Biden Rounds Up the Usual Suspects

Biden: Plenty of flags, but no change

W.J. Astore

Surprise! President-elect Joe Biden isn’t listening to progressive voices in his party. Instead, he’s been rounding up the usual suspects for his cabinet and staff. Turns out, progressives, that if you give your support and vote to a Democratic establishment tool like Biden without making firm demands, you won’t get anything in return. Who knew?

Here are a few good articles on Biden’s staff and cabinet:

At TomDispatch.com, Danny Sjursen gives a sharp-eyed summary of the typical Biden operative in the realm of military and foreign affairs. Here’s what Sjursen has to say:

In fact, the national security bio of the archetypal Biden bro (or sis) would go something like this: she (he) sprang from an Ivy League school, became a congressional staffer, got appointed to a mid-tier role on Barack Obama’s national security council, consulted for WestExec Advisors (an Obama alumni-founded outfit linking tech firms and the Department of Defense), was a fellow at the Center for New American Security (CNAS), had some defense contractor ties, and married someone who’s also in the game.

It helps as well to follow the money. In other words, how did the Biden bunch make it and who pays the outfits that have been paying them in the Trump years? None of this is a secret: their two most common think-tank homes — CNAS and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) — are the second- and sixth-highest recipients, respectively, of U.S. government and defense-contractor funding. The top donors to CNAS are Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and the Department of Defense. Most CSIS largesse comes from Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon. 

With the news that Tony Blinken will be Biden’s Secretary of State, Caitlin Johnstone makes the following salient point:

Blinken is a liberal interventionist who has supported all of the most disgusting acts of US mass military slaughter this millennium, including the Iraq invasion which killed over a million people and ushered in an unprecedented era of military expansionism in the Middle East. So needless to say he will fly through the confirmation process.

Meanwhile, Julia Rock and Andrew Perez note the incestuous nature of this process, or how the national security revolving door keeps spinning:

On Sunday, Bloomberg reported that Biden has chosen his longtime aide, Tony Blinken, to serve as Secretary of State and will name Jake Sullivan, his senior advisor and a former Hillary Clinton aide, national security adviser. Former Obama Defense Department official Michèle Flournoy is considered the favorite to be Secretary of Defense. 

After leaving the Obama administration, Blinken and Flournoy founded WestExec Advisors, a secretive consulting firm whose motto has been: “Bringing the Situation Room to the board room.” Flournoy and Sullivan have both held roles at think tanks raking in money from defense contractors and U.S. government intelligence and defense agencies. 

Biden has been facing calls [Ha! Ha!] from Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocacy groups to end the revolving door between government and the defense industry. One-third of the members of Biden transition’s Depart­ment of Defense agency review team were most recently employed by “orga­ni­za­tions, think tanks or com­pa­nies that either direct­ly receive mon­ey from the weapons indus­try, or are part of this indus­try,” according to reporting from In These Times.

Meanwhile, defense executives have been boasting about their close relationship with Biden and expressing confidence that there will not be much change in Pentagon policy. 

Please forgive the “Ha! Ha!” parenthetical, but all this was predictable based on Biden’s record and his statement that nothing would fundamentally change in his administration.

Progressives have essentially no power in the Democratic Party. Look at who the Speaker of the House is! Nancy Pelosi, once again, the ultimate swamp creature.

Expect no new ideas from this bunch, meaning grim times are ahead. Isn’t it high time that progressives take the plunge and start their own party? They are voiceless and powerless within the Democratic Party. Failing that, they had better discover their spines and model themselves on the Tea Party in outspokenness, else they will remain utterly irrelevant.

Bernie Sanders who? Elizabeth Warren who? Progressive reforms? Not with the usual suspects that Joe Biden is selecting and empowering.

113 thoughts on “Biden Rounds Up the Usual Suspects

  1. Because the DNC was deaf to the enthused young Progressive wing, because Obama & Bloomberg et al put their fingers on the scales prior to SC primary and doomed Bernie, because Biden follows this path you outline, the Dems are doomed in the next elections. A new party is on the horizon. Plurality rather than majority rule may be our future. We are sick of the corporatist oligarchy!

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  2. While I agree that progressives don’t have a voice in Biden’s administration, the facts seem to indicate that progressives are just outnumbered or for whatever reason are unable to organize effectively. The choices are between being governed by oligarchs or being governed by psychotics.

    Here is some material from Axios just in this morning.
    “The legal insanity: For more than 24 hours — until it became too much even for Rudy Giuliani to tolerate — the publicly-stated position of President Trump’s legal team was that the reason Trump lost Georgia is because Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has been bribed by a Venezuelan front company in cahoots with the CIA to throw elections to Communists.”

    And
    “The dangerous reality is that there is a large audience for this conspiracy theory. Far-right commentators attacked Fox’ News’ Tucker Carlson for daring to suggest that Powell should provide evidence to support her allegation of what would be the biggest crime in American history.”

    These people are delusional. That is a very difficult condition to treat, even when medications are used. And I don’t see these people voluntarily taking anti-psychotics. So complaining about Biden seems rather moot when there is a large group of insane people, many of whom are armed and advocate violence, who are a hair’s breadth from taking power.

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    1. We have had four years of the same delusional, idiotic, fact-free hysteria (Russiagate, Ukrainegate) foisted on the American people by the Democrat Party to explain away the results of the 2016 election, so today’s insanity is nothing new. My view is that the current “drama” is the same sort of narrative construction with an eye to future elections. Because, of course, the political class in the United States has no intention whatsoever of addressing the unprecedented crisis in which America finds itself. As for “conspiracy theories”: (1) this is always a useful epithet to throw around when one wants to shut down discussion; (2) since the mode of communication between the rulers and the ruled in the U.S. is now almost completely suffused with lies, half-truths, “spin” or non-acknowledgement of stark reality, it is little wonder that large masses of citizens, trying to make sense of what is happening to them, will create their own “explanations”.

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      1. MILLER, your use of “Democrat Party” gives away your politics. Quick responses to your two points: 1.) conspiracy theories need to be dismissed precisely because they’re completely baseless (as Federal judges are now stating about Trump’s claim of stolen election). This is not the same as a general desire to stifle discussion. Because–brace for a shock!–FACTS do still matter; 2.) your second point is accurate, and not news. Every war the US has engaged in since end of WW II–yes, this includes Korea–has been based on half-truths, distortions, flat-out lies and Cold War “spin.” This stuff is the very LIFEBLOOD of the Military-Intel-Corporate-Congressional Complex. It keeps the profits rolling in.

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        1. You know nothing about “my politics”, Greglaxer. The old “Democratic Party”, with all its faults, used to stand for something larger than the struggle for power. That party died when the Clintons took over and started sucking at the oligarchic teat. The old party is gone and won’t be back. I use Democrat Party to distinguish the current collection of corrupt swamp dwellers and war-mongers from the political party that at one time could produce real statesmen: a FDR or a JFK or a George McGovern. For this reason, I find it amusing that we can even speculate whether or not “progressive” voices will have influence in a Biden administration. The Democrat Party’s constituency is the donor class. Period. End of story.

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          1. Well sir, I suggest you use a bit of care with your language. Referring to the Democratic Party as “the Democrat Party” is something now practiced by every card-carrying Republican, for years now. That’s why I took it to be a giveaway of from whence you were coming.

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    2. For what it’s worth, I think I glanced at an item on CNN online indicating that Giuliani–yes, even Rudy!–has now disassociated himself from this “theory” about a Venezuelan connection.

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  3. And, this morning, Biden seemed non-comital on the nuke treaty with Iran. Which reminds me that I don’t ever recall Ted Koppel, in all the years around the Iranian revolution and on the show which became Nightline, ever even once telling us about Mossadegh. Or the Dulles brothers or any other context which would have allowed me, at the time, and all of us, to realize the Iranians had reasons. This was not out of the blue.
    There is no good reason we are still and again toppling Mossadegh, or, for that matter, Fidel. What’s the point. What do “we” really get from that attitude and behavior.
    And which reminds me, that those media reporters and commentators who look straight through the window dressing are tiny in numbers and have to be sought out or stumbled upon, especially since Google changed its algorithm a few years ago.
    The country is still run like a private club with no regard for those around the club who are required to pay for it.
    We got rid of the no-veneer, all smear Trump is probably about as good as it will get for the moment. No, outright Mussolini-type visible police state. Most is hidden behind social media, surveillance, tracking and the money trail.
    Unless, of course, we also need to remember Hitler’s time to regroup, from prison, after the putsch. Though, this time it might not be Trump who roars back in the “new 1932-33” but a slicker contender on the wave of the right-wing’s newly grown cadres of “brownshirts.”
    Dang, that was depressing.
    I’ll offer my list of 2,219 names, as of Nov 21st, for the “Mango Mussolini” at https://mikestrongphoto.com/blogWP/?p=66
    I started the list making fun, assuming it would be only a few dozen names, if that. Then it changed and as it grew the meaning of such a large number of names and name descriptors, even with many being just variations, says something about the nature of anyone who would “inspire” so many expressions of frustration.

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    1. This republic was set up from the outset to be run like a private club. The country club bonhomie was supported by the profits from the plantations. I still can admire the emphasis on a separation of church and state–there’s precious little of that “wall” remaining, of course–but there’s no getting around the fact that some of the leading lights among the Founding Fathers were among the plantation owners. Long live the spirit of Thomas Paine, who decidedly was NOT a member of THAT club!

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  4. Other thought. Trump managed with the Republican party what the Progressives could not manage with the Democrat party. The Republican party, such as it is, now belongs to Trump. And with it, the “cadre” or gang, of hard right wing willing-to-be thugs, the 70+ million who voted for this bum. Who cannot see a health problem as a health problem instead of political bullying. These thugs remain, regardless of what else we see or who else is elected – though the “we” that is “us” has little if any real input into that choice, until the elections are really not about selections so much as pretending to have a voice.

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    1. Without a doubt, the GOP embraced Trump. Because, you know, he won the White House for them! Poor bastards, what choice did they have? I still don’t picture someone surnamed Trump on the GOP presidential ticket going forward. I seriously think the whole family will relocate to Israel when the tax authorities close in. Then again, Israel isn’t altogether safe, what with the occasional rocket attack. Perhaps the Trumps will buy an island near Tahiti and build a huge underground bunker for their personal security.

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    1. Living in the big city, I see bag people. They push around grocery carts filled with lots of litter, but mostly plastic bags they have picked up at some point. The bags are old, well traveled.

      I make the analogy of bag people to major US politicians who pick up a collection of people along their ascent to power and hold tightly to them, in effect pushing a cart of these people around with them wherever they go. These people are by nature ambitious, but not necessarily talented or productive. What keeps them on the scene is being known quantities that can be relied on to be there and fill any position, just as old plastic bags will not desert the bag people and can always be used to hold anything a bag person might come across.

      Those at the bottom and those at the top, bag people and the powerful, are needy. One group collects plastic bags and the other collects power through people, exhibited with position and money.

      It seems strange that ambition and insecurity should be together so often. The powerful need those around them to praise them and to share blame if things go wrong, or even to take all the blame in the case of Trump. Ambition is not infrequently called blind and it can drive a person to ignore his/her own faults while desperately seeking as much certainty as possible in close relationships.

      The people we desperately need to lead in this country are not needy, so do not often appear in high politics. I give Bernie as an example, a man with no retinue, obsessed with the issues rather than himself who had no craving for power or money, just a concern to see a better, more just America. American are screaming for change. Superman (Bernie) and Bizarro (Trump) appeared and Bizarro was chosen. Now it’s back to SOS, with 4 years lost to mindless destruction.

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      1. These are interesting observations. Leon Panetta I think is the ultimate “collected person” in D.C. He held most available Cabinet positions at one time or another in his long career as a bureaucrat. But ultimately these people get chosen because they are considered dependable adherents to “the program” (using military lingo here), the program being the further advancement of the interests of the Ruling Class in general (I’m certainly not restricting this observation to USA). Trump, determined to be different, seems to have chosen appointees based on a.) their subservience to His Highness’s Munificence; and b.) to thumb his nose at the Establishment, to be outrageous. For what is Dr. Ben Carson really qualified for, I mean gimme a break! And then there’s the nepotism factor, of course. For what are Ivanka and Jared really qualified? Good grief!

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      2. “Those at the bottom and those at the top, bag people and the powerful, are needy.”

        Your comparison of those at the bottom with those at the top made me think of a book I read decades ago called, “Class,” written by Paul Fussell. In it, he describes all the strata of American society. One of his premises is that the highest class, the “top out-of-sights,” (multi-billionaires) is very similar to the lowest class, the “bottom out-of-sights,” (the homeless). Each of the two classes is so far removed from common view as to be invisible (with, obviously, a few exceptions at the top, such as Bill Gates). Neither of the two has anything to lose, so all the members are outside the ordinary fray. Fascinating analysis.

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        1. Decades ago I read a book with the straightforward title “Does America Have a Ruling Class?” After elucidating all the reasons for answering yes–the old money crowd, the exclusive club memberships, the skew to WASPism, the memberships on boards of directors of “interlocking” corporations–the author somehow managed to conclude the answer was NO! I was simply flabbergasted! FYI, poor Bill Gates is only tied for second on current wealthiest list, Bezos still topping them all. Let’s all shed a tear or three for him. And an alleged billionaire, Donald J. Trump, paraded himself in front of the media corps today to brag about the Dow hitting 30,000 today (intraday, at least). I’m sure he’ll take credit next time the market crashes, right? If it waits until after Jan. 20 to plunge, of course, the GOP will be screaming “We told you so! Elect Biden and this is what y’all get!” All stuff and nonsense.

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          1. Given the real state of US economy as our fellow citizens insist on spreading Covid-19 as widely as they can, IMO stock prices have never been this out of whack with reality. But that doesn’t mean the markets can’t or won’t continue to soar for a while. Hey, if I could get the timing right on these things, I’d be a rich guy!

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          2. And I’m sure Janet Yellen is committed to continuing the policy of the Fed “having the stockmarket’s back” whenever the markets get “shaky.” As T-Secretary she’ll have a lot of influence on the Fed’s stance, though technically Treasury and the Fed are entirely separate entities.

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  5. When the media covers Biden’s choices, there’s much talk of the “first woman” to do this, or the “first Latino,” and so on. The focus is on optical diversity. Diversity of views isn’t mentioned.

    Here’s the latest from The Guardian:

    Biden unveils national security and foreign policy team
    Joe Biden’s transition team has announced several key nominations and appointments for his national security and foreign policy team.

    The president-elect’s team made the following announcements in a new press release:

    Antony Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state, will be nominated to serve as secretary of state, as previously reported.
    Alejandro Mayorkas, a former deputy secretary of the the department of homeland security, will be nominated to serve as DHS secretary. If confirmed, Mayorkas will be the first Latino and immigrant to serve as DHS secretary.
    Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a former US ambassador, will be nominated as ambassador to the UN.
    John Kerry, the former secretary of state, will serve as a special presidential envoy for climate and will sit on the national security council.
    Avril Haines, a former deputy CIA director, will be nominated to serve as the director of national intelligence. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to lead the US intelligence community.
    Jake Sullivan, a longtime Biden adviser, will serve as national security adviser.

    If all these people think the same, pretty much, does diversity in gender and race/ethnicity and so on really matter?

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    1. No they don’t matter. But a lot of “progressives” seem to be lulled into a stupor by having women and members of minority groups in positions of power. I knew a lot of “progressives” who supported Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders because Hillary was a woman.

      That may be why progressives go nowhere.

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    2. True. A lot of surface covering distracting us from the real programs. For that matter, all this time with Trump, Trump himself was a surface diversion while other ugly nonsense was taking place, such as McConnell and the judges which will affect us for the next half century, give or take.
      Even Black Lives Matter. They seem to never see much past their noses. Such as when Bernie’s speaking spot was taken over twice by two BLM activists (bullies, actually) who seemed to have no idea of Bernie’s consistent message on civil rights for the previous 50 years. Really irritating because so many people were activated under the BLM banner, but it is all petering out. They say not, but it seems to be thinning out.
      I don’t mean time to be down on BLM, because I am for their movement, but the name itself is not strategic. It really allows others to insinuate divisiveness, even where there is non. I remember when I realized it, because at first, I just took the name as just fine. It was probably three or more years on with BLM that I was replying (for about the millionth time) to some comment thread that “All Lives … ” was really a dog whistle, which was certainly accurate for that commenter, as I saw it. That’s when it hit me, that had BLM started as All Lives Matter, they would hold the high ground and be able to undercut anyone who claimed otherwise. The dog whistler was right, even from his bigoted view. I realized suddenly that we don’t have Black Civil Rights. We have Civil Rights and usually I can only think of black civil rights heroes and other activists when I hear “Civil Rights.”
      I wouldn’t change the name now, but – just sayin’ – it was not strategic thinking, though I admit it took me about three years or so for that realization to hit me.

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      1. MIKESTRONG33–I think you implied that BLM was part of diversion from the real issues of the day. If we’re gonna speak of BLM we need to recognize that there is no such monolithic centrally organized and administered group. Ditto for “antifa,” a stupid label I have despised from day one. The fact that our African-American fellow citizens have been disproportionately (to their percentage of overall population) brutalized and murdered by LEOs for decades–for the whole history of this republic would not be an exaggeration–is all the justification we need for the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” Now, THAT SAID–prepare for another shock from me!–I agree with your opinion that “All Lives Matter” would not have been a bad slogan at the outset. Finally, re: the disruptions of Bernie’s stump speeches by people self-identifying as part of BLM, I recall one of the disrupters was later identified as a (former?) GOP activist. Hmm, that’s interesting.

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        1. BLM2: Black Lives Matter Too! That’s really what it’s about.

          But, as we’ve seen, BLM has been twisted by opponents as somehow saying that Black lives matter more than other lives. It’s total BS intended to divide us further.

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          1. My brother is a history professor who just retired from IUP. He told me awhile back that its too bad BLM didn’t start out at Black Lives Matter Too.

            There must be something about history professors in PA. 🙂

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          2. Agree that its enemies have used BLM to foment more division. But I also think Mike is right: merely saying, “Black” implies some type of “othering,” as I think JPA pointed out in another thread. The slogan is not conducive to creating unity, even though the phrasing is surely unintentional in that respect. Singling out any one group, race, or gender, by definition, implicitly signals bias. “All” or “Our” Lives Matter would have been a better choice. Hmmm….maybe something for The Squad to think about.

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        2. I can see how I left the impression that I might have thought of BLM as a diversion. I managed to divert myself before I got to a point I was going for.
          The issues BLM (as very loosely strung together as they are) was tackling were and are very much real issues, although, in the case of police, for example, while racism seems so front and center, the very issue of police behavior happens regardless of race of the officers and at different times and countries. Not that race isn’t a major vector, being an easy way to have someone to thump on for sheer cruel amusement, but the actual behavior is rooted elsewhere, in the job itself for part of it, and has been around for a very very long time.
          As for the actual structure of what we call modern policing we have to go to the London docks in 1798 for the Thames Marine Police Office, created by the merchants shipping goods out and bringing goods in who created their own police force to change the nature of payment, to be overseers and even paymasters for the dock workers. Before that, payment traditionally included simply taking part of the goods and they could loiter. The owners decided to change that. By 1800 they got the local government to pay for their company cops who had been formed to protect corporate property, not for the safety of citizens.
          Anyway, talk about diversions, as I said I diverted myself, well, I just did it again.
          I meant to come around to the problem of a demand, as Fredrick Douglass stated it, which is a complaint, with a proposal for a change mechanism and a willingness to dig in and make the changes. BLM has the first part and forgot the rest (in large part, but not totally, a few people are working there). In effect, handing it all right back to the very people who don’t want anything to change but who will do something cosmetic and then gaslight about it. The same with reparations. I’m for the concept but how to implement.
          Ta’Nehisi Coates’ article in the June 2014 Atlantic was interesting for me and I wanted to get his book to find out how, in three years of writing and researching, he proposed handling the matter (at the time they were still having problems with the 911 twin towers disbursements and also Indian tribes, for a long time, have had difficulties determining who is registered and eligible to tribal benefits).
          Then I encountered an interview about Coates’ book asking him the same thing because the interviewer didn’t find this in the book. Coates said specifically that he shouldn’t (should not, as in not his role) suggest how. The people he was complaining to should come up with the implementation. I cringed, not expecting that answer. That, again, throws it all back in the hands of the worst people. I thought for sure, he would have come across proposals for implementation.
          So, no, I don’t think BLM are not tackling issues that really need tackling, just that for the most part (until some recent initiatives) they’ve not thought past the idea of yelling at the lords of the manor (so to speak). BLM really need to put down proposals, or, do like the original Black Panthers, start rolling out their own programs directly. That is why the Panthers were considered so anathema to the “powers that be.” They took solutions into their own very capable hands.

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          1. I think you’re overlooking the URGENCY of BLM’s basic demand to the powers-that-be: “STOP SHOOTING US DOWN IN THE STREETS!!” (Or in the case of Breonna Taylor, “in our bedrooms!”) That is what triggered the outbreak of protests from coast to coast, which started largely spontaneously, after video of George Floyd’s asphyxiation by a white cop’s knee went public. In a hypothetical completely homogeneous society–absolutely everybody’s skin tone would be the same–you’d still have some cops who are corrupt, some cops who beat people up for kicks. (And their superiors would likely cover up for them to extent possible.) But the systemic racism we have in this society puts a whole deeper wrinkle on things, a deadly wrinkle all too often. Just as American GIs sent to Vietnam–or Afghanistan today–were/are “taught” that anyone they encounter is likely “the enemy,” so keep your finger on the trigger, white cops going into the black community “expect” trouble. It’s a self-reinforcing loop: the more black citizens cops unjustifiably kill or severely maim, the more hostility cops should expect to encounter in those communities.

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    3. Trump was able to appoint a few “people of color” because they were total tools of the GOP. The “optics” aren’t totally without value, but of course you are correct that their views are all aligned to the furtherance of the viability of the Empire (well, okay, I added a bit of verbiage at the end there, Colonel!). Now, here’s a question: Suppose GOP refuses to confirm (in Senate) ANY Biden nominee requiring Congressional approval. And don’t think it can’t happen! Does POTUS have the authority to fill all these positions on an “acting” basis–like so many Trump appointees have been tagged–for years on end? Professor Obama, if you’re reading this, please offer your scholarly opinion!

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      1. I’ve read of two remedies available to Biden if Mitch & Co. refuse to confirm new appointees. The first, as you mentioned, Greg, is to put in “acting” personnel, then just leave them in place. The second would be for Biden to dissolve Congress (he has constitutional authority to do that), and make interim appointments that can’t be assailed by the GOP. Obviously, that’s a real hardball tactic, one that Mitch wouldn’t hesitate to employ, but I seriously doubt that Biden has the cojones to do it.

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        1. OMG, it’s “been a while” since I had Civics classes (like, in Elementary School!). POTUS can dissolve the Congress?! I have to assume this would only be in a declared National Emergency with an assumption that Congress has been taken over by “enemy agents”!

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          1. Did I miss something? I skimmed the Slate article and saw references to temporarily filling vacancies but nary a word to effect that POTUS has the power to dissolve Congress.

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          2. It’s in the sixth paragraph up from the bottom. In part:

            The recess appointment clause, meanwhile, allows presidents to install “acting” officials while the Senate is in adjournment for at least 10 days. It too has been used regularly in the recent past: George W. Bush made 179 recess appointments, 99 of which were to full-time positions. Moreover, Biden can force the Senate into recess if McConnell attempts any blockade of his Cabinet. Under the Constitution’s presidential adjournment clause, if the Senate and House cannot agree on whether or not to adjourn, the president can adjourn Congress “for such time as he shall think proper.” With an allied speaker of the House, Biden can instigate an adjournment standoff, resolve it, and make his appointments in the interim.

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          3. Okay, suspending Congress temporarily doesn’t quite equal DISSOLVING it! The latter would mean “Pack your bags, fellas and gals, you won’t be returning to beautiful Washington DC!”

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    4. Years ago I read a book about Daley The Elder’s Democratic Machine in Illinois, by Milton L. Rakove, ”Don’t Make No Waves, Don’t Back No Losers – an Insider’s Analysis of the Daley Machine.

      The Daley Machine realized “Optics” were important in terms of politics. There was a selection process, bottom line a minority could be selected (early form of triangulation) however you must first have an Allegiance to the Party. The Party was Daley the Elder.

      Bottom line yo do not rise up in the party unless you have passed all the tests. You can talk the talk – “Hope and Change”. You cannot cross the line into “Walk the Talk”. The Democratic Party is not one man, it is the 1% and the Corporations and they agree that the 1% and large corporations must be protected at all costs. So, you can have the 1% etc., that can shift their allegiance from the GOP to the Democrats.

      You need a Venn Diagram to capture all the various parts of the Trump Cult. One thing that can be said, the Trumpet delivered to each of his groups. The 1% and big corporations got a tax cut and corporate friendly judges, the bible thumper’s received conservative religious type judges, the Neo-Confederates and the Camouflage types open carry types could now freely express their racism and shoot up people.

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      1. There’s also the book “Boss,” by Mike Royko, about ‘Deadeye Dick’ Daley. Still sits on my stack of books bought literally decades ago and awaiting my attention! Oy!

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  6. The suggestion by Astore and other commentators here that the solution to the impotence of progressives within the Democratic Party is to form a third party shows a lack of understanding of even the simplest rules of politics under the current two-party system. You don’t have to be a student of political science to know that in most cases, when a third party emerges in a two-party context, whether that party be of the left or of the right, that third party is going to drain votes away from the party that it is most ideologically related to. This insight in not political rocket science. In the U.S., a 3rd party would cut into the Democratic base, as happened with Nader in 2000.

    However, the wealthy funders of the right-wing takeover of the Republican Party understood a second basic rule of two-party politics: if a party has developed a strong internal minority, it is much easier for that minority to take over the party they are already a part of, rather than start a third party.

    So the wealthy funders of the right-wing takeover of the Republican Party did not bother to spend their billions on the difficult task of starting a third party. Instead they developed, funded, and executed a long-range strategy to develop the strange creature that still goes by the name of the Republican Party, though this “party” holds positions on a wide range of issues that would have been anathama to Republican party regulars in the 1950s or 1960s.

    In the post-1960s Democratic Party, there has never been such a well-funded, sustained strategy for changing the party in a more progressive direction. The closest example I can think of was Jessie Jackson’s emergence as the leader of the Rainbow Coalition. Jackson operated inside the shell that calls itself the Democratic Party, running in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1984 and 1988. For an underfunded candidate running in a racist country, Jackson did very well. In 1988, he got some 6.9 million votes, winning 7 primaries and at least 4 caucus.

    Playing inside the Democratic Party shell, Jackson was well placed to build on his successes to turn the Rainbow Coalition into the same kind of movement-turned-party changer as the Tea Party was.

    But he didn’t do it. I know very little about the internal politics of the rise of the Rainbow Coalition. But as best as I can tell from outside, Jackson either did not see, or was not interested, in building a party-changing movement. One of the problems with looking to any single individual running for president to lead social change is that the very act of running for president pushes a person towards an ego-centric view of their own role in the political process, making it difficult for that person to see the necessity of building an enduring structure within the party apparatus that can carry the vision forward no matter what happens to the candidate’s individual candidacy.

    Given the tightness of the election, I would argue that the social movements that were on the ground in 2020, like Black Lives Matter or the climate campaigners, can claim part of the credit for Biden’s victory.

    What remains to be seen is not whether Biden will lurch to the left; there has never been any reason to expect such an outcome. What remains to be seen is whether there are people out there capable of transcending the boundaries of the disparate progressive movements and develop a strategy to seize power from the inside by grabbing the low-hanging fruit of taking over the Democratic Party and starting to elect people at every level of government who will fight for progressive change.

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    1. Both major parties have lurched to the right. We have hard-right Republicans and soft-right Democrats. So what’s a liberal-leftist to do? Stay with the soft-right Dems and hope for a few table scraps?

      We need a new party — call it The People’s Party — that breaks the oligarchy of America’s two corporate-rightist parties. That People’s Party could build on the success of Bernie Sanders. If only Bernie had had the guts to fight instead of caving to the corporate Dems. You might argue he had to, else the Orange Ogre would have won. But Bernie threw away a movement and all his influence.

      America desperately needs a new vision — new policies — and they’re not coming from the Trumpists or the Biden team.

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      1. If I were going to name a new party I would call it the Pro-Social party. The underlying principle is that we take care of each other, not just ourselves, i.e. the “treat others as you would have them treat you” ideal. And not just for our own tribe but for everyone.

        What I like about the name Pro-Social party is that if you are against it then you are anti-social.

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        1. Social being the root word of Socialism, I’m not sure that would fly! Now, let’s look back at Robert Altman’s seminal 1976 movie “Nashville”: there is an independent candidate for POTUS heading up “The Replacement Party”! I thought that was an interesting, conveniently vague, name. His platform is a real mishmash, including a demand to “Tax the churches!” Whoa, that won’t fly in today’s “Evangelical” USA, will it?? We never get to hear directly from this candidate, as he flees the site of his scheduled rally when a sociopath assassinates a Country/Western singer who was onstage as part of the warm-up events. Yes, it’s quite a movie!

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    2. RICHARDBELLDC–But…but…you seem to have missed the primary complaint of many of us commenting here: notwithstanding the depth of insanity the GOP has embraced with Trump, there is not enough significant difference between the “two” major parties on the crucial issues to inspire actual progressives these days to love the Democrats. It’s sheer desperation that drives progressives to gather under the Dem. “umbrella.” As I expressed elsewhere here today, I have no hope of a viable alternative party arising in my lifetime, but the NEED is HUGE!!

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    3. I believe you make some valid points here, Richard. Getting a third party off the ground is well-nigh impossible.

      What I would say in response, though, is, first, to echo Greg’s comment that there is a huge need for a party that actually represents the people.

      Second, I would point out that Bernie and others before him have attempted to change the Democratic party from within; in some instances, over multiple election cycles. The Dem establishment has responded by suffocating such attempts in the cradle, so to speak. In primary season, it probably spends as much money taking down Progressives as it does promoting its own DINO candidates. Meaning that working from within is not a possibility, even when Progressive candidates are as well funded as Bernie was.

      Which brings me to my third thought. The minority group that seized control of the GOP was merely the majority of the party on steroids. That smaller cadre held beliefs that were simply amplified versions of the standard GOP credo, and they weren’t afraid to blow up such convictions and post them loud and proud. The rest of the party fell in behind them; essentially, there was no conflict. The Progressives, however, represent a clear and crucial break from the bulk of the Democratic party. The DNC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America, so it very naturally fights Progressive policies tooth and nail, because those policies would cut off the Big Business gravy train.

      Comparing the Progressive movement with that of the Tea Party is a false equivalence. There may not ever be a party that genuinely represents the people of this country, but I can’t fault Nader and others of like mind for trying. If Bernie and those who espouse his concerns actually did split off from the Dems, who knows what they might accomplish? Nothing says that they’re inherently doomed to defeat. Certainly, their chances of success are much higher than if they try to change the Dems from within.

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      1. I suspect The Tea Party was never intended to be independent of GOP. To the extent its “members”–and as with BLM, we have to wonder if it’s even a unified single organization–differ with GOP, they must complain that the major party is too “timid” in pursuing rightwing slogans and policies (!). When election time rolls around, some may vote Libertarian but I’m sure the great majority vote for the GOP candidate. There’s a “Tea Party” group that meets regularly in the next town over from mine. And as I think I’ve mentioned, “my” town (I was not born or raised here) went for Trump to tune of 56.5% this year, a bit more than in 2016 even.

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    4. One of the issues with a third political party is that it is a long-term approach, not a quick fix. There’s building the infrastructure of organizations across states, developing a long-term vision and set of principles to educate voters – and then winning local and state races. Then getting people elected to the House – then Governors and finally going after the White House. That’s at least one decade of work, though I believe it would be longer as it’s a heavy lift and will require amending laws that a third-party to spend all its time working just to get on the ballot.

      Having third parties appear only during an election year and then disappearing from public awareness gets us nowhere. I’ve voted Green the last three Presidential elections, knowing it was hopeless but I couldn’t stomach the nominees of the Democratic and Republican candidates.

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      1. Yes, it’s a long-term thing and a very heavy lift. Fortunately, Bernie & Co. have had the grassroots organizations, the structure, and the platform in place for five years. And some of their like-minded candidates have already been elected to office (see: The Squad).

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      2. Since I’ve been deeply concerned with environmental issues for some 60 years (I exaggerate not!), my personal preference would be for the Green Party to become that hoped-for viable alternative to the status quo. But again, are “the Greens” even unified, do they agree on a minimum platform for what needs to be done to reduce environmental degradation? And it should go without saying in today’s political environment (no pun intended), the opposition will scream: “They’re dreamers! Their demands are impossible! Their demands will destroy the economy! Their demands will cost you your job! They’re control freaks and want to regulate every aspect of our lives!” Hell, that’s already the tune the know-nothings and apologists for Big Oil sing!

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        1. Yeah, the Greens would be the dream answer for me, too. But as you point out, they’re immensely factionalized. They have the same end goal, preserving the planet, but they have so many pet causes among them that it would be difficult to get any consensus. The local group here in Cleveland, which I’ve briefly encountered, is supremely disorganized, unfortunately. Harvey Wasserman is a loud voice in Ohio, though, so he might be able to pull them all together.

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          1. “supremely disorganized”! Nice turn of phrase! And just what a would-be viable party going up against tremendous resistance needs, right?

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          2. Right. The most formidable quality the GOP has (aside from its sheer hatred and greed quotients, of course) is its 100% uniform adherence to its guiding principles, which can be boiled down to a few simple concepts. Those include getting theirs and screwing everyone else.

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  7. Of course this was thoroughly predictable, and “we” have been predicting it here on Bracing Views. I’ll give Team Biden this much credit, though: the only name in this batch of (still rumored? official announcements weren’t due until tomorrow) appointees I was familiar with is Janet Yellen for T. Secretary. She was just one of a succession of heads of Federal Reserve who were hailed as geniuses because the stock market did not crash to extent conditions warranted. My lack of familiarity with the personnel is rooted largely in fact that I don’t follow the minutiae of “inside-the-beltway” intrigues. “Bringing the Situation Room to the board room.” Wow, if that’s their official motto, it’s a tad brazen! Of course, the decisions made in the Situation Room ARE essentially dictated by the corporate board rooms, so the motto actually distorts the reality. As for a US progressive party that can actually wield significant influence over policy (while still unable to elect a POTUS)–here’s the Reality Check: I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. Oh, have to mention John Kerry: I’m not aware he has any special expertise in climate matters, but he is a bright chap. But he’s also 100% Establishment and his role will likely be to try to tamp down concerns over the crisis by giving the impression that the Captains of Industry are listening. “Come, let us reason together, ever so sweetly.”

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  8. A minor sidelight: MSNBC deliberately suppressed coverage of Andrew Yang. And let’s recall how Tulsi Gabbard was smeared by NBC as a Russian asset.

    Just another sign of how the system is rigged. It was always going to be Biden/Harris, with Biden’s cabinet filled with Obama and Clinton retreads.

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    1. I saw the reality of MSNBC when the branding celebrity Donnie Deutsch was in a panel discussion on one of their shows. He was impassioned about how corrupt and bad Trump was, but then he said if Bernie was the nominee he’d vote for Trump. As might be expected, there was no questioning or reaction to his comment.

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      1. I’ve heard/seen the name Donnie Deutsch but know nothing much about him. Except that maybe he’s a douche! But, you know, Bernie the Socialist = Bernie the Communist = he wants to enslave us all! ‘Cuz that’s what Socialists/Communists do, in what passes for a mind in boobus americanus.

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      2. And I saw the Mourning Joe episode where Tulsi was savaged. Especially ugly was Kasie Hunt’s Angry Birds dismissive frown when she brought up Tulsi’s interview with Assad.

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  9. Agreed on a new progressive party but I wonder what share of Biden coalition will actually betrayed by these “choices”? Note: Using quotes here because I really doubt Biden alone makes them. I think most of the coalition will leave it to Biden et al to figure it out, and any real progressive with two brain cells saw this coming miles away (and wasn’t part of the coalition). I’d truly be shocked if there were progressives included.. Biden, lacking any depth whatsoever, likely believes his own “words of a president matter” rhetoric and thinks he’ll smooth everything over with his words and can continue the tried and true conservative policies.. That said, maybe Warren could still get CFPB and Sanders Labor as window dressing.

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    1. I can’t picture anyone in their right mind, looking at how many votes Trump got after five years (starting with his campaign launch in 2015) of demonstrating his vileness to the world, can imagine that Biden has been given a MANDATE to do any damned thing “progressive”!!!

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        1. Maybe not a mandate but if there ever was a first term president-elect who didn’t need to worry so much about his re-election, Biden’s gotta rank high up there (save Polk). When you also consider that in GA it looks like the Trump voters may stay home to boycott the Senate run-offs because Trump didn’t win, he may actually have the power to do something for the people.. now I’ll add [Ha! Ha!] because however it turns out, he won’t.

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          1. Personally, I’d be delighted if Dems got to 51 Senators and Mitch had to eat humble pie. Unfortunately I don’t expect that. And on matters of war and peace and such-like, that would be a dangerously thin majority, with conservative Dems likely to defect to GOP on crucial votes.

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  10. People who vote for Republican candidates – no matter what group or sub-group they claim to belong to – know exactly who and what they are voting for.
    The people who tend to vote for Democratic candidates are still mostly a collection of special interest groups who think their votes will force the DNC and whoever is at the top of the ticket to shine a light on their particular cause and move their agenda forward, (with little real regard for the causes of the other supplicants). “Delusional” comes to mind.
    Cabinets are made up of people who toe the company line. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were Biden’s opponents. Why on Earth would he reward them with cabinet posts? Another progressives’ pipe dream, pure and simple.
    Wise up: Without their own party, progressives will always get short shrift.

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  11. Good article here by Caitlin Johnstone. An excerpt:

    “I’m still getting dopey wingnuts in my social media notifications telling me that Biden is a Xi Jinping puppet who is going to be soft on China, even as Biden packs his cabinet with virulent anti-China hawks:

    Biden’s expected Defense Secretary Michele Flournoy opined this past June that the US military needs a new arms race to obtain “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours”.
    Biden’s choice for Secretary of State Tony Blinken plans on undermining Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, reportedly wants to “tame” and “try to coalesce skeptical international partners into a new competition with” China, and said that the Biden administration will “fully enforce” the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, “including sanctions on officials, financial institutions, companies and individuals.” Earlier this month The Economist reported that Republican China hawks would be happy with a Secretary of State nomination for Blinken.
    Biden’s choice for National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was described by Forbes this past June as a “Peter Navarro-like China hawk” who believes that Beijing is “gearing up to contest America’s global leadership” and that those signs are “unmistakable, and they are ubiquitous.”

    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/11/24/this-is-your-brain-on-echo-chambers-right-calls-biden-a-xi-puppet-as-he-packs-his-cabinet-with-china-hawks/

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    1. Well, Caitlin Johnstone, what other kind of wingnut would you expect to be trolling you if not “dopey” (such politeness! not MY style!)?? Why is US military spread over numerous countries on African continent? I have to believe it’s because China carved itself some significant spheres of economic influence there. We need to bear in mind that a shooting (small artillery or heavy-duty machine guns) incident is liable to break out at any moment in the “South China Sea” area. The US and Chinese units have been “playing tag” with one another there for years now. It’s only reasonable to expect a “payoff” on these maneuvers.

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    1. Barf!! Ambassador to Israel, perhaps? As I recall, he departed Obama admin. to become Mayor of Chicago. And not exactly a “beloved” one.

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  12. One reason why anything that smacks of socialism will never gain traction is that too many Americans don’t understand the definition of profit.

    I see multiple comments on other sites about how profit is good because profit is what pays people for their work. Something like “if the company I work for didn’t make a profit I would not get paid for my work.” That is absurd. Wages, not profit, are what people get paid for working.

    Profit is the revenue above expenses, and expenses include wages.

    Profit is giving money to people who DON’T work. Until Americans learn what words mean they will continue to make stupid comments and more stupid decisions at the ballot box.

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    1. The perception is easy to understand, of course: any company that loses profitability is not gonna survive very long. (Though the big corporations can get help from governmental “largesse,” a.k.a. taxpayer dollars, to prolong their lives while they try to get back on track.)…Returning to theme of this original thread, Biden has been quoted as saying he’s interested in a Cabinet that can bring him “fresh ideas.” But doubtless he really means more effective ways to find new economic blood for the Empire to suck. Though I wasn’t familiar with the names of almost all the people announced thus far, their credentials prove they’re all thoroughly imperialist in outlook. No surprise there whatsoever.

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      1. Earlier, I managed to quite space out on making what I think is an important point on Biden’s appointments/nominations: Who would have been more qualified than Kerry for a climate-related post? Obviously, Jay Inslee of Washington State! (And I recognize that perhaps he preferred to remain a state governor.) But it looks like those who predicted that no one who’d opposed Biden for the Dem. POTUS pick will be offered a Cabinet post hit the nail on the head. ‘Mayor Pete’ had been mentioned for Ambassador to UN, but it didn’t materialize. How ’bout that?

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        1. Yes — Biden wants loyalists. And we sure are seeing a lot of Obama and Clinton retreads. But there are more women and more racial diversity, so who cares what they believe, right?

          Kerry is very rich and therefore very conflicted. I probably know more about climate change than he does.

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          1. I imagine Albert Albert Gore Jr. is enjoying his retirement from politics, especially given how insane they’ve become. I wonder on how many corporate boards of directors he sits??

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          2. I’m just thinking about how much good Al could do in that position. When he was last urged to run (2008, I think), he was silent for several months, then responded that he could he could accomplish more outside the Oval Office. Being President, he said, would restrict him too much. Given the bully pulpit of a specially-created position, he could get done some of the things he’s dreamed about, probably even more so than on boards of directors. Kerry as climate-change czar is sad in itself, but compared with the knowledge and gravitas Al would bring, Mr. Kerry is ludicrous.

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          3. Despite what good intentions (this is hypothetical at this point!) the Biden admin. may have re: the Climate Crisis, no changes will be made if US Senate approval is required!! This situation is absurd, preposterous, infuriating and tragic…but it’s our current reality. I very highly doubt that when the dust settles on composition of the new Senate the Dems will have achieved a majority. Turning out 50-50 (with Bernie voting with Dems) might be helpful, with VP Harris able to break ties, but ONLY if the more conservative Dems can be arm-twisted to get on the bandwagon! Can Biden do that as well as LBJ did? Interesting question.

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          4. Someone not dependent on income from the energy industry–I have no idea if Kerry fits that bill, of course–would have a leg up in this situation. It’s also important to live in the real world rather than a bubble of delusion like “certain someones” in our society today.

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      1. Yes. If workers were owners that would help.

        I do want to explore this more deeply.

        My computer’s dictionary defines profit as: “a financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, and producing something.”

        I will illustrate this by using an example from St. Thomas Aquinas. If I buy a plow in disrepair and I spend time and money repairing it, or improving it then I have the right to sell it for more than I paid. That is a just gain. I am paid for my effort. On the other hand, if I buy a plow in disrepair and do nothing to it, but I sell it for more than I paid to a person who is willing to pay more because they need a plow, then that is an unjust gain. In the second case I have done nothing other than to acquire something and use another’s need to make a gain. For St. Thomas Aquinas that is unjust, i.e. sinful.

        So, I find a natural question to be: “Is there ANY justification for charging a person MORE than what it takes to create the product or deliver the service?”

        When I explore that question, I come up with a few answers I consider legitimate.
        – I may have had indirect costs associated with creating the product or delivering the service, such as storage, transportation, or fees.
        – I may have research costs that allow me to keep improving the product or service or creating new ones.

        Note that the second answer involves improving my ability to create the product or deliver the service or improve upon them.

        Another answer that is less directly involved with creating the product or delivering the service is:
        – I may need to have cash on hand to continue paying those who create the product when sales are low.

        The legitimacy of this answer is fuzzier. It depends somewhat on cash flow fluctuations and how cautious I am about preparing for disruptions in cash flow. However, the money acquired for this purpose is going to be stored in an available form and belongs to the company and is not for my personal use.

        Finally, and least directly involved with the creation of the product or delivery of the service is:
        – I may have risked assets to create the product or deliver the service and receiving a monetary reward for that risk will encourage me to continue risking assets.

        This is the only situation that would be considered a true profit. It is legitimate in the sense that I could have kept the money in a vault, but then it would not have been available to create the product or deliver the service. The product or service exists only because I was willing to risk losing the money.

        Note that in this case I am not being paid for investing. I am being paid for taking a risk. The amount of return that I will require to take the risk depends on my aversion to risk. Someone who is less averse to risk will require less chance of return, or less of a return. If there was no risk, then I have no justification for any monetary reward.

        Also note that in this case I am not being paid for any work or effort. I may be a complete lazy ass who just happens to like risking money. And I still get paid. (Its hard for me to see why Americans who claim to have a strong work ethic will defend the rights of people to make large amounts of money without working.)

        How does this relate to our current capitalistic system?

        Well, it seems to me that the dysfunction is being driven by people who want to acquire money for actions that are not related to producing products or delivering services, are not related to setting aside cash to protect the production of products or delivery of services, and are receiving monetary gains that are grossly inflated compared to the risk.

        For example, a pharmaceutical company that purchases an old drug that is cheap to manufacture, changes the product in a trivial manner that does not benefit the user, and then increases the price is making an unjust profit.

        When a health care company is purchased and the new owners cut staff and reduce the wages of the remaining employees, thus making the delivery of the service worse in order to make more money for the new owners, that is unjust. The new owners are not taking any risk. The new owners are not doing any work. The new owners are not developing new services.

        So, to run a system that allows profit, which I think is important for innovation, there must be constraints on how much money is paid to those who don’t work. That is the purpose of government regulation. Of course there will be loopholes and flaws, but one can tighten those by going back to the purpose of the regulations, i.e. Keep the money flowing to those who work to produce, deliver or improve on the products and services, and limit the flow to those who do not.

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        1. Admirably clear and well-laid-out reasoning, JPA. To your comments, I’d make one addition, relating to artisans. As I design and fabricate jewelry, I frequently deal with the question of pricing my creations. I do buy some components from online vendors. In those cases, procuring them is easy, although it involves a fair time expenditure. For my larger semi-precious stones, I prefer in-person shopping, requiring travel and related expenses, in addition to time. Then there is the intangible “design” factor: my knowledge of what will work, my judgment as to what will look best, my imagination in creating an overall concept. Fast-forward to actual production. Some pieces take an hour to produce, some take 12 hours or more over a day or two, especially if I must create specialized components. And I have trained in various metal-working and glass fusing skills.

          When I exhibit at an art show, I must pay a hefty both fee, plus transportation expenses and other costs. Potential buyers see only finished pieces, of course, and if they complain about my prices and I tell them a piece took 8 hours to make, the response is often, “So? How much did it actually cost for the stones?”

          In short, of the dozens of artisans I know, not one calculates all of his/her time and miscellaneous costs into pricing because, as one of them put it, “Then I’d never sell anything.” Mostly, we calculate the cost of materials only, and then add a small percentage to devolve prices, when in fact, prices should reflect materials cost multiplied by a factor of three of four.

          All this to say that there are sometimes unrecognized factors involved in “profit.”

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          1. I would consider the time, effort, and training to become an expert artisan to be legitimate things to bill for. Training and gaining expertise require time and effort. They are analogous to doing research to improve a product or develop new ones. The money earned from those is a legitimate profit.

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          2. We artisans would agree with you. However, when a relatively decent-looking necklace or a pretty knit hat can be had at a big-box store for a fraction of the handmade cost, it’s difficult to convince customers to pay artisans’ prices. I once had a customer come into my booth and complain that another jeweler had the nerve to tag a beach-glass bracelet at $65. I said, “It probably took hours to find enough glass on the shore, then it had to be tumbled, drilled, and composed into a bracelet.” The response? “Yeah, but still, that’s a lot of money.” Not worth the effort to argue with such a person.

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          3. The driving force of Capitalism, in terms of retail pricing, is you charge “whatever the market will bear”! Just think back to the mania of “flipping” housing units in the run-up to the crash of 2008. Some folks made a mint while that lasted. It’s still going on in the current bidding up of home prices, but to a lesser degree I should think.

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        2. I make no money from “Bracing Views,” since I have no advertising and solicit no contributions.

          But it does “profit” my sanity! And I enjoy the comments and the community I’ve helped to create with the site.

          And I suppose it helps to “put my name out there,” so to speak.

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        3. The wealth gap in contemporary society has grown thanks largely to tech, whereby the consumer pays thru the nose for shiny new gadgets that were largely manufactured/assembled overseas by low-wage workers. Then throw in the giveaways to the 1% of the 1% via the tax code enacted by GOP–to what extent, if any, Biden will try to tamp this down is an open question–and you get the case of a few billionaires (how long before the first trillionaire is revealed?) holding more wealth than the great mass of the rest of us combined. [We should bear in mind that this wealth is subject to large reductions in bear markets for financial assets, but those at the top “somehow” manage to survive those episodes.] Another area of abuse is compensation, salary + bonuses, for the high-ranking corporate execs. Do these bozos add so much “value” to a company that they merit more pay for one hour in the office–or on the golf course!–than a worker-drone gets for a full year of labor?!? Some time back, Japan imposed limits on executive annual incomes relative to what the average employee of a given company was paid. I’m not sure if that policy is still in place, but can you imagine the uproar in executive circles if such a thing was even suggested in the US Congress??

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  13. From the Moon of Alabama blog:

    “As usual with a Democratic election win the people who brought the decisive votes and engagement, those who argue for more socialist and peaceful policies, will be cut off from the levers of power.

    In three years they will again be called upon to fall for another bait and switch.”

    From Caitlin Johnstone:

    ” . . . those who do not espouse the mainstream orthodoxy of continual military expansionism and status quo politics are cut off from major positions in politics and media using the modern-day equivalent of the “heathen” label. It’s a very old dynamic adapted for a new world.”

    From J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers, Book III, The Voice of Saruman:

    “. . . another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell. For some the spell lasted only while the voice spoke to them, and when it spoke to another they smiled, as men do who see through a juggler’s trick while others gape at it. For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those it conquered the spell endured when they were far away, and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them. But none were unmoved; none rejected its pleas and its commands without an effort of mind and will, so long as its master had control of it.” [emphasis added]

    From George Orwell, Politics and the English Language:

    “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”

    Just some associated thoughts coming together on a Friday morning . . .

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    1. Regarding why our military expansionism is doomed to fail. From the same chapter in The Two Towers that you quoted

      Theoden is responding to Saruman’s offer of peace ” … Even if your war on me was just – as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired – even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Hama’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc.”

      My point is that Americans admire King Theoden. We also admire the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars. But the people we admire in fiction are not those who we behave like.

      American imperial behavior is similar to that of Saruman and Mordor, or of the Empire in Star Wars. Claiming our “exceptionalism” gives us the right to rule others for our own profit. Collateral damage is the callous euphemism for the innocents killed by drone strikes or “precision weapons.” I just saw articles in the BBC that Australian special forces are being investigated for murdering unarmed Afghan civilians. The articles reported US and UK soldiers may also have been participating in that. The articles blamed a “toxic warrior culture”. However, the toxic warrior culture begins at home, not on the battlefield.

      The clash between the values we admire in myth and those expressed by our government is more than a cognitive dissonance. It is a spiritual dissonance and causes deep moral injury and pervasive sickness in society. One doesn’t have to read the Old Testament prophets or the words of Jesus much to see the eventual outcome.

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      1. “American imperial behavior is similar to that of Saruman and Mordor.”

        Yes. I always liked to picture Republicans as Sauron and the Democrats as Saruman, where the latter only wishes to depose Mordor so that Orthanc can take its place: sort of like what just happened in the 2020 US Presidential election. With no candidate to vote for after the Democrats crushed Tulsi Gabbard, I thought of Gandalf held prisoner by Saruman at Orthanc in the Fellowship of the Ring: “Well,” the Grey Pilgrim said, “the choices are, it seems, to submit to Sauron (Trump) or to yourself (Biden). I will take neither. Have you others to offer?”

        I agree about the disparity between the mythical heroes of our literature and the power-hungry Smeagols who discover that The One Ring only bestows power according to the stature of its possessor and that American leaders — theatrical puppets not having much in the way of true leadership qualities — ultimately find themselves devoured, leaving wretched grasping Gollums to hiss and spit at each other.

        Probably Machiavelli had the most unromantic view of government: “Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation.” Certainly true for any Democratic president — Clinton, Obama, Biden — who (ostensibly) dreams of “reaching across the aisle” to Speaker Newt Gingrich or Senator Mitch McConnell for a little “bipartisan” compromise with Republicans in the name of The Greater Good. Somehow, those who most ruthlessly pursue their own self-interest have more than ample time, energy, and resources to promote heroic fictional mythologies — any number of them — to distract, fragment, disempower and demoralize the general populace while they tend most assiduously to what “is.”

        Matt Taibbi at Substack.com (November 25, 2020) does an excellent job of explaining this moment in global oligarchical time. See: “For What Are America’s Wealthy Thankful? A Worsening Culture War.” I’ve made a copy here.

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        1. As a complement to Matt Taibbi’s article and speaking of mythological narratives and their usefulness to those exercising power over others, an excerpt from “This Is Your Brain On Echo Chambers: Right Calls Biden A Xi Puppet As He Packs His Cabinet With China Hawks”, by Caitlin Johnstone, caitlinjohnstone.com (November 24, 2020):

          “This complete schizm from reality, where you’ve got an incoming administration stacked with Beltway insiders who want to attack Chinese interests running alongside an alternate imaginary universe in which Biden is a subservient CCP lackey, is only made possible with the existence of media echo chambers. It’s the same exact dynamic that made it possible for liberals to spend four years shrieking conspiracy theories about the executive branch of the US government being run by a literal Russian agent even as Trump advanced mountains of world-threatening cold war escalations against Moscow in the real world.” [emphasis added]

          Liked by 1 person

      2. A fellow member of Veterans For Peace is fond of saying that it will take GREAT SUFFERING to wake the American public up, to teach it a bit of humility. This forces me to declare that it is UNFORTUNATE that, with the glaring exception of 9/11/2001, the American public is spared an understanding of what it’s like to be the target of murderous attack. “Hypersonic” missiles could end this continent’s seeming imperviousness to attack, but the outcome of that is something no sane person would hanker for. And so Business as Usual will continue, with death-by-drone, car bomb or bullet meted out to designated “enemies,” “The Exceptional Nation” acting with impunity. Another Iranian nuclear scientist was just assassinated on Iranian soil. The current head of the Revolutionary Guards reportedly vows revenge. Well, time will tell if anything comes of that.

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  14. I’ve been seeing articles that claim that Blacks got Biden elected, or Native Americans, or Progressives, etc., and that Biden now “owes” these groups, else the DNC Democrats will see a backlash in 2022 or 2024. Guess what? They don’t care.

    Once you give them your vote, you have no say. And the DNC types figure you have nowhere else to go. Biden said this several times on the campaign — “Vote for Trump,” he’d say, to people who tried to press him on progressive issues.

    The solution is to start a third, progressive, party, so we have someone to vote for besides the latest DNC tool or Trump family member/acolyte.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP – SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP – SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP … (repeat ad nauseum)
      All these groups have one thing in common: they whine and they want. As Jed Clampett would say, they show up with “a hand full of gimme and a mouth full of much obliged.”
      Growing up in Chicago in the glory that was the Daley Years, I learned early on to expect to pay for what I want. Right or wrong, that’s how the system works.
      The only difference between any of the special interest groups listed above (including etc) and the AMA, Big Pharma, the defense industry, the oil industry (etc) is the latter bunch knows you’ve got to pay to play, while the former think it’s enough to show up. Rank amateurs no one takes seriously after Election Day.
      Change the system or put in the time and money and build a third party. “Put up or shut up.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. Nothing will change without campaign finance reform, the public funding of elections, and a wider range of choices.

        Which is, of course, why nothing will change, because the people in power now love the “pay to play” system.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. How shall we define “Special Interest Group”? I would say that a minority group–whether ethnicity-, sexual-orientation-related, etc.–that is simply seeking EQUAL treatment with the majority population doesn’t qualify. THE fattest SIG of all is the pig trough in Virginia called the Pentagon, which odiously claims to be defending us against innumerable shadowy “enemies” abroad. And by God, if they can’t find enuf of them, they manufacture some! The upper crust of corporate executives and the others in the highest-income brackets are another such special interest, clearly, and man have they gotten away with moider (! it’s the NYC upbringing surfacing!) in past few decades. I’ll stop here before I start typing obscenities!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, I’m also seeing claims that up to 20% of black and Latino voters went for Trump! If true, one might say those voters NEARLY threw things to Trump, in terms of popular vote! “Vote for Trump”? Are you sure Biden wasn’t addressing that to wingnut infiltrators of his events? (Who obviously were gonna vote that way anyhow.) ‘Uncle Joe’ was kind of nutty at times on the campaign trail, what with the push-up challenge and all. I admit I like that. Dementia? No, man, it’s the Irish in him!!

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      1. One example, Greg: A Latino voter was pressing him on his immigration policy and whether it would be as oppressive as Obama’s. And Biden just told the guy to “Vote for Trump.” He refused to address the issue, and basically told the guy: It’s my way or Trump’s way. And, in our rigged system, Biden was right.

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        1. Again, I’d have to say Biden was “getting his Irish up”!! And of course no truer statement can be made about the state of The System here than “Biden was the only VIABLE (electable) alternative to Trump.” Many (most?) other countries have multiple parties that can gain seats in legislatures and sometimes wield real influence, often by entering into coalitions. But that’s too complex for Americans perhaps. BTW, I just hit one-year anniversary of having ditched cable TV, so there are many, many snippets of audio-video from this year’s campaign that I was never exposed to. Hallelujah!

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          1. “Biden was the only VIABLE (electable) alternative to Trump.”

            I’d amend your sentence, Greg, to add at the end, “….after the DNC had eliminated all the Progressive candidates.”

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          2. We can only dream, at this point, that someday the Greens–or maybe a superior organization–could get enuf members seated in US Congress to wield some real influence. Oh, the Dems have a “Progressive Caucus,” but, um, I’m not aware of any great successes we can attribute to them. The ACA?? I was never fond of that. And since legislation requires approval by both chambers of Congress, as long as someone like Mitch McConnell controls voting in Senate, progress is D.O.A. at his desk. I hate even typing Mitch’s name, but I am desperately trapped in something called REALITY! Help!

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Bad ol’ Mitch: He must really enjoy power. Too bad he’s not a Democrat, because he’s good at his job. Then again, he’s just serving his patrons …

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