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Showing posts from September, 2010

Retreat

Welcome to the third and final session of the Salon Reading Club for Jonathan Franzen's novel "Freedom." Last week, we took the discussion up through Page 382, and now it's time to consider the book's conclusion.[. . .]I'm a little ambivalent about the ending of "Freedom." While it was definitely satisfying to see Walter and Patty reunited, part of me thinks it's not very realistic. But perhaps that's the point; if those characters had done what most divorced couples do and kept moving on to new lives, they'd be exercising the American-style freedom about which Franzen is clearly so ambivalent. [. . .]What did you think of the way Franzen depicts the political climate of the mid-2000s? Walter's road trip with Lalitha to promote Free Space is a Magical Hysteria Tour of the endemic rage of the period, which Walter regards as "loony," even though it is, in a fashion, a reflection of the repressed anger he's been nursing si…

Chelsea

The Democrats, as usual, are still fighting the internecine party battles of the '90s. While Jerry Brown struggles with the 1992 presidential primaries out in California, Bill Clinton is attacking a prominent liberal critic and defending his legacy of triangulation.At a joint appearance with former British prime minister and warmonger Tony Blair, Clinton complained about MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (without naming her) for, basically, telling the truth about his presidency. (Alex Pareene, “Bill Clinton peeved that Rachel Maddow called him a Republican,” Salon, 14 Sept. 2010)ChelseaI foremost think of Republicans as emotionally-neutered individuals. Subdued blues; nothing bright, pink, and affecting. As such, Maddows and Obama (and Jon Stewart / Colbert) feel more Republican to me than do either of the Clintons. Take a look at who they begat: bright, spunky, welcoming Chelsea: the Democratic essence stirs in them. Too bad they had their reign when they could only reign, Republican-l…

Hillary Clinton

The thing that had a radicalizing impact on me began after [Hillary lost in] Iowa. Because there was this pile-on, and to me it was mind-bending. It was coming often from people on the left. It was like something they had been keeping inside as they bit their tongues and covered this woman who had the gall to be the front-runner and the "inevitable" candidate, which was the word that they threw out there. And finally she had shown weakness, and they were just going nuts.[. . .]Eventually I became a lot more aware of the ways in which not only Hillary but also her supporters were being talked about. I became increasingly sensitive to the scorn directed at her, and it built and built as she continued to fight, and it drove me nuts. Because I thought her continuing to fight was awesome and hilarious. I thought it was completely redefining how we view women and our expectations for them in public and political life. She would not comply. She would not give in. She would not do w…

Liberal "crazies"

(Hofstadter pointed out that the left is certainly not free of this mind-set, and so Dick Cheney and Halliburton have often served as the designated superhumanly competent malefactors for the other side, as in the 9/11 "Truth" movement.)[. . .]Is it any wonder, then, that a growing number of Americans insist on believing that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim? This fantasy is the last piece needed to make an imaginary international Islamic conspiracy fit the formula for political paranoia laid out by Hofstadter 46 years ago. (Laura Miller, “The paranoid style in American punditry,” Salon, 15 Sept. 2010)
liberal craziesThe thing to be careful of is equating the crackpots--the "extremes" on both the right and the left. If they're on the right, they are those of such psychic fragility that they cannot stand when society changes or grows too much, so when it does they cannot but come untethered. If they're on the left, then they're those of such psychic healt…

What do the weak exist for?

When the Jon Meachams and Mika Brzezinskis work up the courage to condemn the people who have done and are continuing to do this for the "blood they have on their hands," then their purported outrage and beliefs can be viewed as sincere. But they don't do that and won't do that. Righteous anger at those who spill blood is reserved only for hated foreigners (Osama bin Laden) and for the marginalized and powerless who haven't actually spilled any blood (the Koran-burning Pastor and WikiLeaks). That's why this Pastor circus has received so much media attention: it's a cheap, petty and easy way for people with enormous amounts of blood on their own hands to show what Good, Caring People they are by pretending that they hate those who cause it to be spilled. (Glenn Greenwald, “The Pastor and Cheap, Selective Concern for Blood-letting,” Salon, 10 Sept. 3010)What do the weak exist for, except to be trod upon?It's a matter of aesthetics. Both sides want s…