Thursday, May 16, 2019

"This Is Not Michael Harrington's DSA Anymore"

"Millennial recruits influenced by Jacobin's version of the socialist program—a suite of ambitious and uncompromising proposals that would anticipate many of the redistributive policies of the Sanders movement—began trickling into the orbit of DSA's leadership circle. The magazine helped stoke interest in socialism among a cohort who'd come of age during the Great Recession. These new supporters—call them the Jacobinites—knew from bitter experience that the neoliberal case for a trickle-down recovery was something close to farcical: Coming of age amid the savage 2008 recession made them highly suspicious of the promise of capitalist opportunity as they faced down a long-term descent into crippling debt, punctuated by a series of too many crappy jobs in the gig economy."

Doug Henwood at The New Republic discusses the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Wrote for the World

Alan Wolfe at The New Republic and David A. Bell at Dissent remember Nathan Glazer and Daniel Bell, respectively.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

"Unquestionably the Most Clearly Incorrect Decision That the Supreme Court Announced During My Tenure on the Bench"

"And even if there were some merit to the legal arguments advanced in the Heller case, all could foresee the negative consequences of the decision, which should have provided my colleagues with the justification needed to apply stare decisis to Miller. At a minimum, it should have given them greater pause before announcing such a radical change in the law that would greatly tie the hands of state and national lawmakers endeavoring to find solutions to the gun problem in America. Their twin failure—first, the misreading of the intended meaning of the Second Amendment, and second, the failure to respect settled precedent—represents the worst self-inflicted wound in the Court's history.
"It also represents my greatest disappointment as a member of the Court."

The Atlantic runs an excerpt from John Paul Stevens's The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years.

"New Poll Finds Millennials Far More Likely To Politically Identify As Feudalists Than Previous Generations"

"Mayberry also noted that the trend extended to Gen Z, which has advocated for doing away with political systems entirely and returning to a state of nature."

From The Onion.

Friday, May 10, 2019

"History Means Interpretation"

"My grandfather, John Carr, describes how his father 'would choose to sit in the main sitting-room, with us around, following our own pursuits, while he wrote his profound thoughts on pieces of paper accumulated around his chair'. It is this memory of the chaos of deep thought, the scraps of paper fluttering about his feet, that I would like to cherish, and in my mind, perhaps sit and watch as he conjures his next book. In reality, I am fortunate enough to observe the work he created take its place on the grand stage of history, and share with my grandfather the hope that it will 'stimulate further study and understanding of the future way forward in the world'."

Helen Carr at New Statesman discusses her great-grandfather, E.H. Carr.

"Khrushchev's Thaw"

"Like Khrushchev, who was at once fascinated by America and suspicious of it, Soviet audiences met Western art with a complex array of emotions, attachments, and fears, a potent brew that still characterizes much of Russia’s sentiments (and resentments) toward the West today. As Gilburd reminds us, the Thaw Era impulse to measure progress by one's engagement (or lack thereof) with the West came from a longstanding tradition in Russia, going back to the era of Peter the Great, the country's great Westernizer who forged a European capital in his name, Saint Petersburg (his 'window to the west'). 'Both in Imperial and Soviet societies,' Gilburd writes, 'the West had been alternatively a tool for self-examination, an exemplar, or a bogeyman.'"

Jennifer Wilson at The New Republic reviews Eleonory Gilburd's To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

"New Education Program Inspires Economically Advantaged Youth To Express Themselves Through Funding The Arts"

"Fielding claims that Fund The Passion has already demonstrated its worth, as private schools implementing the program have seen their graduation rates spike from an average of 95% up to 97%."

From The Onion.

"They Will Have to Accept to Live Differently Themselves"

"While by no means a panacea, increasing the density of America's cities is a prerequisite for any remotely left-leaning vision of the future. And right now, neighborhoods zoned to accommodate only single-family homes are standing in the way of the society everyone in liberal America claims to want."

Benjamin Schneider at The Nation calls restrictive residential zoning "Liberal America's Single-Family Hypocrisy."

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

"Untouched–and, Thankfully, Well-Preserved–for Nearly 50 Years"

"'While these recordings capture a significant moment in history, they are just as relevant and powerful now as when they were originally recorded,' Newman said. 'We are grateful to Drexel and MAD Dragon for their partnership in helping these recordings see the light of day in Joe Jefferson's lifetime and honored that he entrusted us with preserving the legacy of the project.'"

Daniel Kreps at Rolling Stone tells the story of the Nat Turner Rebellion.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

"The Region Has for Decades Been an Incubator"

"Beirich puts the rise of the far right in the region down to two major factors. The strength and vibrancy of immigrant culture has often drawn a racist reaction from white people on the far right, she said. That is reflected today in the anti-immigrant groups that still operate in the region–such as the Californians for Population Stabilization group in Santa Barbara and anti-Muslim groups such as Jihad Watch in Sherman Oaks and the David Horowitz Freedom Foundation in Los Angeles.
"Beirich also attributes a significant role to organizing by the John Birch Society (JBS) in the 60s, 70s and 80s. The conspiracy-minded anticommunist group was, for many, 'a gateway drug into other forms of extremism', she noted."

Jason Wilson at The Guardian discusses "the far right's deep roots in southern California."

Friday, May 03, 2019

"The 'Last Rock and Roll Record'"

"Now we can begin to understand why London Calling is such a fiercely political record. It's not because Joe Strummer wanted to re-fight the Spanish Civil War. It's because a generation of affluence had split the English working classes along just the lines laid down by Lennon and McCartney. Affable, pliable, ingratiating working boys had been invited in huge numbers to join the white-collar middle class, which had exploded throughout the postwar years. Moody, fatalistic, reticent working-class boys were increasingly being left behind. By the late '70s, the situation had become dire. Between 1972 and 1982, the working class of England 'polarized,' according to the most comprehensive study of the issue, Goldthorpe's Social Mobility and Class Structure in Modern Britain. One cohort still headed up into the service class; but another cohort headed downward into chronic unemployment. The postwar expansion had been accompanied by an idea of relative social mobility—that expanded educational opportunity meant talent would be identified and rewarded, regardless of one's social position. The reality was, however, that England was still, in relative terms, class stagnant. And when its economy stopped expanding at the generous postwar pace, the meritocratic ideal came under enormous pressure. Jobs in the professional elite were now increasingly being filled by the children of the professional elite, a pattern that continued into the '80s and, some data suggests, intensified in the '90s. Put more bluntly, education was no longer a fig leaf; it was a weapon by which service professionals could protect and defend the class status of their own children. Here, in other words, the Lennons and the McCartneys parted ways for good."

In a 2005 Slate article, Stephen Metcalf discusses the Clash.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

What the World Was Waiting For

"Madchester made a rousing backdrop for those of us growing up in the north-west. That its heroes were not perfectly coiffed popstars or smouldering American rockers, but looked like every lad you had ever known, only enhanced the sense of proximity. I recall watching a report on the local news–vox pops with northern teenagers, an interview with the founder of Joe Bloggs jeans, a light-hearted exploration of the baggy scene–and feeling a new allegiance to my scruffy, overlooked part of Britain."

Laura Barton at The Guardian remembers the Stone Roses, thirty years after the release of their debut album.

"Trump Is Just the Symptom—the Republican Party Is the Disease"

"If Biden, Lockhart, other establishment Democrats, and some Republicans like Mitt Romney truly want to encourage the return of the party of Everett Dirksen, Nelson Rockefeller, and George Romney, they need to clearly and forcefully identify where the Republican Party went astray. The truth is, what hijacked the GOP wasn't Trump, it was the conservative movement. And it didn't happen in 2016; it happened in 1980. 'Saving' the GOP will mean repudiating not just Trumpism, but Reaganism."

John Long at The New Republic argues that "[t]his notion, that Trump is somehow an alien figure who has, Svengali-like, hypnotized the GOP, is a comforting fallacy."

"Thank God We Didn't Have Written Language Back When I Was A Teenager"

"By An Ancient Mesopotamian"

From The Onion.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 2019 Acquisitions

John Byrne, Superman & Batman: Generations, 2003.
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, 1953, 1982.
Jacques de Pierpont and Hervé Bourhis, The Little Book of Knowledge: Heavy Metal, 2017.
Christos Gage et al, The Incredibles 2: Crisis in Mid-Life! & Other Stories, 2019.
Glen Weldon, The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, 2016.

Pinocchio, 1940.

Abba, More Abba Gold, 1993.
Brady Bunch, It's a Sunshine Day: The Best of the Brady Bunch, 1993.
Clientele, Suburban Light, 2000.
Cream, The Very Best of Cream, 1995.
Grass Roots, All Time Greatest Hits, 1996.
Anderson .Paak, Ventura, 2019.
Minnie Riperton, Her Chess Years, 1997.
Ultravox!, The Island Years, 2000. 
Walker Brothers, Nite Flights, 1978.
"Weird Al" Yankovic, Mandatory Fun, 2014.
Various, The Best of Hanna Barbera: Tunes from the Toons, 1998.
Various, Legends of Country: Classic Hits from the '50, '60 & '70s, 2006.
Various, Son of Frat Rock!, 1991.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

"The Grand Modern Ambitions"

"Of course, the very quality that made neon fixtures a poor choice for interior lighting made them perfect for signs, de Miranda notes. The first of the neon signs was switched on in 1912, advertising a barbershop on Paris's Boulevard Montmartre, and eventually they were adopted by cinemas and nightclubs. While Claude had a monopoly on neon lighting throughout the 1920s, the leaking of trade secrets and the expiration of a series of patents broke his hold on the rapidly expanding technology.
"In the following decades, neon's nonstop glow and vibrant colors turned ordinary buildings and surfaces into 24/7 billboards for businesses, large and small, that wanted to convey a sense of always being open."

Sarah Archer at The Atlantic calls neon "the Ultimate Symbol of the 20th Century."

"We Tend Not to Make a Fetish of Art–the Way He Did as a Young Man"

"To be clear, however, Ellis also regards Trump as an 'idiot' and 'grotesque'. He did not vote for him, and thus is bewildered–or, at any rate, irritated–to be repeatedly described as an apologist for him. 'Molly Jong-Fast, the daughter of Erica Jong, wrote this piece in the Daily Beast where she asked: How did he [Ellis] turn into this Maga cap-wearing ultra-conservative? These people have been raised to think their reactions to things are completely correct and that the other side is not only totally wrong but also therefore immoral, sexist, racist. All my book argues is: let's have a conversation. But of course it has already been totalled in America. My ability to trigger millennials is insane.'"

At The Guardian, Rachel Cooke talks with Bret Easton Ellis.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

"May Rest as Much with a Country's Politicians as They Do with 'Street-Level' Actors"

"'If you had a dad who was down the pit or in a steel mill, you were expected to follow him into that occupation, and if his pit or mill closed, that pulled the economic rug from under you,' Farrall said. 'So the process of deindustrialisation took away young people's hope and aspirations when they were young by making their parents unemployed and hitting their own job prospects. That could lead to them turning to drugs and crime.'"

Jamie Doward at The Guardian reports that "academics claim that their research shows how government policies during the 1980s played a part in kick-starting offending careers."

Friday, April 26, 2019

"Smith's Own Little Flea-Bitten Booby Trap"

"On February 8, 1964, as the House of Representatives debated passage of the bill, Howard Smith, an ardent segregationist from Virginia, rose to propose changes to four pages of Title VII, the section of the bill barring hiring and firing 'because of' race, creed, religion, or color. 'After the word religion, insert sex,' Smith drawled, urging his colleagues to rectify 'this grave injustice … particularly in an election year.'
"The result was two hours of pandemonium on the House floor."

Todd S. Purdum at The Atlantic depicts the odd history of the Civil Rights Act and sex discrimination.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

"Nationalise the Oil Companies"

"Take ExxonMobil, which plans to pump an astonishing 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than it did in 2017. As that well-known bastion of eco-socialism, the Economist, puts it: 'If the rest of the industry pursues even modest growth, the consequence for the climate could be disastrous,' adding that 'the market cannot solve climate change by itself'. According to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if we wish to prevent global temperatures rising by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels–beyond which climate disasters multiply–then oil and gas production has to fall by 20% by 2030, and 55% by 2050. However, the economic self-interest and political power of the fossil fuel industry is deliberately sabotaging this goal."

Owen Jones at The Guardian writes that as long as energy companies and banks "remain under private ownership on a global scale, humanity's future will be threatened."

"The Main Condition Holding Them Back"

"The standard measure is that your rent should be no more than 30% of your income, but for poor people it can be 70% or more. After he paid Sherrena his $550 rent out of his welfare cheque, Lamar had only $2.19 a day for the month. When he is forced to repay a welfare cheque he has been sent in error and falls behind on rent, he sells his food stamps for half their face value and volunteers to paint an upstairs apartment, but it is not enough. People such as Lamar live in chronic debt to their landlord, who can therefore oust them easily whenever it is convenient–if they demand repairs, for example, like Doreen, or if a better tenant comes along. Sherrena liked renting to the clients of a for-profit agency that handles–for a fee–the finances of people on disability payments who can't manage on their own. Money from government programmes intended to help the poor–welfare, disability benefits, the earned-income tax credit–go straight into the landlord’s pocket and, ironically, fuel rising housing costs. Public housing and housing vouchers are scarce. Three in four who qualify for housing assistance get nothing."

In a 2016 Guardian article, Katha Pollitt reviews Matthew Desmond's Evicted.