Monthly Archives: March 2020

An Apology to the Millennial Generation


Rutgers Students Protest Against Homophobia on Campus, New Brunswick, NJ March 2010

As much as I’d like to be wrong, I fear that at this time tomorrow morning, Joe Biden will have inflicted a crushing defeat on Bernie Sanders, effectively ending his campaign. The fault will be mainly do to people my age, privileged old white men and women who voted for the vain, selfish Elizabeth Warren, working-class black men and women willing to sell out their grandchildren in the hope they can relive the Obama years through his senile, racist, old Vice President. Medicare for all is dead. This Fall, whether under Donald Trump or Joe Biden, Wall Street and the military industrial complex will remain firmly in control of the United States Government. Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning will remain in prison. The surveillance state will be vastly expanded. The Internet will be censored. Any attempt to protest at the Democratic National Convention this Summer in Milwaukee will be met with savage repression, an army of militarized police, arrests and trumped up charges, and a well-coordinated campaign of propaganda in the corporate media blaming progressive activists for the further spread of the Coronavirus.

I first became aware of Bernie Sanders in 1982 when I was a teenager at my cousin’s wedding at the First Unitarian Universalist Society in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Burlington was a wonderful place back in 1982, even though my aunt and uncle hated it. We drove up Route 87 to Plattsburgh New York and took the ferry across Lake Champlain, and I spent the entire time looking out across the water, trying to imagine the decisive victory the United States Navy won against the British at the end of the War of 1812. Everything, the mountains, the whitewashed Protestant Church, the spare, attractive little city felt to me, a Polish American from New Jersey, like the authentic, WASP America I had read about in the history books. But there was a twist. The newly elected Mayor of Burlington Vermont was a Jewish socialist from Brooklyn with a New Yawk accent so thick he made me sound like Ronald Coleman.

If you had told me in 1982 that Bernie Sanders would have had any chance of being elected President of the United States I wouldn’t have believed you. Even though I was already a leftist who had read the Communist Manifesto on the advice of a high-school history teacher, an ex-Black Panther who had participated in the Newark Uprising of 1967, both the Democrats and the Republicans, as well as the country as a whole, seemed, like today, to be moving precipitously to the right. It might have been even worse in 1982 than it is now. Mostly it was a horrible time to be a teenage boy. My generation, people born between 1960 and 1968, people a little too young to be Boomers and a little too old to be Gen Xers, were hit with the full force of a campaign of ruling class propaganda which had as its goal not only to destroy the counterculture of the 1960s, but to let the Boomers rationalize to themselves that “selling out” was a good thing. On college campuses, fraternities were cool again. Antiwar protests were considered slightly ridiculous. In popular culture, sexism and homophobia were the norm. In fact, it was so homophobic in the 1980s that Reagan officials would tell AIDS jokes at press conferences.

In the 1980s and 1990s I went to protests. I voted for Jesse Jackson in the Democratic Primary in 1988. I considered myself a “male feminist.” Of course, like all good “male feminists” I was deeply misogynistic, the performative “virtue signaling” a good example of Shakespeare’s famous quote that “methinks the lady dost protest too much.” More importantly I was trying to be cool since I knew that being pro LGBT and feminist would eventually became the mainstream. At one point I even tried to read Judith Butler before I eventually realized that her books were unreadable, a Rorschach Test that let you read into her convoluted prose whatever meaning you wanted. Nevertheless, what eventually became mainstream cultural liberalism in the millennial generation was already the norm among the coolest, most culturally enlightened Gen Xers. In fact it was Kurt Cobain, not an academic feminist, who came up with the oft quoted line “don’t teach women how to defend themselves against rape. Teach men not to rape.” While I had despaired that the left would succeed politically, I was confident that the reactionary, sexist, homophobic culture of the 1980s would inevitably give way to something better.

While I had marched in all of the dreary, top-down anti-war protests against George W. Bush in the early 2000s, something about it all seemed a little useless. Bush didn’t care that we were staging big, permitted rallies on the Capitol Mall. The media just ignored them anyway. But when the Millennial generation started to make its voice heard after Occupy Wall Street, it was obvious that a fresh, new generation had started to transform the political scene. For all the complaints about the endless general assemblies at Zuccotti Park and the convoluted process of the “progressive stack,” it felt less like a problem and more like growing pains, the difficult process of learning the language of democracy, a way of speaking that had been common in the 1960s but which had been lost in the Reagan reaction of the 1980s. While Occupy Wall Street had been obliterated by militarized police and sent down the memory hole by the corporate media, and Black Lives Matter fizzled out after its core organizers in Ferguson, Missouri were quietly assassinated by police death squads, and its message coopted by neoliberal grifters from Teach for America, the millennial generation’s move to the left seemed unstoppable. Finally, in 2016, a self proclaimed “democratic socialist” came within a hair’s breadth of wrestling control of the Democratic Party away from the Clinton crime family.

That self-proclaimed democratic socialist was of course Bernie Sanders, that rough, working-class Jewish socialist from Brooklyn who had become the Mayor of Burlington all the way back in 1981. What’s more, even though he lost the nomination in 2016, the millennial left quickly consolidated behind his economic populism and and laser like focus on the issue of Medicare for all. Michael Harrington, the founder of Democratic Socialists of America, and an advocate of rebuilding the New Deal though the Democratic Party, not only seemed like a prophet, the young people flooding into DSA and into the Sanders campaign seemed to have improved on his original message. Harrington had been a stodgy old Irish Catholic who came up through the Trotskyist movement. His heirs were the same cultural radicals who had overthrown the reactionary sexism and homophobia of my generation, and opened up the socialist left to gays, lesbians, feminists, transmen and women, who had dragged the sexual revolution of the 1960s out of its long hibernation and back into streets, and onto social media.

Alas it was not to be. In a stunning act of betrayal, my generation, privileged Boomers and Gen Xers with paid off houses in the suburbs and lofts in Tribeca, health insurance, tenure, and well cultivated stock portfolios, stabbed the millennials in the back. Even worse, the cultural elite in their 40s and 50s, the same reactionary sexists and homophobes who had voted for Reagan and both Bushes, weaponized the best instincts of the millennial generation against the millennial generation. First came the entirely fabricated smear of the “Bernie Bro,” the idea that the progressive movement behind Sanders was made up entirely of “privileged” white men in their 20s who rampaged across social media attacking feminists and women of color. In other words, the same Boomer and Gen X elite that cheered on George W. Bush dancing on the Ellen show now decided that the cultural enemy was some random 22-year-old who had decided that maybe we all had a right to health care and was perhaps a bit impatient with people who didn’t. Then came the smears from the Democratic establishment about Sanders’s “problems with black people,” as if the man who endorsed Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition was somehow more of a racist than the man who palled around with Jim Crow Segregationists in the 1970s and humiliated Anita Hill on national TV in the 1990s.

For the past 4 years, Bernie Sanders has been unable to counterattack against the ruling class’s largely successful campaign to brand him as a racist and sexist. The reasons aren’t difficult to figure out. Even though Sanders is 78 years old, too old even to be a Boomer, he embodies the values of the youth movement that has brought him so close, and yet so far from real power. He sincerely believes in economic populism, cultural radicalism and anti-racism. Sanders was a millennial before millennials existed. Like the young people who have raised a record amount of money for his campaign, who flood his massive rallies, he’s too good, too sincere to understand the bad faith nature of the elite attacks against his movement. Call a conservative Republican a racist or sexist and he’ll laugh in your face. Call a cynical Gen X leftist like me a racist or sexist and while he may feel a little guilty about it, he’ll eventually figure out that you’re scamming him. But call a genuine idealist like Bernie Sanders a racist or sexist and he’ll immediately assume that you’re right, that he’s actually hurt or offended someone less privileged them himself and apologize. In other words, the young people who have rallied behind Sanders, like Sanders himself, sincerely wanted to “do better,” to “check their privilege” and make their movement as inclusive as possible, but in the end all it did was fatten them up for the slaughter.

My generation has committed the gravest sin possible. We have weaponized idealism against idealism, sincerity against sincerity. We all deserve to die of the Coronavirus. Perhaps we will.

Americans Don’t Care if Biden is Senile

After all, we voted for this guy twice. We voted for a brain addled coke head then put him back in office after the largest terrorist attack in American history. We also put Reagan in office twice but most of you are too young to remember just how senile he was.

The real question is who’s going to be Joe Biden’s Cheney.

Bloomberg (though Stacy Abrams)?

The CIA (thought Pete Buttigieg)?

Obama? After all he’s the main reason black voters went for Biden in such overwhelming numbers. Or will Biden put him on the Supreme Court?

Cheney himself? Hey. Stranger things have happened. Or maybe David Frum. Democrats do love neocons these days.

Why Were Most of Joe Biden’s Victories in States With Widespread Voter Suppression Problems

Biden won 10 states on Tuesday:

  1. Alabama  *
  2. Arkansas  *
  3. Maine
  4. Massachussetts
  5. Minnesota
  6. North Carolina *
  7. Oklahoma *
  8. Tennesse *
  9. Texas *
  10. Virginia *

A simple google search for “voter suppression” in many of these states turns up a lot of results. Given that Biden attracts a more conservative voter base than Sanders and voter suppression is universally aimed at the left and disenfranchised, it’s not irrational to think that Biden received a bump in the primary from the results of GOP voter suppression efforts. Of the 10 states, 7 have experienced severe voter suppression issues in the recent past or present and of those 7, the only one where these seemingly have been fixed was North Carolina, where the racist ID requirement was struck down in court. I’ve marked these 7 with *.

Examples by state, link to source then relevant passages:

“In 2016, Arkansas purged thousands of voters for so-called felony convictions, even though some of the voters had never been convicted of a felony at all. And in 2013, Virginia purged 39,000 voters based on data that was later found to have an error rate of up to 17 percent.”

Texas Closed Hundreds of Polling Sites in Black and Latino Communities

“The 50 (Texas) counties that saw the highest growth in black and Latino population had 542 polling sites close between 2012 and 2018, while the 50 counties with the lowest black and Latino population growth saw just 34 closures. The closures came despite the population in the top 50 counties rising by 2.5 million while the 50 counties that had just 34 closures saw their population fall by 13,000.”

“There are numerous problems with Alabama’s voter roll maintenance protocols. Mailings, for example, are not the most effective way to communicate with a 21st century citizenry. According to the U.S. Election Administration Commission, Alabama sent 416,632 confirmation notices to voters between 2016 and 2018. Fifty-five percent of those notices (229,407) were returned as undeliverable.100 Another 138,830 notices were reported as “status unknown.”…Many of these confirmation cards were returned as undeliverable or were “status unknown” because a non-forwardable card is unlikely to reach voters who move often. Low-income people, apartment dwellers, renters and college students are less likely to have a current address on their voter registration record.”

“Last month Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, signed a law imposing restrictions on those groups holding voter registration drives, citing the high number of registrations collected by voting rights groups which are incorrect and become ineligible once filed to the state.

The law, once enforced, would fine those turning in incomplete or incorrect registration forms. In some cases, it could mean criminal charges. For example, a group that returns more than a hundred “deficient” forms could face a fine of up to $2,000 in each county “incorrect forms” were filled out. If more than 500 forms are found to be filled out incorrectly, that fine could be up to $10,000. It’s unclear what “deficient” and “incorrect” mean, both Johnson and Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the organization which filed a lawsuit on behalf of six organizations in Tennessee, told the Guardian.”

Oklahoma Prepares to Purge Thousands of Inactive Voters

“A review of Oklahoma’s purge of inactive voters in 2017 shows that Democrats were disproportionally affected.

Of the 167,011 who were deleted due to inactivity, about 46 percent were Democrats. Voter registration statistics before the purge, on Jan. 1, 2017, show that Democrats made up about 39 percent of all registered voters.

Republicans, meanwhile, made up about 33 percent of the purged inactive voters while making up nearly 46 percent of the pre-purge voter registration totals.”

Biden’s Magical “Electability” is Magical Thinking

Why don’t the kids like Biden?

Here’s why:

Imagine you were on a boat that was rapidly capsizing.

Now imagine the captain of the boat said the only reasonable course of action was to find out what the rapidly rising sea water wanted and compromise between the needs of it and the drowning crew.

And furthermore, the captain has said that anyone who disagreed “needs to grow the f— up”.

You’d be ready to throw him overboard, no?


This primary season and the animosity directed toward Bernie Sanders has revealed, yet again, that the true struggle within our society is as Marx described it-not between the DNC and the RNC, but between the 1%, their enablers, and the rest of us. That the 1% has somewhat factionalized between the very rich with savior complexes and the very rich with victim complexes isn’t that relevant because both are acting as anti-democratic forces and can’t be trusted to do anything about the coming climate devastation outside of looting the remains.

Michael Bloomberg’s proposed path to the nomination was predicated on either a) a Super Tuesday triumph created by vastly outspending all other candidates in the relevant states, b) a brokered convention where it turns out the DNC and 50+% of the country would subvert the vote because they loved Michael Bloomberg as much as Michael Bloomberg loves Michael Bloomberg. Was it really surprising he crashed and burned as quick as he did? But more importantly, both paths just presume that somehow the popular vote, the basic idea on which democracy is founded, would be subverted. Elizabeth Warren is now floating the same idea. Messaging from the DNC suggests Biden would take similar action if Sanders doesn’t get a plurality. A large proportion of the candidates running basically presume that the voting process will be rendered irrelevant in the final rounds.

It’s been said that the primary rule of institutions is that people within them will by and large jockey for power within the institution over power in the larger sphere. Generally speaking this isn’t the worst thing since when the opposite happens you tend to see the rich come to an agreement to act as a coordinated criminal enterprise and loot the middle class and poor. That’s what’s happening now.  The bi-annual Republican “tax cuts” (re: massive handouts to the 1%) aren’t because the 1% need more money to live, but because they need to proportionately dominate a large percentage of liquid capital and infrastructure in order to permanently cement their authority.

What authority? The authority over democratic mechanisms, norms, and restrictions against poisoning (the Sacklers, Flynt), robbing (2008), and the use of the state’s monopoly on violence to beat down any attempts by the population at large to stop these exploitative and criminal practices (violent destruction of the OWS encampments).

But to go back again to the rule of institutions, this rule in action is causing the current crisis within the Democratic party. They are vociferously acting to protect their donors from their voters so they can maintain their positions on the sinking ship vs. righting the ship. As I illustrated with the sinking boat metaphor, the stakes of the current international crises (climate change, collapse of capitalism into surveillance feudalism, etc. etc.) make a moderate/centrist stance ironically but profoundly radical-if we value ourselves and our neighbors, the bare minimum we need from any candidate is a plan that will prevent us all from roasting to death in our own carbon emissions. You can call that “The Levine Test”.

Biden doesn’t pass that.

Sanders does.

The Biden campaign so far has entirely hinged on the big bluff of “electability”. There is no rational argument for this. It is a lie that has been repeated by scared rich people until enough scared people below them decided that was the truth.

If Joe Biden were a used DVD, the case would say “FROM THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU 4 YEARS OF DONALD TRUMP: THE ONLY GUY WHO CAN BEAT DONALD TRUMP!! (TM) (we swear this time guys, super serial!!!)”

Outside of the sexism boost, Biden has a much weaker track record than Clinton and is a weaker candidate overall. If Clinton couldn’t beat Trump, why would we think this guy could?

If Trump decides not to relinquish power, what in Biden’s history suggests he wouldn’t just roll over and blame the Senate?

The argument that Biden will win conservative voters over from the Republican party ignores the radicalization of the GOP and their base-this is like expecting the Heaven’s Gate cult members to commandeer the spaceship and then mug Marshall Applewhite for his Nikes and applesauce.

We’ve already seen the Russian playbook against Biden in action: use the Hunter Biden Burisma stuff like Clinton’s e-mails in 2016. And we’ve seen no moves by the DNC or Biden suggesting they have any effective means of tackling it.

We haven’t seen anything similar for Sanders. This is probably because Putin, Trump et. al think a brokered convention is an inevitability if Sanders gets far enough and the damage done would be worth it whatever the outcome. Putin, Trump, et. al probably aren’t wrong to think this-they know the habits of the 1% firsthand.

Biden and the DNC’s greed and hubris are existential threats to the US and human society. The time for fucking around has long since passed.

Coming this Fall?


Plainfield, NJ March 2020

I’d like to think the Bernie sign was put up by the family moving in and the Trump sign was put up by the family moving out. But who knows? It’s a pretty modest White House in any event.

Into the Dust

While Dave Roback was a Boomer, Mazzy Star was one of the few worthwhile things Generation X (Hope Sandoval was born in 1966) ever produced.

David Roback, the musician best known for cofounding the beloved, genre-eluding band Mazzy Star with singer and lyricist Hope Sandoval in Santa Monica in 1989 has died at age 61, a publicist confirmed Tuesday. No date or cause of death has been given.

I still remember where I first heard their classic song “Fade into You,” at the old Tower Records bookstore in the East Village. I immediately recognized the guitar chords as a ripoff of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door. I think that was Mazzy Star’s appeal. They weren’t original but if you were born in the 1960s, you could hear memories of your early childhood in Dave Roback’s guitar solos. They were a Generation X band who successfully (and quietly) rebooted the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and the Velvet Underground.

They were also one of the very few American rock bands who alluded to obscure (well, obscure in the United States) German romantic poetry like Novalis’s Blue Flower. The French filmmaker Olivier Assayas made a film (very loosely) based on Mazzy Star’s lead singer Hope Sandoval. Dave Roback has a cameo near the very end.