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The World is Too Much With US

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from Garrett Swasey’s final sermon by Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe

The world is too much with us,” opens William Wordsworth’s famous sonnet. “Late and soon/Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” If that was true when he penned those lines more than two centuries ago, in an epoch of slow-traveling news and more restrained societal norms, how much truer is it today, when instantaneous communication and no-holds-barred jousting has turned so much of our public life into ceaseless recrimination?

Most of us, most of the time, talk too much and listen too little. We avidly make use of technology to blast our complaints and contempt to the four corners of the Internet. Not only do we ascribe ugly intentions to those we disagree with or have been disappointed by, but we can’t wait to do so openly, rushing to Facebook or Yelp or the online comment box to post a strident put-down or a nasty innuendo.

Partisan controversy and electoral skirmishing is nothing new. But in our age, when news cycles are measured not in days but in hours, political camps wage nonstop war. To score a tactical gain, anything is permitted; to generate a flattering headline, everything is rationalized; to undermine an opponent, even the most obnoxious abuse is tolerated. And those of us in the business of commenting or reporting on public affairs soak it up and slosh it forward, doing our best to feed — or perhaps to induce — an appetite for calumny that grows ever more ravenous and undiscriminating.

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Snark

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from David Daley in Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Sanders: “Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

excerpt:

I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark.  Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me–she’s one of my major role models.  It’s the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope.  Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that’s my standard–a comedy of personal risk.  And by that standard, I’m sorry, but Jon Stewart is not a major figure. He’s certainly a highly successful T.V. personality, but I think he has debased political discourse.  I find nothing incisive in his work.  As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he’s partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States.

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Politics as Performance Art

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from David Daley in Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Sanders: “Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

excerpt:

Politics has always been performance art.  So we’ll see who the candidates are who can think on their feet.  That’s certainly how I succeeded in the early 1990s.  Before that, the campus thought police could easily disrupt visiting speakers who came with a prepared speech to read.  But they couldn’t disrupt me, because I had studied comedy and did improv!  The great comedians knew how to deal with hecklers in the audience.  I loved to counterattack!  Protestors were helpless when the audiences laughed.

So what I’m saying is that the authentic 1960s were about street theater–chaos, spontaneity, caustic humor. And Trump actually has it!  He does better comedy than most professional comedians right now, because we’re in this terrible period where the comedians do their tours with canned jokes. They go from place to place, saying the same list of jokes in the same way.  But the old vaudevillians had 5,000 jokes stored in their heads. They went out there and responded to that particular audience on that particular night.  They had to read the crowd and try out what worked or didn’t work.

Our politicians, like our comedians, have been boring us with their canned formulas for way too long.  So that’s why Donald Trump has suddenly leapt in the polls.  He’s a great stand-up comedian. He’s anti-PC–he’s not afraid to say things that are rude and mean.  I think he’s doing a great service for comedy as well as for politics!

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The Myth of Unbiased Journalism

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From The National Review, There Is No Such Thing as Unbiased Journalism, So Let’s Stop Pretending by David Harsanyi

excerpts:

If Stephanopoulos had disclosed his charitable giving beforehand, rather than press Schweizer on his past partisanship, he could have asked him: “Listen, I gave money to this foundation, too. I’m a huge fan of the work it does on AIDS and deforestation and working with corrupt Middle Eastern regimes, and I think the entire mission is simply fantastic. What proof do you have that there was a quid pro quo by me or anyone else?”

That would be far more compelling and informative television. Questions are questions, after all. And your outlook doesn’t change their legitimacy.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418756/there-no-such-thing-unbiased-journalism-so-lets-stop-pretending-david-harsanyi

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Is Stephanopoulis a Hypocrite?

from The National Review VIctor Davis Hanson writes George Stephanopoulos’s Clinton Foundation Hypocrisy Is Staggering

excerpt:

When he attacked Schweizer for a supposed conflict of interest in having been a Bush speechwriter for four months, he assumed that his own much longer tenure as a war-room political flak for Bill Clinton could never impinge on his own objectivity — much less provide the context for his recent donations to the Clinton family foundation.

RELATED: Clinton Campaign Relied on Stephanopoulos for Its Clinton Cash Fact Check

After all, there are plenty of other charities concerned with AIDS and deforestation to help out. (At least Stephanopoulos did not suggest that he was interested in Haitian relief or Kazakhstani internal development.) And the vast majority of charities surely do not skim 90 percent off the top for travel and overhead expenses, as the Foundation does according to news reports. Routing $75,000 to these worthy causes via the Clintons might have meant that the charities ended up with ten cents on the dollar, or about $7,500 of Stephanopoulos’s money to divide up among them. Had he consulted various adjudicators of charity performance, he could have easily learned that giving to something run by Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton was not a very efficient way of saving trees and helping those infected with HIV.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/418473/george-stephanopouloss-clinton-foundation-hypocrisy-staggering-victor-davis-hanson