"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, November 14, 2011

Birthdays Today - Short Cuts

Lots of birthdays today worth talking about, but too little time.

Claude Monet.   Born in 1840.   Greatest of the French impressionists.

Aaron Copland.   Born in 1900.   Where does he rank among American composers?  I'd put him in my Top 10 with Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers, Ellington, Cole Porter, Bernstein, Sondheim, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Joseph R McCarthy.   Born 1909.   Tailgunner Joe McCarthy was wrong about a lot of things, and stylistically unsuitable to carry the banner of anti-communism.   But just because he was paranoid doesn't mean they weren't out to get us.   In the aftermath of the Venona revelations, McCarthy's claims about communist spies in American government look better and better as time passes.

Veronica Lake.   Born in 1919.   How exactly did having a flip of hair falling over your eye become the hottest thing since sliced bread for a time in the early 1940s?   The answer may require an application of Occam's Razor.... it's obvious:

P.J. O'Rourke.   64.   Used to be the funniest political writer going until Mark Steyn beat him out for the title.   Still the best articulation of the difference between liberals as conservatives: 

I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.
God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.  

Santa Claus is another matter. He's cute. He's nonthreatening. He's always cheerful.  And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without the thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one:

There is no such thing as Santa Claus.

Condoleeza Rice.   57.    Still in the right age bracket for national office.   Would a candidate like Romney have her as VP.   Extraordinarily accomplished former Secretary of State, black woman, defuses at least some of the race issue in running against Obama, might attract some of the black woman vote as first black woman national candidate.   But she's never run for public office.   And I'm not sure she wants back in the spotlight.  

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