American Politics

Who Works for the Workers?

Who Works for the Workers?

The union movement’s problem isn’t that workers don’t want to fight; it’s that they don’t want to lose.

You can’t ever really be ready for the class war, but much of the job of working-class strategy is to stage and escalate conflict at the most advantageous moments. So-called legacy unions represent living traditions with institutional memories of what worked and what didn’t against an individual boss, in a given industry, or among workers of particular types. It’s an error to perceive union defeat as evidence of some strategic mistake. American workers can do everything right and still lose.

Kiddie Porn

Kiddie Porn

In the sexual counterrevolution, Ginsberg was the antiporn Gettysburg — the battle that turned the tide.

Once in a while, my parents allow some critically authorized highbrow “erotic” periodical like Eros or Evergreen to breach our doorway. But they draw the line at Playboy, in spite of its long, left-leaning pieces by and about important men like Vladimir Nabokov and James Baldwin. Mom and Dad aren’t prudes, they’re snobs. They consider comics, Mad magazine—even mysteries—degraded forms of literature. What would they think of Man to Man? I don’t have to ask.

Can I Be Honest?

Can I Be Honest?

One of the things the Clinton Democrats lorded over the Sanders supporters was their superior and more committed chauvinism.

There were photos of children, and videos of parents speaking to children, and videos of children watching Trump, and videos of children speaking to Hillary: so many children that it began to resemble a 34-year-old’s Facebook feed.

Why Are We in the Middle East?

Why Are We in the Middle East?

America’s devotion to the Middle East did not make much sense in 2003, Bacevich argues; but it did in 1980, and the reason was oil.

Unlike many journalists and historians who see the wars in the Middle East as a series of isolated conflicts that happen to have taken place in a single region over several decades, Andrew Bacevich, a career Army officer turned military historian and foreign policy critic, sees a sustained military campaign that began with Jimmy Carter and continues today. “From the end of World War II to 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in [the Greater Middle East],” Bacevich writes. “Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere except the Greater Middle East.”

The Turning of Backs

The Turning of Backs

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention

Suddenly Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, arrived at the tent, whether informed of or anticipating the walkout it was hard to say. She told the crowd that they weren’t walking out, they were walking in (to the Green Party!). This excited some delegates—who chanted “Jill, not Hill!”—and alienated many others, who did not appreciate her co-optation of this captive audience. Once it became clear that many of the delegates wanted to leave—either to return to the arena to see the Mothers of the Movement, or to join comrades in the adjoining Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a meeting ground for protesters—a golf cart drove up out of nowhere, Stein stepped in, and the candidate was whisked away.

Built in the Cloud

Built in the Cloud

The whole scene felt a little unhinged, exacerbated by the heat.

The booing and chanting was undirected, merely vocal resistance. But it could have been much more: the mere threat of disorder on the Convention floor had been enough to dislodge Schultz from her position; what other constructive work could it have done?

A Wedding From Hell

A Wedding From Hell

His promises? To end crime. To tell no lies. To provide fast relief, like a pack of Rolaids.

He emerged to the sound of swelling strings: two thumbs up. A closed-mouth smile, an open-mouthed smile, eyebrows wagging, voicelessly mouthing the words thank you—so much worse when not spoken aloud, somehow, less of a thank you than an I know.

Good TV

Good TV

“Can I binge watch it later?” I joked last fall, knowing the answer was no.

Election TV, like a dream, is the product of condensation and substitution, a stylistic mishmash that the RNC produces in miniature: it’s The O’Reilly Factor and Shark Tank and The Apprentice and a televangelist show and The Hills (with Ivanka as Whitney Port) rolled into one conservative revue.

Where the Boys Are

Where the Boys Are

When we look at Bernie Sanders, what do we see?

I Still Love Hillary Clinton. I Still Don’t Want to Vote for Her. My own profile in political emotion, all but impossible in the eyes of the Clinton campaign, is not a march toward reason but a deepening of continued convolution. It’s not just that, having enthusiastically cast my first ballot for Bill Clinton in my second-grade class mock election in 1992, I have a lifelong affinity bordering on Camelot-style adoration for both Clintons. It’s also that, having hit puberty at exactly the right time to learn everything I know about sex from news coverage of the Starr report, their collective role in my constitution as a sexual subject is second perhaps only to that other pair of baby boomers who gave birth to me. Hillary’s incredible pathos, her depths of ambition, the abuse she has borne, her inability to keep her feelings off her face—all the supposedly unlikeable personal qualities that Hillary-lovers love about Hillary, I love too. I challenge you to watch her Oscar lifetime achievement award-ish montage from the 2008 Democratic National Convention—the one where she talks about writing to NASA to find out how a girl can become a lady astronaut—and not cry. I could look at her all day, would love to crack open a campaign-trail Bud together (she is supposedly very funny in person), if I were in therapy right now I’m sure it would not take long to concur that I still want her to fuck me. Yet for all the reasons of policy and ideology that leftists who don’t want to vote for Hillary don’t want to vote for Hillary, I don’t want to vote for her either. I will grant that in its details, this profile may be idiosyncratic. But in its general contours, I don’t think what I am saying is unrepresentative so much as, within our current discourse, simply unrepresentable.

Who Works for the Workers?

Who Works for the Workers?

The union movement’s problem isn’t that workers don’t want to fight; it’s that they don’t want to lose.

You can’t ever really be ready for the class war, but much of the job of working-class strategy is to stage and escalate conflict at the most advantageous moments. So-called legacy unions represent living traditions with institutional memories of what worked and what didn’t against an individual boss, in a given industry, or among workers of particular types. It’s an error to perceive union defeat as evidence of some strategic mistake. American workers can do everything right and still lose.

Kiddie Porn

Kiddie Porn

In the sexual counterrevolution, Ginsberg was the antiporn Gettysburg — the battle that turned the tide.

Once in a while, my parents allow some critically authorized highbrow “erotic” periodical like Eros or Evergreen to breach our doorway. But they draw the line at Playboy, in spite of its long, left-leaning pieces by and about important men like Vladimir Nabokov and James Baldwin. Mom and Dad aren’t prudes, they’re snobs. They consider comics, Mad magazine—even mysteries—degraded forms of literature. What would they think of Man to Man? I don’t have to ask.

Can I Be Honest?

Can I Be Honest?

One of the things the Clinton Democrats lorded over the Sanders supporters was their superior and more committed chauvinism.

There were photos of children, and videos of parents speaking to children, and videos of children watching Trump, and videos of children speaking to Hillary: so many children that it began to resemble a 34-year-old’s Facebook feed.

Why Are We in the Middle East?

Why Are We in the Middle East?

America’s devotion to the Middle East did not make much sense in 2003, Bacevich argues; but it did in 1980, and the reason was oil.

Unlike many journalists and historians who see the wars in the Middle East as a series of isolated conflicts that happen to have taken place in a single region over several decades, Andrew Bacevich, a career Army officer turned military historian and foreign policy critic, sees a sustained military campaign that began with Jimmy Carter and continues today. “From the end of World War II to 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in [the Greater Middle East],” Bacevich writes. “Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere except the Greater Middle East.”

The Turning of Backs

The Turning of Backs

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention

Suddenly Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, arrived at the tent, whether informed of or anticipating the walkout it was hard to say. She told the crowd that they weren’t walking out, they were walking in (to the Green Party!). This excited some delegates—who chanted “Jill, not Hill!”—and alienated many others, who did not appreciate her co-optation of this captive audience. Once it became clear that many of the delegates wanted to leave—either to return to the arena to see the Mothers of the Movement, or to join comrades in the adjoining Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a meeting ground for protesters—a golf cart drove up out of nowhere, Stein stepped in, and the candidate was whisked away.

Built in the Cloud

Built in the Cloud

The whole scene felt a little unhinged, exacerbated by the heat.

The booing and chanting was undirected, merely vocal resistance. But it could have been much more: the mere threat of disorder on the Convention floor had been enough to dislodge Schultz from her position; what other constructive work could it have done?