California Literary Review

Politics

Liberalism, the Election, and the Republican Party

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December 13th, 2019

With President George W. Bush’s recent victory the Democratic Party-referred to in prior times as the “Democracy”-finds itself in disarray and denial, though the source of the myriad of weaknesses that afflict that political entity are really quite obvious.

America’s Race to the Moon

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December 11th, 2019

During the Apollo 15 mission, an anonymous viewer phoned his local TV station to suggest that a large rock discovered by the astronauts should be named in honor of “a taxpayer selected at random from the computers of the Internal Revenue Service.”

Oil and Africa

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December 9th, 2019

[Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Adam Robert’s new book The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa.] Africa, overall, has a handy supply of oil. Its known reserves are small compared with the Middle East: it may have 100 billion barrels of […]

Roses & Bulbul Birds

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December 8th, 2019

What’s intriguing about the dreadful psychology of Muslim, particularly Shiite [read Hizbollah] fundamentalism, is that aspect of terrible fixity, that manifests itself as a kind of violent sleepwalking in its adherents.

Republicans Invade Primetime

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January 28th, 2013

When I logged onto the Twittersphere after the show to congratulate @LenaDunham on a job well done, I was shocked at the vitriolic speech of those commenting about the episode and Dunham’s decision to write a character who was not ashamed of his right-leaning political beliefs.

Book Review: The Hillary Effect by Taylor Marsh

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December 20th, 2011

There may not be space in a blog post to let the reader weigh the words and come to their own conclusion, guided by your discreet commentary, but this habit of GLOSSING EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPS grates across two hundred and fifty pages. There’s little rhetorical virtue in having the last word in your own paragraph.

Book Review: Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

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July 5th, 2011

But wherever it originated, the word conjures up an instant picture of young people in cheap sportswear, swigging alcopops, brandishing knives and selling each other drugs whilst getting their fifteen-year-old girlfriends pregnant. They are a favourite subject for the right-wing tabloids, and where the term “chav” is found, the words “feral”, “benefits” and “underclass” will often be somewhere in the vicinity, not to mention “lifestyles funded by your taxes!”

In Case You Missed… Christopher Smith’s Black Death

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June 29th, 2011

Most movies like Black Death exploit the historical context to take shots at organized religion with impunity. A select few try to balance the mistakes of the early church with the importance of faith over dogma – an approach that Season Of The Witch admittedly tried, but got lost too far up its own butt to realize. Black Death tends toward the latter type of story, but pushes its acid satire into fairly new territory.

The Weekly Listicle: Ballad Of The Soldier

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January 21st, 2011

This weekend, Peter Weir graces us with The Way Back, a tale of daring escape by prisoners of war. In due fashion this week’s Listicle salutes the soldier in film. From comedy to adventure to stark, sobering drama, soldiers have faced a great deal on the movie screen.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid

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September 24th, 2009

In this great country, for all its goodness, and for all the excellence of the medical care available to the more fortunate, Reid states that 20,000 American citizens die each year due to lack of health insurance and health care. (A more recently released Harvard study indicates more than twice that many.) The notion we have something to learn from other industrialized, wealthy societies often meets with considerable resistance, not because of the oft touted bugaboo of “socialized medicine,“ but simply because the ideas involved are foreign.

Waiting for the Etonians by Nick Cohen

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July 28th, 2009

Nick Cohen is undoubtedly one of Britain’s finest living polemicists, and Waiting for the Etonians will be a genuine treat for readers who have come to rely on his rigorous thinking, stylish phrase-making and carefully controlled rage. The book’s subtitle, Reports from the Sickbed of Liberal England, reflects his despair at the current state of left-wing (or “left-ish”) thinking in Britain, which he sees as almost irrevocably compromised by post-modernism, cultural relativism and the focus-group politics of New Labour.

Who is Rita, What Was She?

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April 22nd, 2009

Rita murmured in that, silky, sultry voice from so very long ago, “Enough crap, big boy. Let’s get out of here!” She slid off her stool and thrust her arm under mine. I heard whispered words somewhere inside my head, O, heart, be still! The best I could manage was a stammer, “Miss Hayworth, I came with my wife. That’s her there, with Margo and Eddie.”

Dear President-Elect Obama, We Need Trains, Too!

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January 15th, 2009

President-elect Obama said in his radio address on Saturday, January 10, that “We’ll put nearly 400,000 people to work by repairing our infrastructure–our crumbling roads, bridges and schools.” What about our passenger train system, that lags sadly behind other developed countries–and is far worse than what Americans enjoyed decades ago?

A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carré

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November 18th, 2008

The violent and crude final pages of the book force us to scrutinise our feelings over the last three hundred pages – did we will this? Are we guilty of this ending, if only by five percent? The brutal inanity of the dialogue is a warning that in Le Carré’s world, we don’t get to argue over the proportions and scale of what we set in motion.

Events Leading to America’s Involvement in Vietnam

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October 30th, 2008

Given the political vacuum in the South, a Communist takeover of all of Vietnam within two years, or even less, seemed unavoidable. Beyond vague ideas of somehow rallying the Vietnamese in the South and contingency plans for creating stay-behind agents to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Vietminh, the U.S. had little idea of how to prevent a complete Communist take-over.

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