Archive

American Politics

4 November 2008

I remember the New Yorker “Talk of the Town” when the first rumors of the Lewinsky scandal came out. One of Clinton’s aides was interviewed, not knowing whether the rumors were true or not, convinced (as was the case) that the Republicans, looking for one thing (Whitewater), had found something else (Lewinsky), but adding: “If you want to know who I blame, I blame Clinton. I blame him.” More…

8 September 2008

The GOP convention trumped the Democratic—because some intelligence there is, in their control room, who can conceive of mastery on the grandest scale; a moral monster, to be sure; a jinni of evil. Someone behind the scenes held the key and boldly turned it: someone foresaw that the means of hatching a McCain triumphant was to make of him a risen God. More…

2 September 2008

How can Barack Obama, a man who only recently paid off his student loans and who lives a relatively modest life in Chicago’s Hyde Park, a few blocks from one of America’s poorest neighborhoods, be more “elitist” than John McCain, the son of an admiral (not to mention the husband of a beer heiress)? Yet the E-word still hangs heavy over his otherwise charmed campaign. More…

11 July 2008

In the once anonymous town of Petersberg, Kentucky, seven miles west of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, and “within a day’s drive of almost 2/3 of the U.S. population,” the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum makes a 27-million-dollar, 65,000-square-foot attempt to prove the Bible’s creation story is “the true history book of the universe.” More…

21 March 2008

The left might have the opportunity, in the crisis of global warming, to tip the ongoing rulemaking of the economic world-system in favor of regulation rather than laissez-faire; to restrain the growth of current concentrations of capital within extracting and polluting sectors; and to reintroduce an essentially aesthetic criterion into the ongoing dollar valuation of the entire world. More…

Originally published in Issue 6: Mainstream

Purchase in print »

4 February 2008

I’ve been thinking about this letter since Thanksgiving, but I haven’t found the time to write down my thoughts until now. They’re thoughts about your support for Hillary Clinton—the prospect of whose presidency seems to excite similar emotions in you as the prospect of a Barack Obama presidency excites in me. It hadn’t occurred to me that anyone could be enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton. More…

10 July 2007

Bobby Seale, 70 years old, founder and former Chairman of the Black Panther Party, is heavy-lidded, heavy-set, and bald. This is ironic: if the Black Panthers were united on anything, it was their hatred of baldness. Full, picked-out Panther afros (particularly those of women) are distinct symbols of pride, self-worth, revolutionary progress. More…

6 March 2007

In America today, what’s “literary” often seems like a subset of what’s “liberal.” Come on, I thought: there has to be somebody who can write a decent character-driven short story who also thinks George W. Bush is a good president. More…

6 February 2006

Walking out of Grand Central Station, New Yorkers pass a Hyatt and a Kenneth Cole. The Hyatt is full of tourists. The Kenneth Cole storefront declares, “You’re on a video camera over twenty times a day. Are you dressed for it?” We’d better be. Those creepy-eyed, ceiling-mounted black domes are ubiquitous in drug stores, retail outlets, and everywhere else. More…

23 August 2005

Accusing one’s political enemies of lying is certainly an old tactic, and often enough an effective one. But as an explanation for the Republicans’ recent success it falls short of complete. Sure, the Republicans are lying—but this line of argument forgets about voters and discounts their reasons for voting. More…

13 May 2005

Of the major conflicts of the past decade and a half, Michael Walzer’s declarations are unsurprising. The first Gulf War: just. The intervention in Kosovo: just. The war against the Taliban: just, but maybe inadvertently so. The current war in Iraq: unjust. More…

19 February 2005

Clothing really has become indecent, and there’s little harm in passing an unenforceable law acknowledging this. In the library where I’m writing this piece, I count ten women with visible midriffs and two with “ass cleavage.” Among the men, fewer in number, two wear close-fitting tank-tops. This is to go to the library? More…

23 November 2004

I am not a Democratic strategist; it seems no one is. But since the defeat one of the commonest proposed remedies to our situation has been to show our opponents more respect. The trouble with Democratic voters and candidates, it is alleged, is our elitism: snug in our cosmopolitan ghettoes, speaking in full paragraphs, fondling old snapshots of France… More…

20 October 2004

My mood swings on this are so violent. I was sure at the end of the third debate that Kerry would sweep the nation. But watching five minutes of the Sunday morning talk shows this weekend, while we were staying with my in-laws, convinced me that we were going to lose by just as much. Debates, I realized, are a 19th—no, actually, an 18th-century political format that has, wonderfully, survived. More…

16 October 2004

What if all the libels, brazen lies, gerrymandering, and fake voter registration groups that tear up the cards of Democrats are a shift from the symbolic violence of games to real violence in a real war where anything goes and not even the past will be safe if the enemy wins? More…

20 September 2004

As last Sunday showed, 2004 is not 1968, and the confrontation with the Man is less important than the relationship between demonstrators and the media who cover them. The new breed of demonstrators understand themselves as event planners for an audience of journalists who will then pass on the message to their readers and viewers. Primarily, they are performers. More…

20 September 2004

So far, so anticlimactic. The supposed repeat of the 1968 Chicago convention and its disastrous consequences (violence, Nixon’s election) has not taken place. The protesters have behaved themselves and the police have settled for arresting bicyclists and bystanders, some of whom happened to be lawyers and journalists. Things may yet get worse in the coming days, but right now this looks like another Orange alert. More…

14 July 2004

This is the way to dignify an American Empire. Right now we plant democracy like an orchid and depart—leaving behind oilmen to drain nutrients out of the soil. Better to offer a plot in our own garden, so to speak, protected and sheltered by many hardy perennials, who find the new shoot in no way inferior. More…

Originally published in Issue 1: Negation

Purchase in print »