Archive for January 17th, 2013

One Wondrous Sentence: Chuck Hagel and the right-leaning GOP

January 17, 2013

This one wondrous sentence, by left-wing novelist and political commentator Steve Erickson, indicates one subtle strategy that President Barack Obama is using to marginalize his Republican opponents.

The more that supposedly seasoned members of the GOP claim that Hagel is out of the mainstream for challenging the buildup in Iraq and potential war with Iran (skepticism with which the public agrees on both counts by large margins), then the more that Republicans lurch rightward in the eyes of the public at large and, in particular, two-fisted guys sitting in front of their televisions curling beer cans into furious fistfuls of metal every time Lindsey Graham opens his mouth.

Source: Steve Erickson, “Obama’s Genius Defense Pick,” The American Prospect, Jan. 14, 2013.

Schemes, suspense and psychosis are the order of the day on Lehane’s ‘Shutter Island’

January 17, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Jan. 17, 2013

Some men are born mad. Others have madness thrust upon them. The latter case is true of Teddy Daniels, a federal marshal dispatched in September 1954 to Shutter Island, the eponymous setting of Dennis Lehane’s fascinating 2003 psychological suspense novel.

Daniels is accompanied by a new partner, Chuck Aule. Their official mission on the remote Boston Harbor outpost, home to Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, is to investigate the disappearance of an escaped patient. Despite his apparent loyalty to his senior partner, Aule’s ulterior goals aren’t entirely clear to the grizzled Daniels, a war veteran and experienced killer.

And while we gradually learn more and more about why Daniels’ eye has been trained on Ashecliffe long before the murderous patient absconded, his purpose on the island also remains mysterious to the reader — and ultimately, perhaps, even to Daniels himself.

My last true weekday post of 2012 was this review of Lehane’s The Given Day, a sprawling 2008 historical novel about one family and two men — one a scion, the other a servant — set in the aftermath of World War I. (The bulk of the book took place in Boston, which seems to be Lehane’s home turf.) Shutter Island is entirely a different beast, however. At 369 pages, it’s much shorter than The Given Day.

The 2003 book is also much more tightly focused in time and scope. Aside from flashbacks, virtually all of Shutter Island takes place on or very close to the watery outpost, whereas The Given Day had scenes set in Ohio, Kansas, Washington, D.C., and New York. Shutter Island’s main action, again excepting flashbacks, spans four days, not several months, and its cast of characters is significantly smaller than The Given Day’s.

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One Wondrous Sentence: The expanded meaning of the Second Amendment

January 17, 2013

This one wondrous sentence shows just how far out of the mainstream the proposition that the Constitution guarantees private citizens the right to bear arms was once considered.

The NRA’s fabricated but escalating view of the Second Amendment was ridiculed by former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger — a conservative appointed by President Richard Nixon — in a PBS Newshour interview in 1991, where he called it “one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Source: Steven Rosenfeld, “The Suprising Unknown History of the NRA,” Alternet, Jan. 13, 2013. (Quote appears on the second of three pages.)

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