Monthly Archives: April 2019

If you’re an ignorant asshole, thank a Marine

Freedom isn’t free. It costs a lot of money to protect Americans against the possibility of learning foreign languages. I guess.

Sam Schnelle, a customer at Gross’ Burgers in Danville, Ill., took to Facebook on Friday to share a photo of the sticker in question, which read: “If you can’t read this, thank a Marine.” The message pointed to Arabic writing and displayed the acronym for the United States Marine Corp. But Schnelle called it “absolutely disgusting,” while others say that it is a sign of “racism.”

The Bern is Right and the Buttcrack is Wrong

Bernie Sanders thinks felons should have the right to vote.

“Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders said in response to a question about restoring felons’ voting rights.

Pete Buttigieg does not.

Asked at a CNN town hall whether felons doing prison time, like the man convicted of carrying out a bombing during the 2013 Boston Marathon, should be able to vote, Buttigieg was quick to respond.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said, eliciting cheers from the audience.

“Enfranchisement upon release is important, but part of the punishment … is you lose certain rights,” Buttigieg added. “You lose your freedom

In spite of the way the Democratic Party establishment has characterized Sanders as bad on racial issues, he clearly understands that the criminal “justice” system has been largely used since the end of slavery to disenfranchisement blacks, that for every one terrorist in prison there are 1000 innocent people locked up on petty drug possession charges. Buttigieg, the current darling of the Democratic Party elite, does not.

Buttigieg originally seemed like an interesting candidate who was articulate in his support of single payer. Now it’s clear he’s an American Macron, a young guy plucked from the elites for the sole purpose of derailing the left. His immediate move to sandbag Sanders on felony disenfranchisement is telling.

Under Neoliberal Capitalism Anybody Can Become Homeless

Rebecca Twigg, who’s one of the greatest female cyclists in history, is now homeless and living on the streets of Seattle. The tragic irony of this story lies in the fact that what made her a great cyclist in the 1980s inevitably made her homeless in the 2010s. In a sense. Rebecca Twigg has always been homeless, ever since her mother kicked her out of the house at age 16. Riding a bike was the one place she felt centered, where she belonged. Now she’s lost that.

Thanks to Jeff Bezos, Seattle is now a hypergentrified city. I lived on an off in the University District in the 1990s. I was an alienated misfit working low paid menial jobs like Alaskan fish gutter and Starbucks barista. Back then, however, while it was already expensive to buy a house, it was easy to rent a cheap apartment in one of the more marginal areas of the city. Had the Seattle of the 1990s been the Seattle of the 2010s, I probably would have been living on the streets just like Rebecca Twigg.

The Seattle-raised athlete went on to become one of the most famous American cyclists in the ’80s and ’90s, winning six world championships and medaling in two Olympics. She appeared on cycling magazine covers, in sponsor ads and in features in Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair.

But then, in 1996, she left the team abruptly during the Olympics and the next year, retired from cycling. She re-entered the workforce. It didn’t work out.

“Once you’ve done something that feels like you’re born to do it, it’s hard to find anything that’s that good of a fit,” Twigg says today. “Anything else that feels that way.”


How to Be Homeless in Japan

A homeless man on a bike.

The Most Revolutionary Act

How to Be Homeless in Japan

Our Human Planet (2018)

Film Review

This two-part documentary focuses on homelessness in the Japanese city of Osaka. When the Japanese economy collapsed in the 1990s, many older workers lost their jobs. Last year Osaka (pop 19 million)  had 18,000 homeless, mostly men. It’s easier for women who lose their jobs to return to live with family.

Part One (How to be Homeless in Japan) focuses on an 63-year-old man who makes a living collecting aluminum cans to sell at a recycling center. His work day starts before dawn, and he makes roughly $8 a day. In Osaka, one of the most expensive cities in the world, this earns him two meals of day old rice and fish, a cup of tea and a cup of sake. His spends his afternoons in the library reading.

Part Two (Japanese Homeless Fight Back) focuses on organizing…

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Mumia Abu-Jamal wins right to re-open appeals — Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement

I personally don’t think either Mumia or Peltier (or Julian Assange) is ever going to see the light of day again. But this is good news nonetheless.

The Most Revolutionary Act

Community activists and leaders from the Philadelphia region will hold a news conference 12 noon, Thursday, April 18 at the Octavius V. Catto Statue on the south side of Philadelphia City Hall to discuss today’s decision by District Attorney Larry Krasner to finally relent to Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker’s ground-breaking decision which gives political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal the right to reopen his appeals.

By rescinding his appeal, Krasner has removed a major hurdle for Abu-Jamal to eventually be released after 37 years in prison. This is a significant development in Abu-Jamal’s quest for freedom.

Public pressure on Krasner’s office to do the right thing and rescind the appeal gained momentum in early February when Yale Law School students publicly withdrew their invitation to Krasner to deliver a keynote address to their Rebellious Lawyering (Reb/Law) conference. In Philadelphia, activists often confronted Krasner whenever he spoke in public…

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On the Antisemitic Underpinnings of the Russiagate Hysteria

Yasha Levine writes about the similarities between American liberal Russophobia and classical antisemitism.

with its blood-drenched “Judeo-Bolshevik Lite” aesthetic and hints about other diabolical Russian conspiracies to control the world, Time sure wasn’t going for subtlety: Sure, that plot was a dud, but the liberal global order shouldn’t let its guard down just yet. There are other plans afoot, ones more expansive and possibly even more evil!

Anti-Slavic bigotry is “respectable” in the United States. I’ve had “woke” liberals tell Polish jokes right to my face. But what Levine points out about “Russiagate” is beyond simple ethnic/class bias and ventures into out and out fascism.

How ironic that the “liberal” opposition to a fascist and white supremacist like Trump often takes on such bigoted and white supremacist dimensions.

Notre Dame Burns Down

The great cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, one of the most iconic buildings in the world, is on fire. They’ll probably be able to save part of it, but the whole building looks critically damaged. The cause appears to have been an accident during restoration work.

The real issue seems to have been poor coordination between the French government and the Catholic Church on upkeep and renovations. The cathedral was in pretty bad shape even before the fire. Were the renovations rushed and  badly planned? It seems obvious.

Under France’s strict secular laws, the government owns the cathedral, and the Catholic archdiocese of Paris uses it permanently for free. The priests for years believed the government should pay for repairs, since it owned the building. But under the terms of the government’s agreement, the archdiocese is responsible for Notre Dame’s upkeep, with the Ministry of Culture giving it about €2 million ($2.28 million) a year for that purpose. Staff say that money covers only basic repairs, far short of what is needed. Without a serious injection of cash, some believe, the building will not be safe for visitors in the future. Now the archdiocese is seeking help to save Notre Dame from yielding to the ravages of time.

Ironically, in 1871 during the Paris Commune, the communards were going to destroy the great cathedral as a symbol of Catholic reaction but they decided against it.

Fortunately, the Committee of Public Safety immediately ordered that Notre Dame be evacuated. It survived. The Archbishop of Paris was not so lucky. On 24 May, with government forces closing in on the city hall, the Communard police chief ordered the aged Archbishop and other clerical hostages before a firing squad. Failing to kill him with two volleys, the firing squad administered the coup de grace with their bayonets.

What atheistical communist revolution failed to achieve, capitalist neglect and poorly thought out safety regulations finally accomplished.

A Critique of DSA and Bernie Sanders

An interesting critique of DSA and Bernie Sanders from the left by Doug Enaa Greene.

The requirements of Realignment required kowtowing to liberal prejudices, prizing loyalty to American institutions, and an unquestioning reformist vision. As his conduct proved during the Vietnam War, Michael Harrington’s whole strategy acted as a brake and a roadblock to revolutionary action. Still, Michael Harrington’s ideas shape debates in the DSA and the wider left. Ultimately, if the American left is serious about fighting for socialism, then they will have to abandon Michael Harrington’s politics for those of revolutionary communism.

The best two minutes about “toxic masculinity” ever filmed

With Gwynneth Paltrow’s mother and Tom Hagen. I was traumatized by this film as a teenager. It was utterly real to me. Oddly enough these days I have more sympathy for the father’s character, especially his reaction to the way his family shuts him out. It’s clear he’s not so much a bad guy as a man trapped inside of his own conception of what a man should be like. In the end he has nothing left except bluster and empty bullying. Somehow Robert Duvall managed to capture my own father in a sadly forgotten movie.