Archive for the ‘The Campaign’ Category

Daily Office:

Friday, March 19th, 2010


Matins: Marina Warner (a world-class expert on the subject, in our opinion) writes about the function of myth, at The Liberal.

Lauds: Money does not appear to be what may have led Harvey Shipley Miller into error as sole trustee of the Judith Rothschild Foundation. Glory and honor are more like it. Listen hard enough, and you can still hear the clucking about the inappropriateness of a posthumous exhibit (in 1998) of Rothschild’s far from top-tier work in  (NYT)

Prime: Tyler Durden foresees “pitchforks and sawed-offs.”

Tierce: For what it’s worth — an X if ever there was one — The Infrastructurist interviews IBM’s Vice President of Energy and Environment. Amidst the jargon, there’s some good thinking.

Sext: The alliteration is so intense that we don’t know what Balk’s sentence means, nor care if it means anything at all. It’s just too psuper! From “You Will Never Find A Husband In New York.” (The Awl)

Nones: In a fine piece at Slate (via The Morning News), Fred Kaplan puts his dukes right up. See also the commentary of AIPAC-nemesis John Mearsheimer at the LRBlog.

Vespers: We’ve been waiting for Robert Darnton to discuss the Paleoblogosphere of ancien régime France, and now he has obliged (NYRBlog)

Compline: Tony Judt’s sketch of his early, non-academic working life includes some very important observations about the indignity of most labor. (NYRB)

Daily Office:

Thursday, December 11th, 2008


Matins: Murder will out — especially, it seems, when the criminal has been goaded by his wife. Janet Blagojevich, herself the daughter of a political mogul, “appears to be an influential and demanding partner to her husband’s schemes.”

And, in a blast of vulgar language, Ms. Blagojevich eggs on her husband when he reportedly threatens to prevent the Tribune Company from selling the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field unless The Chicago Tribune fired editorial writers who had called for the governor’s impeachment. Ms. Blagojevich is quoted in the complaint as saying that the state should “hold up that [expletive] Cubs [expletive] … [expletive] them.”

Tierce: A suit that ought never to have been entertained has been resolved more or less correctly. “Princeton Settles Money Battle Over Gift.” The heirs of 1961 donors, themselves heirs (of A & P money), challenged Princeton’s use of a $35 million gift (since considerably ballooned). The case ought to have been thrown out on its merits.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008


Matins: How quickly swings swing! Just the other day, we were America the Ugly; benighted, shortsighted, and all but indicted. Now, we’re the progressives, because we have the kind of president that Europeans, who have, er, racist problems of their own, know they could never elect.

Lauds: Greetings from the East Side.

Tierce: I’ll admit that my “solution” to the Detroit problem (dissolve the companies and pension off the workers) is drastic in every way. At least it has the advantage of making Thomas Friedman’s proposal look doable.


Daily Office:

Monday, November 10th, 2008


Matins: David Carr writes about a momentous meeting, a little over eighteen months ago, between Internet pioneer Marc Andreessen and a

junior member of a large and powerful organization with a thin, but impressive, résumé, he was about to take on far more powerful forces in a battle for leadership.

Guess who the other guy was.

Tierce: Ailing GM can’t cut off its union workers — not quite yet — but white collar retirees can kiss their “gold-plated” health care goodbye. Nick Bunkley reports.

Sext: Eric Pfanner’s somewhat breathless account of the state of play between Google and book publishers nonetheless conveys a good idea of where books are going. And it does indeed look like a good idea.

Vespers: It’s not the potato-stuck-up-the-bum that’s funny. It’s the idea that anybody would believe the story of how it got there.

The clergyman, in his 50s, told nurses he had been hanging curtains when he fell backwards on to his kitchen table.

He happened to be nude at the time of the mishap, said the vicar, who insisted he had not been playing a sex game.

(Thanks, Joe.)


Daily Office:

Friday, November 7th, 2008


Matins: Timothy Egan puts his finger on exactly what’s been bothering me since Barack Obama’s victory — bothering me like an itch, not like a problem.

In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice on the question of what to do when your dreams come true: don’t tell anyone.

Conversely, what do we do when our darkest fears, our hardened conventional wisdom and our historic homilies are all found to be hooey? Shout it from the rooftops.

I can’t believe that I can really shout good news from the rooftops.

Lauds: A European friend of mine decided to spend his vacation in Chicago. Boy, did he choose wisely. Before the election, he visited the Art Institute and took this picture, which we’ve all seen so many times that we can’t remember or even imagine not knowing it.

Tierce: Aaron Ross of Bergenfield, in a Letter to the Editor, claims,

“Equality’s Winding Path” (editorial, Nov. 6) reveals the true rift over the divisive issue of gay-marriage bans.

You refer to the “ugly outcomes” of the votes, the “defeat for fairness” and “unfair treatment” of “vulnerable groups” — all terms indicative of the fact that you see this issue as one of rights.

The fact that 30 states have now passed similar bans on same-sex marriage should perhaps alert you to the fact that not everyone has accepted that version of the issue, and that many Americans have chosen to define gay marriage not as an issue of rights but as one of morality.

As a country, we are still firmly rooted in a Judeo-Christian ethic that leaves certain unions outside of the pale of acceptability.

This language, although calm enough is startlingly reminiscent of the outraged opposition to granting full civil rights to Black Americans fifty years ago.

Daily Office:

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008


Matins: Kathleen and I watched Senator McCain’s very gracious, very statesmanlike concession speech. We hugged. But we did not jump for joy. We are not breaking out the champagne. We ought to be very happy. Instead we feel deeply abused around the edges. By Reagan and the Bushes and the people who put them in the White House. That’s not going to change overnight.

Barack Obama’s victory is a great thing, and I shall never forget “November 4, 2008.” Kathleen and I are deeply thrilled that he and the Democratic Congress will fill impending Supreme Court vacancies with jurists capable of neutralizing Antonin Scalia. The great slogging job of repairing the Federal judiciary and the Civil Service can begin. The ideologues have been sent packing, and thinking may come back into fashion in our political discourse.

Imagine that!

Tierce: The view from là-bas.

Nones: Certainly no American president has looked as right for the part as Barack Obama, seen up close at The Big PictureHe makes JFK look rather like Bill Clinton — or perhaps that’s the benefit of hindsight, knowing what we know about what went on in Camelot’s swimming pool.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008


Prime: I’ve just heard from a neighbor — all right, Joe — that it took almost two hours to vote this morning. The line stretched so far around the block that it almost met itself.

In this morning’s Times, Adam Nagourney writes about how different this campaign has been, especially with regard to the Internet. We’ll find out later today what kind of a difference it made in the outcome.

Sext: Here’s something that I just got wind of: a PBS Poll asking listeners to vote on Sarah Palin’s qualifications. It appears that convervatives had advance notice of this poll, and have been flooding the site with “Yes” votes. The result will be that PBS listeners think that Ms Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President — unless you do your part!

Vespers: With less than an hour to go before the first polls close, I’m keeping busy with other things but keeping this page at the ready, to follow the states turning red and blue.


Daily Office:

Monday, November 3rd, 2008


Matins: As we pray our way through this Good Monday of the most desperately-needed resurrection in the history of secular affairs, it is necessarily with some bitterness that we remember, at the newspaper’s own invitation, that the Times thought that Richard Press’s Op-Ed art was funny enough in 2000 to be funny now. I am still crying alongside this man.

Tierce: Doing the math:

The canal still remains the most fuel-efficient way to ship goods between the East Coast and the upper Midwest. One gallon of diesel pulls one ton of cargo 59 miles by truck, 202 miles by train and 514 miles by canal barge, Ms. Mantello said. A single barge can carry 3,000 tons, enough to replace 100 trucks.

Yes! The Erie Canal still works. And as for the mode of transportation that sent the canals into decline…

Sext: Here’s a study to file away, along with Judith Harris’s findings generally: college students, who are, for the most part adolescents, take their political cues (as well as most other ones) from their peers, not their professors. Patricia Cohen reports.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


Matins: As everybody knows, the Dow took flight yesterday. I wouldn’t be mentioning it if it weren’t for a call that I got from Kathleen at about twenty to four. “I’m going to ring the closing bell,” she said. “On CNBC.” Then she had to go.

Tierce: If you were to ask me why I’m going to vote for Barack Obama, I’d answer with Charles Savage’s appraisal of the Federal judiciary, which the Bush Administration has pushed in a patriarchal direction that can only bring obloquy on our system of justice in the long run.

But the fact that you were asking would send me to another piece in today’s Times: “Report on Iraq Lists 610 Contractors,” James Glanz’s report on the Wild-West irregulation that a plethora of privatized goon squads has introduced into Iraqi affairs — all as the result of the wingnut ideology that has poisoned the Republican Party.

Nones: I knew there was a silver lining: “Plastic Surgeons, Not Immune From the Economic Slump, Report a Decline in Cosmetic Procedures.” Natasha Singer reports.

Compline: In a tough decision, Britain’s High Court decided against Debbie Purdy, who was diagnosed with MS in 1995 and who sought a clear position on assisted suicide from the Director of Public Prosecutions. Peter Walker reports.


Daily Office:

Monday, October 27th, 2008


Matins: What I wouldn’t pay to witness an encounter between Joe the Plumber and Joe the Jervis.

Prime: Who knew? New York has five, count ’em five, Main Streets: one per borough! (Can there be but one Wall Street?)

Tierce: Pakistani and Afghan elders are getting together for a jiragai (a “mini” council), to talk over the increased violence in both countries. Right at the start, however, an Afghan official throws a spanner in the works:

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said last week his government was at the start of a dialogue process, but it would only negotiate with those who lay down arms.

Can anyone tell me the source of this crazy condition, which pops up over and over again when states feel obliged to deal with internal opponents?

Sext: Business as usual: An Army intelligence report notes that terrorists could make use of Twitter. Nobody’s asking why they would want to. Want to be terrorists, that is. Hell, no! What’s the Army without terrorists? (via JMG)

Vespers: Margaret Talbot writes in The New Yorker about recent research into red state/blue state family values. The red state family values — this will come as no surprise to attentive observers — are largely eyewash.


Daily Office:

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008


Matins: The only bad thing about Sarah Palin’s $150 K Neiman Marcus wardrobe is that it is not a story. That’s what wardrobes cost for people thrust in the public eye. If Ms Palin were a game show host, her clothes would cost a great deal more. Why are smart, worldly people suddenly pretending to be frugal Yankees, shocked, shocked to discover that Ms Palin wore Cole Haan boots in Bangor? Seal view, play!

Tierce: In what could be a bold stroke for the Information Age — if money doesn’t run out altogether — the MTA will enhance a Brooklyn subway station with computer screens indicating the current location of every train on the L line, which stretches from the old Meatpacking District in Manhattan to Canarsie on Jamaica Bay.

Nones: Leading market indicators suggest that Wall Street is doing fine. Take today’s joke, for example: “What’s the difference between a pigeon and a hedge fund guy?” (Give this a minute, and you’ll see it coming.)


Daily Office:

Thursday, October 16th, 2008


Matins: The other day, writing about The Seagull, I came across a commercial term paper site. I had forgotten that they’re out there. This morning, I see that Jason Kottke set up a poll yesterday about paying for term papers in high school — an option that didn’t exist in my day. What would I have done?

Tierce: In honor of Joe Wurzelbacher and the American Dream, I think it’s best to take a break from the Blogosphere — lest I say anything that I’ll regret.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008


Matins: Head scarves for women — in Turkey! How transgressive! But, wait: Does this mean that Orhan Pamuk completely fabricated the head-scarf controversy that kicks off his last novel, Snow? It was translated into English, by the way, four years ago.

Prime: Once again, Kathleen and I will be spending Thanksgiving at a pleasant old place on St Croix. But if it weren’t so far away, I’d prefer to do my beachcoming along the Gill Sands, on that remote and longed-for Indian Island jewel, San Serriffe.

Tierce: I thought that it would be very clever to say that I’m having my head examined today, but I Googled the phrase first, and it led me to the creator of FeedDemon. I don’t know anything about this app, but it looks very useful. Unfortunately, as a head case, I can’t deal with technology today — I’m leaving that to the doctors.

Vespers: Wow! Christopher Buckley has (a) endorsed Barack Obama and (b) resigned from The National Review. (Thanks, evilganome.)


Daily Office:

Thursday, October 9th, 2008


Matins: Regular readers will have learned to sigh when I mention the name of Alan Greenspan. I have certainly felt like something of a crank on the subject of this man’s failure to stanch the market’s foolishness. So I felt rather transfigured by the discovery that I was not alone: witness Peter S Goodman’s “Taking Hard New Look at a Greenspan Legacy.”  

Prime: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Tierce: Cook County Sheriff Thomas J Dart has called a halt to foreclosure evictions in Chicago. John Leland reports. In many cases, diligent renters are unaware of a property owner’s default until the marshalls would show up to evict them.

Sext: Nom de Plume sent me the link to a curious video, of unexplained provenance (and 1999 vintage), concerning, straight-faced, the unlikely bond between a crow and a kitten. I watched it in wait for a surprise, but there was none.

Compline: No sex please; we want to live forever: Clara Meadmore, of Perranporth, Cornwall, attributes her longevity to virginity. She’ll be 105 on Saturday.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008


Matins: I wouldn’t have watched last evening’s presidential debate for less than a million dollars. A million dollars, invested in the right Madagascar Triple-A’s, would allow me to hold on to my rent-stabilized apartment for at least eighteen months. Happily, the Times assigned a dozen (!) journalists to the fun job of assessing the truthiness of the candidates’ claims. No need to submit one’s person to all that body English!

Prime: I’ve just seen the instantly infamous “that one” clip, from last night’s debate. Ouch!

Tierce: The press corps in Albany dwindles, with the closing of the Sun, to about forty reporters. That sounds like a lot, though, doesn’t it, to cover a climate notoriously afflicted with political lockjaw. The good old days in Byzantium seem more spontaneous by comparison.  

Sext: Maybe what’s going to save us from the 1929 playbook will be the 1789 playbook! “After bailout, AIG sent executives to the spa.” (Thanks, George.)


Daily Office:

Monday, October 6th, 2008


Matins: Sam Harris’s Newsweek piece, “When Atheists Attack” gets to the heart of the Palin phenomenon — and why I call her “The Infernal Machine.” For a Democrat or a Progressive to notice her is to contribute to her magnetism.

Tierce: From the editorial pages of the Times, today’s moving piece by Lawrence Downes on Vets 4 Vets, a network of veterans of the War on Terror (a/k/a Iraq) who get together to talk about what they can’t tell anyone else; and an  Op-Ed piece by Roger Cohen, “Kiplin vs Palin,” datelined yesterday but not to be found in “The Week in Review,” about what we might call Sarah Palin’s larger heedlessness (the lady appears to be rivetedly mindful of her own career).  

Compline: Just what the world needs right about now: the authorized sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Authorized by his heir and great-grand-nephew, Dacre Stoker; he’s going to write it, too. (“Dacre”? What were his parents thinking. He can’t not have been “Dracu” all through school.)


Daily Office:

Thursday, September 25th, 2008


Matins:  I was worried about voting machine chicanery — I hope that it’s clear by now that Republican Party operatives will stop at nothing, short of outright putsch — but I’m dismayed to see that the states with the most foreclosures — and thereby address-less, disqualified voters — are either solidly Democratic or important swing states.

Lauds: Louis Menand writes about Lionel Trilling, The New Yorker. As current cultural history, it doesn’t get any better.

Tierce: As regular readers know, I was never a partisan of either Democratic Party contender for the nomination. I could see the appeal of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and both were clearly cut of presidential timber. Right now, though, I’m wishing that the lady had gotten the job, and the lead Times editorial this morning will tell you why. Hillary is more of a leader than anyone anywhere currently on the scene.

Sext: We can only hope that Ronald Fryer will turn up something interesting in his “rigorous” study of theories of education.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008


Matins: The Chinese milk problem is the second of this year’s challenges to the Way They Live Now. (Shoddy constructions of the schools that collapsed upon students during the Sichuan earthquake back in May was the first.) Flames from the scandal continue to reach higher into the hierarchy. As China grows more affluent, these scandals will probably increase.

Tierce: You’d think that the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression might inspire the Bush Administration to change its ways. Not a bit of it. What we’re getting is a replay to the Iraq run-up. The government’s bailout plan is written in the Key of Panic.

Nones: Have you discovered a great little organic red wine from Chile, Palin Syrah? It used to a big seller at Yield, a hip San Francisco wine bar, but no longer.

Compline: Google Maps now offers NYC subway directions! (via


Daily Office:

Friday, September 19th, 2008


Matins: John McCain has delivered himself over to the Republican Party handlers whose only objective is a victory for the Party. They’re not taking a chance on Senator McCain (whom they’ve never cared for anyway). No more Mr Nice Guy.

Lauds: Crayons!

Tierce: A while back — at Sext on 10 March, to be exact — I took one of my occasional fliers, and accused today’s right-leaning Federal judiciary of seeking to overturn progressive commercial-law decisions from the early Twentieth Century that underpin our consumer economy. I was teeny-tinily overstating, and if anybody had called me on it, I’d have been obliged to temporize.

No longer. Adam Liptak reports on the so-called “pre-emption doctrine,” a wildly pro-business, anti-consumer principle that is wholly consonant with what we know about Republican Party objectives.

Sext: For seventeen years, Dan Hanna took two self-snaps a day, making one full turn every year. The Time of My Life is stop-action animation with a vengeance! From 31 to 48, Mr Hanna ages very well, but still….  (via

Vespers: Hats off to Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, who is halfway to opening a bookstore in Fort Greene with strong support from the business community, from a $15,000 first prize in a Citibank competition to her business partner, a Random House sales rep.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008


Matins: As the financial collapse continues, I rather egotistically wish that I had the time and energy to comb through old Portico pages in search of I-told-you-so’s. Isn’t that stupid. Let’s say I did. Let’s say I foresaw the whole mess, exactly as it’s playing out (which I most certainly did not). So what? A good idea ahead of its time is really just another bad idea.

Tierce: Patrick McGeehan files a lucid report on the environmental impact, so to speak, of Wall Street’s latest melt-down. It will be bad for the city, of course, but it will be worse for the suburbs — which were already beginning to suffer the tribulations of increased oil prices (home heating and gasoline).

Nones: Two funny videos today: The Cult of the Cupcake and Les Misbarack.

Vespers: Notwithstanding the global gloom and doom, Damien Hirst shattered auction records the other night, bypassing his dealer and going directly to the public. Maybe that’s what you do in a crunch. Carol Jacobi writes in the Guardian about how Holman Hunt did just about the same thing in 1866, in the middle of a bank run. (more…)