Case Study: Libs v. Libs of TikTok

Taylor’ Lorenz published an article in The Washington Post this week in which she outed the owner of the infamous “Libs of TikTok” Twitter account.

However you feel about the content of Libs of TikTok – and we certainly find it objectionable – the biography of the person behind it would only be newsworthy if they were a particularly extreme character with a documented history of illicit or illegal behavior. For example, if the person had been successfully sued for defamation in the past, this would make her identity relevant to the story, because we would have reason to believe that perhaps she is fabricating some of the content on her account. If she had been indicted for inciting racial violence, this would out her as a particularly odious and perhaps even criminally malevolent actor.

As it turns out, the creator of Libs of TikTok is an unremarkable Brooklyn real estate agent with not much in her background that differentiates her from a mainstream conservative Republican. According to the article, she’s skeptical of the 2020 election results, she minimized the impact of Covid, and she feels the January 6 riot wasn’t as violent as many BLM protests. However you feel about those opinions, there’s no denying that they aren’t particularly beyond the pale in conservative circles.

Now, one can certainly argue that extreme views have been mainstreamed in the Republican Party, and so to identify this way makes one a sort of “de facto” extremist if you will. But this would mean that roughly 40% of the country can be categorized this way, which invites the question, if this particular character’s biography warrants this kind of high profile scrutiny, whose doesn’t?

Then consider Lorenz’ own history of shoddy journalism, from pressing minors for quotes in her stories without approval from their parents to falsely alleging that entrepeneur Marc Andreessen used a slur in a Clubhouse chat. Also remember that just weeks ago, Lorenz appeared in an NBC segment in which she cried on the air about the harmful effects of online harassment supposedly resulting from critiques of her work:

Given all of this, she’s an especially dubious source of moral authority and journalistic integrity to be authoring a story doxxing the owner of an anonymous Twitter account.

We read and react to her article in our latest podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to our podcast on any major podcast player.

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I’ll Vote for Bernie in 2024 – If He Runs as an Independent

by Keaton Weiss

Bernie Sanders turned some heads this week when one of his advisors disclosed that he is not ruling out a third run for the presidency in 2024. The announcement came with the caveat that he would only consider entering the race “in the event of an open 2024 Democratic presidential primary,” meaning that should Biden decide to seek re-election, Bernie wouldn’t challenge him for the nomination.

First, we should recognize the irony that nothing is likelier to force a Biden re-election bid than the threat of a Bernie candidacy in lieu of it. By saying he’ll only consider running if Biden doesn’t, Bernie is ensuring that the DNC will make Biden run again no matter his viability. Democrats’ top priority these past seven years – far more important than defeating Republicans – has been to stop the Sanders movement from taking over their party. If even a doomed Biden re-election campaign were to come with the guarantee that Bernie would stand down, that’s a deal Democratic leadership couldn’t refuse.

Because of this, it’s overwhelmingly likely that Bernie isn’t running in 2024. Still, as a supporter of his who’s been fooled twice into thinking it worthwhile to try and win a rigged game inside a filthily corrupt Democratic Party, I should say that I am willing to vote for him again, but this time with a caveat of my own: he must run as an independent.

As a Democrat, he’ll lose even if he win

After Bernie dropped out and endorsed Biden for the 2020 nomination, there was a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking about what went wrong in his campaign. Some felt Bernie should have made larger ground game investments across all Super Tuesday states rather than spending heavily on internet ads. Some said he should have been more hostile to the Democratic establishment from day one, pushing back on party orthodoxies surrounding Russiagate and the first Trump impeachment. I myself felt it was a terrible mistake for him to appear on 60 Minutes after his landslide Nevada victory, as it gave the media an opportunity to reset the narrative and shiv him with their predictable Commie-mongering nonsense.

But despite the campaign’s structural flaws and strategic mishaps, Bernie did emerge from the typically all-important first four contests the odds-on favorite to win the nomination. And absent an unprecedented last-minute reshuffling of the deck in which the entire party – at the apparent direction of former President Obama – united against him, it’s a near-certainty that he would have won the nomination.

In other words, for all of our second-guessing about what the Bernie campaign could have and should have done better in 2020, they – or, rather, we, as I should include his million-plus volunteers in this assessment – performed well enough to win if we were given even a remotely fair chance.

But we weren’t, and we never will be. The Democrats hate Bernie’s guts, and they hate ours too. And by Democrats, I refer not only to the party’s higher-ups, but to their rank and file MSNBC-addled nitwit voters as well who find us too mean and divisive for their sensitive, pseudo-sophisticated tastes.

In 2016, Bernie may well have won were it not for the blatant and egregious DNC and media bias against him. In 2020, he overcame those obstacles and essentially had the nomination clinched, and they still found a way to deny him in the 11th hour. How could Bernie, or his supporters, possibly expect a third attempt in 2024 would yield a different outcome?

Bernie or Bust vs. Blue No Matter Who: a debate we can’t afford again

From April through November of 2020, the Left was mired in an endless back-and-forth about how to vote in the general election. Some insisted that we fall in line behind Biden for the sake of defeating Donald Trump, while others committed to either vote third party or abstain altogether in protest of another illegitimate primary in which their candidate was unfairly denied.

I found this debate tiresome and unproductive, thinking the Left should be more focused on building institutional power through worker revolts, racial and economic justice protests, and third party organizing. Bickering over how to vote in an election that, big picture, had already been lost, seemed like a huge waste of time and energy.

Now in 2022, a wave of revolutionary labor action is sweeping the country. We’ve seen courageous strikes at Kellogg’s, John Deere, and Nabisco, and stunning union victories at Amazon and Starbucks. Sustaining this momentum is an absolute imperative for the Left, and should remain its primary focus in the coming years. Another sabotaged Bernie campaign within the Democratic Party – and the subsequent time suck of debating each other about how to vote in November – would be a distraction we can’t afford.

Repeating the same action and expecting a different result isn’t just insane, it comes with an opportunity cost. In this case, time and money spent pointlessly trying to outmaneuver a scheming party establishment and talk sense into a mindless herd of liberal lemmings called the “Democratic electorate” are resources that could be put to much better use supporting independent grassroots movements unwed to and unbound by the DNC.

2024 will be a historic opportunity for an independent

Joe Biden has reportedly told former President Obama that he intends to seek re-election. Donald Trump is obviously laying the groundwork to run himself, and will likely be the Republican nominee. If 2024 is a rematch between Biden and Trump, it will be the first time since 1892 that an ousted President (Grover Cleveland) runs for re-election against the incumbent who defeated him.

This will create a historic opportunity for an independent candidate to make the case that both of his/her opponents are failed Presidents. If Biden and Trump are the respective nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, the independent in the race can emphasize that we’ve tried each of these options before, and both worked out terribly. As someone who’s both traveled the country and worked in tourism with people from its every nook and cranny, I can assure you that such a common sense appeal would resonate strongly with the average American voter.

A contest between two highly unpopular presidents each asking for a second chance they don’t deserve poses a unique opportunity for a third party candidate with the savvy and the star power to seize it (in the aforementioned 1892 Harrison v. Cleveland election, Populist Party candidate James B. Weaver had an impressive showing, winning 22 electoral votes). Whether or not Bernie is the ideal person to fill this role may be an open question, but he’s likely as formidable as any who would try.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose

Yes, the day Bernie dropped out of the 2020 primary was frustrating, depressing, and infuriating. But it was also liberating in the sense that we on the Left were no longer tethered to the Democratic Party in any way. We felt no need to remain in good standing with their leaders, their media stooges, or their voters. We were free to create our own political project on our own terms – a challenge that, while daunting, was exciting at the same time.

One year into Biden’s miserable presidency, such an endeavor remains as necessary as ever. The Democrats’ record of inflation, censorship, and global war is certain to doom them in the midterms. Come 2023, the Republicans will control both chambers of Congress, and absent some divine reversal of fortune for the Biden White House, Trump is likely to be re-elected the following year.

And so because Democrats can no longer beat Republicans, we have nothing to lose by taking a flyer on an independent. Regardless of whether or not Bernie could pull off a miracle and win the presidency in 2024, it’s going to be necessary to build a Left alternative to the Democratic Party. Their days as a nationally relevant political presence are numbered, and some organized force is going to have to replace them.

It’s difficult for me to believe that Bernie doesn’t already know all of this. By now it must be obvious to him that the Democrats would sooner self-destruct than nominate him to lead their party. Furthermore, he must understand the disempowering effect of repeated defeats and the detriment it causes to his movement. Surely, socialist that he is, he must recognize that right now the real action on the Left is in workers’ movements, and that another folly attempt to transform a party of capital into a party of labor would only distract from those struggles. And finally, as a self-proclaimed independent, he ought to know as well as anyone that 2024 is shaping up to be the most favorable climate for third parties in modern political history.

And so if he really wants to give his political revolution one last chance at success, he ought to heed the advice of former Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who said in 2016, “You can’t have a revolution inside a counter-revolutionary party.” I for one am done trying that approach. If Bernie decides the same and is willing to run as an independent, he’ll have my full support. Otherwise, I’m out.

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Video: Obama’s Condescending Remarks to Bernie Revealed in New Book

A new book by Bernie Sanders adviser Ari Rabin-Havt details a 2018 conversation between Sanders and Obama in which Obama told Bernie he was more suited to be a “prophet” than a “king.”

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Video: Liberals Fume at Noam Chomsky for Promoting Diplomacy in Russia-Ukraine War

In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky advocated for a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine war. Liberals interpreted this as a call for Ukraine to “surrender,” and reacted accordingly.

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The Progressive Caucus’ Snubbing of Nina Turner is Their Most Blatant Betrayal Yet

On Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC announced its slate of endorsements for the 2022 midterms. Among them was Shontel Brown, the newly elected incumbent from Ohio’s 11th district, who defeated Bernie Sanders ally Nina Turner in a primary for 2021’s special election to fill the seat.

Turner is running again, forcing a rematch between herself and Brown. Despite being the obvious choice for anyone with any “progressive” bona fides, the CPC threw its support behind Brown, who won her 2021 primary with the help of corporate PAC money, the Israel lobby, and Republican donors.

This is the latest in a series of embarrassing decisions by the CPC under the leadership of Pramila Jayapal. First, they let Nancy Pelosi skate to another term as Speaker in the beginning of the current Congressional term. Then they allowed Senate Democrats to kill Bernie’s minimum wage amendment to the American Rescue Plan without threatening to hold up the bill until it was approved. Then, they famously broke their promise to block passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill without assurances that Build Back Better would pass alongside it.

And now they’re endorsing Shontel Brown over Nina Turner. The caucus is explaining their decision as “pro forma,” meaning that it’s a simple formality for the caucus to endorse their own incumbent members. But this defense rings hollow when you consider that Shontel Brown seemingly joined the CPC for the sole purpose of fending off Turner’s challenge.

Brown joined the progressive caucus in January, just a day before Nina Turner announced her candidacy. Brown also caucuses with the New Democrats, a Third Way centrist block which prides itself on being “pro-economic growth” and “fiscally responsible.” Their raison d’etre is to be the ideological counterweight to the progressive caucus.

That Shontel Brown joined both is a testament to each of their meaninglessness. It also demonstrates that the CPC’s endorsement is apparently for sale to whoever ponies up the dues necessary to join.

David Sirota, political reporter and senior adviser to Bernie’s 2020 campaign, tweeted the following in response to the news:

Sirota is far too smart and precise with his words to use a phrase like “selling out” accidentally. In fact, he’s always been careful to stop short of leveling such accusations against House progressives, even when he’s disagreed with them. If his analysis is correct, and that this endorsement can be read as Jayapal jockeying for position inside a party that’s certain to endure a crushing defeat this November, then the decision to endorse Brown is as idiotic as it is infuriating.

We discuss this development in greater detail in our lates podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to our podcast on any major podcast player.

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Whataboutism: A Word Hypocrites Use to Gaslight Their Critics

by Keaton Weiss

Those who’ve decorated their social media accounts with Ukrainian flag decals but had nothing at all to say about the U.S.-sponsored Saudi genocide in Yemen these past eight years get really annoyed when they’re reminded of this inconsistency. These same people want the international community to shun and isolate Russia, but can’t say whether the United States deserves the same punishment for its numerous 21st century war crimes in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya.

We have a word for people like this: hypocrites. They claim to be antiracist, but clearly value Ukrainian lives above Yemeni ones. They claim to be anti-imperialist, but aren’t prepared for their home country to suffer the same consequences for its own murderous imperial conquests that they now wish to inflict upon Putin’s Russia.

Luckily for those who hold these ethically irreconcilable views, their thought leaders have created a word that exonerates them from their own hypocrisy, and instead places the blame on those who criticize them for it: whataboutism.

Because of its peculiar etymology, it’s difficult to know exactly when the term came into being, but linguist Benjamin Zimmer credits its current widespread usage to a blog post by Edward Lucas in The Economist on October 29, 2007. The subject of the piece, oddly enough, was Cold War-era Russia. In the article, Lucas describes whataboutism as a tactic employed by the Soviet Union to excuse their own transgressions.

A slightly less bonkers approach by the Kremlin’s useful idiots was to match every Soviet crime with a real or imagined western one. It was called “whataboutism”: “So you object to Soviet interventions in eastern Europe? Then what about the American assault on the Nicaraguan Sandinistas?” “You mind about Soviet Jews? Then what about blacks in South Africa?”

As you can see, the word whataboutism was popularized by Western chauvinists to shut down any debate over whether or not America has the moral credibility to condemn Russian aggression.

According to whataboutism, any mention of hypocrisy is an illegitimate defense against accusations of wrongdoing. This is a convenient dynamic for those hip to the workings of “whataboutist” discourse, but of course, logically, it’s completely absurd.

Take the following example: Student A accuses Student B of copying his test answers, and Student B reminds Student A that he copied Student C’s test answers last week. Student A accuses Student B of “whataboutism,” rendering his own past offenses irrelevant.

Now let’s suppose that Student B made the first accusation. Student B accuses Student A of copying Student C’s test answers. Student A responds by accusing Student B of copying his test answers. Student B can now accuse Student A of the same “whataboutism” that he himself was guilty of in the former example.

In each of these cases, the timeline of events is identical: last week Student A copied off of Student C, and this week Student B copied off of Student A. The only difference in each of the above scenarios is who made the initial accusation.

During the 2016 election, supporters of Donald Trump would often respond to allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump by citing Hillary Clinton’s alleged bullying and shaming of her husband’s victims.

In different dinner table arguments, Trump supporters would cite Hillary’s mistreatment of Bill’s “bimbos” (the Clinton campaign’s own categorization, not mine), and Democrats would respond by citing the numerous alleged sexual offenses of Donald Trump.

In the first example, Trump supporters are guilty of whataboutism. In the second, the Hillary supporters. Of course, the truth to any nonpartisan observer is that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both repugnant human beings who lack the moral authority to criticize each other’s record on matters of sexual abuse.

Therefore, whataboutism as a concept is utterly meaningless. It’s nothing more than a made-up word that hypocrites use to gaslight whoever calls them on their bullshit.

The hypocrisy of the United States on matters of imperialism and militarism poses not just a moral problem, but a practical one. If we actually want to hold Russia to account for its war crimes against the Ukrainians, then we should also expect to be held responsible for our own war crimes in recent years. How would that happen? What would that look like? How would our government respond to being made a global pariah ourselves? And in the aftermath of such a conflict, would our country be at all recognizable?

These are impossible questions to answer, and undesirable ones to ponder for those who most fervently insist on further escalating the ongoing violence in Ukraine. But they’re perfectly legitimate questions to ask, and no accusations of “whataboutism” should manipulate us into believing otherwise. The word itself is as empty as those who weaponize it.

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Video: White House Gaslights the Public About Biden’s Regime Change Comments

President Biden said in Warsaw that “For God’s sake, he (Putin) cannot remain in power.” The White House is now in damage control, trying to convince the public he didn’t really mean it:

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Of Course Joe Biden Meant Exactly What He Said About Regime Change in Russia

by Keaton Weiss

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” said Joe Biden in Poland on Saturday in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House quickly tried to walk back the statement, insisting that “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.” The Democratic Party-aligned media is doing their part to convince their consumers that Biden’s remarks were merely an unfortunate gaffe, and not a reflection of the United States’ true policy aims.

Funny how one of the few times Biden was coherent enough to say what he meant, his team and their media mouthpieces were forced into damage control to try and convince the public that he didn’t really mean it. Comic irony aside, Biden’s assertion that Putin must go was a revealing articulation of the all-too serious intentions of the United States to provoke Russia into a violent confrontation for quite some time.

In 2008, George W. Bush supported NATO membership for Ukraine, knowing full well Putin’s vehement opposition to the idea. Shortly into Obama’s first term, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovitch was elected in Ukraine. Obama congratulated him on his victory, but four years later his administration would support his ousting via the Maidan Revolution which installed a more pro-Western government.

In 2015, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for a no-fly zone in Syria just days after Russia started bombing anti-Assad fighters in the country – a policy sure to result in a violent exchange between US and Russian forces. She would defend this position throughout the 2016 campaign, most notably in her third debate against Donald Trump.

After Trump’s victory but before his inauguration, Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Amy Klobuchar visited a Ukrainian combat outpost to express their support for their military. Referring to their ongoing struggle against Russia, who had annexed Crimea during the aforementioned 2014 uprising, McCain promised that “we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win.” Graham added that they would “push the case against Russia” upon their return to Washington, and that 2017 would be a “year of offense.”

Of course, with Trump taking over for Obama just a few weeks after this meeting, those plans didn’t quite materialize. It’s hardly a coincidence that throughout his presidency, the main line of attack against Trump from Democrats and neocon Republicans was that he was a “Russian asset” doing the Kremlin’s bidding from his new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

When Trump and Putin appeared at a joint press conference in Helsinki in 2018, the political class roiled in anger as the two got along rather well – an event that would produce a barrage of headlines declaring Trump a traitor and a “Putin poodle” for not chastising Putin over his alleged interference in the 2016 election. One CNN article even suggested in its headline that the soccer ball Putin gave Trump as a gift was implanted with a listening device, even though the text of the piece itself explained that the transmitter chip in question was a standard feature of Adidas products – a QR code of sorts that allows customers to further explore their brand.

After their four-year tantrum of such laughably ludicrous Russia hysteria, the Democrats – thanks to a once-in-a-century pandemic which Trump seemed uniquely unequipped to handle – successfully won the White House again. With “Putin’s poodle” out of the way, the United States was once again free to carry on in its hostility towards Putin.

Notice in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden White House did nothing whatsoever of substance to try and prevent it. Biden warned of sanctions against Russia if Putin decided to invade, but simultaneously predicted he’d do so anyway. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on February 20 that “everything leading up to the actual invasion appears to be taking place.”

The nonchalance of the Biden administration in the weeks prior to the invasion was in stark contrast to the shock and horror expressed by similar figures in response to the infamous soccer ball exchange in Helsinki between Putin and Trump. To the political establishment, the prospect of America and Russia peacefully and cooperatively coexisting is clearly more frightening than that of violent confrontation, even if such conflict escalates into a third World War. This is obvious given their outrage and indignation over Trump’s soft handling of Putin, and their glowing praise the Biden administration as it refused to engage in the kind of serious diplomacy that might have prevented war between Russia and Ukraine.

And so of course, Biden meant exactly what he said when he advocated for Putin’s removal from power; it’s the logical “best case scenario” result of the kind of violet clash between NATO and Russia that major figures in both major parties have been instigating for years. Of course, his administration has neither a strategy nor a desire to end the violence. Of course, the Ukrainian people are nothing more than expendable pawns on their imperial chess board. And of course, none of this is going to get better before it gets worse.

The White House and their media stooges are now trying to gaslight the American people by convincing them they didn’t see what they just saw. It’d be easy – and accurate – to call this Orwellian. But perhaps the even more appropriate reference would be to the Marx Brothers, who in their 1933 film Duck Soup penned the now famous line, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes? This is the exact question the White House is asking all of us right now. But we know what we saw. We know what we heard. And those paying attention know that the United States has wanted war with Russia for quite some time, and now that they’ve got it, they of course want to see it through to its most violent conclusion.

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