Moonglow

[Amazon Link]

Pun Daughter gave me this book for Christmas last. Although my fiction tastes tend to run toward the less serious, I quite enjoyed it. And I'm not alone. Click on the book image to take you to the if-you-buy-it-I-get-a cut Amazon page and you'll see a long list of honors, including the WSJ's Best Novel of the Year. I've only read a couple of other books by the author, Michael Chabon. I think I'll probably track down some more now.

It is (despite appearances, fictional) history of Chabon's maternal grandfather, a story told with heaps of humor, sex, violence, sadness, suspense, and horror. And a deadly Florida python who may have eaten a stray cat. All tied together with masterful punch-you-in-the-face style.

Real life people show up: Alger Hiss, Wild Bill Donovan, and (most notably) Wernher von Braun. The book jumps around in time more than Slaughterhouse-Five, as Grandpa reveals his story to Chabon from the bed where he's suffering from terminal cancer. Additional characters, fully explored, are "my grandmother" and "my mother". But the actual relationships are more complex than that.

I repeat: apparently all fictional, although I had to check reliable sources to make sure. (There's a "this is a work of fiction" disclaimer at the front. A cheeky "Scout's honor" is appended.)

URLs du Jour

2017-03-16

■ Proverbs 28:12:

When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.

Corollary: If people aren't in hiding, then your rulers just aren't wicked enough. Try again.

■ Matt Welch at Reason reports: John McCain Makes Heinously False Charge That Rand Paul ‘is now working for Vladimir Putin’.

What do you call a U.S. senator who opposes the expansion of NATO to include the troubled former Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, a country that survived a (reportedly Russia-backed) coup attempt as recently as last fall? If you're Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and that colleague is intervention-skeptic Rand Paul, you call him, remarkably, a pawn of Vladimir Putin.

On the Senate floor, no less. I stand by an observation I made over seven years ago on this very blog: "McCain's a jerk. Yes, he's a hero, and admirable in many ways. And I'll probably be voting for him, with one hand holding my nose, in November. But still: he's a jerk."

■ At NR, David French notices: The New York Times Publishes a Bizarre Story About Neil Gorsuch.

The New York Times headline is enticing and perhaps even a little bit ominous — “Neil Gorsuch Has Web of Ties to Secretive Billionaire.” It conjures up images of backroom deals, favor-trading, and shadowy, rich figures manipulating the law from oak-panelled rooms. Is the esteemed Judge Gorsuch a mere puppet? Who’s the puppeteer?

Answer: Philip Anschutz. Who's actually pretty well known, and Gorsuch's "web of ties" is pretty much that he used to do lawyer stuff for Anschutz, like lawyers do.

Entertaining is French's imagined NYT coverage if Gorsuch and Anschutz were "progressive":

Here’s a suggested headline: ”Friendships Formed in Court; A Humble Billionaire Bonds With His Brilliant Lawyer.” Or, how about this: “A Progressive and His Mentor: How a Case Forged a Relationship.”

Don't ever change, New York Times.

■ David Harsanyi does something I really dislike in his column: Chuck Schumer’s Attacks On Neil Gorsuch Are Un-American.

[…] Schumer trotted out a bunch of sad cases that supposedly illustrated the heartlessness at the core of Gorsuch’s ideology. “Judge Gorsuch’s decisions had negative real-life implications for working Americans,” tweeted Schumer. “When the chips are down, Judge #Gorsuch rules for the powerful few over everyday Americans trying to get a fair shake,” Schumer says.

No, that's not what I dislike. Harsanyi's totally right to point this out, debunk it, and to expose Schumer's argument as antithetical to Constitutional principles of an unpoliticized judiciary.

What I don't like is this:

It’s up to communities and government to show empathy. It’s the job of judges to rule on law. Schumer is arguing that the impartiality of the courts should be ceded to the identity of the participants. That’s un-American.

"Un-American" … Well, America is large, and contains multitudes. Including, unfortunately, lots of people who feel exactly the same way as Schumer. Argue with them, fine. Call them un-American? Not so much.

■ George F. Will encourages us to Abolish the National Endowment for the Arts. Sample:

Government breeds advocacy groups that lobby it to do what it wants to do anyway — expand what it is doing. The myriad entities with financial interests in preserving the NEA cloyingly call themselves the “arts community,” a clever branding that other grasping factions should emulate, e.g., the “military-industrial community.” The “arts community” has its pitter-patter down pat. The rhetorical cotton candy — sugary, jargon-clotted arts gush — asserts that the arts nurture “civically valuable dispositions” and a sense of “community and connectedness.” And, of course, “diversity” and “self-esteem.” Americans supposedly suffer from a scarcity of both.

GFW calls the fight to defund the NEA doomed to "certain futility". We'll see. Because…

■ The NYT reports: Trump Proposes Eliminating the Arts and Humanities Endowments. Yay! Or, put on a frowny face and cue the ominous music for the lead paragraph:

A deep fear came to pass for many artists, museums, and cultural organizations nationwide early Thursday morning when President Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Not just a fear! A deep fear. Of what? Arbitrary arrests? Mobs bearing pitchforks? Laws against pretentious crap?

Nope, just deceased funding.

Also <metaphor class="tired">on the chopping block</metaphor>: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Three items on every libertarian's short list of Things That Should Just Go Away.


Last Modified 2017-03-16 10:34 AM EDT