Monday, June 30, 2014

Adam Bellow Looks at New Conservative Counter-Culture

Adam Bellow has published a major article in the July 7 issue of the Nation Review titled "Let Your Right Brain Run Free." It surveys the cultural landscape and seeks indications of a conservative counter-culture against suffocating and puritanical left-wing cultural dominance. He writes,

How do we fight back against this liberal establishment with its politically correct regime of thought control? There is only one way that I know of and that is by turning their weapons against them and channeling the spirit of the Sixties counterculture. 
The original counterculture — that is, before it was hijacked and turned into a vehicle for progressive politics — was actually libertarian in spirit, and what made it work was its antic humor and its willingness to flout the sacred cows of the conservative establishment. From Mad magazine to George Carlin, no traditional object of piety went unscathed. Nothing like that has been seen in this country for decades, precisely because the culture is now dominated by sanctimonious liberals who have lost the capacity to laugh at themselves . . .  
The new conservative counterculture is a rebellion from below and from without. Fueled by the rise of digital self-publishing technologies, it is a simultaneous revolt against the hierarchical control of mass media and the ideological narrowing of acceptable discourse.
Bellow is the editorial director of Broadside Books at HarperCollins and the publisher and CEO of Liberty Island Media.

Clyde Wadsworth Considers Yee Olde Family Coat of Arms

Clyde Wadsworth provided an up-to-date perspective public radio station KQED on the matter of British coats-of-arms in the era of same-sex marriage. In a piece titled "A New Old Tradition," on June 25, Wadsworth said,

"Aquila non captat muscas." That's the Latin motto for the once medieval, very English Wadsworth clan that counts me as a modern family member. The motto anchors my ancestors' coat of arms; a blood red battle shield, marked with gold symbols representing the family's proud heritage. The Latin translates literally to "the eagle doesn't catch flies," which in everyday English basically means "big shots don't sweat the small stuff."  It's not the most dignified motto, but, hey, no one asked for my perspective 500 years ago. 

Imagine, then, my glee in learning that the British College of Arms, which has set the rules for heraldry since 1484, recently updated its laws to allow married same-sex couples to create their own coat of arms by combining both partners' family symbols into a single shield and motto. Who says tradition can't catch up with the modern family? And, finally, a good reason to marry my partner of 21 years - a new and improved family motto. 

His Scottish ancestors had their own noble mission statement: "Honor is acquired by virtue." It's hard to argue with that. Even if joining our families might take some work, mixing our mottos with those building blocks would be fuss free. 

I set my mind on eagles, flies and honor, and a simple, timeless truth floated from my lips: "The eagle flies with honor." I thought again. Sure, it's dignified, but maybe a little last century . . . and maybe better as a frequent flier ad. 

Our non-traditional family needs a motto with a progressive edge. And then it hit me: "Gay eagles fly with honor." Now that's moving truth forward. And on the shield, two eagles in flight, wing tips touching,  in a kind of Michael-Sam-and-his-boyfriend moment.

Sure, we may get some disapproving tweets. And Donald Trump may criticize our touching eagles as "pretty out there." But that's okay. Gay eagles don't sweat the small stuff. Oh, wait...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Anne-Marie Slaughter on Iraq and Syria

Former State Department director of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter published an op-ed piece in the New York Times yesterday. Titled "Don't Fight in Iraq and Ignore Syria," Slaughter wrote, 

What course of action will be best, in the short and the long term, for the Iraqi and Syrian people? What course of action will be most likely to stop the violence and misery they experience on a daily basis? What course of action will give them the best chance of peace, prosperity and a decent government?
The answer to those questions may well involve the use of force on a limited but immediate basis, in both countries. Enough force to remind all parties that we can, from the air, see and retaliate against not only Al Qaeda members, whom our drones track for months, but also any individuals guilty of mass atrocities and crimes against humanity. Enough force to compel governments and rebels alike to the negotiating table. And enough force to create a breathing space in which decent leaders can begin to consolidate power.

Slaughter is currently the President and CEO of the New America Foundation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dr. Jeffrey Levenson Volunteers to Fight Blindness

Dr. Jeffrey Levenson of Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the most enthusiastic eye doctors to volunteer with SEE International, an organization dedicated to eradicating preventable blindness worldwide, according to a recent release from SEE.
Dr. Jeffrey Levenson
Dr. Jeffrey Levenson
His commitment to the California-based nonprofit’s goal stems from personal experience, and a sense of perspective that can only be gained from partially losing one’s eye sight, and then having it restored.
In 2009, at age 51, Dr. Levenson was diagnosed with cataracts in both of his eyes. Over the course of six months, he found simple tasks such as reading, driving or even discerning objects through bright sunlight difficult.
The irony was not lost on him. Dr. Levenson is an ophthalmologist and specializes in performing cataract surgeries. He estimates that in his 30 years of practice, he has performed close to 20,000 surgeries. . . . 
As is the case with more than 98 percent of cataract surgeries, Dr. Levenson’s was successful. What surprised him, however, was how strongly having his eyesight totally restored would affect him.
“My cataract patients had always told me after they removed their eye patches how the world looked brighter, colors looked truer, how much more beautiful everything looked,” he said. “Now I really knew what they meant.”