Tag Archives: Andy Borowitz

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)