Author: Michael Hirsch

MICHAEL HIRSCH is a New York-based labor and political writer and a New Politics editorial board member.

A Solid Trump Exposé That Gives Hillary a Pass

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John K. Wilson. Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire. New York: OR Books, 2016. 256 pp. 

November 8 is show time.  What will the time tell? The egregious Hillary Rodham Clinton will likely be elected president over the menacing tin pot Donald Trump. Clinton may be the shoddy Brand X, but corporate capital will sleep soundly in its bed with a Clinton presidency and even a Democratic Senate.  Working families will be screwed again, but with more finesse than under a solipsistic Trump diktat. Sure, Hillary’s evasions and saccharine pronouncements pale in comparison to Trump’s Orwellianisms, his fabrications and the unsubtle subtext of his real stance, to “Make America White again.” No wonder Hillary will win.  And by default. 

Isn’t political life at the top grand?

With Friends Like These…

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Doug Henwood, My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency. O/R Books, 2016. 200 pages. Paperback, $15.

In introducing his 1959 novel Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs wrote that its title “means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

True Confession: I’ve Lost that Bernie Feeling

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I’m not feeling the Bern anymore. The Bern has gone away. The Bern has turned to heartburn, if not yet reflux.

Film Review: The Price We Pay

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The figure of a gryphon, the legendary feral, clawed, winged creature that nests above the one-square mile City of London, Britain’s financial industry (akin to Wall Street, but with its own legal authority, too) is an apt symbol for an untrammeled center of global capital. A creature of prey, it is redolent as the guardian of ill-gotten, even murderous gain. What else is the financial center of the United Kingdom, which introduced the tax-free zone that modeled capital flight around the world?  The City predates the Cayman Islands or Switzerland as tranches for tax avoidance and is a main locus for starving the welfare state.

Bigotry 101: Why Haters Gonna Hate

ImageA review of The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists, by Stephen Eric Bronner, Yale University Press, 2014.

Bernie Sanders is a thoroughbred—why call him a stalking horse?

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Voltaire wrote that “the best is the enemy of the good," but he cited it as a foible and not a redeeming practice.  Within hours of Bernie Sanders announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nod on April 30th, in some warrens of the radical left, the long corrective knives were already out for the only socialist in Congress. Why? Because Bernie is just not good enough, they said. Criticism ranged from his being a faux socialist, a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton whose backing by the left would be a practical waste of a year that could be better spent building a movement. Politicking for a candidate who can’t win the nomination and who would be destroyed by corporate America and an avalanche of corporate funding if somehow he did was seen as a mug's game.  

They would be wrong.

Court-Sanctioned Corruption and Plutocracy in America

ImageReview of: Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, by Zephyr Teachout. Harvard University Press, 2014

Treyf Pesach

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Hilton Obinzenger is a poet and a long-time informed critic of Zionism and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. His new poem, Treyf Pesach (Dirty Passover), is a blunt speaking and not unhumorous effort to ask fellow Jews how they can celebrate the slave insurrrection in Egypt millennia ago and yet be struck dumb by the Israeli government's dissembling and bloody practices  toward "the stranger in our midst" today. You can read Obinzenger's smart, snappy work here, and visit his website here.

Model or Sui Generis? Comrade Kshama Sawant is Likely Both

ImageI’m still frozen in the moment. Has it really been 15 months since revolutionary socialist Kshama Sawant brought her unique brand of municipal socialism back to a major American city after winning an at-large seat in Seattle’s nonpartisan City Council race?

After the Fall: An Autopsy of the Midterms

Surveying the wreckage of his party’s 2014 election campaign, Howard Dean, on the November 9th Meet the Press, was candid, with such sound bytes as, ““Where the hell is the Democratic party …You got to stand for something if you want to win.” The Republicans’ message was, “We’re not Obama.” What was the Democrats’ message? “Oh well, we really aren’t either.”

Translation: “Get my message; we need a message.”

Sanders for President?

Image[This article is a reply to David Goodner's "Why Bernie Sanders Needs to Run for President—As an Independent."]

Dear David,

You want the excellent Bernie Sanders to run as an independent in the 2016 presidential. So do I!

Public Employees in New York

ImageReview of: Richard Steier, Enough Blame to Go Around: The Labor Pains of New York City’s Public Employees. Albany, New York: Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2014. 304 pp. US$24.95  (paperback).

Two things I know to be true about Richard Steier. He is the best full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat. He is also the only full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat.

How Labor Can Save Itself

ImageReview of The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement,
By Stanley Aronowitz, Verso, 2014.

Authors dynamite neoliberalism's ed reform narrative

Review of

This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class and Education
By José Luis Vilson
Haymarket Books, 2014

Badass Teachers Unite: Reflections on Education, History and Youth Activism
By Mark Naison
Haymarket Books, 2014

The Koch Bros: Libertarians for Daddy

Review of Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty
By Daniel Schulman
Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group, 2014

review

Sleeping Through the Pirate Raid

The mainstream media was never true to its pretension of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable—which was Gilded Age humorist Finley Peter Dunne’s point—but there were exceptions, and exceptional practices. “Accountability reporting,” or investigative reporting, is one of them.

Spot-On After All These Years: Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

We don’t think of philanthropists as ragged: louche, maybe even a tad shabby, as with
trust-fund hipsters or Palo Alto billionaires, but never ragged. In writing his early-twentieth-century British classic, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell (the pen name of Robert Noonan) wanted to drive home his point. The biggest benefactors of the rich are workers. His is a portrait of hard-pressed working people and their counterintuitive respect and political and economic support for their rulers.

Jogging our Memory

Review of  Savage Portrayals: Race, Media and the Central Park Jogger Story
By Natalie Byfield
Temple University Press, 2014

Adolph Reed's premature burial of the U.S. Left

Back in the day, (a cliché, I know) Adolph Reed wrote a waspish piece in the Village Voice, “Liberals, I Do Despise,” which made something of a splash and was hard to refute — this when the Voice was widely read, not a freebie and well-worth paying for — as he attacked a coterie of Clintonistas for “a politics motivated by the desire for proximity to the ruling class and a belief in the basic legitimacy of its power and prerogative.” He called it “a politics which,

Sanitation Workers: You Gotta Love Them

Review of Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City By Robin Nagle (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013).

Rationally, we know garbage isn’t picked up by the faeries, but to much of the public, it might as well be. We “take out” the garbage, but who removes it?

Book Review

Chicago's Boss against the 99%

Kari Lyderson, Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99%, Haymarket Books, 2013

     New Yorkers rejoicing in Michael Bloomberg’s departure from office can be grateful for another small favor: they don’t live in Chicago, where residents are stuck for at least two more years with an austerity-mad, street-brawling mayor who wields near absolute power over a City Council far more supine than the one we have here.

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