I have a dream . . . .

August 31, 2009

Always worth remembering. This past Friday was the 46th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s famous speech, one of the great speeches in the English language. It’s particularly noteworthy that his “dream” portion of the speech was delivered extemporaneously. Near the end, after delivering the exhortation that, “We will not be satisfied until justice runs down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” King left his text and began to preach. The great gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, was sitting close by and urged him, “Tell `em about the dream, Martin.” And with that, he launched into his stirring finale.

Video of the March

Text of the speech – I have a dream today . . .

Taylor Branch has a wonderful description and analysis of the speech and the March in his Pulitzer Prize-winning history, “Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963,” the first of his trilogy on King and the Civil Rights Movement.



A new Sun rising?

August 31, 2009


Japan has a new government, by a landslide

I know nothing about Japanese politics, but even I can see a major event. To state the obvious, this merits close attention.

The Beeb has a profile of Mr. Hatoyama (wonder if Mike Huckabee can pronounce that?) – Meet Mr. Hatoyama


Shooing the Gnats away

August 31, 2009


(St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo)

The Cardinals completed a sweep of the Washington Nationals yesterday, and Adam Wainwright cemented his Cy Young contender status by scattering 3 hits and allowing only 1 run while striking out 7, although he walked 3. But the Nationals’ hitters had some very good at-bats, in terms of making him work for his win; he threw 109 pitches in 6 innings. That follows a recent trend I’ve noticed in the rotation, and pitching’s going to need to get a little sharper if we’re going to avoid tired arms next month.

The Redbirds are now 77 – 55 and have won 8 of their last 10. That’s great, but, call me curmudgeon, I can’t help but continue to be concerned about the offense. In those last 10 games, the Cardinals have scored 38 runs. Take away 2 lopsided wins where they scored 16 of those runs, and you have 22 runs in 8 games. That’s not going to get the job done against the likely post-season lineup of the Phils, Dodgers, and either the Rockies or the Giants, depending on who wins the Wild Card. Of those four, the Dodgers are the only team with a losing record against St. Louis, and the Phils are particular trouble, since they have a lineup with several left-handed batters against our entirely-right-handed rotation.

While sweeping Washington, who own baseball’s worst record, was good, two of those victories were very close, and Friday night required a come-from-behind rally capped by Albert Pujols’ walk-off home run.

Yesterday, Pujols, who seems to be hitting for average again, was 2 for 4, and rookie Colby Rasmus was 2 for 3. That was the entire offense; we batted .148 as a team.

We are favored with a relatively easy schedule for the next six weeks, but if we’re going to have good news come October, the offense has to step up.


A documentary on the dynamics of the health care system I just stumbled across . . .

August 31, 2009

Okay, an English major probably shouldn’t have ended with a preposition.

Nightline and Bill Moyers have both featured this documentary, on the money machine that is our health-care system:

Money-Driven Medicine

The Gordian Knot of our health care system is that any real reform will put the brakes on on the money machine. The typical response from Health, Inc., is that the patients themselves are to blame, that people should just get less care (the term of art is “less utilization”). But health care isn’t just another consumer product, nor do consumers have the kind of control they have over other spending.


Why do seniors hate health care reform?

August 31, 2009

The major opposition to health care reform is from American senior citizens, who, ironically, are covered by a “big-government-run-health-care” (and single-payer) system called Medicare, which has been in existence for 44 years. I continue to be astonished that so many seniors are buying into the drivel about “pull-the-plug-on-grandma” and frankly thunderstruck so many of them don’t realize Medicare is a government program.

Ezra Klein, writing in the Post Sunday, has some interesting things to say on this subject, although he doesn’t look at the impact all the dishonest messaging has had on seniors’ attitudes. When 75-year-old Sen. Grassley, the ranking member on Senate Finance and an incumbent feeling serious pressure from his right, tells his older constituents about “pulling the plug,” they take him at his word.

Paul Begala, in Klein’s piece, notes sagely that the FDR seniors have been replaced with Reagan seniors, and so their politics makes them already disposed to believe the worst about government, and, frankly, to have their views tinged with racism. Note that seniors were the age bracket where Obama did worst in 2008.

Klein’s piece – Klein on seniors and health care

Over at Daily Kos, blogger DemFromCT looks at the falloff in support for the public option from the 18 – 29 age group to their grand (and great-grand)parents – Seniors\' polling on health care

Now, I’m going to hit Medicare age in less than 10 years; I have two siblings who’re in their mid-to-late 60s, and my Mom’s 87, so it’s not like I’m far removed from what seniors think about. But I am completely stunned by what we’ve been seeing.


This would help explain some things

August 28, 2009

Grassley running scared from his own caucus on health care?

From Ruth Marcus, at the Post – Marcus on Grassley


Julie and Julia

August 28, 2009


This is a charming movie, worth the admission and grossly-overpriced popcorn just to watch Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci work together. (They were great in “The Devil Wears Prada,” as well.)

Amy Adams, who is certainly talented, has little to do in this one beyond be adorable. That’s not meant to be a knock on her; I love her, but the role doesn’t demand much.

Streep and Tucci, however. are fabulous. There are few things that give me greater pleasure than watching seasoned pros work, particularly actors, and the best actors are the ones who put their characters in front of the audiences, rather than themselves. I can think of some very good actors – Jack Nicholson comes immediately to mind – who are wonderful, but when you watch them, you tend to see the actor acting, rather than the character in the story. Humphrey Bogart, no slouch himself, was once asked who his favorite actor was, and he said, “Spencer Tracy, because you can’t see the machinery working.” Streep and Tucci are like that.

It’s in part that they have mastered subtlety, learned to do all the little things that convey emotion. For example, when Streep, playing Child, is packing their apartment for a move, her shoulders sag for just a moment, and her face clouds. Then she pulls herself together. You don’t need a voice-over to tell you how hurt she is, and it’s more emotionally moving than Adams’ scene where she breaks down after hearing from a reporter that Child is offended by her blogging about working her way through Child’s book.

And the movie put Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” on the top of the NYT best-seller list for the first time.

When you’ve seen the movie, pick up Child’s memoir, “My Life in France,” and look at the photos. You’ll be struck by how carefully the movie chose its actors, right down to George Bartenieff, playing Chef Max Bugnard.