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Showing posts from December 3, 2006

thoughts on Christmas

In 1937, for a Christmas present, Goebbels gave Hitler 18 Mickey Mouse films. Goebbels was always a big Disney cartoon fan – Snow White, in particular, was a favorite. Christmas, too, was a favorite of the Nazis. An officially sanctioned favorite. Long before Bill O’Reilly discovered that Christmas was being traduced by traitors from within, the Nazis had found in Christmas a powerful way to promote a number of their most signal policies. Hitler’s state was the first modern guns and butter regime, and such regimes require a resilient consumer sector. The most zealous Nazis tried to make Weihnacht into a more Aryan holiday, promoting the use of Yule, for instance. But the effect of the Nazi re-inflation in Germany is more coolly represented in Heimat, which shows the high point of the thirties as a Christmas – the Christmas of 1937 or 1938, I believe. Sebald mentions the mythical Christmases of the 30s in his book on the Air War. The Fox news emphasis on the American-ness of this peculi

alienating America's natural constituency in Iraq

It is the time of the year for top ten lists – top ten hits, top ten best books, top ten worst movies. And of course, everybody’s top ten flop, the defeat of the U.S. in Iraq. We are ending up with a normal week – 500 plus Iraqis murdered, 33 U.S. soldiers ditto. Hollywood flops bleed money, this flop bleeds both money and blood. But in D.C., as in Hollywood, you can fail to the top - there will be laughs at the National Press club next year as our president does his imitation of a mass of Iraqis being blown to bit by a car bomb. Talk about funny... So what went wrong? Dream cast, brilliant photo ops, a strong return to the war theater by old Cap’n Rumsfeld, voted sexiest psychopathic rightwinger of 1985 and still bulging that wrestler honed physique, and introducing Sonny, the Rebel in Chief playing Rebel with a Cause against former marquee magician, Sr. Among Rumsfeldian deadenders, reference to other occupations, other times are still de rigeur. It is true that allegories of occupat

adams again

In the 1868 presidential campaign, Grant’s election campaign spent an unprecedented amount of money – $250,000, twice as much as his Democrat opponent. The money came from the prosperous class that had benefited very largely from the Civil war: Vanderbilt, William Astor, Hamilton Fish, etc. The money that went into Grant’s election campaign signaled a change in the relationship between the elected and the moneyed, which was, in turn, a product of the changes wrought in the American economy by the Civil War. This is where Henry Adams enters the picture. In my last post, LI might have puzzled readers by linking Adams to an article warning of the bust inside the commercial real estate bubble. Adams, however, was not merely a belle lettrist – he was a financial journalist too, one of the first of the breed in this country. He obviously benefited from acquaintance with Bagehot, but he also benefited from a sensibility sufficiently sensitive as to be shocked when he came home to the U.S. aft

the pilgrim finally gets back home

I’m back. I’m alive. Yesterday, my birthday, I spent the entire day in transit – from the car that was supposed to pick me up in NYC at 10:30 am, and decided that it had other priorities, to the great Continental guy who, with the largesse of the royal prerogative that came with the keyboard and the quiet corner at JFK, gave me a seat on a plane going in the vague direction of Texas, to the long waits in various airport-expensive bars mulling my bad luck. Since getting to NYC had taken two days, one of which was spent in the Austin airport while they played pocket pool with the flight that I was supposed to take (it would regularly appear and disappear on the schedule of flights, until, heartstoppingly, it stopped appearing at all - at which point I found a harried Delta employee who told me I had to find a flight for the next day), getting away from the place in only one day was a strange sort of mercy. There is something medieval about air travel now – at least, I could have recited