Monthly Archives: March 2019

Springsteen is Langston Hughes Turned Inside Out

I found this interview rather interesting, especially this line.

“In my songs, the spiritual part, the hope part, is in the choruses. The blues and your daily realities are in the details of the verses.”

In Langston Hughes’s poem Let America be America, the (ultimately hollow) patriotic cheerleading is in the verses. The recognition of the USA’s white supremacist history is in the chorus.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

In Born in the USA, as Springsteen points out, the dark, negative energy that came out of the imperialist war in Vietnam is in the verses and the affirmation of “America” is in the chorus.

Born down in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
End up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.

Interestingly enough, the far right has never tried to appropriate Langston Hughes.

I Bought a Jaguar

Actually better. But still British. Over the next two years I’m going to be commuting frequently in and out of Newark, NJ and Manhattan, which means New Jersey Transit. You can bring full-sized bikes on NJ Transit trains but not at peak times. So the solution is a folding bike. This also lets me have my own bike pretty much anywhere I go. I can put it in the overheard luggage compartments on a plain or a Greyhound.

I don’t have a lot of experience cycling in Manhattan but after picking the Brompton up from Brompton Junction in the Village I road up to my old apartment at 106th and Manhattan, then back down to Penn Station. Then I got off the train in Elizabeth instead of my usual stop in Westfield. I knew this was a well-crafted bike but I was surprised at just how fast I can go. It’s almost as quick as a full sized bike but there’s something more. With the smaller wheels, you’re closer to the road, more connected with the experience of cycling. It’s a bit like switching from an SUV with an automatic to a sub compact with a stick.

I’m over 50 and I never plan to buy a car. Hopefully I’ll be cycling well into my 80s.

Like this guy.

Speaking of very old men, Holy Shit, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still alive, old enough to be Bernie Sanders’s father.


“An intramural scrimmage between right-wing factions of the ruling elite”

I occasionally find the World Socialist Website tediously sectarian but they do have a very good take on Russiagate. Basically this is a war between white nationalists and neoconservatives, between Pat Buchanan and Dick Cheney.

The dispute, in other words, has been confined to an “intramural scrimmage” (as Obama put it after Trump’s election) between right-wing factions of the ruling elite. A major goal of the anti-Russian hysteria promoted by the Democrats has been to divert the broadly-felt popular hatred and hostility to Trump into a right-wing, pro-war framework, while serving to justify attacks on democratic rights.


Why do so many political activists wind up dead?

Unlike Ferguson there’s no obvious connection to the police but it’s still disturbing.

The body of Columbus activist Amber Evans was found in the Scioto River this weekend, Columbus Police said in a press release Sunday.

Evans, a 28-year-old African-American woman, had been missing since Monday, Jan. 28, when police found her car near the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus.

At the time, police reported Evans was last seen wearing a white parka and black leggings, and that she recently had a “dispute with her boyfriend.” Authorities considered her a “distraught high risk missing person.”

John Keats Died at 25

I didn’t understand Keats when I was 25. I was too strong, too healthy, too oblivious of my own mortality to understand the poetry of a man dying of tuberculosis. But now in middle age I finally understand what he felt when he saw the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum and fell into despair at the thought of the arc of history, something he could understand but never experience.

On Seeing the Elgin Marbles

My spirit is too weak—mortality
   Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
   And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
   Yet ’tis a gentle luxury to weep
   That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
   Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
   That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time—with a billowy main—
   A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.

Mueller Report

Some already well-known scumbags (Jermone Corsi, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort) are going to prison but it looks like Mueller decided to pass on going any higher up the ladder.

(Correction: Apparently Corsi’s not being charged. Too bad. The “Swiftboat Vets for Truth” brainwashed my elderly Marine veteran father in 2004 into voting for Bush and I genuinely wanted to see this asshole do some time.)

I have no idea if Trump directly conspired with “the Kremlin” or not but the ruling class has decided to “protect the office” of the Presidency from “We the People” knowing too much. Russiagate has paid off richly for the arms industry in rebooting the Cold War and the corporate liberal obsession with Putin has effectively suppressed any dissent against Trump from the left.

Is anybody really surprised?

Steve Salaita

Steve Salaita, who had his academic career destroyed by the Israel Lobby, is one of the best writers currently working. His essays of Israeli and US propaganda are a great practical application of Chomsky’s ideas.

Often articulated by deeming leftists and people of color purveyors of “purism,” the grown-up politics motif suggests that aggrieved communities don’t know how power works and are thus unrealistic, immature, or divisive. The motif usually arises in response to rioting (or what pundits deem to be rioting), third-party voting, leftist insurgency, or general recalcitrance. It is a mechanism to discipline people into compliance, with the Democratic Party serving as an entry point to capitalist politics.

Trump is a Russian Stooge But we won’t impeach him

Ever get the sense that the most fervent believers in Russiagate are also the people most against impeaching Trump?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rankled some of her supporters when she said “I’m not for impeachment” last week. And apparently, she’s fine with that.

A Twitter group run by Pelosi’s political account on Twitter was told that group members who disagree with her position on impeachment should “feel free to exit.” Messages sent from Pelosi’s account and signed by her spokesperson, Jorge Aguilar, were provided to TYT by a member of the group.

“‘Impeachment’ is not something we will be entertaining or be throwing around freely or strategizing in public in or DM groups,” Aguilar wrote in the private group. “This is a VERY serious issue. We understand some may only be motivated by that issue, and if you find yourself in disagreement with us and do not wish to be a part of our DM group, we completely understand and are sad to see you go but feel free to exit.”