The Prince of Peace—rather a seditious title in our age of Homeland Security and endless war, eh? “Love thy neighbor” and “Thou Shalt Not Kill” were  no less subversive 95 years ago, when of a silent night soldiers simply stopped fighting. (Much to the horror of the masters of war.) Brooklyn patriot Brian Frizzell sends this  link (http: www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9coPzDx6tA) to John McCutcheon’s “Christmas in the Trenches.” You may want to add Joyeux Noel (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424205), a cinematic account of the Christmas Truce, to A Christmas Story,  It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol in your seasonal movie lineup. And—why not—here’s a pop-canine take on the Christmas Truce: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jlf—13Q0g . While we’re at it, President Obama says that he and Michelle first danced to the music of Stevie Wonder. If he had taken this song to heart he wouldn’t have to spend the rest of his life washing the bloodstains from his hands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ1-duv_zNk.

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Bill Kauffman
Bill Kauffman was born on November 15 (also the birthday of Bobby Dandridge) in the otherwise forgettable year of 1959. He was an all-star Little League shortstop for the Lions Club Cubs but soon thereafter his talents eroded. After an idyllic childhood in his ancestral home of Batavia, New York, birthplace of Anti-Masonry, he was graduated from Batavia High School in 1977. He earned, more or less, a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1981 and went therefrom to the staff of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the only dairy farmer in the U.S. Senate. Two and a half years later he left Moynihan’s staff a bohemian Main Street anarchist who loved the Beats, the New England transcendentalists, early 20th century local colorists (Sarah Orne Jewett his Maine gal), cowpunk music, and the crazy old America. Neil Diamond and Karen Carpenter, too, but don’t tell anyone. He bummed around out west for a while, sleeping in bus stations and writing derivative poetry in Salt Lake City flophouses (nah, he’s not a Mormon, just a BYU fan) before an ill-starred year in graduate school at the UR. He took a seminar with Christopher Lasch and thought on it. In the spring of 1985 he flew west to become an assistant editor with Reason magazine. He had great fun in Santa Barbara with that crew of congenial editors drinking far into the night at Eddie Van Cleeve’s Sportsman’s Lounge, but in ’86 he flew east to become the magazine’s Washington editor. Always homesick, Kauffman persuaded his lovely and talented wife Lucine, a Los Angelena, to move back to Batavia in 1988 in what he called a “one-year experiment”—the year to be measured, apparently, in Old Testament terms. They’re still there—or, more accurately, five miles north in Elba (apt name for an exile!), where Lucine is Town Supervisor. She may well be the highest-ranking Armenian-American elected official in the country, at least until the voters of California send Cher to the U.S. Senate. Take that, Turks! Lucine and Bill have a daughter, Gretel, 17, who writes and acts and plays piano and French horn. Their lab mutt, Victoria, whose tail graces the accompanying photo, is now departed, to their sorrow, but a cat, Duffy, darts in and out of the house when the mood strikes. Bill is the author of nine books: Every Man a King (Soho Press/1989), a novel, which was recently rescued from the remainder bin by a New York Sun article proclaiming it the best political satire of the last century (the Sun thereupon set); Country Towns of New York (McGraw-Hill/1994), a travel book about God’s country; America First! Its History, Culture and Politics (Prometheus/1995), a cultural history of isolationism which Benjamin Schwarz in the Atlantic called the best introduction to the American anti-imperialist tradition; With Good Intentions? Reflections on the Myth of Progress in America (Praeger/1998), his worst-seller, a sympathetic account of critics of highways, school consolidation, a standing army, and the Siren Progress; Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town’s Fight to Survive (Henry Holt/2003; Picador ppb. 2004), a memoirish book about his hometown which won the 2003 national “Sense of Place” award from Writers & Books; Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists (ISI/2006), which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006 and which won the Andrew Eiseman Writers Award; Ain’t My America: The Long Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism (Henry Holt/ Metropolitan/2008), which Barnes & Noble named one of the best books of 2008; Forgotten Founder: Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin (ISI/2008), a biography of a brilliant dipsomaniacal Anti-Federalist who warned us this was gonna happen; and Bye Bye, Miss American Empire (Chelsea Green/2010), a cheerful account of dissolution. Bill is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and a columnist for The American Conservative. He has written for numerous publications, including The American Scholar, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Nation, Chronicles, the Independent and The Spectator of London, Counterpunch, Orion, University Bookman, and Utne Reader. He is vice president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, which owns the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn Baseball League. Come summertime, he can be found in the 3rd base bleachers at Dwyer Stadium. He is also active in the officerless (of course) John Gardner Society. Bill is more handsome than the photo on this site would suggest. See books written by Bill Kauffman.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Peace on Earth???

    Aren’t humans amazing Animals? They kill wildlife – birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

    Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – – health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

    So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions of more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

    Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

    Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.”

    ~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

  2. Interesting tidbit of history……I’m watching the army vs navy football game and can’t help but laugh at the pro-war propaganda their spewing. The worst was this commercial by the navy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3wtUCPWmeI “A global force for good”. I am sick of the policing of the world by our military and the propaganda on tv to get young people to join the armed forces. I respect those who choose to join but I don’t support either occupation.

  3. Great resurrectionary Christmas song sung by Stevie Wonder. Couldn’t help thinking of that John Shelley line “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind.” Thanks for posting it.

  4. Ryan:

    The Navy ad made me proud of the Navy.

    JC:

    Sometimes, unfortunately, human beings abuse the responsibility of their stewardship over the world, including cruelty to animals. Using them for food is a legal exercise of that stewardship, not an abuse of it. I won’t address the other complaints; I do not believe they are worth addressing.

    Addressing the original post in a roundabout sort of way, I’d just like to add that world peace is a noble goal, but we must keep in mind that human beings are inherently competitive, opportunistic individuals. We can work for the ideal while remembering the reality. At the same time, we look forward to the eternal peace which exists only beyond our own time and place.

    Just my .02.

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