"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, April 10, 2010

(John Paul Jones Memorial in DC)
During his engagement with Serapis, Jones uttered, according to the later recollection of his First Lieutenant, the legendary reply to a quip about surrender from the British captain: "I have not yet begun to fight!"
Justice John Paul Stevens recently announced his retirement from the US Supreme Court. Dawn Johnsen withdrew her nomination to the Office of Legal Counsel yesterday after facing a filibuster threat from Senate Republicans and Democrats Ben Nelson and Arlen Specter. Republican Senator Lugar from Indiana supported Johnsen's nomination.
Once obscure, the office [of Legal Counsel] became controversial in the administration of President George W. Bush when its political appointees, citing sweeping theories of presidential power, secretly signed off on interrogation and surveillance policies that bypassed statutory and treaty restraints. Ms. Johnsen was an outspoken critic of those claims after they came to light.
An Indiana University law professor, Ms. Johnsen had also served as acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration. During the Bush administration, she helped lead a coalition of Clinton-era alumni of the office in proposing changes to restore its reputation and independence.
In a 2008 essay titled "Restoring Our Nation’s Honor," Ms. Johnsen wrote: "We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation’s past transgressions and reject Bush’s corruption of our American ideals. Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation’s honor be restored without full disclosure"
Obviously Obama should nominate her as Stevens's replacement.

I have tickets to see Them Crooked Vultures and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame at the Scaragon Brawlroom next month.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Republicans, Leukemia Team Up to Repeal Health Care Law
"Leukemia has always been a disease that veers to the right," said Newsweek columnist Ezra Klein, adding that Republicans have also sought out the support of high-profile illnesses such as sickle-cell anemia, type 1 diabetes, and sepsis. "And at the end of the day, you can't ignore the fact that this deadly blood disorder has a lot to lose if the bill succeeds."

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

After the Gold Rush

The New Republic now has a photo up of senior editor Michelle Cottle. I once shared a fiction writing class with her in college. From what I remember she had a very beautiful southern accent, although she rarely spoke in class. (I believe she came from a small town in western North Carolina.) My attempts to engage her in conversation after class always failed. I would heap praise on a story she recently shared with the class and she would respond with a polite thank you and excuse herself. Maybe it was my Yankee/Chicago accent and off-putting manner. Maybe it was her religiosity. Probably she just wasn't interested in the slightest and thought my stories were crap.

There were two Senior level fiction classes of 15 students (I'm pretty sure you had to be an English major). Students applied to the class by submitting a story, and luckily I was deamed worthy. The professor who taught the class and judged the stories was an elderly Southern gentleman who reminded me of the actor John Neville. Aloof but courteous. 

I labored on my story all summer and don't remember much about it except it involved a typewriter repair man who hitchiked even though hitchiking was unheard of in the story's universe because of a high crime rate and general distrust of strangers. I dropped proper names like Theodore Dreiser (An American Tradgedy), Norman Mailer (The Executioner's Song) and Neil Young.  

Not long ago, I was thinking about Neil Young and the cover to his album After the Gold Rush which I always found striking and memorable. Recently it dawned on me that the album cover reminded me of Bruegel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, which W.H. Auden discusses in his poem Musée des Beaux Arts.

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Damn the Gods
(or Release the Kraken)

New Godzilla Haikus every day.

James Carville once famously said,
I used to think if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or a .400 baseball hitter. But now I want to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.
In today's column, Tom Friedman prostrates himself rhetorically once again in front of the bond market:
If you step back far enough, you could argue that George W. Bush brought the Reagan Revolution — with its emphasis on tax cuts, deregulation and government-as-the-problem-not-the-solution — to its logical conclusion and then some. But with a soaring deficit and a banking crisis caused by an excess of deregulation, Reaganism has met its limit. Meanwhile, President Obama’s passage of health care reform has brought the New Deal-Franklin Roosevelt Revolution to its logical conclusion. There will be no more major entitlements for Americans. The bond market will make sure of that. (emphasis added)
At least he writes
"Obama is at least trying to push an agenda for pursuing the American dream in these new circumstances. I don’t agree with every policy — I’d like to see a lot more emphasis on innovation and small business start-ups — but he’s clearly trying. I do not get that impression from the Republicans, and especially those being led around by the Tea Partiers."