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Man Down

           Last week, in an incident that didn’t get much attention in the national news, a man named Tom Ball set himself on fire in front of the county courthouse in Keene, NH. He left a fifteen-page suicide note explaining his actions. He was angry at the state child protection bureaucracy and more »

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A Distant Sound of Churning

    In my last dream of a febrile night, I put my flat-screen TV on top of an old house in town and watched it crash onto the street. There was nothing inside it. The darn thing was empty. The ghost of Little Caylee wasn’t even in there.      From the news this weekend, more »

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The Creeping Nausea of American Exceptionalism

       History, that coy dominatrix, loves to trick the credulous human race. In a moment when something we call “democracy” seems to be spreading through the dodgy precincts of the world like a contagion of virtue, the trend is actually going the other way in countries that have practiced it for a while. more »

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Memorial Day: Enter Hitler, Release 2.0

     As the sage Robert Crumb once remarked about our homeland: “You can’t make this shit up.”        Sarah Palin entered the race for president this week (without stating it in so many words) with a national bus tour, itself kicked off with a motorcycle parade through Washington. By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press more »

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Get Real

     Americans gathered around the hearth of CBS’s 60 Minutes must have been bemused to hear reporter Scott Pelley announce self-importantly that the US Department of Justice is investigating Lance Armstrong’s bicycling team for performance-enhancing drug use. Does it really matter if any pro athlete takes drugs? Why not throw Babe Ruth out of more »

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A Flea In His Ear

     Imagine the fright mask that the Sofitel Hotel maid’s face turned into when a black swan in the form of an international banking poobah waddled out of the suite’s bathroom with wings rampant. Black swans appear now in the unlikeliest places. I bet you a million Euros that Dominque Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer will say more »

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The Song of Spring

     This is a nervous country. I’m not sure that hanging Osama Bin Laden on the White House wall like a coonskin really helps that much. Already, a familiar darkness sets back in, a loss of purpose of the kind that Lindsay Lohan must feel when she gets out of rehab. This is exactly more »

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Lying Is the New Normal

    Mark these words: within about three hours, the “Birther” faction around America will be asking for Osama Bin Laden’s driver’s license. What I’d like to know is how come he was “buried at sea,” when the operation took place at least a thousand miles from the sea. Did the US Navy Seals transfer his more »

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The Banana Peel of Destiny

     That was a cute move by President Obama last week, calling out the “oil speculators” with a memo to his Attorney General, Eric Holder.  The President proved a few weeks ago, in his energy speech to the nation, that he doesn’t understand how these resources are produced and traded. Consequently, the people he more »

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Gaming Our Own Asses

   A wicked vibe rattles the mental furniture in men’s minds these days. Against the dreadful normality of American life – the morning traffic on I-495, the mayhem awaiting in some school cafeteria or motor vehicle office, the household awakenings to a new dawn of foreclosure here, there, and everywhere – all this ceremony of more »

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Skeleton Dance

     Cue the xylophone.      Like the dancing skeletons of film history, here come the elected office-holders of the US government cutting their capers in the graveyard of empire, giving the paying customer – er… citizens – a nice case of the Friday night heebie-jeebies in a mock battle over inanities. It made more »

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Blowing Green Smoke

     “We also have Secretary Steven Chu, my Energy Secretary. Where is Steven? There he is over there.”            – President Obama at Georgetown U last week       Blame Steven Chu, then, because when it comes to America’s energy predicament, the president has been woefully misinformed. Mr. Obama pawned more »

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Make No Mistake

     Taking in Charles Ferguson’s excellent documentary, Inside Job, about the dark doings of Wall Street in our time, I confess I was awestruck all over again at the complete surrender of Obama to the very characters who embodied the corruption that rotted our system from the heart outward. Summers, Rubin, Geithner, and a more »

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An Odd Rumination

       Can’t we just drop Pee Wee Herman on Tripoli? Surely this shocking manifestation of everything toxic in America’s existential zeitgeist arsenal would send the Gadhafi corps shrieking for the blank Saharan interior – somewhere between Murzuk and Timbuktu – where timeless dunes shift in the eternal wind, and the cares of modern more »

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Rock Me on the Water

Note of apology. My iMac turned up dead this morning and I got a late start by other means. ________________________________________________      There was Japan, standing quietly offstage all these years, minding its own business, more or less – though unwinding financially and socially at some very deep level for two decades, debt rising around more »

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Reality Optional Nation

     Before retiring to a casket packed with clods of my native soil, I tuned in the Sunday night late news to find the political struggles of Araby banished from the screen. Charlie Sheen was all over the place, his defiant chin thrust forward as if auditioning for the role as our next president. more »

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Wake Me, Shake Me

     A quickening of events pulses through lands where for so long time stood still, and the oil – what’s left of it – lies locked for the moment beneath hot sands – woe upon all ye soccer moms! – while Colonel Gadhafi ponders the Mussolini option – that is, to be hoisted up more »

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White Is The New Black

     Let it be remembered that, as the world was blowing up, Fashion Week gave the New York news media a case of the vapors. But let them tell it. In the immortal words of The New York Times’s Cathy Horyn: “…amid the parkas and the managed pant-suits there was a story here: the more »

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Next

     For a month, Egypt has been a magic mirror for America to behold its own wonderfulness, like a diorama of “Freedom and Democracy” out of a Kentucky creationist museum.  In this, our hour of national narcissism, we imagine a replay of Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and Yorktown – with a falafel on top more »

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The Mummy’s Tomb

…President Mubarak has about as much chance of sticking around his presidential palace another fortnight as a bluebottle fly has of conducting the next Easter mass at the Vatican. –Last week’s CFN blog      Oh well, poor call there. It seems that the College of Cardinals actually located an eager bluebottle fly named Franci more »

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The Earth Shifts

     Those Panglossians around the USA awaiting something like an election in Egypt are going to be disappointed. What’s going on in the streets of Cairo right now is an Egyptian election – minus the American-style trappings of corporate grift , scripted “debates,” and polling places that make our elections so satisfying.      more »

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State of Suspension

     You kind of wonder here in the flash-frozen northeast if, a few days from now, scores of dead bodies will be found in unheated trailers across the county. The Weather Channel said 20-below-zero this morning in upstate New York. I know there are people so desperately poor out there because a couple of more »

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The Great Okay-ness

     Days after the Tucson shooting, President Obama rode into town on a gooey gel of good will, but by the time the memorial service – or whatever it was – got underway, the president looked rather ill-at-ease. His speech was preceded by several others, including, for promotional purposes, the President of the University more »

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Jared Got a Gun

     Did anyone else notice that Speaker of the House John Boehner did not shed a tear when issuing his statement about the massacre in Arizona that killed, among others, a nine-year-old girl and left Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords maimed? The new Speaker notoriously weeps when recounting his own youthful travails rising to fortune in more »

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The Moment of Convulsion

     A little ways off the curb on the Boulevard Henry IV here in Paris, you can see the memory of the Bastille outlined by a course of masonry in the pavement, in particular one of the bulbous towers of the old fortress-prison. It marks one of those threshold moments in history when things more »

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