Biden-Trump, The Final Debate

No inspiration, no vision

W.J. Astore

I didn’t fall asleep easily last night.

Neither candidate, Donald Trump nor Joe Biden, inspires confidence, and their final debate performance highlighted their flaws.

First, Donald Trump. He remains the narcissist-in-chief, in which everything is about him except when it reflects poorly on him, in which case scapegoats are found. Trump talks about Covid-19 deaths always in the abstract, except when he talks about himself getting the virus. Then he boasts about his quick recovery and how he’s now immune to it. Trump is always the best at everything. He’s the best president that Black people have ever had, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln. He’s the least racist man in America. The usual BS.

Muted microphones kept Trump’s worst impulses in check. You could see him wanting to butt in, to interrupt, and then he would check himself. It’s rather amazing that the only way America could have the semblance of a debate was through muted microphones and repeated warnings from the moderator.

What strikes me still is Trump’s laziness and lack of discipline. He really should dominate Biden quite easily. When Trump focused on Biden’s record, when he called him out for not doing anything of note in his eight years of being Obama’s VP, when he attacked him as another promise-breaking politician, Trump scored points. But Trump couldn’t focus his attack. He kept returning to Hunter Biden and the kind of Washington in-fighting that turns most people off.

For an America in despair, Trump simply promised more jobs, cheaper gas, and higher Wall Street profits. There was no vision, no hope, and most certainly no solace offered by this president. There’s no poetry to Trump, and only martial music. Even in militarist America, the Trump drumbeat is growing tiresome.

Turning to Joe Biden, he had a good night for Joe Biden. Good as in he remained vertical and mostly on target throughout the debate. Biden was strongest when he addressed the American people directly: when he showed empathy and talked about the pain and despair Americans are feeling. I did catch Biden looking at his watch once, but I’ll cut him some slack because I wanted the debate to be over as well. Overall, I don’t think Biden’s performance in this debate moved the needle in this election.

With regards to national security, naturally there were no questions about ending our wars, or reducing the Pentagon budget, or downsizing nuclear arsenals, or anything like that. “National security” focused on alleged Russian and Iranian interference in our elections and the small nuclear arsenal of North Korea. Of course, the best people at mucking up our elections aren’t Russian or Iranian, they’re American. From gerrymandering to voter intimidation to closed polling sites and lengthy lines in disadvantaged neighborhoods, Americans need no help from foreigners to interfere with our “democracy.”

For a country in despair, a country suffering from a pandemic and from a loss in confidence, neither candidate offered a clear vision for a better tomorrow. Perhaps it simply doesn’t exist in their minds. They are both remarkably limited and flawed men. One is almost certainly a sociopath in which all human relations are transactional, the other is a muddled functionary who’s been wrong more often than he’s been right.

More than microphones were muted in this final debate. Fresh thinking was muted. Inspiration was muted. Generosity was muted. And, dare I use the word, grace was muted.

Small wonder I had trouble sleeping.

65 thoughts on “Biden-Trump, The Final Debate

  1. I’m commenting before seeing other readers’ thoughts, and I’ll try to be brief. (Boilerplate “promise”!) This was a sad affair, mostly repetition of what they said in first round. This was no Army-McCarthy Hearing: “Have you, sir, at last, no decency?” Whatever decency Trump may have once possessed he discarded long ago in search of riches. Some specifics: 1.) The “mic mute” concept was a fiasco, because it was only used for initial two-minute responses to a new question from moderator. After that, Trump again steamrollered the moderator with almost constant disruptions and demands for more time for himself; 2.) like the senator from Wisconsin alluded to above, Trump just made up statistics out of thin air. Biden got $3 million from Russia? Really? Any details you can share on that, Donald? And I hope someone fact-checked his claim that he closed his Chinese bank account around 2015; 3.) Biden was rather flustered over having to go thru this dance again, and started stammering at times. He confused Trump’s pals, ‘The Proud Boys,’ with a famous New Orleans sandwich, the Poor Boy! And got wrong Trump’s exact instructions to those Brownshirts from round one. (“So, Proud Boys, stand back and stand by” is what was actually said.); 4.) Biden was good when he reminded his opponent of who he’s running against. Ideologically, no, Biden is NOT Bernie or “AOC + 3.”; 5.) other side of that coin is that Biden vowed he would “control” the DPRK [“north” Korea], and other tough-guy rhetoric against USA’s perceived enemies. Okay, Joe, we believe you. You ain’t no Socialist!; 6.) Biden again failed to point out that to extent that pollution may be down a bit, those are knock-on effects of improved fuel efficiency for internal combustion powered vehicles, etc., encouraged by Obama. Precisely the kind of regulation Trump and his cohorts rail against, and that Trump has aggressively rolled back by executive order. And not a word about the smoke from the fires out west that have blanketed the nation–less air pollution, really?; 7.) that Biden has flip-flopped on fracking is no surprise. Politicians tune their stump speeches to specific regional audiences. Does not Trump reverse his positions about every other day, when his advisers or opinion polls tell him he’s blundered?; 8.) Biden actually said he was wrong in 1994 to sign off on tough crime legislation. Pray tell, when has Trump ever admitted to being wrong?; 9.) the absurdity of Trump repeating his claim to be the least racist person in the country, etc., speaks for itself and needs no further commentary.

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    1. I wouldn’t blame them, Greg. I watched out of a sense of duty. But the fatigue of it all. It’s all so tired and wretched. So dishonest.

      Trump has the opposite effect of the Midas touch. Everything he touches he debases — including these debates.

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      1. One of the first books to come out on Trump post-2016 election was, I believe, by a former GOP insider (strategist). It was titled “Everything Trump Touches Dies.” I also understand a former head of the Republican National Committee, no less, has endorsed Biden!! I wouldn’t expect that to impress Trump’s base, but it surely is significant! I don’t think most in Trump’s base are interested in GOP internal politics. They went for his blustering, bullying, racist rhetoric and have stuck with him all along. P.T. Barnum famously had something to say on that topic, eh?

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  2. Well, Trump DID take responsibility for COVID. Quoting (almost, got the gist) “I take full responsibility for COVID. It’s China’s fault.” Definitely not John Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs. And he didn’t even approve or come up with it. Allen Dulles and the CIA pushed it out there figuring they would force Kennedy into supporting and backing the effort. After Kennedy took responsibility for something he didn’t do, Kennedy fired Dulles.
    That was good. Would have been so much better had he also fired the entire Gehlen Org group. Dulles met with General Reinhard Gehlen in Switzerland, while the war was still going, to arrange the future, fighting godless communism and using his Gestapo, Wehrmacht and SS resources to populate the org (Gehlen was Hitler’s chief of military intelligence on the Eastern Front and in the Soviet Union. So we got all those Nazis weaving stories to keep the cold war working, not to mention the Soviets who had already penetrated the Nazi orgs.
    Back to responsibility. Trump usually has two part statements. The first part sounds like he is making a declaration and the second part is some version of qualifying it so that he can back out, such as “they say…”
    If he were a ship’s captain he’d jump overboard, before anyone else – of course, if he found a leaky faucet in the head. Sorry, had to snark.

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      1. “China and Dr. Fauci. He’s an idiot. I think he’s a Democrat. Anyway, it’s going away soon. We’ll have a vaccine within weeks, folks!” Yesterday (23 Oct.) the US hit a new record high number of daily confirmed/presumed (because I think there’s no truly reliable test kit yet) new cases of Covid-19. Not a high for this month, but for the entire pandemic. IMHO, any reopening of public events and schools was grossly premature and now we’re paying the price. “But we’ve got to get the economy back on track!” At what price?? This underlines government’s total failure, and things wouldn’t be much better if someone else was in the White House these past few years. “The System” is the problem. In a time of genuine crisis, certainly unprecedented in my lifetime, all necessary measures should have been taken to ensure our survival. What the hell good is government if it cannot respond to our needs in such a situation? How much longer before grocery stores will be getting robbed at gunpoint? For food, not cash!

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        1. In the “for what it’s worth” category, I saw a report two days ago that detailed the virus death rates according to the measures governments have taken. If I can rediscover it, I’ll send the link. The point is that, had the U.S. reacted as quickly and decisively as Taiwan did when word of the virus initially emerged, our total death count would have been in the hundreds, per this article. Granted, it’s not feasible for a country of our size to mobilize as quickly as a relatively small island, but even controlling the extrapolation for scale, the thought of the 215,000+ who might have been saved is devastating.

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  3. In the comments above relating to the last (for this year) presidential “debate,” I note with special interest the following:

    This was a sad affair, mostly repetition of what they said in first round. This was no Army-McCarthy Hearing: “Have you, sir, at last, no decency?” Whatever decency Trump may have once possessed he discarded long ago in search of riches.

    As I understood this ironic comment — surely unintentional — the quality of “indecency” ostensibly attaches to President Donald Trump through (misplaced) analogy with the arch-fiend Republican Senator Joseph “Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy whose name has become synonymous with scurrilous red-baiting. McCarthy himself gave credit for the low-road tactic to a fellow Republican: then-Congressman/then-Senator Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon. I mention this sordid history of Nixon-McCarthy red-baiting to highlight the irony of having another corrupt and discredited Democrat (first 2016 and now 2020) adopt the same tactic, not only versus Republican businessman/game-show-host Donald Trump in the general election, but against fellow Democrats Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard in the Democrats’ own primary, as well. Talk about “decency.”

    This shabby, shameless “debate” began four years ago and still hasn’t concluded. See “Shades of the Cold War: How the DNC fabricated a Russian hacker conspiracy to deflect blame for its email scandal,” by Patrick Lawrence, Salon.com (July 26, 2016):

    “Now wait a minute, all you upper-case “D” Democrats. A flood light suddenly shines on your party apparatus, revealing its grossly corrupt machinations to fix the primary process and sink the Sanders campaign, and within a day you are on about the evil Russians having hacked into your computers to sabotage our elections — on behalf of Donald Trump, no less?”

    “Is this a joke? Are you kidding? Is nothing beneath your dignity? Is this how lowly you rate the intelligence of American voters? My answers to these, in order: yes, but the kind one cannot laugh at; no, we’re not kidding; no, we will do anything, and yes, we have no regard whatsoever for Americans so long as we can connive them out of their votes every four years.”

    “Clowns. Subversives. Do you know who you remind me of? I will tell you: Nixon, in his famously red-baiting campaign — a disgusting episode — against the right-thinking Helen Gahagan Douglas during his first run for the Senate, in 1950. Your political tricks are as transparent and anti-democratic as his, it is perfectly fair to say” [emphasis added].

    So, before I would go throwing around the “indecency” canard by analogy with Republicans Nixon and McCarthy, I would check to see which party and candidates most closely resemble them today: those “Democrats” still trying to teach their Republican grandmothers how to suck eggs.

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    1. There’s plenty of indecency to go around, Mike.

      I’ll never forgive the DNC/NBC/Hillary smearing of Tulsi Gabbard, a serving major in the U.S. military.

      But, of course, Trump does his own smearing. Somehow he labeled Biden/Harris as supporting socialism and socialized medicine and Harris herself as a radical leftist.

      If Trump loses, one reason will be his absurd strategy of portraying Biden as a puppet of the radical left, when he is so obviously a puppet of Wall Street and the big banks.

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      1. But do you really think it’s obvious to most Americans that Biden is a Wall Street puppet? Even on the various “liberal” news sites, he’s being put on a pedestal as Everyman, a simple, decent, patriotic American who only wants to help the little guys. Witness Rolling Stone’s paean, as we were discussing on a previous thread. Educated pundits who definitely should know better, such as Bill McKibben and Norm Solomon, are militantly optimistic that all we have to do is get Uncle Joe into office, and then he can be pushed into embracing all the progressive values. I don’t know whether all of their shiny, happy outlook is just for the cameras, or whether they genuinely believe what they’re saying, but either way, they’re doing their audience a disservice. Let alone the masses who don’t encounter those pundits, who merely hear the warm, fuzzy campaign ads.

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        1. Donald Trump isn’t the only con man running …

          The game is rigged, as George Carlin said. We have owners — they own us. So, do we want the vulgar sociopathology of Trump, or the kinder, gentler mendacity of Biden?

          People like McKibben and Solomon, smart guys, simply think they can work with Biden and the people around him, whereas they’re shut out of the process under Trump.

          So, when you’re choice is a rock and a hard place, maybe you just resign yourself to a slightly smoother, slightly softer, rock?

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          1. Good analogy there. Yep, Biden is a somewhat softer rock. And perhaps McKibben and Solomon, being human, are simply projecting their wishes for relief from the ongoing trainwreck that is DJT.

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          2. Well, despite our wishes for a radically (pardon the term!) different situation, the hard reality is there are only two viable candidates for POTUS. The one these intellectual gents are lobbying for is the one not openly Fascist.

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          3. I want to bring in something from Hannah Arendt I read just last night, on the ideas of “liberation and freedom,” discussing in a lecture the American and French Revolutions of 18th Century. She said that the immediate goal of a revolution is to liberate the truly oppressed segments of society from dire poverty, to fulfill needs like having shelter and food. (Nowadays we’d emphasize the importance of accessible healthcare, too.) On this continent, the proportion of the populace in that category was much smaller than in Louis XVI’s France. With that task underway, then sights can be set on political freedom. She states the only real political freedom, despite lofty ideals spouted in documents like the Declaration of Independence, is to be given a say in how we are governed. Enter the American Republic, in which we are allegedly represented in Washington by Members of the House and the Senate. I think most of us commenting here agree that this system has long ago devolved to Members of Congress representing their corporate masters. Arendt also noted that, in this country, it was decidedly only a minority of the populace that got to really enjoy the lofty freedoms proclaimed in 1776. Those who struggled daily on the bottom rungs of the ladder of the economy–likely to be minimally educated–were precisely those showing the least interest in getting involved in the affairs of government. Those most in need of revolution, in other words, were the least likely to enthuse for it. Interesting, yes?

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          4. Arendt may be correct, Greg, about the American Revolution, in terms of the lack of enthusiasm of the lower classes. From my study of the French version, however, I believe the proles were very much involved in the proceedings. Same as uprisings in England during Edward VI’s brief reign: the common people combined with the merchants to oppose the ever-increasing seizure of control by the monarchy (not to mention onerous taxation). I guess it depends on how close the poorest people are to destitution; if they have absolutely nothing to lose, why not throw in their lots with revolutionaries? If they’re at a subsistence level, they may not want to rock the boat.

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          5. Ah! Interestingly, Ms. Arendt says it was precisely the passions of the most downtrodden inserting themselves on the political stage that caused the French Revolution to fail, the fighting among the radical factions leading to the observation that “Revolution always eats its own children.” Bonaparte declared himself Emperor and the monarchy was reinstalled later. We Americans have never officially had a king, of course. The monarch overthrown was back in the mother country, so restoration of monarchy here never became an issue.

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        2. “Shiny, happy [people]”! An REM reference! Nice work, Denise! I don’t read any of the sources being quoted here (well, occasionally I’ve read a Taibbi piece in past), I don’t watch Jimmy Dore videos, I don’t read an Aussie journalist named Caitlin. It’s not exactly a news flash for me that a Biden presidency will not “build Jerusalem in [America’s] green and pleasant land.” [Apologies to Wm. Blake if I didn’t get the words quite right there.] Much as it pains me, nay nauseates me, I’ll say it again: I will take a return to our wretched “normalcy” over four more years of Trump, or a partial second term finished by Pence after The Donald’s very unhealthy lifestyle finally does him in. We will know one of these weeks (months??) whether Trump has duped enuf additional idiots into believing that Biden and Harris are flaming Socialists! For the Trump base, of course, every word the man utters is the gospel truth!

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          1. I agree that a “return to our wretched ‘normalcy'” is preferable to the current situation. But those who are blithely vaporing on about how blissful a Biden Presidency will be, how much of the progressive agenda will be accomplished, make me want to retch.

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          2. Oh, we’re gonna have a lot of retching to do going forward. I’m not sure Biden ever stated a blanket opposition to fracking–Trump claims he did (which makes the claim immediately highly suspect), Joe says he only meant on Federal land–but now, to try to evade the accusation of being an environmental radical, Joe is reassuring the world he won’t “ban” fracking. Let’s flash back to 1993-2001. Albert Albert Gore Jr. was “the Environmental VP.” And what did Clinton/Gore really do for the environment? Nothing whatsoever of significance!! Indeed, after the GOP put Gore out to pasture he was found to be living in a huge energy-wasteful mansion in Tennessee! Only after the media exposed this did he have some solar panels installed on the roof! Such are our politicians.

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    2. Mr. Murry–I have avoided direct interaction with you for a long time now, but my inquiring mind simply demands to know: Have you cast your vote for Fascist Trump yet?

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      1. Hi, Greg. Thank you for the invitation to ignore your infantile attempts at insulting me because you obviously equate criticism of “A” (crypto fascist Democrats like Joe Biden) with support for “B” (crypto-fascist Republicans like Donald Trump). If you need the defects of this binary, “two-valued-orientation” (S. I. Hayakawa’s terminology) explained to you — and you most certainly do require that — I recommend George Orwell’s essay “Through a Glass Rosily”, Tribune (23 November 1945), a copy of which I maintain on my website for easy reference. Here, and for your convenience, I will simply excerpt what I consider Orwell’s key observations [bold font for emphasis my addition]:

        [begin quote]

        Whenever A and B are in opposition to one another, anyone who attacks or criticises A is accused of aiding and abetting B. And it is often true, objectively and on a short-term analysis, that he is making things easier for B. Therefore, say the supporters of A, shut up and don’t criticise: or at least criticise “constructively”, which in practice always means favourably. And from this it is only a short step to arguing that the suppression and distortion of known facts is the highest duty of a journalist.”

        “Now, if one divides the world into A and B and assumes that A represents progress and B reaction, it is just arguable that no fact detrimental to A ought ever to be revealed. But before making this claim one ought to realise where it leads. . . .”

        “Indeed, anyone who has ever written in defence of unpopular causes or been the witness of events which are likely to cause controversy, knows the fearful temptation to distort or suppress the facts, simply because any honest statement will contain revelations which can be made use of by unscrupulous opponents. But what one has to consider are the long-term effects. In the long run, can the cause of progress be served by lies, or can it not? . . .”

        “The trouble is that if you lie to people, their reaction is all the more violent when the truth leaks out, as it is apt to do in the end. . . .”

        There are always the most excellent, high-minded reasons for concealing the truth, and these reasons are brought forward in almost the same words by supporters of the most diverse causes.

        The whole argument that one mustn’t speak plainly because it “plays into the hands of” this or that sinister influence is dishonest, in the sense that people only use it when it suits them. . . . Beneath this argument there always lies the intention to do propaganda for some single sectional interest, and to browbeat critics into silence by telling them that they are “objectively” reactionary. It is a tempting manœuvre . . . but it is dishonest. I think one is less likely to use it if one remembers that the advantages of a lie are always short-lived. So often it seems a positive duty to suppress or colour the facts! And yet genuine progress can only happen through increasing enlightenment, which means the continuous destruction of myths.”

        [end quote]

        Now, if you understand what Orwell wrote, then you should understand that in what I have written over the years — as well as in my meager financial support and vote for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in the Democratic Party primary this year — I wish more than anything to expose the vicious lies and destroy the myth of “Russia-gate” — by which I mean: the Nixon-McCarthy red-baiting that the Republican Party fascists used against the Democrats in my youth and which the Democratic Party fascists have decided to use against the Republican Party fascists (their heroes and role models) now as a means of deflecting criticism of their long-term betrayal of anti-war working-class proles like me.

        If you want to emotionally vilify Donald Trump as “Hitler,” fine. But in all fairness, you should then understand why I refuse — unemotionally — to vote for Joe Biden, whom I regard as a dime store “Mussolini” (and one with a much longer and sordid political history than Donald Trump’s). Finally, since no presidential candidate or party on the ballot this year wants my vote in order to attain political office so that they can (1) demobilize the U.S. military’s Corporate Junta by defunding it, (2) abolish he CIA, (3) set up a national, single-payer health care system, (4) re-institute the Glass-Steagall banking regulations, and (5) re-establish a New Deal style Works Progress Administration — just to start off a first-term administration — then I have no one for whom I wish to vote.

        I have said these things many times in many substantive comments. If you choose not to read any of them, that has nothing to do with me. Again, I refuse to waste my vote validating global corporate oligarchy, crypto fascism, and endless imperial war, which will all result from a vote for either of the two crypto-fascists: Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

        As Gandalf said to Saruman in Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring: “Well, the choices are, it seems, to submit to Sauron or yourself. I will take neither. Have you others to offer?” [hint: multi-party ranked-choice elections]

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        1. With respect to the absolutely necessary goal of destroying the red-baiting Russiagate myth — or “hoax,” if one wishes to adopt that equally descriptive, but hardly exhaustive, terminology — I would like to quote from the new Introduction to David Halberstam’s book The Best and the Brightest, first published in 1969 but of timeless relevance with regard to the avaricious, neoliberal minions and factotems (including many recycled Republicans) eagerly lining up for cabinet posts in the anticipated Biden/Harris administration [bold font for emphasis my addition]:

          “That was the terrible shadow of the McCarthy period. It hung heavily albeit secretly over the internal calculations of Democratic leaders of the period. But of course it was never discussed in the major newspapers and magazine articles that analysed policy making in Vietnam. It was a secret subject, reflecting secret fears. Nor did the men who made the policy have any regional expertise as they made their estimates about what the other side would do if we escalated and sent American combat troops. All of the China experts, the Asia hands who were the counterparts of Bohlen and Kennan, had their careers destroyed with the fall of China. The men who gave advice on Asia were either Europeanists or men transferred from the Pentagon. When my book was finally done and accepted by my publisher, I realized that I had not made this point strongly enough . . .”

          “. . . but years later as I ponder the importance of the McCarthy era on both our domestic and foreign policy, I am convinced that this flaw in the society was even greater than I portrayed it, and if I were to do the book over, I might expand the whole section. It was one of the great myths of that time that foreign policy was pure and uncontaminated area which was never touched by domestic politics, and that domestic politics ended at the water’s edge. The truth, in sharp contrast, was that all those critical decisions were primarily driven by considerations of domestic politics, and political fears of the consequences of looking weak in a forthcoming domestic election.” David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, p. xviii

          All politicians lie, in that they will tailor their statements to what they perceive particular audiences will wish to hear. The trick for them lies in keeping one audience from overhearing what they say to other audiences (the notorious “public vs private” positions of the the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential candidate). But a Monstrous Lie, like red-baiting Russia-gate (or, soon enough) China-gate, Iran-gate and, ultimately, “Generic”-gate has ramifications far beyond the petty, sordid campaigning of particular individuals for particular offices. Both Trump and Biden lie like proverbial rugs, but which trumpets the more Monstrous Lie that will shackle future American generations to a suicidal collision with first-rank, nuclear armed nations with world-class strategic, economic, and political staying power? Both of them?

          The System has become — once again — Sociopathic and Suicidal. Way past time to reform or replace it with something Survivable. Trump and Biden matter no more than Pence and Harris in this timeless struggle.

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        2. As Orwell knew, the advantages of a lie can be more than short-lived. America’s system of greed is proving that.

          Orwell, of course, is right that lies aren’t a path to enlightenment. And that’s exactly the point. Who wants enlightenment in America? Not those who are profiting from a corrupt system. Lies suit them just fine.

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        3. And so, the torrent of verbiage begins. I knew this was coming, but I couldn’t resist giving you a chance to carry your pathological hatred (you crossed the line from mere virulent criticism long ago, it seems to me) of the Democrats to its logical end. To characterize the entire Democratic party as “crypto-fascist” and equate it fully with the modern GOP I find rather absurd. Further, Professor Murry, though I greatly admire Mr. Orwell, what you quoted has no relevance to me. I give my political analysis with total honesty and am no one’s propagandist–certainly not Joe Biden’s. And hell, I still haven’t brought myself to accepting Orwell’s claim that “All propaganda is lies, even if it tells the truth.” A failing on my part, I suppose?

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          1. If you have difficulty dealing with complete sentences and developed paragraphs, not to mention citations and references to authoritative sources, then too bad, Mr Laxer. You have the right to express your opinion as you wish. I have the same right and will exercise it how I please. I don’t do superficial sound-bytes and I’ll stick with trying to put a modicum of thought and literacy into the expression of my opinion. If you find that odious, then you have no need to read anything I write.

            Furthermore, I have no emotional attachment to either of America’s inseparable right-wing factions since I never agreed to let a corrupt corporate duopoly decide what I may think or how I may exercise my electoral choices, on such occasions when I actually perceive any.

            As for the term “crypto-fascist,” I picked it up long ago when Gore Vidal famously called the reactionary snob William F. Buckley that on national television. Buckley, flustered and outraged, responded by calling Vidal a “queer.” Vidal simply responded: “non sequitur.” For the historical record, Benito Mussolini — who knew something of the subject — defined “Fascism” as “Corporatism,” the merging of huge corporations with the power of the state. That seems an unarguable characterization of the Global Corporate Oligarchy and is various “national” subsidiaries, particularly the US Marketing Territory. So I’ll stick with calling the United States Corporate Duopoly “Fascist” if I please. I have good reasons for doing so.

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          2. I see you remain locked in your little box of behavioral pattern, Mr. Murry. Rivers of bilious rage flow from you against anyone who disagrees with you, who challenges your imagined massive intellect. This will be my final comment to you, lest I draw a reprimand from this site’s editor for slipping into the kind of sneering ad hominem attack you launched your latest comment with. But I do thank you for clarifying what Vidal said in response to Buckley. Gore’s words are kind of buried in the audio mix. And you, sir, are no Gore Vidal!

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          3. Gentlemen, gentlemen …

            Speaking of Gore Vidal, you must catch his performance in “Bob Roberts” as Senator Brickley Paiste. Here’s a sample:

            Virtue always prevails in America! 🙂

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          4. I like Tim Robbins–he did direct “Bob Roberts,” right?–but that movie never impressed me all that much. Ditto for Warren Beatty’s rapping US Senator in “Bulworth”! Ah, but “Network”–there’s a rockin’ movie for ya! Penned by the amazing Paddy Chayefsky.

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          5. “Network” is a great movie.

            “Bob Roberts” anticipated Trump in many ways. It’s set in Pennsylvania, where I lived for nine years, and accurately captures certain values there. The closing scene of the movie says it all. Tribalism over truth.

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          6. “Tribalism” is to be exploited in the name of maintaining the power of the privileged few, of course. Trump’s “tribe” has come out in the open, Bushmaster AR-15s in hand. Ah, I just gave myself an opening to present my new acronym to replace SCOTUS. It has the great advantage, if I may modestly so claim, to also describe the function of that, ahem, august body: Securing Capital’s Rule Over The Unorganized Majority. SCROTUM, in other words.

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          7. Woo-hoo!! I’m doing my Superiority Dance here at home, a la Dana Carvey’s ‘The Church Lady’ character on ‘SNL’ from, oh, a few decades ago (!). How time do fly!

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  4. I don’t know why this one phrase struck me out of your entire concise analysis, Professor, but the Dumpster promised higher Wall Street profits? Seems to me that was a seriously wrong note to strike in a presentation supposedly geared to the masses. Well, I guess it’s typical of him to “say the quiet things out loud,” as members of his staff have accused him.

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    1. This was simply an endorsement of “Trickle Down Economics” without using that odious phrase. “The stock market’s doing great, your 401-Ks have swollen, everything’s rosy.” If Trump had any awareness of real-life American workers/”lower middle class” he’d understand that when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you don’t have the funds to play the stock market and I dare say the majority of workers aren’t even offered a 401-K. That vehicle is more for junior executives, or at least only that type has ability to actually fund such a retirement plan. And as for the market as a whole, “What goes up must come down.”

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      1. Gotcha. Thanks for deciphering the code.

        As it happens, however, I have a 401(k), and I was a plebe my entire career. The funds therein were contributed solely by myself. I lost something like 80% of the account’s value in the 2008 crash, and after another 11 years, I’d recovered about 75% of the funds I’d lost. I was forcibly retired last year, before I even got back to square one, let alone increased my nest egg. And as for the security of that account, had I not put everything into virtually-no-risk securities 7 months ago, I’d be down to the 2008 level at this point; I lost almost $15K over one March weekend.

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        1. Ouch! I feel your pain (sorry for the flashback to ‘Big Dog’ Clinton’s time!). I was essentially ruined financially when I had to sell a house I was building in another state at a 60% loss. Not a speculation for house-flipping; I’d hoped to spend balance of my life there. Had you had your funds in a passive index fund, you would have made it back to 2008 level plus a gain by this year had you had the nerve to not make changes in allotment of funds. “See, stocks always come back in price!” say those promoting having unquestioning faith in such things. There’s just the “minor” detail that if you have a life emergency and have to withdraw funds while the market’s in the dumps, well…you know what happens. And I am convinced–no conspiracy theory required, I stay abreast of market analysis–that the markets only stopped their bleeding in the two most recent scary declines because the Federal Reserve suggested (2008/09) and later “guaranteed” [!!] (selloff in March of this year) it would “have the market’s [implication: mom & pop investors’] back.” This kind of interference (shall we call it hacking?) in the workings of the markets can only keep things stitched together with dental floss just so long, and only guarantees when things return to realistic values it will be uglier than 99% of today’s investors would care to imagine. In a really bad nightmare.

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          1. I believe you’re right about the passive-index fund. However, for quite a few years, I merely followed the advice of the plan, which had the options set up for “retirement in 5 years, retirement in 10 years,” and so on. I did take some money out of U.S. companies and place it overseas, and I think that helped somewhat. I have no doubt about the effect of the shoring up by the Fed. A friend who’s a financial analyst said that the country came closer than anyone knows to total collapse before the Fed stepped in, in 2008.

            That is terrible about your house. I can only imagine your disappointment at losing it. Heart-breaking. To have conceived a dwelling and seen it coming to life….damn shame.

            In early 2008, I had drawn up a business plan for a restaurant/tavern/community meeting place/artist colony in my neighborhood. My city council representative was onboard with getting me a liquor license, and things were lining up. The Lehman Brothers tanked, and I scrapped the entire idea, never to be revived.

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          2. I shouldn’t too much prolong what’s practically a private conversation, but…I take it potential loan money for your project dried up in the wake of the Panic of 2008. I was building my house without a mortgage or construction loan. I was told by brokers in the area (southern VT) that as my home was to be a geodesic dome, it might be difficult to unload if I had to bail (this was 2004). I guess I shoulda tried for one of those “liar loans”! Anyhow, I thought I could complete the house for c. $350 K but price of materials was rising weekly back then. I ran out of funds with the house about 60% completed. Well, it was sure a learning experience!

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  5. The first debate had the full fury of the Typhoon Trump. Wallace and Biden were buffeted by the high winds. Instead of damaging Biden – Trump emerged from that first debate as a lot of wind, swirling around in every direction.

    This second debate Typhoon Trump was more of a tropical depression. The fury of the first debate was lacking. As usual the fact checkers were kept busy and employed with Tropical Depression Trump. Biden was like a ship that was determined maintain it’s course, no matter what Trump threw out at him. A bland performance – This is why he was selected in first place. Nothing new to offer except I am not Trump, which now a days is all the pundits want.

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    1. The share price of Google (known as “Alphabet” on stockmarket ticker) has risen since the operation was supposedly placed in anti-trust gunsights. This is said to be the biggest such case in tech realm since Microsoft was called before Congress. And the outcome of those proceedings? Microsoft and its partner Intel were granted status of an officially LEGAL duopoly, because it would have disrupted the growth of tech sector to actually crack down on them. (All “IBM-clone” PCs featured Intel chips and MS operating system, Windows.) So that’s why Google and its shareholders are not wetting their pants in terror over these Congressional shenanigans.

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  6. A mandatory mute-button comment: In principle I was against it, but I ended up liking it (for the two-minute time period only, of course). It had a deterrent effect…just the mere presence of it made the candidates more “respectful” of the other’s right to their intro comment time. Sad that it would be required, but it did allow each candidate to state their views, and for those views to be heard.

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    1. Maybe we need a “moot” button — meaning almost everything they were saying was specious or trivial or redundant or mendacious. So much of what was said was moot to the real issues facing America. If we muted the moot, it would have been a very short debate.

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      1. Well, the topics WERE substantial. Number One, the virus pandemic. No less than Mark Meadows, WH Chief of Staff, is reported today to have declared this country is NOT going to “control” this pandemic!! Is he looking for Trump to fire him, so he’s not on board for a GOP defeat at the polls?? Number Two, the Climate Crisis did come up. The disappointment came from Biden’s failure to really hit back at Trump about whether our environment is really better now than when the latter took office, etc. We knew what we’d get from The Donald: bluster and diversions from his own failings. Biden got trapped in responding to these. He’s basically a mediocre politician, yet a survivor. Say the right customized thing for a particular audience. Go along to get along. “47 years in politics and you’ve accomplished nothing!” declares Trump repeatedly. Well, that’s probably a fair assessment, eh?

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        1. Wow, I just encountered something in a commentary on the financial markets (!) that I’d never seen before. I can’t vouch for the authenticity (I’ll cite the source at end), and the poster is a wingnut politically, but check this out. This is purportedly “advice to a son from his mother” somewhere in 7th Century AD: “If you wish to perform an exploit and to make a name for yourself, destroy all that other people have built up and kill the entire people you have conquered; for you cannot put up a building better than those constructed by your predecessors and there is no finer exploit than destruction with which you can make your name.”

          – Fredegar; 7th century chronicler, from “Medieval Civilization 400-1500” by Jacques Le Goff

          That sure sounds to me like advice Donald J. Trump received in HIS youth!!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. From Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll (chapter IV)

    “Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
    For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle

    Just then flew down a monstrous crow
    As black as a tar-barrel
    Which frightened both the heroes so,
    They quite forgot their quarrel ”

    Perhaps the two — “take them or take them” — right-wing corporate tools (Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber) had trouble staging a “debate” because they actually do not disagree on anything of substance. Take, for example, the vicious and despicable persecution of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange by both Joe Biden and Donald Trump. See EDWARD SNOWDEN Persecuted By BIDEN!, The Jimmy Dore Show (October 27, 2020). I haven’t finished the transcript yet but, hopefully, I’ll provide one later)

    Two of my favorite quips from Jimmy”:

    “Can I tell you the difference between actual lefties and the McResistance? It’s right here. Lefties are offended by Trump calling Snowden a traitor. The McResistance is offended because he [Donald Trump] says he gets along with Putin.”

    . . . and . . .

    “One other thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on: Journalism, let’s kill it.”

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    1. An abbreviated transcript:

      [begin excerpts]

      Jimmy Dore: “Snowden applied for asylum to countries such as allies France and Germany but every time it got pulled. And here’s Brian Williams, corporate tool, pro-war pusher and liar of the Iraq War record as he was interviewing Snowden. Here’s what he said:

      Brian Williams: “What some of us knew and that was that you were a thoroughly American kid in your upbringing. You wake up every day in Russia. You go to sleep every night in Russia. Are you actively seeking to get out? Are you as, has been reported, looking for asylum elsewhere?

      Edward Snowden: “Well, this is not an actively seeking. This is not a new thing. And this is important history. I was going to Latin America, my final destination was hopefully going to be Ecuador. I applied for asylum in 27 different countries around the world, traditional US allies, places like France and Germany, places like Norway that I felt the US government and the American public could be comfortable that was fine for a whistleblower to be in. But every time one of these governments got close to opening their doors the phone would ring in their foreign ministries, and on the other end of the line would be a very senior American official, one of two people: then-Secretary of State John Kerry, or then-Vice President Joe Biden. And they would say ‘Look. We don’t care what the law is; we don’t care if you can do this or not; we understand that protecting whistleblowers and granting asylum is a matter of human rights; and you could do this if you want to. But if you protect this man. If you let this guy out of Russia, there will be consequences. We’re not going to say what they’re going to be, but there will be a response.’

      “I continue, to this day, Look, if the United States government, if these countries are willing to open the door, this is not a hostile act. That is the act of a friend. If the United States government is so concerned about Russia, shouldn’t they be happy for me to leave? And yet we see they’re trying so hard to prevent me from leaving. I would ask you, Why is that?”

      Brian Williams: “I’m guessing Joe Biden is not your candidate for 2020.”

      Edward Snowden: “Actually, I don’t take a position on the 2020 race.”

      Jimmy Dore: “So there you go. That’s why he’s ended up where he’s ended up. And now you know the rest of the story. Maybe Donald Trump’s a little better, let’s see:

      CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewing candidate Donald Trump in 2016: “Former attorney general Eric Holder said just the other day that perhaps some sort of plea deal could be in the works. He also said that Snowden spurred a necessary debate. What would you do?”

      Donald Trump: “I think he’s a total traitor. And I would deal with him harshly. And if I were president, Putin would give him over. I would get along with Putin. I’ve dealt with Russia. Putin hates – I think I’d get along with him fine. He’d be absolutely fine. He would never keep somebody like Snowden in Russia. He hates Obama. He doesn’t respect Obama. Obama doesn’t like him either. But he has no respect for Obama, has a hatred for Obama, and Snowden is living the life. Look. If I’m president, Putin says ‘Hey, boom, you’re gone.’ I guarantee you that.”

      Jimmy Dore: “Well, he’s been president for four years and that hasn’t happened. But isn’t it great that both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have the exact same view of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden? Isn’t that amazing? We’ve got bipartisanship for all the good stuff. Fracking. War. Demonizing whistleblowers. That’s good bipartisan stuff, isn’t it?

      “Can I tell you the difference between actual lefties and the McResistance? It’s right here. Lefties are offended by Trump calling Snowden a traitor. The McResistance is offended because he [Donald Trump] says he gets along with Putin.”

      “One other thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on: Journalism, let’s kill it.”

      [end excerpts]

      Just one final note: Russia recently granted Edward Snowden permanent resident status, for which I would like to extend my sincerest thanks. If I could work up enough interest to submit a ballot in the Puppet President Parody that my fellow Americans think of as “democratic elections” I would write in Vladimir Putin’s name as my first choice. If only my own country had a statesman of his intelligence and administrative competence. But no such luck.

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  8. As my favorite Australian lady artist/journalist Caitlin Johnstone has written recently, apropos of the last so-called presidential “debate.” [bold font for emphasis added]:

    ” . . . On all issues that most severely affect real people on mass scale, these two political factions [“R” and “D”] are in emphatic agreement. They just pour a whole lot of sound and fury into the tiny one percent of the spectrum wherein they have some disagreement.”

    “They do not allow for any mainstream discussion of IF the oligarchic empire should continue to exist; all their issues, arguments and histrionics revolve around HOW how it should exist.”

    “This is what they are designed to do. They are designed to keep the American populace from clearly seeing what the real debate is, which is why anyone who relies on a worldview which favors either of these mainstream factions will inevitably suffer confusion and misperception. They are perceptual filters designed to hide the only real debate in U.S. politics.”

    The real debate in U.S. politics is not between the two mainstream factions which agree with one another on virtually everything that matters to every extent that matters. The real debate is those two factions together against those who understand that the entire American status quo needs to be flushed down the toilet.

    Since I want to see the corporate-military junta/oligarchy flushed down the toilet, the “debate” about which of two pathetic tools gets to continue and strengthen it concerns me not in the least, as I consider them equally deranged and lethally dangerous to the continuation of life on this planet. The “Blob” does not have a “side,” only a greasy toxic surface. Continuing to extol the ludicrous myth that it has only two sides: a “good” and a “bad” side — and virtuously assuming that one can align oneself with the “good” and against the “bad” — serves only the global corporate oligarchy: chiefly investors, bank/stock speculators, and their subservient minions administering vast criminal enterprises quaintly spoken of as “governments.”

    The only real debate concerns how to rid the world of such vast criminal enterprises, not which venal grifter tool should get to pose — for at least four years — as the “leader” of one.

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  9. Caitlin Johnstone nails it again. Looks like US binary brains will now switch from “1” to “0” or “0” to “1” (the extent of their vocabulary) and — without missing a single strident, hysterical allegation — go right on with their “cold warrior” schtick as if “the most important election of our lifetime” hadn’t already proven one of the least significant of the past seventy years. You would have taken the words right out of my mouth, Caitlin, if I hadn’t already grown hoarse from repeating them ever since I returned from Vietnam in January of 1972. But worth repeating at least once more, anyhow:

    “I was so looking forward to Russiagate being over and done with if Trump gets out, but it looks like I’m going to wind up accused of shilling for Biden and of being a secret CCP agent just like I’ve been accused of shilling for Trump and being a Kremlin agent for the last four years as I yell over and over again that the cold warriors are recycling the exact same goddamn script.”

    “Oh well. Russian agent to Chinese agent. I guess it’s good to change things up with a new career move now and then.”

    See Tucker Carlson morph into Rachel Maddow before your very eyes: “If Biden Wins, Russiagate Will Magically Morph Into Chinagate”, by Caitlin Johnstone, caitlinjohnstone.com (October 27, 2020)

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  10. Not Lewis Carroll or Bill’s father, but a Dutch saying : When two dogs fight over a bone, the third one gets away with it. If only there was a (viable) third one in this case…

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  11. As a foreigner mostly (though not exclusively) interested in the election’s impact on the rest of the world, my despair finds no solace in either candidate. Just heard a general of the US base in Qatar casually refer to it as ‘our Power Projecting Platform’. Better luck in four years’ time?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Projecting power globally is precisely what the US Military has become obsessed with, the diseased compulsion escalating, it seems to me, after the humiliation of being defeated by People’s War in SE Asia.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And 9/11. A handful of nobodies humiliating the greatest power on earth for the whole world to witness. Hence the thirst for bloody revenge – on Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., on all except the only real terrorist culprits, the Saudis.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, our great “friends and allies,” the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, certainly conveniently were off the hook. In terms of “revenge” in the wake of 9/11, one needs to remember that the Neo-Con Cabinet, if you will, had already drawn up the list of countries where they would seek regime change.

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          1. The way the Neo-Cons got away with waging these ginned-up wars of choice with absolutely no legal consequences for themselves was a huge pointed stick deflating the myth that the US is ruled by Laws, not Men.

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