Joe Biden’s Early Report Card

Joe Biden and his alleged nemesis

W.J. Astore

Joe Biden’s been president for a year and a few months; it’s time to award him a provisional grade for his performance as president.  Here are a few factors to consider:

* Biden ended the Afghan War.  Sure, it was a disordered ending, a pell-mell evacuation, a calamitous collapse that saw Afghan innocents killed in a final drone strike (nothing new about that, I suppose).  But he did end a twenty-year war, so credit to him for that.

* Biden was able to pass an infrastructure bill, though it was disappointingly small.  Still, America truly needs to invest in its infrastructure (rather than, for example, nuclear weapons), so credit again to Biden.

* Biden kept his promise to nominate an African American woman to the Supreme Court.  The court is still overwhelmingly conservative, so her presence won’t make a critical difference to decisions, but dare I say, it’s about time the court looked more like the diversity of America.

* When Biden announced his candidacy, the first thing he did was meet with Comcast executives and other high and mighty media- and business-types.  He told them nothing would fundamentally change under his administration.  That’s a campaign promise he’s kept.

* Another promise Biden has kept is sizable increases to the Pentagon’s budget.  If you’re part of the military-industry complex, you’re probably more than satisfied with Biden’s budgets.

* Finally, some people assert that Biden has stood firm against Russia and Putin, marshaling the West against Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine.  I beg to differ with this assertion, but more on that below.

Now, let’s look at where Biden has failed or proven to be a disappointment.

* Biden has kept none of his progressive promises, which is unsurprising, given his track record as a senator from Delaware.  No $15 federal minimum wage.  No public option for health care.  No student debt relief (just moratoriums on payments).  On these and similar issues, Biden’s defenders place the blame on obstinate “centrist” senators like Manchin and Sinema, or they blame the Senate Parliamentarian for ruling against the $15 wage increase due to a technicality.  It’s all special pleading.  When their own Senate Parliamentarian got in their way, the Republicans simply replaced that unelected person with someone more tractable.  Chuck Schumer could easily have done the same.  Manchin and Sinema can be cajoled or coerced if Biden had the will to do so.  But “centrist” Democrats adore Manchin and Sinema because they serve as convenient scapegoats for why Biden can’t be more progressive.

* Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan died a meaningless death, but, once again, this was more by design.  Recall Biden’s key promise that nothing would fundamentally change under his administration.

* Again, withdrawing from the Afghan War was a sound decision, but it was poorly implemented.

* The Russia-Ukraine War: Biden has gone all-in with his military approach to the war, meaning more money for the Pentagon, more weapons for Ukraine, harsh sanctions that hit ordinary Russians the hardest, and rhetoric that declares Putin to be a genocidal war criminal.  Diplomatic efforts have taken a back seat to efforts to effect regime change in Russia.  Some people may see this as tough and hard- minded; I see it as provocative and incredibly foolhardy.  Brinksmanship with Russia risks nuclear war, with Biden’s harsh rhetoric leaving little room for a negotiated settlement.  More than a few people see the U.S. as weakening Russia in a proxy war in which Biden is willing to fight to the last Ukrainian.  Toughness is not about more weapons and war; it’s about finding ways to build fewer weapons and to end war.

* Inflation is reaching new highs and many Americans are struggling economically, but Biden’s main approach here has been to blame Putin.  Unlike Harry Truman, the buck never stops with Joe Biden.

* The Biden team made a disastrous choice for his vice president.  Biden has no affinity with Kamala Harris, and Harris herself has wilted on the world stage.  High staff turnover suggests she’s a polarizing figure and a poor boss.  The only good thing about Harris, from the Biden perspective, is that people dislike her more than they do the president.

* Biden’s unpopularity.  Predictions for the midterm elections this November are dire for Democrats.  It’s possible, even likely, Republicans will regain both the Senate and House, leaving Biden a lame duck for his final two years in office.  Few if any Democratic candidates are seeking Biden’s support or planning to ride his coattails to victory.

* Biden’s mental status.  Biden will be 80 this November.  I’m not an expert on dementia.  But I’ve seen plenty of speeches by Biden where he’s become forgetful; when he can’t remember words; when he gets frustrated.  I feel for him.  He can read from a teleprompter but get him off-script and he becomes unpredictable and says nonsensical things.  Occasionally, he looks lost or at a loss.  Something similar was happening to Ronald Reagan in his second term.

Always looming in the background and foreground is the party of Trump.  To my mind, the best way to defeat rightwing popular authoritarianism is to have leaders who answer to the people rather than to corporations and oligarchs.  The Democratic Party is venal and corrupt, which allows Trump & Co. an opening to play a (false) populist card.  The Democrats, as presently led by Biden, Schumer, Pelosi, et al., are easy foils for authoritarian dipshits like Trump.

Trump would be far less dangerous if the Democrats actually believed and acted on their various campaign promises to help people rather than oligarchs and corporations.

The ultimate grade of Joe Biden’s presidency will depend on whether through his actions and inaction he gives Trump an opening to win the presidency in 2024.  Assuming Trump wins again in 2024, Biden’s final grade will be an “F.”

His provisional grade?  First, I’m not a Democrat.  Second, I despise Trump, a man totally unqualified to serve the public in any capacity.  Overall, my grade for Biden is a “C-,” and on less generous days I’m inclined to give him a “D.”  He is a man who’s often out of his depth, a man well past his prime, a man who perhaps shouldn’t have run in 2020 and who most certainly shouldn’t run again in 2024, given the demands of the presidency. (Recall that when Biden suggested a run for the presidency in 2020, Obama told him, You don’t have to do this, Joe. Not exactly an inspiring vote of confidence!)

What do you think, readers?  What grade has Joe Biden earned so far in your opinion?  

Reforming America’s Elections the NOTC Way

Jeffrey G. Moebus

Joe Biden versus Donald Trump in 2024 is a grim “choice” indeed for most Americans. America’s duopoly gives us candidates who promise that “nothing will fundamentally change” in power relations in America, meaning your voice will never be heard in the halls of power. How do we change that? Jeffrey Moebus has a dramatic proposal worthy of careful consideration. Read on! W.J. Astore

The NOTC Way, by Jeffrey Moebus

As it stands right now, in every federal election to be held in 2022 and 2024, Americans will have five choices.  They will be able to:

1.  Vote for the Democrat.

2.  Vote for the Republican.

3.  Vote Third Party.

4.  Write-In. 

5.  Not Vote. 

What if there was a sixth choice?  

What if on every ballot for every federal election there was also a designated spot for “None Of These Candidates,” or NOTC?  

This presents the argument that “None Of These Candidates” should be on every ballot of every federal election, and proposes a nation-wide campaign to give the American Voters a real Alternative to ~ and an actual Antidote for ~ what America’s Ruling Political Class will give them for choices in 2022 and 2024:  To make “None Of These Candidates” a mandatory choice on every ballot in every federal election held in the United States for Election2022 and Election2024.  

Its ultimate purpose is to give a meaningful vote to that cohort of Totally Forgotten Voters who have been disenfranchised since the beginning of elections in America, and to offer a very quick, simple, easy, and low cost solution to that problem.  

ASSUMPTIONS.  It is assumed, first of all, that there will indeed be elections in those years; which, face it folks, at this point, no one can honestly, realistically, absolutely, positively guarantee.  And second, that the choices presented to the American Voters will be, at most, some subtle but suitable variation of the present, as follows: 

1.  The corporatist, crony “democratic capitalist,” neoconservative/neoliberal, post-modern “liberalism” and “conservativism” of the Carter-Reagan-Bush I-Clinton-Cheney/Bush II-Obama-Biden breed [which includes any “anti-Trump” Republicans intent on maintaining some semblance of a non-Trumped GOP].     

2.  The populist, nativist, neo-mercantilist, protectionist, proto-national socialism [with its attendant racist, sexist, xenophobic, patriotist wrapped-in the-Flag-mouthing-the-Bible noise while wiping their butts with the Constitution] of Trump, Trumpatismo, the Trumpatistas, and its inevitable gaggle of Greenes, Proud Boys, and Apprentice Emperor-Wannabe Spawns. 

3.  The noisy but intellectually, ideologically, and politically bankrupt and bereft neo-progressive, proto-democratic socialism of the “socialistic democrats” of the Sandersista/Warrenite, “Squad,” Green New Dealer ilk, and their Spawn.  

BACKGROUND.  The seed for all this was planted back in the first week of November 2016, as that Presidential Campaign began to finally, mercifully grind its way to its conclusion.  It suddenly became painfully obvious that if Clinton and/or Trump were the very best that our Ruling Political Class [RPC] could come up with to be America’s next President, then this Nation, this Country and Land, and, above all, this “We, the People” were in deeply serious, seriously deep trouble.

And it wasn’t just that – from the headlines, polls, blogosphere, and social media – that it was easy to conclude that Donald Trump was the patsy in a conspiracy to put Hillary Clinton in the White House.  Because, at the same time, it was just as easily concluded that The Hillary was part of a plot to ensconce The Donald.  Take your pick. 

But what was far, far more to the point was that it grew increasingly evident that, less than a couple of days to the election, more people wanted neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States, than wanted either of them to sit in the Oval Office come January 20, 2017. 

That, on the one hand, many people will vote for Clinton – because, and only because, they don’t want Trump as President – rather than because they actually do want her to be President.  And that, on the other hand, many people will similarly vote for Trump – because, and only because, they don’t want Clinton as President – rather than because they actually do want him to be President. 

Which raised the immediate question:  So who does somebody vote For if they want neither Trump nor Clinton ~ nor any of the Third Party candidates ~ as their next President?  Stated differently:  How do these people vote Against all the candidates that the Ruling Political Class has deigned to gift them? 

This becomes more relevant when the results of Trump v Clinton are explored: 

In 2016, 38.6% of all Eligible Voters [EVs] did not vote for anybody to be President.  

Of the 61.4% of EVs who did vote for President, Hillary Clinton got 48.2% of the votes, and Donald Trump took 46.1%.  Which means that only 29.6% of all EVs in 2016 voted for Clinton, and but 28.3% of them voted for Trump.  Which means that only 57.9% wanted Either of them in the Oval Office, and that between 70.4% and 71.7% of eligible Voters wanted Neither of them, respectively.  

In other words, 7 out of 10 Americans eligible to choose the next President of the United States four and a half years ago actively voted Against both The Donald and The Hillary; or, said another, kinder, gentler way, did not actually vote For either of the two. 

So the actual final tally for the 2016 Presidential race was: 

Not Voting 38.6 %
Clinton29.6 %
Trump28.3 %
Other  3.5 %

If “Not Voting” had been represented at the Electoral College in that election, it would have collected 471 Electoral votes to Clinton’s 51 and Trump’s 15.  In other words, “Not Voting” won in a landslide.  

One thing the Exit Pollsters missed that day was asking voters: “Did You vote for Trump [or Clinton, as the case may be] because You don’t want Clinton [Trump] to be President?  Or because You actually, really, and sincerely want him [her] to be in the Oval Office?  Or something else?”  

That would have given a clue as to how many people in 2016 voted not For Trump, but Against Clinton; and vice versa.  And perhaps explained, particularly, just exactly what happened in all those “swing States” that everybody just knew was Clinton Country, but turned out to be not quite. 

Fast forward to Election2020:  66.7% of Eligible Voters [EVs] cast their vote for President: Joseph Biden received 51.3% of the popular vote, and Donald Trump received 46.9% of that vote. 

Which means that only 34.2% of all eligible American voters in 2020 voted for Biden, and but 31.3% of all EVs voted for Trump. 

Which means that only 65.5% wanted Either of them in the Oval Office, and that between 65.8% and 68.7% of eligible Voters wanted Neither of them, respectively. 

So the final popular vote percentages for 2020 were: 

Biden34.2 %
Not Voting 33.3 %
Trump31.3 %
Other  1.2 %

Which, not merely incidentally, but very emphatically and categorically BELIES ANY CLAIM BY ANYBODY OR ANY PARTY, PERSPECTIVE, OR IDEOLOGY ~ BIDEN’S AND HIS, TRUMP’S AND HIS, OR ANYBODY ELSE’S AND THEIRS ~ HAS ANY KIND OF A “MANDATE” FROM ANYBODY TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING IN THIS COUNTRY.  It also indicates that Biden’s plans and pleas for “Strength Through Unity” are going to be a very tough sell; and not just out in the hinterlands of Flyover Country.  

In any event, if “Not Voting” won in a landslide in 2016, it was a bit closer in 2020:  With 270 the magic number, “Not Voting” would have taken 278 Electoral College votes to Biden’s 162 and Trump’s 98. 

Again, there were no Exit Pollsters asking voters: “Did You vote for Biden [or Trump, as the case may be] because You don’t want Trump [Biden] to be President?  Or because You actually, really, and sincerely want him to be in the Oval Office?  Or something else?”  

And that would have given a clue as to how many people in 2020 voted not For Biden, but Against Trump; and vice versa.  And perhaps explained, particularly, just exactly what happened in all those “swing States” that at least some folks just knew was Trump Territory, but turned out to be not quite.

#NOTC22/24:  The  Real Alternative and Antidote for Americans in 2022 and 2024 

Another poll that has never been taken but needs to be is one that asks voters who did not vote for President, “Why didn’t You vote for President?”; with the possible answers being: 

1.  I didn’t vote, period.  [An obvious follow-on question being “Why?”]

2.  I didn’t have anybody that I could vote FOR.

3.  I didn’t want to give my vote to anybody because I was equally AGAINST all the candidates, as well. 

4.  Other: ____________________ . 

Such a poll would have provided some interesting details as to what at least some Americans believed, or thought, or thought they knew, or actually, really understood about American politics, elections, government, and governance at that time.  After all, in 2016 at 38.6%, those non-Voters were a significant plurality; and in 2020, within a percentage point of the winner. 

Does that fact not tell us something about the American system of choosing who its supreme political leaders shall be, and, by extension, about America’s system of government and governance?  And what the American people think about it?  At least when it comes to choosing a President? 

People don’t vote for lots of reasons.  There are those who share Emma Goldman’s sentiment that “If voting could actually, really change anything, it would be illegal.”  Or they remember Papa Joe Stalin’s timeless admonition that “It’s not who votes that counts; it’s who counts the votes.”  Or, they can only concur 100% with George Carlin’s “Don’t vote.  It only encourages the mother-fuckers.” 

THE PROBLEM.  But one other reason folks don’t vote is because there is no candidate that they can, in all honesty and sincerity, actually vote For,even if it is just Against somebody or even Everybody else.  So the question becomes: How can these people make that judgment and conviction known in a way that has any actual impact in the real world, which Not Voting does not and can not have?  How can these people make a vote of conscience, and thus give voice to their beliefs, desires, and intents?  And, more importantly, how can they get their votes to count; Papa Joe’s reminder notwithstanding?  

THE SOLUTION.  In Election2020 again, Voters had five Choices.  They could: 

1.  Vote for Trump.

2.  Vote for Biden.

3.  Vote for a Third Party candidate.

4.  Write-In their own candidate.

5.  Not Vote. 

What if there was a sixth Choice?  What if on every ballot there was a designated spot for “None Of These Candidates,” NOTC

This sixth Choice would have been a very real, viable, formal, and forceful alternative to Choice 5 in that it is a way to be very explicit for those who are Against every available candidate that America’s political system and its ruling elites have bequeathed unto us.   Against them, and the platforms, programs, promises, platitudes, past and present performances, and social, cultural, economic, legal, and political worldviews, mindsets, operating paradigms, and the systems and structures that come along with them.  

And it does that in a way that simply Not Voting simply can not do. 

Option 6 would enable those who feel that way to openly express their conviction, and make it actually be counted not simply as just another  non-action of another non-Voter, but as one who voted for NOTC, for “None Of These Candidates.”  

Note:  Voters in Nevada have had the “None Of These Candidates” option in all federal, state, and local elections since 1975; and not by writing it in, but simply by pulling a lever on a voting machine just like every other Candidate.  

In 2016, “None Of These Candidates” received 28,863 Nevadan votes, while Clinton took 539,260 and Trump got 512,058, a difference of 26,202.  One wonders how those numbers would have changed if “NOTC” wasn’t an option and all [or even some] those NOTCers voted for either one or the other. 

In 2020, NOTC-NV took 14,079 votes to Biden’s 703,486 and Trump’s 669,890, a difference of 33,596.  Apparently, Nevadans felt they had a bit more of a choice this time than last. 

OBJECTIONS TO OPTION 6.  There are a number of immediate and obvious objections to NOTC being an option on ballots:  

1.  The biggest objection will no doubt come from the Ruling Political Class itself with the denunciation of the effort to the effect that “If You don’t like our candidates and the platforms, programs, and promises they are proposing, then do like we did, get organized, find money, and come up with Your own.”  Ie, start another Third ~ or is it fourth, fifth, or sixth ~ Party [see Objection 3 below]. 

To which the rest of us can simply respond:

“Look.  We all have neither the interest in, nor the time nor inclination for all that simply because we all have much, much more important things to do besides come up with candidates and their platforms.  We are all too busy trying to live our lives, pay our bills, plan for our futures, and deal as best we can with the total mess You people and Your politicians and all their non-elected bureaucrats, appointees, advisers, and other experts have made of this nation, its government, its system of governance, its economy, and civil society.  We are particularly busy paying our taxes, for which we Citizens are getting an increasingly less and less of a suitable return on our ‘investment’ in our governments than ever.  

“Plus, it is not our job to come up with suitable candidates and platforms.  After all, that’s what we have a Ruling Political Class for, isn’t it?” 

2.  Another objection would be “Well ~ not that it would or could ever possibly happen ~ but what happens if ‘None Of These Candidates’ actually wins an election?  Or forces a run-off?  Then what?”  

“Then come up with a brand new slate of candidates and run the election again, with NOTC remaining a choice.  Presumably the fact that NOTC either won the election or forced a run-off would [or at least could] send a very loud and clear message to the RPC that their reign of unbridled power ~ at least when it came to this particular federal election ~ is over.  At least for now.” 

3.  A third ~ and the weakest ~ objection could be from those who would claim that NOTC would undercut efforts by Third Parties to have a real impact in elections, and thus government and governance, by taking support and votes away from them, their candidates, and their agendas. 

At this point ~ and with very, very few exceptions as far as actually, really impacting the outcome of any election over the past 120 years ~ any votes for any and all Third Party Candidates are essentially wasted, other than providing the voter with the personal satisfaction of voting her or his conscience, and of, somehow, “sending a message.”  That is a principal reason that the PRC would be so quick to recommend it, as noted in Objection 1 above. 

And in present day America, no Third Party built on any particular ideology and focused on any specific issues, by itself, is in a position to have any effective impact whatsoever on any election whatsoever, let alone on how the government is run after the election. 

If, on the other hand, NOTC was a choice on all ballots; and if all Third Party voters would add their vote to all those Americans who reject both of the major party’s candidates by voting NOTC; and if the RPC had to then go back to the drawing board for another election with different candidates and a different set of promises:  If all that happened, Third Partiers would have a much bigger say in how things are run in this country than they do now, or have ever had in the past. 

THE PURPOSE RESTATED.   The purpose is simply to provide an alternative and antidote in 2022 and 2024 to whatever kept one-third and more of the electorate from voting in federal elections in 2016, 2018, and 2020.  It is to provide an option for those who do not have a candidate they can honestly and sincerely vote FOR, by enabling them to specifically and directly vote AGAINST all of the candidates.  And it provides a way of doing that that Not Voting, or voting Third Party, can not now and will never do. 

NEXT STEPS.  There are two possible ways that “None Of These Candidates” can be mandated to be included on all ballots for all federal elections in 2022 and 2024: 

1.  The ratification by 38 States of an Amendment to the Constitution to that effect.  Given that it took less than 10 months for the 21st Amendment ending Prohibition to go from being proposed by Congress to being ratified by the then-required only 34th State, this could happen very easily if a critical mass of conscientious, concerned, and committed Citizens determined to make exactly that happen in plenty of time for Election2024.

2.  The mandating by State-established process and procedure [legislative action, voter referendum, etc] that NOTC be available as a choice on all ballots for all federal elections held in that State.  This could happen very easily if a critical mass of conscientious, concerned, and committed Citizens determined to make exactly that happen in their State in plenty of time for Election2022; particularly in those states with US Senate elections.

3.  If all else fails, organize a nation-wide, state-level, grass roots campaign to encourage voters to write-in “None Of These Candidates” on their ballot on election day.  Particularly in those States with U.S. Senate elections in 2022, and then everywhere in 2024.

CONCLUSION.  Given the numbers of Registered Voters who didn’t vote for anybody for President in either 2016 or 2020, a very strong argument can be made that, for a significant number of Americans, the RPC had effectively eliminated the last, ultimate, and final refuge of the American voter: the so-called “lesser of two evils.”  In those elections, that option was clearly not available. 

Instead, we, the Electorate, were bequeathed with a choice between two lessers, and a great deal of evil, no matter which way the elections turned out.  

And so, the question remains: How could those folks who wanted none of those three as the next President have made their votes count?  And count far more than any Third Party efforts?  The answer is: By having “None Of These Candidates” as an official choice on the ballot.  

And the way to ensure that Americans have a real Choice in 2022 and 2024 ~ and thus a real Alternative and Antidote to the reality-tv extravaganza that American politics, government, and governance has become ~ is to make #NOTC22/24 happen on a national level on every ballot in every federal election those years.  Again, making it happen one State at a time; and again, with a priority on those holding U.S. Senate elections in 2022.

If this makes sense to You, seems worth exploring further, and particularly, if You have any feedback to offer on it, please contact me at notc.alaska@gmail.com.  Also please share it with anyone You think might find it of interest.  Thank You for Your consideration. 

Jeffrey Moebus, a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant, spent two years in Vietnam in the 1960s and two years in the pre-Operation Desert Storm Middle East in the 1980s.  He lives in Sitka, Alaska on the sailboat he brought up from San Francisco Bay ten years ago this summer, and is the POC for Veterans Against War [Sitka Platoon] at vaw.sitka@gmail.com.

Deplorable Leaders

W.J. Astore

America’s “leaders” believe they are in-the-know, and the rest of us are know-nothings who can be pushed around or ignored.

Perhaps the most honest thing Hillary Clinton ever did was to speak of her “basket of deplorables” after which she dismissed them as “irredeemable.” This is exactly how Hillary and most of our “leaders” think. Anyone who’s skeptical of them, anyone who asks for proof, anyone who’s willing to resist, is thrown into a “deplorable” basket and dismissed.

It will work until it doesn’t; indeed, it’s already not working. But the system is not about to give in. At the presidential level, America’s likely candidates for “leader of the free world” in 2024 are Joe Biden and Donald Trump, or, as my wife likes to joke, ODR versus ODR. Old Demented Rotter versus Old Divisive Rotter.

Let’s take the “old” part first, since ageism is an instant rejoinder. It used to be said that being President of the U.S. was the toughest, most demanding, job in the world, making enormous demands on physical stamina and mental acuity. Eisenhower was considered old when he left the presidency at the age of 70, replaced by John F. Kennedy at the age of 43. If Biden is reelected in 2024, he will be 82 that November, and Trump will be 78. Both men are well past their prime. Are they truly ready for the rigors of the office? Do we trust either man to be able to complete another four-year term in office?

Now, let’s take the “D” part. Many observers have noted Biden’s mental decline; it was readily noticeable in 2020 when he ran as a candidate in the primaries. Sadly, mental decline often accelerates with age, sometimes unpredictably. Reelecting Joe Biden in 2024, assuming he runs again, will likely lead to his vice president taking over for him during his second term of office. Trump, meanwhile, is a divisive leader whose personal motto might be “divide and rule.” A leader should bring people together for their mutual advantage, not tear them apart for his own advantage.

And now the “R” part, the “rotter.” Neither Trump nor Biden is a champion of workers, of the poor, of the vulnerable. Neither has much empathy. Both are deeply compromised. It’s a common failing of “big fish” politicians to have so little regard for the commoners that they rule, but surely we can find candidates that are, dare I say, less rotten?

“Leaders” like Hillary Clinton are fond of denouncing large swaths of the American public as “deplorable.” Is this not a classic case both of projection and of profound narcissism? How do we move beyond ODR versus ODR in 2024?

What a country! (Azeen Ghorayshi / BuzzFeed News)

Joe Says No

Joe Says No

W.J. Astore

Clearly, the unofficial motto of the Democratic Party in 2021-22 is “Joe says no.” And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s President Joe Biden or Senator Joe Manchin.

Joe, as in Biden, says no to ending the Senate filibuster. He says no to Medicare for all. He says no to a single-payer option for health care. He says no to a $15 an hour minimum wage. (I know — it was allegedly the Senate Parliamentarian who said no here, except this person is both unelected and easily fired.) President Joe says no a lot, even though his campaign promises and pledges included a $15 federal minimum wage, a single-payer option, and so on.

Joe, as in Manchin, says no to the Build Back Better program. He says no to more affordable prices for prescription drugs. He says no to extending child tax credits. He says no to paid family leave. (Joe said family members on leave might go hunting instead of caring for their kids.) Like President Joe, Senator Joe says no to reforming the Senate filibuster.

Joe and Joe say no a lot, especially to policies that would help working Americans.

What do they say yes to? They say yes to massive spending on weapons and wars. They say yes to fossil fuels, including offshore oil drilling, fracking, and coal. They say yes to corporate agendas and corporate lobbyists and corporate cash. They say yes to higher drug prices. They say yes quite often, actually, but not to us.

When the Democrats lose the presidency in 2024, Joe Says No should be their epitaph. No to the workers, no to the middle class, no to helping the less fortunate — and no to a fairer, more just, America.

(With thanks to my wife for coming up with the pithy, Joe says no, slogan.)

Are You Ready for Four More Years of Trump?

W.J. Astore

I had no idea America elected Joe Manchin and the Senate Parliamentarian as the two most powerful people in our country. Senator Manchin has been the convenient obstacle and scapegoat for the corporate Democrats. He’s allegedly blocked tougher action on climate change. He’s helped to defund efforts to make community college free, to extend Medicare, to lower prescription drug prices, and so on. The Senate Parliamentarian, meanwhile, who is in fact unelected and has no real power, ruled that hiking the minimum wage is something that simply can’t be countenanced under budgetary reconciliation rules. I think I got that right, not that it matters. It’s all a smokescreen, it’s all BS. The Democratic Party, like the Republican, answers to the owners and donors. It is doing exactly what it’s been told to do, abandoning all its progressive promises (it never had any principles) in the false name of compromise and bipartisanship.

And this is exactly why Donald Trump will be reelected in 2024.

Not that the corporate-owned Democrats care, mind you. Things are actually easier for them with Trump in office. They can raise more money off their fake “resistance” to Trump, and they can wash their hands of tax cuts for the rich and more and more corporate-friendly deals, blaming them on Trump when of course the Democrats too support all these things. For that matter, so too does the Supreme Court. Justices like Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett weren’t just picked because they lean against abortion: they were picked because of their pro-business sympathies. Joined by Justices Roberts and Thomas and Alito, corporations can count on winning cases in their favor by at least a 6-3 margin. Corporations are people, my friends, and they rule us through the political parties they own and the court they have packed.

If many Americans don’t know this, they certainly sense it. They know politicians like Biden and Harris are phonies. They are so phony that people actually prefer a twice-divorced wife-cheater, con man, and reality TV host like Trump for his authenticity. At least Trump speaks their language and apes their grievances.

Former President Obama, meanwhile, gives speeches blaming the voters for not voting. He says with a straight face that we can’t always get what we want, but that if you don’t despair and keep voting blue no matter who, you may yet get a few crumbs after 2024. Who believes this anymore?

Hillary Clinton and the DNC were so bad in 2016 that America elected a failed casino owner with a fake university named after him. Biden/Harris and the DNC are so bad now that in 2024 America will elect a bloviating dictator wannabe and coup-plotter who threw his own VP under the bus as president. Yup, the same guy again. Maybe this time Ivanka will run the World Bank or possibly the State Department (can she be worse than Mike Pompeo?).

That blurry man is returning — and so too is his daughter. Not so sure about the guy on the right

America has become a very bad joke — worst of all, the joke’s on us.