Biden Better Defund the Capitol Police + Do a Mulvaney, Now Please

Boy, was I not thinking.  I turned on the mainstream television news yesterday.  It was hard not to.  The images.*

I don’t know the details yet (the Capitol police are taking their time), but listening to them explain, I have to wonder, “Where were you?”  Then, after 6 PM, how did they clear the Capitol so fast? It’s collusion, of course.  Selfies between the police and the Trump mob say it all. 

Defund the Capitol Police, Biden, for sure. If you can’t protect the Capitol, where you served most of your career, who are you?

By evening, when ABC and CBS were calling the pro-authoritarian, racist, misogynist white supremacists “anarchists” — anarchists,of all things — I went to sleep in defeat.  Being a PwD will sadly do that.

Still, I am a mother, and a teacher of graduate students. I’ve spent my entire career in the only public university that is truly public — CUNY.  This means we teach the very best.  As a result, I’ve had a running argumentative discourse with my sons and with more than one fantastic seminar I taught several times called Contemporary American Political Thought. “Contemporary” means alive.**  And this semester I’m teaching a hybrid version of it under a new name — Women of Color Impacting Politics.

I call it WIP for short, since women of color are included in the larger category of women, and it’s only women of color (which I like to think of as women and) or politicians who have at least two identities that put targets on their backs, like AOC and the rest of the Squad. 

WIP differs from my other seminar, Power, Resistance, Identities and Social Movements (PRISM)***. None of that came to pass after Occupy Wall Street, so I retooled it, though not until I first went out to the more radical campuses led by sociologists to hear what the 18-year-olds had to say about the political time we all occupy — and not before I finally got to team teach with DP David Waldstreicher, a scholar not only of history but of American Studies too boot.

What’s the difference between the two?  The latter seminar looks at social movements, whereas the former spends more time on the only political thought exported to Europe, as well as other nations that are active, such as Greece and a few more. More importantly, though, it shows the way for all those with energy to run for office — the flag wavers.  

There are a tiny few in American politics, such as AOC, who, along with the aspirational Green New Deal and the Squad, are not leading the way, they are flagging it.  Their teeny-tiny foothold in federal government has its consequences.  They constitute the hopeful 1 percenters in this country.  Sure, they can’t pass legislation, let alone a policy like the Green New Deal. That’s not why they’re there. They’re doing flag duty.

As that 1 percent in the House of Representatives, they are flagging the way to the fortress of American political representation — Congress.  Not the Senate, but the House of Representatives, through which — if the corporate capitalist Democrats and Republicans had not been Tweedledee and Tweedledum for so many decades, with the highlight expressed in the 1924 GOP and Democratic platforms that included the KKK, delaying the New Deal for sure, but only by four years — we would have had a different country, a different New Deal.

Now is the moment of truth.  The mob descended. And they took selfies with the Capitol police. What more indictment do we need than that? Biden, better defund the Capitol Police.

You can’t blame Trump for lighting the match, or can you? Well, if you do, quit.  And quit today. Don’t delay.  Stop being complicit in the GOP executive-branch machine.

Trump did not do this alone. I can’t hear that explanation one more time without demanding that all conservatives go back to class — civics, that is.  It’s absurd when the executive branch has more than 4,000 partisan positions alone that have to be vetted and go before the Senate.  Come on. That logic defies credibility in a country of almost 400 million.  We have institutions, national ones at that, that deserve better protection from the police.

*Cleveland Lovett, one of my very best undergraduates that Bard College enticed away from the CUNY Bac program, is playing outside Hannah Arendt’s house.  He understands not only Arendt’s The Human Condition but the triangulation of discrimination, public health, and jazz (or music in general) in New York.  Plus the flood of memories from running errands from hall to hall in the Capitol for two summers and as many months from my junior year until I went off to college.  (Then of course I selected a college with “men” in the title as a youthful rebellion against my mom, who insisted that I come back to California — and could apply and go anywhere except her alma mater, Berkeley, or the university that harmed one of her most beloved cousins, Stanford.). If I was going into politics, where better than into the belly of the beast?  She raised me as a fierce feminist, more by her doings than by her sayings, to be sure.    

**This led to my second solo book series, called Heretical Thought.  Here the bottom line is if you don’t have a fatwa or aren’t in danger of being burned at the stake — or, like me, don’t like to open hate mail or have groups like the Weasel Zippers after you, going so far as to send people to the 92nd Street Y when my Obama book came out — then your ideas are not seismic enough. Gerry Martini was one of the most insightful members of this seminar, as I recall.#

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These posts reflect my original interest in American politics, history and political theory broadly cast. I’m interested in exploring the nexus between American Political Development (APD) and American Political Thought (APT) as well as American Studies and Africana Studies or all regional “studies,” including working with Gajo Petrovic a leader in Praxis published in the former Yugoslavia.

This was the reason I stayed in politics for my Ph.D. rather than leaving for law school, history, sociology or business school as faculty kept trying to convince me to do in undergraduate and graduate school after spending a gap year reading Heidegger’s Being and Time with University of Zagreb philosophy professor Gajo Petrovic, who spent time at IAS and working with the author of the former Yugoslavian Constitution, the one that stuck — written in the 1970s.  The latter scholar attended the Sorbonne in the 1930s and ended his career as the Dean of the best law school in Belgrade.  In the 1980s the Fulbright funded his scholarship on Jefferson at Claremont Graduate School.  I worked with him for my B.A. thesis on Marx, existentialism, phenomenology and Yugoslavian self-management supervised by Claremont Men’s College’s public law professor Winston Fisk.

Chuck (Grassley) called my mom……

Representative (now Senator) Chuck Grassley called my mother when I was 18 years old.  Why?  I had just graduated from the Capitol Page School, with the nation’s highest-paid teachers in terms of money per student, with a 99.999999% graduation rate not just from high school but from some of the best universities in our nation.  I ratted the school out for the inferior instruction it offered.*  Congressman Grassley said my mother should be proud of me for being a whistleblower — and I guess he knew what I had weathered.  I don’t know. A good friend of mine says he is evil.  She is a litigator and understands how Grassley is gaslighting Professor Christine Blasey Ford.  I agree — what could I say other than “he called my mother”?  But to be honest, when he called my mother, she was not impressed, as I remember.  Only impressed enough to relay the quick call.  I didn’t think a thing about it until I spoke with my litigator friend (why would I?) — he became a Senator, and while he supports whistleblowers, they are largely the ones who whistle the Republican tune.  Look what he’s doing to Ford now! When it came time for college, most of my relatives faced a choice — the farm (Stanford) versus the city (Berkeley).  For me, the choice was not the farm versus the city.  My mom wanted me to go to a small women’s liberal-arts school, preferably the one she had attended, not one of those Seven Sisters schools.  Not only the Sister schools were excluded; my mom was also down on the Ivies, even though my ancestor helped start one — a proFESSor of religion, no less, helped found Brown University by proFESSing religion at the Hopewell Academy, which later moved to Rhode Island (Anabaptist country). No one was going to the East Coast Establishment. Meanwhile, Stanford — where they ruined women, I was told — and anything east of Los Angeles were out.  So I came home, back West to California, as was appropriate.  My mother managed to get me/allow me (she had no control, since I was writing my own applications far from home) to go to an all-male college that was turning co-ed.  Now that was no fun -— or was it fun?  Actually, I enjoyed it.  It had been Claremont Men’s College, and after coeducation they found a donor whose name began with M, and it became Claremont McKenna College, preserving the CMC acronym. But first they had to deal with the GCO Club — Get Cunts Out — of diehard misogynists.  Seems kinda like the club that Brett Kavanagh would join — or was that only in high school? Why won’t he allow the FBI to do a full investigation, anyhow?  Why does he want to enter the Supreme Court with a rapist cloud over his head?  After all, Clarence Thomas didn’t even speak in court for over a decade, knowing how little credibility he had/has.  Who made the last phone call to Anita — his wife, no less?  Wasn’t that bizarre?  My only guess would be she got hammered one night and is still mad about how Clarence cheated on her — or didn’t tell her the full story that she knows/suspects, and that’s about his predilection for pornography. —————– * I ratted them out despite being threatened in front of the whole school for maligning a 150-year-old institution, since I was the rat “going” over there — the Doorkeeper’s Door — and complaining that we weren’t getting enough education.  All the House of Representatives pages followed the few Senate pages’ problem — that pages could no longer go to school from 6:00 to 9:00, but instead from 6:00 to 6:30 or 7:00, including the breakfast break.  Then they reduced our classes to five, but we still only got as far as roll call before leaving.  I was in school, yet I was learning absolutely nothing, and the principal’s and vice principal’s defense was — anyway, full circle.  I ratted them out.  I was not the first or the last, and it was under Speaker of the House John Boehner that they got rid of House pages in 2011.

A Higher Education Way to Stop Keeping the Damned Women Out* of TECH Too?

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So long Silicon Valley.  So long sexual harassers and non-diverse SLAMs — who live or work in the 50-mile radius Time Well Spent blogger Tristan Harris is talking about — in San Francisco.  Tristan is now a social-media design ethicist who is outing how social media unaccountably design our local/global lives.  And so long auto traffic.  This is the new Silicon Alley — Cornell Tech.

Now, having grown up in California, I appreciate the lack of traffic, and the benefits of serving four boroughs in this new innovative institution that serves all of us in New York City.  But what I noticed only recently that is truly remarkable and worthy of note is Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York, or WiTNY.

It’s a program or blog that the New York Public Library (NYPL) — the one with the lions — produced over a year ago.  I, myself, missed the announcement and am only now catching up how the largest public university in one city — CUNY1st — is now collaborating with Cornell Tech, which itself is part of Israel’s Technion in Haifa on an initiative that gives women a chance to lead in the traditionally male macho field of technology.  I would hope Lean-In Sheryl Sandberg will pay us a visit too, as the venerable public and private higher-education institutions serve one of our most neglected pool of leaders — women.

More on women and leadership (e.g. American workplace politics) later.  For now, follow the links.#

assembly by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

First book in Heretical Thought book series Edited by Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, CUNY  Heretical Thought

To buy ADVANCE copy click here

Thought is heretical when it threatens our idea of universality, or our notion of the self or selves. Such threats can occur in the face of advances in science, human science, governance, or media.  Regardless of purpose or intent, heretical ideas shape and determine our bodies and our consciousness and/or the ways we communicate about them.  They also embody seismic or significant breaks in sclerotic contemporary political thought.

This series is shaped by the notion that contemporary political thought that advances significant or seismic ideas, independent of purpose or intent, and also threatens our ideas of universality, is heretical. Books in the series expose contemporary ruptures in thought, or a break in a school of thought.  In doing so they will make visible, or apparent, threats that are observable, empirical, biological, chemical, or physical in the universe — suggesting not only how such threats can compel new ways of thinking, but also how they can lead to productive political action.

Series editor, Ruth O’Brien, The Graduate Center, City University of New York