Skip to main content


Showing posts from March 20, 2005
Federalism When John Adams was defending a tri-partite government, he did so by first surveying the political facts as given to him by history. It seems to LI that this is a good way to start talking about politics. We don’t have to invent ideals at the beginning and apply them, because we already have a history of applied ideals. What we do have to see is how the application of those ideals has worked. If we find a discrepancy between the animating principles of an ideal and its consequences, we should then ask whether either the animating principles are wrong, or whether they disguise some other, real principles, or whether the application is wrong. The case for federalism rests, for some people, on the idea that the smaller the scale of government, the larger the voice of the people in directing it. In other words, there is a correlation between scale and democratic participation. So much for theory. But when we survey the political facts on the ground in America, we find something
Last week, our friend T. – who usually holds down the extensive NYC bureau, with its sweeping views of Central Park, its extensive armentarium of computers put together by God’s little elves, and its News Corp-like budget – supplied the posts while we were gone. We liked the posts; for a long time, we’ve been trying to get T. to put together a web site, or log, or something. Alas, unlike the perpetually underemployed crewe, here, T. actually has a real job, and real prospects. T. left us with one last post on the Tiger Lillies. Diana Vreeland in Harper’s Bazaar had a column “Why Don’t You?” In that spirit: Why don’t you go out and buy some Tiger Lillies CDs. You really ought to. When R. gave me the keys to LI’s front door, he encouraged me to what I would – profess Paraguayan nationalism, exhort LI’s readers to arms, overturn the laws of every prophet – so I will take this one shot of unmediated endorsement: go, go now and go later to and buy something. The Tiger L
Continuing LI’s Menckenish ecumenicalism (now there’s a phrase, and that’s the only defense I can make of it), on this Good Friday we have searched out some article that can warm our somewhat tepid belief. We found one in the Winter Issue of Common Knowledge: The Presence of Objects by Caroline Walker Bynum – link here to Bynum’s President’s Address to the AHA . The article begins with a small but startling artifact found cemented in the wall of a church in Sternberg, Germany. It is a block of stone with footprints in it. What miracle is attested by those footprints? Well, it seems in 1496, a Jewess stole the eucharist and attempted to drown it. Her attempts were unavailing, and the divinity sunk her feet into stone. It seems, in fact, that the Jews around Sternberg were always bludgeoning eucharists, making them bleed, and in general showing their hard heartedness. A corrupt priest, it was said, delivered a lot of consecrated hosts to the Jews to redeem items pawned by his concubines
The sedulous flycatcher There was a faction, after the Bush victory in November, that urged a more compassionate approach to heartland America, outreach on divisive social issues, and even the well tempered expression of faith, on appropriate occasions. LI says to hell with that. Ourselves, we believe that the liberal/left strategy should be one of the fiercest and most unmitigated contempt for the logrollers from the confederacy who are now straddling our necks and digging in their spurs. You will find, here and there, expressions of mild surprise that the rightwing set seems to want to expand the federal government in several ways, and seems headed, as an objective correlative of their real politics, for eight solid years of record deficits. The idea that conservatives once foolishly elevated to power would deny the human impulse to self-aggrandizement to which all conservative theology admiringly refers in the chaste pursuit of small government is, itself, a cause for some am
Maggie Valley is a resort town in the mountains of North Carolina. It is distinguished by one dance hall, seasonally shuttered (the Stompin’ Ground), one main drag, Soco Road, upon which the Stompin Ground is strategically located, numerous rental cabins, four or five hotels including the Four Seasons, also on Soco Road, one now defunct amusement park (Ghost Town), which is for sale, according to the billboard on the property formerly occupied by the enterprise, and a ski resort, the Cataloochee, with a beginners, an intermediate, and a best slope – the best slope being accessed by a ski lift going up (the eye estimates) maybe two thousand and a half feet. It was open Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week. Then it was closing for the season. The employees there say that the busier season, in Maggie Valley, is the summer, anyway. I headed for Maggie Valley with my brother last Thursday. My other brother had already rented a cabin (with, as he was eager to point out on the phone Sadness has descended on this office once again: Bobby Short, saloon singer extraordinaire, singer of saloon songs, saloon singer, the most high, is dead. There is a peculiar annoyance that those who live in NYC and love NYC and those that love NYC who do not live in NYC can share intimately: the loathing of Woody Allen's particular version of the island of Manhattan. Mr. Short, of course, appears in a few occasions in WA’s version. Nevertheless, if you ever had the chance to squat in that small room at The Carlyle during one of Mr. Short's performances, you would know that his presence, his manner, and his style were things grander than Woody's simple sentimentality. I can imagine at least two types of obituaries: the one that reminds one of what has been lost, and the one that informs one of what one never knew. The obitiuaries that I read today reminded me only of what has been lost.