Marco Rubio, pundit

Six weeks after losing in the most ignominious way possible, the junior senator from Florida is rested and eager to play pundit. The brief exile has deepened his wisdom, sharpened his wit, and added hair to his legs: “If he keeps winning delegates like he did the other night in New York, I think he’sContinue reading “Marco Rubio, pundit”

The ‘rethinking’ of leftist

Amazing if true. Greg Sargent: A recent Harvard Institute of Politics poll found that pluralities of young voters believe that government has a responsibility to guarantee a basic standard of living as a right — both in the form of basic health insurance and basic necessities such as food and shelter. Large majorities of themContinue reading “The ‘rethinking’ of leftist”

‘Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events’

You’ll search my published writing in vain for “cynical” and its noun form. I dislike them. The rare times I’ve used them I’m afraid I’ll get misinterpreted. A cynic is often confused for a realist. Cynics often confuse themselves with realists. In fact, cynicism is the opposite of realism. The latter, having studied facts, makesContinue reading “‘Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events’”

Over-plotted ‘Louder Than Bombs’ fritters away its tension

The last time I saw a creepier image than Jesse Eisenberg holding a newborn was Ted Cruz smiling at a podium. A brief scene, sure, and Louder Than Bombs offers others just as grisly. This Norwegian-French production shows how an American family deals with the aftershocks of their mother’s death. Eschewing chronological narrative storytelling, LouderContinue reading “Over-plotted ‘Louder Than Bombs’ fritters away its tension”

David Brooks and his gruesome moments

Still in the throes of a nervous breakdown, David Brooks returns to the NYT op-ed page to find all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken: I was surprised by Trump’s success because I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professionalContinue reading “David Brooks and his gruesome moments”

‘I catch a body at a party, sort of herbal with the verbal’ — more favorite things

k d lang – All You Can Eat (1995) Three years after her pop breakthrough Ingenue, k d lang and collaborator Ben Mink went the other way: space. With a basic drum pattern and the simplest of guitar parts (when a harp appears it’s like a shot of bourbon) lang drops the twang and goesContinue reading “‘I catch a body at a party, sort of herbal with the verbal’ — more favorite things”

Dennis Hastert’s ‘inability to abide by the law’

Well into 1998, Newton Leroy Gingrich expected Americans to ratify his vision of himself as the United States’ prime minister, the head of an opposition government ready to clear the legislature of the Roundheads who accepted William Jefferson Clinton’s legitimacy as president. Then the midterm elections delivered the most stunning rebuke to a majority partyContinue reading “Dennis Hastert’s ‘inability to abide by the law’”

Austerity and public sector jobs

A little discussed consequence of our national obsession with austerity is the depletion of the government work force. When Rick Scott cuts state jobs, he’s trimming fat, but when two thousand people find private sector jobs in Naples he can promote himself as the jobs governor. Good on them! But here’s a startling fact: onceContinue reading “Austerity and public sector jobs”

About tonight’s Trump sweep

What the home of responsible intellectual conservatism is posting on its website: I think conservatives looking with dismay at tonight’s Trump landslide might be in the mood for reassurance, that they’re not the only ones who got a bit of a comeuppance today. On Sunset Boulevard this afternoon, I saw a handsome young black man,Continue reading “About tonight’s Trump sweep”

‘Exploit the fear factor’

Question: from which Richard Nixon speech will you find the following line? “Do it with very muscular language—there is no market for nuance in the terror debate.” Give up? I asked a trick question. The origin of this drool is Jim VandeHei, editor of the nation’s premier source for campaign pornography and for learning theContinue reading “‘Exploit the fear factor’”

‘It is a child that sings itself to sleep, / The mind’

Readers know my penchant for Wallace Stevens, my favorite twentieth century American poet. Paul Mariani wrote a biography, the first since the mid 1980s. From Peter Schjeldahl’s lovely review: Something like a flame comes off the page (page 71, to be exact) of “The Whole Harmonium” when Mariani quotes lines from Stevens’s first published matureContinue reading “‘It is a child that sings itself to sleep, / The mind’”