Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin

You (if anyone reads this blog) may have noticed that I've been avoiding politics more than I used to. The reason is that I felt that I posted too much before, but, any way that you look at it, it seems necessary to write something about the recent Veep nomination.

To start out, I'll say that I'm glad the Republicans did not pick a Joseph Biden (read Mitt Romney) and there is nothing in the ideology of Sarah Palin that I find objectionable. She appears to like guns, God and oil, and I am a big fan of all of these things myself. She's a woman--I've felt for some time that it was about time that the Republicans ran one. She's from Alaska, so I don't know her position on immigration yet--the only issue where I truck more with the Democrats; she will probably come out against it, but I suppose that doesn't matter too much. She isn't running for president; John McCain is. I also like that she's a union member and that she's a hocky mom.

That being said. I am a little bit concerned about her debate with Joe Biden. She's more lively than he is, but not as knowledgeable and quite honestly, I think that he's going to clean up the floor with her on international policy. However, if she can get in one cheep shot between the eyes, as Mark Shields would say, she can come away victorious. I am not sure what it would be at this point, but Joe Biden will be held to a higher standard and, therefore, has much more to lose.

The second concern is this brewing scandal about her brother-in-law. The media will be scrutinizing that from every angle within a week. This could lead to serious troubles for the message of reform.

But I want to end this post on a positive note. This is not only a day for Alaskans to celebrate, but also for Idahoans to remember, and especially those of us at the University of Idaho: After all, we've never had an alum running for the White House before.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

World History I

If anyone's wondering about the "World History I" thing, I started that blog for my students. Just thought that I should offer some exposition on the subject.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pirates and the Western Tradition

An odd thought came to me just recently: Anglo civilization owes a great deal to piracy. Piracy has been part of our tradition, since the celebration thereof in Beowulf to the first Anglo explorers who visited the New World and sent the Spanish empire into decline with the defeat of their Armada. No wonder we Anglos tend to find pirates so intriguing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Why Alexander Solzhenitsyn Matters

Alexander Solzhenitsyn died yesterday. He was probably the last Great (capital g) writer of our time, meaning that he was the last creative writer of whom I can think who people actually cared about, who actually changed the world, who really thought that art was more than just a means to obtain tenure at Montana's creative-writing workshop and, through this belief, earned a chapter in the history of freedom. This doesn't mean that everything he believed was worthy of emulation; he embraced Vladimir Putin as the restorer of Russia, for instance. This was at best naive and at worst dangerous, but what was important about this outstanding writer was not his present, but rather his past. He was, in many ways, a symbol of it; the last man who would ever proclaim that art could save the world. Ultimately, I don't think that art saved his world, but, in the future, it will always remain something of a consolation.