Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

August 29, 2009

Farewell to the Great Ellie Greenwich–A True Poet of Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:14 pm

It was one of those life-changing moments you never forget.

I first heard “Be My Baby”, the classic Ellie Greenwich song (sung by the Ronettes, produced by Phil Spector) at a meeting of my extremely romantic high school Latin Club. Yes, I was a Latin Club nerd, we used to meet for fried donuts at the home of Miss Hall–who had known personally several of the ancient Roman poets, it seemed. Seriously she was a wondeful lady and the more I read, the more I pity anyone who hasn’t studied Latin, all the greatness you’re missing.

But anyway after a spellbinding discussion of irregular and intransitive verbs, people would play music and someone put on “Be My Baby” and all at once, as if illuminated by a flash of emotional lightning I understood love and longing. Or anyway the brilliant Brill Building pop version of it which ,along with Smokey Robinson and Motown captured something that is both eternal and heartbreakingly elusive.

But there was something special about “Be My Baby”. (there’s a lovely little film by that title by John Sayles*). It’s still a peak experience and one I think will continue to be rediscovered for generations to come.

What an amazing work! Nod to Phil Spector of course, but still…Ellie G. also wrote “River Deep, Mountain High”, Ike and Tina Turner’s haunting Spector classic. The Shangri Las! Darlene Love! Come on! She was a genius at manipulating music and emotion in a profoundly true way that elevated and ruined the lives of generations. Her work will last as long as love does.

As we’d say in Latin Club: Ave atque, Ellie.

*See comments for correction, Sayles’ film was “Baby it’s You”


August 28, 2009

How Sarah Palin Rope-a-Doped All-Too-Many Liberals

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:58 am

As a liberal myself, I was amazed by the obtuseness of the liberal reaction to Sarah Palin’s “death panels” quote. They fell into a trap because all too many were blinded by their class-conscious, snobbish disdain for Palin, who, whatever else you think of her, is one cagey operator.

And in doing so they allowed that one brilliantly crafted propaganda phrase to undo the chance for some necessary health care reforms (portability of coverage, no disqualification for previous conditions, eligibility to some plan for all, subsidized coverage for the impoverished uninsured).

They couldn’t believe that Sarah Palin was capable of something as canny as that deadly “death panels” phrase. They couldn’t see that it was a metaphoric shorthand for something real. Instead they thought she was too dumb, that she meant it literally (to have seen the potential for rationed end-of-life care in the bill), and instead indulged in an orgy of disdain for her “crazy,” “ignorant” “lies” and malicious misrepresentation.

No! “Death panels” was a Lenny Bruce black-humored kind of line and she proved herself far hipper than the terminally square liberals who didn’t get it. And who started an ill-conceived war on the phrase which most of the country, when the facts came out, saw as meretricious or ignorant on the liberals’ part — with good reason. And caused ordinary citizens to turn against the whole cause of health care — really it should be health insurance — reform.

Liberals should have responded the way my friend Joe Conason (and a few other non-snotty liberals) did, by pointing out that we already have death panels of a sort: the ones manned by the insurance companies who ration and deny coverage for the sake of their profit margins. Would government rationing be better? It might be less greed-motivated, but maybe not. There at least should have been a discussion of the real issue of health care rationing.

August 26, 2009

A Moment in (Teddy Kennedy) History

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:03 am

It was my first reporting assignment right out of college. I’d wangled some second class press credentials for a short-lived Long Island daily (RIP) to cover the now-notorious August, 1968 Democratic Presidential Convention.

I’d still been in a state of shock at the second Kennedy assassination, Bobby Kennedy’s in June, coming on the heels of Martin Luther King’s in April (Bobby Kennedy’s astonishing emotional citation of Aeschylus on sorrow after King’s shooting–still one of the most moving moments in American political history).

So even before the riots broke out in Chicago–I was in the middle of them, not beaten but tear-gassed–it was a season of tears. Then I happened to hear about a press conference for a “Draft Teddy” movement.

It was a chaotic unorganized scene, in a sweaty crowded hotel ballroom, hosted I believe by Ohio Governor Mike Desalle*, one of the last of the old time machine politicians who’d naturally gravitated toward the Kennedys Last Hurrah style. (Did you ever read that novel–one of the best American political novels ever? Check it out).

It wasn’t officially authorized by Teddy, who had publicly disclaimed any ambition for the nomination, but who knew what might have happened if it had caught on?  I think there’s an even chance an emotional tide might have swept Hubert Humphrey, an underestimated figure) to the side. And I had terribly mixed feelings about it all.

Part of me, the part that made me one of those people who thought RFK’s ’68 campaign a high point of American politics, felt moved by the idea. Another part was horrified by the thought that Teddy would be assassinated too. How could one–even the most heartless Kennedy hater–deal with three Kennedy assassinations? What would that say about America, gone from the tragic to the macabre absurd? Perhaps that’s what makes me sensitive to, incensed by, the toleration of assassination threats I’ve been reporting on in this blog.. One wonders how much that possibility might have weighed in his decision.

Yes, I know I’ve written about the unanswered questions about Chappaquiddick, an inexcusable tragic failure. But this moment in Chicago in August ’68 was before that. Indeed it makes you wonder how different history might have been if Teddy hadn’t so unequivocally turned down a draft (and supported George McGovern’s brief, belated, long forgotten, ’68 effort).

Maybe he wouldn’t have won, maybe he wasn’t ready to be president (like, of course Richard Nixon was). But maybe he wouldn’t have been drowning his sorrows in alcohol on Chappaquiddick the next summer.

Oh well, I’m sure this will bring the haters out. Hate away, if hate makes you feel good, on a day like this. Someday maybe, if you grow up inside, you’ll develop a tragic sense of life, a tragic sense of history. Read Aeschylus, maybe it will help you develop one. Or at least The Last Hurrah.


August 25, 2009

Still Haven't Heard Any Right Wing Pundits or Commenters Condemn Assassination Threats Like…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:00 pm

…the ones documented here, by gun carrying loons. Or maybe I’ve missed it. But I don’t get the feeling it’s a high priority. Just sit back and allow the loons to represent you? What a moral abdication for those who consider themselves the moralist side.

At this point silence becomes complicity with any future bloodshed. You’ve encouraged a culture of violent gun carrying wannabe assassins and you haven’t said a word of horror or reproof at the growing evidence that you’re allied with would-be murderers. Does it make you feel strong and brave by proxy? Are you unable to distinguish democratic discourse from armed Hitler-obsessed freaks threatening to kill the President, his wife and children? I don’t get it. Do you not have any feeling of responsiblity? Have you no shame?

What do you want to bet the commneters will defend the wannabe assassins?

August 23, 2009

Questions About the Lockerbie Case

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 1:51 pm

I hadn’t been followng it closely, knew there was some doubt among intelligence agencies, didn’t know the spokesman for the families of U.K. victims, for instance, believes the wrong man, wrong terrorist entity, was convicted and that a number of non-crackpot intelligence sources agree.

See what you think of this report from invaluable British Middle East correspondent Tom Gross.

*update: I should make extra clear (though its all there inthe link) that doubts about the case in no way diminish the disgustingness of the “welcome home” celebration in Libya–nor the evidence of a corrupt deal behind the release. While the convicted Libyan still maintains his innocence, the crowds welcoming him home seem not to care whether he was a mass murderer or not. And if the British/Scottish government believe they convicted the right man, the release is still shameful whether they did or not..

As you can read in the link, the point that Gross makes (and which has been picked up as he notes, by a number of British papers) is that a new evidentiary appeal of the case was coming up and that may have been a motive for the deal: the chance that doubts about whether they let the real killers get away would be raised again by the appeal. A precondition for the release seems to have been the dropping of the appeal hearing which held open the possibility of deeply embarassing the justice system there.

August 21, 2009

Commenter Boasts of Right to Murder Government Officials

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 1:16 pm

See: this is what I’m talking about. Commenter culture has become dominated sickos who essentially threaten to murder government officials they disagree with. How else do you interpret the last paragarh of this comment appended to my post asking “When will Right-Wingers Denounce Those Who Bring Guns to Rallies?”:

“The American people have been pushed to respond in suit to the gangster tactics of this administration, if only to remind them who has the inherent right to carry guns and to dispose of governmental representatives and their policies.”

“Dispose of”–i.e. euphemistically, murder–government reresentatives. Are you right winger columnists and talkers actually proud of the havoc you’ve wreaked on these unstable minds. That this is the kind of suorter you’ve garnered with your fear-mongering polemics.

Good thing we have his IP, since, of course, he was too cowardly to use his name.

Once again I ask: when are right wing commenters going to denounce those who threaten murder as a response to political disagreement. Those of you who stay silent will have blood on your hands when it happens.

August 20, 2009

Aw, Bad News For Anonymous Abusive Commmenter Cowards

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:28 am

I’ve always felt the shame and self-loathing they must feel at their cowardly lack of self worth (and, usually, lack of basic literacy skills) should have been enough punishment for anonymous abusive commenters and their fear of self-exposure.

But who knows, as this report suggests maybe you anonymous abusers among commenters will have something more to fear: liability under the law, Not that I would take advantge of this ruling against any of them–although, who knows, if I’m in a bad mood…

Hope his persuades all you “strict constructionists” to join the ACLU and cower under their protection. And maybe consider self-restraint as you make fools of yourselves. Doesn’t it ever make you feel bad to know you’re in a class with obscene callers?

As the author of this Mediaite report puts it:

” People get away with a lot of crap on the Internet under the cloak of anonymity. Would you imagine an internet where everyone had to stand behind their own words. Might that result in higher level of discourse? Dare to dream.”

August 19, 2009

When Will Right Wingers Denounce Those Who Carry Guns to Rallies?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 11:42 am

So far I glean from the commenters here, it’s perfectly okay to deface Obama’s image with Hitler mustache, Nazi uniform, etc. This says a lot for your historical erudition and perspective (or about it). (And yes, knee-jerks, I’ve denounced lefty Bushitler imagery, too.)

But do you approve of carrying guns to town halls where children are present? I’ve seen a lot of offensive signs at left-wing rallies, but I haven’t seen guns. Are the gun-tards making a brave statement about the Second Amendment? (I thought the topic was health care.) Or are they just brainless thugs and bullies putting innocent people in danger because they’re too cowardly to argue like civilized people? Better to try to terrorize them.

Where are the right-wing commenters who are condemning the gun carrier freakazoids? Let’s hear from you. Or is your silence approval or encouragement? Are they doing the dirty work of intimidating opponents on your behalf? Can’t you win an argument without having an armed creep at your side? I think the question answers itself.

Speak up in behalf of civility. Isn’t that a conservative value?

August 14, 2009

Enough with the Hitler Costumes Already!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:54 am

And the comparisons too. I’m talking about both sides. The ones from the right, product of our brilliant, subtle, commentator culture, who carry swastikas, or pictures, or wear costumes to town halls. And the ones on the left who compare those on the right to Nazis.

I’m beginning to get the queasy feeling that those who paint themselves with Hitler mustaches, or paint mustaches on images of the president (yes I know about morons on the left and “Bushitler”), or dress up in uniforms or carry Hitler images on posters, get just a little too much of a thrill from it. It gives these sad people a device for getting the attention their tiny minds would otherwise not merit. Maybe even gives them some sick delusion of power they suck from the vast abyss of evil they decide to dip themselves into like a bath in sewage. It’s so disproportionate. I know when I was discussing the cover for my book Explaining Hitler I refused to allow any recognizable image of Hitler on the cover because I didn’t want to exploit the all too familiar “star power” of that all-too-recognizable image. I wanted to ask how this innocent looking toddler could grow up into Hitler.

These days stardom seems to be the only thing that matters. The Hitler/swastika carriers are pathetic celebrity whores. They know they’ll get a shot at being on cable television by exploiting evil. Congratulations.

I have the feeling that if someone were to find a method to calculate the number of images, tv footage, page views, etc., it would turn out that these people are, in their own dimwit, perverted way succeeding in bringing about a kind of Hitler revival. Does this ever occur to them? That when they play with images of Hitler in irresponsible ways they’re serving in a postmodern way (“all publicity is good publicity”) in promoting Hitler themselves, rather than affixing a Hitlerite image on their enemy? That they may make Hitler seems attractive in a way (“he’s a rock star!”) to a new generation? Frankly they look like Hitlerites not anti-Hitlerites. Sad that this is what they need to feel important.

Meanwhile America across its amber waves of pixels seemed like it was the scene of a Nazi revival. Everyone carrying swastikas supposedly to discredit everyone else carrying swastikas.

Hey: the swastikas don’t care. Hitler loves the posthumous attention. Enough with the overblown comparisons. It demeans the meaning of Hitler’s crimes, disrespects the memory of his victims and survivors.

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