Pundit Wire

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

“Worse than a crime…”

Tom_Cotton_113th_CongressCurrent calls to prosecute the 47 Republican senators who signed the “Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” under the Logan Act are just so much hot air.

The Logan Act reads as follows: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

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Obama’s Selma Victory Lap

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.07.42 AMSometimes a speech succeeds before it even begins. That is precisely the intent of significant numbers of employees in political offices around the country—people who design backdrops, shape messages as if they were ice sculptures, and stay awake at night worrying about all the unpleasant unforeseeables that might damage a well-scripted event, and by extension, a well-scripted career as a communications adviser.

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When Actors Talk about National Health Systems

rexfeatures_1523447dActor Michael Sheen makes a ‘blistering’ speech about the UK National Health Service. Hurrah! If only our milksop politicians would have a bit of that passion and sincerity!

Or not.

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The Speechwriting Reel: The Engineering Mind in Action

Marine-engineeringThis is a glimpse of how the engineering mind works: “I like pop music. Earnestly. Most of the greatest technicians, mix engineers, and players are working in pop music.”
Autre Ne Veut

I don’t mean to pick on engineers but they’re easy to pick on, especially by us creative types who free associate and constantly digress and of course interrupt without compunction.  Nice word, compunction. I consult for big oil companies invariably run by engineers. I wrote something for a higher up, way up, expecting to get his thoughts about the piece’s substance. His note said “You made a typo on page three paragraph three.” I couldn’t find it.

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