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Film review: Danton outgrosses Robespierre

Preface: As I've said, oldie writing will be dusted off and plunked blogside (at least at first; new stuff should gradually overtake i...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Footnote to Shempnatieff

Wondering what all the Shemp/Ignatieff stuff below was about?

Check this:


Et merci beaucoup a Vampirella de Calgarie pour le photo-recherche!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A cabbie editing Shakespeare?? Huh???

My projected edition of the Bard's Troilus and Cressida will have a four-part intro:

1. Circumscription. Six pages of quotations, mostly from the scholarly poohbahs, about Shakespeare's elusive religion and politics, and about this "problem play."

2. Preface. The wacky story of how I more or less blundered my way into solving the problem (for full Preface, see below).

3. Prologue I. "Shakespeare's Repentance: What to Recognize When Rethinking a 'Conservative Authoritarian.'" All about Shakespeare's allusive coding in an earlier work (the cute part is that Shakespeare never wrote anything called Repentance, overtly anyway *hee hee*). Ideally this portion will be first presented as a public lecture at my alma mater, the University of Alberta, so profs and I can go at it with hammer and tongs!

4. Prologue II. "Troilus and Cressida as Mega-Parable." How Shakespeare continued his coding pattern into a cleverly concealed satire -- at a time when satire was illegal...


(To come...)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Facebook asks, what are you doing?

I'm channeling Mackenzie King -- Waxing poetic if necessary, but not necessarily waning prosaic.

Any resemblance to the weaselly verbiage flying around Canada's Parliament these days is purely echoic.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Last laugh at Parliament...

Again, me mouthing off, from Post's "Full Comment" (where the excitable are getting really, REALLY excited about the mud-wrestling in Ottawa...). I start with a quote, like all the best pontifical pundits:

"... my view of my country is predominantly tolerant and amiable. I do not believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing to admit that it provides the only really amusing form of government ever endured by mankind."

-- Not written by a wit from Canada (although Mordecai Richler loved him), and the statement is 60 years old, but it still comprises a perfect comment upon the current, farcical power-struggle.. Regardless of political stripe, I think everyone should be laughing heartily at the clownarama...

# # # #

And I still think Ignatieff is perfect in the role of Shemp.

Holocaust, Irgun, hot reactions...

Slice of blogosphere, from the National Post's "Full Comment" site:
(and I hope everyone can guess who "Gaard4thee" is...)

Larry Zolf: Izzy Asper and the Irgun
Posted: December 02, 2008, 5:53 PM by Marni Soupcoff

In his biography of Izzy Asper, Peter C. Newman says that Asper was a fan of the Irgun, the revisionist Jewish terrorists led by Menachem Begin who blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. That makes Izzy a bit of a Jewish radical, says Newman.

This got me thinking. The Post has not said a word about Anna Porter’s latest book: Kastner’s Train, The True Story of Rezso Kastner, Unknkown Hero of the Holocaust. Kastner saved the lives of Hungarian Jews like Peter Munk.The Irgun assassinated Kastner in Palestine. The Irgun says that Kastner dealt with the Nazis and betrayed the Jews.

Anna Porter’s book on the genocide of Hungary’s Jewish communities is the best book on the Holocaust by a Gentile ever written and rivals Prof. Michael Maris’s holocaust work on the subject. Anna Porter is an absolute marvel as an historian of the Nazis and the Jews in Hungary. Her book gives you the smell of death of Adolf Eichmann. Anna Porter insists that Kastner has not been given his due, his just recognition.

Izzy and the Irgun don’t see things that way. Anyone who dealt with the Nazis was a traitor to the Jewish people, says Izzy and says the Irgun and Menachem Begin. Anna Porter presents a great case.

Personally I grew up with the Irgun. Ben Hecht, too of the Irgun, whom Anna Porter dismisses, was my favourite Jewish writer. Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote the classic “Front Page” in 20th century movies. Ben Hecht’s autobiography: A Child of the Century, was the best growing-up-Jewish-in-America book ever written when I was in college.Hecht was a friend of John Barrymore and W.C. Fields. Hecht once said Hollywood was so censorious it removed the word ‘nuts’ for fear it might offend a sensitive masturbator.

Hecht and the Irgun hated the British treatment of the death camp survivors. So did I. In my bar mitzvah speech I said the Labour party’s Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin were Nazis and Harold Laski a Jewish self-hater.

He was Hollywood to me. In Canada all we had were Wayne and Shuster and Bert Pearl. In the U.S. NBC, CBS, and ABC were Jewish owned and Jewish staffed. In Canada at the CBC, I and Jason Moscowitz were the two token Jewish reporters at CBC News.

I was pro-Irgun in the Asper sense but I didn’t hate the British. I married one.

Anna Porter is too hard on Hecht and Begin but she’s dead on in saying that Hecht’s book, Perfidy, on Kastner is very, very much over the top. Porter knows her Israeli and Jewish politics well. Anna Porter prefers Golda Meir and Itzak Rabin to Begin and Asper. So do I for the most part.

Still, Izzy Asper had his reasons to not like Golda Meir and Itzak Rabin. They were too socialist for Izzy. That’s too bad. Today Izzy would have been the perfect reviewer for the National Post of the Anna Porter book. -->

var addthis_pub = 'nationalpost';

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by Tim Cares
Dec 02 20086:50 PM

Israel elects terrorists as their PMs but the Palestinians can't.
I guess it's a case of do as I say...

by Jackal1234
Dec 02 20086:59 PM

wow tim ... you're a helluva lefty mouthpiece apologist.
yasser arafat was the biggest terrorist of them all and was the leader of the PLO for how long 30 years?
you are a symbol of what is wrong with our country today.

by Gaard4thee
Dec 02 200810:55 PM

So, re the "goyish but good" books, was Harold Flender's Rescue in Denmark on the short-list? Or was it disqualified because technically the Holocaust didn't happen in Denmark?

But seriously, interesting review of an interesting book, especially for those of us who agonize about all the damn walls between "us" and "them".

I think H. L. Mencken would have been a better reviewer than Izzy, though. His 1938 newspaper column "Help for the Jews" showed he was one of the very few who understood Kristallnacht for what it was, and instantly understood that German-Jewish emigration, fast, was the only solution. Oddly enough he is now labelled an "anti-semite" by just about everyone...

Intellectual life in the West, I tell ya...

More on racism...

Orwell said that racism generally elicits emotional over-reactions, whereas it was a subject that really needs cool and rational study.

Amen. And here is a rare person who gives it just that:


Nyuk, nyuk, Mr. Dion (footnote to previous)

A few hours after hatching the "slapstick deficit" post, I pick up the Edmonton Sun, and there is columnist Greg Weston, stealing my Three Stooges metaphor for the three coalition leaders! Well, it's a natural parallel, and I imagine there will be six or seven smartass journalists using it today.

But, weird confession time: I actually rather like Stephane Dion. Strictly as a human he seems by far the best of the national party leaders. Alas, he is also a professor (whose Ivory-Tower Syndrome [ITS] might have been cured by a decade or two driving a taxi, as I did), and stuck in the dirty, conniving business of politics. Ergo, the coalition, and quite possibly Dion suffering the curse of getting what he wished for.

As Jonathan Kay points out in today's National Post (prophetically perhaps), it is virtually certain that Dion becoming PM and attempting to manage the gargantuan financial crisis (i.e. the unmanageable) will destroy the last shred of his credibility and perhaps the Liberal Party as well. Not to mention turning a bad economic situation into a worse one.

Kay also thinks, as I do, that Harper can only gain from relinquishing power, although his reasons are a bit more elaborate than mine. Alas, Harper, like Dion, is all too preoccupied with clutching the mace of power, whatever the costs.

Laugh or cry.

As for "managing" the crisis, the balloon of bad credit in the system cannot be wished away, legislated away, or transformed into pudding by contractual alchemy. It must work its way through the economy, slamming all of us more or less, regardless of any incantation by the political shamans. The only difference between a "managed" solution and a "free-market" solution is that a supposedly "managed" solution will enrich a few of the shamans and sub-shamans in the process.

For myself, I prefer the free-market solution, if only because it guarantees a higher rate of golden-parachute failure among the wheeler-dealers, a real pleasure to my blue-collar sensibilities.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Coalition attacks the slapstick deficit

If Stephen Harper had a sense of humor (okay, we're talking science fiction here) he would be making every effort to grease the newly-formed federal coalition of Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois into the seat of power.

I mean, imagine the three parties trying to draft policy when all they share is a vague but intense dislike of things conservative! And the economy is tanking! And the coalition needs EVERY member to keep Harper's near-majority at bay -- thus empowering all 54 nano-rumps in the tenuous coalition, emboldening each to get their doctrinal shorts in a knot: "Meet our demands! -- or three or four MPs will cross the floor and it's all over!"

As to concrete measures --bailouts? Uh...

By what criteria? Um...

Maybe just issue shovels to all Treasury employees? Ah.. er...

No, Harper should just saddle up his best gelding from the speechwriter-barn and tell his kept intellectual to compose a good Churchillian resignation speech full of rhetorical fire:

"All right you socialists and ragtag leftists! All right, Mr. Dion and the Detachables! Put together your little supergroup and see if you can do any better than we did. Let's see if you can do anything at all!"

You don't need a stock-market lurch to tell you that the result would be an endless parade of program pratfalls, a sort of ideological Three Stooges farce with Ignatieff playing Shemp. (Note how Iggy's initial opposition to the coalition collapsed faster than his initial indifference to the Lebanon war).

Within three weeks Canadians would be gasping with laughter and begging Stephen Harper to bring back his tight-lipped sourpuss and save us all from respiratory failure.