Weekend Bookchat

January 31, 2009

wpa-poster

When the Great Depression sank its claws into American society, the jobless men wandering the countryside in search of work used slang to pay tribute to Herbert Hoover, the president who oversaw their slide into ruin:  hobo villages along railroad tracks were dubbed Hoovervilles and  jackrabbits caught for food were called Hoover Hogs. How will the venacular of the Next Great Depression pay tribute to  George W. Bush?  Will subdivisions full of foreclosed McMansions be known as Bushvilles? Will toxic foodstuffs prepared in unsanitary factories be known as Bush bait? The Boy Emperor may be out of power, but we’ll be feeling the effects of his reign for years to come, so it will be interesting to see if the New Hoover is commemorated as cuttingly as Hoover Classic.

To see if the old Depression has any lessons to teach the new Depression, check out this Firedoglake discussion with Enis Carter about his new book  Posters for the People: Art of the WPA, a collection of  posters produced by the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s and 1940s, using the efforts of  hundreds of out-of-work artists. The posters remain wonderful examples of pioneering graphic design, such as the one above advertising “Victory Concerts” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Meanwhile, here’s a good, concise new biography of Hoover himself by William Leuchtenburg. Ezra Klein hosts a discussion of Dean Baker’s Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy.  James K. Galbraith reviews Robert Samuelson’s The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath and finds that recent events have made its free-market dogmatism seem rather quaint, and more than a bit ridiculous.  

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 Ann Coulter’s new book, Liberals Are Poopyheads Who Make Ka-ka in Their Pants, has been out for a few weeks now but the bulk-order bimbo has yet to say anything truly, remarkable hateful in order to promote it. Oh, she’s made the usual winger noises about liberals loving terrorists, but so far there’s been nothing to compare with her accusing the 9/11 widows of enjoying the deaths of their husbands, and while the book is loaded with the usual Coulter combo of lies, distortions and confabulated nonsense, it all sounds like the same swill already ladled out in her previous books. Liberals Are Poopyheads remains stalled at the second tier spot on the Times nonfiction list, held back by Malcolm Gladwell’s two-month-old book and hard pressed by another cute animal book on the third rung. Meanwhile, Barack’s Obama’s two books have re-entered the list and will probably rise in the coming weeks. I’m betting it’s only a matter of time before Coulter feels the need to stir things up with some truly deranged utterances. Think she’s going to use the N-bomb on the Obamas? You know it’s there behind those vacant eyes, straining to get out.          

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Editor & Publisher columnist Greg Mitchell is one of the good guys, and he has a good new book out about Obama’s presidential victory: Why Obama Won: The Making of a President 2008. Every copy sold will make Ann  Coulter cry.

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Plenty of  people piled on Elizabeth Alexander’s Inaugural Day poem, so here’s a couple of eloquent defenses: one from Moira Weigel, the other from Nordette Adams.

Weekend Bookchat

November 29, 2008

The New York Times list of the 100 Notable Books of 2008 doesn’t have any truly egregious entries — true, they have Thomas Friedman’s latest book, but there’s nothing like Liberal Fascism or its ilk, and there are some outstanding liberal and progressive books, such as Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Maybe this is the time for Weekend Bookchat to solicit nominations for the best progressive books of 2008. Either leave your nominations in the comments section or e-mail them to steve[dot]theopinionmill[at]gmail[dot]com.

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Put on your best white sheets and head for the nearest bookstore to reserve your copy of Ann Coulter’s upcoming book. Coulter is already well known as the author of such bulk-order bestsellers as Liberals Are Stinky, Liberals Are Poopyheads and, most recently, Liberals Make Ka-Ka in Their Pants.

According to recent news reports, Coulter’s upcoming tome, entitled Liberals Are Stinky Poopyheads Who Make Ka-Ka In Their Pants, will apparently recycle already exhausted wingerwhines about the mass-market media favoring Barack Obama over John McCain.

Apparently in a pre-emptive effort to keep herself from yawning at the tediousness of her own argument, Coulter has arranged for her jaw to be wired shut. Unconfirmed reports have it that Coulter may be using this as the springboard for a Madonna-like image makeover more in keeping with her personality and ethics.

(Say, now — there’s an idea. Imagine the Cenobites from the Hellraiser films recast as the Wingobites. Along with Ann Coulter, there would be Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and of course William Kristol as Pinhead and Bill O’Reilly as the Engineer.)

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The attempts to defame the legacy of independent journalist I.F. Stone continue. At the Paper Cuts blog, D.D. Guttenplan steps up to defend Stone against yet another smear. Guttenplan has a new biography of Stone coming out this sumer, but it will have to go a long way to top Myra McPherson’s recent All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone.

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Having kept silent during the weeks and months when he was being used as a political weapon against Barack Obama, ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers has been making the print and radio rounds to talk about his radical past and his book Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Actvist. He’s been interviewed by Terry Gross and Walter Shapiro, and getting not unmixed reactions from people who aren’t quite prepared to accept Ayers’ presentation of himself. It should be noted that Ayers does at least this much right: he reminds us of the horribly divided state of the nation in the late 1960s, the sense that the tools of democracy were no longer effective for reining in a government on a bloody rampage in Vietnam.

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Attention, lit-mart shoppers! Why not pick out some black authors for white people? Take another look at H.L. Mencken’s Notes on Democracy. Read an interview with the authors of Unjust Deserts: How the Rich are Taking our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take it Back.