Pundit Wire

The Soldier

BrookePoet Rupert Brooke died a century ago on April 23. He died too soon for three reasons. First, he was only 28. Second, he was denied the opportunity to bring his rich poetical gifts to fruition. And third, he never saw for himself what war was really like.

The third was perhaps his greatest tragedy.

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Earth Day, Race Day, Gun Day, Money Day

mk_followmoney_41015_539_332_c1Is change even possible?

The national conversation about excessive use of police force that we’re supposed to have been conducting since Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner were killed didn’t save Walter Scott’s life.  The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of 26 children and staff that we hoped would be the tipping point on gun violence hasn’t slowed the NRA by a heartbeat.  Earth Day is April 22, but if the bad news about heat, drought, sea levels and dying oceans hasn’t loosened the fossil fuel industry’s death grip on Congress by now, it’s hard to imagine any millions of marchers in any number of cities making a difference.

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Who’s Greedy, and Why?

images-10You don’t need to go far these days to find angry exchanges about “greed”. The UK general election will see wild rhetoric about the Politics of Greed. But who in fact is greedy?

So take out the generalised human instincts about the greed of men/women/children, and it turns out that Greedy Workers are the clear winners, well ahead of another notable category, Greedy Owners.

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Who will bake my wedding cake?

gay wedding cakeI am a freelance speechwriter. I advertise on the Internet: www.ringingwords.com.

Suppose someone contacts me and asks me to write him a speech in favor of a proposition to which I am totally opposed. I decline as a matter of conscience. The other person says, “The heck with your conscience. You offer your services to the whole public on the Internet. You have no right to discriminate against any potential client because of your personal beliefs. If you don’t write my speech, I will take you to court and force you to do so.”

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Faulkner Trending

Carl_Van_Vechten_-_William_FaulknerThere’s a note trending now among forty former practitioners of public diplomacy, each one narrating zany experiences in the field from the glory days from when the United States “did” culture overseas.  Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and others went at great personal and financial sacrifice to serve their country by charming publics in hostile nations, and freeing the human spirit in ways that transcended political differences.  They were great heroes, yet to be replaced as we seek to tweet ourselves out of the Islamic State and Putinism.  Long may our efforts live, and all power to the tweet if that is what strikes people’s consciousness, really.

We know that William Faulkner used to chart out his drinking binges on the calendar.  Faulkner was America’s Proust. His Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1950 was possible only through the connivance of his family, who X’d out dates on the calendar and deceived him to think it was a week later than it really was.  This is good urban myth but I take it as true.  December 10 he gave one of the most memorable of Nobel speeches, speaking of “the ding-dong of doom” in an age of nuclear proliferation bringing humans to the brink of annihilation.

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This Happened March 20, and It Could Happen to You

stealing-294489_640Land line rings at 3:00 p.m.  Usually I’m out at that hour, but I happen to be on a brief pass-through at my house, and I take the call on the fourth ring.

“The Internal Revenue Service is filing a lawsuit against you for non-payment of $6000 in taxes.  You must call the following number…”

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Not Funny Any More

Walt_kellyDuring a recent snow storm, I went into the recesses of the house that don’t get much attention most of the time, and found old books I hadn’t seen in a few decades.

I rediscovered Walt Kelly, a great American and creator of “Pogo,” a loosely political, syndicated cartoon depicting friendly and not-so-friendly creatures from Florida’s Okeefenokee Swamp.  Anyone who was a teenager in Americain the 1950s or 1960s remembers Pogo, others might not.

Photo: Wikipedia

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“What essential right can you deny to an alien?”

Portrait_of_William_Bourke_CockranTo celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this post will honor the memory of a neglected Irish-American statesman and orator: William Bourke Cockran (1854-1923).
Cockran was born in Country Sligo, Ireland. He emigrated to America at age 17, settling in New York. There, he became a successful lawyer, a member of Congress, and a friend and confidant of some of the leading men of the time, including inventor Thomas Edison, publisher Joseph Pulitzer and Presidents Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt. He also became known as America’s greatest living orator. (No less a rhetorical titan than Winston Churchill would call Cockran his “model.”)

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Also posted in General, History, International, Political Rhetoric, Politics, Race & Ethnicity, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment