American Politics

The Golden Age

The Golden Age

I know how to build and if it was lost it is not really lost, it is going back better, just fabulous.

These are almost all very small little bombs, and even the ones that are a little more serious, even those, ours are much, much bigger, so people can understand that we are in control of the situation, and we are going to have a very, very successful number of days.

The Last Last Summer

The Last Last Summer

Donald Trump and the Fall of Atlantic City

All along the Boardwalk, the sun-bleached tattered banners read do ac—the city’s latest marketing catchphrase. The Boardwalk was a scrum of such imperatives, with Trumps on every side issuing edicts, diktats, offering bargains. Trumps in toupees and with their guts hanging over their change-belts, out on Steel Pier, out on Central Pier, trying to get me to try the ring-toss, though the rubber rings always bounce off the rubber bottles, or to try the beanbag-pitch, though the lily pads they’re supposed to land on are kept wet and slippery with a shammy. Try Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy, which contains no saltwater. Step right up and I’ll guess your weight, or at least I’ll make your wallet lighter. What American literature taught me—what Melville taught me in The Confidence-Man, what Poe taught me in Diddling, that imagination or fantasy can be a form a greed, even a uniquely American form—the shills and carny barkers taught me first, at $2 a lesson: I would never win that stuffed elephant.

The American Pickup

The American Pickup

As far as most consumers and producers are concerned, a pickup isn’t a pickup unless it’s big.

The pickup once demanded some accommodation. If you had a “need” for a pickup, you had to forego some of the creature comforts and utility of a car. You did without a good stereo and learned to appreciate poor handling.

After <em>Columbia</em>

After Columbia

Deans often feign surprise at graduate student complaints, and claim not to notice the thousands petitioning them every semester.

We need an Obama or Clinton NLRB to step in at Harvard and Yale, in other words, because Obama’s and Clinton’s friends and allies, their cronies and chiefs of staff, are preventing workers at those universities from exercising their rights. The reason we need to put a Democrat in the White House is to keep Democrats at bay in the private sector. The reason we need an Obama or Clinton to run the state is to stop Obamism and Clintonism in civil society.

Who Works for the Workers?

Who Works for the Workers?

The union movement’s problem isn’t that workers don’t want to fight; it’s that they don’t want to lose.

You can’t ever really be ready for the class war, but much of the job of working-class strategy is to stage and escalate conflict at the most advantageous moments. So-called legacy unions represent living traditions with institutional memories of what worked and what didn’t against an individual boss, in a given industry, or among workers of particular types. It’s an error to perceive union defeat as evidence of some strategic mistake. American workers can do everything right and still lose.

Kiddie Porn

Kiddie Porn

In the sexual counterrevolution, Ginsberg was the antiporn Gettysburg — the battle that turned the tide.

Once in a while, my parents allow some critically authorized highbrow “erotic” periodical like Eros or Evergreen to breach our doorway. But they draw the line at Playboy, in spite of its long, left-leaning pieces by and about important men like Vladimir Nabokov and James Baldwin. Mom and Dad aren’t prudes, they’re snobs. They consider comics, Mad magazine—even mysteries—degraded forms of literature. What would they think of Man to Man? I don’t have to ask.

Can I Be Honest?

Can I Be Honest?

One of the things the Clinton Democrats lorded over the Sanders supporters was their superior and more committed chauvinism.

There were photos of children, and videos of parents speaking to children, and videos of children watching Trump, and videos of children speaking to Hillary: so many children that it began to resemble a 34-year-old’s Facebook feed.

Why Are We in the Middle East?

Why Are We in the Middle East?

America’s devotion to the Middle East did not make much sense in 2003, Bacevich argues; but it did in 1980, and the reason was oil.

Unlike many journalists and historians who see the wars in the Middle East as a series of isolated conflicts that happen to have taken place in a single region over several decades, Andrew Bacevich, a career Army officer turned military historian and foreign policy critic, sees a sustained military campaign that began with Jimmy Carter and continues today. “From the end of World War II to 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in [the Greater Middle East],” Bacevich writes. “Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere except the Greater Middle East.”

The Turning of Backs

The Turning of Backs

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention

Suddenly Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, arrived at the tent, whether informed of or anticipating the walkout it was hard to say. She told the crowd that they weren’t walking out, they were walking in (to the Green Party!). This excited some delegates—who chanted “Jill, not Hill!”—and alienated many others, who did not appreciate her co-optation of this captive audience. Once it became clear that many of the delegates wanted to leave—either to return to the arena to see the Mothers of the Movement, or to join comrades in the adjoining Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a meeting ground for protesters—a golf cart drove up out of nowhere, Stein stepped in, and the candidate was whisked away.

Built in the Cloud

Built in the Cloud

The whole scene felt a little unhinged, exacerbated by the heat.

The booing and chanting was undirected, merely vocal resistance. But it could have been much more: the mere threat of disorder on the Convention floor had been enough to dislodge Schultz from her position; what other constructive work could it have done?

A Wedding From Hell

A Wedding From Hell

His promises? To end crime. To tell no lies. To provide fast relief, like a pack of Rolaids.

He emerged to the sound of swelling strings: two thumbs up. A closed-mouth smile, an open-mouthed smile, eyebrows wagging, voicelessly mouthing the words thank you—so much worse when not spoken aloud, somehow, less of a thank you than an I know.

Good TV

Good TV

“Can I binge watch it later?” I joked last fall, knowing the answer was no.

Election TV, like a dream, is the product of condensation and substitution, a stylistic mishmash that the RNC produces in miniature: it’s The O’Reilly Factor and Shark Tank and The Apprentice and a televangelist show and The Hills (with Ivanka as Whitney Port) rolled into one conservative revue.

The Golden Age

The Golden Age

I know how to build and if it was lost it is not really lost, it is going back better, just fabulous.

These are almost all very small little bombs, and even the ones that are a little more serious, even those, ours are much, much bigger, so people can understand that we are in control of the situation, and we are going to have a very, very successful number of days.

The Last Last Summer

The Last Last Summer

Donald Trump and the Fall of Atlantic City

All along the Boardwalk, the sun-bleached tattered banners read do ac—the city’s latest marketing catchphrase. The Boardwalk was a scrum of such imperatives, with Trumps on every side issuing edicts, diktats, offering bargains. Trumps in toupees and with their guts hanging over their change-belts, out on Steel Pier, out on Central Pier, trying to get me to try the ring-toss, though the rubber rings always bounce off the rubber bottles, or to try the beanbag-pitch, though the lily pads they’re supposed to land on are kept wet and slippery with a shammy. Try Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy, which contains no saltwater. Step right up and I’ll guess your weight, or at least I’ll make your wallet lighter. What American literature taught me—what Melville taught me in The Confidence-Man, what Poe taught me in Diddling, that imagination or fantasy can be a form a greed, even a uniquely American form—the shills and carny barkers taught me first, at $2 a lesson: I would never win that stuffed elephant.

The American Pickup

The American Pickup

As far as most consumers and producers are concerned, a pickup isn’t a pickup unless it’s big.

The pickup once demanded some accommodation. If you had a “need” for a pickup, you had to forego some of the creature comforts and utility of a car. You did without a good stereo and learned to appreciate poor handling.

After <em>Columbia</em>

After Columbia

Deans often feign surprise at graduate student complaints, and claim not to notice the thousands petitioning them every semester.

We need an Obama or Clinton NLRB to step in at Harvard and Yale, in other words, because Obama’s and Clinton’s friends and allies, their cronies and chiefs of staff, are preventing workers at those universities from exercising their rights. The reason we need to put a Democrat in the White House is to keep Democrats at bay in the private sector. The reason we need an Obama or Clinton to run the state is to stop Obamism and Clintonism in civil society.

Who Works for the Workers?

Who Works for the Workers?

The union movement’s problem isn’t that workers don’t want to fight; it’s that they don’t want to lose.

You can’t ever really be ready for the class war, but much of the job of working-class strategy is to stage and escalate conflict at the most advantageous moments. So-called legacy unions represent living traditions with institutional memories of what worked and what didn’t against an individual boss, in a given industry, or among workers of particular types. It’s an error to perceive union defeat as evidence of some strategic mistake. American workers can do everything right and still lose.

Kiddie Porn

Kiddie Porn

In the sexual counterrevolution, Ginsberg was the antiporn Gettysburg — the battle that turned the tide.

Once in a while, my parents allow some critically authorized highbrow “erotic” periodical like Eros or Evergreen to breach our doorway. But they draw the line at Playboy, in spite of its long, left-leaning pieces by and about important men like Vladimir Nabokov and James Baldwin. Mom and Dad aren’t prudes, they’re snobs. They consider comics, Mad magazine—even mysteries—degraded forms of literature. What would they think of Man to Man? I don’t have to ask.