Pundit Wire

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

Spock’s ‘Good Mother’

mk_leonard_3115_539_332_c1“Oh, by the way, Leonard,” I say into the phone, as breezily as I can feign, “what did you think about Diane’s belt?”

Leonard Nimoy is on location in Cambridge, Mass., preparing to direct “The Good Mother” for Disney, starring Diane Keaton. I’m the executive on the movie, on the lot, where a studio chieftain and I have just watched the makeup, hair and wardrobe test Leonard had shot. (I won’t identify the mogul, but it’s unlikely you’d know his name.)

Nimoy directing “The Good Mother.” Photo by PictureLux/eyevine

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The True Believer, Revisited

15916The New York Times ran a front page article on February 18, chronicling the lives of three Egyptian youths, one of whom turned jihadist and went to fight for ISIS in Syria.

The three young men were friends. All of them came from middle-class backgrounds. All of them were devout Muslims, and all of them struggled to square the strictures of puritanical Islam with the attractions of the secular world—in particular, the sexual impulses they shared as normal young men. All of them had difficulty finding work in Egypt’s uncertain economy, and all of them were disillusioned when Egypt’s army took power and suppressed the militant Islamic Brotherhood.

Photo: Harper & Brothers

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Hollywood’s necessary not-niceness

db_amy-pascal_010915_584_539_360_c1The billion people who will watch the 2015 Academy Awards got a great gift last week from Amy Pascal, the recently fired co-chair of Sony Pictures, who said this to Tina Brown at a Women in the World conference in San Francisco:

“We all live in this weird thing called Hollywood. If we all actually were nice, it wouldn’t work.”

Photo: Amy Pascal. Image via Sony Pictures Studios

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