Nat Hentoff's notes to Bob Dylan's 2nd album, written when he was still worth reading, say, in part: "'Hard Rain" adds Dylan "is a desparate kind of song". It was written during the Cuban missile crisis … when those who allowed themselves to think …were chilled by the immenence of oblivion. "Every line in it is actually the start of a whole song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn't have enough time…to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one."
Excited as all of us who are participating in the launch of Room 8 are to be part of this brave new endeavor, with visions of long belated recognition and sugarplumbs dancing in our heads, it is hard not to feel a little chilled by the immenence of what may lie ahead. So, on the eve of our launch, I write a desparate kind of column; every line is the start of a new column, but when I wrote it, I thought I'd never have the time to write all those columns, so I put it all into this one. Bob Dylan certainly did better, but I think it might be more fun to read than Hentoff's 675th remembrance of A.J. Muste (admittedly not much to aspire to).
* I'm used to having to pray everyday for the health of John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg; what really galls me is also having to pray for the health of George Bush (20 years ago I made the same joke about the President's dad; is this the opposite of progress? And, is it a coincidence that the Vice Presidents who inspired it both call to mind "quail")
* I suspect that in a few years I'll be nostalgic for Bill Rhenquist.
* You don't always get everything you pay for, but you always pay for everything you get.
* My five year old niece asked me if I knew that some Rabbis were men.
* You don't need to fool all the people all the time; a majority is sufficient (and the Electoral College sometimes makes even that superfluous).
* Poli Sci 101: Opponents never get called anything stonger than bastard. The real curses are reserved for members of your own party. And paranoia about your enemies is a waste of time and effort; what you really need to be watching out for are your friends.
* Essay topic: "Mike Bloomberg: Rudolph Giuliani with a human face?" Discuss.
* Today, Richard Nixon's domestic program would put him in the left wing of the Democratic Party.
Of course, back then, being for free trade was the liberal position.
* The Adam Smith view that more competition brings down prices is highly overrated. In a boutique economy, the reality is often exactly the opposite. When Starbucks opened on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, Lassen and Hennings, the gourmet shop next door, saw how much they could get for a cup of coffee and immediately raised their prices. That is why building more luxury housing doesn't always open new spaces for people of lower income; sometimes it just increases the demand for the less luxurious housing nearby.
* In New York red lights are merely an advisory opinion (and much of the time, so are green lights).
* My domestic partner says the only problem with Secular Humanism is that children need to be educated about values. Teaching them by our example is not really a viable solution; it is more like the problem. It was finally proposed that we teach them values by showing them Frank Capra films; but, when you come down to it, threatening to jump only works about half the time at most.
* Proof that the theory of evolution may be wrong: When I was born, the word "statesman" conjured up the image of Adlai Stevenson; in 1988, it meant Lloyd Bentsen; today, it's used to describe Newt Gingrich.
* Last month I got a wedding invite noting that the happy couple had registered at Chase and Citibank.
* Failures of our educational system part 647: When using the term "self defense", most people really mean "revenge".
* It's an old courthouse cliche that when people say "it's not about the money, it's about justice", it's really about the money. However, the truth is that the legal system is only designed to work for those seeking money. People really out for what they consider "justice" can never be satisfied, as, at most, the system can only offer them compensation.
* Before the launch, Ben asked that, in regards to one blogger, I ask myself "what would Jesus do?" and "turn the other cheek". I informed him that Jesus was really not part of my narrative (was he even Jewish? He had a Last Supper rather than the Early Bird Special) and told him that the thought of turning the other cheek brought to mind Daphne Merkin (or Rachel Kramer Bussel) rather than anyone who practiced carpentry.
* Politics is the art of convincing some fool that politics is the art of the possible. It is also an endless series of menial tasks.
* Lack of hypocracy is only a minor virtue. To be a qualified hypocrite you must first have some principles to betray. No one who understood the meaning of the word ever accused Clarence Norman of being a hypocrite.
* There are two reason why Regular Democrats hate reformers: 1) Most reformers are phonies who are easily bought off. 2) Some of them aren't.