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Regular dispatches from our contributors.

Did the Democrats Fuck It Up?

Did the Democrats Fuck It Up?

Abortion politics and the long road to Dobbs

To a remarkable degree, party elites have sorted on abortion. When the House voted on the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, codifying the right to abortion prior to viability and thereafter if “continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health,” every Democrat but one was in favor, and every single Republican was opposed. The result was the same in the Senate, where a vote to advance the bill failed 49-51. The one Democrat who voted no in the House, the corrupt but loyal Henry Cuellar of Texas, faces a runoff challenger to his left, Jessica Cisneros, backed by national groups like Justice Democrats. It is a proxy fight about House Democratic leadership generally, as those leaders have been for decades happy to back members who don’t ruffle feathers in Washington and whom they deem good fits for their districts, but in terms of abortion politics, it’s a sideshow.

Strelkov’s Posts

Strelkov’s Posts

There are few post-Soviet conflicts in which he has not participated

In 2017 Strelkov came up with the idea of holding a televised debate with Alexey Navalny, who agreed to participate. One hundred and fifty thousand people tuned in. Strelkov’s principal accusations against Navalny included not just his betrayal of Russian nationalism (he claimed his opponent “never once referred to [ethnic] Russians, only citizens of the Russian Federation”), but also the claim that Navalny’s economic program was incapable of dismantling the “total system of corruption” that defines Russian life. As one of the moderators put it, “they’ve spent an hour calling each other Putin.”

Foley Square, May 3

Foley Square, May 3

It was weirdly boring until it was devastating, over and over

They told me they’d wanted to be around women. They hadn’t loved the speakers or the claim that Mayor Adams was one of “the men who get it,” but the gathering was, at the very least, a space of shared outrage. Some 14-year-old boys told me the most memorable speeches were the ones that situated the court’s decision within broader struggles and insisted that this wasn’t a single-day or single-issue action.

What’s Disgusting? Union-Busting!

What’s Disgusting? Union-Busting!

A rally at Amazon’s LDJ5 facility

We pedaled in single file, hugging the curb to avoid the trucks. And there was the rally! The spring clothes were bright, the air loud with hip-hop. Some women were selling fruit. Drivers were honking support. The ALU’s logo, three fists thrusting up from an open box, snatched the alienated mojo from the huge boxlike buildings stuffed with billions of smaller boxes and transformed it into solidarity and joy.

Day of the Oprichnik, 16 Years Later

Day of the Oprichnik, 16 Years Later

Sorokin deserves credit for bothering to skewer such a marginal figure

This rhythm in Russia, of repression and violent revolution, is well known to Sorokin, who first emerged as a writer under Soviet rule in the 1980s, when he was no less irritating to the Kremlin. He’s not just a satirist but also a speculative fantasist, and he became angrily political after Putin came to power.

Serra’s Verbs

Serra’s Verbs

To buy so much—what it assumes!

A woman’s friend buys toilet paper in bulk. Dozens of rolls line a section of wall in the basement, stacked hip-high and four deep, a snowbank against the stone wall of the foundation. The supply’s position, and its volume, makes it the first thing the woman sees as she descends the stairs, sent by her friend to retrieve a jar of jam and a bag of coffee beans. Her reaction to it arrives with an intensity that surprises her.

Big in India

Big in India

Hugeness has been one of the more flamboyant features of the Modi government’s tenure

The afterglow of this communion extends into the final, much-anticipated delight: a “cultural boat ride” promising “ten thousand years of Indian Culture in ten minutes.” This air-conditioned funfair ride begins, appropriately enough, on the mythic “banks of the Saraswati” (a now unknown or extinct river celebrated in the Vedas) festooned with tableaux of ten-thousand-year-old “Vedic” agriculture, Vedic universities, Vedic bazaars, Vedic elections and even the “first conference on embryology.” Never mind that the prevailing historical consensus is that the earliest Vedic “texts” (they were originally orally transmitted) are little more than 3,500 years old. Further downriver, things get weirder as we witness the Indic invention of everything from plastic surgery to the airplane.