Publisher’s Note

Publisher's Note — September 12, 2012, 9:52 am

Obama’s Campaign Duplicities Rival Romney’s and Ryan’s

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on September 12, 2012. Like other liberals, I’ve been inundated with e-mails attacking the “lies” lately retailed by the Republican Party and the two candidates leading its national ticket. Paul Ryan’s remarks about the shutdown of his hometown General Motors plant, and President Obama’s alleged deception about keeping it open, is the casus belli cited by most of the anti-Ryan/Romney truthers. But the Janesville/GM gambit seems to stand in …

Publisher's Note — July 18, 2012, 11:00 am

Turning My Sincere Eulogy for Earl Shorris Into an Authentic One

Earl Shorris passed away on May 27, 2012. He was a long-time contributor to Harper’s Magazine, authoring more than two dozen reports and essays, including one on the development of the Clemente Course in the Humanities. His last feature for the magazine, “American Vespers,” ran in the December 2011 issue. John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on July 18, 2012. I’ve delivered a few eulogies over the years, and they don’t get any easier with …

Publisher's Note — June 20, 2012, 12:53 pm

Obama Does Populist Pantomime, Empowers G.O.P.

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on June 20, 2012. Scott Walker’s easy victory in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election once again raises the question I’ve been posing for nearly four years: What will it take for liberals to recognize Barack Obama’s lack of conviction about anything remotely resembling a reform agenda? Nowadays it’s not just me and the political scientist Adolph Reed pointing out the president’s indifference to progressive or constitutional causes. His refusal …

Publisher's Note — May 23, 2012, 9:25 am

The Decline and Fall (in the U.S.) of the Public Intellectual

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on May 23, 2012. Last week I spoke at my alma mater’s Class Day ceremony, which at Columbia College serves as the central event for seniors, even though Columbia University, of which it’s a part, conducts the formal commencement and awarding of degrees on the next day. I won’t reprise my speech since I’m reluctant to promote a contribution to a genre of public speaking that many people …

Publisher's Note — May 15, 2012, 1:19 pm

Columbia College Class Day Keynote Speech

  John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This is the text of a keynote address delivered at Columbia College Class Day on May 15, 2012, in New York City. President Bollinger, Provost Coatsworth, Vice President Dirks, Dean Valentini, members of the class of 2012 and their parents, honored guests. I realize that many among you are disappointed that I am not the president of the United States. I want you to know that I share your disappointment. There was a time when …

Publisher's Note — April 18, 2012, 1:05 pm

Tactics and Principle as French Near Vote

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on April 18, 2012. It’s presidential-campaign season and once again I find myself impressed by the wealth of choices among the many candidates. There are center-right and center-left candidates of considerable standing, a true centrist candidate independent of the major parties, a far-right candidate who sometimes sounds like a left-winger, and a charismatic far-left candidate who appeals directly to supporters of the far right. Then there’s an acidly …

Publisher's Note — March 15, 2012, 11:25 am

Shredding the U.S. Labor Force Is a Bipartisan Project

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on March 14, 2012. Presidential candidates are once again crisscrossing the Midwest, making believe they’re dreadfully upset by the plight of the working class. The leveraged-buyout mogul, Mitt Romney, sheds crocodile tears in factories, while the Bible-flogging Rick Santorum offers Christian salvation to stanch the wounds of the underpaid and unemployed. To borrow a phrase from Santorum, it’s enough to make you throw up. “I spent my life …

Publisher's Note — February 16, 2012, 11:00 am

The Uses of a Long G.O.P. Contest (for the Democrats)

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on February 15, 2012. In a recession-bruised country starved for humor, the Republican primaries are a gift from heaven, especially when the debates involve religion and morality. The biggest laughs come out of Newt Gingrich’s struggles with sexuality and marriage, and how they’re contrasted with Mitt Romney’s allegedly perfect relationship with his wife. Having labeled state-sanctioned unions between homosexuals as evidence of “the rise of paganism” and “a …

Publisher's Note — January 18, 2012, 4:59 pm

How Christopher Hitchens Flip-flopped and Fell From Grace

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on January 18, 2012. In the outpouring of accolades that followed the death of Christopher Hitchens, I confess I joined in, trying my best to claim some of his journalistic legacy. Because the obituaries failed to mention his service as the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, of which I am the publisher, or that his landmark book The Trial of Henry Kissinger originated as two long pieces in …

Publisher's Note — December 16, 2011, 7:04 pm

R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

We at Harper’s Magazine deeply regret, on a personal and professional level, the death of Christopher Hitchens. Christopher was a friend to me and to the magazine for many years, especially during his time as Washington Editor from 1987 to 1992. Lewis Lapham and I would surely concur that some of Christopher’s best work was written for Harper’s. Among our proudest collaborations were “The Case against Henry Kissinger,” which ran in two parts in 2001 and was published as a book later that year, and his brilliant analysis of President George H.W. Bush’s intervention in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. …

Publisher's Note — December 14, 2011, 12:16 pm

President Obama Richly Deserves To Be Dumped

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on December 14, 2011. As evidence of a failed Obama presidency accumulates, criticism of his administration is mounting from liberal Democrats who have too much moral authority to be ignored. Most prominent among these critics is veteran journalist Bill Moyers, whose October address to a Public Citizen gathering puts the lie to our barely Democratic president’s populist pantomime, acted out last week in a Kansas speech decrying the …

Publisher's Note — November 16, 2011, 3:16 pm

The Progressive, Sensitive, Rational Governor Romney

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on November 16, 2011. I’ve been reading up on former Governor Romney, and I like what I’m learning, about both his passion and his powers of observation. Here’s an emblematic excerpt of a speech he delivered to editorial writers following a cross-country tour: “The America I saw was not America the Beautiful…. Instead, I saw the other face of America — the America of ugly streets and rotted …

Publisher's Note — October 21, 2011, 8:51 am

An Architect’s Optimism; The U.N.’s Pessimism

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on October 19, 2011. As I left the United Nations General Assembly last month, having just heard Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s plea for recognition of a Palestinian state, I noticed Elie Weisel, the Nobel laureate and death-camp survivor, surrounded by admirers. The Romanian-born writer was lending his moral support to the Israeli prime minister in the middle of an audience of diplomats, U.N. staffers, …

Publisher's Note — September 14, 2011, 9:04 am

Some Liberals Finally On To Obama’s Betrayal of Liberalism

As a self-proclaimed independent journalist normally content to attack politicians from outside the establishment, I’ve found it very lonely criticizing Barack Obama these past three years. Before then it was easy to be at odds with power, since the Bush nightmare rallied all sorts of disparate foes of the administration. But with Obama’s arrival in the White House, ordinarily skeptical liberals thought they had found their redeemer, a genuine reformer with leftist instincts who, even better, was the son of a black African father and a liberal white mother. It didn’t matter what Obama’s actual record was — how (or …

Publisher's Note — September 12, 2011, 8:24 am

The Hangover

A video interview with Viceland about where we’re heading now that the 9/11 memorials are over: [removed][removed]

Publisher's Note — September 10, 2011, 4:04 pm

The Sad Legacy of Sept. 11

John R. MacArthur is the publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author, most recently, of You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on September 10, 2011. For weeks I’ve been dreading the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and not because I fear another attack. As a New Yorker who works below 14th Street, I’m reluctant to revisit the unhappy images I witnessed on that paradoxically lovely, cloudless day: the vast plume of smoke blowing eastward over my office building when I emerged from the Bleecker Street subway station around 9 …

Publisher's Note — August 15, 2011, 5:33 pm

Goodbye to Fostoria, Ohio: A Small Town in the Middle of Everywhere

The jobs went south — to Mexicali, Mexico — after the NAFTA liberalizations of the 1990s. New owners have come and gone, the last U.S. employees are awaiting redundancy, and only a very few money men have profited, handsomely. “When I went to Fostoria, in September 2009, long freight trains still rumbled through town regularly on the railroad lines that made the city, despite its modest size (population 13,441), such an attractive place to build a factory in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But the trains weren’t stopping to pick up much and the chamber of commerce was reduced …

Publisher's Note — July 13, 2011, 9:39 am

A Pinch of Sympathy with My Disgust

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the July 13, 2011 Providence Journal. Rupert Murdoch’s legal, and now political, problems in the U.K. — stemming from the practice at one of his newspapers, the News of the World, of eavesdropping on cell phones and paying police for information — remind me of a dark joke I sometimes share with the staff at Harper’s Magazine. As it happens, the Australian-born press baron owns the Harper’s trademark because he owns …

Publisher's Note — June 15, 2011, 8:48 am

DSK and the Typical American Ignorance About France

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the June 15, 2011 Providence Journal. Isn’t French-bashing fun? With Dominique Strauss-Kahn (aka Le Perv) residing in tabloid hell on charges of attempted rape, we’ve gone back to anti-Frog ridicule not seen since Bush and company were denouncing the other Dominique — de Villepin — for opposing the invasion of Iraq. “The Simpsons” image of a “cheese-eating surrender monkey,” popularized by Anne Coulter among others in 2003, has been replaced by …

Publisher's Note — May 19, 2011, 9:45 am

Head-examining After the Osama bin Laden Killing

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the April 20, 2011 Providence Journal. There’s much to criticize about the bloody pageant surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden: the assassination of an unarmed man apparently in front of one of his unarmed wives; the unseemly displays of patriotic fist-pumping by Americans who feel themselves superior to chanting Islamic radicals; the brazen exploitation of the killing by a president already campaigning for re-election, and America’s “alliance” against “terrorism” with …

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Editor's Note

Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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“I was warned that there would likely be a lot of emotions coming out in the room.”
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Dan Halpern’s “Citizen Walmart” (2012)·

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“He’s taking on a heap of debt to scale up for Walmart, a heap of debt.”
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“Bolivia’s gene banks contain far more quinoa varieties than any other country’s, yet the Bolivians are dead set against sharing them.”
Photograph by Lisa M. Hamilton
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“He explained how sober Doug structured the bits and worked out the material’s logic; drunk Doug found the funny.”
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Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:

2:1

Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.

Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.

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