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Mar 21, 2004 6:50 pm

That Feeling of Plenitude ...

At his blog, Matt Yglesias replies to Tim Burke's "Yglesias and Androgeny". The issue gets a more thorough discussion there than here. Stuffy historians. Speaking of which, Tim's not stuffy. He objects to Yglesias referring to him as"Professor Burke". It makes him"feel like a murder suspect in ‘Clue'." You know: Professor Burke in the Library with a Metaphor. Anyway, that launches yet another discussion thread over at Invisible Adjunct. Stuffy historians ...

I started to slip into something more comfortable, but Anne Zook thinks that I didn't miss my calling. Or, at least, she thinks that poetry is not my calling. Taking note of my effort here, she says"It's not good poetry, but I admire his nerve in posting it anyhow." She might have said that"It takes some nerve to post it anyhow." Foolhardy courage, Anne, takes responsibility. Then, there is my friend, Chun the Unavoidable, who said he wouldn't drop Cliopatria from his blogroll because it was "too annoying". You can imagine my sense of failure to annoy when I read "I Don't Often Agree with Ralph Luker". Turns out we agree that the fellows over at Oxblog need to watch their"arrogant dullards" index.

The Volokh Conspiracy's Randy Barnett notes that he and Liberty & Power's David Beito will be speaking in Boston next Saturday, the 27th, at the 1st Annual Liberty Conference, sponsored by the Boston University Libertarian Society. Barnett's post has all the links. While I'm slumming with the Libertarians, John Sample of the CATO Institute leads his weekly column at NROnline with"George W. Bush is the best Democratic president of my lifetime." Odd that Bush seems so unlikely to be renominated by the Democrats. Thanks to Richard Jensen's Conservativenet for the tip.

President Shelby Thames's promise to make the University of Southern Mississippi a world-renowned institution has become all too cruelly true. Robert Campbell at Liberty & Power has the latest update.

A google search leading to this Williams College site announces that"Derek Catsam, ‘93, has joined Cliopatria PIRGatory." Surely it's not that bad. Not that there's any connection, but we've missed Ophelia, the Cliomatriarch of Seattle, for a while. It's an excused absence. She's busy posting good stuff over at Butterflies and Wheels, including Christopher Orlet's"A Defense of Whig History". The note from Ophelia's parents says that she's been writing a book – two, in fact – with a collaborator. One of the books is an expanded version of B & W's "Fashionable Dictionary"."It's going to be very, very, very funny," she says."Eye-closingly funny, lung-emptyingly funny, furniture-breakingly funny." I don't doubt it. Move over Ambrose Bierce, Ophelia's got one of the keenest senses of humor on the net.

Finally, if you haven't seen them, I recommend Christopher Hitchens on Edmund Burke in The Atlantic; Scott McLemee's address about a little boy who wanted to publish book reviews when he grew up and later won the National Book Critics Award for book reviewing; a piece by Javier Marias,"Faulkner on Horseback", in The Three Penny Review; and Sean Wilentz, "American Historians Vs. American Founding Fathers: The Details of Greatness", in The New Republic. Wilentz does a frontal assault on Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power. I'm still processing it, but if Wills made as many errors as Wilentz charges him with, it's a serious embarrassment. My sense, however, is that Wilentz's essay is deeply wrong-headed: an attempt to renew Arthur Schlesinger's effort, beginning with The Age of Jackson, to trace all progress in American history to the Democratic Party. Just as TAJ simply petered out, rather than admit that Lincoln was never a Jacksonian, Wilentz asserts northern Jeffersonian roots to anti-slavery without ever demonstrating them. By using Timothy Pickering's term to call Jefferson the first"Negro President," of course, Wills means something other than John Kerry does when he says that he wants to follow Bill Clinton as the "second" one. But Sean Wilentz will write history as he votes, just as Schlesinger did. The notion that political anti-slavery is rooted either in Jeffersonian or Jacksonian democracy seems ludicrous to me. Thanks to Ed Cohn at Gnostical Turpitude for the tip.

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Anne Zook - 3/23/2004

Thank you. We have certainly established that your manners are better than mine.

I do remember (now that I've thought about it) being required to write a haiku in the fifth or sixth grade and being annoyed by the assignment.

A Christmas tree in
summertime ain't any good
to anybody

My teacher just gave me one of those looks (these were not the years when "creativity" or any kind of 'artistic' impulse could be used to justify incorrect grammar) and thus ended my introduction to poetry.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/23/2004

It's beautiful, Anne. When I was in the 4th grade, we had an assignment to write a poem about each story that we read. Then, we voted in the best poem. I lost the first time, but then my poem was chosen the 2nd and 3rd times we voted in them. By then, I had warmed to the chase and began reading stories and writing poems ahead of time. Alas, just as I was establishing my pre-eminence, the teacher stopped having the contest.

Anne Zook - 3/22/2004

The thunderstorm's a giant.
Frightening you and me.
He is so defiant.
Roaring gloriously.

Okay, I was only seven, but still. That was my first and last poem. (It went on for several more stanzas, but merciful time has blanked the rest of it from my memory.)

I'm just saying. I'm living proof that the old saying is true:

"Them that can't do, stand on the sidelines and criticize the uniforms."

Ralph E. Luker - 3/22/2004

Anne, It may be a better poem than you've ever put on the net -- surely not better than you've ever written -- but I put it there in part because I thought its awfulness would amuse people.

Anne Zook - 3/22/2004

Admittedly, it's a better poem than I've ever written.

Ophelia Benson - 3/21/2004

Aw, thanks, Ralph. And sorry about absence, I have thought several times in the past few days that I have to get over here, I'm in arrears! But the book is indeed keeping me busy at the moment. Mind you, it's a fun kind of busy; I've been wheezing with laughter at my own jokes again today. Dreadful confession, but I have.

Hey I liked your poem! But then I would, wouldn't I.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/21/2004

An astute observation on the house historians Wilentz and Schlesinger. What struck me when reading Wills was how suddenly seemingly paradoxical events now made sense, at least with regards to Jefferson's acts. Merrill Peterson, who held the Hagiographic Chair in Jefferson Studies at Virginia, struggled mightily to explain Jefferson's sending about 200 of his best troops -- battle-hardened rangers -- to the west to fight Indians, when British raids on a defenseless Virginia were anticipated (and then occurred). Peterson, at the end of the chapter, simply falls back on an encomium to the political genius of Jefferson.

Throw in Jefferson's attitude and treatment of Haiti, his attitude toward legal niceties in the Louisiana Purchase, and compare to his refusal to call out the militia before British troops had actually landed on Virginia soil -- Peterson attributes the latter to Jefferson's deep commitment to republicanism, with an executive held strictly to his enumerated powers. How then do we account for Louisiana? When it came to extending the slave power, or keeping blacks in check in Haiti, Jefferson had no time for republicanism.

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