And I use the word “sputtering” because Biden apologists still like to suggest that Biden’s problems are attributable to a stutter, which Biden overcame decades ago. Watch Biden speeches from the 1980s to when he was Obama’s Vice President and you hear a person who can speak fluidly, if often not honestly. Joe’s ability to speak clearly and to remain focused had obviously declined by 2020 when he campaigned. It’s likely, given the demands of the job, that his acuity will continue to trend downwards, as Ronald Reagan’s did in his second term in office.
What’s to be said here? First, it’s hard to believe Biden’s handlers thought it was a good idea for him to go on TV in a somewhat unstructured environment, but I guess they did. Second, Jimmy Kimmel showed a lot of class in not exploiting Biden’s incoherence. Third, to state what’s obvious, at least to me, Joe Biden shouldn’t run in 2024. He’s not currently up to the rigors of the duties of the office he occupies, and only Benjamin Button ages in reverse. If the DNC and Joe’s wife and family allow him to run again, it will truly be shameful.
The scary thing for true-blue Democrats is the apparent alternatives, Kamala “Giggles” Harris and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg. They hit certain diversity targets, but neither is inspiring. Both in their own way are political lightweights. Both, however, are beloved by party operatives because they’re willing to take orders from the owners and donors. Harris is a Clintonite and Mayor Pete is the ultimate square-checking apple polisher. Here’s hoping both fade away and quickly.
Perhaps Michelle Obama will enter the fray as the great Democratic savior. At the very least, she could save Joe Biden from a possible second term that would likely be even more disappointing if not disastrous than his first term is proving to be.
Disclaimer: Sorry, this isn’t about Trump. If Trump runs again, I won’t vote for him. Why? Because Trump is a man who serves only himself. So please don’t spin my worries about Joe Biden as some kind of weird endorsement of Con Man Donald. It isn’t.
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?
Joe Biden has done it again, calling for Vladimir Putin’s removal from office as president of Russia, and refusing to apologize for it. Being charitable, I’m calling this rhetoric “careless,” but really it’s inflammatory and even unhinged when you consider the U.S. and Russia could easily destroy the world in a nuclear war.
I’ve never been a fan of Joe Biden. When he ran for president in 1987-88, he lied about being near the top of his class (he was near the bottom, actually), lied about how many majors he took, lied about an award he falsely said he’d earned, and generally came off looking like a lightweight. He was trying way too hard, including “borrowing” without attribution, i.e. plagiarizing, from the speeches of Neil Kinnock and Bobby Kennedy. Most political commentators back then dismissed him as a has-been before he ever was.
But Biden bided his time, improved his bona fides with the big money players, and became the boring white guy sidekick to the upstart Barack Obama in 2008. Biden served loyally as Obama’s VP for eight years, failing to distinguish himself in any meaningful way. Occasionally, he’d blurt out something tough, something manly, like the time he commented about confronting the Islamic State at “the gates of hell,” but it was all bluster.
When Biden ran for president in 2019-20, he was obviously well past his prime, which was never that high to begin with. But he promised the owners and donors that nothing would fundamentally change if he was elected, the one promise he’s kept since he gained office. Throughout his campaign, he lied through his blindingly white teeth about how he supported a $15 federal minimum wage and how he’d work for a single-payer option for health care, among many other whoppers. One of those whoppers has gained considerable press lately: his son Hunter’s laptop and the emails on it, which Biden said was an obvious Kremlin plant. Wrong again, Joe. Hunter’s emails were all-too-real and incriminating, as was his phony yet high-paying job ($50,000 a month) for Burisma in Ukraine.
Politics is almost always a miserable affair, now more than ever, but during the campaign Biden showed he was a gaffe-prone liar who was nearing the end of his mental tether. No matter. The mainstream media got behind him and plenty of Americans were rightly fed up with Donald Trump and his bungling of the response to Covid-19, and that was enough to make him president.
Biden is now pushing 80, slurring words, and calling Putin a war criminal and saying that he needs to go. It’s the kind of behavior you’d expect from a blowhard who’s had a few too many drinks at the bar, not from America’s most senior leader.
I joked to my wife that I really don’t want to die today in a nuclear war due to Biden’s bizarre bombast. If any leader needs to go, it’s probably Joe Biden, but he has an iron-clad insurance policy: if he goes, we get Kamala “giggles” Harris as our new president. So I guess I have to be very careful what I wish for.
There was a time when America produced leaders like FDR, Ike, George C. Marshall, even Ronald Reagan, who had the guts to dream of a world free of nuclear weapons. Reagan may have called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” but he also knew how to negotiate with Mikhail Gorbachev for a better, safer world. America is hamstrung today by narcissistic nincompoops like Biden, Harris, and Trump; somehow, we have to take a long, hard look in the mirror and find it within ourselves to demand better.
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?).
America has become a very bad joke — worst of all, the joke’s on us.
Did you know Vice President Kamala Harris is Chairwoman of the National Space Council? I didn’t — until a friend notified me of a feel-good video featuring Harris and a few earnest and photogenic kids on YouTube. The kids were decidedly diverse: boys and girls, black and brown and white, but they all had something in common. No, it wasn’t their enthusiasm for space — it’s that they were all paid actors.
As my wife and I watched the video, my better half turned to me and said, “stagey” and “fake.”
I had to laugh as Kamala Harris tried to wow the kids about seeing craters on the moon. My goodness — on a clear night you can see craters with the naked eye. A decent pair of binoculars (I have 10×50 Tasco binoculars) will reveal plenty of gorgeous detail. You don’t exactly have to visit the Naval Observatory to see moon craters.
Even through my relatively cheap $200 camera, I can see plenty of detail. Here’s a photo I took of the moon, a handheld shot done quickly and inexpertly:
I have some experience talking to real kids about astronomy. Elementary school kids can be fun. One class I talked to wanted to know all about UFOs. Another wiseguy kid asked about Uranus, pronouncing it “your anus,” of course. I smiled, quietly corrected his pronunciation, and answered his question. We both had a laugh.
Yet apparently Kamala Harris is not to be trusted talking to real kids who might go off-script. Perish the thought of a kid who might make a joke about Uranus. The horror! It doesn’t inspire confidence that she’s only a heartbeat away from the presidency, as the saying goes.
If and when the space aliens come for me, I know what I’m saying: Take me to your leader — mine is lost in space.
America doesn’t have a foreign policy, it has a business plan, and it’s business as usual in the Biden administration. Joe Biden promised his donors that nothing would fundamentally change in his administration. Kamala Harris said her agenda wasn’t about substantive change. So what we’re getting under the Biden/Harris team is eminently predictable:
More blank checks for Israel, and no recognition of any rights for Palestinians.
A revival of the old Cold War, with China as the leading “threat” but with Russia not forgotten.
Politics subordinated to the military, rather than the military in service of political aims. In brief, military dominance is America’s foreign policy.
Related to (1-3) is dominance of the world’s trade in weapons. The State Department has become a tiny branch of the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex. It’s all about closing arms deals, moving hardware, selling weaponry, making a buck.
Naturally, one of Biden’s first acts as president was to bomb a foreign country, in this case Syria. So presidential!
In Joe Biden, America has a fading and flailing man to lead a fading and flailing empire. In Kamala Harris, America has an example of old wine in new packaging. She’s a woman, she’s Black, she’s South Asian — and she thinks like Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger.
Remember when Joe Biden said he’d be all about diplomacy? That the power of America’s example would rule over the example of our power? Nice words, but that’s all they’ve been so far. Words.
Two examples where Biden has appeared to offer meaningful change are with Afghanistan and Yemen. With Afghanistan, Biden has promised a complete military withdrawal by 9/11/2021. But does this apply only to combat troops while excluding mercenaries, the CIA, special forces “trainers,” and the like? It’s not yet clear. Plus anything can happen between now and 9/11 for Biden to switch gears and keep some combat troops in place.
With Yemen, Biden made a point about excluding offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia while still allowing defensive ones. Almost any weapon can be labeled as defensive in nature, so it’s doubtful whether Saudi operations in Yemen will be impacted at all by Biden’s weasel-word policies.
The Biden/Harris foreign policy, such as it is, is retrograde. It’s a return to the Cold War, with an emphasis on new nuclear weapons and larger Pentagon budgets. It’s about global dominance while America at home burns. It’s foolish and stupid yet it will make a few people richer for a few more business cycles.
And thus it’s business as usual in Washington, which is exactly what Biden/Harris were hired for.
Who knew that choosing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, two pro-business, pro-establishment, anti-progressive tools with limited charisma, would result in an election that is currently too close to call?
Meanwhile, Trump has made his own call. He won! Here’s what he had to say earlier this morning:
Trump falsely declared himself the winner around 2:30 a.m. Eastern. He said he would call on the Supreme Court to stop counting ballots in states where he led, while urging more counting in states where he was behind. He claimed “fraud” (for which there is no evidence) and he called the election an “embarrassment to the country.”
My wife and I had a good if grim laugh at this. Trump is like that ten-year-old bully in a class election who says: “Let’s count the vote until I’m winning, then we’ll stop.” Every kid would shout that that’s unfair and wrong, until the bully threatened to slug them.
It’s truly astounding that so many Americans think Trump is a competent and desirable president. Again, though, it didn’t help matters when the DNC tilted the table in Biden’s favor, then picked Kamala Harris as his running mate, another establishment tool who faded fast after her fifteen minutes of post-debate, that-little-girl-was-me, fame.
Of course, Biden/Harris may yet prevail, assuming Americans can muster some patience and that the Trump-leaning Supreme Court doesn’t intervene. But if they lose, the loss is truly on them and the DNC operatives who went all-in on them.
About forty years ago, I took undergraduate courses in U.S. History, where I first learned about “normalcy.” Normalcy came from the (successful) presidential campaign of Warren G. Harding in 1920. After World War I’s devastation and Woodrow Wilson’s attempt at internationalism, what Americans wanted most of all, according to Harding, was a “return to normalcy.” Harding, running against Wilson’s record though not Wilson himself, won the presidency.
Wilson himself favored a sort of high-minded preaching when he addressed Americans; in his own way, he may have been as narcissistic as Trump, and probably more racist. Again, while Harding didn’t run against Wilson, he did run against his legacy, and to many Americans he seemed like a good and decent man and was considered handsome to boot.
Another word associated with Harding’s campaign a century ago was “bloviate,” which basically means BS. A quick Google search confirms that bloviation is “a style of empty, pompous, political speech which originated in Ohio and was used by US President Warren G. Harding.” I guess I did learn something in those history classes.
I mention these two words, normalcy and bloviate, because in many ways they sum up Joe Biden’s strategy in 2020. He’s promised a return to normalcy, i.e. a return to the Obama/Biden years, and this does hold some appeal to Americans who are sick and tired of Trump’s lies and incompetence. But Biden himself has told us little about what he hopes to achieve, preferring to bloviate, which suggests he won’t be doing much to improve the lives of ordinary working Americans, assuming he wins.
The presidency of Warren G. Harding was an ill-starred one. He surrounded himself with corrupt cronies and was humiliated by the Teapot Dome Scandal. Harding died at the comparatively young age of 57 in 1923; his vice president, Calvin Coolidge, took over and led the country until 1928. Interestingly, Coolidge had made his reputation putting down the Boston police strike in the name of preserving “law and order” during the Red Scare of 1919. Perhaps his most famous sentiment as president was the idea that the business of the American people is business. It seemed to make sense during the Roaring Twenties until the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
History, as they say, doesn’t repeat itself but it does echo. Biden/Harris in 2020 is a little like Harding/Coolidge in 1920. Biden is the normalcy guy who bloviates; Harris is the VP who may well have to step in as president, but who as a “top cop” in California was no friend of labor but very much pro-business. Naturally, judging by our history, whether in 1920 or 2020, you can forget about any progressive policies unless and until we experience a cosmic crunch like the Great Depression of 1929. Even then, FDR and the New Deal didn’t come along until 1933.
History can be a depressing subject to take — a record of crimes, follies, and disasters of the past. We’re supposed to learn from it so as to avoid repeating the same. Assuming Biden/Harris win this week, we shall see if there’s any substance to them, or whether it’s just normalcy, bloviation, scandal, and business-friendly policies all over again.
Today, my wife got stuck behind a pickup truck sporting a bumper sticker of considerable meaning: “Proud to be a deplorable.” No, this wasn’t red state Mississippi; it was blue state Massachusetts.
It’s worth a chuckle or two, until you realize its larger meaning. Many people are proud to vote for Trump because establishment Democrats like Hillary Clinton don’t speak to them, except when they’re dismissing them as deplorables that are “irredeemable,” as Hillary put it in 2016.
It’s never smart to dismiss potential voters as dumbasses without hope, but Hillary thought she had the election in the bag. She lost because she ran a poor campaign and because her elitism and sense of privilege were so obvious. But she also had no compelling messages for the “deplorables.” And Trump did. Trump talked about bad trade deals, the offshoring of jobs, the betrayal of ordinary Americans by the financial set, the big money people, the ones who paid Hillary so handsomely for a few empty speeches.
Of course, Trump didn’t and doesn’t care about ordinary Americans. From all appearances, Trump cares only about himself (and perhaps his immediate family). Nevertheless, he was smart enough to offer the people something, even if all they were left with in the end was a rebel identity as a deplorable.
Establishment Democrats, demonstrating their ability to learn nothing, are once again offering “deplorables” nothing specific. No universal health care (indeed, Joe Biden said he’d veto such a bill if it reached his desk as president). No firm and trustworthy commitment to a $15 minimum wage. No firm and trustworthy commitment to ending those endless foreign wars. Biden promises nothing more than he’s not Trump, end of story.
His choice of Vice President backs this up. Kamala Harris is a conservative Democrat; she’s establishment through and through. But she’s a woman who’s multiracial, so this is considered proof of her diversity and her commitment to helping the less fortunate. Come again?
As Tulsi Gabbard pointed out during a debate, Harris smugly joked about smoking marijuana even as she put “deplorable” users into prison, among other positions that showcased her privileged hypocrisy, but no matter. Even though Harris dropped out early (after boasting of being a top-tier candidate), even though she couldn’t win a single delegate in the primaries, she was handpicked by Joe Biden to lend some excitement to the ticket. Mission unaccomplished.
So I fear, like Michael Moore, that Trump could win again, probably losing the popular vote but winning enough swing states to put him over the top in the electoral college. Trump could win because the “deplorables” in their trucks across blue- and red state America know how to stand by their man. Even though he’s a no-good cheatin’ fool, Trump offers them something, something unquantifiable but powerful, an identity, perhaps, and the ability, in casting their votes, to give a big FU to all the elites that keep telling them they don’t measure up — and never will.
I can. Not because I’m that smart. Not because I’m some kind of soothsayer. In making that prediction, I was being as coldly cynical as I could be. I pretended, in my own mind, to be a corporate operator in the DNC. And it followed Biden/Harris would be the dream ticket. Both are basically moderate Republicans who are business-friendly. Both have no progressive vision whatsoever. Both are “pay-to-play” politicians. And so on, in distressing and depressing detail.
Below is what I wrote in April of last year. You can see I wasn’t right about the scenario, but I was right about the candidates. My secret? Be coldly cynical. Think money and power without principles. And you’ll have your dream ticket. A “dream” that’s a nightmare for progressives, for workers, indeed for anyone looking for real change in America.
Now that Joe Biden is officially in the race, the dream Democratic ticket has emerged: Biden and Kamala Harris.
By “dream,” I don’t mean the Progressive dream. I don’t mean the dream of working-class voters who are hurting. I don’t mean the dream of Americans who are tired of never-ending wars that enfeeble our economy (and kill lots of people, mainly foreigners). Those “dream” candidates are true Progressives like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. A Sanders/Gabbard ticket would truly shake things up, which is why it’s not going to happen, as much as I’d like to see it.
No — the corporate-loving DNC wants to preserve the status quo, wants to feed the military-industrial complex, wants big funding from Wall Street, and therefore favors status quo candidates like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
A likely scenario in 2020: Bernie Sanders wins the most votes and delegates, but Joe Biden emerges as a close second. With all the other candidates (roughly 20 now) splitting the vote, no candidate has enough delegates to win in the first round at the national convention. So the super-delegates (remember them?), the corporate tools, spring into action in the second and subsequent rounds of voting and throw their support to the “sensible, electable” candidate, in this case Biden. But of course they can’t let an old white guy represent the “new” Democratic Party, and that’s where Kamala Harris comes in. She’s black! And a woman! And makes noises that sound slightly progressive. The perfect balanced ticket! Shut up and color, liberals and Progressives.
Of course, if gaffe-prone Biden implodes, a distinct possibility, there are other safe white guys waiting in the wings to headline the ticket. Mayor Pete? Beto O’Rourke?
It’s all so sadly predictable. And so too is Biden’s loss to Trump in 2020.
P.S. To state the obvious, I hope I’m wrong about this.