Monthly Archives: January 2013

Two rape poems that aren’t about rape…

Neither Donne nor Yeats were writing about rape when they used these images of one of man’s most brutal and dehumanizing acts to put spotlights on the respective natures of faith and destiny.

Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person’d God

BY JOHN DONNE

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Leda and the Swan

by W. B. Yeats
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

 

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Immigration reform and bipartisanship

This is a striking CNN piece that shows how hard it is to forge bipartisan policy with the current administration in place. I am a strong proponent of opening immigration and creating legal paths to citizenship in the U.S. Its is one crucial ingredient in what has made our country great.

Washington (CNN) – Some senior Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus used a private White House meeting Friday to urge President Obama not to unveil his own immigration legislation, for fear of blowing up delicate bipartisan talks, Democratic sources tell CNN.

This is significant for several reasons.

First, because the White House has been telling senators and advocates that they are writing their own immigration bill, in legislative language. It is incredibly rare for the White House to write its own bill.

Second – Democrats urging the president not to release a bill illustrates how polarizing the immigration issue remains – especially for Republicans who fear that signing onto any legislation that could be seen as authored by the president could invite primary challenges for Republicans.

If he is more interested in “destroying republicans” than in solving problems, the issues will go no where. Read the whole thing and let’s see where the President comes out today…

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Exercise, travel, jet lag and really seeing the city you are visiting

There is a great piece on running and travel in today’s Wall Street Journal. Exercise when trying to acclimate after a long plane ride is a proven way to reset circadian rhythms and begin to feel human far from home. A colleague of mine who travels even more than I do, runs three miles every day wherever he finds himself – the discipline is admirable, especially since many locales (or weather situations) require him to hit a hotel treadmill instead of the streets. For me, a regular 20 minute set of calisthenics works best, since I can do them anywhere and can never justify skipping them as long as I wake up in time.

But hitting the streets in any city is essential. Even with a busy meeting schedule, there is always time to step out of a conference room and take a walk for 5 or ten minutes during a break. Sunlight on your face will get your body clock on track and as Mr Quinn says in his Journal story, the street view give us the essence of a city – pedestrians, traffic, commerce in all its forms.

So often, “glamorous” business travel consists of running through a generic airport, getting to a generic hotel or office tower, sitting in a generic conference room and trying to stave off jet lag. You could be in Istanbul or Cleveland and never know the difference. Getting out on the street and making your body move can connect you to your location and remind you that it is an incredible privilege to see the world on your company’s dime.

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Accountability in American politics – Maybe we should elect Republicans just so somebody pays attention to what is going on…

The September 11, 2012 death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya has drawn relatively little media attention and no repercussions for any decision maker at any level. At least when Republicans are in power, the press holds them accountable for their decisions.

Here is a disturbing take on accountability in U.S. politics by Jim Geraghty at National Review.

When we look at how our government has responded to the night of September 11 in Benghazi, Libya, we see there are truly no standards any more.

If the decision-making before, during, and after the Benghazi attack is insufficient to get anyone fired, what decision in government will ever warrant that consequence? If Democrats on Capitol Hill can’t take off their partisan blinders for one day to attempt to hold people accountable for decision-making that resulted in American deaths at the hands of extremists, and then lying to the public about it, then when will they ever? If Hillary Clinton can exclaim that it doesn’t matter that the administration spent five days talking about a video when the video had nothing to do with it, and everyone on her side applauds, why should she or anyone else ever respond to an accusation with anything but audacious defiance?

This is it, folks. This is the government we have, and the lack of a public outcry about Benghazi ensures this is the government we will have for the foreseeable future.

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A measured response to climate change (and what it gets you)

By calling for measured, rational and balanced solutions, Bjorn Lomborg has been attacked and vilified for years. It is sad when “speaking truth to power” means challenging progressive orthodoxy. When someone’s response in a debate is hysterical, you can be sure they are losing the argument…

See his WSJ story here.

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What are our politicians trying to control?

Understandable heartfelt emotion makes us desperately want to act. To “DO SOMETHING”…Reason and evidence show that we should think first and work to understand underlying problems. We should not let politicians exploit tragedy to rush through cosmetic, feel-good/do-nothing laws that provide the illusion of enhanced safety while probably achieving the exact opposite…

See a D.C. prosecutor’s practical experience with gun control here.

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It seems the current administration’s ability to annoy our friends in the U.K will continue unabated in the second term. How amateurish to note “America’s interests” in giving recommendations to an ally while pointedly ignoring the interests of the ally…

Here is nice response from British blogger Autonomous Mind

Autonomous Mind

Dear Mr Gordon,

I read with interest the following comment you made on behalf of the Government of the United States of America, in your capacity as US Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, regarding the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union:

We have a growing relationship with the EU as an institution, which has an increasing voice in the world, and we want to see a strong British voice in that EU. That is in America’s interests. We welcome an outward-looking EU with Britain in it.

This comes as no surprise as it reflects the thinking of other senior members of the Obama administration, who have previously opined that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the EU.

The President of the United States is considered by many to be the leader of the free world, and the United States itself considered to be a beacon of democracy. …

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