2020 and 1967: George Floyd and John William Smith

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) on Thursday activated the state’s National Guard to respond to the upheaval over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in police custody, as federal and local officials said they continue to investigate, according to the Washington Post.

The crisis bears more than a passing resemblance to Governor Richard Hughes’ deployment of the National Guard to Newark in 1967, in the aftermath of stuggles following the police beating of cab driver John William Smith.

Poet-Mayor Baraka Sings the Body Electric in COVID-19 Briefing

New Jersey native Jerry Lewis had a son who formed a band called Gary and the Playboys, which really wasn’t much, and lent credence to the idea that the sons of entertainers should stay out of the business of their elder masters.

That evidently didn’t happen with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, son of the late poet Amiri Baraka, whose best stuff (not the post-911 period) is damned good.

The son’s stuff is pretty damned good too.

Mayor Baraka’s got a new bunch of poems coming out backed by jazz.

In the meantime, at the end of his COVID-19 press briefing today, the mayor recited some of his verses from a lyric he wrote for a song called “Keep the Faith.”

Here’s a sampling:

“Making the dark stone the cornerstone…painted the color of the ocean floor… we held prophets in her bosom… strangled each other on social media… making them believe the back door they’re building for thmselves is only for themselves…

“We made it here by faith…

“We made something from nothing and turned the bottom into the foundation so when we moved the whole place shook.

“We made it here by faith, yeah, we made it here by faith.

“Our ancestors’ hands held up the sky so we could stand tall, dance across time and be beautiful deliberately…”


Perusing the Titles in Baraka’s Bookcase while He Talks in the Foreground

It’s probably a safe bet that Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is the only politician in New Jersey who films himself in front of a bookcase that contains a prominently displayed copy of a Fidel Castro biography.

Most would likely choose Abraham Lincoln (Jack Ciattarelli’s favorite president), although New Jersey didn’t like Lincoln when he led the country, and even recruited his nemesis George McClellan to run for governor.

If you’re Jay Webber, you don’t make a public address unless you have a portrait of Ronald Reagan in the background, and if you’re Phil Murphy, you make sure to dust off Arthur Schlesinger’s bio on Bobby Kennedy to feature in the background.

But Baraka doesn’t mind fronting the Fidel association.

24-plus Hours of Hedges: A Psychological Chronicle

10:46 a.m.: Wednesday, March 27th: Hedges announces. He’s in. CD-12. Green Party.

11:46 a.m.: It still hasn’t processed. Again, it’s New Jersey. Politics is static here. There is no reason to overract to the same four fat bald guys fighting for the same three seats.

12:46 p.m.: Same. Snow on the TV screen.

1:46 p.m.: Wait a minute. Chris Hedges. You mean the author?? The guy who wrote War is a Force that Gives us Meaning?

2:46 p.m.: No. Couldn’t be the same guy. Not “Hedges”, you’re thinking of Henry Hill, the guy who wrote Goodfellas. And no, he’s not running for Congress. He’s dead.

3:47 p.m.: Hedges does live in Princeton, though, which is in the 12th District.

4:47 p.m.: Not the same guy. And anyway, war no longer gives us meaning the way it did even as recently as 18 years ago. We thought we hated those guys – our grandfathers and uncles and dads who wore the uniform – then we got Donald Trump, who wimped out of Vietnam, and realized maybe they all weren’t so bad after all. Nothing to see here.

5:47 p.m.: Hedges actually wrote deep stuff, dude. A real author. That book is legendary, man.

6:15 p.m.: No one reads anymore. His profession irrelevant, even a hindrance. How would he communicate?

6:47 p.m.: It is Hedges. It’s actually him, and he’s actually running.

6:48 p.m.: This is BIG news, man. We’ve never had an intellectual run for Congress in this state. We’ve had relgious people and would-be philosphers and dime store economists. But no intellectual heavyweights. Is this really New Jersey?

6:49 p.m.: I can’t believe this. CHRIS HEDGES IS RUNNING FOR CONGRESS. IN NEW JERSEY!!!

6:50 p.m.: This is going to be the best election cycle ever. We’re actually going to be able to talk about issues and not write about people’s tweets.

6:51 p.m.: Does Hedges even tweet??

7:00 p.m.: This is…the…best…day…ever….

4:23 p.m., Thursday, May 28th. Hedges aborts his “quixotic” congressional campaign.

4:23 p.m.: Thanks for the memories, Chris. “You really are a funny guy.”

chris hedges

Former Candidate Makes a Literary Reference in a What Might Have Been Moment


You don’t hear that kind of language in the two party duopoly that primarily prioritizes machine structuring to stifle language sooner than enlarge its impact.

But author Chris Hedges chose precisely that Cervantes-inspired adjective to describe the effort he pulled the plug on moments ago, a day after he sent the hearts of quasi intellectuals aflutter with the notion of a heavyweight suddenly on New Jersey’s political landscape.

It’s over.

But even if it was just a day in duration, it was fun to think of someone who doesn’t tweet for a living running for office.


Hedges’ Congressional Campaign Meaningless

War is still a Force that Gives us Meaning, but Chris Hedges won’t run for Congress after all, his day old campaign already consigned to sound and fury.

This just in:

Regretfully, Chris Hedges was informed shortly after he made public his decision to run as the Green Party candidate for Congress in the 12th District of New Jersey that under FCC rules he is not permitted to run for federal office. Hedges hosts the Emmy-nominated television show On Contact broadcast nationally on RT America.
“As much as I would like to bring the platform of the Green Party into this Congressional race it makes no sense to give up a media platform with a large following for a Quixotic campaign against the Democratic Party machine,” Hedges said. “I will, therefore, not run for the Greens as a Congressional candidate. I will, as in past elections, do all I can to highlight the progressive programs of the Greens and call out the corporate Democrats for their abject subservience to corporate power, the war machine and the ruling oligarchs.”

Putting Camden County First (in Essex!): The Sequel

Essex County Freeholders today voted to extend the insurance contract for Conner Strong and Buckelew, the firm of South Jersey Power Broker George Norcross III, but did not approve a new three-year contract for the boss.

The vote for an etension was 8-1, with Freeholder President Brendan Gill voting “no.”

“I think to give them time to shop,” said a politics watcher.

The South Jersey-based power broker who got behind Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo at the outset of his 18-year career as executive, Norcross – and ward Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) – late last year failed to prevent Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones from cutting a deal with Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie sooner than prioritize Norcross’ Southern Strategy.

Five Legendary War Correspondents with New Jersey Ties

Stephen Crane (1871-1900). The Newark native (pictured) covered the Spanish American War, including the actions of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

Richard Tregaskis (1916-1973). The Elizabeth native chronicled the U.S. Marine Corps invasion in his celebrated Guadalcanal Diary.

William Warren Wade (1918-2006). Born in Manhattan, the future war corrspondent who flew in bombing runs over Europe cut his teeth as a cub reporter in Bergen County.

Chris Hedges (1956-). Now a Green Party candidate for Congress in CD-12, the Princeton-based former New York Times reporter covered wars in the Middle East.

Daniel Pearl (1963-2002). The Princeton native worked the Southeast Asia Bureau for the Wall Street Journal. He was kidnapped in Pakistan and murdered.

chris hedges

Nearly 20 Years After ‘War is a Force,’ the Political Questions that Haunt Us

“Aristotle said that only two living entities are capable of complete solitude and complete separateness: God and beast. Because of this the most acute form of suffering for human beings is loneliness.”
― Chris HedgesWar Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

Now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we face fundamental political questions.

Has our enforced solitude reasserted the loneliness our species dreads, which makes war more likely as  a reset on the other side (if there is one) of the pandemic?

Has the decadence of the last two decades made those civilian and epicurean appetites of our gilded age a more centralizing force than it was in Hedges’ heyday?

Or is there a middle way?

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