month, she released her 31st studio album, Unfinished Business.

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