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Showing posts from September, 2010

Midterms in Review

Historically Midterms haven't favored incumbent presidents. FDR suffered big House losses in '38 and '42.  Clinton lost control of the House in '94.  The worst Senate losses were suffered by Eisenhower in '58 and Truman in '46.   The Republicans would need a repeat performance to do the same this year as they have to win no less than 39 seats to regain control of the House, and score a +10 to take the Senate.

Faced with these overwhelming odds, Boehner has issued his Pledge to America, essentially a replay of Gingrich's 1994 Contract with America.  But as the Tennessean notes, this Pledge may backfire, as the Democrats now have something to tee off on.  Up to this point, the Republicans and their fellow teabaggers have essentially been running negative ads, attacking Democratic positions, and making any number of false claims in regard to health insurance and tax relief.

It seems the Dems will lose seats, but the Republicans riding what they feel is a huge…

Obama's Wars

What I have noticed is that Bob Woodward tends to feed into prevailing impressions, not go against them, which I suppose is why his books become bestsellers.  Seems he will have another one in Obama's Wars, timed perfectly with the midterm elections.  From what I've read of the blurbs, there isn't much more Woodward is saying that hasn't already been said,

The book, “Obama’s Wars,” by the journalist Bob Woodward, depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.

A Potomac Weekend Meander

Decision Points

Not to be outdone by anyone, George W. Bush will be providing his memoirs in the White House and the Texas Governor's Mansion in Decision Points.  The publishers note:

In gripping, never-before-heard detail, President Bush brings readers inside the Texas Governor’s Mansion on the night of the hotly contested 2000 election; aboard Air Force One on 9/11 in the gripping hours after America’s most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor; inside the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq; and behind the Oval Office desk for his historic and controversial decisions on the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan, Iran, and other issues that have shaped the first decade of the 21st century.

I can hardly wait.

White House Diary

Seems Jimmy Carter is making a few waves with his promotional book tour of White House Diary.  You have to love the comments he made in regard to Christine O'Donnell,

He noted that even though he (Joe Biden) launched his national profile as an anti-Washington politician, he probably wouldn't be welcome within the tea party movement, since unlike O'Donnell, he has never "been involved with witchcraft ...

I would have to agree that Carter's post-presidency beats that of any recent president, and stacks up pretty well with those of the past, like John Q. Adams who remained a strong voice in the House long after his presidency.  All though, I imagine Clinton would have something to say about that.

Bob Dylan in America

Bob Dylan is many things to many people, not all of them flattering.  Here, Sean Wilentz gives us a historical view to Dylan, digging into the background of both the man and his songs to give the reader a better sense of the time and place that shaped Dylan's music.  Reviews of the book are positive with Tim Rutten offering this glowing review for the LA Times.  Geoff Dyer points out Wilentz' shortfalls in his review for The Guardian.  And, here is an interview with Wilentz on the book in SFGate.  Discussion will start October 1, but feel free to drop comments beforehand.

A Bookseller's Lament

Nearly four centuries ago, Donne suggested that we each die a little when another human being goes. For Mr. Mysak, when another bookseller closes shop, it means that he, too, is a little closer to a literary death. 

So he takes little pride in the fact that at the end of January, his little table stacked high with used books will have outlived the giant Barnes & Noble less than two blocks south, near Lincoln Center. For him, it is just another sign of decay. 

From NYTimes

I guess B&N does better online these days.

Atomic Bomb Legacy

This series of photos in the NY Times today is amazing.

I mentioned Garry Wills Bomb Power here earlier, which I really enjoyed (if "enjoyed" is the right word when reading about the atomic bomb).

Mose knows

Listening to some piano blues by Mose Allison from Allison Wonderland.  Such wonderful recordings covering a 40 year period, including The Seventh Son and Parchman Farm.

Feel Like Going Home

Great series Martin Scorsese put together for PBS back in 2003, enlisting the services of world renown directors, that is well worth watching if you haven't had the opportunity.  It has been since released on DVD with a companion book.  There were 7 episodes in all starting with Martin's Feel Like Going Home and ending with Clint Eastwood's Piano Blues.  Where Ken Burns' documentary of Jazz barely scratched the surface, Scorsese and friends dig deep to unearth some great archival footage and fascinating contemporary observations.

After the Deluge

Josh Neufeld takes a graphic turn at New Orelans After the Deluge.  He follows six families in their attempt to cope with their swamped city, which I think probably inspired Jonathan Demme to approach Zeitoun as an animated feature.

Wide Awake in the Pelican State

A taste of contemporary Louisiana fiction.

Don't Look Back

Speaking of Bob, I linked the classic Pennebaker documentary, Don't Look Back, which covered his 1965 tour of England.  Personally, I liked the Rolling Thunder Revue (1975) better, which was chronicled by Sam Shepard.  It was a great line-up that included Ramblin' Jack Elliot, T-Bone Burnett, Dave Mansfield and of course Joan Baez. There was also a great documentary done by Martin Scorsese on Dylan, entitled No Direction Home, which placed Dylan in context with the early 60s folk movement, with some wonderful interviews and historic footage.   Like him or not, Bob Dylan is an American icon and probably did more to popularize folk music than anyone other than Pete Seeger, who of course was a huge influence on Bob Dylan.

Here's Pete and Bob at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963.

Bellocq's Women

Of course, no tour of New Orleans is complete without a look at Bellocq's Women.

When the Levees Broke

I've had the box set sitting on my shelf for sometime, but haven't brought myself to watch it.  With my wife having become hooked on Treme, maybe we will finally get around to watching this Requiem in Four Acts.  Reviews were generally excellent for Spike Lee's homage to New Orleans, a city that seemed to greatly affect the American consciousness, at least for a little while, as we all grieved in the devastation Hurricane Katrina brought to this city and the lack of political will to bring aid to the city in its time of need.  So many books now available on Katrina and its aftermath, including this one by Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, who was featured in the documentary.

The Big Easy

The selection of books on The Big Easy so far,

Bienville's Dilemma


The Year Before the Flood

A Confederacy of Dunces

The Great Deluge 

The Moviegoer

Your choice?  Any other suggestions?


Couldn't resist posting this trailer.  How prescient Sidney Lumet and  Paddy Chayefsky were back in 1976.  The movie still sticks with me in the way Peter Finch portrayed Howard Beale.  It would seem many of these conservative talk show hosts today have styled themselves after Beale without recognizing that this movie was a wicked satire on the news and entertainment business.

Long Labor Day Weekend Meander