Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Swift’s April Fools Broomstick Joke

The all time master of the April Fools joke was Jonathan Swift. Here’s one of his lesser ones where he draws deep philosophical by meditating on a broomstick.

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Milton Understood Ambitious Con Men

A recent “Atlantic” article argues that Milton’s Satan is quintessentially American, with the archangel as both rugged individualist and honey-tongued con man. Sounds a lot like our current president.

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Trump as Lear, Howling in the Storm

Donald Trump has a lot in common with King Lear. I suspect, however, that Lear has the happier ending.

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Democrats Have Dickens, GOP Ayn Rand

We see the hand of Ayn Rand in Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Charles Dickens would understand what’s going on.

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The Work of the World Is Common as Mud

Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use” essentially shows why Barack Obama’s legacy is likely to survive GOP repeal efforts. The difference is work that comes from a deep place as opposed to shallowly grounded executive orders.

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The Bigger Ego: Trump’s or Zaphod’s?

If you know anyone with an “ego as big as the universe,” compare him/her to Zaphod Beeblebrox in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” In Beeblebrox’s case, it is shown to be literally true.

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Trump Is Gatsby (But a Lot Meaner)

Donald Trump is Jay Gatsby, albeit a Gatsby with a mean streak. Nevertheless, the rise of the character helps us understand the success of our current president.

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“Julius Caesar” Is Only Too Relevant

“Julius Caesar” has been showing up in the news recently, and for good reason. New York leads off with the play this summer in “Shakespeare in the Park” (the political parallels are overwhelming) and there is an “Ides of Trump” postcard writing campaign scheduled for March 15.

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Climate Change, Fairies Fighting

Some of the extreme climate events we are currently experiencing are described in “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” where they are the result of fairy infighting

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Lit, a Heroic Bulwark against Trumpism

Author George Saunders sees literature playing a vital role in opposing Trumpism. He has also written a very comic poem about the president.

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Brown & Gold & Blood vs. Trumpian White

In the face of white nationalists, we need poems like Fatima Asghar’s celebration of South Asian diversity in America to remind us who we really are.

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Atwood Predicts the Fire Next Time

Atwood’s disturbing dystopian short story “Torch the Dusties” points to the uneven way that our society is apportioning its resources, along with the resulting anger.

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The Soldier Knew Someone Had Blundered

Donald Trump is refusing to take responsibility for the failed Yemen raid where a Navy Seal was killed, along with 30 civilians. The raid brings to mind the “Charge of the Light Brigade,” although more appropriate might be the Rudyard Kipling sequel, where the poet blasted England for failing to take care of the survivors.

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“Enemy of the People,” Badge of Honor

Donald Trump has been attack the media as “the enemy of the people,” bringing to mind Heinrik Ibsen’s 1882 play. The play is about a truth-telling scientist but the parallels are still very apt: stand up for truth, regardless of the consequences.

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Bannon: Deconstructionist or Con Man?

When Steve Bannon said that he plans to “deconstruct” the administrative state, it sounds vaguely impressive but maybe just be a pretentious way of saying that he’s planning on gumming up the works. A discussion of deconstruction is in order.

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Not a Reader (and Proud of It)

What do a president’s reading habits say about his/her vision of America? Obama’s celebration of a diverse America is the vision of a voracious reader. Trump’s shallow narrative is the vision of one who doesn’t read.

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Shakespeare Would Support Transgenders

As Donald Trump rolls back transgender protections, it’s worth going back to Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” which honors the sense that many have (not just transgender individuals) that they have the other gender hidden away beneath their exteriors.

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The Ugliness of Racial Resentment

“The Merchant of Venice” is a story of resentment and thus is only too relevant in today’s political landscape of inflamed passion. Those who have been victimized–or who feel that they have been victimized–are only too ready to stick it to others when they are in power.

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Fundamentalists Send Readers to Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” is topping bestseller lists at the moment. The reason is probably because of the GOP’s prospect of success in curbing reproductive freedom.

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Chaucer’s Wife, an Early Gaslighter

Donald Trump’s non-ending falsehoods have sometimes been described as “gaslighting,” after the old Charles Boyer-Ingrid Bergman film. An early literary example of a gaslighter is Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, although her use of the tactic is far more justifiable.

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Trump’s Faustian Emptiness

Donald Trump has a lot in common with Doctor Faustus: both are narcissists who create hells for themselves by being unable to reach out beyond themselves.

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Teaching Euripides in the Age of Title IX

Recently a student reported me for using sexist language in the classroom. (This while teaching a Kingsolver novel and Euripides’s “The Bacchae.”) The language did not reflect my own views, but the complaint made me realize that I need to be more careful with this generation of students.

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Hughes Dreams the Real American Dream

Langston Hughes’s “Let America Be America Again” is a powerful riposte to President Steven Bannon and Co.’s “Make America Great Again.” Poems like this one can play an important role in resistance against the Trump administration.

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Poetry & the Sea Liberate the Imprisoned

For Pablo Neruda’s, the “poet’s obligation” is to speak for freedom–which makes poetry vital important in our time.

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Our Version of Plague Maddened Villagers

Donald Trump’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act and on immigrants could well end up hurting many of his supporters. A similar irony is described in Geraldine Brooks’s “Year of Wonders,” where 17th century villagers, maddened by the plague, kill two midwives.

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Poetry as a Check against Tyranny

African American poet Rita Dove talks about the importance of poetry in resisting tyranny, especially its attack on language. In “American Smooth,” she expresses a foundational optimism about America.

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The GOP’s Faustian Bargain with Trump

New York Times columnist David Brooks says that the GOP is striking a Faustian bargain by collaborating with Donald Trump. Christopher Marlowe shows the price that is paid for dealing with the devil and also tells us how one can get one’s soul back.

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Trump’s Crusoe Wall Goes Up in Airports

This past weekend so a flurry of illegal and unconstitutional executive orders that created chaos in airports and elsewhere as travelers from certain countries found themselves in detention. Defoe captures versions of such dramas in “Robinson Crusoe.”

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The World’s One Hope: Compassion

Bertolt Brecht’s “”The World One Hope” addresses the problem of growing callousness but then points to how we can break through to compassion.

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Trump to Torture’s Opponents: Drop Dead

Donald Trump wants to bring back torture, specifically waterboarding. Like the colonel in Carolyn Forché’s poem by that name, he is a showman who seeks to intimidate.

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1984 Explains Why Trump Keeps Lying

“1984” gives us new insight into Donald Trump’s incessant lying. We are not supposed to apply logic to contentions that Trump’s inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s. We are supposed to submit to power. The more outrageous the lie, the more Trump demonstrates his power when people go along.

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