Liz Truss Finally Made Neoliberalism Toxic

by Jack Carolan

Liz Truss spent her childhood accompanying her father, a leftist University professor, on marches against the Thatcher government. It might be reductionist to suspect that one woman’s daddy issues have turned Britain into Europe’s leading political basket case, but we do have to wonder where this mindless devotion to Thatcherite dogma came from, and why, given the freely available data on the effects of neoliberalism on the global economy over the past forty-something years, Truss has remained so blindly devoted to this pernicious ideology.

Margaret Thatcher pipped Ronald Reagan to the post by a year when she took power in Britain in 1979 and set about applying the theories of Friedmann, Hayek, Buchanan et al.  in instituting a radical reshaping of western economies, piloted in Chile by the Pinochet administration. Thomas Piketty’s extensive research has since shown, incontrovertibly, that the subsequent tearing up of the Keynesian consensus, replaced by a system which facilitated the upward flow of wealth from Labour to owners through attacks on unions, the privatization of the commons, and a financialized economic locus that led to the 2008 debacle, was a con-trick. 

Neoliberalism has been masking its true nature all along with spurious articles of faith: the invisible hand of the market (a notion originating in Smith’s Wealth of Nations, taken out of context); “greed is good” social Darwinism; trickle-down economics, and other fairy tales that made sense to a lot of people in the 80’s and 90’s, who deep down, rooted for Gordon Gecko in Wall Street.  It chimed with the times.

There is, therefore, a certain elliptical, tragic poetry in the British Parliament being the stage upon which the denouement of this disastrous experiment is currently playing out. When Liz Truss, Britain’s latest in a series of ghoulish Tory Prime Ministers, and an especially mindless disciple of the cult of Thatcher, announced that she was going to borrow £45B to give to the rich in the form of tax cuts, sterling fell off a cliff and the Bank of England had to step in to backstop bonds before the economy went into free-fall. 

There quickly followed a very unusual intervention from the IMF (hardly a hotbed of Marxist thinkers), when they said, and I’m paraphrasing, “what the fuck are you doing?!”  If you are trying to impose neoliberal policies in a very pure form, the game is up the instant the markets turn against you – markets don’t care about ideology, they are only interested in returns. When they know someone’s batshit ideological delusion is going to wreck the economy, they react. That was the message: any more tax cuts for the rich at this juncture will be damaging. Only the most dangerous of zealots are still hawking the notion that tax cuts for the rich lead to economic growth.  It’s not just your local Trotskyite reading group who thinks this, it’s the IMF.  

What’s frightening is that Truss didn’t seem to get it. Every time she opened her mouth, doubling down on her unreconstructed Thatcherite commitment to her proposals, she wiped points off the pound. The more she did it, the more resembled the delusional Nazi from The Producers, still fighting the war, pining for the Führer. The Conservative Party, known for their ruthlessly keen sense of self preservation, were faced with the very real possibility of wresting the flight stick from the monkey flying the plane. Truss, who crafted the notorious, cataclysm-sparking mini-budget behind closed doors with Kwasi Kwarteng, had been forced to sack him, making his tenure a mere eight days off the record for the shortest serving chancellor in history.  

Now the party has forced her to fall on her sword, smashing the record for the shortest serving Prime Minister in history – a paltry forty-four days in office.  Kwarteng’s replacement, Jeremy Hunt, whose name has become rhyming slang in Britain, spent the best part of a decade running the NHS into the ground as Secretary for Health. Presumably he’d been made chancellor to function as Truss’ brain. Hunt, a blow-dried technocrat in a Saville Row suit, is what Thatcher would have called “a wet” –  a centrist mediocrity – may have been maneuvered into place to keep the plane from crashing into the mountain. 

But the Tories are still in the ludicrous position of having to elect their fourth leader in less than six years. This poses the members with a real dilemma. Bookie’s favorite, Rishi Sunak, is the wrong color for most Tory members, which was probably a contributing factor in ensuring that Truss defeated him in the last leadership election. These are the same people who enthusiastically cheered Truss’ commitment to destroying all life on earth in that now notorious video: little Englanders who long for the days of Empire, who get a kick out of the idea off Britain acting tough on the world stage and have an old-fashioned view of those descended from the former colonies.  The same goes for the other outside contenders of color: Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman. Crypto-fascists they may be, but much too black and brown, respectively, for the Tory base. Ben Wallace, a “safe pair of hands” candidate, has the advantage of being white, and could be a dark horse. Then there’s the very real specter of the return of Johnson. Conspiracy theories abound in some quarters that Truss was voted in by Johnson loyalists to precipitate his return.

The Tories are in a total tailspin of acrimonious infighting and exhaustion. They are utterly bereft of both talent and ideas. It looks like the end of the line for the present version of the Conservatives, who will leave behind a nation of food banks and child poverty as a result of their reign of swingeing, cruel austerity. Even the dogs in the street (to borrow a phrase from Irish politics) know that come the next election – and there is a growing chorus baying for an immediate general election – the Conservatives are looking at a landslide defeat of 1997 proportions or worse.

The media are of course sanguine about all of this.  The establishment, and the media outlets whose interests they serve, already have their security-state affiliated pawn in place in the form of Keir Starmer. Having been instrumental (The Guardian included) in destroying the Corbyn project and electing Johnson, they have been cheerleaders of Corbyn’s successor, as he purges the Labour Party of the left on spurious charges of antisemitism (disproportionately targeting pro-Palestinian Jewish members), and goes about restructuring the party apparatus to limit democracy within it, to try to ensure that a grass-roots popular movement cannot find its expression through a figure like Corbyn again. He’s made all the right signals to the establishment that he is a figure in the mould of Blair and Obama. He’s a neoliberal technocrat, and whatever war Washington wants to get involved in, he’ll be a loyal lap dog. 

Removing the whip from Corbyn for so-called antisemitism and his embrace of the conflation of anti-Zionism with Jew hatred serves as a signifier for this. It’s a message to the powers that be: I’m your man. Capital would rather have someone who knows how to buy off revolution as its administer than a moron.  So the big neoliberal juggernaut will keep trundling along, except the ideology’s coming iteration will be more careful about flaunting its underpinning fallacies so brazenly, in an attempt to make the public believe that their interests are the same as their billionaire taskmasters. Gone will be the days that publicly expressing the idea that an atomized population acting in their own self-interest leads to virtuous outcomes makes you sound clever. “Greed is good” won’t land anymore.  

What is truly historically significant about the ignominious fall of Truss isn’t the fact that she has been by far the most catastrophic failure of a Prime Minister in British history. Truss is just the least intelligent to have held office; a patsy of the neoliberal project left holding the ball during the shifting of support away from a failed experiment, manifest in the swan song of the wrong woman in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong ideas, stupid enough to keep selling this nonsense to the public. Trickle-down might have made sense during the Thatcher years, but no one’s buying the lies anymore because they can’t afford them. The full focus of failure should be pulled away from this imbecile and placed sharply on the ideology for which she stands, which lay in tatters after 2008, and pending a reset, has become a liability to the very institutions that embody it. Those who have been paying attention knew that Neoliberalism died fifteen years ago. Poor Liz Truss never got the memo. The markets had to send it to her. And now what she represents is the toxicity of an ideology from which even the Tories are starting to slowly back away.

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The Revolution Will Be Monetized: How Capitalism Devours Radical Movements

by Russell Dobular

In the long out-of-print “The Making of a Counter-Culture,” journalist Theodore Roszak argued that the 60’s-era left was greatly underestimating the ability of capitalism to co-opt their movement and sell it back to them. One example he cited was how Playboy had taken the sexual revolution and connected it to an upscale, sophisticated lifestyle. He was right then, and his insight still holds true today, extending far beyond Playboy. 

When we look at the beliefs born from 60’s radical movements that have survived down to the current era, they are exclusively limited to the ones that were not only compatible with, but in many cases, an improvement on American capitalism. The oldest line in advertising, after “Patronized by Caesar,” may be, “Sex Sells.” In the end, disposing of the prohibition on using blatant sexual images and themes to sell everything from soap to The Jerry Springer Show, was a boon to corporations and that’s why they framed that aspect of the counterculture in a positive way. 

Similarly, racism and sexism have always been bad for capitalism. Commercial peoples have historically been more socially liberal than theocratic or feudal societies, because capitalism depends on large numbers buying, selling, trading, starting businesses, etc. Mo’ people participating in the economy, mo’ better for the generation of wealth.

And so the civil rights movement is allowed to continue in various forms today, with the core assumption that sexism and racism are bad, going unchallenged outside of truly fringe corners of the internet. Even a Tucker Carlson, who is often accused of dog-whistling on those issues, isn’t really arguing for racism and sexism. What Carlson and others like him are arguing is that these things are no longer the problem the left is making them out to be. This point can be debated, but the idea that the conservative faction Carlson represents is arguing FOR sexism and racism, or challenging the idea that those things are wrong, is simply not true. In the end, Carlson is a capitalist. He has no interest in cutting off the spigot from which his frozen dinner wealth derives. 

But there were many other ideological touchstones of the so-called New Left that have been scrubbed from the narrative. Much of their revolutionary effort was aimed at undermining capitalism, and far from being theoretical, some ingenious real-world efforts were made to displace “the money system.” Labor exchanges were common on college campuses and in big cities; networks of people who would barter for goods and services. Both urban and rural experiments in communal living proliferated, and there was nary a leftist individual or organization that didn’t identify as some shade of socialist, Marxist, or Maoist.

But unlike free love and civil rights, these ideas were not compatible with capitalism. And almost as soon as Hollywood began treating these subjects, a formula developed:

Act One: Naïve idealist hooks up with commune, or radical group.

Act Two: Idealist is gradually disillusioned by the reality of their lifestyle, and beliefs (the leader of the group will either be portrayed as a fool, sucking others into an unworkable scheme, or alternately, an abusive narcissist).

Act Three: Now Former Idealist returns to conventional society, sadder, but wiser. See: Alice’s Restaurant, Fritz the Cat, Where the Buffalo Roam, Across the Universe; even Jenny’s storyline in Forrest Gump is lifted from the genre.

Today we can see this process playing out anew. The “revolutionary” movements of our era that are being embraced by the establishment and its mouthpieces in the corporate media, are the ones that can turn a profit. This is quite a bit easier for them than it was in the 60’s and 70’s, because to be anti-racist, anti-sexist and pro-LGBTQ is now an elite position that’s been decoupled from any radical social or economic theory. It’s a snap for the powerful to glom onto these causes, using them as both profit centers and cudgels against legitimate threats. 

Want to smear a figure, or movement? Just accuse them of racism, sexism or homophobia, on any pretext. The pretext hardly matters in a world full of lonely, depressed, smart-phone addicted people, constantly on the lookout for the latest virtue-signaling opportunity. That was what they did to Bernie Sanders, and it’s what they’ll do to anyone like him who gets anywhere near the levers of power.

In this context, post-modernism and the academic disciplines that have arisen from it can be seen as the greatest boon to corporate profits and elite power ever to be conceived by the minds of humans. Anti-fact, anti-science, premised on the idea that reality itself is a social construct – people who have been taught to think this way are a marketing department’s wet dream. Or a totalitarian government’s. 

And the best part is the way all these ideas can be sold as rebellious assaults on the citadels of power, thereby satisfying the need for activists to feel as if they’re fighting for a cause and changing the world, when really, they’re just making the population dumber and easier to manipulate.

A few examples: 

When the majority are obese, telling fat folks (since all the libs are throwing around “folks” like they grew up on an alfalfa farm, I figured I’d appropriate it) they can look amazing at any size, is pretty appealing if you’re trying to sell clothes or cosmetics to the greatest number of people. But you aren’t sticking it to the beauty industry by promoting obesity as a lifestyle choice. You’re just opening up a new market. 

If children experiencing gender dysphoria are allowed to let it play out, studies show 60-90% will end up not trans, but gay. Not much money to be made in that, though. Now, making these kids dependent on a lifetime of hormone treatments, and possibly surgery – that’s where the big bucks are, or as Dr. Shane Taylor of the gender clinic at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville put it, in a now infamous video, “There’s entire clinics . . . supported just by their phalloplasty’s, and that is like, a fraction of the surgeries they’re doing. These surgeries are labor intensive . . . they require a lot of follow-ups . . . and they make money, they make money for the hospital.”

And that’s a big part of the reason why the medical establishment is working overtime to normalize the idea of applying extreme, irreversible, and life-altering medical intervention to a group that no one would seriously argue should be allowed to get a tattoo.

This is the same medical industry that has made a fortune pushing mood-altering drugs on children as a first resort, instead of suggesting completely free and ultimately safer options like diet and exercise for depression and/or hyperactivity. No filthy lucre to be had in prescribing less cheeseburgers and more sports though. Or in letting a population made up mostly of gays and lesbians come to maturity without their “help.”

And how would obscure crackpot academics like Ibram X. Kendi, or Robin DiAngelo get rich, except by ginning up racial resentments and tensions, then selling their “services” to corporations as a remedy?

Groups like the Black Panthers had an economic component to their activism-giving out free breakfasts to the poor and questioning the system that produced them. Today’s book tour activists diligently stay off those topics. Were they to broach them, their positive media coverage and consulting contracts would dry up pretty quick.

The Black Panthers feeding the poor. Maybe if someone were to offer Kendi or DiAngelo their usual fee . . .

This is why you’ll see a rainbow flag on the side of a Starbucks cup or on the Amazon website, but they’ll fight to the death to keep their stores from unionizing. None of this other crap costs them a nickel. Well, maybe once in awhile when they have to pay a race-hustling $1500-an-hour consultant to do a sensitivity training. But that’s just a rounding error compared to what they make selling it all back to the rubes.

A good barometer for gauging revolutionary ideas then: if it can be packaged as a color scheme that Meryl Streep might want to incorporate into the design of her Oscar night dress, you’ve been had, sunshine. 

When they ban the idea from their media, when they attack any politician who mentions it, when Hollywood pretends the idea doesn’t exist, when to mention the idea is career suicide for members of the professional class, when subscribing to the idea will get you driven out of academia, and when you have to be careful how you mention it on Twitter, lest you be banned: when all those criteria have been met, then you’ll know that you just might have stumbled onto an idea worth having. 

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Biden’s Speech Was a Lie: Democrats are Funding Pro-Trump Republicans in Primaries

by Keaton Weiss

In his recent “Soul of the Nation” address, President Biden spoke for 25 minutes about the threat to democracy posed by the Trump movement. Making a point to differentiate MAGA Republicans from the more “mainstream” ones, he explained:

Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.
Now, I want to be very clear — very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.  Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.
I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.
But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.

Conservative media reacted with predictable horror, calling it an attack on the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump in the 2020 election. Ben Shapiro called it “the most demagogic, outrageous, and divisive speech [he’s] ever seen from an American president.” Tucker Carlson warned that Biden’s speech sought to delegitimize and even criminalize the GOP as an organization. Mark Levin called Biden an “extremely dangerous demagogue.” Sean Hannity denounced the speech as “hate-filled.”

All of this of course is quite rich coming from those who supported Donald Trump even after he smeared Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, barred Muslims from entering the country, and suggested ten-year prison sentences for Black Lives Matter protestors who defaced statues of our Founding Fathers.

Right-wing pseudo-indignation aside, however, there is an important critique of Biden’s speech that no one of prominence has yet leveled: it was, at its core, a complete lie.

Biden’s rhetorical olive branch to “mainstream” Republicans with whom he’s collaborated in the past is laughable, given that the Democratic Party has worked tirelessly this election cycle to undermine moderate Republicans and elevate the very “MAGA forces” he says pose such an existential threat to the republic. In numerous primaries throughout the country, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Democratic PACs have spent huge amounts of money boosting MAGA Republicans against their more centrist opponents, thinking they will make for weaker general election adversaries.

Take for instance Michigan’s 3rd Congressional district. Incumbent Congressman Peter Meijer was one of only 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th riot – a decision which should have earned him the respect of Democrats looking to enlist sensible Republicans in the larger effort protect democracy from Trump’s “semi-fascist” movement. Instead, the DCCC spent $400,000 on ads bolstering Meijer’s Trump-backed primary opponent John Gibbs, a 2020 election denier and proponent of a conspiracy theory which claims Democratic leaders participate in satanic “spirit cooking” rituals. With Democrats’ help, Gibbs defeated Meijer and is the current GOP nominee to represent MI-3.

In California, another pro-impeachment Republican Congressman, David Valadao, faced a primary challenge from the Trump-aligned Chris Mathys. In this case, Valadao prevailed in the end, despite The Democratic political action committee House Majority PAC creating multiple ads casting Mathys in a positive light as a “pro-Trump Republican” and disparaging Valadao as a RINO (see below).

In Illinois’ governor’s race, incumbent billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) spent an astounding $35 million to boost the Trump-endorsed Darren Bailey in his Republican primary against moderate Richard C. Irvin. In what is already the most expensive non-presidential race in United States history, Bailey is now on the ballot in November as the Republican nominee.

Perhaps most egregiously, in the Pennsylvania Governor’s race, Democrats strengthened longshot candidate and Trump loyalist Doug Mastriano. Mastriano not only supported Trump’s election denial, he himself attended the January 6th riot and helped break into the Capitol. This gubernatorial election is of particular importance, seeing as Pennsylvania is a pivotal swing state that could potentially determine the outcome of the 2024 Presidential race. It’s also a state where the Governor himself appoints the Secretary of State, whose job it is to certify election results. Therefore, it’s far from implausible that a Mastriano victory in November could put the state – and with it, perhaps, the Presidency – at risk of being stolen by Republicans. Nonetheless, his own Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro spent $840,000 on ads propelling Mastriano to victory in the GOP primary. Despite Democrats’ theory that Mastriano would be easy to beat in November, current polling indicates a very close race, with Shapiro leading by a mere 3 points.

These are just a few of many examples, and Democrats haven’t been shy about their role in promoting the candidacies of the very Republicans they denounce so strongly. DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney admitted and defended such tactics in a recent Meet The Press interview. When Chuck Todd suggested he put “party over country” by elevating the most divisive and extreme Republican candidates across numerous races, Maloney responded:

Absolutely not did we put party over country. The moral imperative right now, Mr. Todd, is to keep the dangerous MAGA Republicans who voted to overturn our election out of power.

Maloney’s answer is shamelessly dishonest, seeing as all of these “MAGA Republicans” he feels so strongly about keeping “out of power” were running in primaries against non-MAGA Republicans who in many cases spoke out forcefully against Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. If Democrats’ first priority was actually to defend our democracy from the existential danger posed by Trump-aligned extremists, surely they would want to nip such threats in the bud by doing everything in their power to defeat them as early and as handily as possible. Instead, they’re doing the opposite and embracing Hillary Clinton’s “pied piper” strategy of 2016: boosting the most radical right-wing candidates in the hopes that they’ll be easier to defeat in the Fall (we all remember the results of that experiment, do we not?).

So as Biden insists that the “MAGA forces” within the Republican party represent a fringe minority, his own Democrats spend tens of millions of dollars aiding that very faction of the GOP in its efforts against the “mainstream” conservatives he misses so badly.

Outspoken anti-Trump Republican Adam Kinzinger put it best when asked on CNN about Democrats’ support for the aforementioned MAGA candidate John Gibbs, answering:

Don’t keep coming to me, asking where are all the good Republicans that defend democracy, and then take your donors’ money and spend half a million dollars promoting one of the worst election deniers that’s out there.

In reality, Democrats care nothing for unity, decency, or democracy. Their only concern is that of most politicians and political parties: power. Biden’s appeals to the better angels of Republicans’ nature, given Democrats’ subversion of the very anti-MAGA Republicans they pretend to hold in such high regard, are Orwellian enough to complement the speech’s widely panned stage production of blood-red floodlights and shadowy Marines looking directly into the crowd. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and apparently, partisanship is patriotism – so long as the public isn’t equipped to spot the difference.

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Sam Harris’ Defense of Censorship Reveals Liberals’ True Contempt for Democracy

by Keaton Weiss

“Hunter Biden literally could have had the corpses of children in his basement – I would not have cared.”

Believe it or not, that’s actually the least controversial thing Sam Harris said in a recently released clip from his appearance on the “Triggernometry” podcast. He followed that up by asserting that “Whatever [the] scope of Joe Biden’s corruption is, if we can just go down that rabbit hole endlessly and understand that he’s getting kickbacks from Hunter Biden’s deals in Ukraine…it is infinitesimal compared to the corruption we know Trump is involved in…it doesn’t even stack up against Trump University.”

If this isn’t Trump Derangement Syndrome, I don’t know what is. Such a claim would be suspect under any circumstances, but Harris makes this argument as the Biden administration funnels tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons and other aid to Ukraine for its war against Russia. That this is a “firefly to the sun,” as he puts it, next to Trump’s fake college scam, is utterly ludicrous.

But Harris was just getting started. These deranged musings were merely the setup to his main point, which was that the censoring of The New York Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop days before the 2020 election was justified. Harris granted that Twitter’s suppression of the story under the false pretense that it was Russian disinformation was in essence a “conspiracy to deny the presidency to Donald Trump,” but nonetheless insisted it was “warranted.”

The host then pressed him for clarification, after which Harris slightly walked back his “conspiracy” concession with one of his classic “thought experiments.” He posed the question, “If there was an asteroid hurdling toward Earth, and we got in a room with all of our friends and talked about what we could do to deflect its course, is it a conspiracy?”

To answer his question: yes – if half of the world’s population wants the asteroid to hit the Earth.

Harris’ analogy perfectly illustrates the fundamental contradiction at the heart of resistance liberalism. They see Trump as a singular threat to democracy, yet when pressed, they will fully endorse subversive, conspiratorial, and anti-democratic means of opposing him. They must maintain their view of Trump as something like an asteroid on a collision course with Earth in order to justify these tactics, because to accept Trump for what he actually is – a democratically elected leader – would lay to bare their true feelings about democracy itself: they hate it.

This was plainly obvious from the minute Trump declared his 2016 candidacy, and is even more obvious now. From Hillary’s “deplorables” line to their relentless indignation over the January 6th riot, liberals have not only attacked Trump himself as an odious figure, but they’ve cast all of his supporters in that same mold in order to delegitimize their participation in the democratic process. In a real democracy, everyone gets a say, no matter how repulsive they may be. But liberals don’t want real democracy. Instead, they want a democracy curated to their particular tastes and sensibilities, and which excludes those who don’t conform to them. This, of course, is no democracy at all.

Sam Harris and his ilk would be better suited to just admit all of this out in the open. It’s perfectly legitimate to oppose democracy – the Greeks themselves had many negative things to say about it, chief among them is the power it grants to a mostly ignorant and unenlightened population. If Harris’ cohort thinks the American public is too stupid to take seriously their responsibilities as democratic actors, they should just say so, and propose an alternative form of government that relegates the rubes to the irrelevance they feel befits them. But to claim, as liberals do, that their opposition to Trump is motivated primarily by some civic obligation to protect democracy, is patently ridiculous.

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We should be grateful to Sam Harris for so clearly articulating his upside-down ethos in all of its self-negating absurdity. Never has any prominent liberal expressed such bald-faced contempt for the very democratic norms and ideals they claim to cherish so deeply. It was a rare candid moment from an elite clique typically much more careful to couch their arguments in ways that conceal their honest opinions about democracy. It’s good that one of them finally let it rip.

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To Save Democracy, Lock Em Both Up

by Keaton Weiss

The recent raid – ahem, pardon me – execution of a search warrant – on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was an escalation of the Cold Civil War that’s been raging beneath the surface these past several years. Remember the second Presidential debate of 2016 when Trump threatened to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified information if he won the White House, and the press gasped in collective horror? Well as it turns out, it was Democratic Attorney General Merrick Garland who ended up authorizing such a severe and unprecedented act against Trump himself – a move that, justified or not, is likely to further destabilize our already volatile political ecosystem.

America is a tinder box of bitterness and resentment liable to blow at any minute. Whether or not this all started with Trump vs. Clinton is above my pay grade to determine, but there’s no doubt that 2016 was the most divisive election in modern American history, and we’ve been at each other’s throats ever since.

During the campaign, Trump’s base was convinced that Hillary Clinton should have been indicted, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for her mishandling of classified information on a private email server. Now, Trump is being investigated for similar actions just as the 2024 campaign season is about to begin. Clinton herself responded to news of the raid by peddling sarcastically designed “But Her Emails” merch on her website, while Marjorie Taylor Greene began hawking “Defund the FBI” shirts and caps in her official campaign store.

That these Espionage Swag Wars are as profitable as they are should tell you something about the state of our politics. We’re as divided as we’ve been since 1861, with no signs of reconciliation in sight. Liberals are chomping at the bit to see Trump in an orange jumpsuit, and conservatives are convinced that Trump is being singled out for persecution while Hillary was allowed to skate.

Fortunately, the solution to this problem is staring us right in the face. We should, to heal the nation and save our democracy, jail both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

They’re Both Guilty

Clinton used email servers, Trump used cardboard boxes (this itself is a fitting metaphor for Democrats’ neo-feudal tech nightmare and Republicans’ nostalgia for analog primitiveness). But the essence of their offenses is more or less the same. In both instances, Clinton and Trump mishandled sensitive information.

Much ado is being made of “nuclear” documents being stored in Trump’s basement, as if nothing was stopping Rudy Giuliani from pounding a kettle of Dewar’s and unilaterally deciding that San Francisco’s public schools had crowned their last non-binary prom queen. Similar hyperbolic speculation ran amok in 2016 – could Hillary have deleted the emails containing the password for Comet Pizza’s secret “event space” before turning her materials over to the authorities? In both cases, people’s imaginations seem to have run a bit wild.

But also in both cases, it seems Trump and Clinton likely violated the Espionage Act. The FBI decided against indicting Clinton because they felt they couldn’t prove intent, and they were nervous about interfering in a Presidential election already underway. Prosecuting Trump would probably be difficult for these same reasons, especially given the aforementioned precedent. But any appearance of preferential treatment for Hillary could be dispelled by simply prosecuting her alongside him.

We all know they’re both guilty, and so why not just call it even for the sake of keeping the peace? It would restore peoples’ faith in America as a level playing field in which both entrenched establishment neoliberal vampires and renegade grease-painted neofascist killer clowns can be made to stare down the same system of justice. After all, nO oNe iS aBoVe tHe lAw.

Hate Trumps Love

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was the worst in history in just about every way, including its choice of slogans. We all remember “I’m With Her,” which accomplished the practically impossible feat of being more narcissistic than anything Donald Trump could have thought up. Then there was “Stronger Together,” a phrase that broke the forgettability meter by being so generic as to be notable for its particular banality. But there was a third popular saying that, though never an official slogan, became an oft-repeated rallying cry of the Clinton campaign: Love Trumps Hate.

Really? Love trumps hate? Since when? Tell that to Martin Luther King, Mohandas Ghandi, John Lennon, and Jesus Christ. Hatred has always been a more potent political motivator than love. And now, in the age of cable news and social media, negative partisanship is clearly the force which drives our politics more than anything else.

What this means is that Americans generally hate their political opponents more than they love their political allies. Hillary Stans hate Trump more than they love Hillary, and MAGA Chuds hate Hillary more than they worship Trump. This means that when push comes to shove, each of these cults would likely sacrifice their own leader in order to bring down their opponents’. This makes prosecuting both Trump and Clinton a queen trade on the political chess board. For both players, it stings a bit, but it’s ultimately worth it in the end for each of them.

Own for an Own

Because our government is so corrupt that legislation which serves up billions of dollars and millions of acres in giveaways to fossil fuel companies can be touted with a straight face as a “climate bill,” the most satisfying reward one can hope to earn though political engagement is the endorphin rush that comes with “owning” your opponent. An own is a political bitcoin: intrinsically worthless, but coveted nonetheless for reasons we can’t rationally explain. We’re all chasing owns, and though we can’t see them or touch them, we can feel it when we get one. In a world where hate trumps love, owns reign supreme.

And let’s face it: jailing Trump is the Golden Own for Democrats, as jailing Clinton is for MAGA world. Awarding each side such a revelatory, orgasmic own would usher in the kind of quiet and still refractory period this country needs right now, and might be just what the doctor ordered to avert the next Civil War.

Might one side be slightly more worthy of their own than the other? Sure. But as a leftist, I believe in the redistribution of owns from those who have them to those who need them for the sake of maintaining social stability.

And let’s not forget, Trump and Clinton are both widely and rightfully despised figures foisted upon the independent majority by crazed partisan lunatics called Democratic and Republican primary voters. Most Americans won’t shed a tear for either of them, and those who do will also take solace in the knowledge that their nemesis is also languishing behind bars. Therein lies the genius of this proposal in which the owned are at once the owners, bringing balance to all things.

So there you have it – my prescription to pull America back from the brink. They both deserve it. To quibble over who deserves it more is to miss the forest for the trees at a time where we need to be thinking big picture. Jailing both Trump and Clinton is the only way to truly unite the country at this point. It’s the only way to give everyone around us the apology we all know is owed them. It’s the only way to hug it out and let bygones be bygones. We all fucked up big time, and deep down, we all know it. Let’s just admit it to ourselves and each other. To save democracy, lock em both up.

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Will 2024 Be Biden vs. Trump or Newsom vs. DeSantis?

While most oddsmakers seem fairly confident that a Biden vs. Trump rematch is the most likely scenario in 2024, it’s clear that both the Democratic and Republican parties are exploring alternatives. A Biden-Trump rematch would be a unique occasion: a race between two highly unpopular Presidents each rife with vulnerabilities that would sink any other candidate against any other opponent. Therefore, there’s reason to believe that neither party is all-in on Biden or Trump just yet.

On the Republican side, Trump is considering declaring his candidacy unusually early in order to box out his most threatening potential rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis’ star is rising in the GOP, and he’s expected to seize the opportunity to run for President. He’s currently trailing Trump by more than 20 points in early primary polls, but he’s a formidable opponent who could certainly give Trump a run for his money if he decides to challenge him.

For Democrats, Biden’s re-election prospects are looking worse by the day, as his performance and polling numbers continue to flounder. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently released a campaign ad which, oddly, aired in DeSantis’ home state of Florida and targeted DeSantis specifically: a clear signal that he’s mulling a potential run for the White House.

It’s highly unlikely that Newsom would challenge Biden in a primary if Biden decides to run again. If Biden seeks re-election, such a challenge would likely be construed as undermining the presumptive nominee in an already difficult campaign year. But it’s quite possible that his ad was designed to persuade Democratic donors and the White House itself that he – not Biden – is his party’s best bet in 2024. If he can make his case to party insiders before the midterms, they might convince Biden to step down and not run again. If Biden’s donors then flocked to Newsom, it would give him a tremendous advantage going into a Democratic primary.

Writer and author Anis Shivani joined us on our podcast to discuss some of these key developments in the early phases of the 2024 Presidential campaign, as well as the intriguing Pennsylvania Senate contest between John Fetterman and Dr. Oz.

Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below, and subscribe to our podcast on any major podcast player.

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Photos: AP, Getty, Gavin Newsom for Governor

Liz Cheney is No Friend of Democracy

by Keaton Weiss

Arming Saudi Arabia; drilling on protected lands; draconian, inhumane border enforcement; blocking a path to citizenship for DACA recipients; cutting taxes for the rich; banning trans people from the military; defunding health centers that perform abortions; preventing the government from negotiating for lower prescription drug prices; opposing sensible gun laws; opposing a $15 minimum wage; opposing restoration of the Voting Rights Act. These are just some of many issues in which Liz Cheney and Donald Trump are in full agreement.

And where they differ, Cheney’s positions are usually worse than Trump’s. She spoke out against Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria in 2019, she voted to override Trump’s rightful veto of 2020’s $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act, and she voted down Trump’s plan to increase coronavirus stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 in the most recent Lame Duck session.

Democratic mega-donors like Jeffrey Katzenberg seem at least somewhat aware of this, which is why they qualify their gushing praise of Liz Cheney with caveats like “We agree on little, if anything.” But – ah – there’s always a but. “But,” Katzenberg continues, “She has done something that very, very few people in history have done, which is she’s put her country over party and politics to stand in defense of our Constitution.”

He’s of course referring to Cheney’s indignation at the January 6th riot and her insistence of Trump’s culpability in the event which have made her a rockstar in liberal media. Even Robert Reich, a more progressive Democrat who should certainly know better, penned a ludicrous essay floating her for President in 2024. His rationale is essentially the same as Katzenberg’s, which is essentially the same as Jonathan Chait’s, which is essentially the same as blue-checked celebrities like Rob ReinerStephen KingGeorge Takei, and countless others in the liberal hive mind.

Reich writes:

Cheney is a firm conservative and I have opposed many of her positions. But we are at an inflection point in this nation over a set of principles that transcend any particular positions or policies. If we cannot agree on the sanctity of the Constitution and the rule of law, we are no longer capable of self government.

The real battle in 2024 will not be between Democrats and Republicans. It will be between forces supporting democracy in America and those supporting authoritarianism. Trump is the de facto leader of the forces supporting authoritarianism. Liz Cheney has become the de facto leader of the forces supporting democracy.

Aside from being a reflection of his own privilege, Reich’s contention that Cheney’s supposed “support” for democracy “transcend[s] any particular positions or policies” is shockingly narrow-minded in its conception of democracy itself. His “democracy” refers only to the dog and pony shows we call “free and fair elections” in which votes are cast, counted, and certified, and a winner is decided. If the practice of democracy were as simple and as limited as that, Reich might have something approaching a reasonable point. But democracy is more than just the electing and swearing-in of political leaders. Democracy is more broadly and relevantly defined as control of a group, organization, institution, or society, by a majority of its members.

By this definition, Liz Cheney is no supporter of democracy at all. By this definition, a society in which women are denied basic bodily autonomy cannot be democratic. A society whose labor force is relegated to serfdom – and who depend on their employers for access to medical care – cannot be democratic. A society whose members support by a 90-10 margin background checks on gun purchases, but are denied this policy preference because their government has been bought off by arms dealers, cannot be democratic. A society which restricts access to voting itself – obviously – is not and cannot be democratic.

And so there is no way to parse one’s “particular positions or policies” from their support for democracy itself. Two people cannot differ on matters of civil rights, economic rights, labor rights, climate rights, and immigrants’ rights, but agree on the importance of maintaining a democratic system. It’s absurd on its face. Liz Cheney is egregiously wrong on all of these issues, and therefore cannot be credibly lauded as a champion of democracy under any circumstances.

Her January 6th posturing might be nothing more than an elaborately staged audition tape for The Lincoln Project, but assuming it is motivated by some sincere political conviction, Cheney’s real commitment is to the charade of electoral processes which produce peaceful transfers of power between puppets of the capitalist-militarist state.

Proclaiming the “sanctity” of such pageantry is essential to maintaining the illusion of American democracy. (Oddly enough, it was Al Gore’s servile deference to this ideal that allowed Liz’s father and his gang of marauding war criminals to successfully steal a Presidential election from the rightful winner.) But post-2016, liberal politics itself has been reduced to just that: pageantry. Anti-Trump sentiment is all that matters to today’s liberals. Whether such opposition is voiced from the Left or the Right is mostly irrelevant.

Perhaps somewhere in their conscience, liberals long for a world in which policy differences between Democrats and Republicans are of little to no consequence. After all, this was the world they lived in for most of their lives, and for the most part it served them well enough. This would explain their fondness for moments like George W. Bush and Michelle Obama’s candy exchange at John McCain’s funeral, and their embrace of Never Trump Republicans like Jennifer Rubin, Steve Schmidt, David Frum, and Bill Kristol. In this context, their veneration of Liz Cheney makes perfect sense.

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To the rest of us, it’s their latest and greatest in a string of embarrassing post-Trump psychotic breaks. The zeitgeist turned against the liberal class for a reason: because most Americans in most places don’t pine for the good old days when politics was a low-stakes parlor game for an insular elite class who more or less agreed on the major issues of the day. Most Americans have come to an understanding – even if more intuitive than intellectual – that such a politics yields nothing desirable for them. This is how Liz Cheney became a pariah within her own party, and why a Democratic Party that sings her praises is destined to fail.

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Photo: C-SPAN

The Liberal Class Called. They Want Their Fake Democracy Back.

by Keaton Weiss

In January, The Brookings Institute published a report entitled “Is democracy failing and putting our economic system at risk?” Baked into its thesis is the faulty presumption that democracy can and should exist to accommodate capitalism – a practical impossibility since capitalism is inherently antidemocratic. And so truly, it’s the failure of our economic system that’s exposing our so-called democracy for the sham it’s always been.

For the liberal class, this realization isn’t coming easily. Their entire worldview is predicated upon the notion that capitalism and democracy can in fact complement each other so long as economic opportunity is evenly distributed among people of all colors, creeds, genders, orientations, etc.. Of course, this is a delusion. Capitalism is an economic system in which one uses their existing advantage (capital) to accrue further advantage (more capital) in a market which inevitably becomes more and more unequal, both in outcomes and opportunities. As inequality worsens, social cohesion deteriorates, and the “democratic” system in which all of this takes place collapses.

We’re in the throes of this right now. The January 6th hearings, an endless sequence of horrific mass shootings, runaway inflation, and the Supreme Court’s string of draconian rulings are making the unraveling of both our economic and political systems clear as day for all to see.

If we had an actual Left in this country with both the will and the ability to create a democratic economy more compatible with political democracy, there might be some hope that this trend could be reversed. Instead, we have a liberal opposition whose only response to social, economic, and political collapse is indignation and resentment that the pseudo-democracy they’ve enjoyed until now isn’t good enough for everyone else.

Nowhere is this more evident than in their response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Liberals decry the revocation of their rights to reproductive healthcare, as they should. However, many of these same people consistently vote against progressives in their own party who advocate for all forms of healthcare as a human right. This is a perfect example of trying to fit the square peg of capitalism into the round hole of liberal democracy. Liberals want abortion rights, but they don’t want to enshrine all forms of healthcare as a right by passing something like Medicare For All. Hillary Clinton, in the wake of the Court’s decision on Roe, warned that that “women will die” as a result. This is the same Hillary Clinton who said loudly and proudly at a 2016 campaign rally that universal healthcare would “never, ever come to pass.” Approximately 10,000 American women die each year because they can’t afford medical care. Hillary would have you believe that women’s deaths from unsafe back-alley abortions are an outrage, but women’s deaths due to lack of healthcare affordability are an inescapable reality we’ll all just have to accept as a sacrifice at the altar of the market. What moral or political sense does this make? None at all, except that it has the blessing of our “centrist” political and media establishment.

Until recently, this “center” they love so much – ie, abortion access inside an inhumane market-based healthcare system – has more or less held. The 2016 Sanders campaign was the voice in the wilderness warning mainstream liberals that it wouldn’t hold much longer. And now, here we are. Liberals mostly blame Donald Trump for this, as well as those they feel paved the way for his election – Bernie Bros, Susan Sarandon, Jill Stein, James Comey, and Vladimir Putin. But in reality, it was their delusional insistence that democracy can be preserved without challenging capitalism that ushered in this new dystopia. Furthermore, their continued belief that such a balance is both feasible and desirable is what explains the Democratic Party’s paralysis in the face of our descent into authoritarianism.

Republicans have fully embraced this devolution from fake democracy to actual fascism – the natural progression of a hyper-capitalist state. Democrats, on the other hand, are in the unfortunate position of having to sell the public on the obviously artificial premise that capitalism and democracy can be reconciled and fused for the promotion of our collective wellbeing. Democrats believe we can protect the right to reproductive healthcare while commodifying access to all other forms of healthcare. Republicans take the much simpler and more politically digestible position of denying both of these rights, and stressing “personal responsibility” as the key to survival in an an increasingly capitalistic – and decreasingly democratic – society.

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The only viable counter to this offensive is to assert that all healthcare is a human right, and take capitalism out of the equation altogether. You’d have to take similar approaches on issues of climate, labor, and criminal justice, and then you might have a chance at pulling us back from the brink. But of course, that isn’t going to happen so long as the liberal class is at the helm. They’ll simply continue to lament the incorrigibility of a public who’s abandoned their neoliberal politics forever and for good reason.

So when you hear them bemoan the fall of democracy, understand there’s nothing democratic about the order they wish to restore. For this reason, our decline will only get steeper as their cries grow louder.

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Photo: Ted Eytan (cc 2.0)

Neoliberalism Toppled Chesa Boudin

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was ousted from office last week in a recall election. The vote wasn’t close: 60-40 against Boudin.

And while mainstream media outlets – both liberal and conservative – have emphasized the recall’s support among San Francisco’s poorer communities of color, the reality is that Boudin was also rejected – perhaps even in larger numbers – by the city’s affluent white liberal (and conservative) residents. Like in New York City, where a mixed coalition of working class people of color and affluent white cosmopolitans elected Mayor Eric Adams based largely on the perception that he was “tough on crime,” a similar dynamic took shape in the effort against Boudin.

Criminal justice reporter Tana Ganeva (Rolling Stone, The Intercept, The New Republic) cited these mixed results in her recent substack post in an effort to counter the narrative that the recall was mostly an organic working class uprising against a progressive DA. In it, she points out that while neighborhoods like Chinatown did vote mostly in favor of the recall, the pro-recall forces ran up higher turnout and margins in rich white neighborhoods like Pacific Heights, Presidio Terrace, and the Marina District.

Tana joined us on our podcast to do a deep dive into not only the results of the recall, but the political implications of the broader effort against progressive criminal justice reformers. Boudin’s recall in San Francisco, Adams’ election in NYC, and the looming recall effort against George Gascón in Los Angeles suggests a reactionary backlash in supposedly “liberal” cities to “soft on crime” politicians.

Of course, these are the same cities whose residents have, through their full embrace of neoliberalism, ushered in an era of obscene inequality that has gentrified millions of poor and working class people out of their communities, and immiserated millions more who stayed. Rather than use their votes to reverse this trend, wealthy affluent liberals instead voted to shield themselves from culpability for the poverty and desperation they’ve wrought upon their cities’ underclasses by laying the resulting “crime problem” at the feet of progressive reformers like Chesa Boudin.

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

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Photo: NBC

Jim Clyburn’s Primary Challenger Marcel Dixon Isn’t Pulling Any Punches

Gregg “Marcel” Dixon is a candidate for Congress in South Carolina’s 6th District, currently represented by James Clyburn. Dixon is mounting a primary challenge in which early voting is already underway.

We interviewed Marcel about his background and platform, as well Clyburn’s record of failure and corruption. The beginning portion of our interview is transcribed in part below. To hear the entire conversation, listen to the podcast underneath the text.

Keaton Weiss: I just want to jump right in and talk a little bit about James Clyburn’s district. Because I know James Clyburn as a power broker inside the Democratic party – a kingmaker of sorts who revived Joe Biden’s campaign, pretty much from the dead, in the 2020 primaries. But I had not known until very recently the horrible shape that his home district is in. South Carolina’s sixth is the sixth poorest district in the country, and that statistic is really just the tip of the iceberg. In terms of child poverty, education, healthcare access, this district just kind of ranks miserably all across the board – so can you speak to the state of your district and Clyburn’s failures as a rep?

Marcel Dixon: Well I’m not surprised you wouldn’t know his district was in such bad shape because he’s never here. Outside of playing golf he’s never really spending time going around his district or speaking to people, so it’s easy to forget that he’s responsible for a district in South Carolina. 

As you already mentioned, his district is the sixth poorest by net worth in the United States of America. For children, it’s the third poorest. His district has the worst water quality in the nation, some of the highest levels of toxicity. Highest eviction rate, some of the worst health outcomes for any district in the United States of America. In Richland County, where the capital city of Columbia is located, there is one community, majority black community – as his district is a majority black district – there have been so many amputations of the black residents there. Their toes and fingers, legs and arms being chopped off, that a whole exposé had to be written about it. 

And they discovered that these people had such poor health outcomes because they live in food deserts – which means you go for 10 miles or more and not be able to have access to a grocery store – that exist all throughout his district. There’s also healthcare deserts – where you can go 10 miles or more and not be able to pass a hospital or doctor’s office – that exist all throughout his district. So for preventable reasons, these people are getting their limbs chopped off, and once your limb is chopped off [you‘re] usually only given three years further to live because of lack of mobility and poor circulation.

There’s a town in his district, Denmark South Carolina. It’s a small town of no more than three to four thousand people, but it has two HBCU’s: Voorhees College and Denmark Tech. They haven’t had clean water in over 10 years. [An] unapproved, untested chemical was being put in their water supply. And you’d think Clyburn would be shouting about this from the rooftop. He has not. Bernie Sanders actually brought a pallet of clean drinking water for the residents there. Now they’re telling people the water is fine. They said that in Flint, Michigan too and we saw how that went. So people there don’t believe it at all. 

Russell Dobular: So why does he keep getting returned to Congress? Why do people keep voting for him?

Marcel: People haven’t had any options, to be honest with you. It’s almost like you have grits for breakfast or grits for breakfast, you’re going to eat grits. He’s really been the only option since he’s been in office. He’s had a few primaries here and there, but none have really been a legitimate threat to him. That’s on record. And really, he’s gone as long as entire decades without being primaried. And the of the truth of the matter is, most Americans of any racial ethnic demographic, over half of their demographic is not voting. So it’s not that most people are voting for Clyburn, it’s that among the segment of the population that does vote, he gets the majority of those votes. 

And it really does come from his image as an older Black southern man. People look at him and they think that because of him being black, him having to live through Jim Crow, redlining, and all the other horrors through which Black American descendants of American slaves have survived, people imagine he has our best interests at heart. Also, the truth of the matter is a lot of people do not do their due diligence and do their research. I never bothered to research his record until I did. And once I did, that’s when I said this cannot continue. 

People don’t realize how neglectful he’s been towards us. People think that he’s up there trying, and people make excuses for him. When you bring up how bad our district is, people want to blame the Republicans.

That’s not flying with me. Black Americans vote 90 to 95 [percent] for the Democrats. Without Black Americans there will be no Democratic Party. So when i want results for my people, i’m not going to look at the Republicans. They’re not getting most of our votes, the Democrats are. 

Also, people want to give to him both sides of argument. They want to say, “look at the good things he’s done” – which is very little – and they want to give him credit for the good, and at the same time don’t want him to take responsibility for the bad. That’s not how this works. You don’t get to claim credit for the good and then absolve yourself of responsibility for the bad. So it’s been a lot of excuses made for him, it’s a lot of lack of knowledge about how bad his record. People think he’s trying to do good by us and he’s just being given a difficult time by Republicans. That is not the truth.

People are not familiar with his record. But because of me, they are now.

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Photos: AP,