Given her media blitz leading up to the release of her 2016 campaign memoir Hacks, Donna Brazile’s recollection of what it was like to be on the receiving end of the Russian cyberattack against the Democratic National Committee was far more enlightening than I’d had any expectation.
That’s because, ahead of the Virginia state elections in November 2017, Brazile’s press interviews and excerpts tended to be internecine and conspiratorial, focusing on how the Hillary Clinton campaign had unethically bought the DNC at “Bernie’s” expense, or how Hillary didn’t call Brazile for a while after she lost the Electoral College, or how staffer Seth Rich’s murderer still needed to be found.
Now, this is not what most of the book, subtitled The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, turns out to be about, but the strategy was successful. It reached No. 5 on the New York Times bestseller list, sold out on Amazon, then was subsequently completely forgotten.
The modern political memoir and tell-all has become the publishing equivalent of Hollywood’s superhero and sci-fi franchise films.
Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: The airing of grievances in Donna Brazile’s “Hacks” comes at her true crime memoir’s expense” →
In their first post-2016 general election show, Saturday Night Live had a skit with Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock reacting to the results throughout that night, not with pleasure but certainly without the shock or horror of the other urban-dwelling liberals.
David Neiwert’s book Alt-America is as convincing an argument you’ll find anywhere for why no one had an excuse to be surprised by Donald Trump’s campaign, its competitiveness, or its ultimate success.
Neiwert traces the historical strains of xenophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, and petty resentments that culminated in the “alt-right”, chronicling how they were able to come together to win the Republican nomination and get enough votes in right places to win the presidency.
Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: David Neiwert’s latest book “Alt-America” feels like chemotherapy” →
Someone—I don’t remember now who—described the major difference in American politics to be that the Left fetishizes being correct where the Right reserves that obsession for power.
For that reason, Republicans have been willing to abandon all previously stated principles so long as they can expect to have a warm body capable of signing regressive tax bills into law and who will nominate judges to protect conservative orthodoxies.
And it’s why a year and a half later, Democrats still get into fights about whether they supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the 2015-16 primary. It’s why many of us on the Left continue, inexorably, viewing contemporary events as a chance to re-litigate that contest and who was right.
So just to say, “Bernie Sanders: Guide to Political Revolution is for teenagers,” will invite cheap jokes along those lines, and merely by existing, it reinvigorates the conversation about who actually had the better fire extinguisher a year and a half ago, even as the grease fire continues to spread.
Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Bernie Sanders’ “Guide to Political Revolution” is more textbook than revolutionary” →
Reggie Watts’ 2012 TED Talk had many unique observations, but one has always stuck with me as particularly insightful.
“As we face fear in these times—and fear is all around us—we also have anti-fear. The background radiation is simply too static to be able to be seen under the normal spectral analysis.”
That line of satirical pseudo-babble was part of an improvised comedy/musical performance but has achieved a surprising resonance in years since, and it’s as concise a summary of journalist Sasha Abramsky’s latest book Jumping At Shadows as the one it gives itself. Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Sasha Abramsky’s ‘Jumping At Shadows’ is important but covers little new ground” →
The other day the candidates finished up the last of three presidential debates after a year and a half of serious campaigning, and the only thing left on the calendar is Election Day itself. Now the final hours of the election are unfolding like the extended director’s cut of Return of the King: we’re ready for it to be over any time now, but there’s still much more than you need or want ahead.
So the 2016 Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner just happened, and because there are pageviews to get and 24 hours of cable to fill and politics are consumed and pored over by laymen like Westerosi genealogies, it wasn’t just another private white-tie fundraiser for New York Catholics and other elite figures to mingle and lightly roast one another; it was a public occasion open to anyone with cable or YouTube and another subject to fill conversation for the chattering classes we can now all count ourselves among thanks to the steady march of progress and the Internet.
Donald Trump gave his speech; Hillary Clinton gave hers. They each apparently gave two versions of their talks because that’s how people reacted to it. Ideology is a prism for splitting the light from any event into your preferred spectrum, and we’re lucky enough to have plenty of sources available to better crystalize our thoughts, whatever the ideology.
Continue reading “Donald Trump isn’t president yet, but he’s already started bombing” →
During last autumn’s presidential campaign, John McCain ran ads calling Barack Obama the “biggest celebrity in the world” and meant it as an insult – which coming from a senator who’d hosted “Saturday Night Live” and from a ticket that eventually included Sarah Palin, was a bit hypocritical.
But largely accurate. Already Obama seems to have appeared on “Entertainment Tonight” more than Bush 43 ever did; we care about the present Obama’s wife bought and the outfits his daughters wore, even how his daughter reacted when she met other celebrities. We didn’t know FDR was crippled, but we know Obama drives to the left to get to the basket.
Secret Service agents with orders to shoot-to-kill are the only thing keeping paparazzi away.
Continue reading “There are worse things than being the world’s biggest celebrity” →