Ostrich Theory: The Completely Avoidable 2020 Biden Nail-biter

If I’m a Democratic Party political strategist in 2020 (and I’m not, the closest they’ve hired to even a metaphorical knife-fighter in the modern era was Rahm Emmanuel), my eggs don’t go in the basket of a guy who spent the 70s propping up segregation and trying to tug at your heartstrings with a quote like “I don’t want my children growing up in a racial jungle.” Or the guy who eulogized Strom Thurmond in 2003. Or the guy who was one of the chief architects of the 90s crime bill. Or the guy who was the main Party cheerleader for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Or the guy who legislated the country’s way into the student debt crisis and then ensured it continued for generations by doing nothing about escalating tuition costs. Or the guy who was second-in-command while every single financial institution that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis emerged essentially unscathed and ready for the next decade with whole new asset portfolios they bought at fire sale prices. Or the guy who is on tape saying he doesn’t empathize with the new largest generational voting bloc’s problems, an age group that will be the first in decades to not be able to surpass the earning potential or quality of life that their parents had. Or the guy with arguably credible, incredibly creepy tendencies with women and girls captured in public and a litany of assault allegations. Or the guy with a son with questionable foreign business connections, rumors of crack smoking, and who married his brother’s widow. Any single one of those issues is such a gift to oppo researchers that I’d assume any of those guys is dead in the water as a candidate for alderman in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Joe Biden is all of those guys and the presumptive 2020 Democratic Presidential nominee. This Sam Porter Bridges of political baggage is wrapped in a rapidly decaying husk and has turned up an already gaffe-prone career (spun as “folksy” or “authentic”) to a level of senility and tone-deafness that makes you question as to whether or not he still ties his own shoes. Just yesterday, in a softball interview (and they’re all softball interviews) with Charlemagne tha Based God on popular urban youth radio program The Breakfast Club, when prodded ever so slightly about aspects of his legislative record regarding impacting black communities, Biden became flustered and retorted that if you look at him next to avowed white nationalist Donald Trump and vote for Trump, “you ain’t black.

Putting aside the fact that this is a faux-Rust Belt Blue Dog Democrat that only was able to rehabilitate years of unforgivable career moves by being picked for Vice President solely to assuage racists and Red-baiters in the face of America electing its first black president, that’s just the kind of flat-out condescension that has ran through the blood of Joe Biden for decades. He’s coming off a primary that’s once again divided the party. The Sanders candidacy in 2016 seemed like a quixotic but hard-fought loss in which his constituency dug their heels in to influence the party’s platform after detecting a hint that perhaps some party machinations might have made some moves to consolidate an establishment candidate’s total victory. This time around, Biden didn’t seem to have a prayer until the party made huge, obvious calculations to drag their candidate over the line in the face of a coming progressive landslide. Now, as the neoliberal wing has adopted a posture of “we don’t even need you” towards progressives and socialists once eager to use the flailing Trump presidency as a catalyst to opening the rare window of opportunity for vast, wide-reaching legislation intended to improve social safety nets (not unlike steps taken by FDR and oddly enough, a far more conservative Democrat in LBJ), we’re starting to see a bit of kernel panic among the political and pundit class as the left (once again) floats third-party trial balloons or settles back into principled abstention relegated to those that won’t give their consent to Capital and/or vote for a lesser evil as a matter of harm reduction.

It’s easy to blame the corrupt intertwining of the donor and political class, a relationship the GOP seems to nakedly relish in, but is ultimately the crux of the issue: the rich have captured the electoral process by hedging their bets between both parties. The Democrats market themselves as “above” this seedy kind of arrangement, or at the very least attempt to justify it as a “necessary evil” in which they’re fighting “fire with fire.” If that was true, the sabotage would be less overt, the coronation process less expected, and it would be clear lessons had been learned from the party disaster of 2016.

A lot of the same dynamics were at play in 2016 that are replicated wholesale in 2020. Whether or not you believe Hilary Clinton deserves the decades of vitriol she generated from the bellows of right-wing discourse that poisoned many on-the-fence voters is irrelevant, your thoughts on Benghazi are irrelevant, her emails are irrelevant. What mattered was that it was in play for propaganda that would inevitably seep into mainstream, low-information voter discussions, and it was an exploitable weakness. Biden’s baggage isn’t what’s in the bag, it’s that there’s a bag at all, and that in both candidacy’s circumstances, there were better options with less exposed thermal exhaust ports to launch torpedoes at. The professional liberal political class is relying on a dicey, manufactured product of fundamental honesty and truth to overcome both the propaganda of an enemy that could give less of a shit about either, as well as an electorate that is, frankly, so goddamn stupid and easily manipulated and/or polarized that running candidates with glaring flaws is pure strategic suicide. Especially when said candidates don’t pass the smell test for non-negligible portions of your base or bring in substantial portions of leftist voters disenfranchised from participating in electoralism in the first place.

Pretending these issues don’t exist as well as failing to recognize that Obama’s victory in 2008 was very much due to capitalizing on the vaunted “Enthusiasm Gap” in American politics and not just a referendum on how terrible the Bush II presidency was, has gone on to doom Democrats both locally and on the national stage. Just as 2016 was probably the most winnable loss Democrats have ever had, 2020 should’ve been a triumphant mashing of Trump’s face into dog shit for nine straight months. His presidency has been an abysmal failure, culminating in the bungled response to a pandemic approaching a six-figure death toll and massive unemployment numbers in an election year, and many average people, unsurprisingly, want to go back to ignoring politics altogether.

Biden is up eight points according to polls from Fox News, but this is before potential debates almost inevitably expose new gaffes and Trump (perhaps disastrously) recommencing his Nuremberg marathon rallies for his frothing supporters to re-energize. The right-wing propaganda machine hasn’t even finished spooling up to fully operational. Expect Hunter Biden to be subpoenaed for something regarding work in Ukraine. Expect more sex pest stories and hair-sniffing montages. Expect a massive push towards black voters rightfully using ammunition Biden has manufactured over his long career and a huge underscoring on work with Kim Kardashian and Jared Kushner on actual prison reform initiatives. Expect likely projection of dirty tricks and election fraud. They’ll muddy the waters, the gap will tighten, and once again what would’ve been a blowout with a generic empty suit will come down to election night, where it will likely be close enough to run some illegal plays and steal this thing (again?).

There’s probably a quote about being a victim of one’s own hubris that I could sling at the DNC, but at the end of the day, they just lose. Like much of the pundit class presently engaged in a futile and damaging trench warfare campaign of chastising and demanding the left “know its betters” and fall in line, none of these people are ultimately affected by most of Trump’s worst policies. They’ve got no real skin in the game and this is all largely a purely academic and performative exercise for them. Enough of the local ground game has slowly been won back that there’s a chance they might get the Senate, and many of them stand to make a lot of money barking at Trump as a lame duck. But us regular folks, “who might wear a tennis shoe or the occasional python boot,” know the clock is ticking: on our planet’s vitality, on the health of ourselves and our loved ones, and on our ability to keep our heads above water financially. Increasingly it’s being made abundantly clear to us that there’s not, nor perhaps has there ever been, any hope at the ballot box.

Nicholas Sandmann and the Covington Catholic Kids are Brownshirted Weasels: You’re Being Duped by a PR Firm and Probably Worse

Yesterday, in illustrating my largely “they’re-in-our-division” hatred for the Kansas City Chiefs, I brought up a story that I thought by now would have fizzled out because of common sense and decency. Nicholas Sandmann, the sneering teen made famous for squaring off against Native elder Nathan Phillips over the weekend in Washington D.C., is apparently meeting with Donald Trump in the White House tomorrow as part of the far-right’s active measures campaign to spin the narrative of the Covington Catholic school kids as victims of media bias and a left-wing mob mentality. It’s a predictable extension of the story and one a variety of outlets have fallen for in their hand-wringing about whether or not it’s OK to throw this young bigot and his friends under the bus.

As the waters of the story are muddied, it’s important to understand the basic facts before analyzing exactly what is happening with the rest of the narrative. Sandmann and other students from Covington Catholic School in Kentucky were flown into D.C. to attend the annual March for Life anti-abortion demonstration, where many of them chose to deck themselves out in Make America Great Again regalia. This happened to fall on the same day as the second Women’s March in D.C., also commemorating the ruling on Roe v Wade as well as a protest by indigenous people against the longstanding and continued marginalization of Native Americans.

Evidently either encouraged by chaperones or due to a complete lack of supervision (pick one), the students moved around National Mall in a large group, where they catcalled women, yelled right-wing slogans, and said things like “it’s not rape if you enjoy it”. This caught the attention of a group of Black Israelites, a fixture in many east coast cities notorious for aggressive, street-level proselytizing who began to heckle the group of “future school shooters” as “Donald Trump incest babies.” This interaction apparently got heated and the Native people moved to deescalate the situation, which is when the Covington students famously mocked the Native elder by doing tomahawk chop gestures, mocking “war cries” and even a Maori-inspired “school Haka” not unfamiliar at US sporting events.

Now, even engaging with the Black Israelites is a mistake akin to trying to have a nuanced debate with the Westboro Baptist Church or arguing with Scientologists, but that’s neither here nor there. These kids were roaming D.C. as a brownshirted mob, harassing women, Native and black people well before the escalation that peaked with the students chanting “Build the Wall” at Mr. Phillips. Using the Black Israelite apparent “aggression” as a an excuse for these kids is blatantly racist spin. It’s frankly unsurprising that a decades-old group notorious for yelling on street corners, unprompted, that white people are a race of demons created by an evil scientist on a Greek island chose to engage with a mob of youth screaming at Native people that they’re “drunken thieves” and that black people should “go back to Africa”. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. In no way does any of the par-for-the-course behavior exhibited by the Black Israelites excuse the frothing frenzy exhibited towards Nathan Phillips. Continue reading →

Beto O’Rourke is a Catspaw for the Establishment Democrats

As the New Year approaches, the 2020 race to see which Democrat gets to take the blame for Trump’s disastrous policies is starting to reluctantly take shape. The field will only get weirder, surely, as the imperiled incumbent administration continues to shed support in the face of further legal turmoil and a continued shut down of the government. Nobody has actually declared yet, but obvious early frontrunners are emerging and a bitter feud is already starting to bubble over between the starry-eyed backers of Texas congressman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, fresh off a narrow loss for Ted Cruz’s senate seat, and the more jaded supporters of 2016 Democratic nominee runner-up Bernie Sanders from Vermont.

While Beto and Bernie aren’t publicly trading barbs, making this entire debate that has subsumed the political corners of the internet even odder, their respective bases have turned vicious against one another and exposed fractures in the party. O’Rourke, a moderate congressman from Texas who largely tread water with a middle-of-the-road voting record, may have had some promise to left-leaning Democrats as a more progressive senator, but that was dashed during the mid-terms and he’s since been floated as a kind of “Great White Hope” Barack-Obama-second-coming type by the establishment seeking to capitalize on any kind of excitement. Beto got liberalĀ Texans energized, sure, but after seeing the middling job that a compromising but charismatic centrist did from 2008-16, most nationwide progressives are looking for a cadidate with more drastic solutions, ready to tackle crises and shift paradigms.

The Bernie wing has reason to close up ranks a little bit. The party establishment, largely stacked with Clinton acolytes, very obviously anointed Hilary with the 2016 nomination and then took for granted the energy a new generation of democratic socialists had for Sanders. The superdelegate system was an absolute sham, the primary system so obviously a First-Passed-the-Post system clearly designed for a party-favored (and moneyed) candidate, and mechanisms that saw every bit of dissent towards this process snuffed out or outright sneered at. They went onto lose to a game show host and real estate con artist after failing to close an enthusiasm gap, having not learned their lessons from 2000 or 2004, and ineptly handling basic campaigning, messaging, or maneuvering around manufactured scandals from the right-wing with a candidate that has literally spent forty years doing just that. Continue reading →