United States

When US Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited Paul, who wrote Philippians from prison, in support of imprisoning migrant children, the irony was hideous. Immediately after Sessions and White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders used the Bible to defend Trump Administration policy, the Internet was flooded with religious progressives — and some conservative clergy as well — providing counter-interpretations. (More…)

It is a sad fact of our current situation that great literature no longer carries the weight that it used to. This is no simply a matter of postmodernism knocking the wind out of linear novelistic narratives. In some cases, it is a matter of what was barely thinkable becoming commonplace. (More…)

I have two preferred cafés. The first, near our home in Phoenix, is independently owned, with a wide porch looking out over an artificial lake. The owners are a Greek family and they make sure that there is baklava available.  (More…)

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville famously wrote of the “fast-fish and loose-fish” doctrine. A dead whale connected to an occupied boat or marked with a distinctive symbol – “waifed” – was a recognized possession, a fast-fish. Any other whale found floating was a loose-fish. His narrator Ishmael uses these two principles of the whaling community as the basis for an inquiry into the relationship between freedom and power. (More…)

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…)

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…)

You can sense them building up, like storm runoff at a dam. It’s possible that the worst won’t happen this time. But one day they will become impossible to contain. The excuses, I mean. Although Donald Trump may wildly overstate his prowess in many areas, there is no doubt that he makes them with the aplomb of a world-class con artist and, more importantly, also makes them stick. (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…)

Former Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon has announced her challenge against two-term centrist Democratic New York governor Andrew Cuomo, scion of one of the state’s best known political dynasties. (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…)