Close Please enter your Username and Password

My Blog

GHW BUSH ENTERS INTO EPISCOPAL VALHALLA
Posted:Dec 7, 2018 10:41 am
Last Updated:Dec 9, 2018 8:08 pm
210 Views

On Wednesday a little before 11:00 , I sank into the couch to watch a bit of the elder Bush's funeral at the National Cathedral. As I have the attention span of a tse-tse fly (unless listening to Wagnerian opera), I didn't expect to stay the course to the end.

Two and a half hours later, I was still riveted in place as the president's body was being borne out of the church. It was the most overwhelming spiritual experience I have had in quite some time. It was a synaesthetic experience: the pageantry of the High Church Episcopalian service, the colors of the vestments and banners, the sublimity of the music, the beautiful texts and words from the eulogists and the ancient texts of the liturgy, the sincerity of the mourners combined to fill a void in the soul. It was hard not to think well of one's fellow men afterwards.

I have spent a good deal of my life moonlighting as an Episcopal church musician, and so I was fascinated to follow this aspect of the service. Having played for many high feast occasions, I can pass this on: the organist is the quarterback of the service, not any of the gaggle of clergymen. The hymnody -- what the people collectively sing -- is the "theology of the people." The hymns, some of which were Bush's favorites, reflected the man: they were great hymns of praise, not of lamentation. They were also extremely Episcopalian hymns: "Praise the Lord, the King of Heaven," "For all the saints, who from their labors rest" -- splendid hymns which invite the organist to drop the hammer. There were also great hymns known to all Protestants: "A Mighty Fortress is our God" (composed by Martin Luther himself), "Fairest Lord Jesus," "Oh God, our help in ages past," and many others.

The eulogists surpassed themselves. Bush's biographer Jon Meacham had been given unparalleled access to the Bush family, and spoke with affection and an insider's knowledge of his subject. Brian Mulroney, at age 79, gave a little gem of a eulogy in his very pleasant basso. Thank you, Canada! He was gracious enough to say the following: "this country, the United States, which is, in my judgment, the greatest democratic republic that God has ever placed on the face of this earth." What do you think, Lulu? Then finally George W Bush outdid himself. Never considered eloquent, he rose to this occasion, though overcome by grief at the end.

The whole ceremony was like a refreshing drink for a parched nation. The effect may be short-lived, but we demonstrated our better selves, and gave us hope that we have not strayed too far off course to become once again a more civil nation.
17 Comments
THE LAST OLD-SCHOOL REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT HAS DIED
Posted:Dec 1, 2018 12:02 am
Last Updated:Dec 4, 2018 6:47 am
521 Views
R.I.P. George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924-2018

About 2 hours ago, I heard the tone on my phone signaling breaking news. Usually at that hour, I expect to read about a train derailment or a forest fire, but not this time: my phone informed me that President Bush the elder has passed away at age 94. My mouth involuntarily formed the syllable "awww" (unironically). Unbeknownst to all, I am a rather sentimental person.

This, of course, was not unexpected: it was clear to us all at Barbara's funeral that he was very feeble. But the actual event still shocked as I realized that Bush Sr. was the last of his kind in so many ways. He was the last of 7 presidents to serve in WW2, just as Andrew Jackson was the last to see service in the Revolution and William McKinley was the last of he Civil War presidents. And he served with distinction: at one point, he was the youngest fighter pilot in the navy. A modest and gentlemanly man, he seems a fit final representative of the Greatest Generation on the world stage.

I was an admirer of Bush (not uncritically) since 1980, when he was chosen as VP by Reagan. I voted for him twice for president, and I was very disappointed when he didn't win a second term when facing Slick Willy in 1992. Even as a one-term president, his accomplishments were significant. Perhaps most notably, Bush conducted one of the best, cleanest wars in our history (I am aware of the oxymoron) in the Gulf War of 1990. Just to remind you: after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Bush put together a coalition of 30 nations, secured UN backing, and let Norman Schwarzkopf and others roll over the vaunted Iraqi army in 100 hours, with very few allied casualties. Further to Bush's credit, he resisted the urge to capture Baghdad and Saddam and engage in "nation-building."

At that point, Bush's approval rating was over 90%. And yet....he was defeated at the polls two years later by a more skillful politician. Oddly, Clinton's team and some of the media decided that Bush was a "wuss." Newsweek had an infamous cover which read GHW Bush: fighting the wimp factor. This about a man who had been shot down over the Pacific and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. Bush was cursed with a whiny timbre to his voice which may have encouraged this perception. Bush also had to deal a populist 3rd party candidate in the form of H. Ross Perot, the jug-eared, populist, gazillionaire. That may have been the deciding factor. Add to that the fact that Clinton simply out-cooled Bush in 1992: Clinton played his saxophone on late night TV, was attractive to young women, liked by the media. (Democrats have a habit of "out-cooling" GOP nominees: think JFK vs. Nixon, Clinton vs. Dole, Obama vs. McCain, and Obama vs. Romney. Fortunately, Hillary was incapable of "out-cooling" anyone.)

But something changed in our politics when Bush left office: Baby Boomers replaced the Greatest Generation (Trump is our 4th Baby Boomer president) in the White House, and everywhere we see acrimony, threats of impeachment, overheated rhetoric, and street nihilism. We Boomers have many sins to account for when the "Roll is Called Up Yonder."

Bush Sr. seems as far away now as Lincoln. He deserves to be remembered for his remarkable life of public service, and, maybe more importantly, he seems now to have been the last gentleman president.


BELOW: In this photo, GHWB, as captain of the Yale baseball team, meets Babe Ruth, probably in 1947 or '48. Interestingly, the 2 men were the same height (6'2") but Ruth was ravaged by cancer.
26 Comments
YES, I'M A NEGRO, AND I'M TIRED OF THE 'MAN' HOLDING ME DOWN!
Posted:Oct 17, 2018 10:30 am
Last Updated:Oct 19, 2018 4:04 pm
1819 Views

And the 'WOMAN' is even worse! Notice how the female magpies on the site keep sassing !

So here's the story: For her last birthday, I got Maisie a DNA kit from ancestry.com, and got myself one as well. We both spat into the little vials and sent them back. Turns out my DNA is not very exotic at all...for the most part. A whopping 81% of my ancestry is from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. 8% is from what they call "Germanic Europe," which makes sense as my surname is Germanic. [The figure is lower than I would have expected.] A surprising (to me) 7% of my blood is Norwegian. (Hi, Lulu.)

But then came the eye-opener, the colored person in the woodpile, shall we say. 1% of my DNA comes from "Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu Peoples." This changes everything. Perhaps some of you have heard of the "one-drop rule," codified into law in some southern states, including Tennessee and Virginia (my home state.) If you had one drop of Negro blood, you were considered to be a Negro.

There is a splendid scene from Jerome Kern's Showboat based on this custom/law. Steve Baker, the matinee idol on the showboat, is living with Julie, a beautiful woman who is revealed to be a mulatto. A Mississippi sheriff is tipped off, and stomps on board to arrest them for miscegenation. But the resourceful Steve Baker has just pricked Julie's hand with his pocket knife and swallowed a bit of her blood. Steve is able to melodramatically declaim "everyone on this boat can tell you I' ve got more than one drop of Negro blood in me!" So the couple is spared arrest, though they are dismissed from the company.

But I am afraid this revelation about my ancestry came a bit too late for me. I could have had my pick of colleges, jobs in academia, etc., just like "Pocahontas" Warren!

Life is unfair.
27 Comments
ATTICUS FINCH DID NOT "BELIEVE THE WOMAN"
Posted:Oct 3, 2018 11:24 am
Last Updated:Oct 6, 2018 9:18 pm
2078 Views
Is there any more iconic novel and movie about race relations in the American South than Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird? Published in 1960, a year in which black activists were trying to desegregate Southern lunch counters, Mockingbird gave us the character of Atticus Finch, an incorruptible and heroic white attorney who agrees to represent a black man falsely accused of r*pe in a small Alabama town in the depth of the Depression. Atticus is a reserved, even scholarly, man who is nonetheless capable of grabbing his rifle, ripping off his glasses a la Clark Kent, and shooting a rabid dog in the streets at a hundred paces. He is in short … Gregory Peck.

The central event of the book, its crisis, is the trial of Tom Robinson, whom Atticus represents against the r*pe accusation of a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. In today's parlance, Mayella might be called "trailer trash," but a white woman had every expectation of being believed in rural Alabama. Atticus's children hear their father called a "n*gg*rlover" by detractors in the community, but actually sneak into the courtroom by sitting in the Negro gallery.

Atticus has sworn to represent Tom to the best of his ability, and he subjects Mayella to a cross-examination which essentially destroys her case. At one dramatic point, Atticus has Tom demonstrate that he did not have the use of his left arm, which Mayella claimed he used to overpower her. In the end, Tom is convicted despite Atticus' heroic defense, and is murdered as he attempts to escape from jail.

You will see, of course, the relevance to the present situation involving Judge Kavanaugh. He stands accused without the slightest bit of evidence by a privileged white woman who simply assumes she will be believed because of her sex. And so she is by every single US Senator with a D after his/her name. There are strong indications that Christine Ford perjured herself in her testimony. Democrats, who have become the new Spanish Inquisition, are willing to overlook the manifest weakness of her case. It has descended into farce. I have never seen either party behave so badly as the Democrats at present, in such bad faith, and with so little integrity, with such dismissal of due process.

It is a sad day in the history of our Republic.


Below: Atticus locks and loads to take out a rabid dog and protect the neighborhood's children.
42 Comments
JOHN McCAIN'S POSTHUMOUS ADMIRERS: THEY'RE ALL DEMOCRATS!
Posted:Aug 27, 2018 10:29 am
Last Updated:Sep 13, 2018 8:02 am
2724 Views

In a situation rich with irony, John McCain in death is riding a burst of popularity among Democrats in high places and low. Chuck Schumer has proposed renaming the Russell Senate Office Building for McCain; both Clintons, and Obama have offered very generous tributes, and liberal editorial rooms across the country have expressed their respects. Here at SFF, several blogs have been posted by liberals (only) supposedly in remembrance of the Senator.

I wonder where these same individuals were in November of 2008 when McCain was the GOP nominee? I know where I was -- I was voting for John McCain, and was quite disappointed when he lost. I suspect ET & Company were trying to go through the line for a 2nd time voting for Obama while simultaneously denouncing McCain as a warmonger.

I will always admire McCain for his service to the country and I consider him a hero for refusing to accept release from the Hanoi Hilton out of turn. But McCain was not a good campaigner and has his own set of flaws: he was extremely vain and at times petty. He loved being a media pet while riding his "straight talk express." His "Maverick" image seemed more important to him at times than his political ideology. And he could not resist virtue-signaling whenever a good opportunity arose. In the last days of the 2008 campaign, McCain suspended his campaign for a few days while he went to Washington to save the Republic from the financial crisis. Obama did no such thing, stating that "presidents have to be able to do 2 things at once." It is often forgotten that McCain was doing fairly well in the polls at the time. But McCain preferred to be Horatius at the bridge.

Of course it's clear what's going on this week. McCain's passing allows Democrats to use him to continue to destroy Trump's presidency. McCain himself has exacted a certain vengeance on Trump by his funeral specifications -- not only would Trump not be a eulogist, he was not even invited to attend. This is a stinging rejection, and music to the ears of zealous leftists.

Here at SFF, Dusty posts a copy-and paste entitled "John McCain" which was entirely an attack on Trump's "draft-dodging." This is always hypocritical for a Democratic partisan, given that Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and legions of other top Democrats avoided military service. ET's "John McCain, RIP" is very light on JM but very heavy on Trump's alleged churlishness in response to being massively snubbed. McCain in death has been a wonderful cudgel for them to beat down Trump.

So that's my "straight talk express." I welcome your opinion.
59 Comments
IS THE PRESS THE 'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE'?
Posted:Aug 12, 2018 10:18 am
Last Updated:Aug 15, 2018 9:04 am
2834 Views

We are taught that a free press is an essential guarantor of our liberties. Donald Trump, in one his most notorious formulations has described the media as "the enemy of the people," which to the Left is heretical and even monstrous. The members of the press are in a constant state of indignation, and 70 news organizations -- from the AP to small-town newspapers, are pledged to rebuking Trump in some sort of concerted communication. I don't know about you, but that certainly reassures me that the press is utterly impartial.

But what if Trump is right? What if the media are in actuality a fifth column dedicated to the overthrow of this president? What if they are acting in concert to represent a single political faction while they promote themselves as the neutral umpires? There is every reason to believe this is the case.

The same thing happened in the Nixon administration. Nixon won re-election in 1972 in a huge landslide, but the outcome was unacceptable to a Nixon-hating press. So eventually he was hanged by an insignificant surveillance break-in which he had no knowledge of.

Today the media is seeking some similar magic bullet, chasing down a new rabbit hole every other day. Pretense to objectivity is long gone. The sky is always falling. The President is de-humanized and derided by nicknames such as the "Mango Mussolini." The free press is free only to those who are card-carrying anti-Trumpers.

Conclusion: our historic media have forfeited their birthright. They are essentially a false flag operation, posing as intrepid newsies speaking truth to power. In actuality, they have become advocates for a single political ideology, and beyond that, a single lifestyle. They are indeed enemies of the people.
67 Comments
NO, JIMINY, I DON'T USE THE PHRASE 'WHITE AMERICA'
Posted:Jul 31, 2018 7:47 pm
Last Updated:Aug 6, 2018 8:36 am
2132 Views

In your recent blog on the subject, you declare:

We don't say " Yellow China", or " Brown India", or "Arian Germany" for US that would be redundant.. But we do say...... White America."

I would argue to that no such entity exists … there no discrete (separate and distinct) group called "White America" because America is a motley group of ethnicities. Who would find this term useful? Maybe these people:

1) white supremacists, such as neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan

2) black activists, such as Black Lives Matter and the various Antifa groups.

3) the white rapper, Eminem, who wrote a with this title which seems to be anti-"white America."

4) You, JC, according to your blog.

You could make reference to "white Americans," which would indicate a demographic group, but in a neutral way. Ditto for "black Americans" and any other ethnic group.

But "White America"? Simply divisive, and even implicitly racist.
19 Comments
JUST WHY WOULD TRUMP TRUST OUR INTELLIGENCE SERVICES ANYWAY?
Posted:Jul 20, 2018 8:02 pm
Last Updated:Jul 28, 2018 6:10 pm
4103 Views

Let's review who was in charge of the nation's intelligence service in the 2016 election campaign. James Clapper, a man plausibly accused of perjury to Congress, was the Director of National Intelligence. Head of the CIA was John Brennan, who is off the charts on the Trump-hating scale. He has denounced Trump in the most extreme terms, including calling him treasonous.
(Which betrays his ignorance of the Constitution, which defines treason very specifically.) James Comey was director of the FBI. That speaks for itself … Comey is now despised by right and left alike, and the sanctimonious drama queen has aligned himself now with the Democrats.

And who directed this menagerie? Barack Obama, of course, assisted by his éminence grise, Valerie Jarrett. It is hard to believe he did not have direct hand in the entire matter. Why did he not do something about the meddling when it was actually happening? He assumed that Hillary would win and it was insignificant.

Why in hell would Trump have confidence in this crew of enemies? Trump is not wrong to see the meddling probe as designed to de-legitimize his election. Of course it is.

Secondly, all the great powers routinely seek to influence the outcome of the elections of rival powers. Russia has been screwing with us since the end of WW2, and we with them. The most notorious recent American effort to affect a foreign election was Obama's attempt to oust Bibi Netanyahu in Israel. And now these hypocrites lift their skirts and recoil in horror because Russia ineffectively tried to influence our election.

Canada at this very moment is trying to influence our midterm election this year. How, you say? The tariffs they have imposed in response to Trump's tariffs, are targeted to hurt Trump states. Cheese from Wisconsin. Bourbon from Tennessee. Surgical hits.

None of this excuses Trump from his lame press conference in Helsinki, where he gave the impression that Putin had eaten his lunch. I didn't like it either.

But I understand why.
126 Comments
MUSIC HATH CHARMS TO SOOTHE THE SAVAGE BREAST
Posted:Jul 15, 2018 8:41 pm
Last Updated:Dec 10, 2018 7:12 pm
1971 Views

William Congreve wrote that sentiment in the 18th century, and it is one of the most frequently misquoted lines in literature. (Many seem to think it is "beast" rather than breast.) It remains valid either way, and I experience it quite often when driving.

Out cars are of course closely related to our personality, though this applies to men more than women. But I limit myself to our radio pre-sets for this blog. Maisie's and mine scarcely overlap at all. I basically listen to news and classical music, occasionally college football. Since we subscribe to Sirius XM in both our cars, so there are lots of choices.

My go-to news station is Fox News, as you may have guessed, but I also listen to public NPR's local affiliate and occasionally the BBC for international events. I need not
tell you that the news is stress-inducing these days, and I find myself clenching my teeth and cursing as I cruise. But with my bipolar pre-sets, I soothe my inner savage by listen to the Met Opera and Symphony Hall.

My favorite channel for soothing the soul is the Met channel. They broadcast several complete operas each day, sometimes live from the Met stage in NYC, mostly from their huge archive of historic performances. Just today I listen4d to a big chunk of Beethoven Fidelio from 1941, conducted by Bruno Walter, and sung by Kirsten Flagstad and Alexander Kipnis, the great Ukrainean basso. They don't make them like Kipnis any more. Much later, with Maisie driving, we listened to act 2 of Tosca from 1978, with Placido Domingo in his prime and my favorite Canadian artist Louis Quilico. Fantastic.

Those of you who follow the opera world are familiar with the big #MeToo scandal at the Met which has rocked the company. Uber-powerful longtime music director James Levine was canned when a series of young men came forward with accusations of molestation when they were . This had to have been the worse-kept secret in the classical music world -- even I out in the sticks knew a fellow pianist whom Levine attejpted to seduce. Levine is now a non-person, along with Kevin Spacey and Al Franken.

He also has been booted from the Met radio channel, which has been a boon for me. Levine used to be heard almost every other opera broadcast. Since he has ceased to exist, I get to hear more of my favorite historic performances and less Levine. Suits me fine.

One hazard about the Met Channel is my temptation to speed during a climactic passage. One time a few years ago when I was driving a cop-bait red BMW coupe, I was stopped for driving 80 in a 55 zone. The cop was very pleasant and asked me why I was driving 80. I told him I was listening to the radio, and he replied, in that case he would also cite me for distracted driving. Backfire!

Of course it wasn't my fault. It was Wagner's fault for composing the chotral 'Wachet auf" from Die Meistersinger! LOL
0 Comments
MUSIC HATH CHARMS TO SOOTHE THE SAVAGE BREAST
Posted:Jul 15, 2018 8:32 pm
Last Updated:Jul 17, 2018 11:41 am
2217 Views
William Congreve wrote that sentiment in the 18th century, and it is one of the most frequently misquoted lines in literature. (Many seem to think it is "beast" rather than breast.) It remains valid either way, and I experience it quite often when driving.

Our cars are of course closely related to our personality, though this applies to men more than women. But I limit myself to our radio pre-sets for this blog. Maisie's and mine scarcely overlap at all. I basically listen to news and classical music, occasionally college football. Since we subscribe to Sirius XM in both our cars, there are lots of choices.

My go-to news station is Fox News, as you may have guessed, but I also listen to NPR's local affiliate and occasionally the BBC for international events. I need not tell you that the news is stress-inducing these days, and I find myself clenching my teeth and cursing as I cruise. But with my bipolar pre-sets, I soothe my inner savage by listen to the Met Opera and Symphony Hall.

My favorite channel for soothing the soul is the Met channel. They broadcast several complete operas each day, sometimes live from the Met stage in NYC, mostly from their huge archive of historic performances. Just today I listened to a big chunk of Beethoven Fidelio from 1941, conducted by Bruno Walter, and sung by Kirsten Flagstad and Alexander Kipnis, the great Ukrainean basso. They don't make them like Kipnis any more. Much later, with Maisie driving, we listened to act 2 of Tosca from 1978, with Placido Domingo in his prime and my favorite Canadian artist Louis Quilico. Fantastic.

Those of you who follow the opera world are familiar with the big #MeToo scandal at the Met which has rocked the company. Uber-powerful longtime music director James Levine was canned when a series of young men came forward with accusations of molestation when they were . This had to have been the worse-kept secret in the classical music world -- even I out in the sticks knew a fellow pianist whom Levine attempted to seduce. Levine is now a non-person, along with Kevin Spacey and Al Franken.

He also has been booted from the Met radio channel, which has been a boon for me. Levine used to be heard almost every other opera broadcast. Since he has ceased to exist, I get to hear more of my favorite historic performances and less Levine. Suits me fine.

One hazard about the Met Channel is my temptation to speed during a climactic passage. One time a few years ago when I was driving a cop-bait red BMW coupe, I was stopped for driving 80 in a 55 zone. The cop was very pleasant and asked me why I was driving 80. I told him I was listening to the radio, and he replied, in that case he would also cite me for distracted driving. Backfire!

Of course it wasn't my fault. It was Wagner's fault for composing the chorale 'Wachet auf" from Die Meistersinger! LOL


BELOW: Former Maestro and current Non-Person James Levine
15 Comments

To link to this blog (Lisztomania) use [blog Lisztomania] in your messages.