In Praise of Bad Weather

            There is joy in the air. That joy is misplaced.             For that joy might kill us.             I set down these words on the 9th of March in Manhattan. Historically, the average temperature on this day of the year is 40°. If the weather forecast for today, March 9, 2021, is correct, and at this writing it looks like it will be, the temperature will hit 61°.             “Today is going to be a beautiful day,” the radio said this morning.             Everyone is happy. People are making plans to eat outside, go running, walking, whatever, everyone in New York who can break away from work or other obligations is determined to enjoy today’s “good weather.”             I feel it too. I have a meeting after I finish writing this. The sun will feel sweet on my face. More people will be smiling; even if I have to surmise that from the twinkle in their eyes above a…
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Joe Biden Doesn’t Need More Time. He Needs Progressives to Demand an Ambitious Agenda

            “Give Joe Biden time.”             “He just got there.”             “Trump left him a hell of a mess. It’s unreasonable to expect him to turn things around in a month or two.”             “Now is not the time to criticize him or the Democrats. When would be a good time? I don’t know, but certainly not now. Later.”             These are talking points used by Biden and his defenders against progressive critics—progressives who, for the most part, voted for him—who attack the president for doing too little on COVID-19 stimulus, healthcare, the minimum wage, student loan debt forgiveness and other important issues.             Though couched in an oh-so-reasonable-sounding tone, “give the man more time” makes zero sense.             Asking the Left to be patient would be reasonable if President Biden had an ambitious agenda. But he doesn’t. Like fellow incrementalists Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Joe Biden isn’t proposing any big fixes or programs. His ideas are nips and…
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Don’t Hate Rush Limbaugh. Copy Him.

           My death will make some people giddy with joy. That’s cool. I like to make people happy.             In the unlikely event that I’m  somehow able to witness the gleeful grins and chortles of those who savor the sweet news of my demise, I hope that whatever is left of me on the astral whatever will remain sufficiently objective to recognize the fundamental fairness of the celebrants’ reaction. After all, criticizing the dead is one of my things. Rejecting the traditional maudlin obituary cartoon format that depicts every boldface name showing up at the pearly gates to check in with Saint Peter — why are American political cartoonists so certain that the next world will be configured in accordance with Christianity? — I have occasionally acquired notoriety by publishing critical observations about such dearly departed figures as Ronald Reagan, Jerry Garcia and other politicians and celebrities whose life stories I believed to have benefited from grade inflation. I have…
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Biden Offers Moderate Solutions to Radical Problems

“Radical problems require radical solutions,” I wrote in my 2010 book “The Anti-American Manifesto,” a polemic that calls upon us to save ourselves from imminent social, economic and political collapse by overthrowing the system and rebuilding society from the ground up. We currently face several radical problems. But we’re not likely to rise to the challenge, because the Biden Administration’s adherence to the Democratic Party’s cult of militant moderation ensures that their proposed solutions will mitigate these grave issues—at best—with zero chance of avoiding disaster. There is a time and a place for tweaks and minor adjustments. You don’t amputate a leg to cure a sprained ankle. Extreme situations require going big; if your oncologist suggests removing half your tumor and then waiting to see how it goes, fire her. Our planet has cancer. Exponentially increasing temperatures have killed most of the world’s reefs and threaten widespread food shortages and thus political stability. Garbage, toxins and other pollutants are clogging…
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It’s Not That Biden Is Too Slow. It’s That He’s Going Too Small.

           In the intraparty Democratic war between progressive leftists and corporate centrists, each side speaks a different language. The two factions’ takes on Joe Biden’s first weeks as president starkly demonstrate that inability to communicate.             Biden’s base is his centrist supporters, those who backed him against Bernie Sanders during the primaries on the grounds that his moderate demeanor and years of wheeling and dealing would allow him to find common ground with Republicans who would probably continue to control the Senate. Centrists’ response to criticism of Biden is that Donald Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, the shattered economy and the deep wound to our national psyche caused and embodied by the January 6th Capitol insurrection will require a long time to fix. Impatience, they say, is unrealistic and unfair. The same principle applies to Biden’s response to longer-standing policy issues that predate Trump, like climate change and the healthcare system. They say, he just moved into the White…
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No, Virginia, It’s Not Too Early to Criticize Joe Biden

Joe Biden approves of this message.             Censorship in mainstream corporate American media outlets is subtle. It’s not so much that they spin the truth. It’s that they omit pertinent facts and exclude relevant points of view.             So it is with politics. Among the tools available to messaging and framing experts is “flooding the field” — dominating the news with a blizzard of headlines in order to obscure actions they ought to be undertaking but are instead ignoring. That’s what we are seeing, or not seeing, from the new Biden Administration.             Donald Trump and his predecessors left behind a hell of a mess. But much of what you and I consider unfinished disasters to be reversed or cleaned up is to this centrist Democrat’s cronies and top administrators just business as usual, perfectly desirable neoliberal policy that, as far as they are concerned, can and should continue. Only one thing to get in the way of the continuationists:…
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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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