‘Bob Dylan in America’ by Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz’s new work, Bob Dylan in America, is a fascinating hybrid of a book. Combining biography, history, literary criticism, and music criticism while using significant events in Dylan’s career as jumping-off points, the book is one of the more interesting and enjoyable in the library Dylan’s life and work has inspired.  There’s good commentary here about the book at the fine Dylan-centric blog RightWingBob.com.

“I greatly enjoyed my reading of it and I think that it belongs in the top tier of books on Bob Dylan, as I rate them, because it is that kind which can expand and enhance one’s enjoyment of his music, rather than merely passing the time or weighing you down with trivia. It’s also well known that critics and biographers can sometimes come to hate their subject, even if they came in at the start with interest and affection. Anyone looking for some kind of cynical or demeaning take on Bob, however, will be disappointed by Wilentz’s book.

In some places it’s being called a biography, but it isn’t really; or if it is, it’s the better type of biography to do of an artist, and that is one which focuses on his or her work, and only reflects on events-in-the-life where they are pretty obviously relevant to the art. But in any case Wilentz’s goal is clearly not to be so comprehensive, or to say the last word on anything. His look at Dylan is at a cross-section of Bob’s career, focusing on areas where the author feels he has something to add to the discussion. These may or may not always match with a particular listener’s areas of fascination, but I do think he has plenty to add.”

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Bring the troops home

A good, thought provoking piece, ‘Dissention in the Ranks,‘ by Tony Blankley. It’s time to institute the policy of not putting mass amounts of troops in harm’s way unless the United States is directly threatened.

“Last November, with the Johnson presidency in mind, I penned “An Exit Strategy to Die For.” In that column, I argued that we are better off bringing our troops home now than to ask them to risk their lives fighting for time until July 2011 rolls around and a politically expedient withdrawal commences.

Over the last year, events have persuaded me that this view remains correct. The coalition of the willing is winnowing as allies, convinced of the inevitably of a U.S. pullout, race us for the exits.

American casualties are now higher than in 2001. The chronically unstable Karzai government faces a fresh financial crisis, beseeching bailout-fatigued U.S. taxpayers to keep the Bank of Kabul solvent. Meanwhile the Taliban, burrowed into the towns and villages and biding their time in mountain fastnesses, patiently await the expiry date of Obama’s necessary war.”

Posted in Politics, War | Tagged | 1 Comment

Book review: ‘Savages’ by Don Winslow

The tale of Orange County’s underbelly is a propulsive yet meditative read.

Don Winslow is among the best dozen or so suspense novelists writing today, and in my rankings would be near the top of the list. Due to some reading already in my queue, and a honing of his prose style I wasn’t ready to engage with yet, I was a bit late to this latest Winslow novel, Savages. It’s in production as a film by Oliver Stone and, in fact, brief portions of the book are in screenplay format. However, once you get used to the stylistic conceits Winslow uses in Savages, they never keep the book from being less than a propulsive, engaging read. Not sure I would recommend it as an introduction to Winslow’s work as Sarah Weinman discusses in this fine review of the book, but it is a worthy addition to his bookshelf.

“The real break point Winslow describes… is the one between an all-too-American “religion of narcissism” and the inevitable implosion caused by outside forces. The drumbeat strikes a little loudly, but the impact of the late-act narrative soliloquy is no less damning: “We reinvented ourselves every day, remade our culture, locked ourselves in gated communities, we ate healthy food, we gave up smoking, we lifted our faces while avoiding the sun, we had our skin peeled, our lines removed, our fat sucked away like our unwanted babies, we defied aging and death.”

What, then, are we left with when we only have ourselves to worship? “Guys dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and the headlines are about Anna Nicole Smith. Who? Exactly.” The cultural references change but the juxtaposition never does. It’s easier to care about having a good time or justifying one’s behavior until you’re in a standoff and you’re not sure if your gun works. Or else, there’s Chon’s philosophy: He “has always known that there are two worlds: The savage/the less savage.” Or, put another way: “You can spend fifty thousand years practicing meditation or you can buy a gun.”

As worldviews go, “Savages” runs all the bleaker because we didn’t know it would end up that way. But all is not lost for Ben, Chon and O: Loving themselves is not enough, but each other, the world? That might be the real path toward enlightenment, not any others prescribed in O.C. territory.”

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The Couric-Rich Model of the 5 Stages of Mainstream Media Grief

Absolutely brilliant commentary from Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media taking off on another brilliant piece by Rob Long (linked at the Driscoll article) about the mainstream media at this point in the Obama regime. The whole piece could be quoted, but this is a good excerpt:

“…as Matthew Sheffield quips, “Hating your countrymen is the new patriotism:”

In short: liberals don’t hate America, they simply hate Americans, especially when they won’t go along with such obviously good things such as President Obama’s healthcare law, “economic stimulus” spending, nationalizing student loans, unilaterally disarming American nuclear weapons, or raising taxes in an anemic economy. Having fully embraced the notion that Judeo-Greco-Roman society has engaged in systematic “cultural imperialism,” the modern Left has embraced what might be termed “cultural inferiorism” as a means to atone.

One could argue that conservatives and libertarians are prone to similarly negative views about the public–particularly when it votes for politicians loathed by the Right–however, it seems to me that when such sentiments are expressed, they tend to proceed more from disappointment than the fulminations against the public one regularly sees expressed by liberals (the supposed movement “for the people”).

The reason for this rhetorical disparity is that conservatives and libertarians seem to have a much better grounding in the idea that they have a political ideology. Liberals lack this sense, believing their ideology to be literally incommensurable to other ideologies. To oppose liberalism is thus not only intellectually incorrect, it is also an affront to common decency.”

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Obama’s War: The Deadliest Month in the Deadliest Year

Excellent observations by Pamela Geller about the current fool’s errand in Afghanistan, on the same day Obama tries to attach himself to the relative success of the Iraq surge that Bush advocated and BHO opposed.

“Eight years after the war began, Obama’s first year in office, 2009, was the deadliest year for U.S. service members fighting in Afghanistan and the first time American casualties there exceeded the number in Iraq. Until now.

2010 has already become the deadliest year for U.S. troops in the nine-year-long war in Afghanistan.

Where is the media? Our finest young Americans are being slaughtered? Remember, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, there was the daily broadcast of US deaths — recounted ad nauseum. Now, all quiet on the left wing front.

What is Obama’s mission by objective? Partnering with the Taliban? Whatever it is, the result is the humiliation of the US military and maximum death.

Obama’s Afghanistan is a more effective US killing machine than the enemy. Bring the troops home. He’s killing them.”

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George Soros, the Democrats, and their press lackeys

A couple of the biggest examples of press hypocrisy since the inauguration of Obama as president (and the examples are legion) are twin hit jobs on the Koch brothers, by leftist acolytes Frank Rich and Jane Mayer in the New York Times and New Yorker respectively, for financing conservative causes while glossing over George Soros’ bankrolling of the left. Here’s a piece on Soros from The American Thinker going into some detail about his political financial interests.

“Soros is an enterprising man and legendary investor. He figured out sooner and better than anyone else how to buy political power and bend politicians to his will. He is not a goody-two-shoes, as partisans on the left try to portray him. He has benefited hugely from leverage, and the best leverage he enjoys is when he “gives” money in ways that are really investments (payoffs, bribes?) in disguise. Shame on Mayer, Rich, and others who hide this history. They also are all but puppets in the hands of George Soros.”

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NFL losing its mind

The NFL has yet to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with brain injuries sustained by veterans, and continues to push plans to expand the season to 18 games. Besides continuing to make the NFL record book meaningless, a longer schedule’s effect on player health doesn’t seem to be under consideration by the league at all. Joe Starkey in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a good column today:

“The season is too long already. No amount of bye weeks or reduction of offseason conditioning can make up for subjecting players to two more games.

Steelers president Art Rooney II declined comment on the issue, but be sure of this: If any franchise should be vigorously protesting an expanded season, it’s the Steelers, who have seen several former players — Mike Webster, Terry Long, Justin Strzelczyk, Paul Martha, to name four — lose their quality of life on account of brain damage. Their two best current players, Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu, have sustained multiple concussions.

The question of whether football-related collisions cause dementia, depression and worse remains disputed in the medical community, though evidence is increasing. At the very least, the NFL should refrain from adding more games until it sees more research. And it has to consider the stunning scientific studies already performed.

One of those, conducted by the West Virginia University-affiliated Brain Injury Research Institute, determined that deceased Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry had a form of degenerative brain damage caused by multiple hits to the head. Henry was one of more than a dozen NFL and college players found with the condition.”

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