TODAY’S LINKS—11-18-2012

I haven’t presented an entry like this for some time, but occasionally I find some interesting reading that I can’t expand into a full article myself but is worthwhile sharing.

First I note that, while entering the date, It reminded me that my parents were married on this day in 1935. Both are long passed. Coincidentally writer Sue Grafton’s fictional detective, Kinsey Millhone, once speaking of her parents, killed in a car crash leaving Millhone an orphan, revealed that they, too, were married on that date.

Now for the real stuff.

Penn Jillette is famous as the talking half of the magician team Penn and Teller. Their magic act is nothing like what my father performed  but very entertaining with a cynical touch uncommon to the genre.

He was a contestant on Donald Trump’s egofest Celebrity Apprentice (one must be specific about The Donald’s egofests..there are so many of them). Jilette now has a book out Every Day is an Atheist Holiday from which an account of his appearance on that show is recounted.

He compares the tasks involved to junior high, both being incredibly easy. He declares Trump’s hair as being real but resembling “cotton candy made of piss”.

He confesses his own “sucking up” to Trump. No excuses.

Now for another review of the recent election.

This was the first class warfare election of the new Gilded Age — and the middle class won big.

So says Robert Borosage is this article reprinted from Alternet.

While these thoughts merit broader expostion on my part, I’ll share this now until I have more time to explore. More particularly I’m not certain the purported middle class victory is secure. There are hints that Obama may be willing to yield ground on Social Security and Medicare in efforts to trim the deficit and avoid the “fiscal cliff”. So any middle class triumph may be Pyrrhic.

However, there is no doubt that class warfare was being waged. Who were the initiators, causes and combatants depended on one’s perspective.

Borosage himself does not look upon 2012 bringing final victory.

More and more of our elections going forward will feature class warfare — only this time with the middle class fighting back. And candidates are going to have to be clear about which side they are on. Politicians in both parties are now hearing CEOs telling them that it is time for a deal that cuts Medicare and Social Security benefits in exchange for tax reform that lowers rates and closes loopholes. Before they take that advice, they might just want to look over their shoulders at what will be coming at them.

Only time will tell (Okay, not very original)

This last link is to a Salon interview with Jon Meacham, author of a new book Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.

To most Americans Thomas Jefferson is a hero so some readers of this book my be repelled by some of its revelations. Chief among the arguments against Jefferson over the years has been his links to slavery, as much in his public policy as in his private life with his own slaves including a mistress.

Meacham, however, a Pulitzer winner for his biography of Andrew Jackson, argues that perfection cannot be the standard by which presidents and politicians are judged. He suggests our best leaders must “transcend (their) constraints and overcome those faults in order to leave the nation a better, more just place than they found it.” Jefferson, he writes, “did his best … and his best left the world a definition, if not a realization, of human liberty that has endured, and gave America the means to ascend to global power.”

And I believe that. Too often we judge our politicians’ (and other putative heroes) personal pecadilloes by standards we would never apply to ourselves. Thus, for instance, the extreme hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich persecuting Bill Clinton for his illicit White House liaisons.

Of course Jefferson is larger than life and one of the most seminal figures in the establishment of our nation. His brilliance in so many areas once led JFK to exclaim at a dinner for Nobel Prize winners:

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone

Meacham has been making the rounds of various talk shows promoting his book and it looks like it will be a fascinating read.

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  • ciejai  On November 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    UMOC, I read Penn Jillette’s funny fascinating piece prior to your post. Lots of great stuff in there. Life is a little busy now so I haven’t gotten to your other links.

    As to your observation about personal peccadilloes, I agree for the most part. If the voters of Louisiana want to re-elect David Vitter in spite of his diaper/hooker fetish, that’s their business. The voters of New York probably should have had the opportunity to vote for or reject Anthony Weiner. Dems are touchy about “family values” and I understand why Ms Pelosi pressured him to go. That’s politics.

    As to General Petraeus and other appointees with high security clearances, there is a different standard. For me it has more to do with hypocrisy than the fact that he had an affair.

Please give me your thoughts.

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