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Recently, I visited New York’s Guggenheim Museum for a show of conceptual art by Danh Vo, whose family fled Vietnam as the American war there ended in 1975. He was four years old when he became a refugee and, through a series of flukes, found himself in Denmark, which has been his home ever since.... Read More
Recently, President Trump declared war on undocumented immigrants heading for the southern border -- you know, all those marauding “rapists” and their pals -- and, as seems appropriate in any “war,” he promptly ordered the mobilization of the National Guard. Troops from its ranks were to be dispatched border-wards permanently, or at least until his... Read More
If you want a classic formulation from our new Gilded Age, here it is, as described recently in the Guardian: “A head-on assault on teachers for their long summer vacations would ‘sound tone-deaf when there are dozens of videos and social media posts going viral from teachers about their second jobs [and] having to rely... Read More
At almost 74, of all the people in my life, it may be the teachers I remember most vividly. Mrs. Kelly, my first grade teacher (who began it all); my fourth grade teacher Miss Thomas (who, when I approached her that initial day in class and said “Hey, you,” assured me in the kindest possible... Read More
It’s been a terrible year for gun makers. The venerable Remington filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy after its sales fell 27.5% in the first nine months of Donald Trump’s presidency. (Its officials had expected a 2016 Hillary Clinton victory to ensure a burst of gun purchases.) And Remington wasn’t alone. Sales have been ragged across... Read More
You’re Watching Him!
A record? Come on! Don’t minimize what’s happening. It’s far too unique, too unprecedented even to be classified as “historic.” Call it mega-historic, if you wish. Never from Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to Soviet despot Joseph Stalin, from the Sun King Louis the XIV to President Ronald Reagan, from George Washington to Barack Obama, has anyone... Read More
Who could possibly keep up with the discordant version of musical chairs now being played out in Washington? When it comes to Donald Trump’s White House, the old sports phrase about needing a scorecard to keep track of the players pops to mind (though you would need a new one every day or maybe every... Read More
What does it mean to send two family businesses into the White House? I’m referring to the Trump Organization and the family real estate firm of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. And that’s not even to mention Ivanka Trump’s ongoing fashion line, produced by desperately underpaid women and children in “shithole” countries. Let’s just say,... Read More
Forget Emma Lazarus’s poetry and the Statue of Liberty; you really don’t want to be an immigrant in today’s America. As Dara Lind recently pointed out at Vox, being an immigrant or the child of one (even if you're a U.S. citizen) now means living in a “miasma of fear.” That’s the conclusion of two... Read More
In the wake of the Parkland massacre, in a land whose citizens own an estimated 265 million guns, half of them in the hands of just 3% of the population, and with mass shootings (four or more people) taking place, on average, nine out of every 10 days, this country is unique among developed nations... Read More
The warnings were stunning. Just six weeks before Nikolas Cruz killed 14 students and three teachers at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, a woman acquainted with him told the FBI tip line “I know he’s going to explode” and expressed her fear that he might go to a school and begin “shooting the... Read More
A Planet Boiling With Unintended Consequences
You want to see “blowback” in action? That's easy enough. All you need is a vague sense of how Google Search works. Then type into it phrases like “warmest years,” “rising sea levels,” “melting ice,” “lengthening wildfire season,” or “future climate refugees,” and you’ll find yourself immersed in the grimmest of blowback universes. It’s a... Read More
On January 6, 1941, at the edge of what would become a terrible global war, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress and spoke of a better future “founded upon four essential human freedoms.” These were, as he saw it, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, freedom... Read More
Let me mention a small joy of my life. One afternoon and evening a week I take care of my 5½-year-old grandson, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we take care of each other. We always stop for cookies -- grandparents being allowed, according to The Official Rulebook of Child-Rearing (see... Read More
Sometimes I wonder what school I went to. I mean, I know perfectly well. I attended a place I never wanted to go: Yale. But when I was 17 years old, my parents -- and a familial urge to be upwardly mobile -- more than overwhelmed my personal and private desire to go elsewhere. So,... Read More
Why We Need to Stare at You Know Who
Don’t look away. I mean it! Keep on staring just like you’ve been doing, just like we’ve all been doing since he rode down that escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 and, while you have your eyes on him, I’ll tell you exactly why you shouldn’t stop. To begin with, it’s time to... Read More
If you want a gauge of the state of America, the country that put billionaire Donald Trump in the White House, consider this: the three richest Americans -- Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett -- now have the wealth of the bottom half of the U.S. population, or 160 million Americans. Or consider this:... Read More
Starting with Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and film producer Harvey Weinstein, they’ve fallen like so many dominoes in the glare of publicity and grim public testimony from the women (and, in a few cases, men) they mistreated -- all those predators, gropers, sexual abusers of Hollywood, TV, the news, magazines, comedy, and politics, including... Read More
Back in May 2013, a word came to mind that I wanted to see in all our vocabularies. It wasn’t the ever-present “terrorist” but “terrarist” and I meant it to describe people intent on destroying the planetary environment that had welcomed and nurtured so many species, including our own, for so long; in other words,... Read More
Stop thinking of this country as the sole superpower or the indispensable nation on Earth and start reimagining it as the great fracturer, the exceptional smasher, the indispensable fragmenter. Its wars of the twenty-first century are starting to come home big time -- home being not just this particular country (though that’s true, too) but... Read More
Gladiatorial contests were the “sport” of choice of the Roman Empire for more than 650 years. Losing gladiators were regularly wounded or killed, outcomes in which the audience often had the final say (thumbs up or down or a closed fist with two fingers extended). Such decisions were reportedly accompanied by screams of “let him... Read More
It drove me crazy throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton (with all those high-priced consultants and aides) just kept pounding away at Donald Trump’s personality, which his many followers adored, and those unreleased tax returns of his, even though Americans have always loved hucksters capable of outwitting the government. That was so apparent to... Read More
In 1985, at age 41, I visited Disney World for the first time. I remember the experience for two things: the endless lines so cleverly organized that you never knew how long they truly were and the Hawaiian Luau dinner I attended. Yes, a genuine Hawaiian feast that reminded me of American Chinese food circa... Read More
Think of Donald Trump as the plutocratic id loosed in the White House. And who hasn’t noticed the results? Civil war and uproar in Washington with bodies regularly carried out of the Oval Office. There are the constant tweet assaults on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. There’s his disgruntled secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, taking... Read More
Over the years, Ann Jones has confronted some of the most daunting and depressing issues on the planet: the abuse of women, African civil wars, the disaster that is Afghanistan, and -- as reflected in her book They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- the plight of American casualties of the... Read More
When you think about it, isn’t it strange that Donald Trump doesn’t represent the historical norm, that Americans have never before elected a P.T. Barnum president (though Barnum did become the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut)? After all, as I wrote of Trump during the 2016 election campaign, “What could be more American than his two... Read More
If you’re looking for fairy tales that are on the grim (not Grimm) side, things that once might only have been in dystopian fiction, look no further than our present planet at our present moment. What about, for instance, that trillion-metric-ton iceberg -- yes, “trillion” is not a misprint -- that broke loose last week... Read More
Dystopian, yes. Unimaginable, no. In fact, a version of our present moment was imagined more than eight decades ago by novelist Sinclair Lewis who wrote a still readable (if now fictionally clunky) novel, It Can’t Happen Here. Its focus: the election as president of a man we might today call a right-wing “populist,” but who,... Read More
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How They Blind Us to Our Troubles
I don’t tweet, but I do have a brief message for our president: Will you please get the hell out of the way for a few minutes? You and your antics are blocking our view of the damn world and it’s a world we should be focusing on! Maybe it was the moment, more than... Read More
In an age of billionaires, whether the voters who elected him thought that he was the one who could do what was needed in the nation’s capital or were just giving the finger to Washington, the effect was, as Donald Trump might say, of “historic significance.” His golf courses, hotels, properties of every sort are... Read More
Will Trump Set a Record for the History Books?
In its own inside-out, upside-down way, it’s almost wondrous to behold. As befits our president’s wildest dreams, it may even prove to be a record for the ages, one for the history books. He was, after all, the candidate who sensed it first. When those he was running against, like the rest of Washington’s politicians,... Read More
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt had a genuine howler the other day. On NBC’s Meet the Press, he said, “Since the fourth quarter of last year until most recently, we’ve added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs.” Try instead maybe 1,000 jobs in the... Read More
Into the Whirlwind
He’s huge. Outsized. He fills the news hole at any moment of any day. His over-tanned face glows unceasingly in living rooms across America. Never has a president been quite so big. So absolutely monstrous. Or quite so small. He’s our Little Big Man. I know, I know... he induces panic, fear, anxiety, insomnia. Shrinks... Read More
In the first paragraphs of George Orwell’s famed novel 1984, Winston Smith slips through the doors of his apartment building, “Victory Mansions,” to escape a “vile wind.” Hate week -- a concept that should seem eerily familiar in Donald Trump’s America -- was soon to arrive. “The hallway,” writes Orwell, “smelt of boiled cabbage and... Read More
As his polling figures sag, the chaos of his presidency increases exponentially, and the news turns ever grimmer (for him), President Trump faces growing opposition nationwide. As TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer reports today, from boycotting businesses carrying his products to jamming the phone lines of his hotels, an expanding, if somewhat uncoordinated, set of anti-Trump... Read More
It's a beautiful day in May. The sun is streaming down; the birds are on their migration paths north; the first daylilies are just breaking into bloom -- and students are gathering for their graduation ceremonies on an afternoon when everything seems just right in a world where so much seems so wrong. These are... Read More
From his “big, fat, beautiful wall” to his travel bans, much of Donald Trump's push to isolate America, like so much else in his program, has hit a series of ugly speed bumps. Not only won’t the Mexicans “pay” to build that much-promised wall, but even Congress is unlikely to do so, as its price... Read More
It was one of the worst moments of the Vietnam War era in America. U.S. troops had just invaded Cambodia and the nation’s campuses erupted in a spasm of angry and frustrated protest. At Kent State University in Ohio, National Guardsmen had killed four students. In Washington that day in May 1970, the first of... Read More
How the U.S. Invaded, Occupied, and Remade Itself
It’s been epic! A cast of thousands! (Hundreds? Tens?) A spectacular production that, five weeks after opening on every screen of any sort in America (and possibly the world), shows no sign of ending. What a hit it's been! It’s driving people back to newspapers (online, if not in print) and ensuring that our everyday... Read More
While preparing to walk in New York City -- or, as it turned out, given the staggering crowds, to stand in one spot for long periods -- in support of the Women’s March (which would set protest records nationally), I had a specific urge. I wanted to carry the flag. I’m talking about the stars... Read More
We’re in a strange new world -- of fantasists (see Kellyanne Conway’s terrorist “massacre” in Bowling Green, Kentucky), delusionaries (see Sean Spicer’s account of the “Iranians” who attacked an “American” naval vessel), and dreamers (if having a nightmare is your idea of dreaming). Only the other day, for instance, at the National Prayer Breakfast, President... Read More
The 25/8 News Cycle Is Already Rolling, But the Looting of America Hasn’t Really Begun
It started in June 2015 with that Trump Tower escalator ride into the presidential race to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” (“But there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead, there's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead, don't feel like Satan, but I am to them...")... Read More
What a strange moment. Everything, even the Super Bowl, is being Trumpified and is now divisive. Of course, the Super Bowl is always officially divisive with two rival teams and the fervent fans of each. Still, in a normal year, no matter which two teams are playing, the Super Bowl is also the great unifying... Read More
We now find ourselves in Donald Trump’s back-to-the-future world. And why should we be surprised? His whole campaign pitch was to do it “again” -- to return to his dream of past American greatness, which seems mired in a 1950s America of burning fossil fuels and urban smog. In his very first days in office,... Read More
In a sense, the damage is already done and who can doubt that what follows will be a demolition derby -- with an exception almost too obvious to mention. In the pre-inaugural period, one simple fact of the Trumpian accession stood out boldly: just about every one of his appointees to a non-national-security post was... Read More
In case you hadn’t noticed, someone recently loosed a satirist in American politics. Let me give you an example. You remember FBI Director James Comey, who gained a certain notoriety by stepping into the limelight 11 days before the recent presidential election via a very publicly dispatched letter to the Congressional leadership. It focused on... Read More
Heading into the Trump era, our American world already feels like it’s overheating badly. The headlines careen from the president-elect’s tweets against Meryl Streep (“one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood...!”) to conflicts over conflicts of interest to secret briefings by the intelligence community on highly compromising (but unsubstantiated and possibly completely insubstantial) “personal... Read More
At the height of the George W. Bush years, a bit of a TomDispatch piece would sometimes be reposted at a right-wing website with a disparaging comment, and I’d suddenly be deluged with abusive emails (many homophobic) that regularly advised me to take my whatever and get out of Dodge. Though I was born in... Read More
Thank You, Donald Trump
Know thyself. It was what came to mind in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory and my own puzzling reaction to it. And while that familiar phrase just popped into my head, I had no idea it was so ancient, or Greek, or for that matter a Delphic maxim inscribed in the forecourt of the... Read More
The Future According to Trump
Can you doubt that we’re in a dystopian age, even if we’re still four weeks from Donald Trump entering the Oval Office? Never in our lifetimes have we experienced such vivid previews of what unfettered capitalism is likely to mean in an ever more unequal country, now that its version of 1% politics has elevated... Read More
Tom Engelhardt
About Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tomdispatch.com is the sideline that ate his life. Before that he worked as an editor at Pacific News Service in the early 1970s, and, these last three decades, as an editor in book publishing. For 15 years, he was Senior Editor at Pantheon Books where he edited and published award-winning works ranging from Art Spiegelman's Maus and John Dower's War Without Mercy to Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy. He is now Consulting Editor at Metropolitan Books, as well as co-founder and co-editor of Metropolitan's The American Empire Project. Many of the authors whose books he has edited and published over the years now write for Tomdispatch.com. He is married to Nancy J. Garrity, a therapist, and has two children, Maggie and Will.

His new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books), has just been published.


Personal Classics
Eight Exceptional(ly Dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century
How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create You
Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower