Thursday, November 01, 2018

No Country for Old Men

The Republican officeholder on the robocall message tells me the Democrats want to bring socialism to Harris County in the form of judges and county officials, one of whom, a candidate for a county government office, is a "Communist."  I wondered who he was speaking to, since the only Communists left in the world are in the Chinese Politburo, and they aren't exactly threatening to topple dominoes from Southeast Asia to America's shores anytime soon.  Not that anybody much younger than me would make that connection, or understand why a "communist" was inherently unAmerican and bad.

Turns out this isn't an accidental relation.  John Bolton wants to take us back to the heyday of Ronald Reagan:

In a 30-minute address at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower, Bolton said the Trump administration will take a hard line against Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua by sanctioning the countries and cutting off diplomatic relations with them until they meet US demands.

“This Troika of Tyranny, this triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua, is the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere,” Bolton said. “Under President Trump, the United States is taking direct action against all three regimes to defend the rule of law, liberty, and basic human decency in our region.”

"Troika" is cute; a Russian word for three non-Russian countries (Cuba was in the sphere of influence once, I suppose) hearkening back to a time when Russia was the Communist U.S.S.R.  Bolton doesn't seem to think Putin is pulling the strings here, or riding the cart these "tyrannies" are pulling (look it up yourself!; or ask NTodd, he'd know).  He needed it for the alliteration, of course, especially since "Triangle of Terror" sounds like a B-grade horror film (or a horror porno).  "Sordid cradle of communism" sounds like someone trying to channel William Safire (it's still no "nattering nabobs of negativism!"), although again, who among the generations younger than yours truly gets the scaremongering that word is supposed to conjure?

This is moldy Cold War bellicosity that was oldy and moldy when JFK was President (I've been watching TV shows from 50 years ago; it's rather surprising how much more liberal Rod Serling was than anything on TV is today, even "Black Mirror."  Maybe because he wasn't as cynical....).  I'm sure Matt Yglesias is right and this is meant to appeal to Cuban Americans, but the only one younger than me who would care is...Ted Cruz.  I honestly find it hard to believe this stirring call to found poetry (poetry in English was originally alliterative; you could look it up!) is going to resonate with anyone else younger than Cruz's father.

A renewed emphasis on the Latin American Cold War to help remind Florida’s Cuban-American population of why they became Republicans in the first place and to try to convince them that the GOP is still the party of Ronald Reagan could be just what the doctor ordered.

Well, the ones old enough to remember life under Fidel; or under Reagan, for that matter.  The rest of them?  I kinda doubt it.

The Irish Ambassador was on Think (NPR) this afternoon (an excellent program I cannot recommend highly enough.  Listen to the podcasts if you can't get the broadcast).  He mentioned, toward the end, that most of the Irish government was in their 30's and 40's, which gave them a very different perspective from older Irish politicians.  He thought this a very good thing (he was a very good diplomat).  "Ah," I thought, "that must be nice."  Terri Gross had an hour-long interview on how Newt Gingrich is the architect of our current political woes, and still stirs the pot on the more obscure shows on FoxNews and behind the scenes in the White House.  Even Newt Gingrich is old these days.  I remembered that Yeats' vision was Irish, too:


That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.


An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.


O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.


Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Yeah, that would be better.  Not a bad meditation for All Saint's, either, come to think of it.


  1. What has Cuba done recently to raise Bolton's ire? I assume just be Cuba. I can't believe that nut is back in government