Monday, March 3, 2008

The Sunday Newspaper

Reading the Sunday papers for you!
by Charlie Leck

I rise about 4 o’clock in the morning on Sundays. It’s my wife’s morning to sleep in and I can be sure I’ll have a few hours of deafening silence in the house and I can begin to read the Sunday papers – one of my absolute favorite activities. The Minneapolis paper will not have arrived yet. It arrives at approximately 5:30. So, I begin with the New York Times and the Washington Post.
There’s just nothing like it. I flash through the opinion pages, the entertainment and arts sections, and go to the blogs that the paper sponsors. Good stuff. Here are some tidbits from my Sunday morning reading.

In the NY Times, Paul Krugman warns us that an Obama nomination does not guaranty a land-slide victory. He doesn’t think the candidate will really inspire the activist-left of the party to get out and work for the vote or to even necessarily vote. Krugman is not sure the election can be won on Obama’s charisma and magic.

”All in all, the Democrats are in a place few expected a year ago. The 2008 campaign, it seems, will be waged on the basis of personality, not political philosophy. If the magic works, all will be forgiven. But if it doesn’t, the recriminations could tear the party apart.”
In a video commentary in the NY Times, Tom Friedman brings together the 9-11 Attack, the New Orleans Hurricane Disaster and the Flattening of the World, to explain why America has gone as green as red, white and blue. The attack on the Twin Towers made us realize we are funding, through the purchase of oil, a part of the world that hates us. New Orleans made us realize that environmental calamities have grown more possible on this altered planet. The flattening of the world has merely “brought 3 billion new consumers on to the global economic playing-field from India, China, Russia, Brazil – all with the American dream.” With that much demand for product, what does that do to the sensitive environment of the planet? This is a video worth listening to! A few of my best friends, and some good thinkers I know, think Friedman is a light-weight. Listening to him in his video, makes me wonder how they can think that.

I’m a regular reader of Stanley Fish. He’s a bit too ponderous for most people. He moves slowly (sometimes painfully so), but he moves with clear steps of logic and blatantly allows you to see the progression of his thinking. This week he indicates that John McCain will have certain very clear advantages over Barack Obama in the general election and most of those advantages will come from the war in Iraq. At first blush that seems crazy, but read Stanley Fish’s column and you’ll see just what he’s talking about. Amazingly, however, Fish suggests that John McCain, as a non-candidate, would likely vote for Obama in the privacy of the voting booth.

Who is Stanley Fish? Get to know him. He’s a real pleasure to read.

“Stanley Fish the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Flordia International University and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and Duke University. He is the author of 10 books. His new book on higher education, Save the World on Your Own Time, will be published in 2008.”
I breezed through Bill Kristol’s column on William F. Buckley also. I don’t recommend it. Kristol is a light-weight conservative and he doesn’t really understand Buckley and this column if full of platitudes, generalities and bluster. Where is the information about Buckley’s opposition to the 1964 civil rights legislation? What about Buckley’s avid support of Joe McCarthy in the 50s? These are important connection considering the theme of Kristol’s column. I’d put my own blog about Buckley’s contribution up against Kristol’s drivel anytime.

Every Sunday I spend time with The Opinionator. This blog takes me through the major blogs in the country and les me know what’s being said by them in summary fashion. If I’m interested in reading the entire out-put, they give me the appropriate links. Much like I’m doing for you here.The Opinionator sent me quickly to read Andrew Sullivan’s blog in the Atlantic Monthly on Obama’s position on gays. Very interesting! If you’re curious about how gays are looking upon Obama, go read this thorough, well written piece.Within the Opinionator itself, Chris Suellentrop wrote a particularly interesting and informative piece that compared the kind of people Bill Clinton gathered around himself during his initial campaign for the presidency and those that Barack Obama has pulled together. They are not alike and they show a very different approach to what we might see in an Obama administration.

Freakonomics, as many of you know, is my favorite blog. I don’t miss any of its new postings. These two guys are great! Their book, of the same title, was wonderful. I turn to this blog without fail during the few hours I set aside for reading on Sunday mornings. I always find myself giggling and oohing and ahhing with great delight. This Sunday was not an exception.

George Will’s column in the Washington Post (published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Sunday morning) was especially interesting. It warns us about the possibility of a John McCain presidency. He talks about McCain’s ability to see the splinters in his fellow Senator’s and Representative’s eyes, but not the log in his own eye:
”Such certitude is, however, not merely an unattractive trait. It is disturbing righteousness in someone grasping for presidential powers.”
Garrison Keillor tells us why he lives in Minnesota, even though March is a generally dreary and crappy month (Sorry, the Tribune Media Services refuses to put this column on-line):

“I want my kid to grow up in a society that values knowledge and hard work and public spirit over owning stuff and looking cool. That’s why I live in Minnesota. It isn’t for the climate.”
I’m pretty shocked that I’ve read two consecutive Lori Sturdevant columns in a row with which I agree. On Sunday she described the depth of the budget deficit we are likely to face due to the current “economic lag.” Here in Minnesota, the Governor has the power to indiscriminately slash spending in order to get the budget balanced, which it must by law. She warned Governor Pawlenty against doing that without working through these decisions with the legislature. The last Governor to do this was Al Quie and the state got itself into an awful mess as the result of his actions.

“’If I had it to do over again, I’d have called a special session,’ Quie said last week. By acting alone, he gave every candidate, including his fellow Republicans, license to criticize him. He didn’t recover from the political damage he sustained. It put him in a weaker position to govern the state through two more years of economic trouble.”
Syl Jones, local journalist and playwright (and the son of extraordinary civil rights activists) was asked to argue the side of electing the black man over the woman, both from traditionally ignored groups in national office. Jones wrote well and reasoned wisely, but, in the end, pointed to Obama’s election.

“It’s a shame when one marginalized group has to compete against another for the presidency, especially since good leadership is at a premium. But 2008 is destined to be the year when racial politics is finally turned upside down and the last shall truly be first.”
There’s lots more…

A slide show in the NY Times of Robert Weaver’s 1962 drawings from baseball spring training of that year. I went through them slowly and they brought me great pleasure.

I happen to love Dick Cavett’s sarcasm and dry humor. I read his blog, Talk Show, regularly. On this particular blog Cavett savages the Academy Awards program with his very unique and special sarcasm.Well, enough. As Cavett said in the blog above:

“I’m sick of this subject, and you probably beat me to so being. I shall drag you and it no further.”
It’s untrue, of course! I’m not sick of it at all, but I have dragged you through my reading quite far enough.


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