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His Excellency

son-excellence-eugene_rougon_gallimard19th century novelist Zola shows us more of the machinations, betrayals of French politics in his sixth published story in the Rougon-Marquart cycle, Zola depicts the greed, manipulation and ugliness of French politicsthrough His Excellency: Eugene Rougon. When the story begins title character Eugene Rougon has fallen from his lofty government job. He’s resigned to take some heat off the emperor and hopes this action will be rewarded. Soon Rougon meets Clorinde, a beautiful, flirtatious troublemaker. She’s much younger and spends her days tantalizing the rich, powerful men who’re happy to waste their days gazing at her in her boudoir as she poses for a portrait and rambles on. She’s not the brightest light, but we all know how little that matters when it comes to powerful men.

It’s uncertain who Clorinde’s father is. Both she and her mother are gadabouts from Italy. It’s whispered that she’s the illegitimate daughter of  an aristocrat, who’s introduced as her godfather. Right. Clorinde is all appetite, appetite for power, like Rougon, whom she sets her cap for. She could have any rich, powerful man, but she goes for this old bachelor. Despite being attracted to Clorinde, Rougon knows they’re no good for each other so he marries another more sensible wife and convinces Clorinde to marry a rich, malleable man who’s gotten a government ministry. Clorinde goes along, but vows to get even. And after many years she does.

It was interesting to see this greedy crowd of relatives and old friends who hang on to Rougon to get political favors that make them rich. The minute Rougon closes down the favor-trough they’re out to get him led by Clorinde. Rougon’s fortunes go up and down as the story progresses. I enjoyed the realism and even enjoyed disliking the corrupt hangers on and, of course, Clorinde, who had no good qualities or no uncorrupted qualities. This book would make a good movie.

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Dirty Politics across the Centuries

Yes, I’ve been binging on Adam Conover’s Adam Ruins Everything. He’s witty, smart and research-based. I may have my students make debunking videos next semester.

The barbs sound better, though perhaps more vicious, in 1800. Am I being biased against modern times?

There are just two bad examples here. I imagine if vulgarity were more rampant, his video would have been longer.

Sepia Saturday

Unknown Man Walking

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is of a man walking down a city street.

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This photo shows members of the Pennsylvania delegation of the Republican party walking into the national convention held in Chicago in 1912 according to the Library of Congress. I’m wondering how and why women attended since they couldn’t vote in an election till 1920.

To see more Sepia Saturday photos, click here.

 

Colbert on Faith & Politics

I liked his quote from Thomas More, “Those who abandon their personal faith for the public duties lead their country on a short road to chaos.”

Trailer: The Jewish Cardinal

Here’s the trailer for The Jewish Cardinal so you get more of a sense of the film.

The Jewish Cardinal

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What an absorbing — and true story!

I happened upon The Jewish Cardinal (a.k.a. Le métis de Dieu) at my library and am so glad I did. It’s the story of Jean-Marie Aaron Lustiger, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants who converted to Catholicism as a boy during WWII. His mother was killed at Auschwitz and though his father isn’t religious, he’s hurt by his son’s conversion and later decision to become a priest.

As the movie starts, Pope John Paul II soon makes Lustiger a bishop and soon a cardinal. Lustiger is real, someone whom people can relate to. He shakes things up and causes turbulence but eventually people see he’s right. For example, early on he sees that the church needs to reach people via mass communication and he starts an archdiocese radio station which he himself broadcasts from.

He also doesn’t like when his Jewish origins are written about as a gimmick or when he’s asked by a high ranking rabbi to deny his Jewish identity.

He often meets with John Paul II in the ’80s when the pope is fairly new. They understand each other and he earns the pope’s respect.

jewishcardinal-01

When it’s learned that Carmelite nuns have made a convent in Auschwitz, Lustiger becomes something of a mediator and possible pawn in a conflict that’s both political and religious. He’s savvy enough to broker a fair resolution, but gets betrayed.

The acting is stellar with Lustiger (played by Laurent Lucas) and the actother cast members turning in bold, believable performances. The actor who played JPII carried off the role with great credibility. (He’s not perfect.) The film’s never hokey or preachy, just real and compelling. I’m so glad the intriguing name called to me.

Words of the Week

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from dictionary.com

from Chronicle.com

from Chronicle.com

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From MerriamWebster.com

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from Chronicle.com

Now we can discuss politics with high falootin’ vocabulary. Amaze your friends!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

The former King of Cambodia

The new King of Cambodia (center), his father on the side

In Zhujiayu, China

In Zhujiayu, China

In New Mexico

In New Mexico

Jizu at a temple in Nara, Japan

Jizu at a temple in Nara, Japan

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge. Other great photos:

Sepia Saturday

handshake

This week’s prompt made me think of a good strong handshake, and especially how politicians are known for them.

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1963

nixon 1970

1970

1913

1913

No

no

The Chilean film No chronicles the story behind the advertising campaign for the referendum to force Pinochet, the dictator, to hold elections. In 197x Chile held an election to determine whether to hold elections for the head of state. Should Pinochet keep his position or would he have to run to stay in office?

Each side was given 15 minutes of TV airtime a night for the 27 days leading up to election day. The Si side was pro-Pinochet and No was in favor of ousting him via and election. While the No backers expected a straightforward campaign showing all Pinochet’s atrocities, the ad exec thinks that’s too much of a downer, that they should go for exuberant like Coca Cola, etc. In addition to this conflict, Pinochet’s hoodlums follow and intimidate the people working on the No campaign.

It’s an earnest, compelling film that taught me about a chapter of Chilean history

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