December 14, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 8:38 PM


In truth, Ravi Shankar couldn't stand the hippies (Mick Brown, 12 Dec 2012, The Telegraph)

Ravi Shankar always displayed a slightly ambivalent attitude to the extraordinary enthusiasm with which his music - sober-minded, serious, not a little taxing - was greeted by younger Western audiences in the Sixties. At Madison Square Garden in 1971, in the celebrated Concert for Bangladesh which had been organised by his friend George Harrison, the first plangent chords of Shankar's sitar-playing were received with rapturous applause, obliging him to lecture the audience: "If you like our tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing even more." [...]

The rock audiences who came to pay homage he haughtily dismissed in his autobiography as "these strange young weirdos"; while his appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals - the great quasi-religious gatherings of the alternative society - were apparently painful ordeals, where the audiences were "shrieking, shouting, smoking, masturbating and copulating - all in a drug-crazed state... I used to tell them, 'You don't behave like that when you go to hear a Bach, Beethoven or Mozart concert.'" Quite.
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Posted by orrinj at 8:34 PM


Hagel Is The Wrong Choice (Gil Troy, Dec 14, 2012, Daily Beast)

If Barack Obama entrusts the Department of Defense--not even the State Department but the Pentagon itself--to Chuck Hagel, he will be embracing his morally neutered, European, Nobel Prize-winning self. He will be indulging his anti-Bush animus, continuing his 2008 campaign by picking a Bush-bashing Republican. He will be nominating a candidate who sees moral equivalence where he should see moral clarity, who has an exaggerated faith in negotiating with totalitarians who act in bad faith (like the Iranian mullahs and Hamas terrorists), who comes out with callow, I'm-okay-you're-okay amoral Kumbaya assessments such as claiming, during the intifada, shortly after 9/11: "We will need a wider lens to grasp the complex nature and consequences of terrorism."

A Hagel appointment would also again demonstrate Obama's tone-deafness when it comes to reassuring Israelis--a reassurance necessary for any real peace progress. For he will be nominating a man who in an interview that is now being widely posted said that: "The political reality is that ... the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here," implying that support for Israel is more Astroturf than grassroots. He also once chided a pro-Israel critic by saying, "I'm a United States Senator. I'm not an Israeli senator," further triggering fears that Hagel sees Israel through a distorted Walt-Mearsheimer lens rather than as a true blue-and-white friend to the red-white-and-blue.

The great Senator and American Ambassador to the U.N., Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who crossed the aisle gracefully, sought a muscular idealism in foreign policy, finding McGovern's approach too apologetic and Kissinger's approach too utilitarian. We must ask "how much does freedom matter to the United States today?" Moynihan preached. We must learn to recognize and confront totalitarian evil which will employ any tactic to advance particular goals, he advised. And he sought, his colleague Leonard Garment noted, "to generate excitement," to "dramatize the ideology of the West." That is not the skill set or track record Chuck Hagel brings--nor is that the skill set or track record John Kerry would bring to the State Department.  

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 PM


With Gap Wide and Time Short, Obama and Boehner Meet (JONATHAN WEISMAN and JACKIE CALMES, 12/14/12, NY Times)

If no deal is reached, Republicans are increasingly talking about a more hostile outcome in which the House passes legislation that extends tax cuts for the middle class, sets relatively low tax rates on dividends, capital gains and inherited estates, and cancels the across-the-board defense cuts, but leaves in place across-the-board domestic cuts. 

Nevermind that we spend way too much on it, goring your own sacred cow makes you more serious.