Category Archives: Personal Diary

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Rahway New Jersey the Morning After the Big Storm

Last week in New Jersey we experienced the kind of natural disaster most of us have only heard about. While my home state may be the butt of a lot of jokes, we also tend to be free from horrible things like earthquakes, tornados, mass shootings and Republicans. Nevertheless, after a hot rainy summer (which is far from over) the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped over 10 inches of rain on the already water logged ground. Twenty three people died in the floods. Some people died through no fault of their own. Four people in Elizabeth drowned in their basement apartment after a river overflowed its banks and made escape impossible. Other people died out of sheer stupidity. For some odd reason an 83-year-old man in Union felt he needed to get in his car and drive and another man in Maplewood felt it necessary to clear the debris out of a culvert near his house.

As for me, I was doing my best to get a Darwin Award. I live on the second floor of a very well-built house on top of a hill. I could have easily slept through the storm and not even realized it happened. As soon as the storm was done, however, I jumped on my bike to explore the area, because, well, why not? Not far from my house, at the bottom of two steep hills, there was a small body of water where, only the day before there had only been the street in front of the local topless bar. There were also dozens of abandoned cars, their electronics shorted out when they tried to make it through what turned out to be at least two feet of water. I road through without a hitch, my feet soaked, but my pride swollen. My bike has no electronics, and it turned out I was stronger than 2 tons of Detroit metal (well these days fiberglass) powered by a V-6. I wound up riding through three large bodies of water, each more deep than the other, the last one lapping over the side view mirrors of cars parked on the street, a couch that had formerly decorated someone’s back porch floating by as I chugged through the brackish muck.

When I got home I couldn’t help but turn on Pete Seeger performing his now all but forgotten song Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.

Pete Seeger

For Seeger, the song, which tells the tale of an infantry officer who drowned on a training exercise while foolishly trying to bully his platoon to ford a tributary of the flooded Mississippi (a stream that turned out to be the Mississippi itself), was a metaphor for the Vietnam War. The same military industrial media complex that recently attacked President Biden for his surprisingly courageous decision to end the American Occupation couldn’t admit they had made a mistake intervening in the Vietnamese Civil War. Like the idiot platoon commander in Seeger’s song, they were determined to drag the American people down with them. But Seeger’s platoon was smart enough to turn back and barely make it to dry land. The American people in the 1960s were smart enough to protest the occupation of Vietnam and demand we leave.

In 2021, I wish the “big muddy” were the war in Afghanistan. But it’s not. It’s something much more dangerous, to be specific, global warming, the weather patterns that have turned the Northeast into the Southeast, complete with deadly tornados, hurricanes, and floods. And the foolish platoon commander is not the American ruling class. It’s all of us, every ordinary citizen who just has to get into his car every day to run the rat race that’s killing the planet. Will we make it out? Or will we condemn our grandchildren to a dead, flooded planet. One can only hope for the best .

Joe Biden for President


In 2016, I voted for Gloria La Riva and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. I had no intention of voting for Trump, but I also had no intention of voting to allow the Clinton Crime Family to establish a dynasty in the White House. This time I’m going to vote for Joe Biden and the Democrats.

Why? Here are ten good reasons.

1.) There are currently no credible third party candidates on the ballot. Howie Hawkins and the Greens are what the Greens have been for the last 30 years, a “political party” that does no organizing, never shows up at protests, and makes no attempt to expand their base beyond a tiny inner circle.

2.) I don’t want to be able to say in 20 years that I never voted against Trump. Yes, I voted third party in 2016, but a third party vote is more of a vote against both mainstream parties. It indicates you have no real preference. I want to unambiguously vote against the 6’3″ Cheetoh currently occupying the White House.

3.) There are far too many leftists and pseudo leftists who have fallen for the idea of Trump as anti-war or “anti-deep state” or “anti-imperialist.” He’s not. He’s a right wing Zionist and neoconservative who has taken millions of dollars from the Israel Lobby, a radical Islamophobe who wants to limit immigration to people who look like me (ugly white people). He’s made several attempts to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela. He’s continued to aid the Saudis in their genocidal war in Yemen. He supported the coup in Bolivia. He covered up for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. In terms of foreign policy Trump is basically Dick Cheney, if Dick Cheney spent too much time on Twitter. I want to be able to point to the Trump adjacent left and say “I’m not one of those.”

4.) Trump has the unconditional support of the Christian Fundamentalist right. Biden at the very least supports the separation of church and state written into the Constitution by Jefferson and consolidated by none other than Ulysses Grant.

5.) Biden is in his late 70s and is unlikely to spend very much time in office. Whoever he picks as his Vice President is who I’ll really be voting for and he’s already promised to pick a black woman. Good. When Kamala Harris or Stacy Abrams continues the sanctions on Venezuela and Iran and starts bombing Yemen or Syria I’ll finally be able to tell feminists and black nationalists to shut the fuck up. Professional managerial class women in New York and Boston will finally stop talking about Putin and go back to pretending that they’ve actually read Anna Karenina. American liberals will go back to forgetting Russia exists.

6.)  If Trump is reelected he will unleash a massive wave of repression against Black Lives Matter and pretty much anybody who’s ever gone to a protest (including me). You seriously don’t want to know how bad it would get during a Trump second term.

7.) I live in Union County New Jersey, and overwhelmingly Democratic place the Republicans have no chance of winning and where they make no attempt to suppress the vote. That means voting usually takes me all of 10 minutes.The only thing it will cost me in terms of personal commitment is that I’ll jerk off three times on election day instead of four. Hey, a man’s got to make sacrifices.

8.) I’m old, ugly, bald and my dick fell off ten years ago. But I was barely out of Kindergarten when Biden went into the Senate. He’ll make me feel young again. True, Bernie would have too, but that dream is gone. Every day Biden will remind me of the senile old fuck I’m going to be in 30 years, if the Covid doesn’t get me first. During the Tom Cotton Presidency in 2025, watching liberals rehabilitate Trump the way they rehabilitated Reagan and George W. Bush in 2017 and 2018 will give me a delicious sense of moral superiority, the kind of thing, just about the only thing I really live for.

9.) Bernie, Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky and just about every professional leftist I’ve ever gone to see give a speech at Cooper Union has endorsed, or at least semi-endorsed Biden. All these people are smart. I’m a dumb fuck loser incel who’s never had a real job. Surely they know something I don’t. Yeah, they’re all public figures who have to protect their reputations in establishment liberal circles (even though they’ve all got more money than I’ll ever have and don’t really have to protect their reputation in establishment liberal circles), but fuck it. Once when I was a stupid 19-year-old I asked Noam Chomsky a dumb question during a lecture tour (I quoted Pat Buchanan on the Israel Palestine conflict) and he made me look stupid. The very least thing I can do to thank him is to vote for the man he sort of kind of maybe says I should vote for if I lived in a swing state.

10.) Part of the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is that I thought he’d be less likely to start a dumb conflict with Russia than a bloodthirsty neocon like McCain. Yeah he overthrew Qaddafi in Libya and armed Al Qaeda (who exactly do you think the White Helmets are) in Syria, but at least he negotiated a peace treaty with Iran and tried to open up diplomatic relations with Cuba. Donald Trump is jingoistic, neoconservative racist who blames China for Covid-19 and just might try to start a war (with a country that has nukes, a billion people, and an oversupply of 18-30 year old men). Biden probably won’t.

Will there be a new “bike boom?”


Westfield, NJ May 2020

Just about the only place I’m seeing long lines in my little corner of the suburban NYC hot zone is my local bike store. It’s easy to see why. All of the gyms are closed, and will be for the foreseeable future, so people are digging up all those old bikes from their basements and getting them repaired.

As Carlton Reid points out in his new book “Bike Boom,” the last time the United States saw a major resurgence of cycling was in the 1970s. Partly because of the 1960s counterculture and partly because of the 1970s oil shocks, everybody started riding bikes.

In Washington DC, there was a young Post staff reporter called Carl Bernstein – later to become half of the Pulitzer Prize-winning pair – known as the “office hippie” and a “long-haired freak who rode a bicycle …”

“Many cyclists harbour fierce antipathy for what they regard as an automobile culture that is choking the nation with fumes, speed, noise and concrete,” he wrote in the Post in 1970. He went on to describe a “growing group of cyclists who regard pedalling as an almost political act and inevitably flash the two-finger peace symbol upon encountering another person on a bike”.

There were also plans in the 1970s to build a cycling infrastructure in the United States that would have rivaled that of Germany or the Netherlands, but sadly it never got off the ground. Like many good ideas that came out of the 1970s energy crisis, the bike boom turned out to be a fad. Perhaps it’s possible now, but I suspect people will go back to the gyms as soon as it gets cold (if they’re open).

Put your mask on so the cops don’t give us a ticket

Imagine for a moment that I have designed the greatest mask in the world. My invention, let’s call it the Detroit One, protects the owner so well that it’s the equivalent of being surrounded by 2 tons of fiberglass and steel. It has a battery powered air purifier and a set of airbags that immediately inflate to come between you and the rest of the world in the event of a catastrophic failure of social distancing. But that’s not all. Lest you think such a mask would be unworkably heavy, over 100 years of testing have shown that far from being a burden, the Detroit One will actually carry you to your destination in comfort and luxury. All it requires is that once a week you fill it up with gasoline, which is now selling for under 2 dollars a gallon.

Today I road my bike through my hometown, the working-class suburb of Roselle, NJ, a community of just over 20,000 people squarely inside the hot zone of the New York Metropolitan Area. Roselle, like some of the more posh towns directly to the west, has neighborhoods with row after row of neat little post-World-War-II Cape Codes and Split Levels, a vision of New Deal middle-class equality. It’s also a bit more densely populated, or at least it seems that way. Due to the relative scarcity of garages, the streets always seemed packed with cars, so packed that I’m often happy that I’m riding a bike. I suppose that in the post-2008 world, a mortgage in a “good” suburb is more difficult to get than a car loan. Thus the rather impressive number of expensive late model SUVs and luxury sedans that make the streets so difficult to navigate.

In any event, while nostalgically riding past my old junior high school, I noticed what seemed to be a rather large “house party” put on by some kind of motorcycle club. Not only where the sidewalks clogged with Japanese made “sport bikes,” the front lawns of several adjacent houses were filled the dozens of people, none of whom were wearing masks, and all of whom were clearly violating six feet (my height and Trump’s penis size) rule for social distancing. Even worse, the party seemed to be breaking up. Large families were walking in the middle of the street. People were milling about on the sidewalk. Many of the party guests were clearly in a good mood and slightly inebriated. One man even called out to me “bro do you want a beer?”For a moment I thought about simply turning around and going back in the opposite direction but eventually I saw a clear path and dashed through the crowd to the opposite side.

When I turned around I was astonished. Some of the same people who had been drinking, eating and celebrating together without masks were putting on masks just before they got into their cars. One young woman tied a mask around her toddler’s neck before donning her own. A man in his twenties strapped on a red bandana before putting on his motorcycle helmet and firing up his Yamaha. Another woman, who seemed to be in her 30s, was arguing with her son, who appeared to be in middle school. Perhaps he will eventually go to the same junior high school I did, the one right down the street. A rush of nostalgia overtook me when I realized that decades ago, in the crisis of legitimacy that overtook the American ruling class in the 1970s, we were talking about “killer bees” the same way the media in 2020 is talking about “murder hornets.” In any event, the young boy, quite understandably, didn’t want to wear a mask on the way home. “Why do I have to wear a fucking mask in the car,” he said, and yes he dropped the F Bomb. Personally I was on his side, but his mother was having none of it. She grabbed her son, tied a mask around the back of his neck, and shoved him into the back of their car

“I”m not going to tell you again,” I heard her say. “Put your mask on or the cops are going to give me a ticket.”

It’s a Bourgeois Town


Westfield, NJ April 2020

The local bourgeoisie has discovered water soluble chalk. A few years ago, during Occupy Wall Street, or Black Lives Matter, chalking the sidewalk often meant that dozens of militarized police would roll up  on you, throw you to the ground, and put you through central booking (before the judge offered the inevitable ACD). But now, during the pandemic, in Central Union County, NJ, where the average family takes in about $200,000 a year from jobs on Wall Street, or in for profit healthcare, it’s rare to see a street without some message written out in pretty colors. I just wish there were more creativity. 90% of the slogans are generic, apolitical messages like “thank you to our healthcare workers” or “stay safe.” Perhaps I should buy some chalk myself the next time I go to the grocery store and write something like “workers of the world unite” or “end the fed” and see if I get arrested.

A New Jersey Story

So I’m riding my bike down the Kenilworth Boulevard, a broad double-laned highway that runs right through the middle of the compact, little suburb of Kenilworth, New Jersey.  Up ahead are two SUVs, one in the left lane, a white Ford, moving slowly, the other, a black Cadillac Escalade, about 2 feet behind, aggressively tailgating. Even though the traffic is surprisingly heavy for a state under a “shelter in place” order in the middle of a pandemic, there’s still there’s plenty of room to pass. I suppose the driver of the Escalade simply wants to teach the driver of the Ford a lesson before he goes on his way.

At some point, the Escalade passes the Ford in the right lane, gunning his engine as if to say “I’m faster than you and frustrated with your behavior,” before he swerves back into the left lane and slows to what seems 5 or 10 MPH. The tables are now turned. The driver of the Ford has made the transition from “lazily driving along” mode to “Death Race 2000” mode. He steps on the gas and pulls to within about 6 inches of the Escalade’s bumper. He leans on his horn, a steady “honk” without any pauses. After the driver of the Escalade, admitting defeat, switches into the right lane to let his beaten adversary pass — the Virgin Cadillac Escalade and the Chad Ford Explorer — the driver of the Ford, still leaning on his horn, follows into the right lane him and continues to tailgate.

At this point, I’m starting to get worried. I’m a vulnerable 178.5 pounds of flesh against 6 tons of Detroit metal coming my way. They never make it that far. The driver of the Ford guns his engine and hits the Escalade in the rear bumper, pushing them both up against the curb before they finally come to a stop on the shoulder. Fortunately for the driver of the Escalade he spins clockwise and takes his adversary’s blow in the passenger’s side door. There is no passenger, and, praise Jesus, nobody is hurt except the door of the Escalade, which has a big dent, and the front end of the Ford, which iss half caved in. I stop, desperately trying to swing my backpack around to get my camera before I realize I have forgotten it. The two men — of course men — get out of their respective vehicles and face off in front of each other on the sidewalk.

They are both wearing N95 surgical masks.

I’m Starting to Feel Nostalgic for the Bad Old Days of October of 2001

Right now Coronavirus is making me feel pretty much the way I did during the Anthrax attacks back in 2001, that same fear and paranoia, the idea that death could come out of nowhere. I don’t think anybody quite expressed it quite as well as David Rees did in his comic Get Your War On. So I went back to his old website. His crude, clip art comics are as good now as they were back then. They’ve lost nothing of their satirical bite.

So why am I nostalgic for the bad old days of 2001? Well, I suppose it’s because as terrified as I was during the anthrax attacks, the danger passed almost as quickly as it had arrived. Eventually of course we realized that the anthrax attacks were a false flag planned at Fort Dietrich in Maryland and designed to gin up support for the invasion of Iraq. None of us (who wasn’t a Democratic Senator or part of the liberal media) was really in much danger at all. 2020 is much worse. Coronavirus is 100 times more terrifying. It’s not only real, but it’s going to be around for awhile, if it in fact ever really goes away. So I’m looking back to the “good old days” of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks.

Just fuck me.

Magical Thinking


Roselle, NJ April 2020


Garwood, NJ April 2020

Even though the hardest hit town in New Jersey so far has been Lakewood in Ocean County, a very religious community, the locals here in Union County seem to be calling on God to save them (because we know Trump won’t).

Personally I think it’s arrogance to assume that God will save us all from the plague. How do we know the plague hasn’t been sent by God to punish us all for our sins?

In any event, I suppose it’s never a bad time to post the 91st Psalm.

My Refuge and My Fortress

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

What Really Terrifies Me

In his classic account of the Revolution of 1848 in France and the dictatorship of Napoleon III, Karl Marx pointed out that “history always happens twice, the first time as tragedy. The second time as farce.” He was right. The authoritarian regimes in Poland and Hungary, right wing populism in Italy, Boris Johnson in the UK. Narendra Modi in India, and of course Donald Trump in the United States, we are currently living through the farcical second act of fascism. What’s more, the crisis we’ve all been waiting for, that new 9/11 which would push our damaged neoliberal society over the edge, is finally here. The new reality is terrifying. We are going to be tested, and I’m afraid we’re going to fail badly.

I’m not afraid of Donald Trump. I’m not afraid of Boris Johnson or Marine Le Pen. Eastern European Nazis make me laugh. They remind me of John Cleese’s “Mr. Hilter” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I really couldn’t care less about the latest group of teenage skinheads in the Pacific Northwest, and while it’s certainly true that I’m not a member of any targeted group — I’m not a Muslim in Modi’s India or an undocumented immigrant in Donald Trump’s America — I doubt we’re going to see a rebirth of Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy. Yet I am also terrified. I am what kids on social media refer to as “black pilled.” I have little or no hope for the future. In the age of the Coronavirus, a lot of people are going to die. Even more are going to be driven into poverty. Our political and financial systems are going to collapse. At the end of the current crisis, the American ruling class is simply going to dispense with the facade of democracy, and we will be ruled openly by an oligarchy made up of people like Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and a lot of shadowy billionaires none of us have heard of. We will not rebel.

You would have liked my mother. She was a nice, middle-class American, tolerant, fairly open-minded, but not particularly bright. As much as it pains me to say it — “my mother was not particularly bright” — I feel I have to confront what really terrifies me about Americans. Unlike the British, French, Danes, or even Poles and Italians, we Americans have no sense of “civil society,” no limits, no sense that certain things are allowed, and certain things are not allowed. Whatever the rich use their media to tell us to believe we believe. I grew up with my mother telling me that “people shouldn’t talk about politics or religion.” I never heard her say “blacks are no good” or “Jews control the media” or “we have to keep the Mexicans out.” Her entire worldview could be summed up as “don’t talk about politics or religion. Don’t argue with the experts. Don’t question authority. The people in charge are smart, or they wouldn’t be in charge.” If my mother had any strong opinions about anything, they usually expressed themselves through trivialities and unquestioned assumptions. “Put your coat on before you go outside or you’ll get sick. The fact that you left the light on when I told you to turn it off proves you’ll never amount to anything. Make sure you turn the dryer off before your clothes are dry or you’ll ruin them. Palmolive dish washing liquid is fundamentally better than Ajax.”

I think most Americans are like my mother. Unlike the French, for example, who immediately rebelled when Emmanuel Macron tried to cut pensions, we Americans get angry about trivialities. Yesterday, Richard Burr, a United States Senator from North Carolina, and Kelly Loeffler, a United States Senator from Georgia, were revealed to have sold millions of dollars worth of stock after a closed door briefing about Coronavirus back in February. Not only did they commit fraud, they committed fraud in a way that put millions of Americans at risk of dying from a deadly disease. In France in 1793 the Committee of Public Safety would have marched them off to the guillotine, if only to save them from the far more painful death of having an angry mob storm their houses, tear them limb from limb and put their heads on pikes. Yet my guess is that as long as both Burr and Loeffler are useful to the American ruling class they will not only avoid jail time. They will finish out their terms in the Senate. On the other hand, just yesterday, in a ShopRite in an affluent New Jersey suburb, I witnessed two nice, upper-middle-class white ladies almost get into a fist fight over the last case of toilet paper. My guess is that if Donald Trump announced tomorrow that the federal government was abolishing Social Security in order to use the money to bail out Wall Street, most Americans would say “well I guess the people in charge know what they’re doing.” But if a rumor surfaced that Trump was hording a secret stash of Charmin in the White House basement, a Jacobin mob would materialize on Pennsylvania Avenue just like it was August 10, 1792 in front of the Tuileries, and woe be it to any Swiss Guards or Secret Service that get in their way.

We Americans are the most powerful, privileged, and dangerous people in history. We currently maintain sanctions against countries like Iran and Venezuela that prevent them from fighting the same Coronavirus pandemic that threatens us. Our military is twice as large as the armed forces of Russia and China combined, and then some. Our nuclear arsenal can destroy the world many times over. Yet we are not the Romans, or the British of the 1800s. We have no sense of solidarity as a nation, no sense of duty, no sense of destiny. We are not the same Americans who rebelled against the British or fought the Battle of Gettysburg, or even built the New Deal in the middle of the Great Depression. We are a tired, passive, spiritually empty people, a sick old man with unsteady hands holding a gun at the rest of the world. I do not exempt myself from this charge. My great great great grandfather came to the United States from Germany after participating in the Revolution of 1848, and enlisted in the United States cavalry in his 30s to fight slavery. I will do no such thing. I will not rebel. I will go along to get along. I will obey the policeman at the checkpoint when he tells me to go indoors. I will fight valiantly for the last roll of toilet paper at ShopRite. I will sit by passively as the world goes straight to hell. And that is what really terrifies me.

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.