Finally, 30 Democrats from the Progressive Caucus sent a letter to Biden calling for the US to double down on negotiations with Russia regarding Ukraine. This letter was was led by Washington State’s Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who should be thanked for her effort. Unfortunately they withdrew the letter the next day. A rather big and quick turn around, there must’ve been serious pressure made on them by Biden’s team. For me, it still brought a sliver of hope.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do to prevent the US escalation that I believe is a threat to the future of the world. It feels like I should do whatever I can and do it now. Then Rep. Jayapal, just to the north of my own district in Washington State, presents herself as the most courageous Democrat in the House by writing this letter and getting 29 others to join her to present it to Biden. Her withdrawal, along with a seeming blame for her staff (although she accepted responsibility), felt like a step back again but not quite. It got the sentiment out there, and perhaps with a little applause from those of us who agreed with the sentiment, it may resurface soon in something even better.
To be honest, the letter was incredibly weak. After repeating much of the rhetoric that has obscured the Ukraine issue in lies, it then requests that Biden double down on diplomacy. Still, it was the best any Democrat has mustered. There have been Republicans who have been better on this topic, although these Republicans sometimes get framed as being in the farther fringe. It is also easy for the Republicans who have the cover of being the opposing party to the President. I certainly didn’t see the value of Jayapal explicitly disconnecting her position from theirs which were never actually connected but rhymed.
One important lesson I learned from the reaction to this weak letter, which overwhelmingly agreed with every lie from the mainstream press diverging only in a plea for negotiations, is that it didn’t work. As I see it, speaking in such ways just proved it’s ineffectiveness. People want truth, or some people do. They want to read something that confronts thinly held premises and challenges the circumstantial evidence. Rather than the constant refrain of the usual word salad in every article, give people a totally different frame to understand the situation. Because if slick political talk gets smacked down so completely why not try the truth?
A question comes to mind. Do the 30 Reps who signed the letter know the truth? I’m sure they were knowingly using Democratic talking points passed down from party leadership. I’m sure they are all quite adept at political talk, public relations and persuasive writing. On many issues that they work on they routinely put out plain talk press releases boiling down complicated issues in such a way that it passes on the highlights that they or party leadership want to convey to the masses. I’m sure Rep Jayapal, and the rest who signed the letter, command a thorough understanding of many topics that they simplify in such a way. I’m sure they are studied especially well in the subjects pertaining to the committees they are on. However, that doesn’t mean they understand the situation in Ukraine.
As I’ve said before, the fog of war over the Ukraine conflict is enormous. The US media is maintaining a narrative that it almost never strays from and there seems to be mechanisms at play that enforce this narrative. As the rebuke by the Whitehouse of this mild letter indicates, Biden is not allowing any party members to dissent on this matter. Tulsi Gabbard leaving the Democratic Party the week before the letter might also be an indication that dissent was not allowed in the party. We can see plenty of evidence that social media controls are in play on the issue of Ukraine as well. From outright bans to throttling down the views of unsupportive content by algorithm mechanisms and other such things. If you don’t know this, well I understand, why would you? And therefore why would a Congress member?
The reason why I feel I know this topic is because I’m a college educated public school bus driver in his forties with only a very sweet English Shepherd for my immediate family. Which means I can spend hours a day researching, examine original source material, follow on the ground accounts, dig into the history, read the reports coming from the US neocon think tanks and the much smaller amount of reports coming from independent analysts and foreign news agencies. I also have an educational and work background in political economics, geopolitics and media analysis. All that is to say that I had the intellectual curiosity, the stubbornness, the background and most importantly the time to parse through the fog of war, decipher the propaganda and dig down in the facts.
Plus these Reps face incredible pressure to tow the line rather than tell the truth. I’m sure all of us face pressures in our work and social lives to tow certain lines. For elected officials it’s basically required to tow certain lines, especially foreign policy and to some degree economics. Going against the manufactured consent ensures your marginalization, your election loss, or maybe even worse things. When J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of the FBI during McCarthyism similar practices seemed at play as today. It is said that Hoover had file cabinets full of blackmail on prominent people. In the era of Snowden’s revelations and big tech the idea of file cabinets of blackmail seems rather quaint.
So there it goes. Not only may they not know the full truth, they may be under immense pressure to not speak it.
There are other worse categories our Representatives may fall into on Ukraine. There are the true believers, crusaders and the zealots. They prefer the term neoconservative. People like John McCain, who was always the first to demand the US go to war. His ghost seems to live on in the Democratic Party leadership today despite having scorned Obama back in 2015 on arming Ukraine. Nancy Pelosi seems to be carrying on the neoconservative war mongering spirit of John McCain most of all with her stunt traveling to Taiwan and causing an international incident. It’s the exact sort of thing that McCain would’ve done.
On the flip side, where is this category in the other direction, those with that audacity for peace? Why isn’t Rep. Jayapal flying into Turkey to meet with Russian and Ukrainian officials? Holding a press conference where she shames the US and EU for not engaging in negotiations, saying she has come there to get them started on her own. Cowgirl diplomacy for peace. It would do wonders for her credibility to spend some time talking to Russians and Ukrainians directly. If she was willing to shame and confront Biden with enough frank truth from the authority of being there and going for it, she could probably come home with Brittney Griner in hand.
To be fair, I should acknowledge one other category. I’m sure on twitter at least every single Representative that signed that letter was accused of being this category. The category is the one of traitor. Trump of course was accused of this and before him Edward Snowden. Basically the McCarthyism labels from the mild useful idiot, to Putin stooge, brainwashed, apologist, Putin lover, Russian lover, paid Russian agent, spy, traitor, etc. I get these accusations every time I speak my mind on Ukraine. It’s no wonder that so few other people speak up.
I guess it is possible that this isn’t like during McCarthyism. The Red Scare was considered a time of much repression, silencing, indemnification and more. It was a time of FBI intimidation, false declarations of guilt and everyone worried that their neighbor might be spying on them or be a spy. It could very well be, that this time around, it isn’t the mass paranoia that that era was known for. Maybe this time around it’s all true. In 50 years will we look back on the Russia Russia Russia accusations and investigations since 2016 and think that it all came from a place of reason and rational considerations? Or will we admit that it stinks of paranoia, Russophobia and zealotry for war?
Imagine for a moment that our country isn’t being manipulated by Russian agents who have brainwashed all the people who have such audacious views that we should negotiate peace. For instance I believe that the US should negotiate for peace and I don’t think I am brainwashed by Russia. Although I guess I wouldn’t know it if I were. Good propaganda and brainwashing leaves the person believing what they think is true or else it wouldn’t work.
Keep in mind though that brainwashing is difficult. It takes full immersion for people to get hooked into the cults that serve the koolaid, take all your money and make you wear the same togas. Think about how much corporations spend on advertising. They try and get their logo and jingo in front of your eyes over and over. Because if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth!
Well I’ve never been to Russia, much less immersed myself in a program of intensive brainwashing there. Ad buys on social media? Are my social media friends Russian spies cleverly working to convert me, the public school bus driver for their nefarious plans? I really have a tough time imagining that. It seemed to me that even my social media newsfeed is mostly flooded with Ukrainian flag wavers. The news application I regularly read is the Guardian and they certainly don’t support Russia, in fact there are probably five articles a day in there saying how bad Russia is and how good Ukraine is. I also read the NYT, WaPo and the Seattle Times and those are all cheerleading Biden and telling me how evil Putin is. I listen to NPR and Democracy Now on the radio and those shows mince no words in explaining this as an unprovoked war of aggression by Russia. In fact it seems just about everything and everyone are all basically saying the same narrative across all US media, across both political parties with tiny exceptions. Probably 99% of what I see even in progressive news websites also maintain the narrative that Russia is bad and Ukraine is good. Even in Hollywood with fiction, the shows have Russia as the bad guys. So if I’m brainwashed by Russia, where is it coming from?
I’m at a loss folks. I do read some Russian news sources. Like I will go to the Russian government website to read the speech that the Guardian refers to that Putin gave. I find that the one line that the Guardian will quote in their article doesn’t provide me with enough information. Sometimes I am convinced after reading the Putin speech that the Guardian article that quoted him was intentionally trying to make me think he said one thing when he actually said the opposite though! So it must be that the Putin speech brainwashed me.
I’m not sure where the brainwashing came from but at this point I’ve started to be convinced of some things. Like maybe the US power elite and corporations saw Ukraine as a country they could disrupt, then control and then plunder. Maybe the military industrial complex saw all the money that could be made in Russophobia and sending weapons to Ukraine. Maybe the US thought that once they successfully controlled, plundered and built enough weapons in Ukraine that they could go for the big prize which is Russia. Maybe the USA is therefore on the wrong side of another foreign military engagement of aggression and exploitation like so many other times before. Maybe the US power elite who own all the corporate media, the tech companies and buy all our politicians couldn’t give a shit about Ukrainians and just see dollar signs. Maybe they just spin a bunch of half truths and bullshit to make the public who doesn’t read much past the headlines think that their current war of plunder is actually a crusade for good. This is the sort of bullshit brainwashing that Putin has been teleporting into my skull for the past year.
How am I not immune to Putin’s brainwashing though? Since 2014, at least, the western media has been reiterating to all of our brains that Putin is a monster. Since 2016 the Democrats have been convinced to different degrees that Putin ruined the election and puppet controlled Trump. For the past 10 months the media has been delivering nothing but horror stories. They are all true by the way. Everything you hear in the US is completely true. They aren’t half truths either, manipulated stories to manufacture your consent. The media and government hasn’t been leaving out enormous details or silencing and downplaying certain unfavorable events or actions either. You got the whole truth and it is exactly like the Disney movie you think it is. There is an evil bad guy named Putin. There is a hero named Zelensky. And the US is finally this time getting it right. You can even crowd fund a missile for Ukraine and they’ll sign your name or message on it before they kill evil Russians with it. This is absolutely normal, to think otherwise is due to propaganda, evilness, brainwashing or an affliction. I now know this.
So what’s my point. I clearly lost the thread. I was talking about Rep. Jayapal and how it would be great if she told the truth. That maybe if people just heard the truth instead of the ear bleeding bullshit of a letter she wrote to beg Biden to please not bring about the apocalypse, they might actually react positively. Maybe then instead we write a letter to Biden that doesn’t beg him to not push the big red button that ends life on earth. Instead the letter demands he resign for getting us into this dangerous situation in the first place. He can retire down in Florida and play golf with Trump where they can argue with each other who was the better president.