BOOK REVIEW: Peter Watson’s “Fallout” shows how the nuclear world we got didn’t have to be this way—and doesn’t

As the Justice Department investigations and Congressional hearings into Watergate closed in, Richard Nixon—as a brag—once said something to the effect of, “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes, millions of people will be dead.”

That was when he was sober. In the depths of his stress and depression, the U.S. president was also mixing alcohol and sleeping pills, and his natural paranoia became even worse.

“He really got paranoid when he got three drinks in him. There are things I’m not even going to discuss that were said, but they were the result of drinking. He could not handle drink,” one of Nixon’s political strategists said.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Peter Watson’s “Fallout” shows how the nuclear world we got didn’t have to be this way—and doesn’t”

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: David Neiwert’s latest book “Alt-America” feels like chemotherapy

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”

BOOK REVIEW: Sasha Abramsky’s ‘Jumping At Shadows’ is important but covers little new ground

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”

There are worse things than being the world’s biggest celebrity

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”