Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Overheard at the Wall Street Subway Station

Waiting for the uptown express, I was standing in front of two men.

Man one: "Did you see that article in that magazine last week?"

Man two: "Which magazine?"

Man one: "You know, the one with Obama on the cover."

Man two: "With Obama on the cover? Christ, they all have Obama on the cover. It's getting so the only place I want to see Obama's picture is on a milk carton."

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 27, 2009 12:55 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
New York, New York

Through a series of events, I find myself in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn for a couple of days. As is often the case, being in New York City is going to be busy. But it did put me in mind of this set of photographs I created of the city: New York Life: 1,000 Pictures of New York City - a set on Flickr

Beginning in early October of 2001 and ending at around ten in the evening of November 9, 2002, I kept a detailed photographic record of what we were like and how we lived in New York in that shaky first year of our unsought new era. During those months I took over 23,000 photographs in all the areas and neighborhoods and places in which I found myself, night and day. Of these I destroyed most. In the end, I kept about 5,000 that struck me as worth preserving for one reason or another.

To show you, to make you see, what I saw during my walks around New York City in those months, would take a thousand images and an iron constitution. And so I selected them and I've put them HERE . I've selected thousand images because they seem, in aggregate, to give a reasonable impression of my last days in New York, the city I had lived in and loved for the better part of 30 years.

The Flicker Set is HERE.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 26, 2009 6:50 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Coming Apart: An Honest President Would Tell the Truth

Politics interprets events in the context of its mythology. But if politics is in the best of times the art of lying to ourselves in the broad day, politics in crisis is the vice of lying to ourselves while we are falling off a cliff. -- Richard Fernandez

You can say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Dr.Bob preaches it:

We stand now at the edge of an abyss. Our technological wizardry, fueled by our moral blindness and hubris, has created a global firestorm — economic and otherwise — which threatens to consume us all. Nations are bankrupt; huge corporations and institutions owe far more than their assets; nation-states are increasingly impotent at providing core and essential services necessary for a safe, stable, and economically prosperous society. The world is going bankrupt, at the light-speed of its digital communications and global commerce.
And we stand at this precipice, in great peril, as those who have fostered this disaster now scurry about pretending to fix it. In our drunken materialism, we bought what we could not afford with money which we did not have; we promoted and elected those leaders who will tell us the same lies which we told ourselves as we catapulted blindly into our current crisis. We hope through a government of crooks and cronies to legislate a stable, fair and compassionate society, when neither we ourselves nor those whom we placed in our have any moral framework by which to establish such a just and equitable society. The criminals sit in the judge’s seat, comprise the jury, and mete out their punishment — and we wonder why our lives and situation becomes increasingly chaotic, dangerous, and violent.
It is a time at which one might hope for some wisdom among the elected; some humility at the daunting task now faced; some responsibility to look out for the common good rather than simply grasp for more power. Yet the fools we have empowered to govern us continue to whistle through the graveyard, pretending in their hubris that the dark forest path upon which they are hopelessly lost really does lead to Paradise — if we only run faster.
- - A Brave New World @ The Doctor Is In

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 24, 2009 7:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Today's Question:

What's Black & White and Red all over?

A comment @ neo-neocon's For anyone who still thinks Obama is a centrist

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 24, 2009 4:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Revolver Law

On any given day, the world is exactly six bullets away from being saved.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 24, 2009 7:54 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What a Bummer This Guy Is

bamaspeaks.jpgWhoa, dude, shut up, already! You've lost that loving feeling. You are bumming us out, harshing our mellow, killing our buzz and, in general, just bringing us down every time you open your mouth.

Here's a hint. Stay in the House. Kick back, take some deep hits on the clue bong, and chill out, dude. You're supposed to be cool, right? Right. So, hey, like be cool okay?

I don't know who's pumping the toxic text into your teleprompter, but get that guy on some pharmaceutical grade meds stat. I suggest 50 grains of Seconal IV twice daily. Anything to get that kid down from his high-grade Acid Flashback involving outtakes from Halloween IX. Too scary for the average American, don't you know?

Next thing up on your ever-expanding To-Do list is a Zen task: Practice doing nothing, zero, zip, niente, nada. For about two weeks. Stay at home and spend some quality time with your family that doesn't involve taking the wife out for dinner at a cost of around $10 million in air and limo charges after we warm up Air Force One and put the country's biggest SUV on the road.

Yup, do nothing except, well, get up in the morning and, like millions of others who still have a job, go to the job. Go to the office. Sit in the big papa bear chair behind the new sign that reads "The Buck Would Stop Here If We Had A Buck!" Close the mouth, open the mind, fo-cus and get some work done.

Enough with the skipping around the country like some Nordictracked male model hot for the next photo-op. Let the people see the President at work doing the People's business instead of on the road doing monkey business.


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 19, 2009 8:26 PM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How's that Hope and Change Thing Working Out So Far?

Change? Okay. Change what? Change my mind? Change my socks? Should I change my tires or can I get away with just rotating them? Is it okay to change the future or should I work harder at changing the past? Change for a dollar? Change for a quarter? How do you really make change when there's no cash register to tell you what the answer is? Should I call the doctor if there's any change in the condition my condition is in? What happens if life pitches you a change up? Can I be the change or can I slide through by being the ball? Would it be good if I changed my life? I had two wives who went through the change of life and they didn't seem to enjoy it, nor did I at the time. Maybe I should just be satisfied with ... climate change!

For, lo, it is truly said, "The only person on earth who really likes change is a wet baby."

Hope? Okay. What should I hope for and where shall I hope it? In a town called Hope? Shall I watch "Hope for Tomorrow?" Shall I shit in one hand and hope in the other and see which one fills up first? Is there hope for the future or is hope in vain? If I hope Obama isn't what everything about him says he is am I hoping against hope? Is it better to "hope and pray," or can I slide through on hope alone? And if I can cut out the praying and stay with the hope, can I also dump faith and charity thus saving both time and money? If so, shall I hope for the best or hope to avoid the worst? Does hope float? I mean, really float? Like Ivory soap? And why is hope the thing with feathers in the first place?

For, lo, it is truly said, "Live in hope. Die in despair."

[You know, it seems like almost yesterday I wrote these thoughts down. Oh, wait a minute... it was almost yesterday. How time refuses to fly.]

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 19, 2009 7:41 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Free Bumper Sticker for Tough Times

Perhaps it is a tad too soon, but helps to be prepared. Besides, it's a bit of "what goes around..."


For the full size free bumper strip suitable for sticking it to them click:YES! HE LIED!


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 18, 2009 5:31 PM | Comments (27)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why I Always Check Exurban League Daily

The President meets with the Democratic Blue Dog coalition in the State Dining Room of the White House.
-- Exurban League: The Last Supper.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 18, 2009 3:11 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Caught In Traffic


We'd strapped him to his bed for over a year,
Paid a fat, black woman to wear a white dress
Change his bed pan, and sit with him at night,
But when the bone white pigeon banked
Between the buildings in a pale twilight
The old man's brain liquefied.

Foam, whose tiny bubbles reflected my face,
Bloomed on his lips as he swallowed his tongue.
It said 5:47 on the red crystal clock by the wet bar,
And his breath rattled in the room like some
Tired exhaust fan from the Roaring Twenties.

His wife was out shopping at Woolworths,
Or trying to sell something back to Cartiers.
The black nurse was downstairs flirting
With Desi the tap dancing doorman.
Prince the chauffeur buffed the black Lincoln
And wondered what he do when the old lady died.
My wife was teasing our toddler in the living room.
Everyone else was trying to get home from work.

Somewhere inside his skull sore nerves
Kept sending signals down the spine to the heart.
I blotted his lips in that burnt orange room
As his arms flapped like a beached fish before
The fisherman brings down the club.

I turned from the bed, pulled up the beige blinds,
And gazed out the window wondering
Where the bone white pigeon had gone.

Then I called the Doctor's number listening
To his wheezing until the call was answered.
"He's dying," I said to the man I'd never met.
"You should send an ambulance and a team
Of medics right now. He's going. Going fast."

The calm voice answered from far across town,
"He's home. He's been dead for a year, you know.
We just change the sheets and pay the nurses.
I can keep his body going as long -- as long --
As long as you want. You need to tell me.
Look outside. How heavy's the traffic on Fifth?"

I looked down on a solid ribbon of oozing steel.
"Wedged," I said. "Hardly moving at all."
"Look at his eyes," the voice said. I looked
Down into his eyes and they had no bottom.
"Who's there?" the voice asked on the phone.
"No one I know," I said. "No one at all."

I held the phone and waited, looking out over the park.
"I'll send an ambulance when you tell me," he said.
The bone white pigeon came sweeping out of the light
And settled on the sill as calm as the quiet in the room.
"Send them when you can," I said.
"They'll just be caught in traffic."


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 17, 2009 9:10 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lest We Forget: The Look of the Cult of the Leader


From the Life photo archives: dozens of photos of the Adulation of Hitler in color


HT: Israellycool

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 16, 2009 12:58 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bedtime Stories

Hush, little baby, don't say a word.
Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird

-- Traditional American lullaby

The Senator stands before the fixed gaze of the CSPAN cameras in the always empty Senate chamber. His hands hold a stack of paper over a thousand pages thick. He observes, in a voice shaded with resignation and contempt, that no member of the Senate, himself included, has read the endless laundry list of fools’ gold nuggets that a majority are about to vote into law. Then, in what is less a gesture than a simple removal of his hands, he lets the pile drop to the floor where it lands with a sodden thump. The future of what was once a republic is smeared on the sheets of tumbled pile of paper on the Senate floor.

We do not know what this "future" holds within its pages. We know only that no one with the power to approve or disapprove this future that has now been decreed has read it. Like the future it represents the “bill” is obscure and unknowable. Like some czar’s whim it has simply been decreed by those who have made themselves master.

Indeed, to listen to the leadership of the party that has carried it in heavy piles from whatever agency collated and reproduced the thousand pages, there is no time to read it. All is huffing bustle, whirl and spin. Like the White Rabbit, the speaker of the House – after promising to post the bill for 48 hours so that ‘the people’ might read it, proclaims, “It’s late. It’s late. / For a very important date….” And then hustles back out of the chamber or out of camera range with her buttocks clenched and bobbing, her latest lie stuck to her shoe like some dubious strip of paper.

And besides, you wouldn’t really want to read the bill, even a section of it, unless sleep or coma is your most desperate need. The bill, on all it’s promulgated pages when you get a brief whiff of what lurks within it, is written in a blur of numbers and phrases and clichés and obfuscations so dense that the mere reading of a paragraph could drop a charging rhino at fifty yards.

And if that mockingbird won't sing,
Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring

So we know only that, before passage, no elected representative of the Republic had read the bill mandating the future of the Republic. We also know that no citizen has been allowed to read the bill. Who then has?

Surely someone, some entity resembling a human, has read the bill. Is it possible that no one actually has? Is the bill just a collection of subsections pulled out of the commodious and infinite asses of members of the permanent government, the real one that exists like some immortal and gigantic toad beyond and above elections?

Did the bill of a trillion dollars simply assemble itself as sections were teleported in from lobbies and interest groups and the denizens deep in the Bureaus; sections dictated by the faceless, keyboarded by the faithful, and signed off on by no one? The pages do not, one assumes simply write themselves. Then again perhaps they do. One cannot know. One is not, it seems, allowed to know who is composing them for whom.

Does the bill also include paragraphs cobbled together from lines in the long, long list of all those owed by the Obama administration? Will we find the wishes and dreams of a thousand different parasites on the body politic burrowing within its pages? The short lists of line-items leaked out certainly make it seem that way. Everywhere one touches this thing there seems to be….

Something appealing,
Something appalling,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Something convulsive,
Something repulsive,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Tragedy tomorrow.
Comedy tonight!

Yes, some tasty splooge for everyone bobs in this malodorous muck. All of us. Each and every one. Many of the items cannot be gainsaid by those with good will. Many others are loathsome at the sight. But no matter what may be of benefit to this or that group, in aggregate the sums of money required to make it all come to pass are so beyond all reason that the only emotion one can muster is one of impending doom. This is not, in a country, an emotion likely to inspire confidence, resolve and recovery, only the impulse to take to one’s bed and seek a sleep unto death.

Hence the promise of the lullaby,

And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass

Yes, it doesn’t matter if this bill that none have read is not that crazy shining diamond that reflects and refracts light in the shadows and cures all ills, palliates all anxieties, gives houses away like business cards, and fills the gas tanks of the nation with pure Presidential effluvium. If this “diamond ring” of “stimulus” turns into a thin brass plating on a drifting iceberg of excrement, there will be another bill, this one a looking glass in which we can see our own emaciated reflection.

But should that reflection be too horrible to gaze at, should it, like the Gorgon, turn the citizen to stone....

... if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat

Yes, there will always be the great father in Washington ready to buy his serfs and wards farm animals for their amusement lest they find out that they, and not the goats, are the real beasts of burden in this Brave New World. Will they ever see, even then, that they are but property owned by the plantation? Doubtful. Do cattle see the skull hammer waiting at the end of the slaughterhouse chute?

The bill, and the one’s beyond it, will bring a finally perfected democracy into being. A pure democracy of need where the multiplying many are carried on the backs of the fading few, even those of the newly rich few who worked and donated that this new phase of “democracy” in the United States come to pass. Even they will come, in time, to understand with H. L. Mencken that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Even they, in time, will see who really is the goat.

But should they protest, they will find it is far too late. They are already in the harness that this unread bill fit them for and pull they will.

And if that billy goat won't pull,
Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull

Much has been made of the supposed fact that little of this bill bears the marks of the current President; that it all has be jumbled together by a Congress fat with power and seeking to get all its champagne dreams of a quasi-socialist state rolling in one fell swoop. But what if that is only a partial reading of the truth just as all readings of this bill are partial and superficial?

What if, instead, this bill contains – since it is protean enough to contain almost anything – the actual items that outline the most deeply held beliefs of a man suckled at the breast of all the broken dreams that sent hundreds of millions of humans to the block in the last century? What if, as we root about in the endless paragraphs and pages, we do see the outlines, at last, of what this strange and obscure man actually believes and plans? What if nothing is accident and all is intent? And the intent is “darker than a hundred midnights down in a cypress swamp?”

Will we still hear the last lines of the lullaby as we slip into our own coma?

And if that cart and bull fall down,
You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town

Or will we hear instead that ear worm from Poe’s The Raven?

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

Sweet dreams, perishing Republic.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 15, 2009 5:50 AM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Seven Beauties Seven Lies

"Tell Me Lies, tell me sweet little lies..."
Stimulus Bill Broke 7 Obama Promises via Sweetness & Light

1. Make government open and transparent.

2. Make it "impossible" for Congressmen to slip in pork barrel projects.

3. Meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. (Even Congressional Republicans shut out.)

4. No more secrecy.

5. Public will have 5 days to look at a bill.

6. You’ll know what’s in it.

7. We will put every pork barrel project online.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 15, 2009 5:22 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Instructions for Wayfarers

"They will declare: Every journey has been taken.
You shall respond: I have not been to see myself.

They will insist: Everything has been spoken.
You shall reply: I have not had my say.

They will tell you: Everything has been done.
You shall reply: My way is not complete.

You are warned: Any way is long, any way is hard.
Fear not. You are the gate - you, the gatekeeper.
And you shall go through and on... "

-- from Robert Fulghum's novel Third Wish

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 13, 2009 4:48 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
QOTD from "Above the Law"

"I'm panicked I'm going to lose my job -- and I don't even f*****g have a job!" -- Link

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 13, 2009 6:55 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
A House Divided A Century and a Half Later: What Lincoln Would Say Were He Speaking Today


Where is Old Fiddler Jones
Who played with life all his ninety years,
Braving the sleet with bared breast,
Drinking, rioting, thinking neither of wife nor kin,
Nor gold, nor love, nor heaven?
Lo! he babbles of the fish-frys of long ago,
Of the horse-races of long ago at Clary's Grove,
Of what Abe Lincoln said
One time at Springfield.

-- Edgar Lee Masters, :The Hill", Spoon River Anthology

Abraham Lincoln, before rising to the Presidency, spoke on the dangers confronting the Republic 150 years ago: "A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND" Springfield, Missouri, June 16, 1858. **

"IF we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the seventh year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to Islamic terrorism. Under the operation of that policy, that Terrorism not only has not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, Islamic Terrorism will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed.

"A house divided against itself can not stand."

I believe this government can not endure permanently half faint-hearted and half resolved. I do not expect America to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect that it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 12, 2009 3:48 PM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Let None Falter Who Thinks He is Right

Earliest known (although disputed) photograph of Lincoln. Taken 1840-41

Lincoln, Speaking in Springfield 170 years ago, December 20, 1839.

Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her.

I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing; while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the waves of hell, the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who dare resist its destroying course with the hopelessness of their effort; and, knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it I, too, may be; bow to it I never will.

The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and alone, and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors.

Here, without contemplating consequences, before high heaven and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty, and my love.

And who that thinks with me will not fearlessly adopt the oath that I take?

Let none falter who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if, after all, we shall fail, be it so. We still shall have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country's freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and adored of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, we never faltered in defending. -- From The Entire Writings of Lincoln by Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 12, 2009 1:32 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Bullshitter in Chief

Widely seen and commented upon, this clip of Obama giving away a house (Much as Oprah once gave away cars [Piker!]) showcases the man-O's central skill -- bullshitting. People love bullshit much more than truth since bullshit allows them to continue believing in vampires, angels and unicorns. All of which seem to be popular contemporary religions. Don't think this is a religious moment? Watch and listen to the woman who's just hondled a house. She is on the verge of looking at Obama and saying, "Thank you, Jesus!" The woman in white to the left of the President probably does say that but there's no mike to record the orgasmic eructation she's experiencing.

I've seen a lot of comments about the mysterious packing of this homeless gal into the front row of the Obama Revival Meeting for the laying on of the hands and the miraculous curing of homelessness that followed. I've seen less of the kind of breathless admiration that should be given Obama for his relentless bullshitting. Why does he continue throwing out bullshit? Because the people who listen to him love to eat it. It's kind of a loaves and fishes sort of deal.

In his essay, "On Bullshit," Harry Frankfurt sketches a theory of bullshit,

defining the concept and analyzing its applications. In particular, Frankfurt distinguishes bullshitting from lying; while the liar deliberately makes false claims, the bullshitter is simply uninterested in the truth. Bullshitters aim primarily to impress and persuade their audiences. While liars need to know the truth, the better to conceal it, the bullshitter, interested solely in advancing his own agenda, has no use for the truth. Following from this, Frankfurt claims that "bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are." - On Bullshit

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 12, 2009 10:01 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Plan Moldberg

illuminati-dollar2.jpgMENCIUS MOLDBUG has a plan.

"What we're starting to notice is that it's much more difficult to think outside the box than in it. When we were in the box, we had these authorities we trusted - the Times, Harvard, National Public Radio. If someone asked us about X, our answer was: what does Harvard say about X?...."

What we call a "recession" is a gap between what consumers, with their 2009 brokerage statements, want to consume, and what producers, who did not expect the asset price collapse, planned to produce. These numbers must be equal. The obvious way for them to converge is for the productive economy to reduce capacity - close factories, lay off employees, etc. As Andrew Mellon put it: "Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.".... I think liquidation is an error.

Okay, here's what we're gonna do....
Step zero: call up Larry and Sergei, and get them to lend USG a few hundred of Google's best coders. We'll need them to write our new financial system....

Step one: nationalize all market-priced financial assets at the present market price, exchanging them for new dollars....

Step two: triple each of these dollars....

Step three: calculate the expected shortfall in future entitlements (Medicare and Social Security), and print new dollars to fill the gap....

Step four: auction all the financial assets previously nationalized - corporations, real estate, etc....

Step five: renumber the currency. Every dollar in the world (perhaps about 200T) has a new serial number - from 0 to 200T) ....

Think this is a crazy plan? Take the time to read it and then think again. But don't ask what Harvard says about it. Harvard is part of what got us here in the first place. The plan for Harvard is to place the faculty, the administration and selected alumni from the Law and Business schools inside Memorial Hall and then implode the building.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 12, 2009 7:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pet of the Month

Enjoying your nap, petal? Even a photo shoot doesn't wake Dreamy the dormouse

Nestled in the heart of a rose, his slumber cushioned by soft petals and his bushy tail, Dreamy the dormouse looks snoozily content.

But life hasn't always been so blissful.

His seven-month hibernation was rudely interrupted when his mossy nest was dug up by an inquisitive dog.

Next up,, a web page devoted to pictures of hamsters sleeping on top of kittens sleeping on top of puppies. A blissful antidote to the horror that is Fuck You Penguin.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 12, 2009 6:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Massive Technological Breakthrough by Sony!

You just gotta have it!

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 11, 2009 12:08 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
At what point should the training wheels be taken off Obama's tricycle?

Barak Obama on a tricycle

"€œIt is certain that success naturally confirms us in a favorable opinion of our own abilities. Scarce any man is willing to allot to accident, friendship, and a thousand causes which concur in every event without human contrivance or interposition, the part which they may justly claim in his advancement. We rate ourselves by our fortune rather than our virtues, and exorbitant claims are quickly produced by imaginary merit." --Johnson in Rambler 172. November, 1751

Nobody expects miracles when you elect a president whose chief achievement has been running for office rather than holding it, but the last few weeks are not exactly suffusing me with a warm, fuzzy glow of confidence. In this I am joined by, oh I don't know, over half the thinking American adults in the country and virtually all investors in the stock markets of the entire planet. Add in small businesses who are seeing their profits, past and future, evaporate. Add in whatever sensible other sectors of the society there are outside of those getting a hand out or a hand job from the administration, and I find myself feeling cozy in the center of a growing mob of people who are thinking, "Torches. Heads on pikes. Free tumbril rides."

But could any recent president have done better? neo-neocon names a few in "Obama's first weeks: who would have done better?"

Has any president in recent memory showed the same combination of careless vetting of appointees, plus letting Congress have its way with a bill so important and far-reaching as the current stimulus bill? Has any been so relentless in panic-inducing gloom (with the possible exception of Carter?).

Will the insensible among our fellow citizens wake up to this reality without waking up in a glowing cloud of ash (some of it theirs) at some future ground zero? I doubt it. The chief concern of the Obamedia and the man's devotees is finding a place in line behind Andrew Sullivan among those waiting to personally fellate the president.

Given the length of that line, Michelle Obama must be feeling relaxed and relieved.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 11, 2009 11:38 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Sometimes a President Is Just a President - Judith Warner Blog -

The other night I dreamt of Barack Obama. He was taking a shower right when I needed to get into the bathroom to shave my legs, and then he was being yelled at by my husband, Max, for smoking in the house. It was not clear whether Max was feeling protective of the president’s health or jealous because of the cigarette.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 11, 2009 6:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Obama Presidency So Far

Click to enlarge

Well, at least he's getting out of the White House and back on the campaign trail. Why be chained to a desk when you can be adrift on a wreck?

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 11, 2009 4:31 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When There Is No Vision...

"Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt: First Inaugural Address. U.S. Inaugural Addresses.Saturday, March 4, 1933

The last sentence is taken from Proverbs 29:18 and although the King James translation is resolved as "the people perish" that is not the only way the proverb can be understood. Here are some variations. See if they strike a chord.


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 8, 2009 5:32 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
President Obama Signs Executive Order Extending Black History Month by a Fortnight


Citing the stealth racism of giving African-Americans the shortest month for their history, President Barack tacked on an extra two-weeks "in the interest of fairness. Besides," Obama said, "now that I'm The One That Won, we're gonna need the extra room."

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 7, 2009 7:03 PM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How Cold Is It In Florida This February?

Just about this cold.

Fountain in the courtyard of Casa de Solana, St. Augustine, Florida. February 6 @ about two in the afternoon.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 6, 2009 1:48 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Photographs Taken @ Bok Tower and Gardens, Lake Wales


Door to Tower with Scenes from Genesis @ Bok Tower Sanctuary, January 31, 2008

Blossom @ Bok Tower Sanctuary, January 31, 2008

Swans Nesting @ Bok Tower Sanctuary, January 31, 2008

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

-- The Wild Swans At Coole by William Butler Yeats

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 1, 2009 4:47 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
G2E Media GmbH