Author: John Foster
John Foster is a librarian, writer, and musician based in Cleveland, Ohio. When not writing or attending shows, he can usually be found cursing at his television during Arsenal matches.

As an American with numerous friends in foreign countries, it often falls to one to be the interpreter (not to say justifier) of what goes on in American public life. In part, this is simply the normal interplay of people seeking to understand cultures and mores foreign to their own, and it is the subject of a literature has a long provenance, from Xenophon and Julius Caesar to Tocqueville and Twain, to Alastair Cooke (to name only a few). (More…)

I finally found time to read through Ross Douthat’s bizarre piece in Wednesday’s New York Times. The consequence of doing so was a sort of malaise resulting from recognition of the bankrupt state of intellectual culture and the realisation that those life minutes simply aren’t coming back. (More…)

No problem is so central to everyday life in the modern world as that of work, although its manifestations vary widely depending on one’s location in the global topography of production and consumption. If the central issue of David Graeber’s latest book, Bullshit Jobs, is a phenomenon specific to postindustrial society, it is nonetheless true that the broader implications of his argument spiral outwards, making contact with the broader reaches the productive processes in late capitalism. (More…)

Congressional Republicans have a Trump problem. Mr. Trump has made himself so toxic, conventional wisdom has it, that the losses normally suffered by the party that holds the White House in an off-year election will be so catastrophic as to rock the foundations of Republican hegemony. (More…)

When trying to understand the ways that the Trump Administration careens from crisis to crisis, one is reminded of a comment that Guy Debord makes early in The Society of the Spectacle. “The spectacle cannot be understood as a mere visual excess produced by mass-media technologies. It is a worldview that has actually been materialised, that has become an objective reality.” (More…)

Watching the pullulating weirdness of the Trump Administration often makes one feel like one of those Kremlin watchers from the 1980s, trying to read the tea leaves to get a picture of what’s going on inside. This may seem a strange comparison, given the fact that the Kremlin of old tended to do a pretty good job of information control, while the Trump team leaks information like a sieve. (More…)

Mr. Trump today signed his tariff order today, with much fanfare and a goodly measure of bewilderment among allies of the United States. The devotion to free trade has been talismanic among the political classes in this country for so long that Mr. Trump’s actions seem not just imprudent but heretical. (More…)

If it seems like there is another school shooting every week in the United States, it’s pretty much because there is. It’s a little hard to explain to people who don’t live here the numbed acceptance with which these things are greeted in the American public sphere. (More…)

The 18th Century French scholar Fontenelle is credited with noting that, “from the sublime to the ridiculous is only one step, from raillery to insult there is even less”.  One might be tempted to take this as a motto for the United States in the early 21st Century, were it not for the fact the instances of sublimity are in very short supply. (More…)

It came out last week that Mr. Trump had, via a lawyer, paid something like $130,000 in hush money to a porn star with whom he had had an assignation. Worse yet said the pearl-clutching pundits of the major media outlets, the incident in question had occurred only four months after his wife had given birth to their child. (More…)

The first thing worth noting about Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s recently released airing of the Trump Administration’s dirty laundry, is that there is very little in it that was not either generally known or strongly suspected. (More…)

One hears a lot of talk these days about the existential threat to Republican Party posed by Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Roy Moore and a host of other figures who, in another political season, would have been considered well beyond the lunatic fringe. But claims about the imminent demise of the Republicans are, to say the least, overblown. (More…)