Posts Tagged ‘McCain’

I’ve been thinking about plagiarism lately, mainly because I’m writing a book. I want to – I need to –  credit all the wonderful people, from comedian Lewis Black to revolutionary Thomas Paine, who do a much better job of making my points than I do. (You may wonder then why I’m even bothering to write a book if others have expressed themselves on the subject but ask yourself, when was the last time you read anything that put Lewis Black and Thomas Paine in the same sentence). Anyway, plagiarizing is also in the news because one of the candidates in particular has a way with words and the others are anxious to point out all the words may not be his.

What a waste of time. If we have yet to effectively recycle our waste, we’re certainly terrific at recycling our movies, books, styles, ideas. I might say “everything old is new again” but that phrase perfectly encapsulates my point: it’s the title of at least four different songs, including one each by Peter Allen and Carol Bayer SagerBarenaked Ladies and two different women I’ve never heard of, Julie Anthony and Laura Hayes , not to mention too many books, radio shows and articles to count. Many of the best movies this year seem to be adaptations and fashion is always a restatement of an earlier era. I can’t remember the last time I heard any music I thought was truly original. We know that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and yet, around the world that’s exactly what we’re doing. If you want to see how far we haven’t come in more than fifty years, check out the lyrics  from a 1953 song by Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick. It’s a short song and worth reading (click on this link) but I’ll just throw out a few lines:

They’re rioting in Africa
There’s strife in Iran
What nature doesn’t so to us
Will be done by our fellow man

(“Merry Minuet, copywrite 1953)

I’m still deeply into Sue Jacoby’s book about the latest version of American unreason but I’m more struck by how stuck we are with the old lagnauge, using words like “liberal” and “conservative” as they were used half a century ago. Talk about a lack of imagination. Meanwhile, we keep returning to outmoded economic or foreign policies, looking for a new outcome to an old application. It’s like taking an old boyfriend back, hoping things are going to be different. Tons of songs on that subject but here’s one of my favorites, “Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret” :

Maybe this time I’ll be lucky
Maybe this time he’ll stay
Maybe this time, for the first time,
Love won’t hurry away

Now all the odds are in my favor
Something’s bound to begin
It’s got to happen …happen sometime
Maybe this time I’ll win

Now there’s hope we can believe in


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The primaries are over and we have a semi-clear front-runner on the Republican side, albeit one despised by a wing of his own party and no clear front-runner on the Democratic side. Voters and would-be voters, who seemed to be impassioned now seem to be getting worked up into hysteria. The media has a lot to do with whipping people into a frenzy which frankly whips me into a frenzy; the writing and reporting these days is often as ugly as the candidates’ assaults on each other. But no one is blameless, including voters and would-be voters. So herewith, a list of behaviors and actions which are FORBIDDEN – or would be if I had any enforcement power:

  • To the candidates: You are welcome, even urged to keep working towards the nomination of your party. We know you believe yourself to be uniquely qualified to be the next President of the United States. That doesn’t mean you’re entitled. So don’t you dare get personal or allow your surrogates to do it for you. Don’t incite your supporters to anger; you’ll just jeopardize the enthusiasm this primary season has generated against all odds. Think about what’s best for your party and your country. Know when to say no. If you need a lesson in graciousness, call Al Gore.
  • To the surrogates: Watch your mouths.
  • To the Democrat and Republican National Committees: Okay, it’s still going to be a two-party election. It’s your duty to highlight the policy differences between the candidates and make the case for your person’s stand on issues of concern. However, I don’t want to hear one word about “attack machines” or see them in evidence. I don’t want to see fingers pointing or party officials claiming “they started it!” And don’t let me catch you underhandedly funding outside private groups to run nasty Swiftboat-type campaigns and then claim you didn’t know.
  • To the media: Focus more on what is important, not which candidate cried, which one coughed, who snubbed who and who wore what. Since when is that political reporting? Special note to the editorial folks: stop trying to imitate the tone of the nastiest blogger or most venal radio talk host. A dwindling handful of us still depend on you to observe, analyze and share your insights but we’re not looking for you to gleefully wallow in your skills at being snide.  If I want shrill and nasty, I can hit any number of so-called political blogs or visit a chat room, where you can be exposed to some of the most paranoid, hateful and generally uninformed opinions to be found anywhere. But that’s democracy.
  • To the voters:  I’m not going to argue whether voting is a right or a privilege because what it is, first and formost, is a responsibility. Every citizen of this country over eighteen who has not been convicted of a Federal crime is eligible to vote. I’m already hearing supporters of one or the other Democratic candidates threatening not to support the eventual party nominee and several wing-nuts on the other side are urging their listeners to “stay home” on Election Day if a certain war hero is the standard-bearer. Are you people crazy? We’re halfway around the globe trying to stick democracy into countries where it might not take and you want to sit out an election in a country where it works? Don’t even THINK about it.

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