Joe Biden: Clueless and Incoherent

Biden: Nonsense or No Sense?  (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

W.J. Astore

There was another Democratic debate this week, and I have to admit I missed it.  I’ve been checking the highlights (or lowlights, if you prefer), and Joe Biden, as usual, figures prominently.

First, here’s his stunningly paternalistic, clueless, and incoherent response to a question on the legacies of slavery, segregation, and racial discrimination:

Well, they have to deal with the — look, there’s institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Redlining, banks, making sure we are in a position where — look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take the very poor schools, the Title I schools, triple the amount of money we spend from $15 to $45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise to the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home. We have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy. The teachers are — I’m married to a teacher, my deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. Make sure that every single child does, does in fact, have 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds go to school. Not day care, school.

We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t want — they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the phone — make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background — will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

Make sure you have the record player on at night?

How difficult is it, really, to admit to the legacy of slavery in this country?  But Biden would rather jumble a lot of words together, perhaps based on a few ideas that he memorized poorly.  So he mentions segregation and the practice of banks redlining predominately black/minority neighborhoods and denying them loans (which he doesn’t explain), then he pivots to education and social workers while suggesting the solution to helping minority kids to learn is for them to hear more words coming from record players and phones at night.

And Democrats think this man is going to defeat Donald Trump in 2020?

Second, Joe Biden was attacking Bernie Sanders on the cost of Medicare for All.  When Sanders accurately noted that Americans pay twice as much per capita for health care as Canadians do under their national health care system, Biden’s response was three words: “This is America.”

So apparently it’s the American way to pay twice as much as other countries for equivalent health care.  It’s the American way to be denied coverage, to pay large co-pays and deductibles, and to go into bankruptcy because of a serious medical condition.

“This is America.”  I feel better already!

Not so incredibly, the Democratic establishment would rather lose to Trump with a candidate like Biden than win with a candidate like Bernie.  And so Biden’s non-sequiturs, his gaffes, his prejudices, and indeed his stunning incoherence are shrugged off as “That’s Biden being Biden.”

I may not have watched last week’s debate, but I have a strong sense of who won: Donald Trump.

31 thoughts on “Joe Biden: Clueless and Incoherent

  1. So, I have to admit I did not watch the debate either, or the others that have been presented. Why? I really can’t say other than far too many voices to be heard on stage even now, and the highlights/lowlights are always shared over and over. I guess I may be waiting for the dust to settle, and the list narrowed down to a couple/few viable candidates. Thank you for sharing this “word salad” that is so reminiscent of another voice we hear far too frequently on the world stage of late. Are we (collective) trying to ensure another four years of destruction, the likes of which may sink us permanently if it hasn’t done so already? I’ve lived long enough to be quite unnerved by the events of the past two+ years, and the disquiet is increasing every darn day. Am I too “liberal” to admit Trump has done anything good for the country or just aware enough to know it has all been a downhill slide since January 2017; make that November 8, 2016 (December 19, 2016, if you account for the Electoral College handing us over)? The divide in the country does not seem to be lessening, and “this may indeed be America” now, but that certainly is not comforting, is it?


  2. I did watch the debate; the first I’ve watched this cycle. Your assessment of Biden’s performance is about right. However, I was very impressed with the rest of the bunch. I’m still leaning toward Warren though. I wish there was some way we could have all ten of them in office. I would say that they should form the cabinet, but I suspect many of them would prefer not to work that way. BTW: Since 1968 I have voted for two winning presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, so you can see about where I stand on the political spectrum.


    1. Thanks. Isn’t it a shame both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama bent over backwards to be “bipartisan” and to serve the establishment? Clinton with his welfare reform, his crime bill, financial reform, etc., basically a Republican-light. Same with Obama: his health care plan was based on Romney-care, drawn from a conservative think tank. And of course Obama hired the swamp, just like Trump did.

      Wouldn’t it be great to have a truly liberal Democrat with courage as president? The election of whom the DNC is designed to stop rather than advance …

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I did watch, albeit only part of it as it started 02:00 hrs my European time.
    I got as far as Afghanistan, which as usual had my blood pressure jump. Biden or even Elizabeth Warren never were in Afghanistan. They were in Bagram base where they met US & Afghan military & embassy staff, maybe even were flown to some other military base where they met with carefully pre-selected ‘representatives of Afghan society’. They never met ‘average’ Afghans, walked in the street, bought something in a shop or market, ate something local sold in the street. They might as well have stayed in the US and met with some Afghan representatives there. OK, that’s my private frustration, but as just that day the news broke about more Saudi involvement in 9/11 to be disclosed, I had hoped someone would realize the outrage of collective punishment, pure revenge, on Afghanistan for a crime supported or maybe even committed by Saudi Arabia.

    Other than that, what struck me was Kamala Harris’ overdone ‘African-American’ (reminded me of Prissie in Gone with the Wind) intonation when she quipped that Trump had not pulled the trigger but supplied the ammo (perfectly true as such) for the El Paso shooting.
    It sounded as insincere as Warren’s claim to ‘Native American legacy’.
    Beto O’Rourke got thundering applaus when he pledged to confiscate all assault rifles, bless him for that and may other, potentially more successful, candidates remember that.
    Bernie looked exhausted, his voice gravelly, which saddened me.
    Otherwise his usual, beloved, combative self.
    As for Biden, with his smoothed-out wrinkles, artificial tan and Dracula-whitened teeth (desperate to look younger & fitter than Bernie), he not only fumbled but – as one commentator remarked – enthusiastically shared Obama’s successes as being also his own, but not his failures. Did not seem to present anything HE himself believed in.

    Europe has just witnessed two prominent politicians overplaying their hubris hand : Alt-right, xenophobic, refugee-bashing Matteo Salvini in Italy and Alexander Boris the Pfeffel Johnson, the UK’s present and hopefully temporary PM.
    I’ve been following the Commons debates live on
    Now of course the parliament has been prorogued by Boris – who has surrounded himself with rogue advisors and the most right-wing cabinet members- but there still are replays to watch. And I would highly recommend that, as it might suggest ideas how to topple your T. ?

    Energetic progressives from Labour, Lib Dems and other opposition in alliance with rebel Conservatives managed to take back power from an autocratic, entitled, over-ambitious, supposedly intelligent but sadly infantile PM, concerned exclusively with his own career – even his own politician brother disavowed him.
    A PM is not the same as a president, but could something similar not be pulled off in House & Senate? There must be some rebel Republicans under the T. ?! But for that of course the Dems must get rid of petrified mummies like Pelosi and candidates like Biden.
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed 🙂 and hope that such a successful action does not necessarily require the framework of a dire situation such as the Brexit drama in the UK.


    1. Brava, Pamela! You’re absolutely right. Biden brags that’s he’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan 30 times (the actual number seems to be about 21), but he’s never really been to those countries. He just shuffles from photo op to photo op, meeting a highly select group of people who will never challenge U.S. government policies but who will always ask for more money (not that I blame them).

      Here in Greedica (my wife’s name for America), the Republican Party will continue to embrace Trump as long as he’s useful — as long as he continues facilitating their greed and lust for power. So far, Trump’s doing a fine job of it, so there’s no rebellion looming.

      Meanwhile, Pelosi and Schumer just want a piece of the action. And there you have it …


    2. @ Pamela
      That’s exactly how the right wing generally sees the opposition, and right wing supporters always harp on people’s physical defects if you take a look at their media. Especially the “white nationalists” with their continuous mocking memes.
      But I think Democratic supporters are more attentive to what the candidates are actually saying, so maybe there’s hope.


      1. Sorry if it came over as such, but this was not ment to be ‘harping at anyone’s physical defects’, in fact no defects were even mentioned. But I’ve seen Biden before on my computer screen and the ‘rejuvenated’ campaign trail metamorphosis is in stark contrast with Bernie’s unwavering focus on content rather than personal appearance. Including at the price of losing his voice. To me the difference between these two approaches to physical appearance tells a lot about what these politicians stand for: showing off to get elected versus labouring to get things done. The latter a winner even if he’s not elected, as he’s promoting positive policies which already inspire many others, hopefully also the one who eventually will be elected.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ” no defects were even mentioned” ??

          Apologies if I understood these as such:

          “As for Biden, with his smoothed-out wrinkles, artificial tan and Dracula-whitened teeth (desperate to look younger & fitter than Bernie)”
          ” Kamala Harris’ overdone ‘African-American’ (reminded me of Prissie in Gone with the Wind) intonation”
          “Bernie looked exhausted, his voice gravelly,”
          “petrified mummies like Pelosi and candidates like Biden”


          1. Given the lack of substantive debate on critical issues like the gig-job/debtor economy and endless imperial wars for the transnational corporate oligarchy — not to mention the despicable (and thoroughly bi-partisan) persecution of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and other whistle-blowers for publishing factual documentation of American war crimes and the corrupt rigging of “democratic” elections — of course visual “defects” dominated the analysis of this latest cattle-call. What else of interest did anyone have to talk about for such a dreadfully long time? I understand that single-payer, universal health care did receive some discussion — with Joe Biden giving the standard corporate/Republican view — although no one seems to have bothered to ask Taiwan how they manage to provide such excellent, affordable health care even to resident aliens like myself. So, yes. Physical appearance and manner of expression did garner most of the “analysis.” I expected as much and so I chose to occupy myself with other matters.

            As an eighth grade junior high school student, I very much remember the Presidential debates of 1960 between the Democratic nominee, Senator John F. Kennedy, and the Republican Vice President, Richard Nixon. Now generally regarded as a watershed event in television broadcasting, Kennedy showed up looking tanned, healthy, and rested, while Nixon with his pale complexion and trademark “5 O’clock shadow” of a beard looked sickly and sinister. Mad Magazine later featured a cartoon of a little boy running away from a TV set showing a scowling Richard Nixon, crying “Mommy! Mommy! Bad Man! Bad Man!” All very true. For the rest of his political life, Nixon shaved three times a day, and how a candidate appeared on television became accepted among political professionals as the most important consideration influencing voters. As for substantive issues: in fact, both Kennedy and Nixon tried to one-up the other in promising to start WWIII with China over two little islands (Quemoy and Matsu) that neither could probably locate on a map, so thoroughly had the rampant red-baiting of the era poisoned the political bloodstream of the United States. Within a few years of watching these two men “debate” I found myself serving eighteen months in the now defunct Republic of Vietnam because of them, their political parties, and their unquestioning belief in America’s right to “lead” the world at the point of a gun, regardless of how the world felt about such a dreadful prospect. In his book, The Assault on Reason, former Vice President Al Gore called this sort of non-verbal physical posturing, “Visual Rhetoric.”

            Other than the mass-media technology of radio and television — invented and highly developed in the twentieth century — rhetoric, or the art of persuasion, has a history stretching back thousands of years. As relevant to the present discussion which all citizens should apply to political “debates,” consider what Aristotle wrote in The Art of Rhetoric (4th century B.C.):

            Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [emphasis added].

            Having listed the three factors upon which persuasion depends, Aristotle goes on to elaborate each in more detail, although he dwells first and longest on the issue of personal character:

            Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible [emphasis added]. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others: this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided. This kind of persuasion, like the others, should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of his character before he begins to speak. It is not true, as some writers assume in their treatises on rhetoric, that the personal goodness revealed by the speaker contributes nothing to his power of persuasion; on the contrary, his character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses [emphasis added].

            A speaker’s physical appearance, manner of comportment, and style of verbal expression has an inordinate effect upon those observing the performance in person. It always has. Therefore, focusing an analysis upon such ostensibly superficial qualities can contribute at least some understanding of the actual rhetorical success or failure. Just as a form of theatrical criticism, if nothing else.

            Aristotle then goes on to explain the second factor in rhetoric as the art of persuasion:

            Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions [emphasis added]. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile. It is towards producing these effects, as we maintain, that present-day writers on rhetoric direct the whole of their efforts [emphasis added]. This subject shall be treated in detail when we come to speak of the emotions.

            So, how often did the crowd in attendance applaud, cheer, or boo the individual performances? And how much of this “response” did the corporate debate sponsors desire, expect, and seek to engineer?

            About the last — and unfortunately usually the least — important factor of persuasion, Aristotle wrote:

            Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question [emphasis added].

            Since I have already decided whom I would prefer to see elected President of the United States, and since the DNC primary-riggers purged her from any participation in the Disney World “magic island” reality-tv show (i.e., “Apprentice Republican” for most of the participants), I spent some time reading Aristotle and Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Art of Controversy instead of watching what does not interest me in the least. Hopefully, I spent my time, if not wisely, at least usefully as an educational exercise, a little bit of which I thought I would share with others.

            Bottom line for me, personally: I’ll vote for Tulsi Gabbard should she appear on any ballot to which I have access or else I’ll write in her name if the DNC manages to keep her off the “official” voter rolls. I fully intend to vote for what I want, and not for what someone else tells me I can have.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Like some others here I did not watch the Cattle Call (Debate). Corporate Joe Biden constantly seeks to pathetically try to link himself to Obama and thus inoculate himself from any criticism. Obama selected Corporate Joe, to reassure Wall Street and the 1%, it would be Neo-Liberalism as usual once Obama was elected. To be sure Obama did not not disappoint Wall Street and the 1%, AG Eric Holder cemented it all with his too big to fail, too big to jail attitude.

    So the Corporate Democrats tried Hillary. However, she came across as Shillary, with the baggage of millions of dollars in speaking fees behind closed doors. Now, the Corporate Democrats are trying to tone it down from Shillary to the Avuncular Lunch Pail Joe Biden in his hard hat.

    CNN and MSDNC try all sorts of duplicity to build up Corporate Joe and minimize the fact that intellectually, Corporate Joe’s elevator is not running to the top floor. One “expert” after another on CNN and MSDNC tell us Corporate Joe, can win those “moderate” Republicans over.

    President Agent Orange will not shrink from lies, hyperbole, etc., on the debate stage, Corporate Joe will be mired in mental mucilage if he he is one on one with President Agent Orange.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Winning “moderate” Republicans over. If such creatures exist, the best person to do that is probably Tulsi Gabbard (veteran, major, anti-war). But the DNC is working overtime to keep her on the sidelines …

      Of course, the real way to win is to motivate Democrats and Independents — to give them real reasons to get off their duffs and vote. An inspiring candidate, in short. That is not Joe Biden, to state the obvious.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tulsi Gabbard is Russia’s favourite candidate and that’s the kiss of death.
        Though probably Russia is using reverse psychology here – by praising Gabbard it ensures that the Democrats will not elect her, but candidates who will lose to Trump.
        The same way in 2016 Russian trolls all over the internet pretended to vote for Jill Stein so as to take votes from Hillary Clinton.


        1. Nonsense, but a rather good example of what George Orwell called doublethink, or political schizophrenia. “Russia favors” Donald Trump, so he wins. “Russia favors” Tulsi Gabbard, so she loses. So much for “Russian favoritism.” What insipid, conflicted bunk.

          To the best of my knowledge, Representative Tulsi Gabbard did not appear on stage at this latest pathetic excuse for a “debate.” Neither did Dr. Jill Stein. So I would wonder at the reasons for such corporate boilerplate attacks upon these non-participants (not to mention “Russia”) except that I understand them very well. As economics research professor Michael Hudson explained before the non-event aired. See Breaking Up the Democratic Party, the Unz Review (September 12, 2019) [my selected citation in italics with emphasis added]:

          “Thursday’s debate on Walt Disney’s ABC channel is shaping up as yet another shameless charade. The pretense is that we are to select who the Democratic presidential candidate will be. But most Americans, as the Irish say, vote with their backsides, belonging to the informal but dominant party of non-voters who choose not to be sucked into legitimizing the bad choices put before them.”

          The debate is being presented as a reality entertainment show. The audience is invited to rate the candidates who seem most likely to implement the policy they want – but not including the economy. Most Americans are now living from paycheck to paycheck and cannot come up with even $400 in an emergency. They are afraid to go on strike or even to complain about their job, because they are afraid of getting fired – and of losing their corporate health care, knowing that getting sick may wipe them out. These problems will not appear on Walt Disney.

          Voters basically want what Bernie Sanders is promising: a basic right to Single Payer health care and a retirement income. That means protection against the Republican-Democratic threats to cut back Social Security to balance the budget in the face of tax cuts for the richest One Percent and rising Cold War military spending. This means a government strong enough to take on the vested financial and corporate interests and prosecute Wall Street’s financial crime and corporate monopoly power. When neoliberals shout, “But that’s socialism,” Americans finally are beginning to say, “Then give us socialism.” It beats being ground down into debt peonage.

          But here’s the trick that the TV debates sweep under the rug: It is not the voters who are empowered to choose the Democratic Party’s candidate. That privilege belongs legally to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Since stacking the political deck in 2016 to serve up Hillary Clinton as nominee, it has put in place rules that will enable its Donor Class members, superdelegates and other lobbyists for the One Percent to repeat the trickery once again in 2020.

          I hope that the candidate who is clearly the voters’ choice, Bernie Sanders, may end up as the party’s nominee. If he is, I’m sure he’ll beat Donald Trump handily, as he would have done four years ago. But I fear that the DNC’s Donor Class will push Joe Biden, Kamala Harris or even Pete Buttigieg down the throats of voters. Just as when they backed Hillary the last time around, they hope that their anointed neoliberal will be viewed as the lesser evil for a program little different from that of the Republicans.
          So Thursday’s reality TV run-off is about “who’s the least evil?” An honest reality show’s questions would focus on “What are you against?” That would attract a real audience, because people are much clearer about what they’re against: the vested interests, Wall Street, the drug companies and other monopolies, the banks, landlords, corporate raiders and private-equity asset strippers. But none of this is to be permitted on the magic island of authorized candidates (not including Tulsi Gabbard, who was purged from further debates for having dared to mention the unmentionable).

          So, we already know why the DNC seeks to purge Tulsi Gabbard from corporate media exposure, much as they did with Bernie Sanders in 2016. Yet we also know how this inept “strategy” lost to a political rookie, real estate con-man and out-of-work cable-tv game show host. Then we had to endure three years of the losing corporate Democrats blaming something or someone called “the Russians” for … well … you know … uh … whatever. … So, by all means, go on attacking the candidate that many of us would vote for if she won nomination to either the presidency or vice-presidency along with Bernie Sanders, even if she doesn’t get to appear on the “magic island” stage next to those corporate mediocrities she clearly overshadows.

          Finally, in your next attack “punching down” on those candidates without political power and lavish corporate donor support, please do not forget to mention Ralph Nader, whom I happily voted for in 2000 and 2004, just as I voted for Dr. Jill Stein in 2016. Best votes I ever cast. At least I didn’t vote to legitimate what I didn’t want in a President of the United States. Nobody owns my vote. And anyone wanting it will have to offer me some anti-war, working class reason for bestowing it upon them. If they don’t care to work for my vote, they have no right to demand it of me.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Great article, Mike. Thanks for including the link. This about sums it up:

            “Most potential voters have no party in the United States, but are forced into a choice between Republican and Democratic neoliberals. The polls euphemize most voters as “undecideds,” as if they have not decided to avoid both parties and try to scrape by as best they can with the bad choices put before them: Republican corporate lobbyists, or Democratic Wall Street lobbyists, both parties supporting military spending and representing the One Percent who form their donor base.”

            Some “choice”!


  5. First the Dem elite thought it was Hillary’s turn. Appears they now think it’s Joe’s. Outcome likely to be same.

    The travails of a declining empire…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Doug: They know exactly what they’re getting in Hillary and Biden: reliable corporate shills.

      Other shills are available, e.g. Harris, Booker, but so far they haven’t caught fire. But perhaps one will end up being Biden’s VP. Can you say “diversity”? (Not diversity of opinions, of course.)


  6. “paternalistic, clueless, and incoherent.” Prerequisits for POTUS required by the corporate, global, ruling elite before they even consider a coronation, making Corporate Joe the perfect, obvious choice.

    To paraphrase Glen Ford, Black Agend Report, and Ken Freeland, Mint Press News, Elisabeth Warren doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell unless she can convince those ruling elites that she’s as big a fraud as Obama.

    Love your views, WJA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Reliable, predictable, pliable: three words that popped into my head for the “right” corporate candidate. Are they reliable, i.e. will they serve the elites? Are they predictable, i.e. will they pat all the usual backs and bow before the usual pieties? Are they pliable, i.e. are they pretty much spineless when it comes to principles?

      That, in a nutshell, is the ideal candidate.


  7. Stuff everybody knows from across the years (65) and miles (I no longer reside within “the US or its territories”):

    1. Individual votes mean nothing if they aren’t cast in the right state. The “right state” being one with a high electoral college number. Which is why we have –
    2. Televised “debates” after which viewers “vote” allowing people to believe they are active participants in the democratic process. The best thing about this nonsense is –
    3. After the first “debate,” each aspirant’s “role” is in place and they stay there and play it to the bitter end. No different than “The Bachelor” or “Survivor” which is a format Americans both comprehend and enjoy.
    4. The difference between the RNC and the DNC is the RNC wants to win at any cost, while the DNC – knowing it will be around until the end of Time – is content to be the “loyal opposition” (the pay’s the same). If this were anything other than true, people like Walter Mondale, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Michael Dukakis would never have been tapped as candidates and Joe Biden wouldn’t be part of the current discussion.
    5. Votes are more often cast “against” one candidate rather than “for” another. This is why the term “electability” was coined. It will beat vision, political acumen, “moral fiber,” and any other positive/desirable quality every time. As such, time spent talking about “alternative candidates” is, to lift a line from “Lawrence of Arabia,” “a sideshow of a sideshow.” The only real candidate – meaning the only one with a chance of appearing on the ballot in November, if not winning – is the safe candidate. The DNC will go to great lengths to insure this, including open opposition to “alternative candidates.” It’s no different than Nancy Pelosi’s continued attempts to put the younger, more vocal members of Congress “in their place.”
    6. To expect the electorate to rise up and take sustained, concerted action against The Way Things Are is as misguided as Winston Smith’s belief that Hope was to be found with the Proles.
    7. “Alternative candidates” are all well and good, stirring things up, raising important points, but a truism of old-time Chicago politics remains as true as the Sun: “People love pain-in-the-ass reformers, they just don’t vote for them.”
    8. When it comes to realpolitik, everyone has clarity & purity of vision after the morning’s second cup of coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Oyster” above inquires of me: “So you think the Russians didn’t interfere in the 2016 election and Trump won the race fair and square?”

    Two questions, actually, and I’ll take the second one first:

    Yes. I think that Donald J. Trump won the presidential election within the agreed-upon framework of the ancient and anti-democratic electoral college. I wouldn’t call the contest a race, however, since the Democratic party candidate chose not to even campaign in the key mid-western states that decided the election. When given the “choice” between the political equivalent of gonorrhea and syphilis, voters in several economically ravaged states chose the STD they hadn’t yet contracted as opposed to the one with which they already had more than enough experience. As well, a sufficient number of voters in a sufficient number of states chose to avoid the offered infections altogether and to either refrain from voting or to vote for an actual doctor who might know something about human health.

    [Just as an explanatory aside: in his last column for The Guardian before taking some time off to write more books on American society and its various affairs, Thomas Frank explained the political and economic dilemma facing the United States today. Hint: it has nothing to do with “Russians.” See: Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class? (July 27, 2018). Here we see the real problem for what remains of the “Democratic” party, in case its corrupt cadre of Clinton/Obama sell-outs even care to know.]

    Anyway, as regards the first question, having something to do with some unspecified persons labelled as “Russians,” I have seen no publicly produced evidence that any activity on their part had any effect whatsoever on the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. I lived through the scurrilous red-baiting hysteria of the late 1950’s and early 1960s when Republicans savaged Democrats as “fellow travelling communist sympathizers,” et cetera, and so it makes me want to puke to see so-called “Democrats” doing their best impressions of Tricky Dick Nixon and Tailgunner Joe McCarthy — and, of course, failing even to do a decent job of that now that no real “Reds” exist in Russia and China these days. Pathetic and weak, actually, for any nation to blame foreigners for its own manifest shortcomings.

    Additionally, “fairness and squareness” usually have little to do with what passes for elections in the United States, especially as the two right-wing factions of the corporate oligarchy’s single Property Party (as the late Gore Vidal called it) have established a self-serving duopoly freezing out any possible alternative to corporate-militarist propaganda, corruption, ineptitude, and criminality. “Take it or Take it.” In the United States, that supposedly passes for a “choice.”

    Donald J. Trump did the United States a favor by keeping You-Know-Her out of the White House. And he didn’t need help from any “Russians” to do that. The stinking dead NAFTA albatross hung around her neck by her husband, Bubba Bill, pretty much sufficed to terminate You-Know-Her’s delusions of political advancement. Now, if someone else wants to run for the office and rid America of Trump, in turn, then so much the better. Americans can expect little more of their so-called “democracy” than that one set of right-wing rats will eat the other set of right-wing rats and eventually leave no rats running in what some Americans like to call “races.” Of course, little will remain of the looted and pillaged U.S. working class — or much of the dwindling “middle class,” either — when the two tribes of rats have consumed everything for the owners of their custom cages.


    1. I’m afraid if “someone else wants to run for the office and rid America of Trump” then Trump didn’t do the Unites States any favour by keeping Hillary out of the White House. If he proved so bad that now he must be got rid of, what was the point of electing him in the first place ? I remember at the time he was being marketed as the lesser of two evils, or as you expressed it “the STD they hadn’t yet contracted”. And it seems to have worked, but what did he do that Hillary wouldn’t have done ?
      He’s still in the swamp. America still has bases all over the world and the Pentagon the biggest military budget ever.. The only thing which is different is that he seems to be afraid of Russia.
      It’s really sad, and also for the rest of the world.


      1. I grow weary of having to repeat to apologists for You-Know-Her, but the Democratic party had the option of selecting a genuine populist, Senator Bernie Sanders, to keep both Donald Trump and You-Know-Her out of the White House, as professor Michael Hudson noted above. But since the DNC chose to rig their own primaries to prevent anyone but You-Know-Her getting their nomination, Trump got the nod for at least doing half the job. Now it remains for someone else to complete the unfinished work of ridding America of both political STDs. Unfortunately for the United States and world, the Democratic party as presently constituted seems uninterested in the task.

        Things could get even uglier. Decades of American political history have repeatedly shown that “The Clintons are always there when they need you,” so I wouldn’t rule out an attempt to offer You-Know-Her — or even Michelle Obama — at the Democratic party’s convention as a “compromise” candidate once the corporate “super delegates” get to do the actual choosing on the second and subsequent ballots. As Chairman Mao (if not Confucius) said of undead and discredited reactionaries always seeking resurrection unto eternal political power: “The centipede is dead but not stiff.” Until actual rigor mortis sets in, I wouldn’t put any insane “centrist” capitulation claptrap past the Clinton/Obama crowd. If the Democratic party fails to rid itself of these Republican wannabes, it has no future as an “alternative” political institution.

        As for President Donald Trump’s alleged fear of Russia, I cannot see how that squares with ludicrous allegations that he owes his office to Russian omniscience and awesome powers of Facebook manipulation. As a matter of fact, since the Russian Federation possesses a nuclear stockpile capable of rendering the North American continent uninhabitable for a thousand years, it would make eminent good sense to speak politely and non-threateningly to such a world power. Like first-mate Starbuck said in Moby Dick: “I will have no man in my boat who is not afraid of a whale.” Hysterical, belligerent recklessness makes a very poor and dangerous ship mate. Russia has done nothing to harm Americans and shows no sign of wanting to do so. Quite the opposite. So if President Donald Trump or any other U. S. President thinks it prudent to proceed amicably and cooperatively with the Russian Federation — not to mention China — then I don’t consider that unreasonable behavior. The American presidency faces far more serious threats from the FBI (“Furtive Bungling Idiots”), CIA (“Can’t Identify Anything”), and the bloated Pentagram (the “Five Sided Black Hole on the Potomac”) than anything other nations might attempt to do by means of some unspecified, nefarious skulduggery.

        Now, if a “new” “fresh” political candidate should defeat President Trump in 2020 — a near certainty should the expected economic collapse come sooner than expected — and that person in turn qualifies, like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as the political equivalent of herpes, then still another “someone else” will have to run against them and give them the boot. Rinse and repeat every four years (every two years for corrupt Senators and Congressmen). As Michael Hudson explains, this process will take several election cycles just to cleanse the Democratic party before it can once again begin to rid the U.S. government of Republicans. One-term presidencies obviously need to become the norm rather than the exception as during previous eras of U.S. history.

        I do agree that President Trump has pursued some policies that differ little from what You-Know-Her or any other recent U.S. President would have pursued, except that her calling Russian President Putin “Adolph Hitler” and threatening to establish a Libyan-style “no fly zone” in Syria would already have embroiled the U.S. and Russia in open, rapidly escalating warfare. Saying that President Trump has done some things that You-Know-Her might also have done ignores the very real and very much worse things that she gave every indication of ardently wishing to inflict upon a sufficiently troubled world. Politically speaking, “She came. We saw. She died.” Thank goodness. Now get Trump next. Then get whomever got him if they reveal themselves as just another carbon copy corporate stooge.

        To recapitulate: If confronted by the simplistic either/or non-choice of “Republican” versus “Democrat” (i.e., imitation Republican) the American people will choose the “real” Republican every time, as President Harry S. Truman said long ago. The name “Democrat” has ceased to have any real, effective meaning for economically desperate working class Americans. Still, many Americans go on mouthing the syllables out of habit as if FDR still sat in the White House and the U.S. military actually won wars against real enemies instead of losing decades-long debacles to Asian peasants and Afghan poppy farmers. Imperial decline has set in and begun to accelerate. Historically, this had to happen and America has only itself to blame for its own demise. Personally, I do not find this historic inevitability the least bit troublesome. Who knows but that the United States might even become, in spite of itself, a democratic Republic again instead of Karl Rove and Deputy Dubya Bush’s “empire.”


        1. Thanks. I like Michael Hudson. I agree with you that Bernie Sanders would have been a better choice and probably the world would have been spared Trump.
          Russia is scary indeed, but not because of its nukes – America has them too. It’s scary because of its inflexible ideology of conquering the neighbouring peoples ever since it was just Muscovy and kept extending its territory both to the East and West.

          Russia’s intervention in the 2016 elections was mainly through Hungarian agents, especially those from the Hungarian diaspora working for Viktor Orban, and it maintains a steady network of operatives in all the former communist countries.
          President Trump will be very “cooperative” with the Russians and the Chinese – they will split the world between them as it was during the Cold War – we can already see the signs.

          “According to the report authored by Montreal-based, Concordia University emeritus professor Andras B. Göllner, the key to the Hungarian connection lies in the link between Orban — described in a 2015 Politico profile as “Europe’s New Dictator” — and Arthur J. Finkelstein, a longtime friend and adviser to Trump, once described by CNN as “the stuff of Hollywood: A man who can topple even the most powerful foes, yet so secretive that few have ever seen him.”

          Despite his lack of a public profile, Finkelstein is also a top Republican political consultant and veteran of GOP campaigns dating back to the Richard Nixon reelection campaign in 1972. Though both Jewish and gay, making him a member of two voting blocs that lean heavily Democratic, Finkelstein is credited as the messaging mastermind who turned the word “liberal” into political poison.

          But Finkelstein has not confined his activities to the United States. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz gave his work for that country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credit for keeping Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition in power.

          Finkelstein has also served for a decade as chief political strategist for Hungary’s Orban, who was one of the few foreign leaders to openly support Trump in last year’s presidential campaign and whose anti-immigrant stances echo Trump’s own.

          Though Hungary has been a member of NATO since 1997, and also belongs to the European Union, Orban has aligned himself with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. During the period in which he has had Finkelstein as his top adviser, Orban has “managed to transform this small Central European country into a pale shadow of it’s former democratic self,” Göllner wrote.

          Finkelstein and Orban’s top Hungarian consultant Arpad Habony formed a partnership in 2015, starting Danube Business Consulting Ltd., a political firm in London “close to the headquarters of Wikileaks,” Göllner stated.

          “The Russian leakage of embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton, was coordinated through Budapest, and London, and was designed to lower Clinton’s trustworthiness at pre-planned moments during the campaign,” Göllner reported.

          During his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last month, FBI Director James Comey stated that the Russian government passed the hacked Clinton campaign emails to Wikileaks through a “cutout,” or third party, which would allow Wikileaks to cover up the fact that the stolen documents did indeed come from Russia.

          The Hungarian Free Press report also reveals that a top aide to Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Jeffrey D. Gordon, visited Hungary six times and praised Orbán as “brave leader who stands for common sense.”

          Sessions himself met at least twice with Russian officials during last year’s campaign — and later lied under oath in his Senate confirmation hearings, denying that the meetings took place.”


  9. While the U.S. corporate media obsesses about “visual rhetoric” on stage at the Disney “magic island” Q & A cattle-call, has a good discussion of current world realities on its Crosstalk program (September 11, 2019). See Trump’s Middle East policies: Vaudeville politics. For those who haven’t seen it, I took dictation and will post what I consider the most pertinent observation here, offered by an business analyst in Los Angeles:

    [20:37] Pye Ian: “That’s why I say that we should pay much more attention to the actual Deep State, because regardless of which party, personality, or puppet is placed into the White House and/or his or her cabinet, their interests are permanent and perennial. What was stated in the late 90s with the late Zbigniew Brzezinski’s text, “The Grand Chessboard” is still very much in play. As far as macro-strategy towards Eurasia and containing the rise of Russia and China, it hasn’t been very successful over the past twenty years because, as you alluded to earlier, the more that they throw at a rising Eurasian continent that is further integrating, the more in Aikido or Jiu-Jitsu fashion the force comes back at them. But, nonetheless, Trump is there in order to keep over 100,000,000 [one hundred million] either unemployed, underemployed, or struggling Americans economically at bay in order to convince them that he’s the populist that they chose in championing their causes. Meanwhile, we’ve been in an economic depression since 2007 that has only now been given the signals to get worse as further asset consolidation is expected to go forward. So, I sense he’s there in order to distract, but that distraction game is getting harder and harder as the Deep State is essentially scurrying and scrambling to figure out how to save face economically while containing further integration between these East, South, and West Asian nations that are working splendidly with each other in order to erect the next global pillar economically whether its the Belt and Road Initiative or the Eurasian Economic Union, there are so many aspects that are on a week to week basis finding success across Eurasia. But Washington and London are running around with their tails between their legs because they’re running out of options about how to be able to contain it while convincing their own populaces that they have their best interests at heart.”

    Other guests commenters on the program had similarly useful and informative observations, but I didn’t have time to transcribe them all. The above seemed rather comprehensive and on the mark, I thought. Hearing anything about these real-world developments would have surely made the so-called Democratic “debates” worth watching, but as Elmer Gantry said: “When I became a man, I put away childish thoughts.”


  10. Sitting up her north of the border, I’m amazed to watch the Democratic Party eats its young.

    Certainly we have our share of embarrassments, but none come close to the orange outrage in the White House, which appears likely to be repeated based on the Democratic Party’s continued mismanagement of their national file.

    If I were an American, I would be watching these inchoate debates (sic) among all the Democratic wannabees, who do their best, politely or otherwise, to destroy the other contenders. Sometimes within extreme positions, sometimes in varying shades of gray.

    But a the end of the day surely the average US voter is saying “these clowns can’t even organize their party: they want to run the nation?”.

    It may be simplistic to suggest it, but if there are any adults in the room could they not simply retire to a locked venue, no phones, no recordings, and simply agree that the Democratic Party needs to put forward a coherent, responsible and relevant opposition to Trump?

    At present, he simply needs to only to stumble down from the hills and slaughter the remaining Democratic candidates.

    God help the Us – God help us all as we are doomed to live with the current likely aftermath.


  11. I’ve read two articles recently at the NYT and Washington Post. Their gist: Biden is a gaffe machine, but he’s popular among blacks and seniors, and perhaps workers with a high school education, so he deserves support precisely because he’s some sort of “man of the people” because of his gaffes and blunders. And because he was Obama’s sidekick for eight years.

    Yes — the bar is set very low for Uncle Joe. And it’s truly revealing how the NYT and Washington Post are rallying behind him, while dismissing Bernie as too radical and Warren as too elitist. (Warren, however, is hedging her bets, making nice with Hillary and the DNC, so we’re beginning to see more positive articles in the MSM about her.)

    I just can’t imagine Joe Biden, with his gaffes and his record, competing successfully against Trump. If he couldn’t beat Dukakis in ’88, how is he going to beat Trump in 2020?


    1. Just after I wrote this comment, I saw this story:

      Chalk up another gaffe for Joe Biden.

      The former vice president was speaking at an event held by the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia on Tuesday when he decided to refer to the time in April when he rallied with striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston.

      The thing is, he didn’t quite get the details right, calling it a “Rite Aid strike.”

      “When I went up to the Rite Aid strike, I looked out in that parking lot when I was talking with the folks when I was walking the picket line, up in Boston — and what happened? I looked out there, and I’ll bet you 40 percent of the people there were non-union,” Biden said during the Tuesday event, according to a clip posted online.

      Biden, who is now considered the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, attended the boisterous rally in Boston after some 31,000 Stop & Shop workers …


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