Friday, September 26, 2008
A Good Meeting
Two Birds With One Stone
My more conservative readers, at least those who are unhappy with my recent comments on Senator McCain and Governor Palin, might be happier with the attached PDF on historic preservation, written by my friend Bill Westfall. Among other things, it says,
The classical is the best attainable balance between the contingent and the universal based on principle. All spheres of human activity seek this balance. Most importantly, it is sought in the political life. By politics I mean not the contention for partisan advantage but the art of living together. Architecture is important to the extent that it serves politics. By architecture I do not mean buildings produced to serve merely timely, functional needs but buildings made to expand and renew cities and a rural countryside that assists a political regime in pursing justice and grace for all its members.
In practices based on tradition, both politics and architecture at their best thrive on the interaction between practice and reflection about the principles practice invokes. Politics and architecture feed on the exchange between experience and philosophy, between the agora and the academy, between practice and theory. No practice, no thought, no thought, no guidance for practice. Without philosophy, practice is random, unpredictable, irrational—or it might be, because without thought about principles, without theory, without philosophy, there are no standards for judging whether our actions embody the justice and nobility we aspire to attain and whether our buildings and cities provide the beauty and elegance that promote and represent those ends.
... Perhaps most distressingly, the modernists, recognizing the linkage between politics and architecture and recognizing that urbanism is the form given to the civil life, rejected traditional politics and its home, the traditional city, and invent and reinvent urbanism. But they simply have no capacity to serve the urban ends of architecture. Their work belongs to an ideology rather than to a civil ideal. It is intended to promote the individual, not the common good. It is meant to set the avant-garde apart from the rest, not to allow architecture to serve as a means by which every individual perfects his nature within civil society. [emphasis mine]
Bill is the former Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, and the author of Architectural Principles in the Age of Historicism (Yale University Press).
It's time for serious people to stand up and talk about serious issues.
COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? Allow them to spend more, and put more money into the economy, instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?
PALIN: That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in. Where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh, it’s got to be about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade — we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as, uh, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation.
After the jump, Governor Palin on foreign policy and the view from her house.
COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?
PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters--
PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.
COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.
PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia--
COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?
PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state.
A conservative columnist at William Buckley's National Review wrote this:
Some of the passionately feminist critics of Palin who attacked her personally deserved some of the backlash they received. But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick -- what a difference a financial crisis makes -- and a more complicated picture has emerged.
As we've seen and heard more from John McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.
The columnist says her turnaround came from watching Palin's tv interviews:
Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.
No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.
Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there.
Prominent conservative columnist George Will said McCain is not qualified to be president.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I'm donating $1 for every lie Sarah Palin tells
WHERE will I give the money? I don't know yet. Maybe to the Obama campaign, maybe to my local NPR station, or maybe to the poor guys at Lehman Bros., down the block from my office (maybe not LB, considering what they did to my Neuberger Berman portfolio).
Yes, $1 per lie is a lot less than Olbermann is giving, but with Governor Palin's help and yours, if we all give what we can afford every time she tells a lie, we can spend this economy back to good times.
PS: After the jump, another lie from the Governor.
I may count a few more lies than Olberman. Although Governor Palin has convinced many that she didn't try to ban any books at the Wasilla library, I don't believe that, because of the Salon story The Pastor Who Clashed With Palin.
The last paragraph of the story says,
"And after she became mayor of Wasilla, according to Bess, Sarah Palin tried to get rid of his book from the local library. Palin now denies that she wanted to censor library books, but Bess insists that his book was on a 'hit list' targeted by Palin. 'I'm as certain of that as I am that I'm sitting here. This is a small town, we all know each other. People in city government have confirmed to me what Sarah was trying to do.'"
Olbermann mentioned the pastor in a slightly different context, and didn't count Palin's book banning denials.
BTW, the pastor's son is a friend of mine, and a well known New Urbanist who writes for conservative publications like First Things.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Real Yankee Stadium
UPDATE: The Yankees did a good job with the pre-game ceremonies. Somehow I'd forgotten, until I watched the pre-game, that I went to the final game of the old, old Stadium, and got to walk out to the monuments after the game.
THAT'S what the Stadium looked like when I was a kid. There was a lot more shock and awe than in the concrete remodeling Steinbrenner made in the 1970s.
As you can see, not all the games were crowded. Even on Saturday afternoons, you could often easily get three seats to yourself in the upper deck. During rallies, the procedure was to hold the seats to each side of you and smash them up and down in unison with the rest of the crowd. A few hundred people doing that could make a lot of noise.
My brother and I would catch double headers in the bleachers — 18 innings in the sun for $1. The monuments were still on the field (during the renovation, the Yankees moved the center field fence in 50 feet, so that monuments were behind the wall).
We once saw Bobby Murcer chase down a fly that bounced right behind them. He sped around the monuments and faced the center field wall, anticipating the rebound off the wall. But it bounced past him, and he wheeled around and dashed towards the ball. It bounced of the monuments and back to him, and ran around to the side to see where to throw the ball. I think it was an inside the park home run.
Today, Andy Pettitte starts and Mo will throw the last pitch. Before the game, Bernie will stand in center field again. I wish I could be there. Andy hasn't pitched well lately, but he was a big part of all their seasons when they were winning. Bernie and Mo are probably the two most popular Yankees from that time, and deservedly so. This will be very different from the game I went to a few days ago, which just didn't have an end of an era feel.
Liberals, Neocons, New Urbanists & Classicists
The Wall Street Journal article referred to below says, in the broadest sense, that Democrats are Modernists. Not in the sense that architects talk about them (primarily a matter of style these days), but Modernists in the sense that politically correct university professors or stem cell researchers are.
New Urbanists and traditional architects are in an interesting position here, because many of us are not conservative, and we recognize better than many that there is a range of progressive to conservative ideas on the values that Republicans have tried to claim for conservatives only.
Since Reagan, Republican theorists have intentionally made their arguments very broad, because they recognize that "values" resonate with voters who might not consider themselves Republicans otherwise. When the book What's the Matter with Kansas? came out, progressive traditionalists recognised better than most that the Democrats were making a mistake of thinking that the mind and the pocketbook should outweigh the heart when it comes time to vote. But many of the voters Reagan attracted, the famous Reagan Democrats, were brought on board in just that way.
Modern Liberalism saw many of these values as old fashioned and archaic. The mistake of Siegel's excellent and insightful article is in thinking that the Democratic is limited to Modern Liberalism, or should be. After all, the NeoCons explicitly come from Classical Liberalism, the home of the Whigs, not the Tories.