Biden’s Presidency Has Already Failed

            Donald Trump may soon look back at his defeat as the best thing that ever happened to him. The former president has been disgraced, double-impeached and faces criminal prosecution. Fortunately for him, he slipped out of D.C. just in time to avoid the blame for an economic catastrophe no one can fix.             No one inside this political system, anyway.             5.2 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment over the last month. The key civilian labor force participation rate is 61.5%. Those are staggeringly bad numbers, comparable to the Great Depression. And this is following a year of atrocious job losses. “It’s literally off the charts,” Michelle Meyer of Bank of America said in May. “What would typically take months or quarters to play out in a recession happened in a matter of weeks this time.” A little history: The last time the economy tanked was at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, during the 2008-09 subprime mortgage…
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If You Miss Donald Trump, You’ll Love Joe Biden

            From mainstream left to mainstream right, the media deluge of Trump postmortems share the assumption that 45 represented a departure, deviation or innovation from the comportment and policies of previous American heads of state. True, he was the first man elected president without political or military experience. And as I have previously observed, Trump revolutionized campaigning by relying on social media instead of big travel budget and ad-libbing rather than repeating a pre-packaged stump speech.             But there was nothing new about the way he governed.             In policy, even with his vicious tone, Trump was a typical Republican president.  Ford told New York City to drop dead, Reagan called Blacks “welfare queens” and dog-whistled to the Klan, Bush legalized torture—nothing Trump did was worse than those. In some respects, Trump wasn’t much worse from Democrats. Trump’s low approval ratings following the second impeachment for his January 6th coup d’état attempt, and the revulsion most Americans currently feel for…
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Congress Votes to Arm Violent Mobs That Storm through Capitols around the World

            Terrified political leaders watched the police who were assigned to protect them melt away. They fled as an angry mob of hooligans, riled up by sketchy allegations of rigged elections, stormed up the stairs of the government building that hosted the debates and deliberations of their venerable democracy. The rioters, reactionary right-wingers from the nation’s rural hinterlands, rampaged through the corridors of power, smashing windows, vandalizing offices and looting files and furniture.             Political elites deplored the physical appearance and comportment of the protesters. “I’d like to believe and hope that the actions of a mob high on narcotic substances will not totally destabilize this republic,” remarked a top official of a neighboring country.             This scene didn’t take place at the Capitol. It occurred at the “White House,” the seat of parliament and the presidential staff in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. In March 2005, the mob got its way. President Askar Akayev, the only leader of a…
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Biden and the Democrats Could Change Everything. But They Won’t Try.

            “When someone shows you who they are,” Maya Angelou said, “believe them the first time.” We’re about to be reminded who and what the corporate-owned Democratic Party is—something they showed us in 2009.             A pair of upset victories in the widely-watched pair of Georgia senatorial runoff elections has handed Democrats what they said they needed to get big things done: control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. If they want, they have argued over the last year, Democrats will be able to push through a lot of important legislation on the liberal agenda: a dramatic increase in the minimum wage, student loan forgiveness, an eviction ban, Medicare For All, expanded economic stimulus and addressing the climate crisis come to mind.             They don’t want to. They won’t try.             And they’ll have an excuse. Democrats will still be 10 votes short of the supermajority needed to override Republican filibusters. The billion dollars…
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Trump is Still Plotting a Possible Coup

            Late last month I wrote that there was a strong chance–I called it 50-50—that Donald Trump would engineer a “self coup” in order to remain in power despite having lost the election.             The president is a desperate cornered rat. Once he leaves office, he becomes vulnerable to several criminal investigations. By far, the one he has to worry about the most is being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney into his corrupt business practices, charges that could not be discharged by a presidential pardon if Joe Biden were to issue one. “[Trump] could spend the rest of his life in prison,” I wrote, “unless he declares martial law and becomes America’s first dictator.”             I acknowledged that Trump “doesn’t have the support of the military—but he doesn’t need it.” Instead of a Latin American-style military coup, I said, “his would be a ‘police coup’ carried out by the numerous local police departments whose unions endorsed him for reelection,…
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In a Crisis, a Compromise Solution Is Worse Than No Solution at All

            The raging argument on the left between progressives who argue for radical change and centrists who advocate incrementalism is hardly new. Nearly a century ago, progressive titan and Wisconsin governor Robert La Follette and FDR were often at loggerheads over the same question. Roosevelt, La Follette complained, was too quick to compromise with reactionaries. FDR insisted that “half a loaf is better than no bread.” While that might seem intuitively obvious, La Follette had a ready reply. “Half a loaf, as a rule, dulls the appetite, and destroys the keenness of interest in attaining the full loaf.” That can be dangerous. The average adult male requires approximately 2500 calories of nutrition per day. 1250 is better than 0, but 1250 is still malnutrition that would eventually kill him. Even in a long-running crisis, the sustained agitation necessary to pressure the political classes into granting concessions doesn’t usually occur before people’s suffering has become acute. If the powers that be…
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Will the Media’s Newfound Stridency Continue under Biden? No.

            “In his first rally since losing the election last month, President Trump continued to spout conspiracy theories about voter fraud, falsely claiming that he had defeated President-elect Joe Biden.” That was the lede of a news story in the December 5thWashington Post.             The Associated Press took a similar tack. “President Donald Trump flooded his first postelection political rally with debunked conspiracy theories and audacious falsehoods Saturday as he claimed victory in an election he decisively lost,” began the wire service’s coverage.             You’ll find similarly opinionated news coverage about Donald Trump in almost every issue of many major newspapers over the last several years. It’s easy to see why many of the president’s supporters don’t trust the mainstream news media to be fair to conservatives.             You may long for a return to the days when too many reporters played the role of government stenographers, striving for a neutral tone while dutifully regurgitating the most ridiculous nonsense spewing…
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Why Didn’t the Xenophobe-in-Chief Close the Borders?

            The COVID-19 pandemic was a crisis tailormade for a xenophobe like Donald Trump. The coronavirus provided an ideal opportunity to turn the president’s biggest liability in early 2020 — the nativist bigotry that went so far as to lock babies in cages and then lose hundreds of them, and elicited disgust even among some of his supporters — into a strength. Trump’s inexplicable failure to knock this easy pitch out of the ballpark is my biggest single explanation for why he lost the election to a singularly lackluster opponent.             My report card for Trump’s handling of COVID-19 after lockdowns began in late March is more nuanced than that of most people who share my political leanings. Give the president his due. It’s not like he didn’t do anything. He hired Dr. Anthony Fauci. He didn’t fire him (though he thought about it). Aside from obnoxious tweets and dumb remarks at rallies, Trump mostly got out of the way…
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December Will Be Very Dangerous

            It’s too early to celebrate, back-to-brunch Democrats.             Liberal voters are counting Biden’s corporatist cabinet picks. But we still don’t know for sure that Trump will let them hatch. There’s still a significant chance — I would put it at 50-50 — that the “outgoing” president will engineer a coup d’état in order to remain in power.             Democratic-aligned media outlets are promulgating wishful thinking. They’re crowing about a routine, peaceful transfer of power. They’re making fun of the Trump campaign’s losses in court challenges to the election results and making light of the president’s hope that faithless electors will trigger the 12th Amendment scenario by causing Biden to fall short of 270. The mainstream pundit class points to the bureaucracy’s granting of access to Biden’s transition team and to excerpts from a recent Trump interview as evidence that he has accepted defeat. (In fact, Trump said that if the electoral college votes for Biden, they will have “made…
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Hey, Joe! These Are Our Demands

            Progressives and other leftists promise/threaten to pressure/take to the streets to make demands of Joe Biden if/when he falls short of our expectations. We on the left don’t want to be one of those bad bosses who tell you your work isn’t good enough but never say what they expect from you in the first place, so you’re reduced to fumbling around in the dark.             Because there isn’t a political party or other formation that can credibly speak for a broad base of the American left, and because the left is divided between work-from-inside AOC-Bernie types and street-level activists, no one has defined a clear metric to judge the Biden Administration’s personnel, policy and legislative actions. As we saw under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, vague demands foment the unaccountability that allows Democrats to wiggle away and take us for granted.             We need a clear set of demands.           I think our demands should look something like…
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