Sarah Palin News & A Happy 4th!

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declaration july 4th.jpgI woke up in Rome, Italy this morning — the 4th of July — to the very surprising news that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was resigning her position at the end of the month.
I don’t know whether this is a July 4th gift — or a warning of a nationally divisive presidential run. But the news is big and the date she has chosen for the announcement — the initial punctuation point for America’s democracy — seems strangely appropriate.
For those who have been offering me great travel advice on my Italy excursion, many thanks. I have spent a few outstanding days in Rome — though I never got to see the one time home of Augustus Caesar, one of my goals for the trip. Got close though — and then watched the BBC video.
I want to offer a pre-introduction of Hugo Dobson, a friend from the UK I ran into in Rome who will be here next week covering the G-8 Summit. He will be issuing dispatches for The Washington Note from the G-8, so give him a warm welcome.
Today, I’m driving north up to a magnificent Umbrian estate outside Perugia with Helene Cooper of the New York Times, Elise Labott of CNN, and others on this trip. Cooper let the world in on what we were doing a couple of weeks ago in this piece by her in the Times‘ travel pages. I’ve not done anything like this before with a largish group and am looking forward to the break.
Tomorrow, in case any readers are in Spoleto, I may be up at this interesting tribute to Jerome Robbins thanks to one of his long time friends I met on the plane over here.
More soon — and again, Happy July 4th!
— Steve Clemons

Comments

27 comments on “Sarah Palin News & A Happy 4th!

  1. David says:

    Yeah, a Walt Whitman and a Matthew Brady, and a media which presented them to the general public, would have offered invaluable contributions to the general public awareness of the realities. But we were neither allowed to see, unfiltered, the realities, or to think about the Iraq War in ways Whitman compels one to think about the Civil War. Imbedded journalists and no pictures of the returning dead, and certainly no pictures of the devastation being visited on Iraq, the massive dislocation, you name it.
    America learned a couple of things from the Viet Nam War, but nothing of what really needed to be learned. What was it GHWB said after the first Gulf War? Something about kicking the Viet Nam syndrome. No, the actual Viet Nam syndrome of US military aggression keeps rearing its deadly head. What he called the syndrome in pejorative terms was the momentary possibility of America getting its militaristic head out of a very dark place.
    I like your phrasing – just let it wash over me.

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  2. ... says:

    wigwag – thanks for the july 4th wishes, but i am a canuck! to you too regardless… i like your comments here and in this last post 10:38pm with concern for the american soldiers… a better solution would be to stop the madness towards war.. it would solve the american soldier and a lot of other problems directly related to war.. think about it… instead of preaching for a military solution, think of preaching one where the use of force or military arms isn’t the solution ever…

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  3. WigWag says:

    “I imagine Donald Rumsfeld is quite cultured and culturally educated.”
    I’m not so sure about that, David. His press conferences during the initial stages of the Iraq War were well received by the press, but to me he sounded like a moron of the first order.
    I do appreciate your advice about “The Waste Land.” I think you’re right; going back and forth to read all the footnotes that explain the references did nothing but confuse me. Next time I read it, I will just let the whole thing wash over me.
    Whitman chronicled the horror of the injured Union soldiers he saw in the army field hospital that he volunteered in after heading to Washington D.C. to find his brother who had been injured in the war. His brother (whom he lived with at the end of his life) was fine but Whitman was tremendously effected by the nature and extent of the other injuries that he saw. These injured soldiers inspired much of his later poetry.
    After reading about so many maimed American soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan only to come back to a system of VA Hospitals that had been decimated by Bush, I frequently thought it was too bad we didn’t have a modern day Whitman to call attention to the terrible fiasco.

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  4. Paul Norheim says:

    Yeah, Questions,
    imagine: you`ll probably get all the philosophers from Plato to
    Derrida on your kindle – most of them for free in older English
    translations – and then you can question the statements of
    bloggers at TWN afterwords with a new arsenal of arguments 🙂

    Reply

  5. David says:

    WigWag,
    “Leaves of Grass” really is a delight to lose oneself in. I think part of the appropriateness of your reaction to “The Wasteland” is that it is about the utter failure, in very important ways, of the western tradition, as demonstrated most horrifying by world war, and so in at least one sense it shouldn’t make for a sensible, coherent whole.
    One way I approached reading “The Wasteland” was to not worry about all the references with which I was unfamiliar and just let a poem rich in the western cultural tradition work its sense of utter profundity/absurdity.
    Had I the talent, I would weave the horror and absurdity of the invasion of Iraq with the history of the cradle of western civilization over which our tanks rolled, both figuratively and literally. Of course Rumsfeld offered the essential absurdity as the Iraqi National Museum was being looted and he offered his boorish quips.
    And the absurdity continues with blatherings about whether or not we will win the Iraq War and utterly absurdist claims that Iraqis are better off, ignoring the deaths, the huge number of dispossessed and displaced, and the infrastructure destruction and environmental toxification, not to mention the geostrategic blunder of the first order, which is actually last in importance, since it is their country, not ours, and we had no right to invade them, topple their government, and wreck their infrastructure and governmental institutions.
    I imagine Donald Rumsfeld is quite cultured and culturally educated.

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  6. questions says:

    I saw a Kindle recently and started thinking….
    Reading is a year round effort, but there’s a whole lot more freedom over the summer and there’s no guilt at planning to read some huge volume of something (Adam Smith or the Faerie Queene or some Plato dialogue I should have read two decades ago–I still have some to get through including The Laws) and failing completely. No guilt, no shame, a new book case! Ahh!
    Whitman is glorious! Maybe I’ll pick it up and put down Hardin — who is interesting, but not GLORIOUS!
    Summer really is amazing!

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  7. WigWag says:

    Questions, the internet connection from Sprint is free; you pay absolutely nothing for it (no monthly charge, no annual charge, no nothing). It’s hard wired into the device. You can download books and you can do very limited internet searches. The searches allow you to download books, search a few dictionaries and search wikipedia and that’s about it. But to Amazon’s credit, they hardwire in the capability to download books not only from them but also from the sites that provide out of copyright books for free.
    The kindle does have a QWERTY keyboard; you cannot download videos but you can download MP3 files so you can listen to music while you read. Amazon has an arrangement with audible.com so you can download audio books to the kindle. The kindle also has a feature that will “read” printed books aloud in either a male or female voice. I’ve used this feature rom time to time when my eyes got tired. The voice is pretty mechanical but it is tolerable.
    There are far more books unavailable than available. Amazon has about 100 thousand titles available for sale which may sound like alot but isn’t. Most of the classics are available for free download from the sites I mentioned, but if you’re looking for a book still in copyright, it’s pretty hit or miss if it will be available. Of course, Amazon is adding new books all the time. The best thing to do is to go to the Amazon site; then go to the section that says “shop in the kindle store” and see if what you want is available.
    To give you an example, I was interested in reading a book about Pakistan by Steve Clemon’s New America Foundation colleague, Nicholas Schmidle. The book (which is great by the way) is called “To Live or To Perish Forever.” Unfortunately the publisher refused to release it for the kindle so I had to buy the actual book in hardcover.
    The kindle costs $360; I got mine as a gift, but knowing what I know now, I’d buy one if I didn’t already own it.
    The summer is the best time to read, isn’t it?

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  8. brigid says:

    Ciao, Stefano,
    Che bellezza! Una vacanza nella campagna di Umbria. Spero che ti trovi fra i buoni amici, la bella cucina, e la conversazione interessante. Buon appetito e buon divertimento!

    Reply

  9. questions says:

    Ok, Kindle questions — do you pay for the Sprint connection the way you do for smart phones? And can you do internet surfing? And is there a QWERTY keyboard to allow for easy internet access? Or is it set up only for book downloads? If there’s reasonable internet access, does it have software to deal with videos? Have you ever wanted a book that isn’t available? I sort of wonder if something like Russell Hardin would be — I’m working on One for All which is a rational choice reading of ethnic conflict. Interesting stuff.
    All this lit talk makes me wish I had made a different deal with myself for summer reading!

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  10. WigWag says:

    Whitman in Norwegian; that sounds interesting!
    It’s a little hard for me to believe that Whitman would translate well into any language; the poetry is quite musical and I wonder whether it’s possible to capture both the meaning and the “music” at the same time.
    I confess to being somewhat obsessed with Whitman. I’ve even visited in grave site in Camden, NJ which is an old, poverty stricken and somewhat dangerous part of New Jersey across the river from Philadelphia. Every year on the anniversary of his death (he died March 26, 1892) aficionados from all over the world gather at his grave and recite passages from “Leaves of Grass.”
    He wrote 7 editions of “Leaves” editing all along the way. The first edition was published in 1855 and the last edition, called the “death bed” edition was published in 1891. Interestingly most experts think the revisions make the poetry weaker not stronger. I’m no expert, but I agree; the earlier editions are the best (the 1860 edition is my favorite). As he got older, Whitman became more interested in being accepted as the “poet of America.” To accomplish this he made each edition progressively less erotic and progressively less vivid. If you are interested in the poems he wrote about Abraham Lincoln or about his experiences working in a field hospital during the American Civil War, then you do need to read one of the later editions. Probably my favorite poem from “Leaves of Grass” is “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.”
    Every edition is available for free at the Walt Whitman archive (www.whitmanarchive.org); I’d put in the actual link, but I don’t know how. The archive is a great site for all things Whitman; you should check it out.
    Getting back to the translation, my guess is that if Shakespeare translates well from English to Norwegian, Whitman will to. If Shakespeare doesn’t translate well, Whitman won’t either.
    Interestingly Whitman was Pablo Neruda’s favorite poet. Neruda’s style is somewhat reminiscent of Whitman. If you like Neruda in Norwegian, you’ll probably like Whitman in Norwegian.
    I wish someone would pay me $300 for reading and then writing a report on the book. It’s hard for me to imagine a better job than that.

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  11. WigWag says:

    Paul, I’m in love with my kindle. It is truly a fantastic device. Not only can I download books from Amazon.com at a more reasonable price than hard cover or even soft cover books (Amazon makes the kindle), if the book is out of copyright there are several sites which allow you to download books for free (check out manybooks.net).
    Of course, if you are buying a book written in a language other than your own, while the book itself may be out of copyright, the specific translation you want may not be.
    The English version of “Remembrance of Things Past” is 7 volumes which I downloaded for free from Project Guttenberg (a project to take every single out of copyright book ever written and make them available for free on the internet).
    The great thing about the kindle is that to download books you don’t even need to hook it up to your computer. The downloads are done wirelessly through a system Amazon has set up with a U.S. telecommunications provider called “Sprint.” I downloaded all 7 volumes in less than 90 seconds.
    I now have over 100 books on my kindle which I estimate to be about 40 thousand pages. I can take all these books with me wherever I go because the screen is made to be read even in bright sunlight. I took it with me today to the beach in Ft. Lauderdale. It was a bright, sunny day and I had no trouble reading the screen at all.
    The amazing thing is that the device weighs only 10 ounces. I don’t know what that is in the metric system, but to give you an idea, one pound equals 16 ounces.
    I’m an old timer so when my granddaughter bought it for me, I was skeptical that I could give up actual books.
    But after a few hours of trying it, I was hooked!
    Hopefully they will come to Norway soon.
    All the best,
    WigWag

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    Not of any importance, WigWag, but since you mentioned
    Whitman above, I actually brought a Norwegian translation of
    the collected works of Whitman in my luggage when I traveled
    to Ethiopia last february. It was translated by a poet I knew
    more than twenty years ago, who`s been working on this
    translation on and off for thirty years. Unfortunately, I didn`t
    get to read much of it while I was traveling – but I would like to
    read all of his poems – both in Norwegian and in English. The
    same goes for Wallace Stevens.
    Probably the best freelance jobs I`ve ever had, WigWag. was to
    write the text on the cover of a series of world classics for a
    book club. I “was forced to” to read some of the best works of
    Cervantes, Ibsen, Faulkner, Dickens, Celan, Marques, Diderot,
    Dostojevskij, Gogol, Tolstoy, Euripedes, Conrad, and on and on,
    and write some biographical info as well as something about
    the actual book – the equivalence of one A4 page. Reading the
    books took a week or a day, depending on the book. Writing the
    text usually took me a couple of hours. And for each book, they
    payed me something like 300 dollars – 300 dollars for reading
    Nostromo! Unfortunately, they got financial problems after three
    or four years, and had to ask someone inside the book club to
    write the cover text.

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  13. Paul Norheim says:

    I promise, WigWag: much easier – but not like Mark Twain…
    Good luck with the “Proust adventure”!
    I am fascinated by the fact that you`re reading it on a Kindle.
    The Norwegian translation consists of 12 separate volumes – each
    of them the length of a novel.
    And BTW: I don´t feel as bad recommending Four Quartets as
    recommending Remembrance… Reading one of the Quartets is
    easily done in 10 minutes.
    At least I am not guilty of recommending Finnegan`s Wake, or
    Pound`s Cantos… (well, there are some fine lines there as well,
    but…)

    Reply

  14. WigWag says:

    “Four Quartets,” okay, on your suggestion I’ll try it as long as you promise me its easier to follow than “The Waste Land.” Im told that “The Waste Land” is based on the myth of the fisher king but I couldn’t make heads nor tails of it.
    It may take me a while to get started on the “Four Quartets,” though Paul. Based on your recommendation I started my Proust adventure last week. So as you know, I have my work cut out for me!

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  15. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    re. Eliot: you may try the “Four Quartets”, if you haven`t read
    them.

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  16. WigWag says:

    “Add in HUCKLEBERRY FINN and a nod to “Billy Budd” and you’re on to something, WigWag. I would also add a nod to TS Eliot’s “The Wasteland…”
    All I can say David, is that I’ve read “The Wasteland” a couple of times. I’m not too proud to admit that I didn’t understand a word.

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  17. A S Nevit says:

    I hope at some point, you watch the Palin resignation speech. I would be interested to hear your impression, as someone who will be seeing it for the first time, but already knows the substance.
    What has surprised me in all the chatter about her speech is that no one is mentioning the one thing that really sets this speech apart from her other: a palpably raw sense of fear.
    This was no calculated move.

    Reply

  18. Paul Norheim says:

    Here is how Joe Biden celebrated the day – in Iraq:
    “He presided at a naturalization ceremony at one of Hussein’s
    former palaces, where 237 U.S. service members were sworn in
    to become American citizens.
    “We did it in Saddam’s palace and I can think of nothing better.
    That S.O.B. is rolling over in his grave right now,” Biden said of
    the former Iraqi dictator (…).
    “As corny as it sounds, damn I’m proud to be an American,” he
    said. “Thanks for choosing us. You are the reason why America
    is strong.”
    Thanking the troops for their military service, Biden said “you
    are the source of our freedom, you and all who came before
    you.”
    “What a sight you are today. What a powerful symbol for the rest
    of the world you are,” he said.”
    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/07/04/iraq.biden/i
    ndex.html
    Embarrassing, if you ask me.

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  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    How can one reflect upon the meaning of the Fourth, without the vision of the Founding Fathers coming to mind?
    I imagine, were they witnessing the bimbo natterings of this pathetic clown Palin, they rolled over in their graves in perfect unison, to a man. The inane reality of this woman actually being touted as Presidential material is a telling illustration of the state of the union. But so too is the ascension of Barak Obama, a media creation, a low level politician catapulted to the Oval Office by slick catch phrases and media driven marketing.
    Worse, I imagine, would be the Father’s reaction to a President that ignores an act of piracy and kidnapping, that has resulted in a former United States Congresswoman spending this national holiday in a fascist gulag, being asked to sign papers written in a language she cannot even read.
    This Fourth of July rings hollow for me, a reminder of what we could have been, but have not been for a very long time now. Nary a day goes by that Obama does not underscore how far we have strayed from our foundational tenets, not by his promised intent to return us to our roots, but by his continued flight from those roots. The Fourth of July is no longer a holiday we deserve, nor have earned the right to celebrate.

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  20. David says:

    Add in HUCKLEBERRY FINN and a nod to “Billy Budd” and you’re on to something, WigWag. I would also add a nod to TS Eliot’s “The Wasteland” and the opening lines of “The Hollow Men”:
    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw.
    “We can’t afford to take major action against global warming, etc., etc.” Eventually reality will set fire to the straw.

    Reply

  21. ToddinHB says:

    I really enjoy your blog, Steve. Best wishes on this Independence Day, and thanks for helping to engage us here in the diaspora.
    I frequent many of the free lectures here in Los Angeles, and have encountered a few of your West Coast colleagues, notably Gregory Rodriguez and Joe Matthews.
    Happy Fourth!
    Todd

    Reply

  22. WigWag says:

    Happy July 4th to Steve Clemons and all my fellow Washington Note devotees!
    One hundred and fifty four years ago today, on
    July 4, 1855, Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” was first published in New York City. Whitman revised the magnus opus during his entire adult life and ultimately produced seven different editions (to my mind the 1860 edition is the best).
    It is considered far and away the greatest work of American literature with the possible exception of Moby Dick.
    “Take my leaves, America!
    Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are
    your own offspring;
    Surround them, East and West! for they would
    surround you,
    And you precedents! connect lovingly with them, for they connect lovingly with you.”

    Reply

  23. dirk says:

    OK — I think I’ve figured it out.
    Forthcoming announcement by Mark Sanford that he’s been up in Alaska doing the bump/grind with Sarah Palin!

    Reply

  24. ... says:

    happy holidays steve! this might seem like a going away present like when the clown pops out of the cake, but it’s just palin, lol… enjoy your trip and follow pauls advice if you can!

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  25. Paul Norheim says:

    And Steve, if you are into jazz, one of the greatest festivals in
    Europe, the Umbria Jazz Festival, opens in Perugia on Friday the
    10th of July, and lasts for ten days.
    But given your usually busy schedule, I guess you are back in
    Washington, or somewhere else on the planet when the festival
    starts. But you should really spend one afternoon in the basilica in
    Assisi.

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  26. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve,
    I assume that your hosts will show you the basilica of St. Francis
    in Assisi? There are some unforgettable paintings on the ceilings
    and walls of the church.
    Umbria is beautiful. I spent a week there five years ago, as a
    guest of an Italian/Eritrean couple living not far from Perugia.
    Enjoy your stay!

    Reply

  27. DonS says:

    Well Steve, enjoy! How could you not. All that wonderful food, wine, history, scenery. Good company, too, I presume.
    The speculation mongers are out in force over Palin, and it’s hard to imagine anything good will emerge when it finally does. More likely Palin’s eventual real cause for stepping down will be just another egg on the face of the Republican Party that has so much egg already it could make a Guinness record omelet. And still they will be scolding and demeaning the rest of us as if they were purer than Caesar’s wife, to use and Roman metaphor, and we the ‘dirty f**king hippies’ dragging down the US of A. Such a surreal world we live in.

    Reply

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