The Gateway (Courtly Gentlemen of the Old School Edition)

Between cultural events and parties, both of which are noted herein, my posts have been circling over the blogport all week, waiting for clearance to land.

So as Lewis Carroll would note, the time has come to speak of many things.  




Despite bring a courtly gentleman of the old school, Leonard Cohen is such a bohemian hero that in the early days of the artistic invasion of Williamsburg, the Cafe L on Bedford Ave had a sandwich named for him.

At 78, Cohen is the same age as my mom, but skips onto the stage instead of using a walker.

And, like any old Jew whose dad was in the clothing business, his values are old fashioned.

Work hard and give value for the money.

He gives values for the money as well.

A remarkable show, which almost qualified as a religious experience.


Cohen’s best lyric about politics does not come from “Democracy” (which he sang Thursday, but from “Story of Isaac” (which he did not). I used to keep it pasted behind my desk when I worked in the State Senate:

When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must,
I will help you if I can.

Shock of the Week:

Jerry Skurnik's annual Holiday Party featured a surprise appearance by a very spirited and feisty Vito Lopez, who, at his own initiative, spoke to me for the first time in four years, and didn't even scream.


Turning to an aide, Lopez noted "this guy hates my guts, but he's the best blogger in New York."

Apparently without irony, Lopez, who is not generally thought of as a courtly gentleman of the old school (however old school he is in others ways), was totally gracious, complemented a couple of my pieces, and even invited me to his holiday party (he’d once banned me from Party headquarters), which, apparently without irony, is designated as “Adults Only.”

 All good sense indicates I should avoid this opportunity, as do logistics (Lori Knipel’s is the same night at the other end of the Borough, and I promised Dybbuk the opportunity to gorge at her sushi tables), but like a sore on the roof of your mouth that you just gotta touch with your tongue, it’s gonna be hard for me to stay away.  




Pols in Glass Houses Should Bullshit in the Basement Department:

"Adams supporters point out that Recchia has close ties to scandal-scarred Assemblyman Vito Lopez."

Almost makes you forget it was Adams and not Recchia who endorsed Lopez's choice, Erik Dilan, for Congress Against Nydia Velazquez.




Not generally thought of as a courtly gentleman of the old school, even when Koch agrees not to support a Republican, he's petulant about it.




Richard Hanna, who sometimes seems to be hiding an old school Rockefeller Republican in his closet, keeps making it hard not to like him. And, it should be noted that unlike the first GOP co-sponsor of the Freedom to Marry Act, Hanna’s district does not include South Beach.




Apparently, the best way to get rid of guns in NYC is to have everyone run for the City Council.

As fertile a topic for jokes as Yetta Kurland's gun is (I’ve made one before myself
), the political point of bashing someone who is in compliance with the law eludes me.




Nate Cohn convincingly makes the case that gun control won't lose Dems any votes they haven't already lost in Presidential races, and might even get them a few.

Too bad laws have to be passed by Congress.

Chait outlines the hard work passing a law will actually take.




At last, A GOP stimulus proposal that doesn't involve tax cuts for the rich.




News flash: Politics is about culture.

I didn't need to take a poll to know that, let alone be the Smartest Man in America




Tim Scott, who learned his politics at a Chick-Fil-A, is so right wing that he supported the 2011 "welfare reform" bill that would have taken a family's government benefits away if one member of the family went on strike.

Nonetheless, the idea that he represents the state which until recently elected Scum Spermond is kinda inspiring. Then again, given Strom's past (as a courtly power imbalance enabled
Miscegenyst of the South Carolina white sheeted and black mistressed old school), I think I'd like to see a DNA test.




Tony Weiner is watching this one carefully.




There'll be a Special Election to fill John Kerry's Senate seat, but in the meanwhile the Governor gets a temporary appointment. I suggest he pick Barney Frank.  

Meanwhile, advocates of old school Bay State primogeniture are talking up Teddy Jr., who's never held any office. In Ted's defense, his New Haven home is in the same region of the country as Massachusetts.   




With all the unavoidable fights coming up just around the corner, why would the President want an avoidable fight over Secretary of Defense?

I mean, I don't mind a good fight over principle, but exactly what principle are we defending in a fight over Chuck Hagel?

Goldberg makes the pro-Israel case for Hagel. It's not a bad argument on the substance, but it doesn’t really address the fact of how bad this appointment would be as a matter of politics.




Wieseltier: I HAVE BEEN THINKING about lost causes because I have concluded that one of my causes is lost. I no longer believe that peace between Israelis and Palestinians will occur in my lifetime. I have not changed my views; I have merely lost my hopes. I am still quite certain that the establishment of the state of Palestine is a condition for the survival of the state of Israel, as a Jewish state and a democratic state, and that for Israel not to be a Jewish state would be a Jewish catastrophe, and for it not to be a democratic state would be a human catastrophe; and that the only solution there has ever been to this conflict is the solution that was proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937, that is, the partition of one land into two states; and that the Jewish settlement of the West Bank was a colossal mistake, and the occupation (and the indifference to it) corrodes the decency of the occupiers; and that the Jewish state is a secular entity; and that anti-Semitism, which will never disappear, does not explain the entirety of the history of the Jews or their state, or exempt Israel from accountability for its actions. An impenitent Zionist and an impenitent dove, in sum; but to the consternation of some of my comrades, a hawkish dove, too, since I see that Israel has enemies and I believe in the ethical primacy of self-defense. I have irritated some of my comrades also with my unglowing view of the Palestinians and their inability to recognize the historical grandeur of compromise. Since 1977, and really since 1947, they have refused one proposed solution after another, as if the “unviability” of an imperfect state is not preferable to the unviability of statelessness. In recent decades they have added a new religious maximalism to an old secular maximalism. But still I concur in the necessity and the justice of their demand for a state, and still I yearn for a serious Palestinian diplomacy.




It is one thing for a Speaker to be unable to deliver his Conference on a substantive compromise

It is quite another to be unable to deliver them on some ass-covering kabuki.

But as I noted at the end of the debt ceiling debacle:

Boehner seems to have spend his boyhood wanting to grow up to become Bob Dole, but his efforts at imitation recall Rich Little channeling Jack Benny.

Poor Boehner is a Babbitt who went to sleep one night and woke up to find out his Rotary Club had morphed into a Klavern.

Strangely, he’s fighting to hang on anyway.

And yet, I sort of hope he does, since the alternative will only be something worse.

In the event of a far right revolt, which may yet come, my compromise would be to pledge the Democratic Conference to supporting Boehner serving out his turn as Speaker. Surely, Boehner’s still capable of delivering himself at least two dozen Republicans to ceil this deal.

Or is he?

Democrats lack the votes to elect a Speaker for the next term, but thanks to election victories, they could now elect Boehner over Cantor (or worse) with the support of only 17 Republicans. And an old school Speaker who actually wants to make deals is about as good as we’re gonna get from this House.

However, I am less sure than ever that he has even that many loyalists within his conference.




Frum shrewdly dissects the highly rational motives of the GOP crazies and makes them even more scary.




David Greenberg attempts to set the record straight on "Borking," which I think actually began with the Brandeis confirmation.

However, I should note that, in retrospect, the GOP was right about Abe Fortas for all the wrong reasons. Neither Fortas's brilliance, nor his contributions to the Memphis music scene excuse either the financial improprieties, nor his advising LBJ (incorrectly) about Vietnam while sitting on the bench




A hero of WWII and a hero of Watergate, Dan Inouye was a great American and lion of the Senate. With all this talk about the right to bear arms, it is sobering to see how much someone could accomplish with just one of them.




Yes, Inouye once led an assault near San Terenzo, Italy where his platoon was pinned down by three machine guns, and although shot in the stomach, he ran forward and destroyed one emplacement with a hand grenade and another with his submachine gun, and while crawling toward the third enemy fire nearly severed his right arm, leaving a grenade, in his words, “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore.” And, yes, he pried the grenade loose, threw it with his left hand and destroyed the bunker and stumbling forward, silenced resistance with gun bursts before being hit in the leg and collapsing unconscious.

But, is that really more impressive than his dedication to hardcore punk? Or his courtesy in waiting his turn and not trying to cut ahead in line?  

Even Leonard Cohen could not compete with Inouye as a courtly gentleman of the old school.