This piece was originally published at Not Safe For Work Corp
I’ve always hated Michael McFaul — and he don’t like me much neither.
We’ve carried on a sort of hate-hate relationship going back to the mid-1990s, when McFaul was former President Bill Clinton’s chief propagandist in Moscow, cheerfully assuring every foreign correspondent that Boris Yeltsin was the Thomas Jefferson of our day. (more…)
Don’t know if you’ve ever seen a mumblecore film. Probably not, if only because the term “mumblecore” is so twee and horrible, it would instinctively repel you. It’s a millennial American film development, around for quite a while now but not widely known outside indie film circles, and for good reason. Fantastically boring films. Known for being deliberately torpor-inducing. It’s a point of real pride to mumblecore filmmakers that nothing much happens in their films, and what doesn’t happen unfolds very, very slowly and naturalistically.
PERTH, AUSTRALIA — A short update. Dr. Dolan’s old friend, Mark Steyn, the Canadian right-winger, has been touring Oz lately to promote his new book, After America, and Australia’s Tories are falling for him head over heels, declaring him the Great Right-Wing Humorist – almost makes you miss Hitchens, doesn’t it? (more…)
This article was first published in The eXile in February 2005.
You wouldn’t have guessed he’d shoot himself, but it made sense after the fact. He always meant what he said and did, and he always had the guns around. It was right that he used one to blow his brains out.
I can’t remember the last time a celebrity death made me sad like this. I’d been meaning to write a tribute to him, because I consider him a great and underrated writer. Too late now. (more…)
In memory of our favorite dead warmongering neocon, Christopher Hitchens, The eXiled is reposting Dr. Dolan’s classic review of Hitchens’ fake waterboarding stunt in 2008.
Hitchens Gets Waterboarded, Withdraws from Iraq in 11 Seconds
by John Dolan
Stop the presses! Christopher Hitchens just noticed that waterboarding is torture!
Hitchens announced the news like he’d brought it down from Mount Sinai, in a Vanity Fair article. “Believe me,” he told a waiting nation, “it’s torture.” Well, yeah. It usually is, when it happens to you. When it happens to somebody else, it’s “extreme interrogation.” (more…)
The first rule of debate: Never accept your opponent’s characterization of his own position. But for decades, liberals–in their perpetual Nerf-war against conservatives–have done just the opposite. While conservatives bloviate about traditionalism (Buckley), skepticism (Burke), sobriety (Taft), and order (Mill), liberals are the first to bobblehead in agreement. “Yes,” they say over paté and pinot at Davos, “That’s you.” (more…)
Posted: November 1st, 2011
They think that things are all right/For the deer and the dachshund are one.
– Wallace Stevens
I just came back from two days of snubbery at a conference in Budapest, and I’m here to tell you that even in middle age, getting snubbed is mighty uncomfortable.
You think it’s the kind of thing that only hurts in high school, but nope; all the old pain receptors are in place and ready to start throbbing. Of course, I was out of pain-shape and that made it worse. The past few years, people have been so nice to me I forgot what a primate quorum can do to the odd ape out, how easily they can make him feel like the unworthiest chimp in the jungle.
It was my own fault. It’s always my own fault. I’m getting tired of that. Never mind the old whinge, “Where is the justice?” My question: where the Hell is the injustice? A little injustice would warm me up no end. Instead I just go around getting what I deserve. (more…)
“I know these people in my goddamn blood!”
–Hunter S. Thompson’s Attorney
I’ve had Reagan all my life. In 1967, 13 years before the rest of you got President Reagan, he became governor of California. It was the terrarium in which Reagan’s tinkerers figured out how to stimulate the beasts in the tract houses to hatred and bathos, the tools with which they ruled and destroyed the nation.
Nixon usually gets the blame for that, but I’ve always found Nixon a rather sympathetic figure: wretched, ugly, and without much malice for either the forests or the ordinary American. Nixon didn’t even share the worship of “business” forced on us all in Reagan’s reign. Nixon’s dreams were old-fashioned Soviet machinations, full of maps and coups; he was willing enough to toss the rest of us a few bones if we’d let him play with his schemes undisturbed. And some of the bones he tossed us were rather significant. It was Nixon who created the EPA and OSHA. Reagan would have strangled both in the cradle. (more…)
Posted: February 5th, 2011
In all of America, isn’t there one person brave enough to dump wet cement on Reagan’s Hollywood Boulevard star? Isn’t there one bitter reject with nothing to lose, willing to pour lighter fluid over the “tributes” Reagan’s fans have been laying outside the funeral home?
Every fool in America is deep in mourning for this worthless man, who had no conscience, no intellect and no shame. He had all the faults and none of the virtues of the fascist: malice without frankness; cruelty without courage; pomp without dignity. And if all 285 million of you suckers are willing to sit there and let the jerks lie about him to your face, then you deserve him. He really was your kind of man. (more…)
Posted: February 5th, 2011
True Grit is a big hit for the Coen brothers, giving them their best opening weekend ever. Their growing popularity cues two inevitable reactions:
1) the claim that they’re improving as filmmakers, finally learning how to do it right, “it” being the tired sentimental humanism that goes over so big with so many dopes; and
2) the claim that they’ve sold out, abandoned their dazzling formalism, lost their satirical mojo, and degenerated into sinful conformity.
Of these two positions the first is by far the dumber and more common; I just had it solemnly presented to me by a bearded academic at a Christmas party, which is a lesson to me to stay in lockdown over the holidays.
Posted: December 28th, 2010
Meet John Agresto, the corrupt neocon labeled a “mediocrity” by 16 academic organizations
The slime just keeps spewing from the blubbery lips of my former employer, John Agresto, Provost of the American University of Iraq-Suleimaniya (AUI-S). As those who’ve read my last eXiled article will recall, Agresto hired me as an associate professor of English at AUI-S in 2009; I taught there—damn well, by the way—in the 2009-2010 academic year, and was signed to a new, two-year contract in May 2010. But over the summer, an enemy on the faculty fed Agresto copies of an antiwar article I’d written way back in 2005, and so naturally Agresto fired me for it. In July 2010.
Agresto seems to have been outraged, that I would dare to object to being fired in midsummer via email, and responded with a surprisingly lame attempt at slander, called “John Dolan: Academic Fraud.”
Like the bomb under Ace Rothstein’s caddy, Agresto’s article is “strictly amateur night.” For one thing, he never even gets around to accusing me of anything that could be called “academic fraud.” Academic fraud means faking one or more of a short set of credentials: degrees, recommendations, publications, teaching experience, student evaluations. And my creds in all these areas are solid, to say the least. (more…)
Posted: December 1st, 2010
Earlier this month, The eXiled’s John Dolan published an explosive account about his year in Iraq teaching at the American University in Sulaimani, the capital of the Kurdish-controlled region in the north of the country. The university, known by its acronym AUIS, turned out to be little more than a corrupt neocon feeding trough for Republican Party faithful, a multi-million-dollar sinkhole headed up by a notorious Reagan-era neocon named John Agresto. Earlier this summer, Agresto read a 5-year-old exile article written by Dr. Dolan that was critical of the Iraq war and the neocons who cheered it on—and Agresto summarily fired Dr. Dolan for it.
The firing and Dr. Dolan’s expose created a bit of a shitstorm in Sulaimani—we are reposting an interview that Dr. Dolan gave to a local blog run by students at the AUIS program: (more…)
Posted: November 4th, 2010
This article was first published at Alternet.
The hero of this story is the $100 bill — or rather, the wad of $100 bills. My first meeting with those lovely $100 bills came at the end of my interview for a job teaching English at the American University of Iraq Sulaimaniya (AUIS). At the end of the interview, the Chancellor, Joshua Mitchell asked me what my travel expenses had been and pulled out a wad of $100 bills. He peeled off 11 of them — the cost of my ticket — and slapped them down on the table, snarling, “There, that’s how I do business!”
It certainly wasn’t the way most American academics do business. Most Americans are horrified by the sight of large amounts of cash, and American academics, an even more squeamish lot than most, would never have slapped that much money down on a table without asking for a receipt or any other formality. I was impressed; there’s something appealing about raw gangsterism popping up when you expected overcautious pedantry — especially when that raw gangsterism is giving you cash. (more…)
Posted: October 11th, 2010
When Amazon started printing readers’ book reviews on the net, a window opened briefly on the mental worlds of ordinary people — or, as Harry Dean Stanton so memorably called them, “ordinary fuckin’ people.”
Everyone should have a look at these reviews once in a while, to get an idea of what actually goes on in the heads of the other people who sit in a theater with you, not laughing at all the best lines, and applauding all the stuff you hate.
Hell, it turns out, isn’t other people; Hell is other people reviewing on Amazon.com. (more…)
Posted: September 6th, 2010
This review was first published in The eXile on March 21, 2002.
Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections, billed as a masterpiece, is a worthless fraud, a hopelessly trite story gaudied up with tedious overwriting. The overwriting is meant to conceal the fact that this novel is a simple mix of three of the most hackneyed storylines in American fiction:
- The picaresque adventures of a feckless male academic, borrowed from DeLillo;
- The sentimental tale of the decay and death of one’s parents as in Dave Eggers’s “masterpiece”;
- The old, old plot device of the family Christmas reunion to bring the centrifugal parents and kids back together again against all odds, as in every sentimental John Hughes movie ever made and about a thousand more before him.
That, folks, is all there is to this mess: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation meets dying-parents memoir meets Manhattanite satire Lite. God help me, but that’s it! (more…)
Posted: August 27th, 2010
Notice to readers: We are scrapping the Great Living Americans nominating process due to your miserable failure, and hereby revoke your suggestion privileges. The eXiled has also initiated a review of our policies regarding the solicitation of reader input to make sure that a similar tragedy will never happen again. You people depress us.
In honor of Independence Day, I’d like to return to the topic of Great Americans, or the lack thereof. In an earlier article, I mentioned the Civil War era as a remarkable generator of Great Americans, including Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, William Tecumseh Sherman, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and Ambrose Bierce. I noted that it’s much harder to come up with a list of Great Americans living today. (I nominated Muhammad Ali, Cesar Milan, and the Coen Brothers.)
I asked for nominees, and readers responded with the following:
This is the 5th installment of John Dolan’s work-in-progress “Stupid (Or, How To Lose Money Running A Speed Lab).” Read the previous installment “Every Flake A 20 Dollar Bill” by clicking here.
Butler knelt by the beaker while the white flakes drifted down, chanting “every one a $20 bill.” There didn’t seem to me to be as many as there were supposed to be, a light snow at the bottom of whatever toxic liquid was in the beaker. But he was the Chem Major, not me.
And the sooner we finished the final sacrament the sooner we could pack up the Frankenstein glassware and pour the leftover poisons down the sink and get out of there.
I did feel bad about leaving my parents’ property steeped with the cat-pee smell of speed cookery. Even asked Butler to help me wipe the walls down, but he had to tend to the product. We bagged it, still wet and yellower than I’d expected, more like a paste than powder. He double- and triple-bagged it, put it inside his Clark Kent sportcoat and headed back to Berkeley. (more…)
This article first appeared in The New York Press.
There was a strange moment last week during President Obama’s speech at Cooper Union. There he was, groveling before a cast of Wall Street villains including Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein, begging them to “Look into your heart!” like John Turturro’s character in Miller’s Crossing…when out of the blue, the POTUS dropped this bombshell: “The only people who ought to fear the kind of oversight and transparency that we’re proposing are those whose conduct will fail this scrutiny.”
The Big Secret, of course, is that every living creature within a 100-mile radius of Cooper Union would fail “this scrutiny”—or that scrutiny, or any scrutiny, period. Not just in a 100-mile radius, but wherever there are still signs of economic life beating in these 50 United States, the mere whiff of scrutiny would work like nerve gas on what’s left of the economy. Because in the 21st century, fraud is as American as baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet Volts—fraud’s all we got left, Doc. Scare off the fraud with Obama’s “scrutiny,” and the entire pyramid scheme collapses in a heap of smoldering savings accounts.
That’s how an acquaintance of mine, a partner in a private equity firm, put it: “Whoever pops this fraud bubble is going to have to escape on the next flight out, faster than the Bin Laden Bunch fled Kentucky in their chartered jets after 9/11.” (more…)
Read the sensational Vanity Fair profile on The eXile, and founding editors Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi: (more…)
Posted: February 24th, 2010
I promised this guy I’d review a new novel called Exiles, so the review could appear in eXiled and provide some sort of synergistic frisson in the universe or something. That was months ago and I still haven’t done it. Here’s why:
It may be that I will never send Iris this letter, Spiegel thought. But someday I will see her and we will talk about these things, and then she will know.
You see? That’s the last line of the novel. I peeked at it to see where the thing would end up if I actually read all 344 pages, and that’s the final kicker. Note how the contractions have all dropped out, always an ominous sign in any novel written after 1890. “I will see her, we will talk, she will know.” Straining for lofty effect by not writing I’ll, we’ll, she’ll—bad. Very bad.
Posted: January 23rd, 2010
This article was first published in The eXile on December 2, 2005.
Everything about Russia in the 90s was cool. We mean everything.
America in the 90s, on the other hand, offers plenty to hate to the spleen-endowed eXhole. Problem is, you’re probably one of the reasons why the 90s were so bad. (more…)
Posted: October 14th, 2009
This article was first published in The eXile on July 8, 2004
Much has been said over the past week about the final collapse of the Russian Left-opposition. Even a neo-con like Michael McFaul publicly lamented (through crocodile tears) the weekend split of the Russian Communist Party opposition, charging that “democracy as a result has suffered.”
But the fact is that the Russian Left died a long time ago — in the mid-1990s, when they agreed to collaborate with the powers-that-be, and to destroy anyone within their ranks who tried breaking free from their sleazy arrangement with Yeltsin and the oligarchy. The Communists didn’t want to win power, in fact they were terrified of taking power — they were safer, and better-off, as a toothless, fake opposition, which served Yeltsin well because he could whip up Return of the Red Scare fever any time he needed more IMF funds or any time Clinton’s people threatened to make a stink about the corruption and genocide that Yeltsin was responsible for.
Posted: October 5th, 2009
This article was first published in the March 21, 2002 issue of The eXile.
Hot on the heels of the the Homeland’s latest impluse-buy publishing hit, 1776 Things to Love About America, the eXile decided to put in its own 911 cents. Our agents think this things going to sell and sell and sell… but that’s not why we did it. We did it because this is how we as Americans feel deep inside. Take a gander! (more…)
Posted: September 12th, 2009
I came to extreme poverty late in life, and did very badly at it. I should have done some kind of crime. But what kind? That’s what I couldn’t figure out. What kind of crime can you actually do, if you aren’t a lawyer and don’t understand computers?
There were certainly plenty of people who could have offered me some advice on the matter. We were living on a boat, moored in a skuzzy little harbor full of small-time criminals. The one guy who went off to a job every day was a figure of awe and mockery, a freak. Everybody else scavenged or stole to buy their booze and weed. (more…)
Posted: August 18th, 2009
We’ve been getting a lot of letters from our readers complaining to us about a case of journalistic theft: one after another, the liberal media is ripping off our 6-week-old scoop exposing the Tea Party-FreedomWorks AstroTurfing connections, and they’re not citing us as the source. Yes, even the crunchy do-gooders can behave like sleazy little vultures. We just want all our readers out there to know that we’re aware of the situation, we’re on top of it, our people have been debriefed, and we are taking appropriate measures that we cannot comment on at this time. Plagiarists and literary thieves should know that eXiled Online does not take your plagiarism and sleaze lightly. Ask the Guardian newspaper, which was forced to post this humiliating admission and apology at the TOP of an article that their correspondent stole from us; or ask James Frey, who was first outted by John Dolan as a fraud months before Frey was forced to apologize on Oprah. So, readers, we appreciate your letters, which we’re publishing below. Keep vigilant, kids! Like McGruff says, let’s take a bite out of journalistic slime! (more…)