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Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

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A Journal Of My Presidential Campaign

I am the first pro-Sudoku candidate for president in American history. Sudoku, as you may know, is a Japanese number puzzle found in most newspapers (except the New York Times). It consists of a square of eighty-one boxes in which the player must inscribe numbers so that each row contains 1 through 9.

Sy Safransky's Notebook

November 2008

No matter who’s elected president, writers will write. Painters will paint. Three in the morning will still be three in the morning. The door in our psyche we don’t want to walk through will still be just down the hall. No matter who’s elected president, life will hand us the invisible thread that connects us all; love will hand us the needle.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Demagogue Days

This is the story of my descent into a modern sort of inferno, so I’m going to start the way Dante did back in the day. As our saga opens, I’m pushing forty, about halfway through my life’s journey. I’m not lost in a dark wood; I’m in Oregon, schlepping my suitcase through the Portland airport, where travelers are granted the foolish pleasure of free Internet access.

Sy Safransky's Notebook

November 2007

My father’s parents, who lived with us throughout my childhood, fled Russia in 1905 to escape poverty and the state-sponsored massacres of Jews, called pogroms. They told me about the elation they’d felt when, after an arduous three-week ocean journey, they’d glimpsed the majestic statue in New York Harbor for the first time.

The Sun Interview

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

David Korten On Putting An End To Global Competition

And thanks to breakthroughs in electronic communication, we now have the potential to connect every person on the planet in a seamless web of cooperation. Technology has given us the means to build a worldwide movement grounded in universal human values that transcend the barriers of nationality, race, gender, and religion. Back in the early eighties, even domestic long-distance phone calls were a significant expense, and the cost of international phone calls was prohibitive. Now we can telephone around the world for pennies. If we prefer to meet face to face, affordable airfares have made that easier, too. Add the Internet, and the joining of ordinary people in a collective struggle to create a more cooperative global structure becomes a real possibility for the first time in the whole of human experience.

The Sun Interview

Forget What They Told You

The Truth According To Greg Palast

The idea that America’s a democracy is a fucking lie. We’ve had one fixed election after another. By my calculations, Hubert Humphrey beat Richard Nixon in 1968. Of course, Humphrey was a jackal as well. But what is not widely understood is that we’ve always had a system in America of not counting certain votes. My good friends on the Left are afraid that the Republicans are going to steal the next election by computer — that the software is going to allow Karl Rove to change the vote. Well, most people who worry about that are white. Black people know they’ve stolen the vote the old-fashioned way for centuries.

The Sun Interview

Seduced By War

Andrew J. Bacevich On How The U.S. Came To Put Too Much Faith In Military Power

In retrospect we can see that the Gulf War wasn’t the triumph it seemed to be at the time. In a tactical sense, we succeeded in ejecting Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait, and we did it with great speed and remarkably modest casualties on our side. But in the long run all we really did was wade deeper into a political morass that we don’t understand. After the war, the decision was made to maintain U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia. And, because we didn’t remove Saddam Hussein from power, we ended up with a policy of military containment that had us imposing sanctions on Iraq — with horrific results for the Iraqi people — and bombing the country on a weekly, if not daily, basis, beginning in 1998. So we went tripping blindly down the path to September 11, 2001. The Gulf War was a pivotal event leading to this mess we call the “global war on terror.”

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