The Most Lunatic Legacy of the Cold War

Why the U.S. Government and the Prez in particular are more important than what they govern.

From Dr. Strangelove onward, little bits of these horribles kept floating around as a nightmare undercurrent to my youth.

On Thermonuclear War, the creepiest book I know, was my most thorough exposure.


PS: Here’s a piece that explains how Kahn was one of the earliest “politically incorrect” tyrants.

What Charlie Said —

I have to quote this sentiment which articulates a tormented feeling I’ve had for ages and ages:

There are a lot of dangers to self-government, and one of those dangers that’s done a lot of damage in my lifetime has been the feeling that the American people are such fragile ornaments that we don’t dare risk telling them the truth of something lest they fall to the floor and shatter to pieces.

From this valuable essay.

I would only add that there’s no question now that it reflects a shift from treating the American people like civilians to regarding them as peasants.

Out Next Week #1 — Dominique Eade and Ran Blake: “Town and Country”

I’m such a sucker for pianist Blake and vocalist Eade I almost don’t trust my judgement here. But their collaborations glisten with intelligence and smolder with simpatico passion (Blake is an unsurpassed backer for singers as he’s more than a bit a minimalist vocalizer on keys). Their Whirlpool is a masterpiece, and this isn’t far behind. A bit more earnest for more serious times (one Jean Ritchie an album is enough for me). But I have another “Moon River” to add to my treasure chest of them; a delicate “It’s Alright, Ma” that works; Blake’s marvelous “Harvest at Massachusetts General Hospital” and his utterly essential tribute to the late Mr. Schuller, “Gunther.” Even the narrative passage on Charles Ives’s “Thoreau” is concise and on target.


Presidents and Fantasies

Important piece about, well, POTUS doing the job.

And also the importance of the fantasy pushed by the administration. It was important to the Establishment for the compliant press to present JFK and Jackie as this magic, perfect couple. Of course that made the assassination more shattering, but an odd followup that almost nobody noted was that Jackie seemed to get over him pretty damned pronto. I half expected her to mourn the rest of her life.

It was important to sell the fantasy that pipsqueak Viet Nam was nothing and we were winning, any day now. LBJ was hated more because of the deception.

Now the fantasy of the return of high-paying manufacturing jobs is crucial to scads of people. They just want it to happen — who cares if there’s a plan or a program or even a possibility.

Every time I’m tempted to yield to thoughts of  “Boy, maybe cool careers writing about the arts are gonna come back,” I remember these sorts of insistent fantasies.