Former ‘New York Times’ columnist Frank Rich wants the media to do a better job holding Trump to task during the coronavirus pandemic

Photo illustration. Image source: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Frank Rich spent more than 30 years at the New York Times, first as chief theater critic and later as an opinion columnist. Then, as now, he had an elegant, velvety way with a sentence, a darkly fizzing sense of humor, and an abiding mistrust of power. Even today, it’s a pleasure to turn back to his columns on the Arab Spring or the 2009 bailout.

If you’re not old enough to remember Rich’s years at the Times, you might know him as the Emmy-winning executive producer of the HBO series Veep and Succession. Or as the grand seigneur of…


Richie Nakano was a ramen star. But that wasn’t enough for Silicon Valley.

Photo illustration; Source: Caroline Hatchett

Richie Nakano’s Hapa Ramen was launched in 2010 on folding tables at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It didn’t take long for his local pop-up to grow into a Bay Area staple. As people lined up for a taste of his gorgeous bowls of fragrant homemade broth — full of noodles, pickles, kimchi, sous vide eggs, pork leg confit — Nakano quickly earned the reputation as one of the area’s most innovative (and hardest-working) chefs. His fame grew not only through Hapa Ramen, but also thanks to Line Cook, his crackling, salacious blog about restaurant life, sustainability, craft…


Writer and activist Wilfred Chan on what the movement teaches us about authoritarianism, nationality, and liberation

Photo Illustration; Source: Michael CW Chiu

Thousands have been arrested since protests began last summer against a proposed bill, since withdrawn, permitting Hong Kongers to be extradited to mainland China. The PRC-friendly Hong Kong government, led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has failed to quell the ongoing unrest. Steadily increasing street violence and arrests culminated in the terrifying 12-day siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which ended on November 29. The six-month anniversary march that followed on December 8 drew somewhere between 183,000 and 800,000 people, depending on whether you believe the police or the organizers. …


A conversation with the former Occupy activist turned author and filmmaker about the cannibal energies of late capitalism

Photo Illustration; Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

As impeachment hearings hit a fever pitch and new revelations surface weekly about the connections between Facebook and Republicans, the problems of our democracy on the threshold of the 2020 election couldn’t be more glaring. To get some insight into how best to confront our political morass, I caught up with Astra Taylor, a teacher, activist, and documentary filmmaker who specializes in the study of our democratic aspirations and decline. Her 2019 book Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone is less a straightforward investigation than a do-it-yourself-kit for redefining your own political views at a…


Faiz Shakir lets loose on partisan rancor, how MSNBC treats Bernie, and his dream to coach high-school baseball

A photo of Faiz Shakir.
A photo of Faiz Shakir.
Faiz Shakir. Photo: Douglas Graham/Getty Images

April 2016, and the bad blood between the two Democratic presidential hopefuls, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, was near its peak. Calls for Sanders to quit the primary race were growing louder — as were accusations that the Clinton campaign had its thumb on the scales at the DNC. (The emails that would eventually prove the latter claim had been stolen from campaign chair John Podesta just weeks before.) Social media was a howling vortex of enraged Sanders and Clinton supporters.

And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and his close aide, Faiz Shakir, were busy pouring oil on the troubled…


Going deep (and laughing darkly) with the author of The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead at ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2019. Photo: Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Colson Whitehead’s celebrated new novel, The Nickel Boys, is the spare, serious work of a mature literary artist living in dark times. It’s the story of two boys, Elwood and Turner, at a reform school called the Nickel Academy, a fictionalized version of the real-life Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, where for more than a hundred years students were abused, raped, beaten — and scores of them murdered, their broken bodies hidden on the grounds. In 2013, the remains of 55 boys were discovered, and survivors are convinced that many more will be found. …


And why he should not be trusted as the world’s custodian of information

Photo: Getty

Mark Zuckerberg is a small man — five foot seven, according to Google — but that is not very widely known, because the only images of him available to the public are carefully crafted to make him look taller, according to former Wired writer Graham Starr. Having once read Starr’s remarks on this subject, it becomes impossible to see photographs of the Facebook founder without also seeing the stagecraft employed in nearly every image to conceal the truth about his height.

Zuckerberg is a brand, the chief executive of one of the world’s most valuable companies, and a would-be presidential…


A look at the perfect storm that led to Trump’s rise in the last episode of The Ambidextrous Society podcast. Listen now.

Photo by J. Scott Applewhite / Pool / AP/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

There are two common explanations for the rise of the Tea Party and, by extension, the election of Donald Trump. One is the economic inequality argument, which holds that millions of disappointed Americans who were promised prosperity all their lives, the so-called American dream — the chance at home ownership and a secure career — took any opportunity to rebel against the system that failed them as the middle class was hollowed out.

The other is the racist argument: America has never stopped fighting the Civil War. Donald Trump’s overt, belligerent racism appealed to Americans who are not only ready…


In this episode of The Ambidextrous Society, we discuss the symbol that divides Americans as much as it unites us. Listen now.

Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

It’s impossible to contend with or even clearly grasp the idea of “being an American.” It’s the water we’re swimming in. Left or right, everyone who was born and raised in the United States is deeply, impermeably defined by the fact of his or her Americanness — a quality that is commonly symbolized by the American flag. In the face of recent protests against empty patriotism, such as the protest begun by football player Colin Kaepernick, what are we to make of this symbol in an increasingly confused and troubled nation?

The flag has become a symbol that divides Americans…


In this new podcast, the problems of American party loyalty are confronted head on with journalists from both the left and right. Listen now.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

If we’re to progress as a country, and as individual citizens, the adamantine wall between the American left and right is going to have to come down. The Ambidextrous Society is my attempt to facilitate new alliances between people of goodwill who care about the facts, and are interested in questioning long-held assumptions in our politics in the face of our evident failure to create a healthy, prosperous, egalitarian, peaceful society in America. If there’s one thing the four diverse members of the Ambidextrous Society have in common, it’s a keen disappointment with political partisanship and where it has led…

Maria Bustillos

is a journalist and editor of Popula.com, an alt-global news and culture publication experimenting with blockchain-based publishing innovations.

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