Tag Archives: Andy Borowitz

Pearls? Before Swine?

27 Apr

 

 

 

 

The Bedlamite

Our President. Really.

 

 

Until I can get help for this condition, I find myself expending some effort on the so-called social media platform entitled FACEBOOK. This activity is troublesome as there are multitudes of useless monads of information (validating the notion that it pays to choose your friends wisely) and much silliness as well as bombast and, well I could go on… So…when I occasionally review my contributions to the din, I am pleased that some are worth anthologizing,  And thus, with some tweaks here are  my recent Facebook posts:

 

1 More from the dissident hymnbook for the choir…

Chomsky, “And it turns out that the most powerful country in human history, the richest, most powerful, most influential, the leader of the free world, has just decided not only not to support the efforts [Paris Conference, December 2015] but actively to undermine them. So there’s the whole world on one side, literally, at least trying to do something or other, not enough maybe, although some places are going pretty far, like Denmark, couple of others; and on the other side, in splendid isolation, is the country led by the most dangerous organization in human history, which is saying, “We’re not part of this. In fact, we’re going to try to undermine it.” We’re going to maximize the use of fossil fuels—could carry us past the tipping point. We’re not going to provide funding for—as committed in Paris, to developing countries that are trying to do something about the climate problems. We’re going to dismantle regulations that retard the impact, the devastating impact, of production of carbon dioxide and, in fact, other dangerous gases—methane, others.”

 

Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the UnIted States.”

It’s possible your high school history covered the US theft of a vast swath of Mexico in the 1846 invasion known Guerra de Estados Unidos a Mexico (“War of the United States Against Mexico”). And maybe even included the scam known as thew Gadsen Purchase. Novelist Carmen Boullosa’s elucidation in her novel Texas the Great Theft sets the record straight. Among other things validating the Mexican saying, “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the UnIted States.”

3

Some clever shit about some dumb shit  Lindy West writes the truth…

  We must keep calling these ideas what they are, and to do that we need a shared understanding of what words mean. That’s why Trump’s 100 days of gibberish aren’t just disorienting and silly – they’re dangerous. Trump approaches language with the same roughshod imperialist entitlement he’s applying to the presidency (and, by extension, the world) – as though it’s a resource that one man can own and burn at will, not a vastly complex collective endeavour of which he is only a steward.

 

4 HBO should submit this for a Pulitzer…

5. Too true... Perhaps Andy Borowitz can have a shot at being Press Secretary

 

CHICAGO (The Borowitz Report)—In an appearance at the University of Chicago on Monday, former President Barack Obama unloaded a relentless barrage of complete sentences in what was widely seen as a brutal attack on his successor, Donald Trump.

 

6 If I oppose inviting the Bedlamite president* to the US Holocaust Museum that is not censorship or some mysterious infringement on the 1st amendment…

Not only did the US Holocaust Museum follow tradition and invite POTUS to speak but  screechy clown Ann Coulter attempted to desecrate the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. One writer demurs from the sophistry that this is a 1st amendment issue

“To treat the open forum of the classroom or the campus like just another town square—and thus to explain value judgment and knowledge prioritization on campus in terms of censorship or “shutting down” speech—is misguided. No one really thinks Coulter’s ideas are “shut down” if she doesn’t get a chance to talk to Berkeley students. Indeed, as I’ve argued, the marketplace of ideas is more likely to reward controversy than substance. It’s reasonable for us to disagree over the value of bringing someone like Coulter to campus; but it’s unreasonable to insist that if people make successful arguments for why Coulter shouldn’t have a campus platform, that’s tantamount to censorship. Obviously, students can read, watch, and hear professional provocateurs like Coulter without an institution of higher education hosting her speech. An education opens minds and expands horizons by introducing students to people and ideas they otherwise won’t find trending on Twitter over the latest monetized controversy.”

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7. As I am enamored of Julie Buntin‘s debut novel Marlena, I thought I would share the joy but pointing you all towards another bright, young writer...

“Influence is a tricky thing. I think it starts with love, with resonance, with the exhilarating feeling that what you’ve read articulates something you’ve always felt but never had the words for. It’s reading something and jumping into the conversation to say, yes, it was this way for me too. Yes, and. The and is the writing. The and is the book that is your answer. There are details and moments in Marlena I hadn’t even realized I’d borrowed—a family of French Canadians, for example—and there are also more direct links. I remember knowing I wanted to write a scene where the girls just laugh, really hard, and for no good reason, and when I wrote it I thought of Berie and Sils as much as I thought of moments in my own adolescence when my best friend raising her eyebrow could make me sick with laughter. And writing about memory by structuring a book as a series of memories: I looked closely at Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? to try to figure how to do that, how the transitions might work, how to hide the seams.”

 

8 More reading for the choir…Henry Giroux:

“…What has often surprised me is not that it unfolded or the neo-liberal orthodoxy that increasingly made it appear more and more possible. What shocked me was the way the left has refused to really engage this discourse in ways that embrace a comprehensive politics, one that go beyond the fracturing single-issue movements and begins to understand what the underlying causes of these authoritarian movements have been and what it might mean to address them.

You have to ask yourself, what are the forces at work in the United States around civic culture, around celebrity culture, around the culture of fear, around the stoking of extremism and anger that give rise to a right-wing populism and neo-fascist politics? About a media that creates a culture of illusion, about the longstanding legacy of racism and terror in the United States. I mean, how did that all come together to produce a kind of authoritarian pedagogy that basically isolated people, and made them feel lonely? All of a sudden they find themselves in a community of believers, in which the flight from reality offers them a public sphere in which they can affirm themselves and no longer feel that they’re isolated.”:

 

9 Here’s a hymn book for the choir… ever vigilant dissident Tom Englehardt at Tomdispatch

“…America’s forever wars have now been pursued by these generals and others like them for more than 15 years across a vast swath of the planet — from Pakistan to Libya (and ever deeper into Africa) — and the chaos of failing states, growing conflicts, and spreading terror movements has been the result. There’s no reason to believe that further military action will, a decade and a half later, produce more positive results.

What happens, then? What happens when the war honeymoon is over and the generals keep right on fighting their way? The last two presidents put up with permanent failing war, making the best they could of it. That’s unlikely for Donald Trump. When the praise begins to die down, the criticism starts to rise, and questions are asked, watch out.”

 

 

Matt Taibbi, Keith Olbermann, Lucian Truscott and Charles Pierce are erudite commentators on US politics and  unabashed critics of the 45th POTUS and his regime Taibbi, Pierce and Keith hit the trifecta

 

10 Here’s Keith:

11. Charley Pierce‘s miscellany

. “If he’s done nothing else, this president* has given every Republican politician license to let their freak flags fly. (Lindsey Graham is anxious to tee it up on the peninsula, too, it seems. This is insane.) But Pence seems to be liberated more than most folks.”

12 Mask? What “mask”? Historian Eric Foner is interviewed

 

The Nation: In the introduction to Tom Paine and Revolutionary America, you say that your aim in writing about the history of American radicalism was, in part, “to provide modern-day social activists with a ‘usable past.’” What does that phrase mean to you?

Foner: The “usable past” is a term that became popular in the late 1960s. Howard Zinn used it; Jesse Lemisch used it. Radical historians began talking about it. I like the term because the past should be usable. That does not mean propaganda; a distorted past is not useful. A past like the one I was taught in school when I was growing up is not a usable past. It was just about how America was created perfect and has just been getting better ever since.

 

 

 

13 Matt Taibbi reminds us of the real histiory of the USA

 

“Seventy years ago, affluent white people could huddle in the suburbs, watch Leave It to Beaver, and pretend that cops weren’t beating the crap out of people in East St. Louis or Watts or wherever the nearest black neighborhood was. But these days, the whole country regularly gawks at brutal cases of police violence on the Internet. Nobody can pretend it’s not going on, but millions of people clearly don’t want to do anything about it – just the opposite, in fact. They want more. Is this a twisted country, or what?”

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Fuck this world, and fuck those who would impose their frail conceits of good and evil on it. Fuck the black man and the white, the junkie and the crusader, the philosopher and the fool. Fuck those who swagger and those who cower, those who pretend to truth and those who flee from it. Fuck the poet and the book burner, the leader and the led. Fuck God and justice and every other lie that ever held men back. Only when one set it all aflame and forsook it could one return, if only for a breath, to that time of purity when fire was the only philosophy…   from Nick Tosches’ Trinities

THE BLACKEST FRIDAY

21 Jan

 

 

 

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Illustration courtesy of Anthony Russo

 

 

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”*

Paying attention to the shit stream of information, polls, false news, Facebook hysteria and hand wringing and thankfully, eloquent opining on the forthcoming Bedlamite Reign (which is now at hand) it would seem that a great many of my fellow citizens are dismayed.

Include me in.

HL Mencken’s apparently prescient observation not withstanding, that such a nightmare should come to pass is a shock to the system. As it happens I have
spent some time (when not diverting myself from the impending darkness with literature (textual and filmic) watching the confirmation hearings ( being extremely thankful for Senators Warren, Franken and Saunders) and attending to the small circle of observers who I count on for spirited (and yes, humorous )commentary. That group includes Charles Pierce,, Chris Lehmann, Keith Olbermann, Andy Borowitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, George Scialabba, Rebecca Solnit, Henry Giroux and on occasion, Gail Collins. One wonders what Molly Ivins and Christopher Hitchens would have made of the evolution of neoliberalism.

 

Theme song for Dark Times

There is also Howard Zinn’s half century of dissidence  which offers many clues as to how he would view current events. One of the principles he held dear is expressed in this articulation of  Edmund Burke’s remark on activism.

History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.

 

Keith Olbermann has been cvertainly been around the media block. Currently, he is affiliated with GQ ( yes, the slick Conde Nast glossy) and his outpost in cyberspace is entitled The Resistance (which is a good a rubric as any, I suppose). Forgoing his penchant for bombast, Keith recently offered this bulletin to Trump supporters

 

William Greider, in the Nation in a piece called “Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Fiasco for Donald Trump” mordantly suggests a note of hope;

… If Americans wanted a performer to run the country, why not pick George Clooney? Instead, we got a slightly demented carnival barker with gilded hair and a bloated ego. The fright and gloom are understandable, but I have a hunch Donald Trump has already peaked. He won’t go away, of course—he will be Mr. President—but the air is already seeping out of Trump’s balloon. The president-elect has amassed a huge inventory of dubious promises, and I expect this powerhouse of American politics to get smaller and less influential as the broken promises pile up…

…his governing vision, it was usually limited to 140 characters. His longer speeches, if you listen closely, are always about the same subject—the greater glory of Donald Trump. We still don’t know how much Trump knows about governing. Or how much he cares…

 

 

 

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The Fortiefifth President of the United States

 

…President-elect Trump doesn’t seem to understand that governing is a team sport. It requires complicated cooperation and fluid policy arguments. Small details produce awesome differences. In other words, for Trump, it’s boring. Trump is a big-picture guy who treats the politics of governing like it’s high-stakes mud wrestling. And it’s all about him. He shows little interest in or knowledge of policy specifics and spews gratuitous scorn and ridicule on his opponents…

…Now he is to be our president, and Trump’s “magical realism” is about to collide with the hard earth of mortal politics. The president-elect and his staffers are already busy trying to distance themselves from some of his more explosive promises, hoping they get forgotten in the excitement of a new party’s taking power….

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Rebecca Solnit in the London Review of books (From ‘Lying to Leering”:

Trump was the candidate so weak that his victory needed the disenfranchisement of millions of voters of colour, the end of the Voting Rights Act, a long-running right-wing campaign to make Clinton’s use of a private email server, surely the dullest and most uneventful scandal in history, an epic crime and the late intervention, with apparent intent to sabotage, of the FBI director James Comey. We found out via Comey’s outrageous gambit that it is more damaging to be a woman who has an aide who has an estranged husband who is a creep than actually to be a predator who has been charged by more than a dozen women with groping and sexual assault.

The pride of Providence Rhode Island Henry Giroux warns (warning Henry uses big words explicating a dense theory of pedagogy —he is nonetheless worth reading)

The United States stands at the endpoint of a long series of attacks on democracy, and the choices faced by the American public today point to the divide between those who are committed to democracy and those who are not. Debates over whether Donald Trump was a fascist or Hillary Clinton was a right-wing warmonger and tool of Wall Street were a tactical diversion. The real questions that should have been debated include: What measures could have been taken to prevent the United States from sliding further into a distinctive form of authoritarianism? And what could have been done to imagine a mode of civic courage and militant hope needed to enable the promise of a radical democracy? Such questions take on a significant urgency in light of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. Under such circumstances, not only is the public in peril, it is on the brink of collapse as the economic, political, and cultural institutions necessary for democracy to survive are being aggressively undermined. As Robert Kuttner observes:

“It is hard to contemplate the new administration without experiencing alarm bordering on despair: Alarm about the risks of war, the fate of constitutional democracy, the devastation of a century of social progress. Trump’s populism was a total fraud. Every single Trump appointment has come from the pool of far-right conservatives, crackpots, and billionaire kleptocrats. More alarming still is the man himself – his vanity, impulsivity, and willful ignorance, combined with an intuitive genius as a demagogue. A petulant fifth-grader with nuclear weapons will now control the awesome power of the U.S. government. One has to nourish the hope that Trump can yet be contained. Above all, that will take passionate and strategic engagement, not just to resist but to win, to discredit him and get him out of office while this is still a democracy. We can feel sick at heart – we would be fools not to – but despair is not an option.”[1]

Trump’s willingness to rely upon openly fascist elements prefigures the emergence of an American style mode of authoritarianism that threatens to further foreclose venues for social justice and civil rights. The need for resistance has become urgent. The struggle is not simply over specific institutions such as higher education or so-called democratic procedures such as the validity of elections but over what it means to get to the root of the problems facing the United States. At the heart of such a movement is the need to draw more people into subversive actions modeled after the militancy of the labour strikes of the 1930s, the civil rights movements of the 1950s and the struggle for participatory democracy by the New Left in the 1960s while building upon the strategies and successes of the more recent movements for economic, social and environmental justice such as Black Lives Matter and Our Revolution. At the same time, there is a need to reclaim the radical imagination and to infuse it with a spirited battle for an independent politics that regards a radical democracy as part of a never-ending struggle.

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Women’s March 22 January 2017

I could, of course, go on. Hopefully  you have overcome your despair (to which more than a few of my acquaintances have succumbed )and availed your self of useful social media and serious activist organizations to contribute to  coalescing resistance, Otherwise, to quote Edmund Burke:

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

Power to the Peaceful

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  • HL Mencken

Books, Books and more Books…

18 Apr

Let me reiterate something I have noted in the past—this, to justify my resorting to the creation and promulgation of a list— which I have also said before, is the main trick of lazy journalists.

Uh where was I?

Oh yeah, if you are familiar either with European literary journals or the late lamented Wisława Szymborska’s splendid little tome Non-REquired Reading you are aware that those journals list books that they receive— a number usually far greater than can be reviewed (or that fussy critics would deign to comment on). Seems like a useful thing to list, right?

Since I am exactly in that position I am pleased to occasionally publish an idiosyncratic and arbitrary enumeration of recently received books such as the one that follows.The arbitrary part of this public service ia the links that attach to some of the book noted. Some because i have spoken to the author—some because I have previously commented on something to do with said tome.And some links because, well, it’s the right thing to do.


David Hockney: The Biography by Christopher Simon Sykes (Doubleday)

Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World by Jay Nordlinger (Encounter Books)

The Short American Century: A Postmortem by Andrew Bacevich(Editor) (Harvard University Press)

The Recipe Project: A Delectable Extravaganza of Food and Musicby Leigh Newman (Black Balloon Publishing)

Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson byKevin Avery, Nick Tosches (Foreword) (Fantagraphics)

The Life of Charles Dickens: The Illustrated Edition [Abridged] by John Forster, Dr. Holly Furneaux PhD, Jane Smiley (Foreword) (Sterling Signature)


Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s by Richard Graham , Sid Jacobson (Foreword)(Abrams ComicArts)

How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends by Mark Derr (Overlook)

A People’s Guide to Los Angeles by Laura Pulido, Laura Barraclough , Wendy Cheng (University of California Press)

Herbert Eugene Bolton: Historian of the American Borderlands by Albert L. Hurtado (University of California Press )

No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel (Riverhead)

Jewish Art: A Modern History by Samantha Baskind, Larry Silver(Reaktion Books)

On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.Sby Sean Stewart (Editor)(PM Press)

Richard Benson: North South East West by Peter Galassi,Richard Benson(Author Photographer)(The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives by Elizabeth Benedict (State University Press of New York)

Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series by Sarah Bancroft(The Museum of Modern Art, New York)


Cindy Sherman by Eva Respini (Author), Johanna Burton (Author), Cindy Sherman (Photographer), John Waters (Contributor)(The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

Darwin’s Devices: What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology by John Long (Basic Books)

The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard by Joe Brainard, Ron Padgett (Editor), Paul Auster (Foreword)(Library of America)

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by
Tracie McMillan (Scribner)

What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld (Author), Ben Boos (Illustrator), A.G. Ford (Illustrator) (Candlewick)

Walter De Maria: Trilogies by Josef Helfenstein (Editor), Clare Elliott (Contributor)(Yale University Press)

Graphic Design: A New History, second edition by Stephen J. Eskilson (Yale University Press)


The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn (Titan Books)

Reading for My Life: Writings, 1958-2008 by John Leonard, E. L. Doctorow (Introduction) (Viking)

This Will Have Been: Art, Love, and Politics in the 1980s by Helen Molesworth (Yale University Press)

David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s by David Goodis, Robert Polito (Editor)(Library of America)

The Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi (Little, Brown and Company)

Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground by Rob Jovanovic(St. Martin’s Press)

Herb Ritts: L.A. Style by Paul Martineau (Author), James Crump (Contributor) (J. Paul Getty Museum)

Grantland Issue 2 by Bill Simmons (Editor), Dan Fierman (Editor) (McSweeney’s)

David Shrigley: Brain Activity by Cliff Lauson , Martin Herbert, Jonathan Monk, David Shrigley, Dave Eggers (Contributor) (Hayward Publishing)

Jeff, One Lonely Guy by Jeff Ragsdale, David Shields, Michael Logan (Amazon Publishing)

Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing by Leonard Koren (Imperfect Publishing)

Strange Flesh: A Novel by Michael Olson (Simon & Schuster)

The Middle Ages by (Penguin)

These Dreams of You by Steve Erickson (Europa Editions)

The Journal of Henry David Thoreau 1837-1861 by Henry David Thoreau, Damion Searls (Editor), John Stilgoe (Preface) (New York Review Books Classics)

Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives by John Sutherland (Yale University Press

Perlaby Carolina De Robertis(Knopf)

Atget by John Szarkowski, Eugène Atget (Photographer) (The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

The 50 Funniest American Writers*: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to The Onion by Andy Borowitz ( Library of America)

Nixon’s Court: His Challenge to Judicial Liberalism and Its Political Consequences by Kevin J. McMahon (University Of Chicago Press)

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (Knopf)

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack: A Novel by ( Little, Brown and Company)


The Anatomy of Harpo Marx by Wayne Koestenbaum(University of California Press)

Timebomb:A Thriller by Gerald Seymour (Overlook)

Any Day Now: A Novel by Terry Bisson (Overlook)

Three Science Fiction Novellas: From Prehistory to the End of Mankind by J.-H. Rosny, Daniele Chatelain (Translator, Contributor), George Slusser (Translator, Contributor) (Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction)

Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers from the Team at Baseball Prospectus by Baseball Prospectus The, Steven Goldman (Editor) (Basic Books)

A People’s History of Baseball by Mitchell Nathanson (University of Illinois Press)


MeMyselfandI: Photo Portraits of Picasso by Pierre Daix, Friederike Mayröcker, Katherine Slusher, Kerstin Stremmel (Editor) (Hatje Cantz)

Currently reading The Wet Engine by Brian Doyle (Oregon State University Press)