American Politics

This Is Not the Apocalypse

This Is Not the Apocalypse

It’s been a while since a President has had to speak of fascism as something that has a lure.

Also distracting was the image, revealed a few hours earlier, of the next President urging Russian prostitutes to pee on each other in a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama had once slept.

Housing Crisis

Housing Crisis

What will Ben Carson’s HUD look like?

Many commentators have noted the parallels between Donald Trump’s appointment of the avowedly unqualified Ben Carson to Reagan’s disastrous appointment of Samuel Pierce, Jr., who blew his eight years as HUD chief binge-watching soap operas and permitting his aides to dole out millions in illegal subsidies to real estate consultants.

The Politics Trump Makes

The Politics Trump Makes

Is Trump, like Carter, a disjunctive President?

Every President is aligned with or opposed to the regime. Every regime is weak or strong. These two vectors—the political affiliation of the President, the vitality of the regime—shape the politics Presidents make.

What I Had Lost Was a Country

What I Had Lost Was a Country

To re-encounter nature would be a way of getting another angle of vision on the same social facts, the same greedy and unequal humanity.

Nature and landscape are palimpsests of history and social violence more than they are alternatives to them. They show back to the observer the durability and definiteness of the world people have made so far, as well as its fragility.

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 and 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 Obama Speeches

The Obama Speeches

Drones need no Churchills and deserve no Lincolns.

In the narrative world of an Obama speech, the protagonist of every story is in some sense a generation, and the climax of every story is a moment. For Bush, time was always running out, like Jack Bauer’s clock in 24. The decision point was that instant when one billiard ball hits the next, and God willing, your aim was true. But in the greatest Obama speeches, because of their eloquence and ceremonial grandeur, time itself slows.

Bright Lights

Bright Lights

Sanders in Philadelphia, Castro ad mortem

The death of Fidel Castro brought to a close an entire era, in which a single figure on a small Caribbean island could dictate whole arenas of American emotional life. Since the Cuban revolution in 1959, the United States has been obsessed not with Cuba, not with communism, but with Fidel.

What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

Or, an incomplete inventory of methods and means to abortion—undertaken with varying levels of success and the ever-present possibility of death—in America before the passage of Roe v. Wade

Hands (made into fists, then used to strike the stomach repeatedly)
Heavy weights (lifted repeatedly or applied to the stomach)
Herbs (picked or purchased, then swallowed or forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Enter Trump

Enter Trump

The event of Trump’s election looked like it was already being absorbed into the banality of the post-material marketplace.

I’m afraid that if I say the wrong thing there might be a knock at my door in the middle of the night, and on the other side of it someone who won’t wait for me to say “come in.”

No President

No President

To what extremes of disobedience and resistant behavior do peaceful Americans know how to go?

It is far better to “overreact” at this moment than not to react—probably better to be wrong, before probable wrongs are done, than to wait and see. It is more important to seize hold of the abnormal, than turn violation into the normal.

Photo Ops

Photo Ops

In victory, Trump has issued a license for jubilation and fervor. It is open season.

On Tuesday night, as the little blue line on the New York Times graph started to plunge to below 50 percent, I began to imagine President-elect Trump embracing the parents of grieving servicemen and servicewomen; Trump greeting a Girl Scout troop on the White House lawn; Trump dedicating a new national park (before privatizing it).

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

How are mutely inexpressive votes—boxes ticked once every four years by a minority of the voting-age electorate—legible?

Until November 8th, it seemed clear that one thing was going to happen, and now another thing—the exact opposite—happened, and I can’t see how this doesn’t provoke a sense of chagrin and humility.

This Is Not the Apocalypse

This Is Not the Apocalypse

It’s been a while since a President has had to speak of fascism as something that has a lure.

Also distracting was the image, revealed a few hours earlier, of the next President urging Russian prostitutes to pee on each other in a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama had once slept.

Housing Crisis

Housing Crisis

What will Ben Carson’s HUD look like?

Many commentators have noted the parallels between Donald Trump’s appointment of the avowedly unqualified Ben Carson to Reagan’s disastrous appointment of Samuel Pierce, Jr., who blew his eight years as HUD chief binge-watching soap operas and permitting his aides to dole out millions in illegal subsidies to real estate consultants.

The Politics Trump Makes

The Politics Trump Makes

Is Trump, like Carter, a disjunctive President?

Every President is aligned with or opposed to the regime. Every regime is weak or strong. These two vectors—the political affiliation of the President, the vitality of the regime—shape the politics Presidents make.

What I Had Lost Was a Country

What I Had Lost Was a Country

To re-encounter nature would be a way of getting another angle of vision on the same social facts, the same greedy and unequal humanity.

Nature and landscape are palimpsests of history and social violence more than they are alternatives to them. They show back to the observer the durability and definiteness of the world people have made so far, as well as its fragility.

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 and 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 Obama Speeches

The Obama Speeches

Drones need no Churchills and deserve no Lincolns.

In the narrative world of an Obama speech, the protagonist of every story is in some sense a generation, and the climax of every story is a moment. For Bush, time was always running out, like Jack Bauer’s clock in 24. The decision point was that instant when one billiard ball hits the next, and God willing, your aim was true. But in the greatest Obama speeches, because of their eloquence and ceremonial grandeur, time itself slows.