The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Calculating the Damage from a Century of Drug Prohibition
We live in a time of change, when people are questioning old assumptions and seeking new directions. In the ongoing debate over health care, social justice, and border security, there is, however, one overlooked issue that should be at the top of everyone’s agenda, from Democratic Socialists to libertarian Republicans: America’s longest war. No, not... Read More
He was a graduate student when, in the midst of the Vietnam War, he started to explore the history behind the heroin epidemic then infecting the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He soon found himself, almost inadvertently, on the heroin trail across Southeast Asia and deep into the CIA’s involvement in an earlier version of America’s... Read More
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The Trump Era as an Occasion for Truth Telling
Irony, paradox, contradiction, consternation -- these define the times in which we live. On the one hand, the 45th president of the United States is a shameless liar. On the other hand, his presidency offers an open invitation to Americans to confront myths about the way their country actually works. Donald Trump is a bullshit... Read More
Charles W. Engelhard, Jr., was “the platinum king” of South Africa (and was evidently the model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond nemesis Goldfinger). He lived mainly in a “Rhinelike castle, turrets and all,” in Far Hills, New Jersey, but did shuttle via his own fleet of aircraft among four other palatial homes in Johannesburg, South... Read More
1% Politics and the Scandals of A New Gilded Age
Despair about the state of our politics pervades the political spectrum, from left to right. One source of it, the narrative of fairness offered in basic civics textbooks -- we all have an equal opportunity to succeed if we work hard and play by the rules; citizens can truly shape our politics -- no longer... Read More
The Reign of King Toot
Recently, I did something rare in my life. Over a long weekend, I took a few days away and almost uniquely -- I might even say miraculously -- never saw Donald Trump’s face, since I didn’t watch TV and barely checked the news. They were admittedly terrible days in which 50 people were slaughtered in... Read More
Who now remembers the classic 1956 sci-fi movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers? In it, alien spores drop to earth in... yes, California (undoubtedly not too far from the Mexican border)... and develop into seed pods that can replicate and then take over any nearby sleeping human being. What a nightmarish film. It certainly scared... Read More
Or Why Donald Trump’s Great Wall Is Viagra for Him, But a Border Disaster
Borders are cruel. I know this because I’ve been studying the U.S.-Mexico border for more than 40 years. It features prominently in two of my books, written in different decades. It keeps pulling me back. Every time I cross that border, I say to myself that this is no big deal -- I’m used to... Read More
I remember him (barely) as a thin, bald, little old man with a white mustache and a cane. As I write this, I’m looking at a photo of him in 1947, holding the hand of little Tommy Engelhardt who had just turned three that very July day. They’re on a street somewhere in Brooklyn, New... Read More
Death by a Thousand Cuts
It turns out that walls can’t always be seen. Donald Trump may never build his “great, great wall,” but that doesn’t mean he isn’t working to wall Americans in. It’s a story that needs to be told. This past month, for instance, claims of ISIS’s near total defeat in Syria have continued to mount. As... Read More
Or Will They Parent Us?
Kids are taking over the streets in other countries, rallying and chanting and refusing to go to school one day a week. Young people across the world are striking to draw attention to the ravages of climate change. They are demanding -- with their bodies and their voices -- that the catastrophe each of them... Read More
Yes, it’s happening. It really is. And I’m not just thinking about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and the support it’s getting from Democratic presidential candidates or the controversy it’s generating. I’m also thinking about Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s entry into the 2020 presidential race on a platform that boils down to a... Read More
Sometimes your past returns in the strangest of ways, as happened to me when today’s article from TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon first crossed my doorstep. As you’ll see, its subject would not be one on which this almost 75-year-old guy would consider himself to have the slightest expertise: women discovering their bodies in complex ways... Read More
How Young Women Learn to Hate Their Genitals
I’ll never forget the first time I saw my own menstrual period start. I was seated on the floor in a circle of women, legs bent in front of me, soles facing each other, a mirror resting on my feet. The flashlight directed at the mirror illuminated my vagina, which was held open by a... Read More
He descended that Trump Tower escalator on June 16, 2015, to announce his presidential candidacy already bragging about the “great, great wall” he was going to build on the U.S.-Mexico border (“and nobody builds walls better than me... And I will have Mexico pay for that wall”). “When Mexico sends its people,” he insisted that... Read More
Bound at the Border, or How to Make Border Porn
On February 15th, Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency in order to fund his “great, great” border wall without having to go through Congress. There is, of course, no emergency, despite the rape fantasy that the president has regularly tried to pass off as public policy. In speech after speech, including his declaration... Read More
Call me crazy, if you want, but I think I see how to do it! We have two intractable issues, one intractable president, and an intractable world, but what if it weren’t so? What if those two intractable problems could be swept off the table by a single gesture from that same intractable man? As... Read More
If you think of the age of Trump as a spectator sport, then perhaps the truly riveting show isn’t on the president’s Twitter feed or in his latest shout-outs to the press or at another of those “cabinet meetings” where everyone is obliged to publicly praise you-know-perfectly-well-who (and so does he). I wouldn’t for a... Read More
  Think about this for a moment: in a country whose infrastructure is falling apart and where an inequality gap of monumental proportions is still growing, at least we should feel remarkably well-protected. After all, in the last fiscal year, the Pentagon, the one institution in Washington that only seems to receive more taxpayer dollars... Read More
A young friend is seriously considering joining her state’s National Guard. She’s a world-class athlete, but also a working-class woman from a rural background competing in a rich person’s sport. Between seasons, she works for a local farm and auctioneer to put together the money for equipment and travel. Each season, raising the necessary money... Read More
Trump's Policies Hurt People Instead of Fixing the System
"Make America Cruel Again." That's how journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Shipler has reformulated Donald Trump's trademark slogan. Shipler's version is particularly apt when you think about the president's record over the last two years on refugee resettlement and other humanitarian-related immigration issues. President Trump's border-wall obsession and the political uproar over it have... Read More
Think of it as the real-world feedback loop from hell. In October 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and launched a “war on terror.” With the invasion of Iraq a year and a half later, that war would begin to spread across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. It would, in the... Read More
War in the Shadows (of You Know Who)
The news, however defined, always contains a fair amount of pap. Since Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency, however, the trivia quotient in the average American’s daily newsfeed has grown like so many toadstools in a compost heap, overshadowing or crowding out matters of real substance. We’re living in TrumpWorld, folks. Never in the history... Read More
In 2013, ExxonMobil CEO and future secretary of state Rex Tillerson -- the man who called the president who would fire him a “moron” -- summed up our world with eerie accuracy in a single question. Speaking of climate change and ExxonMobil’s role in producing carbon emissions, he asked that company’s shareholders, “What good is... Read More
When terrorist attacks killed almost 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, this country promptly launched a Global War on Terror that has, by now, cost trillions of dollars and shows no signs of ending anytime soon. In those years, staggering sums were poured into the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state to... Read More
There Is a Real National Emergency in America, It’s Just Not the Wall
President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to declare a national emergency if Congress refuses to pony up $5.7 billion to build the “great, great wall” he promised his base during the 2016 election campaign. In an apocalyptic televised address early in January, he even warned -- falsely, as fact checkers revealed during the speech --... Read More
Creating a Global Lost Generation
Halfway through 2018, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski hurled a mother-to-mother dagger at Ivanka Trump. How, during the very weeks when the headlines were filled with grim news of child separations and suffering at the U.S.-Mexico border, she asked, could the first daughter and presidential adviser be so tone-deaf as to show herself hugging her two-year-old son?... Read More
  More than a week ago, Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old from Wisconsin, escaped her 21-year-old abductor who had killed her parents. When she turned up 66 miles from home, having been missing for almost three months, her relatives, her small town, and even the police celebrated. Her return from a horrific experience, especially for a... Read More
He arrived on the political scene in 2015 already promoting a future “great, great wall,” even if it was originally no more than a “mnemonic device” invented by his handlers to remind him to bring up the issue of immigration on the campaign trail. Okay, so what? And so what if the original great, great... Read More
A Timeline of Border Fortification
The point was less to actually build “the wall” than to constantly announce the building of the wall. “We started building our wall. I’m so proud of it,” Donald Trump tweeted. “What a thing of beauty.” In fact, no wall, or certainly not the “big, fat, beautiful” one promised by Trump, is being built. True,... Read More
Life in the United States of Trump
In one of the Bible stories about the death of Jesus, local collaborators with the Roman Empire haul him before Pontius Pilate, the imperial governor of Palestine. Although the situation is dire for one of them, the two engage in a bit of epistemological banter. Jesus allows that his work is about telling the truth... Read More
They are unending. There’s no way to keep up, much less respond effectively, and it almost goes without saying that they are never to be taken back, corrected, or amended in any way. Call them false claims, lies, untruths, misstatements, whatever you want, but they are what comes out of his mouth just about anytime... Read More
Honestly, This Could Get a Lot Uglier
Sixty-six million years ago, so the scientists tell us, an asteroid slammed into this planet. Landing on what’s now Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, it gouged out a crater 150 kilometers wide and put so much soot and sulfur into the atmosphere that it created what was essentially a prolonged “nuclear winter.” During that time, among so... Read More
After six all-American decades in business, Toys "R" Us crashed in 2018, closing its 735 U.S. stores and filing for bankruptcy. As it happens, however, the Washington-branded outfit, Mistreatment and Misconduct "R" Us (or M&M "R" Us), continues to thrive, as it has this century so far. In case the holiday season has swept your... Read More
They swore he’d never build, just tear down. He was, after all, the ultimate loner president with a grim history of bankruptcies. It was obvious that, among other things, he’d destroy the country’s alliances. And admittedly, these last two years his strength hasn’t always been in building. Take that “big, fat, beautiful wall” of his.... Read More
Globalists Really Are Ruining Your Life
You know the story: the globalists want your guns. They want your democracy. They’re hovering just beyond the horizon in those black helicopters. They control the media and Wall Street. They’ve burrowed into a deep state that stretches like a vast tectonic plate beneath America’s fragile government institutions. They want to replace the United States... Read More
In a Crippled World, All the News That’s Fit to Splint
Breaking News! -- as NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt often puts it when beginning his evening broadcast. Here, in summary, is my view of the news that’s breaking in the United States on just about any day of the week: Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Or rather (in the president’s style): Trump! Trump! Trump!... Read More
What planet do we actually live on? Start with this fact: the last four years -- 2015, 2016, 2017, and (it seems a sure thing) 2018 -- will be the hottest on record. And if that doesn’t seem like evidence enough of something worth noting, how about 20 of the last 22 years being the... Read More
I took my first hit of speed in 1970 during my freshman year in college. That little white pill -- Dexedrine -- was a revelation. It made whatever I was doing absolutely fascinating. Amphetamine sharpened my focus and banished all appetites except a hunger for knowledge. I spent that entire night writing 35 pages of... Read More
Who could doubt that the world of Donald Trump has recently become yet more embattled? Yes, there’s the Mueller investigation reportedly winding up (or down). And yes, there were those midterm elections, a blow -- as journalist and novelist Ben Fountain explains today -- to The Donald, creating yet another crew ready to investigate, subpoena,... Read More
A Blue Wave From Another Universe
Evil days. The midterms were bearing down on us like a runaway train with Donald Trump in the driver’s seat and the throttle wide open, the Presidential Special hell-bent for the bottom. “Go Trump Go!” tweeted David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, as if the president needed anyone’s encouragement. There had... Read More
In the 1950s, I grew up in the heart of New York City and had a remarkable amount of contact with Native Americans. As you might expect, I never actually met one in those years. What I had in mind was all the time I spent at the local RKO and other movie theaters watching... Read More
DNA, Race, and Native Rights
Amid the barrage of racist, anti-immigrant, and other attacks launched by President Trump and his administration in recent months, a series of little noted steps have threatened Native American land rights and sovereignty. Such attacks have focused on tribal sovereignty, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and the voting rights of Native Americans, and they... Read More
Whatever you may think of President Trump, it’s important to be fair to him. You might have noticed that, on his recent trip to France (“five days of fury”), officially to mourn and praise America’s war dead on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, he managed to misshis first scheduled ceremony.... Read More
An Affair to Remember
Face it: it’s been an abusive time, to use a word he likes to wield. In his telling, of course, it’s he or his people who are always the abused ones and they -- the “fake news media” -- are the abusers. But let’s be honest. You’ve been abused, too, and so have I. All... Read More
Thoughts on Election Day 2018
Who could forget that moment? The blue [red] wave -- long promised but also doubted -- had, however modestly [however massively], hit Washington and [the Democrats had just retaken Congress] [the Republicans had held Congress] [the Democrats had taken the House]. The media, Fox News and the usual right-wing websites aside, hailed the moment. [Fox... Read More
How Frats, Teams, and Gangs Divide, Conquer, and Now Judge America
Brett Kavanaugh’s hellish Supreme Court fraternity pledge week offered many lessons, but the most powerful, if least noted, was about the raising of boys in America -- all boys, not just the groomed Georgetown elite from which the judge emerged. Too many boys are raised in packs, whether they’re called fraternities, sports teams, or gangs,... Read More
I felt discouraged recently when it hit home: I’ll never be a Supreme Court justice. Reviewing my life, I came to the realization that I was in no way qualified -- and no, I’m not talking about my utter lack of legal experience (except as a juror). I was thinking instead of the qualifications that... Read More
The Media’s Moving On, But I’m Not
It’s been three weeks since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony before the nation and I’m still struggling to move on. As talk turns toward the impending midterms, I find myself mentally pushing back against the relentlessness of the news cycle as it plows on, casting a spell of cultural amnesia in its wake.... Read More
I missed the Salem witch trials, but I well remember Anita Hill at the Clarence Thomas hearings. How could I forget the fire in her eyes or the cool precision of her responses to that phalanx of old white men so titillated by her answers as they pressed her for more salacious details? I remember,... Read More