BLACKBOOK EXCLUSIVE: Chuck Palahniuk at the BLACKBARN x One Grand Books Summer Reading Series at the BlackBarn Restaurant in Chelsea

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Since the release of Fight Club in 1996, Chuck Palahniuk has been one of America’s most celebrated (and subversive) authors. Now back with his first book in four years, last night, Palahniuk sat down with BlackBook Editor-in-Chief and One Grand Books founder, Aaron Hicklin, inside the BLACKBARN Restaurant in Chelsea Market, to read from and answer questions about his latest, Adjustment Day, as part of One Grand’s Summer Reading series in partnership with BLACKBARN.

For Palahniuk, Adjustment Day is the exaggerated outcome of our already extreme current political climate — nations based on identity politics, and fueled by fake news, conspiracy theories, and heightened emotion. In the book, he quotes John Adams: “Remember, Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself” — that seems to be the Adjustment Day anthem. Inspired by Ira Levin (the author behind Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, among others) Palahniuk wanted to illustrate our collective fears in the current environment. “Fascism, racism, separatism” — the author wanted to explore the violent conclusion of our social conscious. But he also sees the novel as just another “girl-meets-boy love story.”

 

 

Publishers didn’t agree. Palahniuk said he was almost ready to self-release the book after his longtime publisher said it was too dangerous to issue. That’s nothing new to the author who reminisced last night about the challenges of getting picked up at the beginning of his career. Then, he was shopping around an early draft of what would become his 1999 book, Invisible Monsters, and could not find a taker. Finally, he approached Jerry Howard, a publisher at W.W. Norton (the company that ended up releasing Adjustment Day), but only after Palahniuk forced a sit-down between the two by playing David Bowie’s “Young Americans” on heavy repeat on the jukebox, driving the others authors vying to speak with Howard out of the bar.

Palahniuk also read “The Facts of Life,” from his 2015 short story collection, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread. Although it is basically a porno with a lot of dark comedy (that includes a mid-sex spontaneous combustion), the story showcases what the author does best in novels like Adjustment Day and Fight Club. Palahniuk has an uncanny ability to not just document, but exploit human anxiety in a way that’s both completely unnerving, but also cathartic. He tackles sex (definitely in the case of “The Facts of Life”), love, compulsion and politics, all in a way that doesn’t just satirize our humanity, but holds up a mirror to it. With Adjustment Day, he examines the nature of equally extreme and opposing ideologies, warning of a disastrous future if things continue the way they have been. But like he writes in the book’s millennial “Declaration of Interdependence,” “A smile is your best bulletproof vest. The joy of fiction is that it only needs to smell true.”

 

View photos from our sit-down with the author below, and buy Adjustment Day here.

 

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Photos by Daniel Jonhson

 

Eurovision Song Winner Pulls a Beyoncé, Sets Off ‘Culture War’

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The colossal annual Eurovision Song Contest apparently has long had a ban on overtly political lyrics. The hardly-easy-to-enforce edict was challenged this past Tuesday, when Armenian singer Iveta Mukuchyan brandished a Nagorno-Karabakh flag, in protest of Armenia’s occupation of the Azerbaijani region. It set tongues wagging.

But last night’s final in Stockholm may have genuinely served to escalate the ongoing troubles between Ukraine and Russia, with Ukrainian singer Jamala taking the top prize for her song “1944.” It contains the not-so-subtle lyrical pleas, “You think you are gods / But everyone dies / Don’t swallow my soul / Our souls” and “We could build a future / Where people are free / To live and love.”

Before her victory, Jamala had told The Guardian that if she did indeed win, “It will mean that modern European people are not indifferent, and are ready to hear about the pain of other people and to sympathize.” It was a clear reference to the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, and the continuing violent struggle that has followed. Russian officials responded to Jamala’s victory with immediate scorn, calling for her disqualification based on breaking the ban on political lyrical statements.

This comes hot on the heels of Beyoncé’s controversial Super Bowl halftime show in February, which itself set off something of a socio-political firestorm in America. As could be expected, both sides of the ideological divide conveniently interpreted her performance to the specific promotion of their own agendas.

Considering Eurovision 2016 had a worldwide viewing audience of 200,000,000, Russia, surely, can be expected to not just shrink quietly away from this fight.

 

Hey Hillary Clinton, Stop Being So Cool

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Have you scrolled through Hillary Clinton’s Instagram account lately? Her profile description reads: “Doting grandmother, among other things.” That’s funny, in an ironic way. The only thing that suggests she might be the first woman running for president is the accompanying hashtag, #hillary2016. Hillary Clinton, you need to stop trying so hard.

Two days ago, Clinton (or more specifically, her social media manager) posted a photo to Instagram of her and Bill in what her middle part and his facial hair suggest to have been taken in the 70s. It’s a good picture, definitely one for the books, but the caption killed it: “The hippest way to spend ten bucks: being one of the first to support #Hillary2016.” The caption is a prime example of Clinton’s campaign to be cool, and as any guy with a manbun will tell you, there’s nothing less hip than acknowledging what’s hip.

 

The hippest way to spend ten bucks: being one of the first to support #Hillary2016. Chip in at hrc.io/IGdonate

A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

 

The point here isn’t to argue that Clinton isn’t cool or to distinguish between what is and what isn’t, but to suggest that Clinton’s efforts are wasted on trying to appeal to the so-called hip demographic — the young, social media-addicted generation. Millennials, who represent the majority of Instagram (and other social media) users, are already on Clinton’s side. A recent survey from Harvard’s Institute of Politics showed that 55 percent of young adults, ages 18 to 29, would rather see a Democrat maintain control of the White House than a Republican take over. On top of that, young adults who identified as Democrats or likely to vote Democrat favor Clinton drastically over other liberal candidates. We like her just the way she is, even though her authentic self is a little stuffy and she has a fondness for pantsuits. She’s “cool” because she supports the issues that we care about and because she’s the first woman to run for president. And also because she has a mom-like persona, and everyone loves a mom.  

 

 

Instead of asking her Instagram followers to donate money to her campaign, she should be encouraging them to register to vote. In the 2012 presidential election, the turnout among voters ages 18 to 29 was 45 percent, lower than in 2008, when it peaked at 52 percent. She needs to translate the likes and follows she accrues into voter registration forms and absentee ballots. Rock the vote people, it’s a thing.

 

Cover Story: The Pope That Changed the World

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Pope Francis salutes the crowd in St. Peter’s Square on October 22, 2014. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Why do children suffer? When a Filipino child put that question to Pope Francis in January, the pontiff saluted her and called it the “question without an answer.” When she began to cry, he took her into his arms and said: “Only when we are able to cry are we able to come close to responding to your question. Those on the margins cry. Those who have fallen by the wayside cry. Those who are discarded cry. But those who are living a life that is more or less without need, we don’t know how to cry.”

In her innocence, the Filipino child pointed to one of the great surprises of our time: Against all secular odds, and even against the hope of chastened religious people, a figure has arrived on the world scene to whom the question without an answer can be put. And when he responds — not by pretending to remove suffering, or by denying it, but only by acknowledging it, and by joining in it — all the world, if despite itself, leans forward to listen.

Two years on from his election, this oddly garbed old man from Argentina has upended the assumptions and expectations of a generation. As a center of cultural and intellectual influence, much less as a moral force, religion was supposed to be finished with, except in the global backwaters of reaction and fundamentalism. In Europe, churches were empty — the most recent Pew data showed that only 25% of Italian Catholics considered religion “very important” in their lives. Among the French, only 15%. In America, Protestantism had been hijacked by science-denying evangelicals on the right, and Roman Catholicism had been crippled by sex-abuse scandals. Who imagined ever again taking a clue, much less encouragement, from a pope?

Make no mistake, this pope, however radical, is a man of the church, whose basic beliefs are in sync with doctrine and tradition. Yet the way he holds to those beliefs is different. By insisting that the culture wars about sexual morality, gender discrimination, and gay rights are not the only moral issues, or even, perhaps, the most important ones, the pope has changed their meaning. The absolutes of Christian ethics are not absolute now in the way they were when this pope was unexpectedly elected. Whether he has meant to or not, Francis, just by changing the ethos of hierarchical moral judgment, has laid the groundwork for a radical revision of how ethics are taught in theory and applied in situations. Mercy, at last, is trumping law. No one intuits this transformation more firmly than once marginal Catholics — the divorced, those unmarried but in intimate relationships, the previously beleaguered liberal nuns, or gay people. Catholic women, though still forbidden admission to the priesthood, also recognize something new at work. It is morning in Roman Catholicism.

Far more remarkable than Francis’s invigorating effect on the Church, or even on religious believers generally, however,
is his effect on the broader world, a vast population long since satisfied to forego any reference to the life of faith. Other popes have been objects of global fascination, most notably the now-sainted John Paul II, who as a participant in the peaceful denouement of the Cold War achieved a rare level of world- wide celebrity. But John Paul II, like his more reticent successor, Benedict XVI, mistook
his geographical perch atop the Vatican hill for a position of all-transcending moral superiority.
That the papal election of Jorge Mario

Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was preceded by his precursor’s stunning resignation was enough, perhaps, to mark a new day. The fundamental reordering of Catholic leadership had already been made necessary, across two decades, by the Catholic hierarchy’s rampant failure to reckon with the sex abuse scandal. But no one could have imagined how different this reordering would be.

At first, observers spoke of the style of Pope Francis, as if modes of papal garb, residence, transportation, and diction were what mattered. But the new pope’s eschewing of the Apostolic Palace, the ermine cape, the Vatican limousine, and the papal “we” was paired with an immediate and emphatic insistence on the meaning of such renunciations. With ringing authenticity, Francis declared his identification with “those on the margins, those who had fallen by the wayside.” Prisoners, criminals, migrants, refugees, slum dwellers, the disease-ridden — he not only spoke of them, but he also went to them. He embraced them. He cried with them. I am with you, the pope said to all these desperate people. And to the rest of the world, he said: That so many suffer, and suffer so much, is wrong!

In his encyclical “The Joy of the Gospel,” published in 2013, the pope not only expressed compassion for the impoverished, but also denounced the structures of free-market capitalism that weigh like granite blocks on the backs of the poor:

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throw away’ culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new…. Those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised — they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers.’

This “something new” is not an accident of the human condition, nor is it an axiom of history. It’s a direct consequence of unjust social, economic, and political structures. The structures are legal, even celebrated, but they are wrong. He continued: While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation…. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules…. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

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Pope Francis embraces two children, including 12-year-old Glyzelle Palomar, during his visit to the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on January 18, 2015. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

Charity is not enough, the pope was saying. He demanded justice. For the poor, but also for the planet. Remarkably enough, this un- flinchingly radical social critique, which in developed nations had been mostly missing from economic and political discourse for two generations, has been getting through lately. Is it only coincidence that Francis’s tenure, to take only the American example, matches exactly the period during which savage income inequality has surfaced as
an issue that must be faced? With an eye on elections, even Republicans address it. But the question has international bite. With Francis as its most vigorous critic, the global gulf between a tiny minority of the extremely affluent and the vast population of the poor is increasingly seen not only as a moral outrage, but also as a deadly harbinger of universal catastrophe.

Just this January, Oxfam reported that the share of global wealth possessed by the most fortunate 1% percent had increased to 49% in 2014, from 44% in 2009. This social system will not endure. The rich fool themselves if they imagine their enclaves as gated com- munities from which the unwashed hungry, or any other “them” — Arabs and Africans
in Europe, Latinos in America, Muslims on both sides of the Atlantic — can be walled out. In the 21st century, there are no gates high enough, and all borders are porous.

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Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his weekly general audience at St. Peter’s Square on May 21, 2014. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Francis has emerged as the tribune of this new meaning of the human condition. In the past two years, to take only the most dramatic emblem, no prelates from the affluent United States have been elevated to the College of Cardinals. Instead these critical, future-shaping promotions have gone to clerics from places like Haiti, Cape Verde, Tonga, Myanmar, Hanoi, Bangkok, Uruguay, and Ethiopia. A deliberate choice is being made by a once decidedly Eurocentric organization that counts more than a billion members across the world, with potentially game-changing consequences for the whole human family. Francis is doing more than preaching.

Still, his most compelling act, perhaps, re- mains the utterance of a word, the first word he spoke as pope — and that was his name. Even after three years, and endless commentary, its revolutionary significance has yet to be fully plumbed. It is true that the figure of St. Francis of Assisi, a rich young man who renounced all worldly possessions to live as a mendicant, inevitably solidifies his name- sake’s identification with the poor, but that is not the half of it. If there is one global crisis that competes with material inequality as a danger, it is the already unfolding disaster of environmental degradation. St. Francis lives in the Western imagination, above all, as an icon less of human respect for the natural world than of love for it. His 13th-century Canticle of the Sun says: “Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures…through Brother Sun…and Sister Moon…Brother Fire and Sister Water…through Brothers Wind and Air and clouds and storm and all the weather. Be praised!” More than any other saint of the narrowly religious tradition, Francis of Assisi belongs to everybody whose heart lifts at the sight of a sunset or a flowering tree or a winged creature — regardless of belief. Not only churchyards and cloisters, but also front lawns and public gardens are furnished with statues of the tonsured friar balancing a bird on outstretched fingers. But what if that bird is of a species that is in danger of disappearing? The extinction of whole classes of living things is at issue now — tens of thousands of species are known to be endangered — including, in an era of weapons of mass destruction, humanity itself.

Where is the surprise, then, that another major encyclical of Pope Francis addresses the urgent problem of man-made glob-
al warming? Ahead of this year’s historic United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, the pope adds to the over- whelming scientific evidence, and fresh political momentum, an urgent exhortation rooted in the profound responsibility for creation for which the biblical tradition pro- vides the most compelling moral mandate.

It is as though, when taking up the gravest questions facing the human family, the pope asked himself the question: What would St. Francis of Assisi do? The question belongs not to a particular religion, much less ecclesiastical office, but to a profound human intuition in the face of looming perdition. The pope, it turns out, is bigger than the papacy. Neither the prophetic campaign on behalf of the poor; nor the potent sacralizing of the environmental challenge; nor even
the nonmoralistic good humor with which Francis advances his proposals: None of this fully explains his broad appeal. These efforts, and the unfailing air of kindness with which he pursues them, palpably flow from a deep current in the man, an evident fullness of life — a fullness for which many people hunger, no matter what defines their background.

For the Jesuit pope, that fullness is particular. It’s rooted in — how else to say it — a lifelong, if evidently hard-earned, intimacy with Jesus Christ, and the God he makes present. But neither narratives about Jesus Christ, nor even language about one referred to as God, exhaust that fullness,
or explain it. Perhaps, in the realm that extends beyond religious faith, all you can say is that in Francis can be glimpsed
a transcendent horizon that humans are drawn to. There is an ever-elusive longing built into human life, and perhaps that is what Francis so broadly addresses. It’s easy to see why the abject poor see him as an ally, but what about Americans? In a culture rife with material excess, the inadequacy of material achievement and possession as fulfilling that deep human longing can seem blatantly apparent. Without proselytizing in the slightest, without putting himself forward as any kind of model, Francis suggests that a fullness of life — a home on that ever-receding horizon — is available to all people. That is why everyone absolutely deserves respect.

For the people outside Francis’s narrow religious zone of reference, it does not matter, to him, that dignifying fullness is
a gift of God. What matters is simply its givenness, even if taken to be anonymous. And that givenness, above all, is what this good man exemplifies. The religious word for such virtue is grace, yet the effect of the fully honest witness of Francis has reached far beyond organized religion. That is so because he so unselfconsciously upholds the possibility that human life, including suffering, is meaningful, and that history, including tragedy, has a purpose. Francis is a man of explicit faith who makes such implicit hope seem real.

So, yes, a suffering child can entrust him with her unanswerable question. Indeed, most children in the world are suffering grotesquely. Francis knows it. He insists that we must all know it, too — not just abstractly, but in feeling and resolution. Such knowledge is the beginning of change — not only of economics and politics, but also of what humanity expects of itself. Above all, Francis insists not only that such change is necessary, but also that it is possible. Otherwise, he would not have bothered us. Nor would we have taken such notice.

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Pope Francis at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on May 21, 2014. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

This article originally appeared in the spring 2015 issue of BlackBook Magazine.

10 Political Cartoons Vital to the Course of History

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Image by David Pope

In response to today’s horrific attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and in honor of Charb, one of France’s most revered cartoonists, here are some of the most important political cartoons throughout history.

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1. Created by Ben Franklin, and first published on May 9th, 1754 in the Pennsylvania Gazette, the motive behind the cartoon was to influence the former colonies to turn against British rule. The cartoon features a snake cut up into eights, signifying the separation of the 13 colonies at the time. It is credited as the first American political cartoon.

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2. Published on January 18th, 1970, two years before the world would be stunned by Watergate, illustrator Herblock created this cartoon as a response to the exposing of the Civil Service Commission. The government admitted to wiretapping American citizens whom were believed to be participants of anti-Vietnam activities.

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3. Created by illustrator Herblock in 1972, this cartoon was a response to the Watergate scandal. Two days after the illegal break-in at the Democratic Headquarters, Block released cartoons representing the backlash and pressure Nixon faced during this time.

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4. To make a picture of Muhammed is blasphemous in Islam. The publication by Danish paper Jyllands-Posten of 12 cartoons depicting the prophet enraged the Muslim community, and tens of thousands took to the street in protest over the cartoons. Violence erupted on the streets, embassies were shut down, and the cartoonists went into hiding for their safety.

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5. In response to the Jyllands-Posten controversy, Le Monde published this cartoon by Plantu. Like a student writing his chalkboard responsibility on repeat, the cartoon reads “I must not draw Muhammed,” over and over again. The words, of course, form the face of the prophet himself.

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The Politics of Fear’, The New Yorker, 2008

6. The New Yorker went a bit meta when the magazine published a cartoon depicting then-candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wearing terrorist garb and doing a fist bump. The cartoon wasn’t meant as a rag on the future president, but a jab at the “distortions and prejudices about him,” according to David Remnick, the publication’s editor. Still, Obama took time from the campaign to denounce the drawing.

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7. This 1999 cover of The New Yorker drawn by Art Spiegelman seems especially relevant again, given the controversy over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police. The cartoon referenced the shooting of an unarmed man. Police shot at him 41 times.

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8. As soon as President Obama was elected, bipartisanship all but disappeared. 

In 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quoted in the National Journal saying “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Poking at the constant stream of criticism, both warranted, and unwarranted, the cartoon from The New Yorker comments on the strained relationship between our party system.

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9. “All day long, hour after hour, I’m tormented by the same question! It keeps me awake half the night, tossing and turning. And the worst part is, I will never be able to move on with my life until I have the answer, and can stop asking myself, ‘What will Hillary do?’ ”

After Hillary’s 2008 bid at the presidency launched infinite think pieces, not to mention catalyzing books being written and courses taught on campuses, the questions remained. Will she or won’t she? And if she does, then what? … Questions The New Yorker caught on to. As the nation speculates about Hillary, we too reflect on the greater issues of gender (those like our right to choose, be it birth control or abortion) as well as those of gender as they regard particularly to who we let lead our political system.

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10. This week’s cover of Charlie Hebdo depicts novelist Michel Houellebecq as a cigarette smoking wizard translated as saying, “In 2022, I will do Ramadan.” Houellebecq’s book “Submission” features a France of the future run by Muslims and adhering to strict laws of dress for women, and the introduction and practice of polygamy. In Wednesday morning’s shooting, 12 were killed in response.

America’s #Normcore President Eats Lunch at Chipotle

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Photo via Chipotle ad and Obama sticker

Stars, they’re just like us.

President Obama went to lunch at Chipotle today. The press covering the event have left so many questions unanswered. Here, press, here are some things your readers are wondering.

I wonder if he got a burrito.
I wonder if he got a burrito bowl.
I wonder if he added guacamole.
I wonder if they asked him if he knew it was a dollar extra.
I wonder if he got mild, medium, or spicy salsa.
I wonder if he likes sour cream.
I wonder if he got a diet coke, or he got a “cup for water” and then filled it up with diet coke as his secret service men blocked the cashier’s line of vision.
I wonder if he went to the little area on the side and got a piece of lemon using the tongs.
I wonder if he used his fingers instead.
I wonder if his stomach hurt afterwards.
I wonder if he was thinking about his digestion when he was at a forum on working families right after lunch.
I wonder what’s going on in Iraq.
I wonder if he got black or pinto beans.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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You like news. We like news. Let’s all like news together. Are you ready? Well, are you!? Time to kick the day off to a good start with some news and happenings. Just remember to think positive: "When life gives you shit, why not make shit creme brulee!" 

Government Shutdown

"Mommy! Daddy! Why are you fighting? Why can’t we all just get along? Stop fighting!"

In this scenario, "mommy" is the Democrats and "daddy" is the Republicans – and fingers are pointed at the opposing politcal party as to who is to blame. The U.S. government shut down on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. when Congress failed to pass a spending bill. President Obama said in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition: “I will not negotiate. This perpetual cycle of brinksmanship has to end.”

Strap in and come along for the ride: All the government services you’ve come to love will be disrupted — if not canceled. No what that means? No goddamn panda cam! The National Zoo’s beloved live panda cam went dark Tuesday morning. No more goddamn online-Panda-ogling because our two political parties can’t agree on affordable health care. That’s what you get! No live pandas. Crazy fact: The last goverment shutdown in 1995 cost the federal government well over $2 billion. 

 

CNN:Are These Sexy Selfies Too Far for Kids?

Recap: CNN posed the question whether sexy selfies were too much for kids. Then a panel of adults discussed the matter. "Where is mom and dad?" said one of the panel of adults.  Then all the adults laughed. A conclusion was made that it’s not only teenagers who are out of control – but adults as well! More laughing. 

Thank you CNN. That’s great and all – but we have no goddamn panda cam! 

 

Scissor Attack in NYC Park

At least four people were rushed to hospitals this morning after being stabbed with scissors at Riverside Park in New York City’s Upper West Side. God that’s horrible: What the hell has the world come to? Not only has the government shutdown, panda cams are being turned off, and CNN is devoting valuable airtime to discuss the pros-and-cons of selfies, but we now have to fear scissor attacks in our city’s parks. The suspect is reportedly under arrest.

Everyone Goes On The Record To Diss Anthony Weiner

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Anthony Weiner made a mistake. Or several. But to err is human, am I right? I’m pretty much over Weinergate. What’s more annoying than that scandal is the ongoing talk about the man’s return to the spotlight. As with Jonah Lehrer, it’d be nice if Weiner languished in obscurity a bit longer—and his former colleagues agree.

In this tremendous New York Times article looking back at Weiner’s time as a member of the House of Representatives, everyone comes out of the woodwork to slam the guy. Let’s enjoy a few choice quotes out of context, shall we? 

“It was like he had a megaphone surgically attached to his mouth,” said former Representative Zachary T. Space, Democrat of Ohio.

This is a procedure he may actually want to consider? 

In a car, he was difficult. Mr. Weiner would take the front passenger seat, argue over directions and insist on making every yellow light, pointing to the car ahead and declaring: “If he makes it, you make it.”

Ah, I see: he thinks he lives in a do-or-die game of Mario Kart.

“It was like ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ ” recalled Stacey E. Fitzpatrick, a lawyer in Seattle who worked for Mr. Weiner on the City Council.

The old standby.

Mr. Weiner’s bills … seldom went anywhere: “He just never tried,” one former senior aide said. “The point was to be able to say he introduced a bill.”

This reminds me of scrawling a bunch of stuff that looked like math on my algebra homework and then telling the teacher I "tried." Oh, Weiner. Why didn’t anyone like you? Offline, that is. 

Follow Miles on Twitter here

Other Jobs Michele Bachmann May Want To Try

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By now, you have heard the sad, stunning news: Minnesotan presidential hopeful and professional laughingstock Michele Bachmann will not run for reelection to the U.S. House in 2014. It’s hard to imagine someone so obstructive and ignorant anywhere but in congress, isn’t it? Here are a few new careers she ought to think about, assuming she flunks the multiple-choice test all would-be Fox News pundits have to take. 

TV Episode Recapper: We can never get enough of these, right? Bachmann’s idiotic gloss on the topics of the day, from climate change to same-sex marriage, achieved a kind of artistry I would love to see applied to the Real Housewives of New Jersey

Verizon Customer Service Operator: People are always complaining about the impenetrable accents of the people supposed to help you over the phone. Bachmann’s gratingly clear voice should put that annoyance in perspective.

Lady Yelling Encouragement From Sideline Of Soccer Game Even Though None Of The Kids Playing Are Hers: Not really a job per se, but I can’t stop imagining this.

Tax Lawyer: Wasn’t she always going on about how she used to be one, even though taxes = bad and Real America shouldn’t have to pay them? It doesn’t sound remotely plausible, but a great choice if she feels like upping her cognitive dissonance factor some more. 

Seller Of Official Government Paraphernalia On eBay: Have a strong feeling she’s way ahead of me on this one.

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