Long Live the Dirtbag Left 2.0

Making his first appearance on Chapo Trap House last week, Michael Moore referred to Matt Christman and Virgil Texas as his “babies.” (Amber Frost, Felix Biederman and Will Menaker were absent).

Moore was not wrong in claiming patrimony.

Those of us old enough to remember Moore’s firing from Mother Jones magazine by the same elite liberal cast now  smearing Bernie Sanders, Moore’s classic films beginning with Roger and Me and Continue reading Long Live the Dirtbag Left 2.0

Chomsky Responds to House Anti-BDS Resolution

I wouldn’t have voted for the resolution.

There are things wrong with the “BDS movement,” but BDS – more accurately BD (there are no sanctions in the offing) – can be quite effective when done sensibly, with tactical choices guided by concern for the victims and careful thought about the consequences of particular actions – which should be second nature to activists.

BD was initiated in 1997 by Uri Avneri’s Gush Shalom, focused on the occupation, a sensible choice.  That’s where pressure matters and can be effective, not arousing side issues that divert attention from the fate of Palestinians.  It’s been pursued effectively since, notably by the Presbyterian Church, which also crucially brings in US corporations that participate in the occupation.

It has been quite effective, and could be more so if BD activities were focused this way and not sidetracked by questions that only divert attention from the issues at hand.  There is much more that can be done along these lines. A good argument can be made that US military aid to Israel is in violation of US law (the Leahy Lawthe Symington Amendment – which in fact would bar economic aid as well).

There are many possibilities that are not being pursued actively enough, that could make a major difference, gaining popular support and not leading to anti-BDS resolutions.

Making the White Guys Squirm: Kamala Harris’s Weaponized Identity Politics

In an Intercept essay from last year, Briahna Joy Gray defined weaponized identity politics as “the cynical emphasis on personal identity over political beliefs in order to advance candidates whose interests are inapposite to the needs of the groups they’re presumed to represent.”

Whether or not the term is, the thing should be plenty familiar by now, with an entire presidency, that of Barack Obama, serving as an object lesson in how policies which directly attack the lives of particular groups, in his case African Americans, are most effectively advanced by those having membership within those very groups.

Continue reading Making the White Guys Squirm: Kamala Harris’s Weaponized Identity Politics

Sanders vs. Warren: Which Side Are You On?

 Introduction: Why Do They Lie?

Those whose main experience with politics begins with Barack Obama are often unaware that Obama was unusual in at least one respect: he was honest to the left and liberals who had strongly supported him. Obama made few promises that his policies would be anything other than corporate friendly, establishment neoliberalism. And it should have surprised no one (though it did) that that is exactly what he delivered.

Obama’s honesty broke sharply with previous campaigns. Prior to Obama, Democratic candidates would typically promise much during their campaigns and deliver little in office.

A dramatic example was the Clinton campaign which was based on the slogan “putting people first.” This was understood to mean Continue reading Sanders vs. Warren: Which Side Are You On?

Greenwald: A Testimonial

A few days ago, my son asked me if I had any regrets about being a musician. I was a bit taken aback since the answer seemed so obvious: Hell no! It’s been a great life even for someone like myself who has not achieved anything like fame.

For those who have, it’s absurd to even ask the question: everyone knows that famous musicians (with few exceptions) are universally beloved. Everyone wants to buy their meals, drinks, do them favors, bask in their presence, be their friend, and more.

That is not the case for most in the labor force who work with little expectation that they will receive recognition outside of that of their peers.

Continue reading Greenwald: A Testimonial

Burning Down the House: The Aesthetics of Self-Immolation



According to a recent article in New Music Box “The field of Western classical music  . . . suppresses Black and brown voices.”

By now,  the charge is more than a little familiar to those in the business.

What makes it somewhat relevant to those outside of it is the comparison with this recent news item which I will quote in its entirety:

An Ohio jury on Friday slapped Oberlin College with an $11.2 million damages penalty for siding with three black students who had claimed they were victims of racial profiling after they were caught shoplifting in 2016, a report said.

The liberal arts college must pay the massive compensatory damages award to the family-owned Gibson’s Bakery, where the three students had been arrested for attempting to steal or buy alcohol with a false ID.

The arrests were met with massive protests by students and faculty at the school.

During the protests, the Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo, drew up a flyer, claiming Gibson’s had a history of racial profiling, the Chronicle-Telegram reported.

The flyer also urged students to boycott the bakery, the Chronicle-Telegram reported.

The students pleaded guilty to the attempted theft in 2017 and admitted in court they were not racially profiled.

The $11.2 million award could triple in a hearing next week on punitive damages, according to the report.


Continue reading Burning Down the House: The Aesthetics of Self-Immolation

Obamamania and its Legacy: Why Biden Leads

The central point of Michael Tracey’s recent Spectator article is that Biden’s commanding lead in the polls is an accurate indication of widespread support among Democratic primary voters. The Democrats remain the party of Obama who is by far the most influential, revered and politically powerful figure within it.

Obama’s de facto endorsement of Biden, his help in lining up institutional support in key states such as South Carolina not to mention access to Obama’s donor base and favorable media coverage will be highly significant if not decisive much as early endorsements obtained by Clinton were. And here the comparison is slightly misleading in that, as Tracey points out, Clinton was a weaker candidate, paling in comparison to the then incumbent Democrat, widely disliked by Obama partisans who harbored bitter memories of Clinton’s racially tinged attacks and her support of the Iraq invasion.

Continue reading Obamamania and its Legacy: Why Biden Leads

Elizabeth Warren for President? Why Not Jill Stein?

It has, to my knowledge, not yet been observed elsewhere that much of what can be said about the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren could also have been said about the 2016 Green Party candidacy of Jill Stein.

Both are Harvard faculty members associated with platforms most  on the left would endorse. Both are (obviously) women and, according to many of their supporters ignored by the mainstream, corporate media on this basis.* Finally, both have significant weaknesses as candidates with national polls routinely showing single digit support.

Continue reading Elizabeth Warren for President? Why Not Jill Stein?

“Better in the Original German”–Joe Biden Endorses Mass Incarceration

The clip above makes apparent the continuing relevance of the late Molly Ivins’  line cited in the title. It is, however, not as amusing as it was when it was directed at far right icon Pat Buchanan. Now, any guffaws it elicits should be followed by the recognition that what accurately described a reactionary Republican can readily be applied to the Democratic front runner.

This is depressing, yet another indication of our continuing descent into something resembling fascism.  But it’s also good news of a sort that we’re finally waking up to the reality of the “tough on crime” rhetoric of 90s.  That it was more than a little reminiscent of the Waffen SS is now pretty obvious.  And it’s also useful to be reminded that the mass incarceration mania was a bipartisan affair. The Democrats obscured their role in consigning countless low level drug offenders to our system of gulags  through Clinton initiating a “national conversation on race” conducted under layers of “I feel your pain” therapy-speak combined with “tough love” respectability politics.

Biden’s role in the creating mass incarceration epidemic has meant that one of the signature achievements of the neoliberal era, the 1993 Crime Bill, has become a campaign issue. His opponents are predictably and entirely appropriately making Biden’s position known.  Not surprisingly, the Biden camp is attempting to deflect attention away from Biden’s lead sponsorship (which he brags about here) by noting that Sanders also voted for it.

Continue reading “Better in the Original German”–Joe Biden Endorses Mass Incarceration

Solidarity Forever and Pavlov’s Dogs: Why Is Elizabeth Warren Being Ignored?


A well known form of insanity involves attempting to correct basic factual errors on the internet.

I generally don’t, but sometimes it’s hard to resist the temptation.

That was the case last week when a meme circulated suggesting, as one tweet put it, that because Elizabeth Warren “clearly thinks about the issues beyond pandering & has actual policy plans and ideas . .  . she would be the front runner and would be receiving most of the press.”

At least  that would be so-and here we are to imagine a muted low brass chord as the narrator ominously intones . . .  “if she were a man.”

This was Pavlovian red meat dangled in front of identity politics addled liberals sure to induce a wave of frenzied clicks.

Continue reading Solidarity Forever and Pavlov’s Dogs: Why Is Elizabeth Warren Being Ignored?

Essays on politics, music and culture.