Monthly Archives: October 2019

Burn Baby Burn

burn

Part of me doesn’t want to see the Reagan Library burn. After all, it contains important historical documents about Iran Contra and Reagan’s collusion with the Iranian government to fix the Presidential election of 1980. Then again, who am I kidding? The elites are never going to let us know the truth about anything. We’re never going to find out who really killed JFK and Martin Luther King. We’re never going to know if really Epstein committed suicide. We’re never going to know who really did 9/11. We’re never going to know the truth about Russiagate. We’re just never going to know. So burn Zombie Reagan. Burn Baby Burn. Maybe a dog will piss on your grave to put the fire out.

Borders Kill

As difficult as it may have been for my German immigrant ancestors, who came to the United States in the 1830s and 1840s, and my Polish immigrant ancestors, who left Eastern Europe in the 1870s and 1880s, they had one “privilege” no migrant laborer has today. Yes, they faced xenophobia, exploitative employers, dislocation and poverty, but unlike today’s migrants they never had to face a police state. Until 1924, the United States had “open borders,” at least for immigrants from Europe. None of my ancestors had to worry about being arrested and sent back to the Kingdom of Prussia or the Russian Empire. It’s much different today.

The Vietnamese woman who texted her mother as the refrigerated container carrying her and 38 others ran out of air had been deported from Britain days earlier and was trying to return, her family claimed today.

Pham Tra My, 26, has not been in contact with anyone back home after sending a final horrifying message as she crossed from Zeebrugge, Belgium, to Purfleet, Essex, saying: ‘I can’t breathe. Mum, I’m very sorry.’

She was trafficked to Britain for £30,000 after her parents, who earn around £300-a-month, had the debt added to their mortgage – and now her brother has claimed that her fateful journey across the North Sea was her second crossing.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7621115/Tragic-lorry-migrant-26-deported-UK-just-DAYS-dying-trailer.html

Pham Tra My was buried alive, buried alive by our stupid, cruel immigration system, and by “our” I mean “the Global North,” North America and Western Europe. There are people, including, sadly, some leftists who might argue that Pham Tra My’s death is an argument against immigration, for “borders.” It’s nothing of the sort. If you’re a capitalist, unless the United States government has decided that you are part of the “Axis of Evil,” you can pretty much do business in any country you please. In fact, right wing American politicians like Scott Walker might even bribe you to come to the United States. That Ford you bought last year. It was only assembled in the United States. Most of the parts were made in Mexico and China.

Essentially, there are no restrictions on capital moving across borders. So why should there be restrictions on labor moving across borders? Let’s not kid ourselves. If capitalism is international, labor will not only move across borders, it will be PUSHED across borders. Those Central American migrants Trump’s base is up in arms about are only trying to get into the United States because the Reagan Administration waged a terrorist war against the Sandinistas in the 1980s and set up death squads in El Salvador (which eventually were transformed into violent criminal gangs). Those Vietnamese immigrants who died in the United Kingdom only came to Western Europe because the French and American empires waged a genocidal war against Vietnam for decades.

So we need open borders. If you’re a leftist or a liberal it’s the only humane position you can take.  And if you’re a conservative, if you’re a white American screeching about “obeying the law,” spare me. Your ancestors, like mine, not only had the “privilege” of open borders, they came to steal land from the people who were already here. If you’re really concerned about “the law” go back to Southern Italy or Scandinavia or whatever European shithole your people came from. Who knows, you might even get free healthcare.

The Flivver King (1937)

flivver

Flivver is 1930s slang for “cheap car.” Above is a Flivver.

My father, who restored classic automobiles in his spare time, was a Ford guy. To buy a Chrysler, Dodge, or Pontiac was to waste your money. To buy a Japanese car was treason. To buy a German or Swedish car, well I don’t think that ever even entered his head, and if you asked him about Italian cars, I’m pretty sure he would have said something like “I didn’t know the guineas made cars. I thought they only made pizza.”

Abner Shutt, the “hero” of Upton Sinclair’s The Flivver King reminds me a bit of my father. Schutt is not only a patriotic 100% White Anglo Saxon Protestant American, he’s a true believer in American capitalism. It never occurs to him to doubt the essential benevolence of the Ford Motor Company, for which he has worked ever since its inception, even when its founder when Henry Ford becomes an and out of the closet Nazi.  Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s was not a democracy, or even a modern capitalist republic. It was a feudal domain ruled by King Henry Ford. When George W. Bush proclaimed that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and that Saddam Hussein was an existential threat to the American way of life, men like my father never questioned him. That would have made him “French” just like John Kerry. Similarly, when Henry Ford reveals himself in the 1920s to be a vicious antisemite, Abner Schutt simply joins the Ku Klux Klan and starts bashing Jews and foreigners like everybody else. What King Henry believed is what the people of Detroit believed. Even during the Great Depression, when Ford cut hours and fired workers en masse, Schutt never really questions the essential goodness of the King.

The ironic thing is that it’s men like Abner Schutt and my father who “make America great.” They may be apolitical suckers who refuse to confront reality, even when the rich grow ever richer at the expense of the poor and it costs them personally, but they remain good soldiers dedicated to American power and thus, to the American ruling class. Americans, like Germans, are a hardy, disciplined people, unlikely to break and run from the war for oligarchic capitalism simply because of a Great Depression or two. The worst things get the more they deny reality, dig in their heels and fight. At some point you do have to ask “how is America great.” We have the biggest, most powerful military the world has ever seen. We can destroy whole economies with a few “crippling sanctions.” When the American government gives an order,  nations like the British click their heels and do as they’re told. Do you actually think the British government is going to refuse to extradite Julian Assange? If you do, I can get you a good price on a bridge in Brooklyn. For all our wealth and power, it remains in the hands of the Henry Fords and rarely trickles down to the Abner Schutts. Finland has a better system of education. Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate. The French and Canadians have far better health care systems. The Danes are happier. But the Abner Schutts of the world don’t care. They will remain loyal to the king until the end.

Needless to say, the Abner Schutts of America didn’t become good, corporate peasants on their own. They had to be carefully taught, and, as Sinclair makes clear in The Flivver King, Henry Ford was as much the inventor of American corporate feudalism as he was the inventor of mass produced automobiles. There’s a reason Italian communist Antonio Gramsci titled his book “American and Fordism” and not “Americanism and Rockefellerism” or “Americanism and JP Morganism.” Henry Ford was not only a powerful member of the American ruling class. He designed the American way of life in the 20th Century. As Sinclair makes clear, it didn’t come cheap. At its height, the Ford Motor Company had an army of industrial spies, anti-union muscle, and company propagandists that rivaled many small countries, or even large countries. To get a job at Henry Ford’s auto company in the 1920s was to sign onto a whole way of life, and to believe a whole set of very familiar lies. Work hard and you’ll advance. Watch out for reds, subversives, and other threats to good, clean, sober White Anglo Saxon Protestant values. Police your fellow workers. “If you see something, say something.” Eventually of course, you will catch on to the fact that you’re being hustled, but in the end it won’t matter. You’ll work harder because the boss controls whether or not you’re going to eat the next day, and he knows it.

In the end, Abner Schutt never admits to himself the reality of his life, but his son Tom, a University of Michigan football star, does. Stung by the Great Depression, Tom becomes an organizer with the United Auto Workers of America, a fact that his brothers and sisters have to conceal from their father, lest Tom be disowned for, I don’t know, “talking about politics and religion.” The ending of The Flivver King is both masterful and derivative of the fugue like narrative pioneered by American cinema earlier in the century. Upton Sinclair flips the script on the fascist American filmmaker D.W. Griffith. As Henry Ford and his wife settle down to a lavish dinner party, Tom is kidnapped by Ford Motor Company detectives and beaten to death while his wife looks on. With every kick and every punch, one of Ford’s guests gives another speech praising the great man. With each step Tom takes closer to death, the great man sings the praises of the American way of life. Finally, Ford’s guests get into the cars and drive home, right past Tom’s now lifeless corpse, ignoring the screams of his young wife to stop and help. Unlike the Klan in Birth of a Nation, Henry Ford’s guests do not ride to the rescue in their Ford built Flivvers. They simply drive on by. A more vivid depiction of the indifference of the American ruling class to the poverty of their fellow Americans during the Great Depression cannot be imagined.

It must also have been sweet revenge for the way Hollywood helped destroy Upton Sinclair’s campaign for governor of California earlier in the 1930s.

Christopher Hitchens on the Clinton Cult

An old interview worth watching for two reasons:

1.) Hitchens was dead on about how badly the Clintons corrupted elite American liberals. We see it today in their attacks in the Sanders movement and in their attempts to ratchet up tensions with Russia.

2.) The awful Charlie Rose keeps trying to derail Hitchens but gets nowhere. Rose, of course, got caught in the MeToo scandal (although I haven’t followed up on it closely) so his attitude towards Hitchens identifying Bill Clinton as a sexual predator is worth nothing.

100% – The Story of a Patriot (1920)

sinclair

If anybody still remembers Upton Sinclair, it’s probably because they learned in an American history class that his novel The Jungle was partly responsible for government regulations on the meat packing industry. Sinclair also ran for governor of California in the 1930s on a socialist platform called EPIC (End Poverty in California) and is the real source of the quote often attributed to Mark Twain that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” To further explore Upton Sinclair’s career is to discover the massive, buried history of American socialism.  Karl Marx may have been German and the first communist revolution may have happened in Russia but socialism is as American as apple pie.

100% – The Story of a Patriot goes a long way to explaining why the history of American socialism has been so completely forgotten. If you listen to Democracy Now you’ve probably heard Noam Chomsky’s description of how pivotal Woodrow Wilson’s pro-war propaganda in 1917 was to American history. In 1914, there was a vibrant, broad American left, which ranged from native born American populists in the South and on the Great Plains to German immigrant socialists in the Midwest to Jewish labor leaders and Italian anarchists in the Northeast to the IWW in the far West. By 1920 it was all gone, never to return. Many people also know about Wilson’s persecution of socialist leader Eugene Debs, how Debs was stripped of his American citizenship and jailed for life simply for making an antiwar speech. But until I read 100% – The Story of a Patriot I had never imagined what a sheer hell scape those years were, how violent the repression was, how completely the American left had been infiltrated by agent provocateurs hired the business interests.

This is not to say that 100% – The Story of a Patriot is a well-written novel.It has none of the poetry or narrative focus of Joseph Conrad’s masterful, and very similar novel The Secret Agent. 100% – The Story of a Patriot is more of a series of vignettes than a fully developed novel, or to be more accurate, a thinly fictionalized journalistic account of Woodrow Wilson’s reign of terror, something no newspaper at the time would have dared publish, but a story Sinclair himself was able to get into the public debate by sheer force of will. But while no Joseph Conrad, Upton Sinclair was a literary innovator. Many of the techniques he pioneered, the alienated little man with no ideas or will of his own who commits crimes he doesn’t entirely understand, later surfaced in Albert Camus’s The Stranger. George Orwell would later portray all pervading sense of paranoia, the idea that a malevolent power was always watching, the fear that you could trust nobody, for much different uses in his anti-communist novel 1984. In fact, one impression I had reading 100% – The Story of a Patriot, an impression I often get when reading turn of the century writers like Sinclair and Jack London is that a lot of the novels we are taught in schools are gentrified, and socially acceptable knockoffs of the great buried tradition of American socialist literature.

But what is 100% – The Story of a Patriot about? Peter Gudge is a homeless drifter, somewhere in his early 20s, who has recently been fired from his job as a gopher for the type of evangelical Christian grifter so familiar today. Desperate, broke and hungry he casually pockets a leaflet given to him by an leftist agitator, then continues walking aimlessly through “American City” (probably Chicago) looking for something to do. To his initial misfortune, and ultimate good fortune, for his background as an evangelical well prepares him to be an anent provocateur and a police spy, he walks right into a terrorist attack, a loosely fictionalized version of the Haymarket bombing in Chicago or the anarchist attack on Wall Street in 1920.  Gudge is “arrested” by a gang of private detectives, who take the leaflet in his pocket as proof of his guilt, tortured into making a confession, and forced to participate in framing a prominent labor leader for the crime. Sinclair never tells us exactly who carried out the bombing, although its strongly implied it was done by the business interests themselves.

A better stylist than Sinclair would have focused the whole novel on the initial terrorist attack and frame up but in 100% – The Story of a Patriot it’s simply the first episode in Gudge’s long career as an agent provocateur. A long, almost tedious litany of betrayals and frame ups follows, one after another, each the same as the one before, and the alienated, empty headed Gudge, who initially has no political opinions at all, eventually begins to consider himself as a “100 Percent American” patriot, a hero protecting White Anglo Saxon Protestant America from reds, Jews, anarchists, German spies and immigrants. The more of a patriot Gudge becomes, the more Sinclair reveals the rot underlying not only American society, but the radical movement that would provide an alternative. Everything, the police, the courts, the media, the military, the leadership of the antiwar movement, marriage, free love, sex, idealism, religion, is compromised and infiltrated by the business interests. Everything is corrupt. There is no alternative to self-interest and betrayal. Who can you trust? Nobody. Who rises to the top? Peter Gudge, the very worst self-interested and soulless little creep, the truest “100 Percent American” in what I might call Upton Sinclair’s dystopia were it not the world we live in today.

A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf (1916)

WALK

In 1867, a 29-year-old Scottish immigrant and University of Wisconsin at Madison dropout named John Muir, an employee at a wagon wheel factory in Indianapolis, had an accident that almost blinded him. Struck in the eye by a tool that slipped out of his hand and nicked his cornea, he was confined to a dark room for over six weeks, unsure if he would ever again see the light of day. Recovering, he hit upon a plan that a lot of people in their 20s dream about, but few carry out. He would walk 1000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico, board a steamer in New Orleans for South American, then hike to the top of the Andes.

Muir’s plan was daring in more ways than one. He had little money or support. What’s more the United States in 1867, especially that part of the United States between Indianapolis and New Orleans was a dangerous place. The country had just been through a brutal Civil War that not only killed a million Americans, but left over 3 million veterans, all trained killers, very much alive, and more often than not, heavily armed. Food was scarce. Jobs were in short supply. Federal troops still occupied most of the south.  But John Muir had a secret weapon that made him almost invulnerable. He was poor. He had nothing worth stealing.

I had climbed but a short distance when I was overtaken by a young man on horse-back, who soon showed that he intended to rob me if he should find the job worth while. After he had inquired where I came from, and where I was going, he offered to carry my bag. I told him that it was so light that I did not feel it at all a burden; but he insisted and coaxed until I allowed him to carry it. As soon as he had gained possession I noticed that he gradually increased his speed, evidently trying to get far enough ahead of me to examine the contents without being observed. But I was too good a walker and runner for him to get far. At a turn of the road, after trotting his horse for about half an hour, and when he thought he was out of sight, I caught him rummaging my poor bag. Finding there only a comb, brush, towel, soap, a change of underclothing, a copy of Burns’s poems, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a small New Testament, he waited for me, handed back my bag, and returned down the hill, saying that he had forgotten something.

https://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/a_thousand_mile_walk_to_the_gulf/chapter_2.aspx

This morning, as I read the news on Yahoo, I thought about John Muir’s vignette. There is a group called Extinction Rebellion, an organization led by a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg. While they made a good first impression, propaganda from the corporate media and the  fossil fuel industry reversed it in a matter of weeks. These days pretty much everybody, both on the right and the left, hates them. Social media cheers on attacks against climate change protesters.  On the left, they’re widely regarded as a ruling class plot to impoverish the global south for the benefit of the rich global north. On the right they’re seen as a conspiracy by the “new world order” to enrich China at the expense of the United States.  Unlike John Muir, Americans these days not only have something to steal. They live their lives in constant terror of someone taking what’s rightfully theirs. Yes, my fellow Americans in the Bible Belt. Greta Thunberg is coming for your Ford F-150s and your gun racks.

Unlike our inbred cousins in the Bible Belt, we liberal Americans in the “blue states” don’t come right out and deny global warming. In fact, we pay it a good deal of lip service. Yet the way we live our lives it might as well be a “new world order” conspiracy cooked up by the Illuminati on Al Gore’s private jet. Like our inbred cousins in the Bible Belt, it’s not high on our list of priorities, probably not even in the top ten. “Climate change, oh yeah. It’s bad. Sorry. I have to take the kids to soccer practice.” Liberal Americans care about their children’s future. They will spend no end of money on SAT preparation courses to get them into the right colleges. They will spare no expense to hire the right lawyers to set up the right kinds of trust funds, but in the end they will not act to insure that in 50 years their grandchildren still have a livable planet. That’s someone else’s problem. All Americans are part of the same capitalist death cult. Some of us drive Ford F-150s with gun racks. Some of us drive hybrids. Some of us take New Jersey Transit and the New York City subway, but we’re all enthusiastically running the same rat race, and woe be it to anybody who gets in the way, especially one of those damned hippies from Extinction Rebellion.

So I thought back to John Muir and the young man in Kentucky who tried to rob him.  I suppose he had hoped to find a few gold coins or a roll of good Union currency, but unlike Muir, he had no idea what he had right in front of him, the opportunity to chat about John Milton, Robert Burns, and the Gospels with one of the greatest environmentalists and romantic poets who ever lived. Imagine if someone in Silicon Valley gave a TED Talk in front of a group of tech billionaires and announced the one time only opportunity to climb aboard a time machine, and go back to 1867 to hike with the young John Muir through Kentucky. How much money would that fetch in an auction? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? Similarly, Americans today have no idea of the value of what they’re currently in the process of destroying. While there may be life on other planets, there may not be. The earth we live on may be the only place in the galaxy capable of sustaining intelligent life, and this little experiment in human consciousness may well be only a brief few moments in the history of the universe before it’s all snuffed out.

Isn’t it worth taking genuinely radical action to preserve?

The Killer Angels (1974)

(Thomas Henry Harrison, a hero of The Killer Angels, a Confederate spy who survived Pickett’s charge and died in 1923 at the age of 91. Note: In 1923, William Faulkner was already 26.)

Back in the 1990s, Ted Turner produced a 4 hour long film about the Battle of Gettysburg called, appropriately enough, Gettysburg. Based on Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Killer angels, it wasn’t exactly a bad movie. It had good performances by Jeff Daniels as Joshua Chamberlain and Sam Elliot as John Buford, but it fell far short of an adequate dramatization of the blood bath that took place in Pennsylvania early in July 1863. Politically, it was the usual watered down, “brother against brother” pablum that masquerades as the history of the United States Civil War. To quote Donald Trump, “there were fine people on both sides.”

Michael Shaara, an Italian American from Jersey City, New Jersey, and a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, was not exactly an aristocrat from “Old Virginia.” But that’s clearly where his sympathies lie. Shaara can’t quite help himself. Like Confederate General James Longstreet, the ultimate hero of The Killer Angels, a South Carolinian of Dutch, not English, descent, a man who ultimately regretted fighting for Lee and the Confederacy, Shaara watches the destruction of the elite of old Virginia’s chivalry with barely muted horror. Nothing that Shaara does to remind us that he’s a Yankee and a liberal, his narrative parallel between the brilliant Union cavalry officer John Buford, and his incompetent southern counterpart J.E.B Stuart, the heroic stand of the largely working-class, 20th Maine Regiment at Little Round Top, or Longstreet’s hard headed realism about the South’s chances for a victory in Pennsylvania matter, matters. His heart’s not in it. Like the novel’s moronic English military observer Arthur Freemantle, we came out of the novel infatuated with the Army of Northern Virginia. We want nothing more than to die for Robert E. Lee, to preserve the aristocratic, Protestant, Anglo Saxon way of life. That in and of itself makes the Killer Angels a good novel, almost in spite of itself.

The most important question about the United States Civil War is not whether Lee or Grant was the better general, or if the South could had won had Stonewall Jackson not been killed a few months before Gettysburg at the Battle of Chancellorsville. It’s this. Why did so many poor white Southerners fight for their oppressors, for aristocrats like Robert E. Lee who kept them in a state of poverty almost as bad as their slaves?

The Union soldiers at Gettysburg, all those German and Irish immigrants right off the boat from old Europe, were always well-fed, well-clothed, and well-provisioned. They also had a rational cause to fight for. They might have been as racist as their southern counterparts, but ending slavery, destroying the system that made them compete unpaid labor, benefitted them materially. That land stolen in the west stolen from Mexico would ultimately be divided up and parceled out to them under the Homestead Act to create hundreds of thousands of small capitalists. The typical Confederate private fought hungry and barefoot, and yet he fought magnificently. As Shaara points out, Gettysburg, the first great Union victory in the Eastern theater of the war, was the first time most of the Union soldiers had seen confederate soldiers run. Man for man, the Army of Northern Virginia was one of the greatest armies in history. They lost at Gettysburg only because they were massively outgunned, out supplied, and because the Union Army held the high ground. Even so, they almost won.

Robert E. Lee, like Donald Trump or George W. Bush, was a magnetic, almost cult-life figure for conservative white Americans. John Longstreet, on the other hand, was an intelligent, rational man who knew how to manage an army of 100,000 men, but did not know how to inspire. Thus, he finds himself in the position of watching Lee lead the men he loved into a suicidal charge against hopeless odds. What Longstreet, or even Lee, doesn’t quite understand, is that many of the men in the Army of Northern Virginia wanted to commit suicide at Gettysburg, to die a romantic death in the prime of their youth against the Yankee invader. Many of them knew that what the United States would inevitably become, even if the South won, an industrial capitalist oligarchy that reduced everything to its vulgar exchange value, was not a world they wanted to live in. So, to quote Union General John Buford about the Union defeat that never came, “they charged valiantly, and were butchered valiantly.”

The problem is the American working class, at least in the South and Midwest, still has the same suicidal romanticism, the same desire to die a meaningless death for the ruling class. That the American ruling class no longer looks like Robert E. Lee, a courtly gentleman with exquisite manners, but instead looks like Donald Trump, a vulgar creep who jokes about grabbing women by the pussy, reflects the transformation of American capitalism over the past 150 years. Our aristocrats no longer have to put on a show. They know we’ll follow them anyway, however awful they become. Novelists like Michael Shaara, therefore, unwilling to embrace a revolutionary alternative to capitalism, can only look at the past with wistful nostalgia. They forever remain Faulkner’s 14-year-old Southern boy waiting for George Pickett to wave his hat and say “forward boys for old Virginia.”

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances…

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2013/07/03/william-faulkner-gettysburg

Bernie Sanders versus Occupy Wall Street

6336958774_1d394fb17b_c

Eight years later, in 2019, Occupy Wall Street is long forgotten, ancient history. Yet last Saturday at the Bernie Sanders rally in Queens, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, not only because Sanders kept using the term “one percent” to describe the ruling class, but because of the stark contrast in the way the two movements were organized. They couldn’t be more similar. Yet they couldn’t be more different. Let me explain.

The overwhelming impression I got at Bernie’s rally in Queens is that the content was better than the form. In spite of how the only thing I disagreed with about the proposals Bernie and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez were making is that they didn’t go far enough, something about the rally itself left me cold. It was the usual top down, Democratic Party rally. Pre-approved signs were handed out at the beginning of the rally. Chants were started from the speakers podium. The speakers list was pre-selected by the campaign. Our role as supporters was to listen passively, chant and clap.

What a contrast it was to Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street in many ways was the mirror image of the Sanders campaign. Let’s call it form over content. Indeed, it became a cliche after awhile to make fun of the media for repeatedly harping on Occupy’s non-existent demands. “What are your demands.” Bernie has plenty of very specific, moderate sounding, but in the end, radical demands. That’s what makes his campaign so dangerous to the ruling class. We the people hear “Medicare for All” and think “hey. Why not. It makes sense for mom and dad. Why not for all of us.” Some of us know enough about American history to hear “free college tuition” and think “just like the University of California or City College in the 1930s and 1940s. Most of us agree that student loan debt is massively usurious and should be eliminated. But the upper-middle-class and the ruling-class hear the same demands and think “oh no. My taxes are going up. There go my kids trust funds. This evil man must be stopped.” Not surprisingly, the corporate media has mocked Bernie’s movement for having too many demands in a way very similar to how they mocked Occupy Wall Street for having no demands.

The problem, however, is that unlike Occupy Wall Street, which was a genuine threat to the establishment, which took over downtown areas and threatened to disrupt business as usual until Obama coordinated a violent crackdown with DHS and local, militarized police departments, the Sanders campaign is following the rules of a traditional Democratic Party run, even after it was demonstrated in 2016 that the Democratic establishment will not allow him to get the nomination. Bernie is not going to win nomination and in the unlikely event that he does the Democratic Party elite will stab him in the back the way the sandbagged George McGovern in 1972. In some ways Bernie is leading people back into an elitist, neoconservative party that will betray them and leave them cynical and alienated.

In some ways, however, he’s not. Bernie and AOC directly addressed my cynicism in both their speeches. “No we can’t” is what the ruling class wants us to believe. I’m fairly sure I would have been just as cynical about AOC’s attempt to stop Amazon from coming to Queens last year, and yet she won. But I do think it’s accurate to say that the Sanders campaign commits us to a certain kind of strategy, obligates us to learn certain kinds of skills. For Occupy Wall Street, those skills were “horizontal” organizing, occupying public squares, disrupting downtown business districts, preparing for a revolution that, in the end, would never come. The American people made the conscious decision to choose the banks over themselves. For the Sanders campaign, these skills are fund raising, phone banking, canvassing, the traditional forms of party building Bernie grew up with in New Deal America.

What that means is that for Bernie’s campaign to bear any fruit we have to commit ourselves to taking over the Democratic Party from within over the next decade. In some ways I don’t have the heart for it. But in other ways, if I don’t at least try I’m betraying the next generation exactly the way my parents betrayed our generation by not resisting Reaganism. Will I have the strength and mental discipline to do it?

Evangelical Christians are stealing children separated from their parents in Trump’s concentration camps

I’ve suspected for awhile this has been happening but here’s some mainstream confirmation.

Holes in immigration laws are allowing state court judges to grant custody of migrant children to American families without notifying their deported parents, the Associated Press reported Tuesday

……………………

However, the foster family that Alexa was placed into by Bethany Christian Services, allegedly ignored repeated requests from a variety of institutions, including from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to return her to Araceli.

https://thehill.com/policy/international/americas/410653-ap-migrant-children-may-be-adopted-after-parents-are-deported

Bethany Christian Services isn’t a household name but it has deep ties to Trump’s Christian fascist Education Secretary Betsy Devos

The links between the extended DeVos family and Bethany are undeniable. Tax filings archived by ProPublica show that between 2001 and 2015, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation (the philanthropic organization run by DeVos and her husband) gave $343,000 in grants to Bethany Christian Services.

Between 2012 and 2015, Bethany received $750,000 in grants from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, which is run by the Education Secretary’s father-in-law, the billionaire founder of Amway Richard DeVos, and his wife Helen.

https://www.snopes.com/news/2018/06/26/bethany-christian-services-family-separation-betsy-devos/

Fuck these ghouls to hell.  It’s where they’re going anyway.

The Attacks on Climate Change Protesters

Extinction Rebellion protesters have been physically attacked in two cities.

London

And Edmonton

I don’t know if blocking traffic during rush hour is the best strategy Extinction Rebellion could be taking. In fact, it’s probably not.

But I do know this.

These same people wouldn’t get angry over the invasion of Iraq. They probably wouldn’t stop a racist or a sexist or a homophobic attack in public. If Trump or Trudeau or a member of the royal family blocked traffic, they’d simply shake their heads and passively accept it.

But they are willing to beat up climate change protesters so they can stay in the rat race. Their fear of their boss is stronger than any urge they might have to save the planet from climate change, or even any curiosity about what’s going on.

Fear of being late for work, that’s the only thing that will motivate people in capitalist societies to take action.

Pathetic.