Category: Politics

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

We’ve recently re-read a book that seems to be a thinly veiled satire of our current White House administration. The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil is a novella about a not-very-bright demagogue who suddenly develops an insatiable appetite for power. (Heard this one before?) The author is the great George Saunders, one of America’s wittiest...

“No” on Measure C

Mr. Eric Blair must be smiling somewhere. During his lifetime, he managed to turn his pen name into a standard adjective: “Orwellian.” And now, years after his death, we’re living in the dystopia he imagined/predicted. Orwellian: a perfect one-word distillation of a complicated process whereby something that means one thing eventually comes to mean the...

When Los Angelenos Are Forced to Sue Their Elected Leaders

In the past two years, the City of Los Angeles has paid out more than $75 million to settle lawsuits brought against the municipality. Add in the expense of litigation and the total is more than $113 million. Unsurprisingly, some of that money was paid out  to settle hundreds of police misconduct cases — more...

“Facing the Furies”

America’s Essayist Emeritus, Mr. Lewis Lapham, relinquished his monthly column in Harper’s magazine a couple years ago. Thomas Frank and Walter Kirn have made worthy contributions to the national discourse in his absence, and now Rebecca Solnit takes over the “Easy Chair” space, bringing a solidly progressive viewpoint to bear on the issues of the day. This...

Evictions for Profit: The Ellis Act

The wiki description of California Government Code 12.75, known as the Ellis Act, named after the San Diego state senator who introduced it in 1985, sounds innocuous enough:  “The Ellis Act is a California state law that allows landlords to evict residential tenants in order to ‘go out of the rental business,’ in spite of desires by...

“Great!” Chapter Two

“Great!” my new satire of American Values unveiled here last week was such a hit with the people, I figure I might be on to something. Finally, after so many years of comic obscurity, my dark sense of humor is resonating with millions. I was worried that my satire was a bit too on-the-nose, maybe...

“Great!” My New Satire of America

Excerpted from “How the Revolution Started: Essays and Impertinent Thoughts.” I’ve started writing a new book, a broad satire of American Values. Working title: “Great!” Some will find my portrait of a country gone off the rails a bit dark, the comedy too black, the irony too on-the-nose. But in times like these, when a megalomaniac...

Draining the Los Angeles Swamp

Although most of us are acquainted with one or two reasonable and intelligent people who, on Election Day, found a way to rationalize their fears and resentments into a vote for a genuinely vile person, Los Angeles, by and large, didn’t go for Trump. We like to think we’re “better” than that. As he and...

Frightened Families, Vulnerable Schoolchildren and Gelson’s Good Name: The Gardner Street Fiasco

Imagine the unimaginable. Imagine this ludicrous scenario: Imagine if someone showed up at your front door and told you in the coming years he intended on using the yards in your neighborhood as his new toilet facility. Because he likes the location. This stranger, dressed in a bespoke suit and grinning cordially, doesn’t ask permission...

President Trump and Beyond

Shock. Disbelief. Catatonia. We’ve observed various forms of post-traumatic stress disorder manifested in Hillary Clinton voters, very few of whom seem able to process the idea that the fiasco we witnessed unfolding in slow-motion was an election, not a coronation. We’ve heard the tearful confessions: “I’m speechless.” “I’m frightened.” “I’m so upset I think I...