Tag Archives: KEITH OLBERMANN

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

Miscellaneous Miscellany: 14 August 2015

14 Aug

The Baffler (magazine) is in the vanguard of the movement to celebrate public intellectuals as the September 10th celebration for George Scialabba attests September 10. By the way,that date has been designated George Scialabba Day by the Cambridge City Council.

George Sciallabba [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

George Sciallabba [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

To be found in Baffler Issue 26, …”Stumble along with George Scialabba through a lifetime of therapy for chronic depression.”

Baffler Issue No 26

Baffler Issue No 26

Our Man in Boston being in the vanguard of efforts to celebrate public intellectuals, chatted with George [Scialabba]on subjects near and dear and far and wide…

RB: In reading this Baffler article, it is not apparent that you ever give yourself credit for doing good and useful work. Your writing has been recognized by smart people everywhere. Didn’t that make you feel better?

GS: Eventually, it did. Saved my life, really. But it took a long while.

RB: Why?

GS: (long pause) Because there were lots of people my age doing what I was doing, a lot more successfully than me.

RB: Well, what was your criterion of success?

GS: I suppose quantity and visibility. I would see Sven Birkerts)5 or Paul Berman or Ellen Willis appearing in the New Yorker

Go Cubbies —winners of last 10 of 11 games.Another rookie makes an impact

Ann Bardach is a reliable narrator of the unfolding Cuba story.Here she spotlights Brother Raul

Raul Castro[borrowed from Politco]

Raul Castro[borrowed from Politco]

A smart team of filmmmakers turns Alice Munro’s short story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” into a fine film with Guy Pearce, Kristin Wiig and up-and-comer Hailee Steinfield (True Grit, Begin Again )

Want to see what 96 million black plastic balls look like. Of course you do

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The New York Times has fallen on hard times—how else to explain using a photograph from Facebook

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96 million waterfilled black plastic balls is a story— Bloomberg asks the important question:

Ed Osann, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council,told Bloomberg that the shade balls probably won’t release any toxic materials into the water supply. (NRDC has not yet responded to a request for comment.)

“Probably?”

UGGIE,  star of  Academy Award winning 'The Artist'

UGGIE, star of Academy Award winning ‘The Artist’

RIP Uggie

Young Sport Center anchors Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick

Young Sport Center anchors Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick


I am not ashamed to admit my admiration for the mercurial and occasionally bombastic Keith Olbermann, especially his “Worst Person in the World” awards. In some ways this plaudit was low hanging fruit as there have always been may candidates. In a bow to Olbermann’s intention, albeit with a positive twist,Our Man in Bostn inaugurates the DIOGENES AWARD, paying homage to a dwindling population of truth tellers.

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First up is diogenian police reporter turned film maker David Simon whose The Wire has achieved legendary status and whose newest effort Show Me a Hero*debuts August 16 on HBO. Here Simon and Cory Booker chat about the Future of Cities

I am going to risk overexposing Simon by pointing out his recent interview at the Daily Beast and pointing you to a very smart spot-on take on Simon and Show Me a Hero by Andy Greenwald

Well, we are coming up on the 10th anniversary of the natural disaster known ( like supermodel) as Katrina. There is a striking similarity between this metereological event and the great 1927 Mississippi Flood. both of which proved the federal government unable or uninterested in helping out a drowned delta. Tom Franklin and Beth Fenelly’s novel The Twisted World does an excellent job of making vivid the 1927 debacle.

NYT reporter Gary Rivlin adds to the significant Katrina bibliography** Katrina: After the Flood. Simon and Schuster describe Katrina

This book traces the stories of New Orleanians of all stripes—politicians and business owners, teachers and bus drivers, poor and wealthy, black and white—as they confront the aftermath of one of the great tragedies of our age and reconstruct, change, and in some cases abandon a city that’s the soul of this nation.

* about which I will have more to say…
** about which I will have more to say…