Sonnet 18 Revisited, a poem

Shall I compare thee to a summer sweat?

Thou art more sticky, unwanted and unpleasant.

Rough wings smelling of piss do flow wild as you speak,

And your public lease is illegitimate.

Sometimes too hot your words break,

And often is other complexions marked to for sin.

And every justice spirited.

By chance our natures changing course, you win,

But summer swelters always end.

No power you have is fair, throughout!

And death will grab you, gold will not ascend,

When eternal lines to time thrown out.

So long as we can breathe or see,

You are ruing my life’s prosperity.

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How Do We Make Bernie Better About Sexwork?

I am a strong Sanders supporter, and I am more than willing to concede that Bernie needs to do better regarding certain issues. Sex work is definitely one of them.

We in the pro-Sanders camp need to acknowledge that his votes in favor of FOFSTA and SESTA hurt sexworkers and we must acknowledge that Bernie needs to be pushed more on the issue of sex work.

Not only did Bernie vote for both of these harmful bills but when talking about media coverage of Stormy Daniels, Bernie has maintained a tone that writes off sexwork in a way that is damaging to his progressive image.

While at SXSW last year, he remarked that while the Stormy Daniels story is “legitimate news… the media is too obsessed with it,” which is actually a valid point. However, his reasoning was grossly flawed.

In this country, we have a lot of people who are in pain — single mothers, people who can’t afford college — they want to see something that reflects their reality.” And obviously, a president suing an adult film star isn’t that.

This reasoning ignores some very important realities, one being that porn performers and sex workers often are single mothers or parents. It also forsakes the reality that many turn to sex work because of the economic oppressions that he mentioned. In other words, it reflects the idea that porn stars and the issues effecting them are not to be taken seriously because porn stars themselves are not to be taken seriously as people.

This has been a difficult dance for me. I strongly support sex workers and want our culture to abandon the negative cultural constructs that we have attached to sex and sexuality. I also need the strong social welfare and environmental programs that Bernie Sanders is running on to come to fruition, we all do, or we are all going to die. So, as a Sanders supporter I think it is our job to hold him to scrutiny when he falls short.

Here is what I make of the whole Bernie Fofsta/Sesta/Sexwork situation: Bernie does not hate sexworkers, however because he is a product of his time and place he has preconceived notions about sex and sexuality that are the by products of our sex negative cultural constructs. Bernie and his sexwork policies are a good reflection of how even if you lean hard to the left, you will still have ingrained notions and prejudices if you are raised in an oppressive society, and inevitably some of that will lead to a perpetuation of the same oppressions we as leftists desire to overthrow.

All is not lost though, the key to overcoming ingrained prejudices and cultural constructs is to recognize them, and then take active steps to correct them. If Bernie has proven one thing about himself it is that when the public cries fowl on him, he listens and takes the steps to do better. The good news is that Bernie has already expressed a willingness to decriminalize sex work! However, more still needs to be done. We, his supporters, need to raise our voices and elevate sexworkers who are organizing. If enough of us do this, then Bernie, as well as all of the politicians in power, will have to take notice.

So, how do we get Bernie to be better about sexwork?

1. Elevate Sex Worker’s Voices, Support Sex Worker Unions

First and foremost, to stand in true solidarity with sexworkers we must avoid the savior complex.

As long as strippers, escorts, and porn performers are generating wealth with their labor then we must acknowledge that sex work is work.

We also must recognize that there are already those in the sex industry that are working to organize their own, such as Antonia Crane, Siousixie Q, Sex Worker Outreach Project, and the “soldiers of pole” stripper union. We don’t need to invade the spaces where sex workers are trying to organize, what we must do is elevate those who are already organizing and fighting and stand behind them in solidarity when they step up to lead. Sex workers do not need saving, they need solidarity.

It should also be remembered that these workers do not need our’s nor Bernie’s validation, they do not need to beg for Bernie’s approval or his audience, what they need from him and all of us is our solidarity. The more that we support the efforts of people like strippers to unionize, the more Bernie’s hand will be forced to recognize that sexwork is indeed a form of labor. For better or worse, Bernie listens when unions are involved.

2. Fight Our Sex Negative Cultural Constructs

It is okay to talk about sex. You would think that we’d have accepted that as a culture because sex is shoved into our faces in almost every form of advertisement or entertainment. Yet the fact that we are only now having this conversation about sexwork, the fact that our government’s response to the human trafficking problem has been to go after the sex work industry as a whole, and the fact that people still have not grasped the nuances of trans rights or gender fluidity, all demonstrate how far we have to go when it comes to sex as a culture. We can’t accept the idea that sex work is work if we can’t accept our own ideas about sex. If we want to make Bernie better about the issue of sex work, then we ourselves need make ourselves better and more enlightened on the topic of sexuality.

3. Make It Clear That Sex Workers Benefit From Social Welfare Programs

The benefits that sexworkers would receive from Bernie’s social welfare programs needs to be made more explicit and central to the left’s platform. We should make it clear that Medicare for all covers sexual wellness such as fertility and STD testing.

Not only that but both Medicare for all and college for all reduce the need for people to resort to sex work out of desperation. While many resort to sexwork willingly (even enthusiastically) some in the industry get into it because they cannot find other work. Also, more often than not you will find that several sex workers are trapped under crippling student loan debt or medical debt like the rest of us.

Bernie’s programs would also benefit those who engage in sexwork willingly because if we free our minds from sex negative thinking while we also free ourselves from these financial restraints, then those who have been sexually repressed will be free to explore the aspects of their sexuality like never before. They will be free perform and indulge without judgement, as they should have the freedom to do.

4. Decriminalize all sexwork

This is probably the most important thing to push for. Those who do sex work consensually should have the freedom to do so without fear. Because we live in a punitive system, the laws that police claim will protect trafficked sex workers usually leads to them being prosecuted more than rescued. Prostitutes are also statistically more likely to get arrested than pimps or traffickers. All socialists and leftists must explicitly support the decriminalization of sex work, period.

Now that Bernie has expressed a willingness to decriminalize sex work, it is on us as his supporters to assure that sex work decriminalization becomes a part of his platform.

If enough of a movement is started, especially among his core base of supporters, then Bernie will have to take notice of how he has misstepped on the issue of sex work in the past. While it is fantastic news that he has said he is willing to decriminalize sex work, we cannot ignore where he has fallen short on this issue. His FOFSTA and SESTA votes are a glaring black mark on his progressive resume. I assure you, I say this as someone who loves Bernie Sanders, I want to see him win.

Bernie needs to be better about sexwork, and it looks like he is on the right track. But we, the public, need to be attentive and see to it that sex workers receive the attention and solidarity they need.

The Dumbest Anti Bernie Take Ever

Andrew Ferguson wrote a piece for the Atlantic titled, “Tyranny of the 70 Somethings,” in which he not only equates Bernie Sanders to Joe Biden, but acts as if both are equally complicit in holding the Democratic party back. His logic? Because they are both old.

Ferguson calls the Democratic party a “gerontocracy” and goes so far as to equate Bernie Sanders with some kind of a cliche version of a creepy old man.

Sanders and Biden have made themselves the equivalent of the old dude cruising the pool at Club Med in his sagging Speedo, capped teeth gleaming, knobby shoulders and fallen pecs bronzed and shiny with tanning oil, gold chains twinkling through the chest hair

We will put aside how lazy of a simile this is, and I am not even going to go into Ferguson’s blatant use of body shaming, (it’s 2019 why are jokes about people’s body types still considered funny!?) Instead let us address the biggest oversight of the article, that the only thing Bernie and Biden have in common is that they are both old. That is literally it.

Ferguson claims that Bernie and Biden are holding the party back from the agenda that would benefit young people because they are not elevating younger candidates in the presidential primary. Ferguson is ignoring the fact that Bernie is the most popular candidate with young voters because of one thing, his policies, not his age.

The “younger candidates” (keep in mind Warren and Biden are very close to the same age by the way and Harris is over 50) are not polling as well as Bernie because the younger generation has seen how identity politics fail to yield any actual results if the candidates policies suck. I may be young, but I am old enough to remember how Obama failed us.

In Ferguson’s, who is over 60 year old, mind identity politics are still the way to win elections and fix the larger social issues we face as a nation. Apparently Ferguson is one of the many people in this country who slept through the entire Obama administration or suffers from the pre Trump amnesia that causes people to forget that poverty, sexism, and racism have always been problems in the U.S.

Obama’s tenure as president proves one thing, that it doesn’t matter if the president is an old white man or a young black man, what matters is will your policies benefit the most people? We elected a black president in 2008 who also supported drone bombs and neoliberalism, did it solve the countries woes? Did it end racism? Did it liberate women?

No. The U.S. war machine is now stronger than it has ever been. White supremacy is still rampant. The wealth gap has grown between the poorest and the richest and continues to grow. A woman is still not in total control of her own body. All of this is enough proof to demonstrate that electing someone to the presidency based on identity lines instead of policies does nothing to fix our greater societal issues.

However, the most glaring oversight of the article is that Ferguson completely ignores how Bernie Sanders has been CONSISTENT with his integrity and policies for his entire political career, whereas Biden is the complete opposite.

Until a few weeks ago, Biden supported the Hyde Amendment. Bernie Sanders was marching for abortion rights in 1972.

Bernie got himself arrested to demand an end to segregated student housing at the University of Chicago.

Biden negotiated with segregationists in order to defeat integration and school bussng bills.

Biden supported invading Iraq.

Bernie didn’t.

Biden publicly attacked Anita Hill, Bernie did not.

The list of policy differences between Biden and Bernie is staggering, but to Ferguson that means nothing. In his mind Bernie and Biden are both the same, you know, because they are both 70. -\_(“/)_/-

If anyone is holding the party back it is Biden. We don’t need Biden in the race not because he is old, but because his record is atrocious and his policies are just more of the same watered down, capitalist garbage we were given under Obama.

Ferguson would do well to take his own advice, step back and let the younger people lead, this way nothing will stand in the way of us electing Bernie Sanders and we won’t have to endure hack takes from lazy, nearsighted “writers.”

The Fraud of Rev Com: Why the Revolutionary Communist Party is Neither Revolutionary nor Communist

The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) is an embarrassment. It shows no respect for the actual people who make up the working class. Their party chair, Bob Avakian, is less interested in the needs of the working class and more interested in creating a personality cult around himself. The RCP’s cultish behavior has been well documented since Avakian became the party chair in 1979, but what is most repulsive about this group is their invasive and disrespectful behavior which humiliates the left and risks turning socialism into a marginalized idea once again.

What is the RCP?

The Revolutionary Communist Party can trace it’s roots to the split of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1969. Multiple activists from California created a group called Bay Area Revolutionary Union (BARU). This was a collective of SDS members from Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley who were posing as challengers to the non Maoist wing of the SDS at their convention.

Once the SDS collapsed many members found themselves joining BARU, leading to the organization’s development of a national structure outside of the bay area. BARU officially became the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1975, and by 1979 one of their pluckiest and loudest members became the party chair. That member’s name was Bob Avakian.

Bob Avakian was one of many alumni of the New Left movement along with people like Noam Chomsky or Angela Davis. Unlike Davis or Chomsky, instead of dedicating his life to the development of theories and programs that would answer the material needs of the working class, Avakian became dedicated to developing a cult of personality around himself.

The requirements for party membership all revolve around his theories and accepting his leadership without question. Everything on the RCP website that is about their platform revolves around his name, his work, and his identity as the party leader.

On their About Us page they make their dedication to Avakian quite clear;

There is an actual plan for a radically different—and radically better—society, on the road to wiping out all exploitation and oppression, and emancipating humanity. There is a strategy to draw forward the millions and millions needed to make that happen. There is the leadership, in Bob Avakian (BA), the architect of the new communism and the leader of the revolution.

Immediately they make it clear that they are not interested in hearing the working class’ current material needs but rather are more interested in selling a doctrine, more specifically they are selling the doctrine of Bob Avakian. The purpose of socialism is democracy, and democracy is about allowing the working class to choose its leaders, it’s priorities, and it’s platform. Because the RCP has it set in stone that Avakian is their “chosen” leader, they have no avenue to allow growth for a mass movement, so they must invade spaces to tell the working class why Avakian should be their leader.

Avakian argues for what he calls “New Communism,” and the entire RCP program can be summarized in one statement, that capitalism and the US government, “must be overthrown, not voted out.” However, “New Communism” is nothing more than a regurgitation of Maoist Marxist Leninism. According to the RCP, post Stalin Russia and Post Mao China were the ends of socialist states in the world. There is virtually no difference in the jargon or rhetoric of Avakian’s work and that of the most hardline Stalinists, “New Communism” is nothing more than “Old Stalinism.”

All the information I gathered on the RCP I gathered from personal experience and from researching their website. A webpage is the most forward facing instrument of any organization in the 21st century and it should be presentable and useful to both an organization’s members and to the public. The RCP webpage, revcom.us, is unnavigable and literally painful to read because of it’s poor layout. The text is often too small to read and the layout of the pages are just plain sloppy. Articles, text, and graphics are almost always off center and the website overall just looks plain cheap. It looks like a self made website from the late 90s or early 2000s, and in all likelihood no one has probably bothered to develop their website since that time. After all, the RCP is less interested in meeting the working class where they are at and is more interested in demanding members adhere to the party line with Avakian as their leader.

Webpages are the primary source of information people use when researching what organizations to join and if you are not showing an interest in making your own webpage presentable and navigable, you are clearly not interested in meeting the masses where they are at in order to build them into a mass movement.

Unlike most other socialist organizations, the RCP is one that is lucky enough to have their own book stores, with two locations! They have one in New York another in Berkeley, and the Revolution Book Stores are a confusing piece of the RCP puzzle.

Store front rental in Berkeley and New York is by no means cheap, so I am wondering where the profit from their stores go. Their shoddy and impossible to look at website makes it pretty evident that funds are not being directed towards developing the organizational infrastructure. These funds are definitely not going toward mutual aid projects either. The RCP explicitly rejects anything it considers charity, including the “anarchistic” idea of mutual aid.

According to their atrocious website they are currently raising funds for their ongoing “Revolution Tour” claiming they will be using the money to send their “Revolution Club” around the country to participate in direct actions. None of the actual actions they will participate in are listed on the website and at no point is their any detail on how the money raised will be actually be used. They do not even mention what they hope to accomplish by sending their members on this so-called “tour.” Based on the behavior that I have witnessed, they will probably just be invading other peoples events. ( I will explain this later in the article.)

What is even more appalling is that the RCP is clearly aware of the criticisms against them. This is an actual quote from their FAQ page:

Who are you to say what the masses of people need?

Answer: We are people who represent, on a scientific basis, the fundamental interests of the masses of humanity, the great majority of the 7 billion people on this planet; who understand what the problem and the solution is to the situation that faces the masses of humanity; and who have taken on the responsibility of leading people to fight to bring about, through revolution, the solution that is urgently needed.

This is just gibberish. It means nothing. It is by no means an explanation for their top down behavior nor does it explain anything about their actual program. It is all flighty words with no substance and it in no way answers the actual question. The worst part is that they actually go out of their way to justify their cultish method of operating.

This all manifests in a technique of agitation that embarrasses the left, it leads to them invading and co-opting the events of other organizations, even if that event is about honoring a victim of the police state.

What does the RCP do?

RCP members like to invade and co-opt other organizations events, including trade unions, anti police organizations, and even Black Lives Matter.

The behavior of the RCP at events hosted by other organizations demonstrates their lack of respect and integrity, and further demonstrates that the organization is in no way interested in actually helping the working class. The fraud that is the RCP can be summed up with a single sentence, “Revolution is not an end, it is a means to an end.”

Every event or march that the RCP shows up for they scream the same thing, “This government cannot be voted out, it must be overthrown!” It is all well and good to call for an end to the American imperialist state, but one cannot act like revolution by itself is a pallet cleanser. So many leftists are quick to scream, “REVOLUTION NOW!” with no actual ideas in hand for a program that would come after the fact. This usually leads to them copping out and settling on an older, outdated doctrine, such as Stalinism or Maoism. This is the case with the RCP.

Socialists have the obligation to not only work towards overthrowing capitalism but to build alternatives at the same time. The RCP never bothers to do this but instead uses newer language to regurgitate old talking points. They like to think they are offering alternatives however there is nothing in Avakian’s work that cannot be found in the works of Stalin or Mao. There is nothing original about Avakian or his so called theories.

In 2010 Bob Avakian released the “Constitution for a New Republic in North America” which is not so much a constitution for a socialist republic but is a regurgitation of tired, over used, ultra left talking points. The Preamble of this so called constitution alone is nothing more than a run on sentence of gibberish that has leftist buzzwords sprinkled throughout.

The New Socialist Republic in North America could only have been brought into being as a result of heroic, self-sacrificing struggle carried out by millions and millions of people who had been forced to live under a system of exploitation and oppression in the former United States of America; who could no longer tolerate the continual outrages and injustices perpetrated by the system of capitalism-imperialism and the structures and institutions of power and repression which enforced all this with violence and brutality as well as lies and deception; who refused to any longer accept that…

The opening sentence goes on like that for 5 more lines and the rest of the preamble is 7 pages long. The RCP think that revolution apparently can be achieved with long winded, inaccessible babbling.

What is even more disgusting is that the RCP will bring this garbage platform everywhere without ever being invited to do so. They have invaded multiple events organized by multiple other groups including Anti Police Terror Project and Black Lives Matter chapters. They have even gone out of their way to disrupt an event organized by the surviving relatives of Stephon Clark.

At an event marking the anniversary of Clark’s death, his family co-hosted and invited Al Sharpton to come and speak. The RCP made haste to travel from the bay area to Sacramento (there is no RCP chapter in Sacramento) and disrupt the event with cries of “Don’t believe Sharpton!” And “Electoral bourgeois bullshit!” showing no respect for the wishes of the Clark family.

Say whatever you want about Al Sharpton, it will not change the fact that he was the invited guest of the Clark family and since they are the victims who have to live with what happened to Stephon, their wishes should always be honored and respected first and foremost! Disrupting their event because you do not like their speaker of choice is the exact opposite of respecting the wishes of the family.

The RCP’s tendency to invade and co-opt other people’s events is an insult to the working class and embarrasses the name of socialism. Their approach makes the left look invasive, hostile, and inconsiderate, and it is even more so when they behave like this at explicitly anti racist events.

In Sacramento 2018, back when Jeff Sessions was still the Attorney General, an event was organized outside of the Sawyer Hotel in order to disrupt his visit. The event was organized by multiple unions and immigrant rights groups. In attendance was the immigrant solidarity collective known as Nor Cal Resist and immigrant SEUI members, as well as the Democratic Socialists of America, Answer Coalition, and liberal groups such as Save DACA and Indivisible.

Without any invitation, or hesitation, the RCP showed up with a series of banners, loud speakers, and chants, as well as multiple members ready to take the stage and speak on their megaphone about the need to overthrow the government. Despite the intimidating police presence defending Jeff Sessions, at no point did anyone in RCP take time to consider that using such inflammatory rhetoric could be putting the lives of undocumented or black attendees of the event at risk. When police presence is so large, as it was at this event, attendees must take into consideration what will happen if the situation escalates. Who will the cops take out their aggression on? More likely than not it is going to be any black or brown person they can get their hands on. To ignore that reality is to ignore the reality that non-white members of the working class face an extra degree of oppression and risk. To ignore that is to ignore the status of the 21st century working class.

The RCP has already been warned about this behavior. Bay area chapters of the Anti Police Terror Project have already banned the RCP from attending their events for constantly attempting to co-opt them as they did at the Jeff Session’s direct action in Sacramento and at Clark family’s event.

Black Lives Matter Sacramento have also had to deal with the insistent brattiness of RCP members. On the one year anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death, just hours after they had insulted the Clark family, they attempted to co-opt an event that had been organized by BLM Sacramento.

They showed up marching and yelling, banners and all, even with someone banging on the drums as if the eight of them present were about to march into battle. They were screaming about overthrowing the presidency. It took at least five of the organizers from BLM Sacramento to talk the RCP down and make them realize that this was about honoring and respecting Stephon Clark, and that making it about anything else would be a direct insult to a murdered man and his family.

But their deescalation was all for not because that did not stop the RCP from continuing to chant and scream. They even attempted to chant over the members of BLM who were leading the march, screaming about revolution nonstop instead of screaming the name of Stephon Clark. Clearly they were not there to honor the 22 year old who had been murdered by the Sacramento Police Department. They were only there to advance their own agenda, even if it meant disrespecting the members of BLM Sacramento and the Clark family.

To scream revolution without listening to the working class is to insult the working class. All the RCP does is scream “revolution” like a baby begging for its bottle without any consideration for the status and needs of the working class as they are now.

Why are they so invasive?

The RCP is so disrespectful and invasive for one simple reason, they are incapable of rallying people on their own. The RCP is dependent on using front organizations in order to make them more palatable to people who are hesitant to trust self identified Marxist-Leninists and Maoists outright.

The RCP also operates front organizations in order to maintain a larger public relations presence and to ease recruitment. The current and most notable of their front organizations is Refuse Fascism. Refuse Fascism is the front organization for their anti Trump platform. While it sells itself as a “coalition” the majority of it’s leaders and members are simply senior RCP members.

The RCP has no chance to gain legitimate attention without operating a front organization like Refuse Fascism. Their doctrine and program is unappealing to the modern working class and lacks in nuance because it is an outdated rehashing of state socialist theories from the previous century. This is why they resort to invasive tactics. They will not get attention unless they steal attention for themselves, and the RCP has demonstrated they will do so even if it means insulting people like the family of Stephon Clark or the immigrants who face the risk of deportation and state violence.

The more one looks into the alleged doctrine of the RCP on their hideous website, one can see that their is no way they can gain public attention without being invasive. What their doctrine also represents is their adamant hypocrisy.

Their website features the guiding principles of their chapters, what they call “Revolution Clubs.” The first principle of their chapters is clearly an attempt to exonerate themselves of accusations of personality cultism. “We base ourselves on and strive to represent the highest interests of humanity: revolution and communism. We do not tolerate using the revolution for personal gain.”

This completely counters their statement that self proclaims Avakian as the leader of their movement while also intentionally ignoring the self serving rhetoric of his doctrine and the actual actions of RCP members. If they do not believe in using revolution for “personal gain” why do they invade and disrupt other organizations events?

Another blatant lie can be seen in principle number five of the Revolution clubs. “We search for and fight for the truth no matter how unpopular, even as we listen to and learn from the observations, insights and criticisms of others.” This is just 100% false. According to one of the past organizers of Black Lives Matter Sacramento, when one of them approached an RCP member asking them to refrain from their behavior and honor the name of Stephon Clark, the RCP member responded by saying “You guys are just as bad as Trump and the rest of the fascists.”

If we allow organizations like this to exist unchallenged then the name of socialism is at risk of becoming a marginalized voice once again. Socialism has gained momentum in the last decade, we are gaining attention at a speed not seen since the turn of the 20th Century. Membership in socialist organizations such as the DSA has exploded and socialists are infiltrating elected offices on both the local and federal levels. In short, we are winning, and if we want to continue to win we cannot let intentionally sectarian organizations like the RCP to exist unchallenged. There is a time and place to agitate and insist on revolution, and the RCP has demonstrated that they have no concept of when and where that is actually appropriate. They have shown that they are not interested in developing an applicable socialist program for the contemporary working class. When you wave the red flag you have a duty to represent socialism in the best of ways, to forsake that is to forsake the cause of the working class.

1. https://revcom.us/a/129/New_Synthesis_Speech-en.html

2. https://revcom.us

Avoid the “Self Care” Trap

Self care is a radical act, never forget that. When you practice self care you are doing so in order to exist in a world that tells you you shouldn’t have any power.

This is why self care was created by radical black femmes in the 60s and 70s. It was an act of rebellion to do what it took to exist in an world trying to extinguish or diminish a person’s existence, and it still is.

This is why we need to make it clear that self care is about self preservation, not indulgence.

Several rich, mostly white people, use the term “self care” as an excuse for spending thousands of dollars on spa treatments or for drink service during nights at the club. I have no problem with indulgence but self care is not just about self indulgence. Calling self indulgence self care is once again a co-opting of the work and culture of non white radicals.

Self care is taking a mental health day. Self care is opening your mail that has been piling up on your desk. It is doing your laundry and organizing your space. That is self care.

It is true that for some, especially those with PTSD or anxiety, a yoga class or a massage is in fact self care, because what might be an indulgent treat for some of us is to them a need for preservation of their sanity.

It is easy to fall into what I call, “The Self Care Trap,” because the truth is humans are always looking for an excuse to indulge. Humans are effort minimizers and euphoria maximizers, especially the privileged and the rich. Any excuse they can use to indulge in yacht trips and day drinking, they will, but rich people aren’t the only ones who have co-opted the term self care.

I have seen several self proclaimed “leftists” use the term self care as excuse for a night of binge drinking or as an excuse to avoid an organizing meeting and get stoned for the billionth time. There is nothing wrong with a drink or a toke, in fact I’d say I’m very self indulgent with those two things myself, but I am not about to pretend my drinking is an act of self preservation.

I am a white, straight, cis male, so my need for self care is far less than that of someone who was queer, non white, and non cis gendered. This is why it is important for us to avoid the “Self Care Trap.” We cannot use a term that is about the self preservation of the oppressed as an excuse for our own self indulgence.

So the next time you go out for drinks or go on vacation, ask yourself, is it self care or self indulgence? If you live in a world that allows you to exist, then you probably aren’t the one who needs self care.

Soul and Pain, a poem

Soul and Pain.

Here we are again,

A dying planet and a line of willful morons

Humping their hands while complaining about the better sex.

No game, and they won’t shut up about it.

Our so called leaders are afraid to lead

Because they might not be leaders anymore if they do.

Complacency is safer than action only if you’re rich.

Sex and violence and sexual violence.

Two souls comrades butchered in the streets.

Lynchings protected by badges and city hall.

Soul and pain.

21st century lies and truth.

Soul and pain.

Elizabeth Warren’s Mistake In 2016

I acknowledge that in 2016 I came very intensely after Elizabeth Warren. Like many of Bernie’s 2016 supporters I was hurt by her endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I think Warren has since almost made up for the error by coming forward with genuinely radical and necessary policy platforms in her presidential campaign, policies that remind us that she was once a people’s hero in the fight against Wall Street and can be once again.

Her plan to cancel student debt is as pivotal as Bernie’s Medicare for All or prisoner voting rights platforms. Her open challenges to Joe Biden on his ties to the credit card companies is commendable and so is the work she has put into protecting consumers for this entire decade. She deserves credit where credit is due.

With all of that said, I am still a little bitter about what happened in 2016. I realize it is somewhat trivial to complain about what could or should have been, but damn it I am genuinely convicned that if she had not played the 2016 primary as cautiously as she had we would not have a Trump presidency.

Here is what I mean, because Warren waited to endorse whoever won the nomination instead of endorsing Bernie from the beginning of his candidacy she hurt his campaign, a campaign that would have easily defeated Trump in the general election. Yes, I am still a “Bernie would have won,” kind of person and truth be told I probably always will be.

It is understandable why she waited to endorse the definite front runner instead of taking a stand early on. At the time it made sense as the politically cautious move to stand for a united Democratic party against Trump. However that caution came at a price. It hurt Bernie’s ability to develop the klout needed to counter harmful talking points spewed by the Hillary people.

When Warren endorsed Clinton she went from being a darling of the Occupy alumni to another mouth piece for neoliberals, at least in the eyes of Bernie supporters who also supported her. One of the reasons that Bernie, and Warren for that matter, have stayed so popular is that several of us who came out of the Occupy movement remember them as the only public servants to demonstrate admiration and respect for the movement and its sentiments.

So Warren did not only hurt Bernie by endorsing Hillary late in the election, she hurt herself. By endorsing Clinton and by endorsing her as close to the end of the primary as she did, she synonymized her name and platform with the vomit inducing identity politics of Hillary’s campaign. Instead of having her working class values and background tied to Bernie’s pro working class platform, she attached her identity as a woman to Clinton and by doing so she helped enable the “only sexists vote for Bernie” talking point of Hillary supporters, a talking point which erases and hurts all of the non male supporters of Bernie.

Had Warren endorsed Bernie from the get go, the myth of the “Bernie bro” would have been squashed and would have had no foundation to grow. Also, with her endorsement would have come her very extensive and supportive base, but now that base is arguably very much in the establishment camp because of her hesitancy to get involved with the primary until a front runner was decided. Warren is now synonymous with supporting establishment capitalist democrats like Hillary, which is folly because Warren’s policies are arguably much closer to Bernie’s than they ever were to people like Clinton, Harris, Biden, or Booker.

I want to make it clear, I do understand why Warren didn’t endorse Sanders, but I think it was a mistake that inevitably cost Bernie the primary and damaged Warren’s reputation as a challenger of big money capitalism, which in-turn gave us the shitty general election that birthed the Trump presidency.

But what hurt Warren the most is the fact that despite her policy and platform being much more in line with Bernie’s she endorsed someone with completely opposite values to her. Warren has much more incommon policy wise with Bernie than she ever will with the Clintons and Bidens of the world. The fact she did not make that clear in 2016 not only hurt Bernie but it hurt her, because now there are leftists like myself, who do remember her public challenges to Wall Street and her bold demands for consumer protections and market regulations. Now it is hard for me to get excited about her candidacy because I still view the Clinton 2016 endorsement as an act of political cowardice. I used to think it was straight up betrayal, but after getting involved with politics as an activist and as an organizer I’m willing to say I understand why she did what she did in 2016. However let us always remember that understanding an action is not the same as supporting it.

Will Liz Warren make the same mistakes this time? It is very possible that she will. Warren clearly is a politician who acts with caution. I do not fault her for being tactical but I will fault her if that tactic comes with compromising her values. However I can say that if she remains consistent with her demands for canceling student debt and if she does not backtrack support for Medicare for all then I would be genuinely happy with a Sanders/Warren or Warren/Sanders 2020 ticket. However I would be thrilled by the idea even more if she stepped up and admited that not endorsing Bernie in 2016 at the beginning of the primary was a mistake.

All in all, I do want to like Elizabeth Warren, I do miss the days where she and Bernie both were patron saints of the 99%. But until we address what happened in 2016 I will always have misgivings about her. I do not think Warren is bad, at least not as much as I used to, I do think she has to answer for 2016.