Notes on Patriotism

First of all, look up Emma Goldman’s screed about patriotism and give it a gander if you never have.

Yesterday morning, WNYC’s “The Take Away” had a whole segment about whether you/we are proud to be Americans… based on something Tim Geithner said last week: that the way to be patriotic is to pay your taxes.

I listened for a half hour to a far right immigrant and a centerish think tank dude talk about how great it is to be an American. I totally agreed with them for the most part but there were barely any caveats. Of course it’s great for a number of reasons I don’t have to get into. I had to turn it off because of what was not being acknowledged in a very direct manner: Of all the [Western] countries that we helped after World War II, the good ol’ U.S.A. ranks LAST in all sorts of categories. My point is that if you’re really patriotic, you need to stop cheerleading for the U.S. and work to make it better. At the very least, point it out so the public is aware this all could be better.

Occupy Wall Street and other forums are sure to raise these issues as soon as Spring starts and/or the movie comes out. If NPR wants to live up to the liberal windbag status that Andrew Breitbart gave it, instead of fawning over his legacy with little criticism, they should be covering Tim Geithner’s ties to Wall Street and the free pass he usually gets from the press. They could also do a story about why Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 47th in its “freedom of the press” index.

These are complex issues and I’m sure 2012 will be great year for the movies.

Yankee Stadium and Snow

Now is the winter of our sports enthusiasm. We hate basketball because it’s ruled by tall people and the scores are too high. (Think about it.) Football is over and we only like it when the local team wins, and half the time it’s a field goal in the last two minutes. Congratulations to the New York Giants. We like volleyball somewhat but no network TV will deign to cover that even though it’s the number two sport in Brazil.

Here at, we like baseball. Baseball has no time limit. It has lots of rules but time is hardly ever called for foul play and there are no foul shots. It’s played practically every day. Greatness is earned over long stretches of time. Blah blah.

On that note, here are some shots of Yankee Stadium in the snow. I don’t claim to be a Yankee snob although they are my team. If you beat them, more power to you. These photos are offered so we may all look forward to baseball in April.

PS: I can’t believe Roger Waters sold out two nights of performing The Wall here. That’s like the blocked leading the blockers.

Getting Straight on Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens left this mortal coil late last week before he could say goodbye to Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il. I was disturbed by all the eulogies that praised him effusively for having nought but wit, a profuse pen, and a big personality that worked well on cable news. So here are two essays that set the record straight on this propped-up imperialist apologist for the biggest mistake of the previous decade.

Glenn Greenwald compares his canonization with that of Ronald Reagan’s. Greenwald wrote a similar essay when Tim Russert died as a journalist celebrated for softballing any and all propaganda the White House dished out.

Katha Pollitt talks about his drinking and sexism.

Stories of Hitchens’ drinking bouts sometimes landed on the gossip pages and other anecdotes occasionally reached my ears. In the 2000s, he had written enough for me to disagree with him on most points so I accepted his essential schtick — the smart, drunk, party guy from the left who flipped out after 9/11 — but I was surprised anyone of the left or libertarian bent took him seriously anymore, especially his pity party at Vanity Fair. As Pollitt says, he will be missed because he was larger than life. After that, it’s the booze talking.