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Au Courant

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  1. What hath God wrought?

    I simply can not understand. How is it possible that a majority (electoral votes-wise) of Americans can even consider someone like Donald Trump to be capable much less worthy of the office of President? I understand and had to fight myself the 'anyone but Hilary' feeling but Trump? My already declining faith in the intelligence of the American People took an even stronger nosedive just now. aC
  2. Is the site defunct?

    Greetings! Yes. Civil Discourse is 'open.' I've had/have severe vision issues for a couple of years so I've not been able to spend a lot of time online. However, I'm certain once you start posting, others will join in. aC
  3. It's Way Past Time To Blow Up The Grand Old Party

    Republicans Need to Talk by Peggy Noonan http://online.wsj.co...EditorialPage_h He said the words "middle class" 12 times on the first page alone. Repeating that phrase mantralike will not make people think you're concerned about the middle class, it will only make them think you're concerned about winning the middle class. It is important to remember in politics that people aren't stupid. Excellent. Agreed with every word ... well, except for possibly the last phrase. aC
  4. Studying American History

    (I haven't quite figured out how to use this new format) Harkening back to the very early post on this thread about Joseph Ellis' Founding Brothers: I find it supremely amusing that Ellis says this in his NYT Book Review today about 1775 - A Good Year for Revolution by Kevin Phillip.(Amazon link to this book - http://www.amazon.co...ASIN/0670025127) But Phillips is, both literally and figuratively, all over the map in these middle and later chapters, sallying forth into the scholarship on urban radicals, competing revolutionary ideologies, expeditions to Canada, the war at sea, American Indian alliances, the military vulnerability of Chesapeake Bay, the Boston Siege, to name just a few of his thematic probes. This from a man who won a Pulitzer for what appeared to be a random collection of speaking notes from his time as a professor. aC Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/books/review/1775-by-kevin-phillips.html
  5. Waterboarding

    I agree with all of this but am royally ticked off that McCain, now that he is no longer running for President, has flipped-flopped on this issue again. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bin...src=nl_opinions aC
  6. Lord Help Me Now!

    What a sorry lookin' bunch. Come'on GOP. There must be at least one Republican that won't turn my stomach! http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/candidat...liticsemailemb3 aC
  7. This morning on the Amazon Kindle forum, a member made some statements that revealed how the USA is perceived abroad. Specifically she said: "I know the US (I'm VERY happily from secular Australia) is just about as fundamentalist as the Middle East." I took exception to the assertion even though I understood that the perception is a common one. I invited her to join me here on Civil Discourse to discuss that point further. Welcome Alina - I am known as "Dog Lover" on Amazon. aC
  8. Say What? 2011? Impossible!

    Simply can NOT believe that it is 2011. This must be some kind of cosmic joke. Just yesterday it was 1984, I am certain. I was only 30 years old, career-driven, trying to understand all the intricacies and minefields of a new marriage, and lookin' forward to adventure. Where did those years go? Talk about black holes! All in all, though, I have to say that 2010 was a pretty good year. I had/have some strong medical problems due to a fall but, hey, I'm mobile and doing really well. The dogs are great. The family is very terrific. The country, despite some whining, seems to have started working well too. I'm amazed at the sheer volume of legislation passed in the last two years. More than all 8 of Bush's years, I think. I didn't agree with all of it and I think that Obama wimped out on a few things but just think! Met the Iraq pull-out commitment (waiting on Afghanistan,) Health care, unemployment extensions, START, DADT gone (sorta)... Lots more work to be done but I'm feelin' pretty good about most things. Course the Redskins aren't one of those things. LOL! My reading plan for the upcoming year is, again, too aggressive. Last year's plan went completely awry because I spent 14+ hours/day on the Shelfari work. I've cut way back on that. I told'em they'd have to pay me if they wanted me to work more than full time. My only other 2011 goal is simple: I just hope to become and will work toward being a person I'd respect. Simple. Not easy. Hope the new year brings you peace, joy, prosperity and an active respectful CD participation. aC
  9. Whither Civil Discourse?

    I do hope CD revives and prospers. 2010 has been rough and, yet, exciting for me. Frankly, I burned out on politics and seldom read more than online headlines now. That will change but not until I achieve some stability in my life. A bad fall (ironically as I was leaving to work the polls on primary day in March!), helping Shelfari, family emergencies both medical and weddingable put my mind into a sort of torpor. CD is more than politics, though, and I hope that the other forums will be active again too. Maybe 2011 will revive me. aC
  10. Universal Health Care

    I'm just glad something got decided. I've always had concerns over the constitutionality of this approach but, at least, something (not quite sure what) has moved through the monolith. aC
  11. Studying American History

    John Jay: Founding Father, Walter Stahr John Jay: Founding Father is impressive. Considering that it is Stahr's first book, my regard increases. It has been collecting ether-dust on my "I am reading" shelf for some months. I didn't want to start it until I could give it due attention and other things were taking up my time and energy. Good thing I waited because once I read the first page, I didn't stop until I was done except for 5 hours of sleep and occasional required online activities. Stahr, like his subject, avoids dramatization but somehow manages to convey the person of John Jay. Presented in a factual and time-line structure, the book still conveys the rigors of the time and the complexities of the struggle for independence. The book is the result of significant research and well-balanced. It has an oddly defensive tone as if Stahr considers Jay's treatment by other biographers and historians to be if not negative, at least unduly dismissive. I do think that Jay is not given his true due for his contributions but, as with our society today, the nation at that time was more fascinated with the "stars" - Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and to a lesser degree because he suffered the same "lack of sexiness problem", Adams. I suspect that there were many "quiet heroes" during that period who were patiently and continually actually doing the work of the nation rather than just talking about it. Jay appears to have been an intellectual, quiet, and steady man of firm principles and true devoted Christian belief. He said on one occasion when begged to push back against unfair practices that cost him his first run as New York Governor, "It will be of more importance to me to have governed myself than to have governed the state." He put honor above office. He proved this on many occasions. A man of some contradictions, he absolutely believed that slavery was wrong but he, himself, owned slaves. He argued against admitting Missouri as a slave state but for existing states wanted slavery to be abolished slowly over time. He was averse to conflict and considered the behavior of the French Revolutionaries to be like that of animals but, earlier, when first meeting with officials of Britain during our own Revolutionary War, he refused to start negotiations until he was personally addressed as and the first drafts of the agreements indicated that he was the representative of the Independent United States of American - not of a colony. He was a devoted family man and absolutely faithful husband and yet several of his children were almost completely raised by others. This was not just due to the extensive traveling to which he was subjected and the reasons were never explained. Very early in his career - well prior to the Revolution, he advocated a separate and independent judiciary and, in fact, forcefully argued for a 3-house government of the state of New York. He followed up with this in his awful time trying to be President of the Continental Congress. He was a man of great dignity and careful attention to detail always striving to not only directly avoid misconduct but even the appearance of it. Yet, he accepted George Washington's plea to be the Envoy Extraordinaire to Britain to forge an agreement - while he was the sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Jay was first to state the premise of the Supremacy Clause - even though that label was applied later. He favored a strong National Government but wanted restraints. "The national government has only to do what is right and, if possible, keep silent." A primary contributor to the Federalist Papers, his words helped convince New York to support the constitution. During the Revolutionary War, he was the "master" of an important American spy, Enoch Crosby. In his later years, Jay related most of Crosby's activities to James Fennimore Cooper who used it to write The Spy. A note from Stahr about this extraordinary part of Jay's contribution to the Revolution says, "The CIA recently honored John Jay by naming a conference room after him as America's first counter-intelligence chief." Who'd a thunkit? The one part of Jay's history that did disturb me was his forceful support of Loyalty oaths and treatment of Tories. I found this very distressing and don't remember seeing much about this in the biographies of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson which I recently read. Was this more an issue in New York than elsewhere or was this topic just not deemed important enough to these other "stars' and their biographers? The other alternative is that I just missed any mention of it although I do clearly remember Flexner saying that Washington required his troops to be careful with Tories and forbade mistreatment of them. Curious. Jay was always aware of the historically important events of the time. He instructed clerks during the Continental Congress to spend at least an hour each day recording events for posterity. He said, "Americans are the first people whom heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the form of government under which they should live." The best quote, though, was about the constitution which he personally ensured that New York ratify: "...it is yet to be animated, and till then may indeed excite admiration, but will be of no use. From the people it must receive its spirit, and by them be quickened. Let virtue, honor, the love of liberty and of science be, and remain, the soul of this constitution and it will become the source of great and extensive happiness to this and future generations." And so it has. aC
  12. Studying American History

    Thomas Jefferson by Richard B. Bernstein Well written. Well organized. Enjoyed this read very much. Learned several things about the period and Jefferson's role in it. Learned very little about the man. This is a brief recounting focusing on Jefferson's political life. Despite the fact that the man wrote literally 1000s of letters, Jefferson remains one of the most, er, "hidden" figures in American History from a personal standpoint. Bernstein acknowledges this with his closing paragraph in the book: ...whether he would even comprehend the United States in the first years of the twenty-first century, Jefferson's shadow looms large over us, thanks to the conflicting influences of his thinking, doing, and - most important - his writing. That truth alone requires each generation to reacquaint itself with the life and work of Thomas Jefferson, and to grapple with his ambiguous legacies. If you are lookin' for a brief catalog of important events driven or influenced by our third president, this is a book fabulous for that purpose. If you are lookin' for an indepth character evaluation and to learn more about the man himself, you'll need to look elsewhere. Good luck with that. From what I've been able to determine such a book does not exist. I have come to the conclusion that it never will. The great enigma of the Revolutionary period. Thomas Jefferson. aC
  13. The Vetting Of Gov. Palin

    This woman is making a career out of being a loser. Sarah and Her Tribe by Jonathan Raban She's back: reviving the book business in provincial towns from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Richland, Washington; working on her keynote address to the Tea Party movement's national convention; tweeting daily, sometimes hourly, to her followers about the state of the nation; and everywhere parading her Down's syndrome son, Trig, along with her most photogenic daughter, Piper, as living testaments to herself as the model pro-life mother. What she's running for is not yet clear, but she's evidently running for something. Read the whole thing. aC Source: The New York Review of Books - Sarah and Her Tribe
  14. Happy Holidays!

    To all of you who have kept my mind sharp over the past year by posting such interesting information, providing such sharp analysis of the world's woes, and making me laugh... Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyeux Noel, Froehliche Weihnachten, Zalig Kerstfeast, and a VERY Happy New Year! aC
  15. More on Shelfari

    Another Shelfari group (not a new one) is 100 Classic Books You Must Read Before You Die I haven't joined this one - it is well established and large. Would require too much time and effort from me. The list is interesting though. It is taken, as the group description found on the link says, Penguin Classics's "101 Best Books Ever Written". Although that link takes you to a much prettier site, it is designed to encourage you to buy a title, so the "list" approach is, again, better seen as part of the group description.. Here is my ranking of the books on this list. I haven't read as many of them and this is a VERY diverse list. Must strictly be based on sales by Penguin or something. The number indicates a position on the list but I don't know if that is the same as a ranking. 1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey – 3 Stars 4. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky -3 stars 10. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer 3 stars 11. The Karamazov Brothers - Fyodor Dostoevsky 3 stars 12. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad 2 stars 13. Diamonds Are Forever - Ian Fleming 2 stars (Give me a break! Fleming on this kind of list?) 17. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 3 stars 20. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams 4 stars 21. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens 3 stars 26. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 3 stars 29. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy 3 stars 31. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson 3 stars 43. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 3 stars 46. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald 2 stars 48. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde 3 stars 53. Animal Farm - George Orwell 4 stars 61. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess 4 stars 63. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 3 stars 65. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote 4 stars 67. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins 3 stars 71. Nineteen Eighty-four - George Orwell 4 stars 75. Death of a Salesman - Georges Simenon 4 stars 77. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins 3 stars 79. A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan, Sir Doyle 3 stars 81. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert 3 stars 84. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne 3 stars 85. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy 3 stars 91. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson 3 stars 93. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas 4 stars 94. From Russia with Love - Ian Fleming 2 stars 95. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy 3 stars 98. Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens 2 stars aC