Day: April 11, 2014

Slowly chipping at democracy

By DON VOWELL We are witnessing the slow but steady suffocation of American democracy. The five Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justices relentlessly shift our economic might toward those with extreme wealth and to giant corporations.  First they decided that corporations are people and now have ruled that money is speech. The Constitution they claim to revere nowhere says a corporation is a person. Michael Walzer in his book Spheres of Justice says it clearly, “Freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly: none of these required money payments; none of these are available at auction; they are simply guaranteed to every citizen… Quick access to large audiences is expensive, but that is another matter, not of freedom itself but of influence and power.”  All of us know this except the Supreme Court majority, accountable to none. This zealous defense of our rights would be admirable if it extended to every American.  This court has limited the speech of demonstrators, whistle-blowers, and students.  This court has even allowed restrictions on the fundamental right to vote, as passed in Republican-led states, who have finally given up claiming they are protecting against the phantom problem of voter fraud—they now claim to seek “uniformity.”  This court is attentive mostly to the rights of the top one percent. This is more than just the appearance of impropriety.  In 2006 about $70 million was spent on mid-term elections...

Read More

Good writing can be long or short

Whether by electronic or traditional means, a lot of Americans still read books.  It caught my fancy recently, since I like to read, when the editors of The American Scholar magazine selected their 10 best sentences, some short, some in the long sentences’ style of the prolific American writer, James Fenimore Cooper.  Here are the seven editors’ choices: “Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man “The private estate was far enough away from the explosion so that its bamboos, pines, and maples were still alive, and the green place invited refugees-partly they believed that if the Americans came back, they would bomb only buildings; partly because the foliage seemed a center of coolness and life, and the estate’s exquisitely precise rock gardens, with their quiet pools and arching...

Read More