Uvalde Proves Once Again That America is a Death Cult

As the 212th shooting of 2022 goes down, Americans still refuse to confront their dark side

by Adventures in the Free World (Photo:Gabriele Galimberti fromthe photo series The Ameriguns)

This constant nonsense of rotating between “No, we need gun control!” and “No, it’s a mental health issue!” has gotten absurd. What else do people expect from living in the most murderous empire in human history, where we are socialized from cradle to grave to believe in the legitimacy of a government which commits genocide 365 days a year simply to preserve world economic domination for the benefit of a handful of billionaires – all while a full half of American citizens couldn’t survive a $400 emergency?

What do people think “Live by the sword, die by the sword” means, anyway? Do they imagine it means “Except for us, because we’re the ‘greatest nation in the world’/’the good guys’” and other fantasies?

People that vent their outrage online every time another mass shooting happens, cycling back and forth between blaming Republicans, blaming this-or-that SCOTUS justice or politician, blaming a certain ideology or political position, are unserious about seeing real change. It’s not to say that there isn’t some sort of genuine feeling there, but when mass shootings (along with police murdering unarmed civilians) happen on a near-daily basis and people are still pearl-clutching and tossing around the same vapid excuses in order to confront the real source of the problem or say the quiet part out loud, “unserious” is an accurate criticism.

Capitalism is violence. The capitalist system breeds violence in all forms. Capitalism creates poverty and death. Yet those who are beneficiaries of capitalism, or have maintained a modicum of comfort or stability under the capitalist system, will never admit its complicity – for a dozen complicated reasons which are a separate article in themselves – when the latest atrocity porn is dominating the mainstream media cycle.

People die of capitalism in this country every day, and people die as victims of the American capitalist system outside our borders daily in exponentially larger numbers. All this, as the Democrat legislative majority hands enough money to Ukraine to end homelessness in the United States in order to INSTEAD fund Biden’s proxy war with Russia.

There is functionally no difference between Americans dying because they have to ration their insulin, can’t pay for cancer treatment, or can’t afford to go to a doctor.

Between Americans dying because they were thrown out of their homes due to the criminal pandemic response and now can’t afford even to rent anywhere because of what happened to the market.

Between Americans dying in prison on bullshit drug charges, the 150,000 that die of opioid overdoses yearly, of other deaths of despair, or of childbirth- as we have the highest maternal death rate in the developed world.

There is functionally no difference between the children Republican and Democrat presidents alike bombed to death at schools, weddings and hospitals during our 20 plus-year “war on terrorism” all over the Middle East and the global south.

There is functionally no difference between the children these presidents have starved to death – starvation being exponentially more painful and horrific than being shot- in Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Syria, Libya, Iran, Venezuela, Honduras, Iran, and Palestine; all due to American militarism and regime-change operations.

The media psy-op of presenting a school shooting as being somehow more criminal or horrific than all of the above is pure propaganda. ALL violence should be equally condemned, because all violence is equally unjust and morally wrong. But more than anything, the systemic violence that causes individuals to choose to take their pain out on others must be front and center in these discussions, because there is no such thing as a “lone gunman” with “mental health issues” in a country built and bred upon murder and exploitation. These shooters are the canaries in the coalmine – and they should be treated as such.

The insidious fact is that a large number of Americans are so self-centered that they are only outraged at things they believe could happen to THEIR kids.

This is why the lack of a healthcare system doesn’t bother people who are cool with their employer-sponsored health insurance and have no problem affording medical care for their families.

Why it doesn’t bother them that one in ten diabetics – even those insured – play Russian roulette with their insulin because they can’t afford to pay for the amount they actually need.

Why they’re not outraged that every major city in the country has tent encampments of the unhoused, who are routinely preyed upon by city governments and police forces razing the country’s most vulnerable peoples’ few earthly possessions with bulldozers as money appropriated for helping them is funneled elsewhere.

Why Americans don’t include children outside of our borders when they cry out, “But think of the children!” Safely ensconced in their homes, the only violence that breaks through the bubble of exceptionalism is the thought that when they send THEIR kids to school, this could happen to THEM.

This is exactly the reason that the same millions of Americans who scoffed at Bernie Sanders platform centering healthcare as a human right, calling it “ponies for everyone” and running him out of the race at the start of a global health emergency, were the ones most loudly calling for the heads of anyone that didn’t choose to care for their health regarding Covid-19 according to their personal demands. “I feel personally threatened and now I demand you to make me feel safe!” was the rallying cry, ignoring the blatant hypocrisy and moral relativism from which it is born.

It’s way past time that American citizens wholly confront America’s dark side – and that includes the dark side of their own psyches that cause them to remain passive, or even complicit with a system birthed by genocide and white settler colonialism, which maintains its power and economic legitimacy through murder and exploitation – thereby being responsible for the unhinged reactionary violence of various individuals that results.

“But what about the shooter? Aren’t they responsible for their own actions?” Yes. What a derptastic question, as if anyone is actually claiming that if all of the above were true, then EVERYONE would be going into schools and shooting fourth graders. Let’s not pretend that’s the ultimate source of the problem when it’s not.

“But all those other people, it’s not MY problem THEY can’t pay for healthcare and housing!” If you really think you magically ascended to a stable position in the meritocracy all on your own strengths and hard work – that the system does not advantage you while disadvantaging others, or that you are somehow “more deserving” than “those OTHER people,” you need an economics education or a lobotomy – or both.

The fallacy upon which people predicate their distinction between “worthy” and “unworthy” victims is whether or not they believe a person was helpless.

Dividing the world into worthy and unworthy victims is a tactic used to justify our crimes and demonize our enemies.

-Chris Hedges, Worthy and Unworthy Victims

When we have been scammed into believing the country is a meritocracy, the excuse people tell themselves goes like this:

A disease spreading can happen to worthy victims if those victims did “all the right things,” but if they didn’t do those things and catch the disease, then “they deserve it.” A shooting that happens among gang members is two unworthy victims, thereby not deserving of sympathy; an unarmed civilian shot by police is slightly more deserving; and innocent children in school are the most deserving. But someone dying because they lost everything, starting with their house? Well, they just didn’t work hard enough! They didn’t go to the right college, or perhaps college at all. They should have changed jobs to something that paid them more. “Whatever the cause, it couldn’t possibly be systemic – not in a meritocracy – because then how can I justify my class position as deserved and due to my hard work and extraordinary intelligence?”

And so with every act of violence, we explain it away along the battle lines of culture wars, morality, and individual responsibility, while capitalism – the water we are all swimming in – is both the original sin and the current cause of increasing deaths of despair and reactionary rage.

This is a game of delusion, disinformation, and misdirection in which civilians have a moral obligation to stop participating. Without acknowledging the root cause of the issue, there isn’t a damn thing under any administration that will ever change.

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As Dems Fail to Protect Roe, Sh*tlibs Finally Realize They’re in a Sh*t Party

by Russell Dobular

Anyone who has ever tried to reason with, cajole, prevail upon, talk sense to, or in any other way, shape, or form, get anything out of the Democratic Party, has come to discover pretty quickly that there’s no one manning the phones. At least not if you aren’t promising to show up at their next fundraiser with a T-shirt gun stuffed full of hundred-dollar bills. 

For the average Democratic voter, with nothing to offer beyond their single, solitary, measly little vote, the answer to any and all requests for relief, be they financial, medical, judicial, or racial, is a beet-red, screwed up, fat-cheeked face, howling, “WHAT, DO YOU WANT THE REPUBLICANS TO WIN???!!!!”

More understand this now, than ever before. Everyone will catch on eventually. 

Coming from an arts background, I know some of the shittiest shitlibs that God ever shat. And even they started seeing the glitches in the Matrix when the party dropped old, white, male Joe Biden on their asses and told them they had to suck it up. 

Buttigieg was more their kind of bloodless, technocratic, checking the identity boxes, flavor. And for the Warren folks, even though they focused most of their bitching on the biblical plague of digital serpents that Sanders’ supporters unleashed on Liz after her desperate claim on the debate stage that he told her a woman couldn’t win, it didn’t escape their notice that the press and the party leadership wasn’t giving Warren the ol’ Hillary footrub, in spite of her similarly being in full possession of a vagina.

As she began to gain in the polls, WAPO organized the same op-ed firing squad that had previously been reserved for Sanders, and even Mama Bear took a swipe at her Medicare for All proposal. It was reported that in blue states, incidents of cerebral hemorrhage increased ten-fold after Pelosi attacked Warren more or less openly in the press, with some victims heard to say through clenched teeth and spittle, “Pelosi woman, Warren woman, both woman, ahhhhhhhhhhhh!”

For Sanders voters who had switched to Liz, this was all familiar territory, but the Hillbots in her coalition had no experience with being on the wrong side of the party’s Mean Girls leadership and their obsequious toadies in the press. They really thought -wait for it – that the establishment gave a flying fuck about sexism, and not simply about preserving and extending its own power through whatever vehicle they consider best suited to that objective in any given election.

Did you hear? Liz just put out a Medicare for All proposal. So gross!

 These days they prefer that their corporate tools be on the diverse side so that they can attack all criticism as sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism; whatever gets the Twitterverse clucking its collective tongue. It also allows them to tell their base that they’re doing something with their time in office other than trading stock on inside information and starting up new wars on behalf of Lockheed Martin. Look! A gay, black, female, press secretary! See, we’re doing stuff!

 On this score, they didn’t want Joe Biden. But they would be damned if they were going to let Warren, or, God forbid, Sanders, anywhere near the White House. Getting a taste of that medicine opened up enough daylight between some former Hillary voters and the establishment for the leaked Roe decision to act as a final straw.

TYT’s Ana Kasparian, in the clip below, is speaking for many when she says she’s done with the party:

Never mind that Kasparian has spent years labelling anyone who said what she’s now screeching at the top of her lungs a grifter, a right-winger, a Russian agent, etc.  In that, as in many things, she is emblematic of her shitlib fellows.

So why does this realization come only now?

Because where healthcare, wages, affordable education, criminal justice reform, and structural racism are concerned, the liberal class are mostly immune from the consequences of belonging to a party that hasn’t taken any meaningful action in any of these areas for decades. Indeed, this is a party that is currently, however theoretically, led by a man who during his long tenure in the Senate did more to create the student loan crisis and the carceral state than any other living politician. That didn’t stop them from vote-blue-no-matter-whoing anyone who had the poor taste to point out the obvious hypocrisy of the Kente cloth party nominating the warden from Cool Hand Luke.

“Seems the American people got rabbit in their blood. Thinking about running. Going North. Show ‘em which way’s North, Pete.”

But abortion. Ah, now we’re talking about an issue they actually care about. 

Let’s face it. The Democrats are the modern stewards of a Protestant work ethic that has long informed the country’s attitudes towards the poor. In the end, in their heart of hearts, they don’t really believe that everyone deserves access to healthcare and education. They believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to gain access to healthcare and education. 

Discrimination is the only true sin in their philosophy. Purge that from the system, and it’s all kosher. If you didn’t get the grades to win a scholarship, and you didn’t land a job that provides healthcare, that’s on you, isn’t it? Should have cracked those books before you got that cancer diagnosis.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the thing that held this whole repulsive clusterfuck of narcissistic self-regard disguised as a political project together, was Roe. As long as the right to an abortion was nominally protected, the shitlibs could always justify themselves. Roe was the first thing they mentioned when trying to bully others into voting for the D-designated, psychopath du jour, and it was their last line of defense when confronted with the real-world uselessness of their party. But now . . .

Now, the Democrats have failed at the one thing the powerful suburban wine mom lobby entrusted them with. And they are pissed. Perhaps not as pissed as someone who can’t discharge their student loans in bankruptcy because of Biden, or someone who got thrown out of their house because of Obama, or someone who’s serving twenty years on a BS drug charge because of Bill Clinton, but still, pretty pissed.

Pissed enough to withhold their vote? Yes, I think so. Not in an intentional, willful way. After all these years of vote-shaming and Bernie Bro blaming, they’ll never openly proclaim their intention to stop voting. They just won’t make the time between soccer practice and Chardonnay to get down to the polling station. That’s how it usually works; not with a movement in the streets, but with thousands individually deciding they have better things to do with their Tuesday. 

That’s why voter enthusiasm is such a reliable predictor of outcomes.

Voting is a pain in the ass in this country. In order to win you need your side motivated enough to dodge the dragons, swim the moat, defeat the Gorgon, stand on line, present ID, and then, should they make it through all that, pull the lever, punch the chads, touch the screen, sacrifice the goat, or perform whatever other bizarre ritual the particular locality requires in order for voters to simply register their preference for Douchebag A over Douchebag B, along with whether or not Main Street needs a new stop light.

So, how is the post-SCOTUS leak polling looking for Democrats? Not good. 

While Dem enthusiasm to vote has increased by 6%, GOP enthusiasm has gone up by 2%, giving Dems only a +4% net gain-not nearly enough to dig them out of the hole they’ve been in all year. Morning Consult/Politico shows a current 7% gap on enthusiasm with 54% of Dems excited to vote, vs. 61% of the GOP.

Remember, this polling was done well after the SCOTUS draft leak. Which means that even in the face of an almost certain repeal of Roe, Dems cannot whip what’s left of their base into a full-on voting frenzy. 

Pelosi refusing to rescind her endorsement of Henry Cuellar, a pro-life Democrat, who’s house was raided by the FBI in January for still unknown reasons, probably isn’t helping. James Biggest-Scumbag-In-Congress-And-That’s-Saying-Something Clyburn going down to Texas to campaign for him, literally two days after the leak, might not have been the best of optics either.

This kind of fuck you peasants, governing style from the Democrats has been on display for a long time. But as long as Roe held, it was mostly invisible to the voter-donors that they cared about. Now that even those are getting the middle finger from a leadership that nonetheless wasted no time sending out the fundraising e-mails as soon as the draft decision first appeared in Politico, the Dems are down to MSNBC viewers and the immediate families of office holders. Have you seen the ratings for MSNBC? You can’t win an election on that.

While a lot of Dem politicians secretly greeted the news of Roe’s death with a sigh of relief, thinking it would save them from a midterm rout, failing to do the one thing they were charged with doing by all the disparate elements of their dwindling coalition, probably signifies the end of the party. Without enough voters left to hold meaningful power after 2022, and particularly after 2024, they are likely to go the way of the Whigs, over the next few election cycles.

The only question now is, what comes after? My money’s on a few decades of social chaos, fascism, and de facto civil war. At the end of which, Bernie Sanders’ disembodied head in a jar may finally be given some latitude to reform the healthcare system.

. . . now let’s talk about the high cost of prescription drugs

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Photo: MarylandGeoffrey, Wikimedia Commons

Outrage Over Roe v. Wade Won’t Save Us if We’re Still Blind to How We Got Here

by Adventures in the Free World

It’s well and good to cite the statistics and reasons (which should not actually have to be explained, but Gabrielle Blair puts it so well here) on why women need to control their own bodies, but it doesn’t do much when we have a population that can’t even correctly identify the cause of why we’re still fighting for this. Only then can anyone clearly see what we need to do if we want this to change. Thus, rather than stating all the obvious things, I’m going to talk about what should be obvious, but apparently isn’t. Let me connect the dots for everyone that wants to blame the Republicans for Roe v. Wade.

I’ll start with this: Democrats have had 50 years to codify Roe into law, and in 50 years they haven’t done it. Since 2000, they have held the majority in both houses 3 times- twice with a Democrat president at the helm. If you haven’t already arrived at the obvious conclusion, here it is: They’d have little else to run on in close elections if it weren’t for abortion. But before the “But Trump’s SCOTUS” objections start up, examine the facts there too:

Biden was in charge of the appointment of Clarence Thomas, in case you forgot he’s been around for 40 years, steamrolling Anita Hill– a black woman victim of sexual assault- in the process. In 1982, Biden voted for a constitutional amendment giving states the right to overturn Roe. And at the beginning of the primary as with many times before, he said- verbatim- that women controlling their own bodies was ‘going too far.’

The Democrats, having rehabilitated Bush II as “a good guy” in the last election, prefer we all forget that Alito was his SCOTUS appointment. But he’s a friend now, (look! he hangs out with Ellen DeGenres and stuff!) so just nevermind that little detail.

Bernie Sanders ran in 2016. Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett were appointed by Trump. Trump would not have been president in the first place if Democrats hadn’t screwed the pooch the first time Bernie ran. Had they not screwed the pooch the second time, Bernie would likely have helped to codify Roe into federal law during his first 100 days in office, in fact he ran on that promise. For whatever his detractors say about him, everyone knows Sanders keeps his promises.

The same, that they would have taken care of this issue already, could actually be said for every single progressive challenger that has run in the Democrat presidential primary since the JFK administration. There has been one every time. I’m going to repeat that: Every presidential primary since 1963 has had a progressive challenger. Here’s a timeline, for those with doubts. And every time, the party sabotages them. This is the same at the state and local level.

Progressives though, haven’t exactly been showing up for folks of any color lately, have they? The House Progressive Caucus sandbagged Nina Turner– an amazing, strong black woman full of heart and committed (mostly) to progressive policy- in favor of endorsing another corporate bootlicker, Shontel Brown, who will do nothing for anyone’s equality or rights ever, as she was chosen to enable the status quo. With these hands,” Nina says in her iconic speeches“we will transform this country.”

I guess people didn’t want that. Predictably, Nina lost in Ohio again last night. Also predictably, the party progressives are punching left as usual at everyone that’s done enabling the Blue Team and its corrupt machinations for not voting blue, while the Blue Team is punching left at progressives for being “too far left.”

I’m not done talking about Bernie though, now that one of the many hundreds of opportunity costs of not having a Sanders presidency is suddenly coming to the attention of the liberal class. (You’d think not having a healthcare system during a global pandemic would be the thing that got everybody going, except liberals don’t notice anything they don’t think personally affects them– by which I mean the class that can afford to treat politics like a personality contest.)

White feminists on the Elizabeth Warren train were too busy bitching that Bernie was “a sexist” (an allegation that was debunked as quickly was it came out) to acknowledge that his Medicare for All bill- (actual bill, unlike Warren’s “plan”) introduced in 1999 and sitting in congress ever since- specifies ALL women’s care as healthcare. Black women, white women, trans women. Just… women. Clearly though, Bernie’s non-existent sexism was a dealbreaker in their voting choices.

We all have our priorities, I guess.

At its core, abortion rights is a class issue- and liberals and their Democratic party represent the Professional Managerial Class- in other words, the petite bourgeoisie. Abortion rights is also a labor issue, which is the take we all forgot but has been so clearly elucidated here. As Kim Kelly says,

“There is no time to mince words: Abortion rights are a labor issue, and this is a moment in which the labor movement needs to make clear that bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom are core issues that unions will fight tooth and nail to preserve. The right to control our bodies is part and parcel of our centuries-old battle to control our labor, and they cannot be separated from one another. It matters that so many workers are not only at risk of unwanted pregnancy themselves, but are also expected to engage in reproductive labor — the so-called “women’s work” that is so often undervalued and underpaid (or wholly unpaid). It matters that pregnant workers face discrimination as well as physical and medical hazards on the job, and that far too many don’t have access to quality healthcare or paid parental leave. It matters that workers who do not want to have a baby or cannot do so safely are about to have that choice stolen from them, and that forced birth is the only option on offer from the most powerful court in the land (as illegitimate as it is and always has been).

A couple of interesting facts:

The highest rate of abortions in the USA happens among educated white women.

Most of them already have children and a) can’t afford more or b) are older and at high risk for complications either to themselves or the fetus.

To put it more on the nose about class and race: Rich white women have never had a problem getting abortions. Not when they were illegal, not when they were legal but expensive unless you went to Planned Parenthood, and not after they’re made illegal again due to the Democrat Captains of Failures’ cascading miscalculations. Affluent women, while they may work, are not constrained by cost limitations when they need to travel to another state or even another country to terminate a pregnancy. They’re less likely to be exposed to “physical or medical hazards on the job.” Their resources are greater to hire daycare, nannies, and other things to make motherhood- including working motherhood- easier for themselves. They are also most likely to be either married or receiving alimony.

Banning abortion is a strategy to maintain an underclass of impoverished women, trapped in a predatory economic system that produces easily exploit-able workers for the service sector and desperate soldiers for the Pentagon’s endless regime-change wars.

It’s not just white feminists that ignored this, however. Despite the medical establishment’s racial injustices and the unaffordable cost of healthcare for most of the black population, old black folks- the Clyburn folks- ignored it too, in favor of voting for the Dixiecrat that wrote the 1994 crime bill. In favor of the guy that still called a member of the Congressional Black Caucus “boy” during a meeting prior to the general election. In favor of the guy whose entire campaign trail was littered with racist gaffes and stories about Corn Pop. In favor of the guy that has been sending poor black children to fight in endless regime-change wars and enthusiastically bombing black and brown people all over the global south for 3 generations.

Somehow, “bErNiE iSn’T fOr uS” was just a more compelling argument at the time. Apparently. Or it was the fact that the Monday night coup before Super Tuesday 2020 came at the powerful directive of Obama himself. Either way, it has cost us all.

So the guy that explicitly said when asked that he would veto Medicare for All if it ever came across his desk, and said women were going too far to demand reproductive choice, became the POTUS and nobody thought this was going to be a problem when the now-majority conservative Supreme Court finally decided to weigh in.

We can’t put it all on Biden, however. The Democrats could have codified Roe any time they’ve held a majority since 1973 and simply chosen not to. As House Rep. Pramila Jayapal correctly said yesterday, the Senate can bypass the filibuster to do this right now. I guarantee you they won’t. As stated before, what would they run their campaigns on these days if they did?

Hillary Clinton chose Tim Kaine, a vocally anti-abortion Democrat, as her running mate in 2016. Obama promised to work for the codification of Roe v. Wade into law in 2008, then, consistent with his praxis, didn’t. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi removed abortion access from the Affordable Care Act. Just this week, Pelosi and other party power-brokers are in Texas, fundraising and campaigning for the virulently anti-abortion Henry Cuellar for the second time against the progressive Jessica Cisneros. Yet whenever Democrat politicians behave badly, their loyal voters are happy to look the other way.

Washington Post

The party’s favorite- and strategically necessary- rotating villians grift comes in handy at times like these; this time around, Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema. Manchin was challenged by Paula Jean Swearengin twice. Swearengin had overwhelming bipartisan support in West Virginia. She was sabotaged both times by the DNC and Democrat party leadership. The party needed him to be their bad guy so they can blame their deliberate ineptitude on a couple of “yucky corporate Dems” and lead their voters away from the truth that the problem is the entire party. Manchin’s complicity in standing against abortion rights is a price the Dems were entirely willing to pay to maintain their charade.

The same way, Mitch McConnell would no longer be a problem if the Democrats hadn’t screwed Charles Booker, who also had overwhelming bipartisan support in Kentucky, in favor of the candidate nobody wanted and nobody thought could win: Amy McGrath. The point here is that where Democrats have always been unreliable about protecting anyone’s rights except for the occasional performance (ripping up Trump’s speech, kneeling in Kente cloth at the Capitol), progressives have been more strident about it. The internecine war between the party’s two factions proves that equality for anyone isn’t on the agenda anywhere but campaign speeches and outraged tweets.

Really, this all comes down to basic pattern recognition.

Of course, it helps to also learn about peoples’ political records before voting instead of just listening to campaign promises. And, you know, understand how the party you’re aligning yourself with functions and what it truly represents. But I digress.

I’ll tell you another thing, the entire “Our body, our choice” argument espoused by the Democrats and the liberal class as a whole for decades rings mighty hollow after their epic, paranoid pivot on this position the second a Big Scary Pandemic came along. Obviously, the pandemic was serious and scary. But the inflated sense of self-importance that the liberal class brought to it – the very same class that wholesale rejected universal healthcare, including in the primary election that was in full swing as the pandemic began raging – characterizes the hypocrisy of categorically dismissing the well-being of others until one feels personally threatened. Then the finger-pointing and demands began. “Do this for the good of everybody” REALLY means “do this because I’m scared I’ll catch it at the grocery store,” but that would (gasp!) sound self-centered. Don’t think the 47% of voters who are actually independent, as in not aligned with the two-party grift, didn’t note this glaring consistency. They did. Think that will undermine the credibility of liberals arguing for bodily sovereignty in the future?

Yes. I think it will.

The push for mandates of the experimental mRNA drug treatment is a clear legal, scientific, and ethical violation- while also severely undermining the ability to use choice as a moral argument. Bodily sovereignty is sacrosanct, full stop. Be it medically-assisted suicide, reproductive control, or choosing which medical interventions and treatments to accept or decline, this is a non-negotiable line item in any society which wishes to call itself free.

To say that using religion or moral “right to life” claims to bolster the abortion debate is transparently false is stating the obvious. But that doesn’t mean the people stating this have a leg to stand on, because even when they’re correct, after eight years of culture war hysteria and Russiagating, no one’s listening to them anymore. To the outside observer, it all looks like pearl-clutching, moral-panicking hypocrisy. …Right, I’ll just be blunt: A meme. It all looks like a meme.

This is the predictable damage caused by both tribal factions in this country politicizing the pandemic to advance their respective partisan cultural-social agendas. Now, if you point out the hypocrisy of the thoroughly unscientific and basically made-up pandemic response with regards to this issue, cheered- in fact, demanded– by the same people that five minutes earlier were supposed to be for bodily choice, you’re a crazyantiscienceMAGAracisttransphobicantivaxxer out to Covid-murder your fellow Americans and deserve to die screaming.

It serves to mention, however, that the highest percentage of “anti-vax” sentiment (a blatant propaganda slur if I’ve ever heard one) in the U.S. was among black folks, but you’d never know it from the corporate media. Gee, I wonder why, after things like the Tuskegee Experiment and other racist abuses of power levied at black people under the guise of medical advancement made them little more than guinea pigs for nearly a century.

So it’s not like bodily sovereignty among black folks has ever been policy in this country- but it sure as hell doesn’t help the cause when the party that is supposed to be advocating for it suddenly abandons this position as soon as something pierces the safe little bubble in which affluent white liberals working their six-figure jobs from home and ordering Whole Foods delivery live, and makes them feel personally threatened.

Lastly, if you hadn’t noticed, the Blue Team is in for the shellacking of the century in the upcoming midterms. Their favorite scapegoat, Donald Trump, just came out and voiced the sane position on Russia-Ukraine while their Democrat president, Democrat House/Senate majority, and various State media apparatus are busy fomenting a proxy war with the world’s #2 nuclear power. Meanwhile, Republicans are suddenly the party pushing for anti-trust laws, opposing censorship, and breaking up monopolies. In other words, what used to be the Democrats’ brand.

I’m sure this little SCOTUS leak on the most inflammatory culture issue in the country is probably just a coincidence though. I mean… they would never... would they?

Facts to the contrary could not be more in abundance, but when those elections roll around, the usual faction of tribalistic liberals will be screaming at everyone to “vote blue no matter who,” making the usual nonsensical arguments about this how this is going to save women’s rights and everyone that doesn’t is a racistsexistNazibrownshirtBerniebro. The canyon between liberals (Democrats), progressives (still Democrats but like to think they’re not as Democrat-ey), and leftists (former Democrats, progressives & anti-capitalist independents- all DemExit) will grow to the size of the continent. The 2024 election will surely see the Party of the People get clobbered as well.

Right now, as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning, the Democrats have dramatically announced an urgent show vote to do the thing they should have done since the original Roe v. Wade decision three generations ago. Just this morning I received a series of desperate text messages from “Joe Biden” and “Kamala Harris” via ActBlue, asking me for $15 to save women in America. You’ll understand why I told them to use the hundreds of millions they made insider-trading during the pandemic and fund this little deus ex machina themselves.

Meanwhile, Status Quo Joe Biden is busy filming live informercials for javelin missiles, extolling the virtues of the military-industrial complex and doing imperialism as his entire constituency wonders whether we’re sleepwalking straight into The Handmaid’s Tale. Which, as Caitlin Johnstone points out, is “the most Joe Biden thing ever.”

“It’s a good thing Trump lost because otherwise Roe v Wade would be on the chopping block and immigrants would still be getting mistreated and the Iran deal would still be dead and the military budget would keep inflating. That bastard would probably have us on the brink of World War 3 by now.”

What’s the point of this screed, you say? Isn’t it detracting from the issue? No.

No, it is the issue.

The moral of the story is that THERE IS NO OPPOSITION PARTY IN THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, and without an opposition party, what the f**k else did you think was going to happen??? As long as people keep deluding themselves that there’s an electoral solution for abortion or any of the other problems in this country- that we’re going to magically vote our way out by picking either half of the corrupt neoliberal government to save us- you can bet your life on the fact it will never change.

Make no mistake, the United States is an empire in collapse. Reproductive rights and women’s equality have remained an electoral cudgel, rather than being resolved, for a reason- and it’s not due to any absence whatsoever of decades of legislative opportunity, political capital and public demand.

So ask yourself: What have we been getting wrong about this?

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Photo: Instagram: p_ssyhat project

An Open Letter to Bitter Hillary Voters on Bernie Bros, Susan Sarandon, and Roe v. Wade

by Keaton Weiss

Dear Nasty Woman,

I know you’re angry right now. So am I. I’m a firm believer in a woman’s right to choose, and so the leaked SCOTUS opinion which shows them poised to overturn Roe v. Wade is a cataclysmic, and yes, terrifying development. (Luckily, Democrats have the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, and they could move quickly to codify abortion rights in federal law if they wanted to. Unfortunately though, they’re not willing to suspend the filibuster in order to do so – what a surprise.)

Whenever an abortion-related court ruling goes the wrong way, Susan Sarandon trends on Twitter within minutes. Hillary supporters rage at both the famous Sanders surrogate turned Jill Stein supporter, and the Bernie Bros who sat out the 2016 general election in protest.

According to you guys, this is all our fault. Had we been conscientious and mature enough to vote for Hillary that November instead of selfishly deciding not to, President Clinton would have filled the three seats on the Court that were instead appointed by the Orange Man, and Roe v. Wade would have been safe for at least the next generation.

For the sake of this argument – and not rehashing old ones about who’s most responsible for Clinton’s unlikely defeat – I’ll fully accept your premise that disaffected Bernie Bros and the likes of Susan Sarandon blew the 2016 election for Hillary and therefore endangered reproductive rights for millions of American women.

As I stated from the outset, I’m staunchly pro-choice. Without getting into the graphic details, I’m probably even to your left on the issue. But I believe with equal conviction that a woman’s right to a safe, legal, and free abortion is no more sacred than anyone’s right to any other medical procedure. In 2016, millions of Democrats supported Bernie Sanders largely because he felt the same way: that ALL HEALTHCARE IS A RIGHT OF ALL PEOPLE, and that it’s long past time the United States implement a single-payer universal healthcare system – the only way to translate that belief into reality.

And you remember how you responded, don’t you? Do the dismissive words “free stuff” ring a bell? How about “pie in the sky,” “fairyduster,” or “my way or the highway?” Remember when Hillary herself proclaimed on a rally stage that Medicare for All would “never, ever come to pass?” Remember the thunderous applause from you guys after she said that? I think you do.

So just to recap: millions of Bernie supporters asserted that, as is the case in every other developed country on Earth, all medical care – chemotherapy, brain surgery, and yes, abortion services as well – should be enshrined as a human right available to all Americans regardless of their ability to pay. And your camp reacted with nothing but derision and contempt. You insisted that another national debate over healthcare wasn’t worth the trouble, even as in the Obamacare era, tens of thousands of Americans continue to die each year because they can’t afford medical treatment.

And then, in the general election, you expected these same people – many of whom depended on the implementation of M4A in order to stay alive – to show up on your behalf to vote for your candidate to protect your right to reproductive care. After you dismissed, for example, type 1 diabetics’ pleas for free insulin as “theoretical better ideas” that would never be realized, you demanded that they go to bat for you that November so that your rights would be secured. Now ask yourself, who were the truly “selfish” ones in this situation?

With all due respect for our founding documents, “rights” are not inalienable, and they don’t come from our creator. Rather, rights are won by humans through human struggle, and are protected through human solidarity. In that most fateful election of 2016, the Hillary faithful expressed no support whatsoever for what we in the Bernie camp, along with every other major country on the planet, viewed as the fundamental human right to healthcare and medicine.

In fact, as you well remember, you told us all to go fuck ourselves. And in November, many of us returned the sentiment. We didn’t owe you any more than that then, and we certainly don’t owe you an apology for it now. So even if we are most to blame for Trump’s election and its consequences, I maintain we had no obligation to stand up for your rights when you clearly had no interest in standing up for ours.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, if you really want to secure reproductive rights in this country, now would be the time to give your beloved Democratic politicians an ultimatum: use your power to abolish the filibuster and codify federal protections for abortion access, or we’re never voting to give you that power again. And if you want to avoid these crises in the future, join the struggle for single-payer healthcare, the only way to codify all forms of healthcare as basic human rights, no more or less sacred than any others.

The ball’s in your court. Choose wisely for a change.

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Image: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Not Our Apocalypse: Why Americans Should Disown the Russia-Ukraine War

by Adventures in the Free World

Biden’s ungodly proxy war with Russia, this time using Ukraine as a pawn to force regime change against Putin (it was Syria the first time), seems like a moment to remind people of one key point: When the government tells you something or some nation is a “threat”- a “national security threat” or threat to “U.S. interests”- just remember that it has absolutely nothing to do with you. State power brainwashes us from birth to death into falsely identifying ourselves with its agenda and believing that the State represents what is best for the people.

It does not.

In recent events, the brainwashing results in citizens declaring blue and yellow as their new favorite colors and pearl-clutching over tales of Putin trying to restore the Russian empire; demonstrating an astonishing lack of awareness about their own country. But then, as they love to say, it’s never bad when we’re the ones doing it- thus demonstrating the second most notable characteristic of the voting majority: the use of moral relativism as justification for everything.

Most of the time, the State’s agenda is directly opposite what is best for the people, and its interest is in protecting the rich along with its power and control over the proletariat. This is largely done by convincing people to imagine their interests align with the government’s.

Nowhere is this more currently apparent than in Biden’s ridiculous rhetoric about the skyrocketing cost of living, claiming that “WE” all have to sacrifice for “justice” (contain your laughter, this is serious) in Ukraine. I’m not even going to waste time debunking that obvious lie. Our history books glorify how “WE” came together during “war time” -which is really the kind of time that governments decide to send poor people to get killed so that oligarchs can profit- while selling the masses some version of the “might makes right” fairy tale to get everyone feeling invested in the cause.

The media spins its usual stories to push peoples’ emotional buttons. Under Bush the First, it was ‘babies being torn from incubators.’ Bush the Second’s spectacular “WMDs in Iraq” started a multi-continental war we still haven’t ended. We’ve had ‘chemical attacks against their own people,’ ‘attack on an American embassy,’ ‘Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan,” and every other variation on the usual Tonkin Gulf theme… which could actually be called the Lusitania theme, but no one knows history anymore so that will just confuse people.

Sometimes, the U.S. even uses terrorists (and terrorism- but it’s not called that when we do it) to “fight terrorism,” predictably creating whole organizations of new terrorists. Wheee!

Not a single nation that the U.S. government deemed “a threat” in the past 50 years has posed any actual threat to U.S. citizens. This includes the countries falsely accused of being responsible for 9/11. Meanwhile, said government has continued its 1971 weapons-for-oil petrodollar scam with the one country actually responsible for 9/11. We even helped them commit mass murder in Yemen, Jordan, and Syria. Every POTUS pays the requisite yearly visit to the Holy Kingdom of Human Rights Violations (why yes, I do mean Saudi Arabia), accompanied by billions of dollars in arms sales and roundly covered by the mass media as “diplomacy.” People are always shocked that we keep selling them weapons, which is unsurprising considering a total of 10 Americans are aware of how the petrodollar economy works or the fact that perpetual weapons sales are part of the deal.

Thus, U.S. wars are not your wars. Threats to the U.S. economic agenda of singular world domination is not your agenda. Imperialism is not protecting your “freedom” from a world of jealous freedom-hating aggressors. What benefits the U.S. empire does not, in any way, benefit you. In other words, you‘re not obligated to ‘sacrifice’ a damn thing for them. You don’t owe it to anyone to wave the flag or say ‘support our troops’ or listen to the endless parade of former generals and CIA hacks selling wars on the news or join the hype. Cheering for mass murder of humans and animals and widespread environmental destruction does not make you a “good citizen-” as if being one had any sort of benefit to you anyhow.

If Americans withdrew all support, voting and otherwise, for imperialism and imperialist politicians, the narrative would collapse in a week.

Palestinian rapper Lowkey, often targeted for cancelation by government censors and currently under aggressive assault by the Israel lobby for his activism against their policy of genocide, sums up the empire acutely in songs like Obama Nation (below), Terrorist? and interviews like this one and this one.

And here’s a step-by-step of exactly how U.S. imperialism works:

  1. Oligarchs have oligarchic designs on some hapless part of the world, usually in the global south, requiring enforcement by the Pentagon and its bottomless resources (which come at the expense of American citizens.)
  2. They place their order for a shiny new military campaign with the politicians they buy; sometimes directly, and sometimes through their related lobbyists. The Capitol public relations machine unironically crafts a narrative about some evil dictator that exploits his own people (no!), or committing human rights violations (whaaat?!), or- GASP!– doing imperialism.
  3. The U.S. government starts a war with no opposition from anyone in Congress, from either political party. They pass a bill appropriating billions of tax dollars to fund the new war instead of thing s like a functioning healthcare system or education or climate action.
  4. When a tiny handful of Americans point out these atrocities are also precisely what their own government does, the PR machine spins it with some version of “bUt wE’Re dOiNg tHe ‘gOoD’ kInD oF tHaT tHiNg,” laden with tales of American heroes restoring justice to the global order. Hollywood puts out a summer blockbuster with the current theme.
  5. Washington’s State “security” apparatus and its various alphabet agencies place their order with the Silicon Valley tech goons to silence dissenting opinion and cancel anti-war voices from the internet. They unironically order various Op-Eds and thinkpieces from the neoliberal intelligentsia about the dangers of free speech and need for more censorship to save democracy from fascism. Moral panic over the heresy of disagreeing with the Imperial Narrative ensues. In the years since his administration ended (but not his hold over the Democrat party machine), with annual regularity, the establishment trots out Obama to give speeches on the importance of shutting up speech.
  6. Nations are decimated, often reduced to failed states as in the case of Libya, and refugees of those nations show up at U.S. borders asking for asylum.
  7. This sparks the Great Immigration Debate. Of the Republicans, Democrats say “Embrace all immigrants, you hateful, inhumane, uneducated racist bigots!” Of the Democrats, Republicans say “Build a wall! Tell the beggars to go home and work for a living!” They run campaigns on immigration policy and voters support them based on “Let ‘em in!” or “Let ’em die!” as preference dictates.
  8. Not one politician says “We created this shit, now it’s at our door, we owe these people and also if we stopped doing imperialism our immigration problem would suddenly disappear.” Which, obviously, is the truth. Not one ever runs campaigns on ending imperialism.
  9. The costs of war are passed on to the American citizen by way of tax and price hikes along with cuts to the already-meager spending for the kinds of social programs that paying taxes is supposed to pay for. New austerity measures ensue, and millions of citizens continue to eke out a subsistence living (or often, they don’t) under our failing neoliberal system.
  10. Defense contractors make billions, the stock market skyrockets, Wall St. manufactures a few more billionaires. All of the above dumps money into buying more politicians. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  11. Not one American worker or child ever benefits from whatever millions of brown people died (represented by Ahmed, in this collective obituary) or whose homelands were destroyed for the war that whatever POTUS of the moment proclaimed is flying the flag of humanity and justice over the world and thereby worth our noble “sacrifices.”

Conveniently, since the collective memory is outdone by that of a goldfish, the buildup of manufacturing consent (Russiagate, anyone?) for the war in Ukraine is a perfect reference example of the all of the above… as is the practically unreported U.S.-backed coup d’etat of Palestinian prime minister Imran Khan, going on at the same time.

Thus, the necessity of class solidarity cannot be overstated. The worldwide working class (SPOILER: if you support your cost of living by a job you are working class*) has one set of interests, and the State power apparatus in the U.S. and western imperial nations has an entirely different set of interests. Neither political party provides an electoral solution to the problems of working people, and no candidate or election within the current system will change that. As long as world domination at all costs is the primary agenda of the U.S. government, your material needs will never be a priority. It is only when the proletariat unites and starts demanding what is good for US that we create societies governed by systems that SERVE the people instead of exploiting them.

In these halcyon days before either nuclear or climate apocalypse, whichever arrives first, it would be useful to bear in mind that capitalist imperialism is the direct cause of both. Don’t be conned into taking ownership of apocalypse.

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Photo: Oleksandr Ratushniak (CC 4.0)

Finland’s Reckless Bid to Join NATO Breaks from a Long Tradition of Neutrality

by Kristoffer Hellén

As the world watches the war in Ukraine drag on, Western states are upping the ante by offering more and more military aid to Ukraine. After all, we can’t just stand by and do nothing as a small country gets pummeled by the aggression of a bigger state (hold your tongue, Yemen).

But another story is developing in the background that could dramatically raise the stakes and spell disaster for the world. In Finland, following the Russian invasion, support for joining NATO has reached 62%, up an astonishing 41 points from just 2017. At the moment, there seems to be little stopping Finland from joining NATO, and Rachel Maddow cannot contain her joy.

But as a Finnish citizen myself, I take this news with great trepidation.

What does it mean for Finland to break from its long Cold War policy of neutrality and double NATO’s land border with Russia?

Some background on Finnish neutrality is needed.

In 1939, Finland, a nation of four million people, faced an all-out invasion by the USSR in what was widely perceived as a war of conquest to reconstitute the territory of the Russian Empire (Finland was a part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917 when Lenin granted their request for independence). The capitalist West cheered for Finland from the sidelines, but understood that joining the fight ourselves would mean fighting against the USSR. And so Finland was left to fight on their own, which they did valiantly, inflicting heavy losses on the much larger invading force for 100 days in the middle of winter (inventing the Molotov Cocktail in the process).

But the reasons for the invasion, as always, were more nuanced than the national mythology surrounding it. According to Max Jakobson, Finland’s chief diplomat in post-war Finland and instrumental architect of Finland’s policy of neutrality, one of the main reasons for the invasion in 1939 was because Finland was unable to convince the USSR of its commitment to neutrality. They had invited German Jaegers to Finland to crush the Reds during the Finnish Civil War twenty years earlier. When Finland’s border was within shelling distance of Leningrad, there was a credible threat of Finland joining with Nazi Germany and threatening vital Soviet interests. Finland’s foreign policy after WWII was centered around fixing this credibility issue, and assuring the Soviet Union that Finland was serious about neutrality.

They paid heavily to do so. They accepted the Soviet peace terms, ceding 10% of their territory, paid staggering war debts, and even put their own politicians on trial. Even more devastating was their refusal to accept Marshall Aid from the United States when doing so would have gone a long way to help rebuild the country. But the Soviet Union rightly saw the Marshall Plan as being directed against Soviet interests, so Finland had to refuse the offer of aid to make their commitment to neutrality credible. Finland paid off its full war debt to the USSR without any outside assistance.

The wisdom of their policy of neutrality paid off. Finland enjoyed a very good relationship with the Soviet Union which paved the way for a great economic boom. Finland’s prosperity rested entirely on the sacrifices that Finland made to make credible their commitment to neutrality. They chose to recognize the legitimate security concerns of the USSR.

Credibility is a commodity that takes a lot of time to build up. And when you lose credibility, it’s very difficult to get it back.

Finland is throwing away credibility that it earned through decades of difficult but strategic sacrifice. Finland is choosing to become a tool of the American anti-Russian alliance. Finland is joining NATO as a reaction to what they see as Russian aggression against Ukraine. But what Russia sees is Finland joining NATO at a time when Biden has (inadvertently) declared that the goal of the war is regime change in Russia. Finns ignore that because they have seemingly become aligned with the American propaganda narrative. This makes for a very dangerous situation. Now is the absolute worst time to join NATO. Finland is risking global destabilization to make itself a pawn in the Western imperial chess board.

God help Finland.

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Photo: Winter War, 1940 (Public Domain)

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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Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC 2.0)

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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Photos: Gage Skidmore, Elvert Barnes

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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Image: Merriam-Webster