Jason Baldinger: The Hymn at the End

Catches the spirit of the times….

Vox Populi

It’s a mediocre day to be fired

snow, mostly flurries, it’s been four years

since the last unemployment

life is different, more complicated

it feels as if you’re gonna suffocate

this is how I identified myself for four years

it was mostly loved, mostly like breathing

she asked through phone wires

what I was going to do next, she might have meant the big next

all I could think of was leaving, driving, motion on motion


three hours later I’m in Erie, and I have no idea why

I pass a sign the wind had its way with

now it saysWe Sell Blow. I stand shorelines

cigarette smoke mingling with flakes, wind

I feel defeated

I feel defeated

as if it wasn’t obvious before

this fucking game is rigged

give your soul, you will be asked for more

eat shit, you will be asked to eat more

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Marc Jampole: What exactly are “capitalism” and “socialism”?

Vox Populi

In the newspeak of political name calling, a New York Times reporter calls government ownership “capitalism,” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says granting statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, DC would lead to “socialism.” It’s time to review the meanings of these terms.

The problem with the news media talking about socialism in the context of the current election cycle is that most people—including most reporters and columnists—have no idea what socialism is and only a fuzzy notion of what capitalism is. What’s worse is that popular but inaccurate or misconceived definitions of the two words confuse the issue. A reporter may use the technical definitions of socialism and capitalism in an article, but her readers understand one of the several non-technical meanings of the two words, and may therefore not get the point of the article. It is more likely, however, that the reporter is misusing the words…

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Alexandra Minna Stern: White nationalists’ extreme solution to the coming environmental apocalypse

Fascinating connection between ecological concerns and Fascism.

Vox Populi

White nationalists around the world are appropriating the language of environmentalism.

The white nationalist who allegedly massacred 22 people in El Paso in early August posted a four-page screed on the chatroom 8chan. In it, the shooter blames his attack on the “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and the impending “cultural and ethnic replacement” of whites in America.

The shooter also refers directly to the lengthy manifesto written by the man who allegedly murdered 52 in March in attacks motivated by Islamophobia on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Christchurch shooter called himself an “ecofascist” who believes there is no “nationalism without environmentalism.” The El Paso shooter titled his rant “An Inconvenient Truth,” apparently in reference to Al Gore’s 2006 documentary warning about the dangers of climate change. He also praised “The Lorax,” Dr. Seuss’ classic story about deforestation and corporate greed.

The prominence of environmental themes in these…

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John Lawson: O King

Thanks to Vox Populi for publishing my satire.

Vox Populi

August 21, 2019: The president sparked fresh concerns about his mental health after he tweeted quotes from one of his right-wing supporters who said Trump was “like the King of Israel” and “the second coming of God.”In a separate statement, Trump said, “I am the Chosen One.”


You and your satraps proclaim you are wise, O King

You promise to bring us contentment

You speak, and my heart flies, O King

I delight when you step to the podium.


They say you have powers, O King

Beyond those of mere mortals

A wave of your hand, and riches

Spring out of the ground

Rain from the sky like manna.


We hunger, O King.Our needs cascade,

A vast waterfall, over the edge

of the farthest horizon

Bring mercy and hope, O King

Feed us and clothe us; bring peace; reconcile us.


Your enemies whisper, O King;

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John Atcheson: Why the US Elected a Despot and Why It’s Poised To Do It Again

Vox Populi

There’s an emerging conventional wisdom that says the way for Democrats to win in 2020 is to move to the center and pick up some of those centrist votes. This is the perspective being pushed by the neoliberal establishment, the mainstream media, and the bulk of the paid political pundits.

There are two things wrong with this.

First, there is no center, or to be more precise,it’s miniscule.Too many pundits confuse independents with centrists, when in fact, the vast majority of them lean one way or another.

If you add up left leaning Independents and Democrats they equal about 48 percent of the electorate, while right leaning Independents and Republicans add up to 39 percent of the electorate. Real centrists comprise only about 7 percent.

Second, the real prize in electoral politics is the no shows. To see why this is so, we can examine the last two…

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Practical Notes: Writing A Craft Paper–Karen Babine

Interesting essay on craft analysis. Reading it, I realize that I’ve done much of my reading of literary analysis and criticism from a “crafty” point of view.

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

Welcome to Practical Notes, a new series on In the Classroom, in which we address various practical aspects of the writing world. 

reading as a writerI first encountered a craft paper during my first semester of my MFA at Eastern Washington University, when my workshop professor assigned one to us. I’d never encountered one before, had no idea how to write one, and even more importantly, couldn’t see why I needed to. I was there to write. Right? Even as I grumbled over the fifteen-page assignment that was taking me away from the essays I really wanted to write, I grudgingly agreed that maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. I didn’t encounter another craft paper in my MFA, nor my PhD, but I faced many similar requirements that simply felt like hoops to jump through in pursuit of the degree. That, I realized with much hindsight, was my own failing of being…

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John E. Finn: How the alt-right corrupts the Constitution

Vox Populi

File 20190411 44776 12a5osb.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The Constitution is interpreted differently by the alt-right. Shutterstock/Joseph Sohm

About 10 years ago, I spent a sabbatical on the Maine coast writing a book about the Constitution.

One afternoon, an eager reference librarian who knew about my interests invited me to a talk at the library. The featured speaker was a woman who proudly called herself a “Constitutional Patriot.”

The speaker was self-educated and her message was simple: Liberal elites – judges, politicians and academics – had perverted the meaning of the “True Constitution.”

Getting the Constitution “right,” in her view and in the view of a great many far-right conservative groups and organizations, all of them constitutional patriots of a sort, means understanding the Constitution as the Founders understood it.

Getting the Constitution “right” thus means returning the Constitution to its original meaning. It also means that the Constitution, as they read it, advances a particular and…

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Mary Aldis

Interesting forgotten playwright.

Unknown Playwrights

In 1915 Mary Aldis published a volume of plays which may be considered a part of the Little Theatre movement then sweeping the American theatre world. We’ve covered the little theatre movement before, especially in the post about Alice Gerstenberg. Neith Boyce is another post from that movement.

tumblr_oq40kgFWUj1v6qqlxo1_1280Our playwright.

In short, the Little Theatre movement was blowback against the near-monopoly big theatre companies had. One example would be that theatres in a town would be under contract to wait for a known troupe or company to come into town. This would discourage local theatre from growing. I believe it is time for a Little Theatre renaissance, but that’s for later.

“Big Theatre” I guess could be the Manila galleon of the theatre world, stopping by every so often to deliver theatre.

Chicago was a hub of the movement and that’s where Aldis worked her magic.

Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 10.13.16 AM Where Aldis’…

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Marc Jampole: A nation of rich and poor, with so much going to so few

Vox Populi

Pangloss is a fictional character in Voltaire’s 18th century masterpiece of satire,Candide. When describing the current state of affairs, Pangloss always refers to the status quo as “the best of all possible worlds.” His smug optimism in the face of injustice and tragedy produces much of the mordant humor of Voltaire’s novella. From the start, the reader understands that Pangloss is a suck-up to the establishment—the aristocracy and various churches, whose control over a society of a very few rich and mostly poor was weakening in 18th century Europe as ideas about science and freedom began to disseminate despite a high level of censorship.

While 21st century America enjoys a representational democracy, the economic policies of the past 40 years have re-established an aristocracy-free version of the inequitable society of 18th century Europe, one in which a very few people take an unfairly large percentage of income and…

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John Samuel Tieman: Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone, a near-forgotten masterpiece

Why had I never heard of this writer? A prose and a prosody as muscular and incisive as any of the High Modern icons.

Vox Populi

Recently, PBS aired a documentary marking the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. Almost in passing, a memoir by Mary Borden who founded a hospital and served as a nurse, was quoted:

There are no men here, so why should I be a woman? There are heads and knees and mangled testicles. There are chests with holes as big as your fist, and pulpy thighs, shapeless; and stumps where legs once were fastened. There are eyes—eyes of sick dogs, sick cats, blind eyes, eyes of delirium; and mouths that cannot articulate; and parts of faces—the nose gone, or the jaw. There are these things, but no men; so how could I be a woman here and not die of it? Sometimes, suddenly, all in an instant, a man looks up at me from the shambles, a man’s eyes signal or a voice calls “Sister! Sister!” Sometimes suddenly a…

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