Traitors of Journalism: Lisa Lerer, Character Assassin & Eraser of History


On Thursday, I published a reproof of Pieter Friedrich, a religious fundamentalist who, in a series of subreptitious tweets, accused me of conspiring with Tulsi Gabbard to videotape a fake campaign rally wherein an actress would ask a question about Gabbard’s financial ties to the RSS. I prefaced my essay with an expression of distaste for the business—needed, but distasteful—of exposing the fatuity of my fellow journalists, the vast majority of whom are paid to proliferate and reinforce the propaganda of the American Empire: we must disassemble their multilayered mendacity, but it is so much more rewarding to produce our own independent content. Alas, forty-eight hours after the fall of Mr. Friedrich, another fabulist emerges from the smoggy bog to deepen the pollution of the corporate media: Lisa Lerer, a writer for The New York Times and a woman embalmed within her inextricable connections, and morally bankrupt loyalty, to the Democratic Party establishment.

Early Saturday morning, the Times published Lerer’s essay: “What, Exactly, is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?” Titled less as a question than as a declaration, Lerer’s piece is the latest in a voluminous store of letters in which writers express their dyspeptic concern that Gabbard is fostering disunity in the Democratic Party. The charge, articulated as clumsily by Lerer as it was by Aaron Rupar and Molly Jong-Fast, is that Gabbard has profaned the moral sanctity of the Democratic Party by questioning the integrity of the Party’s presidential primary process. Most conspicuously and controversially, she has condemned the polling system—its criteria as well as its execution—whereby candidates are invited to or excluded from televised debates. Her criticism ought to be utterly uncontroversial, rooted as it is in demonstrable fact, but the party establishment takes umbrage with her sacrilegious skepticism, and it has sent its rottweilers in the corporate media to overwrite her message.

However, Gabbard’s most recent challenge pertains not to the polling system, but to the delegate system in the state primaries and caucuses. For all of the inexorable attention paid to polling in the media, there is suspiciously slight “official interest” in the delegate tallies, likely because a serious examination of such would reveal the sickly undemocratic principles of our so-called democracy. The delegate system, a term that is more than incidentally authoritarian, achieved popular interest in the summer of 2016, when Bernie Sanders netted far fewer delegates at the Democratic National Convention than his performances in the primaries and caucuses would suggest. This nonplussing inversion, further complicated by WikiLeaks’s invaluable revelations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was conspiring against Sanders from the start of his presidential campaign, led to calls for intraparty reform.


Traitors of Journalism: Pieter Friedrich, Conspiracy Theorist/Freewheeling Slanderer


Overcrowding at Tulsi Gabbard’s event in Londonderry, New Hampshire on 10/01/2019. Conspiracy theorist Pieter Friedrich questions the authenticity of a video I released (which can be viewed here) in which a woman challenged Tulsi Gabbard’s alleged support of the Modi administration in India. He also wants to know why no other recording of the event exists. Note the person filming in the picture above.

I really don’t enjoy expending my time and energy on fruitless measures of journalistic warfare, not when it is far more satisfying to argue in the affirmative, but in the last nine days, I have been beset a desperate mob of unprincipled critics, some of whom seem to misrepresent me knowingly, with malice. We have already vanquished Lucid Primate, a man who failed to live up even to his own unflattering name when he scolded me for exposing his idol, Bernie Sanders, hours before he accused me of plotting to assassinate Sanders; but in the midst of that controversy, it was easy to overlook the outlandish accusations made by Pieter Friedrich, a self-proclaimed expert on “South Asian affairs” who, for the last year, has written extensively, though not at all convincingly, about his favorite political fantasy. According to this man, Tulsi Gabbard is a devoted agent of the RSS, and as President of the United States, she will empower that military group at the fatal expense of Indian Muslims.

Anyone who has followed the Gabbard campaign—or anyone who has read my own work, for that matter—is sufficiently conversant with the assiduous claim, as baseless today as it was in January, that Gabbard labors to empower bloodthirsty warmongers all over the globe, that there is no sight she finds more delectably sadistic than the vision of persecuted millions perishing at the bad end of an imperialist weapon. It’s an awfully creative and audacious accusation to be made of the one presidential candidate in the Democratic Party who has spoken in unambiguous, credible contempt of the military-industrial complex, but ours is the time of tragic irony, and on this day, it is not at all improper to accuse a critic of imperialism of untoward aggression.

The corporate media rewards this inverted and insane commentary, and as Ana Kasparian profits by voicing it to the lowest common denominator, Pieter Friedrich gussies up the same propaganda for the bourgeois pseudointellectuals. If this were Russiagate, then Kasparian would play the part of Rachel Maddow, Friedrich that of Seth Abramson. Friedrich wrote a preposterously prolix piece on the imaginary connections between Gabbard and the RSS, a scroll that, by his own boastful and incessant reminders, runs for more than 18,000 words; by contrast, my longest piece published here, on a website named for wordiness, ran for less than 7,000. And yet, in all of that language, Friedrich fails to forge even the most tenuous link—although we shouldn’t pick on him, not when Abramson wasted four hundred and fifty pages without finding a single proof of collusion.


The Joke’s on Us: “Joker” Doesn’t Get its Own Sense of Humor


The walls are closing in. Every form of liberty is really an exercise of the freedom of movement, the freedom to explore one’s physical and mental environment. Ergo, in order to move freely, one must have a free environment, which is to say: a natural environment. Imprisonment is punishing because it is unnatural: the barriers, restrictions, and limitations form a rigid antithesis to the fluid volatility of natural life. Some unnatural construction is required for the development of a society, lest the endless splintering reduce the unifying center to a superfluity, unfamiliar and useless; the problem is not the forming of a society, but the refusal of that society to leave in peace those who live, or would live, without it or apart from it. When the society seizes from uninterested outsiders, then the society has become a virus—and unless the virus is cured, then the society will eventually devour itself once it has consumed everybody else.

The United States is a society whose obsessive-compulsive fetish for death, death by consumption, has resulted in the acquisition of immense international power, but this external power, which I would argue is largely illusory, is reciprocated by an internal impotence. Our interpersonal dysfunction, mirrored by our incoherent culture, is an inevitable symptom of our pervasive social sickness, the physical act of destructive consumption transmuted and made ethereal, but much more palpable, as well. It is not impossible to live well in an unwell society, but it is impossible to live without coming into contact with some element of the diseased, and in turn, running the risk of infection. Usually, this infection takes the form of economic hardship—or economic anxiety, at the very least—which is later manifested in our increasingly strained personal ties. Our own failings become indistinct from our society’s, and we are unified only in our hopeless march toward our gruesome climax.

Our own ability to abandon this sinister parade is contingent on our freedom of movement. Absent this power, the people continue to make their unfree selections, selections that were chosen for them long before they were presented to them. One such selection is the movie Joker, currently in its fourth day of release. The film is centered on a miserable man named Arthur Fleck, who, in the midst of psychological deterioration engendered by incessant immersion in bleak society, finds catharsis in dressing as a clown and engaging in disturbing antisocial behavior, including murder. Countless people have been fascinated by this film since the release of its brilliant teaser trailer six months ago, and with good reason: the premise is a reflection of the unsettling, ominous decadence of our own social structure, and in embracing this grotesquerie before deconstructing it, the movie promises an emotional discharge for us as well as Arthur.


An Open Letter to the Critics of the Bernie Sanders/Julian Assange Video

This morning, I received the following comment from an individual known as Lucid Primate, who is unhappy with my video of Bernie Sanders refusing to discuss Julian Assange, the reaction that this video received, and an essay I have written about it. Here I will publish his comment in full:

“Never has so much yarn been spun about 29 seconds of bushwhacked vid-clip “journalism”. Your pleading makes you sound like a tantrum thralled child begging for an ice cream cone. Your expectation of an answer about one of the most critical questions of our freedom from perhaps the staunchest supporter of civil rights (and certainly the import of the other 99% public good on all other issues) on the scene today make you and your disgusting exploitation making hay of Bernie’s non-committal comment as though he is revealing some evil, villainous, hidden self truth to be nothing more than self-promoting journalism-free narcissism on your part.

Make no mistake, I am 100% in the corner of Assange, Snowden, Winner, and Manning as true patriots and heroes of freedom everywhere. I believe all should receive The Presidential Medal Of Freedom in honor of their selfless service to America. Again, 100%.

Of course reasonable supporters want Bernie to support Assange. I want him to, too, but no matter what answer he gives you, he loses to your self aggrandizement. However, he’s smart enough to understand that, so he, with reasonable situationally aware politeness, allows the question to continue to simmer as his best answer in the moment. It is an answer which would otherwise open him to needless attack from any side of Assange consideration no matter what he says, drawing few and potentially offending far more. He is not about defining himself to your convenience, nor is this the single issue which defines him, as it seems you want it to be. He has no hope in the case of being bushwacked by you of providing any background of his considerations of the merits of his answer, or to educate why it is so important to us all. Most of the public don’t have any understanding of why they should care, so he doesn’t answer. He didn’t get to where he is without savvy or conviction. On this day he lets savvy carry his water. I accept that, for now. I do expect that he will do what’s right when he can, because that’s what Bernie almost always does, far more so than any other he runs against. And then, Tulsi.

The nuances and speculations within their candidacies are manifold and profound. Never before in my experience has there been a more symbiotic paring in any race, even though it is tacit. She has strongly and clearly come down on the side of our heroes of freedom of information. In doing so she, silently, provides cover for Bernie while giving a place for Assange stans to take rest. At this point I have to take that as the best I’ll get. You should, too. The soul of Walter Cronkite will forgive you, I’m sure.”

This afternoon, I write my response:


Bernie Sanders on Julian Assange


“Why are you here?”

That’s an excellent question. Usually, I’m the one making inquiries, especially out on the campaign trail. But every once in a while, someone asks me something truly unnerving and, in the process, brings my heart to a pause. Why am I here, forty miles from home on a cool September morning, standing in line for the amphitheater on the Plymouth State University campus? I’m here because Bernie Sanders is here, holed up somewhere in the concrete labyrinth of the Silver Center for the Arts, from which he will emerge within the next two hours. I am here because he will stand before me and a few hundred others. And I am here because he will be exposed to me and my phone, and in his vulnerability, I’ll have the slightest chance of forcing him to speak, to declare his stance, on the prosecution of Julian Assange.

“Why are you here?” At first, I didn’t know what to say to the gentleman with the Sharpie. He met my puzzlement before he smirked in embarrassment. “I’m sorry. What I meant to ask was, are you here as a volunteer or just as a supporter?”

“Supporter,” I lied. “Just here to listen to the senator speak.”

“Very good. I just need you to sign in here and take a sticker, please.”

Nowadays, you always have to sign in. The ringleaders of the traveling circus always want your name, your email, and your phone number, at the absolute least. Sometimes, they want your home address, as well. It’s a deeply unbecoming, leechlike rite of harvest, the purpose of which is entirely mysterious: do they want a destination for the endless supply of advertisements that they pump out just to purge, or does this practice serve a purpose slightly more fascistic? The elderly gentleman to my right couldn’t have explained why they wanted so much of his personal information, and he didn’t care: he simply loathed the process, especially the rule that he fill out the forms on a laptop. Whether he was technologically illiterate, I don’t know, but it was hard enough for me to read the screen in the glare of the sunlight, so how inconvenient must it have been for him?


In Search of Tulsi Gabbard, Part V: The New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention


“At some future point, trade may acquire nobility, and the nobility might then enjoy trading as much as they have hitherto enjoyed war and politics. Even now it is ceasing to be the art of the nobleman, and it is quite possible that some day one may find it so common and even vulgar that, along with all party literature and journalism, one would classify it as ‘prostitution of the spirit.’”

-Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882

The Red Arrow is New Hampshire’s most overrated tourist attraction. I’m talking about the real Red Arrow, the claustrophobic diner hidden behind Elm Street in Manchester, and not about any of its soulless imitations, scattered elsewhere in the southern end of the state. Those blasé eyesores, with their overbearing lights and massive television screens, haven’t earned the dignity of a tourist attraction: no tourist to New Hampshire ever seeks out any of them, but many a stranger looks for the original, the same eatery that seemingly every presidential candidate of the last quarter-century has visited at least once. I’m not sure if any of them have ever eaten there, but all have visited, at least. It’s very strange, this practice of politicians visiting a restaurant, or some other establishment, are partaking in none of the business therein, just promoting his or her own image and campaign. Does this ritual redound to the proprietor? Or does the host only bleed in sacrificial tribute?

Neither of these was the question on my mind as I sat, nearly sleeping, at the countertop of the Red Arrow on the morning of September 7th, 2019. It was early, still darkly early, maybe half past five, hours before the desperate drunks of Queen City would emerge from their restless sleep and prowl the streets—in search of what? in search of purpose? in search of vindication? in search of Tulsi Gabbard? Unless the latter were their desideratum, this likely wouldn’t be their day to maraud, as all of downtown was due to collapse amidst the weight of the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention. I was one point of pressure amidst so many others, exerting what minor force I could to break the thin—but evidently impregnable—façade of faux progressivism that has arrested the imagination of the politically optimistic for the last four years, at least. To deal my feeble blow, I had to seek out the presidential candidates—all of those who’d yet to stare into my camera—and ask them one question, the question that haunted me on that morning, as it does every time I enter hostile political territory: “Do you support Julian Assange?”

Hmm. “Politically optimistic.” A redundant description. Isn’t all optimism, by its nature, political?

Only two other people were sitting at the countertop, sipping coffee and eating pancakes, as I was. To my right, a thirty-year-old man in a Bernie Sanders t-shirt compulsively and endlessly scrolled down his Twitter page, unaware of the two men wearing Joe Biden hats who had just entered and taken a booth in the corner. To my left, a man who wore no campaign merchandise at all asked me something he’d wanted to ask since I first walked through the door: “So, you must be going to the convention. Are you a reporter, or what are you doing?”


The Trump-Ukrainian Controversy is Just a Joe Biden Campaign Commercial


Of all the moral-political demonstrations in which American adults have indulged in the Trumpish Age, their aghast dance of incredulity to the Ukrainian whistleblower scandal probably is not the most embarrassing, but it is likely the most shameful. We are fourteen months removed from the last ostensibly serious—meaning, perfectly facetious—call for Trump’s impeachment, based, as it always is, on hard evidence of serious political wrongdoing—meaning, as it invariably does, a dull vagary that lends itself to an infinite array of pointlessly arbitrary interpretations. For those outside the know, an anonymous government official accuses Trump of threatening to deny half a billion dollars in military aid to the Ukrainian government—wouldn’t that be nice—unless its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, agreed to investigate reports that Joe Biden threatened to deny a full billion dollars to the Ukrainian government unless Viktor Shokin, General Prosecutor of Ukraine under Zelensky’s predecessor, was fired from his post.

Allow me to amend my last sentence: these are not “reports” or groundless allegations. Last year, Joe Biden bragged—in embarrassingly Trumpish fashion—that he dangled a cool $1 billion on a string in front of Pero Poroshenko, the price for, in his own words, that “son of a bitch” Shokin. Well, Shokin was fired, the International Monetary Fund gave the Ukrainian government its cash, and Biden went on his merry way. Now, why was Biden so discomfited by Shokin’s employment? Therein lies the question that comprises the “reports”, a question to which Trump has suggested an answer: Joe Biden’s son, the lobbyist Hunter Biden, sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, an energy company that, at the time, was under investigation by . . . Viktor Shokin.

Of course, there is no incontrovertible evidence—not as of this writing, at least—that this is why Biden forced Poroshenko’s hand, but why else would he take such extraordinary measures against Shokin? Why else would he harbor such resentment towards him? It’s very hard to imagine Biden furnishing a credible explanation, one that justifies the intensity of his wrath. Even if he somehow could prove that his aggression was completely unrelated to his son’s connection to Burisma, still there would be a very serious question of whether this kind of diplomatic threat is appropriate. Are we comfortable with this image of ourselves as the nation that weaponizes international finance?