if he had ever, during his checkered,plaided, mottled, pied and dappled career

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John Sloan or John French Sloan (1871-1951) belonged to the Ashcan school of art. While all the members had a realistic approach to art, they all had a different style. Sloan’s depictions of the working class had a grit about them, especially his black and white etchings, but his paintings tended toward post impressionism. Sloan tended to give his figures from everyday life a poetic dreamy quality. In painting Sloan did to his characters to some degree what Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) did in his detective novels. They both created a more sophticated projection of reality then what acually existed. They also made people funnier and warmer then they may have been in real life. In Sloan’s world the shoppers on the street, the bar room patrons, and the gamblers were more colorful, less rude. There was even the possibility of noblity, all qualities they may or may not have had in real life. Sloan admitted that perhaps it was the nature of city life that his work and perspective was somewhat detached from his subjects. In that detachment, that small chasm, Sloan seemed to fill up the gaps with his artistic imagination and his humanity. Much in the way that Hammet made the iconic anti-hero Sam Spade ( who betrayed his friend by having an affair with his wife, keeps a bottle in his desk drawer, and plays along with some shady characters for not completely saintly reasons, likeable and romantic in his way). There is something to be said for Sloan on canvas and Hammet on the page for not making their subjects one dimensional plodding forces; for Sloan it may have been a matter of not creating a grime stereotype of the lower economic classes, “I never mingled with the people, and the sympathy and understanding I have for the common people, as they are meanly called, I feel as a spectator of life.” There’s very nice mini biography of Sloan here -pdf with a few samples of his work and there is a Powerpoint presentation on The Eight of the Ashcan School.

The Peking Duck blog has Paul Krugman’s latest column, Bogus W. Attacks

They can’t even criticize Mr. Bush for the systematic dishonesty of his budgets. For one thing, that dishonesty has been apparent for five years. More than that, some prominent conservative commentators actually celebrated the administration’s dishonesty. In 2001 Time.com blogger Andrew Sullivan, writing in The New Republic, conceded that Mr. Bush wasn’t truthful about his economic policies. But Mr. Sullivan approved of the deception: “Bush has to obfuscate his real goals of reducing spending with the smokescreen of ‘compassionate conservatism.’ ” As Berkeley’s Brad DeLong puts it on his blog, conservatives knew that Mr. Bush was lying about the budget, but they thought they were in on the con.

So what’s left? Well, it’s safe for conservatives to criticize Mr. Bush for presiding over runaway growth in domestic spending, because that implies that he betrayed his conservative supporters. There’s only one problem with this criticism: it’s not true.

It’s true that federal spending as a percentage of G.D.P. rose between 2001 and 2005. But the great bulk of this increase was accounted for by increased spending on defense and homeland security, including the costs of the Iraq war, and by rising health care costs.

This approach to all matters budgetary under one party rule has all the makings of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They spend more then the revenue being generated allows for. Oops, sudden realization…spending is out of control. You know its all this social spending that’s out of control. Only its not, its a combination of  Medicare as corporate welfare, out of control pork like “bridges to nowhere” and a war that is three years old and the ruling party still has not come up with a plan to pay for. Three years of incompetence doesn’t add up to oh well people make mistakes, it adds up to a malicious approach to governance.

A Possible Clue On NSA Spying

Did President Bush mention the government’s secret warrantless surveillance program to the president of Pakistan more than four years ago? A brief passage of a 2002 book seems to raise that possibility.

Freedom, Yes, Iraqis Say, But at Great, Grave Cost

By almost any standard, Bashar Muhammed, the owner of a thriving Internet cafe, is a Baghdad success story. Three years after the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein, the Internet business here is booming, and Muhammed has what most Iraqis could only dream of under Hussein — freedom, a cutting-edge job, lots of customers.

But when conversation turns to his life and prospects, he sighs and voices frustration that Americans just don’t get it.

“It is true that we got freedom after the war, but uncontrolled freedom — chaos and violence,” he said in a cool, deliberate tone. Five of his relatives have been killed in car bombings and assassinations, Muhammed said, noting that most recently an uncle was killed for being a Sunni Arab.

“The new generation is growing on violence and sectarian ethics, and this will affect Iraq for many years to come,” he said. “We are living a more devastating war every day.”

The failure of planning past shock and awe has canceled out any positives in the cost benefit column long ago and it just seems to get worse. If any good can be salvaged out of this effort this is certainly not the crew to do it

“It is not,” said Jeff. “There are no relations between a trust and a
policeman. My remark was an epitogram–an axis–a kind of mulct’em in
parvo. What it means is that a trust is like an egg, and it is not
like an egg. If you want to break an egg you have to do it from the
outside. The only way to break up a trust is from the inside. Keep
sitting on it until it hatches. Look at the brood of young colleges
and libraries that’s chirping and peeping all over the country. Yes,
sir, every trust bears in its own bosom the seeds of its destruction
like a rooster that crows near a Georgia colored Methodist camp
meeting, or a Republican announcing himself a candidate for governor
of Texas.”

I asked Jeff, jestingly, if he had ever, during his checkered,
plaided, mottled, pied and dappled career, conducted an enterprise of
the class to which the word “trust” had been applied. Somewhat to my
surprise he acknowledged the corner.

“Once,” said he. “And the state seal of New Jersey never bit into
a charter that opened up a solider and safer piece of legitimate
octopusing. We had everything in our favor–wind, water, police,
nerve, and a clean monopoly of an article indispensable to the public.
There wasn’t a trust buster on the globe that could have found a weak
spot in our scheme. It made Rockefeller’s little kerosene speculation
look like a bucket shop. But we lost out.”

from The Gentle Grafter O. Henry

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