A few weeks ago, apropos of Republican efforts to subvert fair elections in this country, I wrote in these pages about the rising danger of autocracy in the United States.

File that under “dog bites man.” That has been a running theme in this blog for the entire four years of its existence.

And it is not merely the danger itself but its source on which I am fond of harping, which is to say: the extent to which tens of millions of Americans wholly support the authoritarian movement that is Trumpism, and how that strain in the national DNA…

By now, only the willfully blind are unaware of the aggressive and unconscionable campaign by the Republican Party to undermine the American electoral system and rig it in its favor.

Unable to win the popular vote in a presidential election (Republicans have done so only once in the last eight elections), and with the nation’s demographics trending heavily against them, the GOP has only two options:

1) Change its platform to attract more voters, or

2) Cheat

(There is actually a third option, which is to go gently into that good night. But we’ll set that aside, for now.)


Did I think about calling this post “Bigmouth Strikes Again”?

You bet your ass I did.

Too easy.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

I was a huge Smiths fan, beginning in the late Eighties, which admittedly made me a little late to the party. My initiation — courtesy of my friends Martere and Frazer — was the song “Panic,” released in 1986. The first time I heard it, it already sounded like a classic that had been burned into my memory, the lyrics at once surprising and yet inevitable, as if they were something I’d known my whole life:

So burn down the disco

Where does Joe Manchin go to pick up his Man of the Year award from the Klan?

Unfair, you say! A cheap shot, you say! A vast and snide over-simplification that elides the nuances of the situation.


But here’s the fact:

In opposing the sweeping package of voter protections known as the For the People Act, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is all but singlehandedly blocking urgently needed legislative action — action that is overwhelmingly popular with a majority of Americans, even in his home state, by the by — that would protect voting rights at a time when they…

Lost interviews with two of America’s sharpest wits.

The recent success of Martin Scorsese’s new Netflix documentary series about Fran Lebowitz, Pretend It’s a City, put me in mind of another project from twenty years ago that featured Fran, the late Spalding Gray, and dozens of others. As it is now out of print, I thought it was worth revisiting, given the renewed interest in the intrepid Ms. L., and the poignancy of what Spalding had to say in light of his tragic end five years later.

These are interviews that have barely been seen by the general public, and…

As expected, Senate Republicans yesterday blocked a House proposal for a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6th.

They did so even though Democrats had agreed to every Republican demand regarding the makeup and operating procedures of that commission (i.e., called the GOP’s bluff). They did so even as members of the Capitol Police who lived through the Insurrection and the surviving family members of one of their number who was killed in it, Officer Brian Sicknick, stood outside their offices and pleaded with them to investigate the matter. (So much for “Back the Blue.”) They did so…

(or, Insurrection 2.0)

Last September, I published a piece in this blog called “Summer’s End,” in which I lamented the end of that season — weird though it was in 2020 — and expressed my anxiety and dread about what loomed ahead: the election, the resumption of remote schooling and all its difficulties, the looming descent of a (second) dark, cold COVID winter with its isolation, claustrophobia, a potential lockdown, and all the attendant psychological ills, not to mention a possible spike in cases and deaths. It was a feeling I think a lot of Americans shared.

But we weathered…

The defendants in the 1924 trial of the architects of the Beer Hall Putsch of the preceding fall. Hitler fourth from right. (Did you need me to write that?)

Is it off-key to write alarmingly of the imminent danger of “democracy’s death” when, for the first time in five years, the United States is once again under competent adult supervision?

Joe Biden’s first hundred days have been startlingly aggressive (in a good way) in restoring the fundamentals of decent, Constitutionally sound governance. Not only has he re-established the rule of law, but the forward-thinking elements of his “New New Deal” have surprised and exceeded the expectations even of many progressives. I am cheered to say the least, and optimistic. Has he been perfect? Of course not. Damned impressive? …

Mike Nichols in 1966. Sam Falk/The New York Times.

I recently interviewed the author Mark Harris about his terrific new biography Mike Nichols: A Life (Penguin) for a live Zoom event as part of the speaker series from the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center. (You can see our full hour-long conversation here.)

I was a huge fan of Mark’s 2008 book Pictures at a Revolution (Penguin again), which brilliantly uses the story of the five Best Picture nominees for the 1968 Oscars — The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and (believe it or not)

If this were fiction, except for Dickens or Runyon, no one would get away with giving this guy that surname.

The term “chauvinism” is derived from Nicolas Chauvin, a French soldier of the Napoleonic era (mythical, by some accounts) whose messianic allegiance to the little corporal and blind belief in the glory of France was so extreme that he became synonymous with cult-like fanaticism.

By the dictionary definition, chauvinism has come to mean “the irrational belief in the superiority or dominance of one’s own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak or…

Robert Edwards / The King's Necktie

Writer, filmmaker, and veteran — blogging at The King’s Necktie @TheKingsNecktie

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