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Neither Great Nor British

Corey Pein   June 24, 2016
A scarecrow effigy of Boris Johnson. / Mazzy Bolero

I went to bed smugly satisfied last night after UK Independence Party leader and charmless performative drunk Nigel Farage conceded defeat. It seemed Britain had hung together and voted to Remain in the European Union after all. I woke up to a different reality. The Leave campaign won.

I dreaded this outcome, even though the vote for Brexit benefits me in a narrow and selfish sense as an American living in the UK. Now migrants from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland and everywhere else on the continent will need to apply for permits to live and work in the UK, just like me. Not being native English speakers, they’ll be at a comparative disadvantage in the points-based immigration system that has been touted to supersede the freedom of movement guaranteed to EU citizens.

It’s good news for my personal finances, too. Economists have predicted recession for post-Brexit Britain, but I get paid in U.S. dollars, and the immediate consequence of the Leave victory was for the Great British Pound to fall to a thirty-year low. When I went to bed, the tenner on my dining table was worth $15. When I woke up, it was worth $12. Thus Farage effectively bought my next pint. If I had the chance, though, I’d throw it in his face.

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The Art of the Con

Chris Lehmann   June 23, 2016
Bahman

Just as in the final chapter of The Picture of Dorian Gray, the wheezing sociopath at the center of the Donald Trump campaign has revealed his true decrepit, disfigured nature at a moment when the belated appearance of the unvarnished truth likely will do zero good for any of the interested players. The most recent Federal Election Commission filings for the presumptive GOP nominee show a scant $1.3 million in cash on hand—with princely fees seeming to go both to the candidate himself and his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate, home to many an indecorous campaign celebration during the 2016 primary cycle. The Associated Press reports that the campaign has funneled more than $6 million to Trump-run companies, while doling out more than $1 million to Trump family members and Trump business concerns in May alone, according to the Washington Post.

The impression of massive top-down disarray wasn’t dispelled by news of a major internal staff shakeup at Team Trump, with all-purpose-thug Corey Lewandowski purged as campaign manager, reportedly at the behest of the candidate’s kids. What, you thought Trump pere was going to right the ship himself? Not so long as there’s a fringe conspiracy theory to flog, or a chance to take another pot shot at Jeb Bush!

Indeed, it was perhaps fitting that, as this dismal news crashed around his head and himself, Trump was trying to win support at a conclave of nearly 1,000 evangelical leaders, with still more clumsy callouts to his alleged status as “a tremendous believer.” If ever there were a time when the almighty Trump needed to call in the support of a still greater, world-conquering higher power, it was surely now.

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Daily Bafflements

The Baffler   June 22, 2016
Terrifying, not soothing.

• Donald Trump may have built the Evangelical advisory board he so desperately needs, but his efforts to woo the Christian community are still lagging. That said, it’s impressive he managed to get Jerry Falwell Jr. to pose in front of a Playboy cover

• Thanks to Ben Schwartz’s latest, we’ve been musing a great deal over “punching up” versus “punching down” in comedy. But we’re not tremendously convinced that Kim Davis et. al. are “punching down” victims, as First Things suggests. A civil servant neglecting to do her job—all while making more than the average middle-class salary a year—is hardly an underdog. Has someone coined “punching horizontally” yet? 

• Baffler founder Tom Frank graced the airwaves of Democracy Now! today to talk inequality, Democratic elites, and his latest book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? An excerpt from Listen, Liberal appeared in Baffler no. 30. Enjoy! 

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40 Mind-Bending Hat-Scratchers from Trump’s FEC Filing (a.k.a. What the Hell Is Going On?)

David Rees   June 22, 2016
Trump’s campaign has spent more than $200,000 on these dumb-ass hats, as Monday's FEC filing (the most Shakespearian document ever produced by the bureaucratic-industrial complex?) revealed. / Gage Skidmore

1) WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING??? THIS IS INSANE.

2) Why am I making list? Has the august, acidulous Baffler succumbed to click-bait?

3) Don’t worry, I’m only doing this as a list because I’m too overwhelmed to formulate a coherent essay. It’s like there’s an avalanche in my brain; thoughts are tumbling down on top of one another, each smashing its predecessor before I have time to really grab hold.

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Daily Bafflements

The Baffler   June 20, 2016
wackystuff

• It’s world refugee day, the day we briefly recall the 65 million people on the planet who are displaced. Astra Taylor travelled to Greece on the day the EU-Turkey refugee deal went into effect and reported back in The Baffler, no. 31. Liberals from rich countries who “remain trapped in a binge-purge cycle of outrage and indifference,” she argues, would do well to learn from the hospitality of the Greek anarchists who call the refugees from the Mediterranean and Aegean “our friends who live across the sea.” 

• Delightfully, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is planning to stage a fart-in during Hillary Clinton’s July speech accepting the Democratic nomination. “The Sanders delegates, their bellies full of beans, will be able to return to the Wells Fargo Center and greet the rhetorical flatulence of Hillary Clinton with the real thing,” Cheri Honkala says. As Saul Alinsky argued, in a 1972 interview with Playboy, “What oppressed person doesn’t want, literally or figuratively, to shit on his oppressors?”

• “Sick and tired” Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore is proposing an act that would require those seeking tax deductions of more than $150,000 to submit to drug tests.

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Daily Bafflements

The Baffler   June 17, 2016

• After you read about how Moon Juice exec Amanda Chantal Bacon eats—between dropping her toddler Rohan off at school and Kundalini yoga in Venice, that is—you may need to cleanse by reading Heather Havrilesky’s new essay on “the foodie devolution” in our current issue and drink some calming green juice.

Baffler contributing editor Susan Faludi sat down yesterday with Radio Open Source to talk about her father’s late-life gender transition, her new book In the Darkroom, and the ways in which our deep and conflicting visions of identity shape our strange political climate—a subject she recently took on in our pages.

The sharing economy, well, isn’t, writes Sarah O’Connor for the Financial Times, surprising exactly zero working people. But don’t worry, she’s got some hefty new policy papers to prove that Uber, Upwork, and Mechanical Turk just aren’t playing nice.

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“I Dreamed President Trump Tweeted the Nuclear Launch Codes”

Corey Pein   June 17, 2016
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep." / Meg Nicol

There is no escape from the grotesque waking nightmare that is the 2016 elections. Not even sleep offers refuge.

Some friends of mine have been plagued by dreams of Donald Trump. As the journalistic cliché goes, they . . . are not . . . alone. Guardian columnist George Monbiot recently “dreamt that Hillary Clinton was trying to induce her pet chimpanzee to kill me. What was that about?”

It was about the shackles of capitalism, obviously. The chimpanzee symbolizes the untamed human spirit that neoliberal oligarchs, represented by Clinton, have subjugated. Befriend the ape. Set it free.

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Not Intended for Mature Audiences

Chris Lehmann   June 16, 2016
kl801

Yes, Donald Trump is once more laying into the media establishment that somehow attacks and slanders him while also acting as the premier delivery system for the bigoted ego rampages that the weary electorate has come to know as Trumpism. The invective-spewing maestro of bankruptcy took to Facebook (the social media outlet he evidently prefers for his more sustained outbursts) to announce that the Trump campaign would henceforth revoke all press credentials for the Washington Post. The reason? The Post had honestly reported on Trump’s imbecilic insinuation, during a recent Fox News interview, that President Barack Obama, in some shifty, unspecified fashion, might have colluded in the horrific massacre of 49 patrons and employees of the Orlando LGBT nightclub Pulse this past Sunday.

Evidently, this is the sort of entitled oafishness you take for granted when you feel empowered to demand that a president resign for failing to adopt your preferred dogwhistle buzzwords to characterize a massacre. (Never mind of course, that Trump’s obsessive need to racialize and credalize the Orlando rampage appears to be entirely of a piece with the shooter’s own failed efforts to impose just this sort of overdetermined, dogmatic culture-war template on the raw material of his own human experience.)

To its credit, the Post promptly denounced the Trump campaign’s effort to define campaign access as a negotiable, revocable privilege doled out in token recognition of a press organization’s comparative deference. And Post executive editor Marty Baron also proceeded to call out the Trump ploy for what it is: “nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press.” Baron also properly stood by all of his paper’s Trump coverage, and pledged to continue covering the Trump campaign aggressively, regardless of said campaign’s proclivity to treat access as bribery-by-other-means.

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