The Word Factory

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

Marriage Visas and Travel Bans

Rafia ZakariaFebruary 08, 2017
Lorie Shaull
Lorie Shaull

It was two years ago, on a Monday in February 2015, that the Supreme Court held arguments in the case of Kerry v. Din. The case had come up from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the same Court now reviewing the appeal on the nationwide stay on President Trump’s Executive Order banning nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

False Idols of the Enlightenment

Ratik AsokanFebruary 07, 2017
PalFest
PalFest

We have to recognize that the modern world was predicated on the notion of mimicry and imitation. Which makes people more and more alike than different. And it makes them more vulnerable to experiencing the same ressentiment when their particular identities are under threat, when their stability is threatened, when their jobs are taken away.

Standing Rock Is Everywhere

Sarah JaffeFebruary 07, 2017
Standing Rock Tents
Standing Rock Tents

The median income at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is a little over $13,000. There are key issues of healthcare and economic development and education. In many ways, I think the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has really been showing how difficult and how important it is to build unity in support of protecting our larger rights, Indian Country-wide right to protect our sovereignty and that is what the fight in stopping the pipeline was about.

The Origins of Anger

Pankaj MishraFebruary 07, 2017
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Escape from the stultifying dualisms of East and West, religion and reason, requires us to train fresh eyes on the most fateful event of human history: the rise of an industrial and materialist civilization, which, emerging in Britain and France, spread itself over the old world of Asia and Africa and the new world of America and Oceania, creating the original conditions of our current state of negative solidarity.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerFebruary 06, 2017
A general strike in Spain. / #29m Arenal street
A general strike in Spain. / #29m Arenal street

Mike Pence plans to cast a tie-breaking vote to aid the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary. As Jennifer Berkshire wrote after her journey to the heart of DeVos-land, the “DeVosian vision of school reform is the anti–New Deal offensive launched by the free-market reactionaries of the American Liberty League, retooled for schools and delivered with evangelical zeal.”

Calls for a general strike have been many; would one be possible yet?

You’re Fired

Liza FeatherstoneFebruary 06, 2017
Shane Gorsky
Shane Gorsky

Only in a society with almost no safety nets, in which few people have the job security afforded by union protections or tenure, could random bullies on the internet terrify us by tagging our bosses. People who do this are not serving any kind of progressive movement; indeed they are working hard at strengthening neoliberalism in all its ruthlessness and anxiety.

Holy Warriors Against the Welfare State

Jennifer C. BerkshireFebruary 06, 2017
Grand Rapids, the locus of  DeVos Family power. /
Doug Chayka
Grand Rapids, the locus of  DeVos Family power. /
Doug Chayka

I’d traveled to this western Michigan hub of sanctified commerce to learn more about Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick to be the top education official in the land. DeVos, the name of the family that founded the multi-level marketing behemoth known as Amway, is almost universally recognized in the Mitten state, where Betsy and Dick DeVos, heirs to a $5.1 billion fortune, have increasingly come to dominate state politics.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerFebruary 03, 2017
The terrifying world of Bowling Green. / Faith Goble
The terrifying world of Bowling Green. / Faith Goble

Where were you when the tragic Bowling Green Massacre happened? We can’t remember, but we do know, at least, that Kellyanne Conway was wandering around confusedly in a world of “alternative facts,” most likely nowhere near Kentucky. If it isn’t clear yet, the Trump administration is now making up terrorist attacks to support its noxious anti-immigration agenda.

The Attention Deficit

Will MeyerFebruary 03, 2017
Attention merchants. / Wikimedia commons
Attention merchants. / Wikimedia commons

Once upon a time a lot of hope was invested in adblockers. Many saw them as a way to halt the blight of online advertising. The thinking was that if everyone got adblockers, it would not only make the ads disappear, but it might make the internet a more enjoyable place, too.

The Labor Movement We Need

Sarah JaffeFebruary 02, 2017
ben speight
ben speight

I don’t blame labor leaders for going to meet with Trump, but I think we should have had a much more deliberate plan for making sure that those that went to meet with Trump were representatives of a broader working class contingent that front-loaded issues that were of concern to our members.

Odd Time to be Evenhanded

Chris LehmannFebruary 02, 2017
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

One of the rarely acknowledged liabilities of a corporate-run media is its diehard resistance to plain speech and direct action. In one of my former, more respectable editing gigs, I was soberly instructed never to use the word “reform” to characterize pending legislation, because the phrase was simply too inflammatory.

Fog Over Foggy Bottom

Hannah GaisFebruary 01, 2017
421548792_09d432f8fe_b
421548792_09d432f8fe_b

Welcome to This American Carnage, your weekly slice of life from the country of Trump

On Monday, news broke of a fresh bureaucratic uprising—this time through a memo posted to the State Department’s Dissent Channel expressing the dissatisfaction of nearly 1000 employees with Donald Trump’s executive order implementing a de facto Muslim ban.