Archive for September 4, 2009

Off to France

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment


No, not us. Not yet. Joel. He’s in France at long last. I won’t say much about his doings there, since it’s his business to tell, not mine, and I already said too much about his visit to the French consulate in Boston two weeks ago. But he’s had quite a few weeks.

The second week of August, Joel finished his summer courses. The third week of August, with Gail’s help, he had his French consulate visit, sold or gave away or shipped all his belongings, closed up the apartment, and flew home. Last week he got ready for his semester in France. And finally, last weekend, he made the journey.

Saturday night he flew from Seattle to Boston via JFK, arriving in Boston Sunday morning. Sunday night he was off again, arriving in London Monday morning and in Paris a few hours later. He had 72 hours in Paris as part of his school group’s initial orientation, with visits to Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, and so on. And with enough free time that he had dinner with my sister and brother-in-law one evening. He spoke to me late Tuesday evening from my sister’s apartment, after having steak tartare and foie gras for dinner. And yesterday afternoon he arrived in Grenoble, his home for the next 3 1/2 months. Through the wonders of Skype, we had a video chat with him earlier today. After all these transitions, school starts next week and he can finally settle in.

We’ve never been to Grenoble. We anticipate passing through in maybe 7 weeks or so. I might not have known of Grenoble before 1968, but I sure got to know it then, during the Winter Olympics. Is there a more famous Winter Olympic accomplishment than Jean-Claude Killy’s winning all three alpine gold medals on home turf? (Well, maybe Franz Klammer’s 1976 downhill victory at Innsbruck is even greater, given his dramatic run down the hill, but that lay in the future.) And who didn’t fall in love with Peggy Fleming (gold medalist in women’s figure skating)? She was only 19, and beautiful. I’m eager to visit, even if I’m too late to see Killy and Fleming. And even if Joel’s too busy. We’ll find lots to do.

Categories: Family, Sports, Travel

Look Forwards

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment


Tom Tomorrow’s latest cartoon at Salon (above) pretty much says it all. You know, maybe there’s an argument to be made that government-sanctioned torture is justifiable under some circumstances. And maybe there’s an argument to be made that such torture has been used to good effect by the US military and the CIA. We certainly find ourselves reading and listening to these arguments all the time, along with claims that what I’m calling torture is really something else — enhanced interrogation or whatever. But what about the people who have died at our hands, many of them completely innocent? How is that justified? And if it isn’t, and if we can’t know which people really are the terrorists, and if we can’t know which of them have information that we could have obtained only through torture, and if historically torture has served as a means to force confessions rather than to get to the truth, well, what are we doing? Why must we look forwards only? Why can’t we investigate everyone, up to the top, so we can find out what our lawless leaders allowed/ordered? How else can we move on?

(HT: I saw the Tom Tomorrow cartoon first in Glenn Greenwald’s post yesterday on the issue of Department of Justice investigations.)

Categories: Politics, Torture

The Republican Vision

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment
Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden

The daily sports article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, titled “Why Your Coach Votes Republican” focused on the conservative nature of many NFL and major college football coaches. I’ve been happily ignoring the approach of football season, and ignoring all the more these overpaid preeners, but no more. The college season is upon us, with controversy created already in Boise State’s victory over Oregon. Here in Seattle — I’ll be in New York by then — my own team hosts LSU tomorrow night.

But back to the WSJ, from which we learn that “[s]ome coaches display their largely conservative instincts in non-financial ways. Jack Del Rio of the NFL’s Jaguars led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance at a Sarah Palin rally in Jacksonville last fall. Longtime Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs addressed last summer’s Republican National Convention. Lou Holtz fired up congressional Republicans with a pep talk in 2007 and recently flirted with running for Congress in Florida. Ralph Friedgen, the portly University of Maryland coach, good-naturedly called one of his Canadian players a socialist last fall.”

Let’s dig a little deeper.

[C]ould it be that football coaches, just by the nature of the job, are more comfortable on the right end of the political spectrum?

“I’d say that sounds likely—very likely,” said Bobby Bowden, the longtime Florida State coach and an outspoken Republican.

Mr. Bowden, a 79-year-old native Alabaman, describes himself as a lifelong conservative who—like many white Southerners of his generation—migrated from the Democratic Party to the GOP a few decades ago. There is, he says, a natural connection between his political and coaching philosophies.

“In coaching, you’ve got to have more discipline and you’ve got to be more strict and just conservative, I think. It fits with the Republicans,” he said.

Mr. Holtz, who coached Notre Dame to its last national championship in 1988, draws a parallel between the standards and rules that most coaches set for their players and the Republican vision of how American society ought to operate.

“You aren’t entitled to anything. You don’t inherit anything. You get what you earn—your position on the team,” Mr. Holtz said. “You’re treated like everybody else. You’re held accountable for your actions. You understand that your decisions affect other people on that team…There’s winners, there’s losers, and there’s competitiveness.”

So let’s see. Republicanism correlates with the belief that people should be treated equally — competing on a level playing field and having to earn what they get rather than inheriting it.


Perhaps it is worth observing that Bobby Bowden’s son Tommy was head coach at Clemson for a decade, before being fired last October. Here in Seattle, the coach of our NFL Seahawks is Jim Mora, son of another NFL coach, also named Jim Mora (and famous for his “Playoffs?” rant).

And while we’re at it, let’s not under-estimate the role inheritance has played in political success in this country, whatever the party. On the Republican side, need one say more than “Bush”? In what universe would George W. Bush have become president without his father leading the way. For that matter, the same statement applies to George H.W. Bush.

As usual when it comes to just about any issue in politics, Glenn Greenwald says what needs saying better than I ever could. Last Sunday, he wrote about American royalty in response to the news that Jenna Bush Hager had been hired to be a correspondent on NBC’s Today Show.

They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it’s really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There’s a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters.


Categories: Culture, Politics, Sports

Off to Nantucket

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment


We’re off first thing tomorrow morning for New York, and then Nantucket. I’ve started two posts in recent days and have a few more in mind, but they have taken a back seat the last couple of days to getting some things done around the house before we leave. Maybe I’ll get to them in the next few hours.

When I started this blog last September, in the wake of our last trip to Nantucket, that trip served as one of my first blog topics. I wrote that “each time we go, we become further convinced that there’s no place else we would rather be.” I keep wondering if this feeling will wear off, so this coming week will be a test. The previous three years, we spent Labor Day weekend in Boston, helping Joel move into one apartment or another, then flew down to Nantucket on Labor Day, ready for some relaxation after an invariably hectic and anxious weekend. This year, our annual Joel-moving-related anxiety has already been dealt with (see one of the upcoming posts), and since he’s in France rather than Boston, we’re not even in proximity to Nantucket. So in contrast to previous years, we are going out of our way to get there. Plus, for the first time, we may be in for some bad weather. Now we’ll find out how badly we want to keep this tradition going.

I’m guessing we’re going to love it. I’ll keep you informed. Meanwhile, we’ll be at the Wauwinet, pictured above, in the room that occupies the central dormer on the third floor. Whatever the weather, we’ll start each day with fabulous breakfasts at Topper’s, in the Wauwinet, and end it with dinners at some great restaurants.

Categories: Travel