you will probably agree with Paul Street about many things – Shah Rukh Khan – Feb 11

There was a pale man with a whiny voice who lived down the street from me in Iowa City. Turns out he’s a leading radical critic of Obama and has a bunch of well-known and generally respected books out about how America is evil and Obama is a lie. Cool right?

After running into him on the sidewalk I had a cup of tea with him and his wife. We talked about Chicago history, Frank Zappa and how Bush:Microsoft::Obama:Apple (trenchant!). We came to no solid conclusions about how to effectively contribute to the collapse of the American empire beyond writing books/posting on the internet/attending protests, but it was overall a very pleasant visit. Also, his wife makes a gnarly good cup of tea, I love jasmine green tea and she had some local lavender honey on hand which is a pretty good combination if you ask me!

I can’t remember his words exactly but one thing he told me kind of stuck in my head. he said that because we are living in a corrupt and injust society we should consciously seek to be just and moral in our own sphere of influence to avoid despair, which I think is good advice that I try to hold to whenever I read about prison rodeos or the dissolution/co-option of popular movements or whatever other soul-crushing world-is-fucked stuff I encounter on a daily basis.

He also really hates Tim Wise and judging from Wise’s references to Street on his website it seems like the feeling is mutual. Amusingly, he told me Wise is a creepy douche in real life and that he avoids speaking with him whenever the two are at the same event because he gives him ‘weird vibes.’

His site: http://www.paulstreet.org/

Tim Wise screed in re: Paul Street’s criticisms of Obama: http://www.timwise.org/2008/11/are-words-and-history-really-that-hard-to-understand-a-final-response-to-the-more-radical-than-thou-critique-of-obama-supporters/

If you’re wondering about his books: I’ve only read ‘Empire and Inequality;’ it was good. You should probably read it if you have time- it didn’t expose me to new ideas but explored views I was already familiar with (and sympathetic to) with depth and the sort of pep-rally anger that keeps me coming back to ultimately masturbatory anti-war protests and marches. I haven’t read his latest one on Obama but I’ve heard him read excerpts from it and it seems solid but it might sort of be preaching to the choir. He said he wrote it for people who still believe Obama is different in any way from Bush, so I don’t know how useful it would be because we’re obviously In The Know about stuff like that

Here’s his thing on the recent State of The Union Address: http://www.paulstreet.org/?p=258

and Obama’s extension of the Bush tax cuts:
http://www.paulstreet.org/?p=258

and ‘The Surrender of the So-Called Radical Left’ (which gives you an idea of what his newest book is about)
http://www.paulstreet.org/?p=233

I dunno, being as you are all socially awkward bibliophiles like myself you probably have no shortage of reading material lined up but I always find it heartening to discover a new and eloquent voice that hates America as much as I do so I figured I’d share. he’s poor so buy his books if you’re rich

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