NYC: Amazon is out, class consciousness is in

The Powers That Be

In NYC

Be not happy

With AOC

Amazon is out, class consciousness is in

They keep going after her, which is quite remarkable, really, i.e., that a freshman Congressional representative would get this much national attention. There is understandable great consternation and anxiety on the political right about America’s re-awakening and rising sense of class consciousness. Class consciousness seems to be only increasing, which means that in the future Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can expect a lot more intense opposition and hostility than billboards in Times Square.

Live free or die trying

I recently finished that Ken Burns documentary that I’ve been watching (more on that in another post) and decided to re-read the Vietnam War chapter in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of The United States (more on that in another post), as a follow-up. As can happen, one thing leads to another and before I knew it I was reading Zinn’s chapter/s on the Civil War, which is where I came across the words of Harriet Tubman. Here is the quote, in context:

Continue reading Live free or die trying

Nothing prime for Amazon in The Big Apple

The fallout from Amazon’s decision to walk away from its planned headquarters in New York is ratcheting up after a company spokesman publicly blasted Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers, saying they had made it a hostile environment to do business.

Fox News

“I’ll be the bad guy”

AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) had another marvelous media moment, at a House committee hearing. It was just five minutes, and the video of her interaction went viral (see below). She was loose and relaxed, asking the small panel of experts some questions in a hypothetical scenario where AOC said that she would be “the bad guy,” the politician with no moral center who wanted to have the system and profit and exploit the democratic political process. What’s to stop me? she asked.

Continue reading “I’ll be the bad guy”

The Brilliance of My Brilliant Friend | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

I’m nearly at the end of watching HBO’s My Brilliant Friend, the recently aired adaptation of the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan Novels. I’ve now read all for novels, though I’ve only reviewed the first, My Brilliant Friend. The books were quite brilliant and the new HBO film series builds on that. I’ll gave more to say on that another day — because, my god, there is so much to say — but for now I wanted to pass along the thoughts of Rhiannon Cosslett, writing in The Guardian. Her analysis of females portrayed in film brings out the richness of the new HBO film series (and by extension the novels):

what struck me most about the shifting of the story into a different medium is the time given to the two main – female – characters, and how revolutionary it still feels to see female friendship explored onscreen in this way. If the portrayal of this friendship was revelatory in the novel, with all that form’s facility for introspection, then on screen it is even more so. It goes without saying that it takes the Bechdel test and turns it into ragù.

Continue reading The Brilliance of My Brilliant Friend | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

O Bernie, Bernie, wherefore art thou Bernie?

I was shopping at a local bookstore in downtown Santa Cruz over my lunch break the other day, looking for a California wall map. I didn’t find the wall map but there were a lot of other groovy things and on my way out I saw that there were Trump countdown clocks for sale at the register.

For many it might be too soon to think about 2020 Presidential politics, but I imagine there are more people taking an early interest in the Democratic candidates than is typical..especially for those of you with Trump countdown clocks.

Continue reading O Bernie, Bernie, wherefore art thou Bernie?

Pity the billionaire

Elizabeth Warren had a zinger the other day in response to criticism from the next billionaire Presidential wannabe, Howard Schultz, who said that he is running for President in response to the fact that Warren is running on a sensible idea of a wealth tax. She said,

“We have a billionaire who says he wants to jump into the race and the first issue he’s raised is ‘no new taxes on billionaires.’ Let’s see where that goes.”

Continue reading Pity the billionaire

Martin Luther King was no prophet of unity. He was a radical | Bhaskar Sunkara

Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of one of my favorite publications, the brilliant Jacobin Magazine, a take on socialism and democracy that is at the same time intellectually rigorous yet funny and unpretentious. He had a great little piece on MLK that appeared in the Guardian. Her opens with a provocative bit of political history:

In 1983, 15 years after King’s death, 22 senators voted against an official holiday honoring him on the third Monday in January. The North Carolina senator Jesse Helms undertook a 16-day filibuster of the bill, claiming that King’s “action-oriented Marxism” was “not compatible with the concepts of this country”. He was joined in his opposition by Senators John McCain, Orrin Hatch, and Chuck Grassley, among others.

Sunkara thinks that they weren’t wrong, back in 1983, to still view MLK’s true principles as a threat to the power and privilege, a hierarchy that these politicians were working to protect.

Continue reading Martin Luther King was no prophet of unity. He was a radical | Bhaskar Sunkara

Women’s March 2019

Activism is good for the soul. I want to change the world, like anyone else, but for me activism is also extremely therapeutic. It reminds me that there are other people who see injustices in the world and believe in their bones that things don’t have to be this way. That’s especially true of big activist events like the Women’s March.

It’s kind of a beautiful thing, to be surrounded by smiling faces and to snap a hundred pictures of the explosion in creativity that surrounds us: all the catchy and colorful signs, the carefully crafted costumes, the music, the chanting, and the chalk art on the streets. Yet in the midst of this exhilarating experience of solidarity, opposition and hostility can sometimes come from unexpected places and from unexpected people.

Continue reading Women’s March 2019

Postmodern Prez

I was listening to the evening news tonight, on my commute home from work and heard the recap of Trump’s visit to the border, as part of his attempt to manufacture a border crises so as to 1) deflect attention from the mounting evidence that Trump knowingly worked with the Russians to win the 2016 election and 2) legitimate Trump’s use of “emergency powers.” (I don’t expect that the government shutdown will end anytime soon because the main purpose is to deflect attention from Trump’s dirty deeds in 2016.)

They played a sound byte from Trump. He sounded a little shrill, but that only helps to ramp up the hysteria, and Trump needs hysteria. The so-called “news media” is all using the same term, Trump said, calling it a “manufactured crisis.” But it’s not a manufactured crisis, Trump said, rather the news media is manufacturing the term “manufactured crisis.” Perhaps in response, critics of Trump would say that he’s manufacturing the idea of manufacturing a “manufactured crisis.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is your Postmodern President. We could all keep playing this game for a long time….and we probably will.

Continue reading Postmodern Prez

It’s time for Democrats to be the grownups voters want | Washington Post

I recently read a wonderful Op-Ed article that I thought I’d bring to your attention. It’s wonderful, not in the sense of being true; it’s wonderful precisely because of how un-true it is. In this case, the un-truth illustrates a typical strategy of the Establishment: to trivialize anyone who is challenging the power and privilege of the Powers-that-Be. One of those in the firing line, most recently, is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has taken quite the volley of condescending fire from both the right-wing and from centrists and moderates everywhere.

Continue reading It’s time for Democrats to be the grownups voters want | Washington Post

The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

I started watching Ken Burns’ 18 hour documentary on Vietnam, and after five episodes I’m hooked in, way more hooked, in fact, that I would have ever thought possible given that this is a war documentary. I’ve generally stayed away from watching or reading about war, whether it’s a novel or a blockbuster moview or a documentary, I’ve tended to find other subject matters. For some reason, though, this series has me intrigued and glued to the tube.

Continue reading The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

Binging on Westworld

I spent a pleasant New Year’s Day in my pajamas, binge-watching the first season of Westworld with one of my friends. Westworld is a beautiful show; it’s visually elegant, the pacing is deliberate but builds on itself, and the writing is fantastic, there’s nothing wasted. I’ve heard, in fact, that they interrupted the whole production process, putting the show on hold, all so that the writers could fine tune the show.

It certainly paid off. It hooked me in, and I stopped only to satisfy the most basic of biological needs. It all made for a hellagood New Year’s Day.

Continue reading Binging on Westworld

The Menace of Eco-fascism | New York Review

In the States we are used to thinking of environmentalism as bring a “liberal” or “left-wing” issue. This isn’t true in other developed nations. Elsewhere, especially in Europe, the right-wing parties have ecological platforms, or at least have a sizable number of constituents who give a shit about environmental programs and ecological initiatives.

It makes sense. If you really care about your country, you will want to make it a paradise, and the last thing you would want to do would be to pave paradise just to put up some parking lots.

The right-wing in the U.S. has never really been very consistent or intellectually competent. They have been driven, in recent decades, primarily by rage against any and all things liberal or Clinton, but one of my biggest fears since Trump resurrected nationalism under the #MAGA tag has always been that the manic MAGA movement would take a page from other right-wing movements around the world and actually become somewhat intellectually consistent, paying attention to winning political issues, like giving a damn about the environmental health if the country they claim to love. My fear is that the right will steal these issues from the left before Democrats have a chance to prove that they care and demonstrate their commitment to the environment by actually passing a landmark piece of legislation.

Continue reading The Menace of Eco-fascism | New York Review