The Wires

The Los Angeles Times has the full list of Oscar nominees here.

NBC Sports: "Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the 2019 class. The results were just announced on MLB Network. Rivera received votes from every single writer who submitted a ballot, becoming the first player ever to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Halladay and Edgar Martínez each received 85.4 percent of the vote and Mussina appeared on 76.7 percent of ballots. Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his seasons in the majors with the Yankees. He was initially used as a starter, but quickly moved to the bullpen, becoming the greatest closer of all-time. He racked up 652 saves — the most in baseball history — during the regular season along with a 2.21 ERA anda 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings. He saved his best work for the postseason. Rivera appeared in 96 postseason games, saving 42 saves in 47 opportunities with a 0.70 ERA and a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 innings. Rivera won five championships, five Rolaids Relief Awards, as well as MVP awards in the World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Game. He made the AL All-Star team 13 times."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If you're a shut-out Trump Shutdown victim tooling around the Internets with nothing to do today, let's assume that some day some time, Trump will de-furlough you and you can get back to work enthusiastically serving the American people in your appointed capacity. In case Trump has rendered you a bit rusty in the area of job skills, Conan here provides some useful tools that may help you get to work on time, even on casual Friday:

ABC News: "Breathtaking drone video of a pod of friendly, playful dolphins joining a surfer as he took to the waves near the coast of Ventura, California, is making the rounds on social media and bringing smiles -- and wow's -- to viewers. ABC station KABC-TV's meteorologist Kimi Evans met the drone's owner Craig Badger, who shared the footage, and spoke to surfer Alden Blair.... The video has been seen more than 3 million times on social media." ...

NBC Suits Are Such Geniuses. New York Times: "After a drawn-out negotiation period, NBC and Megyn Kelly have formally agreed to part ways. The network and the onetime cable news star reached a final agreement on Friday, nearly three months after she wondered aloud on-air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. NBC and a representative for Ms. Kelly declined to reveal the details of the exit package. But according to two people familiar with the negotiations, Ms. Kelly was paid the outstanding balance on her contract, a figure that amounts to roughly $30 million. At the time of the separation, Ms. Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network."

New York Times: "The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the novelist MacKenzie Bezos announced on Twitter Wednesday that they are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage. In a statement posted on Mr. Bezos’s Twitter account, the couple said they had been separated for a long period of time, but planned to remain involved as 'parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects.' According to a 1999 profile in Wired, the two met when they both worked at D.E. Shaw, a New York-based hedge fund, before moving in 1994 to Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered. They have four children.... As is the case in any celebrity split, the financial details of the divorce are sure to be complicated despite the couple’s vow to “remain cherished friends.” According to Forbes, which publishes an annual list of billionaires, his net worth is estimated at $137 billion and he is the richest man in the world. While much of his wealth is tied up in Amazon stock, Mr. Bezos, 54, the company’s chief executive, is also the owner of several companies, including The Washington Post and Blue Origin, a space travel company."

Here's a list of the Golden Globe winners, via Market Watch. CNN has posted highlights on a liveblog & currently has a whole buncha links to related stories on CNN Entertainment. And if you're in it for the red carpet, there's this:

New York Times : "Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved, 4,400-year-old tomb of a royal priest and his family in Egypt, in a 'one of a kind' find, the Egyptian authorities announced on Saturday. The tomb was unearthed in Saqqara, a city south of Cairo and a vast necropolis from ancient Egypt. The discovery dates from the rule of Neferirkare Kakai, the third king of the fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt, according to Khaled al-Anani, Egypt’s minister of antiquities. The fifth dynasty governed for less than two centuries, from 2,500 B.C. to about 2,350 B.C., according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tomb had remained untouched, said Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s supreme council of antiquities, according to Reuters."

"The Christmas Comet Returneth." New York Times: "Look into the night sky on Sunday [December 16] and you just might see a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. That’s because a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries, right on the heels of this year’s most stunning meteor shower. 'The fuzziness is just because it’s a ball of gas basically,' Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, said on Saturday morning.... 'You’ve got a one-kilometer solid nucleus in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles.' The comet glows green because the gases emit light in green wavelengths. The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the 'Christmas comet,' was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who discovered it in 1948. It orbits the sun once every 5.4 years, passing by Earth approximately every 11 years, but its distance varies and it is rarely this close. As the comet passes by, it will be 30 times farther from Earth than the moon, NASA said.”

By George O'Keefe or somebody.Maybe the Best Gift Would Be a Spell-Check App. Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Way back in November (so Slate has had plenty of time to make corrections), someone named Angela Serratore (hope I spelled that right), wrote a post for Slate, which is featured on its main page now, suggesting gifts from small museum shops. That's a nice thought, but it would have been even nicer if the story had not misspelled Georgia O'Keeffe three times: twice as "Georgia O'Keefe" & once as "George O'Keefe." But never "Georgia O'Keeffe."

Wednesday
Dec052018

Anatomy of a Eulogy

By Akhilleus

Reading Jon Meacham's eulogy of 41, it struck me that, in a single paragraph, he encapsulated the problem with holding HW up as an avatar of American political greatness and courage.

For Lincoln and Bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, to hope rather than to fear, and to heed not our worst impulses, but our best instincts.

Let's set aside the absurd Lincoln comparison. 41 was no more Lincolnesque than so many of the Johnny-come-lately R's who try to burnish their record of racism, greed, and stupidity with some laughably spurious connection to Honest Abe.

Right over the convenient? Nope. When Bush had the opportunity to spill the beans on Iran Contra, an illegal, astoundingly unconstitutional move to sell weapons to our sworn enemies for political gain, he knuckled under and went along to get along. So much for courage.

Hope rather than fear? Forget that thousand points of light scam. The whole idea there was a Reaganesque "government is bad so it's all up to you" broadside. And leave us not forget that Poppy routinely went along with the up and coming troglodytes led by the lying scam artist Newt Gingrich, who preached fear, fear, fear, and hatred of anyone who didn't agree with our side. So much for hope.

As for heeding our best instincts as opposed to worst impulses, Bush went along with the government haters and did his infamously stupid John Wayne "Read My Lips" bullshit in order to stoke the fires of ignorance in hopes of getting re-elected. Also, deciding to invade Iraq so that he wouldn't look wimpy, he opened the door to a Middle East malaise that makes the 1970's problems look positively quaint. So much for best instincts.

Did he do some good things? Sure. Unlike Trump (and most of his son's history), he did a few good things. But to con the public into comparing this guy with Lincoln is the sort of canard that a real historian should be ashamed of. I hearby resolve never to read another bullshit book (or article) by Jon Meacham.

Fucker.

Reader Comments (9)

Thank you, Akhilleus, for your excellent take-down of Meacham’s praises sung (both self-reflected and sycophantic).

Let us also not forget Herbert Walker’s silence regarding AIDS and his belief that LGBT persons were not “normal”. I can attest that none of my gay buddies feel any gratitude at his having “mellowed” (self-attribution) regarding these subjects until long out of office and, perhaps, contemplating his own mortality.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAuntHattie

Several days ago Chris Hayes had on Jennifer Rubin and Charlie Pierce and they were discussing Poppy Bush's legacy. Ole Charlie started in on Bush's Iran/Contra involvement among other things but Rubin wouldn't have it––the two of them started in on each other–-reminded me of two cats in an alley. Chris, not wanting any claw scratching spoiling his space went for a commercial and said bye, bye to J. and C.

I suppose it's bad form to diss the dead, especially in this era where our "Fatty" in charge is charged with so much corruption. Instead of Meachan's encomium of Bush, wouldn't it been grand to have him compared to the guy sitting out front in the first row. But of course that would not have been cricket.

It's clear that Bush was beloved by his family and friends and that he had some wonderful qualities. The fact that he could be ruthless and insensitive in some policy decisions is par for the course even though as many said today–-"He was always for the country not for himself" which almost made me lose my grilled cheese.

I started watching these proceedings a little late––missed Meachan's speech and the next speaker but got into Alan Simpson's very amusing speech. I have always loved listening to Simpson–-seldom agreed with him, ( he'd slaughter you in a nano second) but his folksy way of drawing you in was charming. I turned off the sound during the sermons–-but thought the music was splendid. I thought Bush's speech about his father was done well and at the end the grief spilling over brought tears.

And watching the contrast between Trump's face and Obama's was interesting. Obama was reacting–-you could almost hear him "thinking" while Trump remained sullen with arms folded. He was sitting on the outside of the row––absolutely fitting, I'd say.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Meachem is the perfect historian to represent a cervical symbolism of our times: a combination of laziness and intellectual chicanery.

Reaching into the history of the GOP today only requires a superficial façade of knowledge of two leaders: Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Every one else in the history of the Republican party has been stuck in a box and suffocated somewhere out of sight.

Conservative "intellectuals" have decided that hitching their wagons to these two Presidents gives them their best opportunity to sell their party's "values", regardless of the lack of continuity in policies and practices. Rather than looking at the (oftentimes) harsh light of reality, conservatives cherry pick quotes or ideas and then build their imagined reality upon those shaky foundations.

Meacham thus looks for a way to evoke Lincoln to prove his intellectual "bona fides" of today's stale historians, and grasps on to Lincoln's "better angels" wisdom. From what I've gathered about his speech (full disclosure, I skipped the Bush accolades) it seemed to be a recycled version of the book he's been hawking on teevee for the last few months about how Lincoln's appeal to a better nation inspired generations of civil rights leaders and ordinary Americans who fought for a more inclusive society. The problem is, it seems he geared up his intellectual laziness to recycle his analysis of America as a better nation by parachuting George HW Bush right into the middle of a story that was largely absent of his presence.

As others have noted, Poppy Bush was far from exemplary as a Lincoln-esque figure of promoting our "better angels". His politically-convenient go ahead with the racial fear-mongering Willie Horton ad, fomenting the nation's worst racial impulses, automatically disqualifies him from any "better angels" qualification, rendering any Lincoln comparison obsolete. Meacham should know that, but he's a book to sell.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Last night PBS aired a splendid documentary (American Experience) on Bush 41. It presented a man of high standards, high expectations, and clay feet like most. Someone said that Bush was what Reagan pretended to be. I think that's exactly right.

Something I hadn't known or just forgot was Bush's negation of LBJ's Civil Right's bill (at the time Bush was chairman of the Republican Party–-a position Nixon put him on after Bush had been the UN Ambassador –-to be "used" as a promoter of Nixon's polices or scams). But eventually Bush sided with LBJ –-said he had to do "the right thing". His people turned against him–-hate mail, hate phone messages, etc. Bush finally said he had to give a speech explaining his thinking on this but was warned not to do it. He did it and he did it beautifully and at the end got a standing ovation. He had swayed the crowd. This was in 1968.

As for the Willy Horton ad, James Baker swears it was not their campaign but some rogue group that put the ad on. Even if that is true, why would the Bush people leave that ad on for weeks?

Lee Atwater gave Bush the deranged muscle he needed to win–-the message being you can't win being the kinder, gentler kind of politician–-he won, but lost in a significant way.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The basic theme of Meacham's book, The Soul of America, is do not worry, everything will be alright. He does not recognize the deterioration of our democracy. He has no fear. He is a dangerous supporter of our oligarchy. He is an eloquent cheer leader.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

I've always found Meacham to be a bit glib, as are so many who seem to have to reach with all their earnest intellect and academic credentials to attain some sort of grasp of the obvious. That's about all the praise I can muster for him.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFleeting Expletive

@Fleeting Expletive: Meacham has relatively meager academic credentials. He holds a bachelor's degree from Sewanee. That's it except for some honorary doctorates. There's nothing wrong with being self-taught, but Meacham hasn't learned much.

December 6, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Fleeting Expletive,

(Love that name, by the way), to corroborate Marie's sense of the abilities of the autodidact, I give you the great Barbara Tuchman, who held a BA from Radcliffe College in the 30's but bolstered her credentials as a historian with life experience, excellent research and writing chops, and, as she put it, freedom from the expectations of an academic appointment.

She has long been one of my favorite historians.

Jon Meacham, not so much. Well, okay. Not at all. Meacham is a TV show historian in that his narratives eschew the complexities and nuances of serious historiography (at least in that venue) for EZ Hist-O-Ree that can be absorbed without much effort by viewers with one eye on the TV, another on their Facebook page, and the occasional glance at the stove or microwave to make sure the soup doesn't boil over.

Tuchman he ain't.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@AK: Tuchman: the best! Her "March of Folly" ends with this:


EPILOGUE:

“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind us.”___Samuel Coleridge

The image is beautiful but the message misleading, for the light on the waves we have passed through should enable us to infer the nature of the waves ahead.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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