The Word Factory

Daily broadsides from The Baffler's just-in-time corps of knowledge workers

Hill, No? — Round 2

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25353612023_60f047ce8c_z-2

Update, November 3: We’re pleased to provide second installment in our hypothetical debate on what a blowout win for Hillary Clinton might mean for her critics on the left. Read Tuesday’s opening arguments (parts 1 and 2), and today’s closing exchange (parts 3 and 4).

Con Air

Chris LehmannNovember 03, 2016
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30427951900_c68024ff8d_z

It seems entirely fitting that in the final stretch of a presidential campaign militantly indifferent to a host of policy crises, from climate change to wealth inequality, from antitrust prosecutions to affordable housing, the American public is left to gnaw maliciously on a pair of conspiracy theories.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerNovember 02, 2016
Gervasio Varela
Gervasio Varela

The pipeline protests in North Dakota illustrate how difficult it is for communities to agitate successfully against corporations, which the law regards as people, when corporations want to take over the nature they value. Would granting legal personhood to nature help?

Letter from Louisiana

Joshua LeibnerNovember 01, 2016
A bilingual Louisiana welcome.
A bilingual Louisiana welcome.

Even as Donald Trump’s campaign has zero chance of winning California or his own state of New York—and despite being spectacularly, unprecedentedly unfit for the office of the presidency—Trump will easily win the eight electoral votes of Louisiana. What could possibly connect someone like Trump to “Trump Nation”?

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerOctober 31, 2016
“Sing me a song, Mr. Billionaire Piano Man . . . ” / Andreas Klodt
“Sing me a song, Mr. Billionaire Piano Man . . . ” / Andreas Klodt

Happy Reformation Day! On this day in 1517, Martin Luther—once an overachieving Catholic monk—nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. You could, as the Economist has, say he was the first person to truly go “viral.” You could say he was a “media pioneer.” You could even go so far as to say he gave birth to the tweetstorm.

2016: A Liberal Odyssey

Maximillian AlvarezOctober 31, 2016
Wax figures of Bill and Hillary Clinton, angels of history. /
Wax figures of Bill and Hillary Clinton, angels of history. /

In a heart-wrenching letter published in the New York Times, U.S.-born journalist Michael Luo described his family’s recent encounter with the kind of bigoted outburst—culminating with the admonition that Luo’s family should “go back to China”—that, sadly, is quite common for Asian-Americans across the country.

Flight or Fight

Jessa CrispinOctober 28, 2016
Alex Indigo
Alex Indigo

When I arrived in Athens in July, I sent an email to Delphina, an activist and blogger who was following the anarchist activities in the city. I was hoping she could show me around and fill me in on some of the nuance that I, as a non-Greek speaker, was missing in the political scene.

Words Fail

Chris LehmannOctober 27, 2016
Gage Skidmore
Gage Skidmore

While media goliaths continue to merge and recombine, one plucky upstart has lately captured the imagination of the infotainment world. I speak, naturally, of the Facebook-only nightly newscast now airing at the behest of the Donald Trump campaign, “Trump Tower Live.” Since Facebook has conquered the news world without benefit of any recognizably human editing, and since the Trump campaign has made its name by sundering all vestigial ties to consensual reality, this would seem to be a textbook example of advanced media synergy.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerOctober 26, 2016
He knows . . . the truth! / Julie Pimentel
He knows . . . the truth! / Julie Pimentel

Today in “are you fucking kidding me?”: The Federalist helpfully proclaims that “The Senate Should Refuse to Confirm All of Hillary Clinton’s Judicial Nominees.” And since it’s not technically a column about the election, you have to read it

The New York Times appears to have forgotten that, as a general rule, watching the episodes in a television show in the correct order tends to make for a better, more helpful review. 

Alex Jones, one of Donald Trump’s favorite conspiracy theorists, is extremely concerned about the “Jewish Mafia.” Lest anyone jump to conclusions, he’d like you to know that he’s no anti-Semite—he’s just here to warn you that “they run Uber, they run the health care, they’re going to scam you, they’re going to hurt you.”

Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout, became the first American to win the Man Booker Prize this week.

Top 10 Reasons You Don’t Have to Read This Column About the Election

David ReesOctober 26, 2016
Vote here. / NASA & lettawren
Vote here. / NASA & lettawren

Donald Trump’s supporters might insist that the internals are D+9, which means the hidden “monster vote” has once again flown under the radar—and that those invisible voters will materialize on election day to issue a powerful rebuke to media elites who use deliberate and criminal D+n oversampling in their scheme to convince everyone that most folks wish the election was over, when in fact, everybody loves the election, and just you wait until November 8, when Americans rise up and refuse to vote, thereby sending a clear message that they’d like the election to continue unresolved for as long as possible

Tom Hayden and the Vocation of Politics

Todd GitlinOctober 26, 2016
Tom Hayden this April. / LBJ Library
Tom Hayden this April. / LBJ Library

There’s a revelatory scene in a hard-to-find documentary, Troublemakers, shot by Norm Fruchter and Bob Machover in 1965 in the poor wards of Newark, N.J. Tom Hayden and some 100 others had left their rather comfy college-kid lives when Students for a Democratic Society, under Tom’s leadership, decided that the place to pursue economic democracy was in an interracial movement of the poor, designed to move the civil rights struggle toward interracial class solidarity.

Just Plain Nasty

Sam KrissOctober 25, 2016
Miles of merchandise. / majunznk
Miles of merchandise. / majunznk

“It wasn’t just Hillary Clinton you insulted,” they say, “it was me. I’m a nasty woman too.”

This was inevitable. As soon as Donald Trump interrupted Clinton in Vegas, in the middle of a deeply boring section on “entitlement reform,” the T-shirts were born.