Culture Briefs

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What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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AuH2O folk

“Shortly before the 1964 presidential election, four college-aged men recorded an album of political humor and novelty songs called ‘The Goldwaters Sing Folk Songs to Bug the Liberals.’ For the album cover, they put on matching red sweaters emblazoned with AuH2O — the chemical symbols for gold and water. Then they toured the country in support of a certain conservative candidate who earned 27 million votes and lost. …

“They were our Peter, Paul and Mary — plus Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger — all in one,” says Lee Edwards, a Goldwater biographer who was the campaign’s deputy director of public relations (as well as the man who had the foresight to save the LP that we’ve digitized). “They were especially active at the convention in San Francisco, playing at YAF parties and all over the place.”

Michael Long and John J. Miller, writing on “Same Song, Different Verse,” June 7 in NationalReview.com

ACLU ‘equality’

“The ACLU says that the use of student fees at a public university to build facilities for use by adherents of one religion is just okey-dokey fine. Specifically, the University of Michigan is spending student-fee money to build Muslim foot baths. The Detroit ACLU branch is down with that, and their reasoning wins them the right to trademark the term ‘casuistry,’ free and clear for the next 50 years:

“ ’The Detroit chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union isn’t getting involved, arguing the foot baths are secular since non-Muslims could use them,’ said spokeswoman Rana Elmir.

“They don’t make hip-waders strong enough to withstand [nonsense] like that. Thought experiment: imagine using student fees to install holy water fonts outside the ‘reflection room’ at the university. After all, anybody could dip their fingers into one. I suspect you could count on the Detroit chapter being all over that idea like a terrier on a hambone.”

— Dale Price, writing on “The Cutest Dodge of the Year,” on June 7 at the blog Dyspeptic Mutterings

Marriage redefined?

“Seven ‘modern’ partnerships move through the book, all in (or near) the world of art and letters. … In different but always striking ways, each looked to transform the terms of intimacy. Some were discreet about the change — the publicly noisy [H.G.] Wells concealed his mistress Rebecca West and the son they had together — while others were open and unembarrassed: Vera Brittain lived in one of the ‘semi-detached marriages’ that she praised in the papers. …

“Beliefs are what we hold. Desires are what hold us. A sadness that recurs often in these stories is the sadness of belief that misjudges desire, deliberate reasoned progressive belief — belief in perfect honesty, perfect tolerance — that thinks itself grander and stronger than desire. But the hope of a ‘reasonable’ menage … finds itself thwarted by the ‘rogue emotions of jealousy, disappointment, and rage.’ …

“Repeatedly, the frank, open, liberated and reasonable agreement — to see marriage not as constraint, but as a joint experiment in personal liberty — turns to ash. Of the triangle mapped by Rebecca West and the Wellses, we read that ‘each believed they could overcome the petty jealousies that plague ordinary people. But tradition ended up exerting too great a pull on all of them. The classical model of husband and wife cast too great a shadow for them to resist.’ “

Michael Chase-Levenson, writing on “Marital Upstarts” on Tuesday at Slate

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