Random Shots: These Trading Times

Against the Current, No. 86, May/June 2000

R.F. Kampfer

BETWEEN GORE’s SLAVISH loyalty to Clinton’s trade policies and John Sweeney’s slavish loyalty to Gore, the Democrats and the unions just handed a chunk of working class votes to Pat Buchanan.

The business community is in a state of schizophrenia about China. They alternate between dreams about how much the United States could sell over there and nightmares about how much China could sell here.

The establishment versions of “fair trade” and “free trade” are equivalent to prostitution and rape.

Thanks to the multinationals, the products of Third World sweatshops sell for the same price as that of union shops.

High and Low Culture

THE THEME OF the Harry Potter books — the orphaned prince raised by people who don’t understand or appreciate him — is one of the most common plots in literary history. From Theseus to Luke Skywalker, children have suffered from the Cinderella delusion that they were born to better things than taking out the garbage.

Patrick O’Brian prepared for his impending death by dictating a brief chapter describing how HMS Surprise struck an uncharted rock and sank with all hands.

The behavior described in the Pointer Sisters’ classic “Fire” (“I say I don’t want to, but you know I’m a liar . . .) is nowadays considered date-rape.

The worst thing about seeing how old Mary and Rhoda have gotten is the realization that we ourselves have been aging at exactly the same rate. (P.S. Do younger readers know who they are?–ed.)

Kampfer apologizes to his readers for being unable to come up with anything callous or cynical to say about Charles Schultz or Charlie Brown.

Long Memories

THOMAS JEFFERSON OPPOSED slavery, just not strongly enough that he was ready to pick his own cotton.

In the northern Ireland peace negotiations, the IRA have offered to turn in all their weapons except for the Thompsons, which have incalculable sentimental value.

The IWW were the shock troops of the labor movement: They made some major breakthroughs but weren’t equipped, theoretically or organizationally, to dig in and hold what they won.

“NYPD Blue” kills off a few stars every season, but Dennis Franz goes on forever. Male viewers like him because he makes them feel handsome, slim, stylish and sensitive by comparison.

Remember those old prison moviews, usually starring James Cagney or John Garfield? There would always be one token Black convict on Death Row, and he’d be the first one killed during the escape attempt.

A couple of students are walking across the campus and they see a big sign advertising a meeting to discuss THE YOUTH QUESTION.One of them says: “Hey Kevin, what’s the youth question?” Kevin says, “You want fries with that?” (Seventy years ago it was THE JEWISH QUESTION: “You want Horseradish on that brisket?”)

ATC 86, May-June 2000