Sunday, August 16, 2020
After what seemed like a very long deliberation, Joe Biden selected
Kamala Harris as his running mate for vice president. The main takeaway
is that he'll listen to whatever the left wing of the party has to say,
but he's going to staff the government with people friendly with and
acceptable to business
interests. The New Democrat vision was to show that business is better
served with Democrats in power. Clinton and Obama worked hard to make
that case -- especially with trade deals like NAFTA and TTP that were
injurious and opposed by critically important traditional union allies.
While they were unable to convince most capitalists, they
did manage to break off enough support to run well-funded campaigns.
Biden fits neatly into their program -- if anything, he anticipated it,
coming from a state which is famed mostly for its lax corporate laws.
Against Donald Trump, he has the potential to raise a lot of big donor
money -- as long as he is seen as a buffer against, rather than as a
tool of, the insurgent left. The strongest VP candidate, based on her
campaign skills, organizational ability, and command of the issues and
policies, was Elizabeth Warren, but she's widely viewed in business
circles as antagonistic to their interests. Harris is not viewed as
hostile -- indeed, she's had tremendous success raising money in
Silicon Valley -- making her the safe (and lucrative) bet.
Reassuring big money donors is one big thing Harris brings to the
campaign. Her chuminess not only helps support Biden, it helps insulate
the campaign from charges of being a vehicle for far-left radicals --
the main charge that Trump's Republicans have been making. In particular,
Harris's reputation as a law-and-order hard case makes it clear that
"defund the police" and "abolish ICE" are not part of the Biden agenda,
quickly reducing a major thrust of Republican campaign fodder to the
hysterical ravings of deranged paranoids.
Biden's primary success was based on a hunch shared by many Democrats,
including some who policy-wise are more sympathetic to the left, that
this year, running against this exceptionally odious president, it is
important to risk as little as possible, to build a broad coalition
around the single essential goal of denying Trump a second term. The
early primary season turned on issues, with Sanders and Warren pulling
the party to the left with their strong command of issues and policy;
Buttigieg and Klobuchar countered as the most articulate candidates
on the right, squeezing out potential compromisers like Harris and
Booker. As Sanders emerged as the leader, the billionaires jumped in,
and Michael Bloomberg spent the better part of a billion dollars to
prove how virulently opposed to Sanders and Warren his class was.
Bloomberg had no personal appeal, but served as a catalyst, aligning
the party rank-and-file's deepest seated fears into a surge of support
for Biden. Had she not dropped out, Harris might have become the
middle-ground candidate that Biden turned into. But having dropped
out, she returns to the campaign largely unscathed.
Biden committed to selecting a woman early on. Thus far, the
only person who has found that decision controversial has been
Donald Trump. There has been a good deal of discussion about race,
which mostly struck me as misguided and/or irrelevant. I admit
that I didn't see any advantage to Biden picking a black running
mate. I figured doing so might cost him more white voters than it
otherwise gained -- mostly because his own history on race and/or
crime issues is rather tawdry, which may have helped him gain
white votes, especially in Southern primaries. On the other hand,
Harris is a brilliant solution to the question: she is the sort
of black that iffy whites would find least stereotypical -- traits
Obama shared, but her even more so -- yet she is black enough to
provoke hideous reactions among more committed racists, who were
solidly pro-Trump anyway. If anything has been made clear from
first reactions, it's that Trump and his ilk are the ones trying
to stir up America's race problem.
One reason Obama won was that he made it possible for many iffy
whites to feel good about themselves for rising above their racist
past. In picking Harris, Biden shows that he's better than that.
In slandering Harris, Trump shows that he's not. That's hardly the
only clear cut distinction between the two, but it sure is one of
Some background, referred or alluded to in the links that follow.
Harris was born in 1964 in Oakland, California. Her parents were
both immigrants, who came to UC Berkeley in 1960-61 as graduate
students, received PhD's, and had distinguished careers. Her
father is Donald J. Harris, from Jamaica, professor of economics
at Stanford, now emeritus (age 81). Her mother was Shyamala Gopalan,
from Tamil Nadu, India, studied endocrinology, and worked on breast
cancer research in various universities and labs, including Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory. She died in 2009 (70). They had two
daughters, and divorced in 1971. The daughters lived with their
mother, including several years in Montreal, Canada. Kamala graduated
from high school in Quebec, then attended Howard University in DC,
then UC Hastings College of Law. She was admitted to the Bar in 1990,
working in the Alameda County DA office, then in San Francisco (DA
and Mayor's Office). She was elected San Francisco District Attorney
in 2003 and 2007, California Attorney General 2010 and 2014, and was
elected to the US Senate in 2016.
Some links on the Harris pick:
Sanders defends Harris as vice presidential pick: "I think she's
an asset for the Biden campaign, and I think she's going to do great
things on the campaign trail." Also: "But I think there is overwhelming
understanding that Donald Trump must be defeated, Biden must be elected."
For some more Harris endorsements, see
Kamala Harris: 'A great partner to Joe Biden,' says Elizabeth Warren.
Trump backers' dizzying response to Kamala Harris's selection.
Black like Kamala: "Republican efforts to deny Senator Harris's
identity as an African-American and turn her into a noncitizen are
destined to fail."
Alexander Burns/Jonathan Martin/Katie Glueck:
How Biden chose Harris: A search that forged new stars, friends and
rivalries. This pegs Harris, Warren, Whitmer, and Rice as the
final four, with Duckworth knocked out by her Bangkok birth --
thinking was that she's eligible, but debate on that would be a
The Kamala Harris identity debate shows how America still struggles to
talk about multiracial people.
Aaron Ross Coleman:
Kamala Harris is a politician, not an activist. It's an awkward fit for
Is Kamala Harris a hawk? Well, she's not the worst (that would be
Susan Rice), but she's consistently gone along with US foreign policy,
and occasionally "even attacked Trump from the right."
The fall and rise of Kamala Harris.
Why the surge in racist misinformation about Kamala Harris is so
I used to be critical of Kamala Harris. Now I am going to defend her
at every turn. I wouldn't go that far. If you don't criticize her
when she takes a bad position on an issue you care about, how the hell
is she ever going to learn? But I've long had a certain amount of
sympathy for politicians. They have a tough job, one that few people
I know would envy. They are constantly being berated by the ignorant,
and seduced by rich special interests. Their lives are far removed
from most of their constituents, yet many of them at least try to
balance off their influences and the consequences of their actions,
and some on occasion learn from their mistakes. Harris strikes me
as about par for Democrats these days -- and, sure, Biden is a bit
below par -- but neither have parked their brains into the ideological
straitjacket of Republican conservatism, and both have backgrounds
which at least allow them to imagine what other people feel. Granted,
most of the people they interact with are well-heeled elites, and
their instincts are not to rock those boats, so I don't expect they
will do anything very risky, even if that's what is needed. But if
they manage not to do things that are horribly stupid, we'll come
out ahead. And for now, that's about all we can ask of politicians.
Still, we shouldn't be so protective of them we stop seeking better
understanding and better answers. Citizenship doesn't need a fan
club. It needs people to stand up for their rights, even when a
Democrat gets in the way.
With Elizabeth Warren sidestepped, Wall Street execs cheer Joe Biden's
pick of Kamala Harris for VP.
Annie Karni/Jeremy W Peters:
Her voice? Her name? GOP's raw personal attacks on Kamala Harris.
In an email on Wednesday night, the campaign sought to fund-raise off
Ms. Harris's selection, calling her "the meanest, most horrible, most
disrespectful, MOST LIBERAL of anyone in the U.S. Senate," saying she
and Mr. Biden wanted to "DESTROY America."
A new ad released by the campaign ran through a list of accusations
against Ms. Harris, several of them false, saying she wanted to "confiscate
your guns by force" and "give cop killers a pass" -- more conventional
Republican attempts to stir passions on public safety and social change.
But that flag was not being waved by the campaign's usual echo chambers.
Instead, there were disparate messages. On Tuesday night, Mr. Carlson said
that there were "time-share salesmen you could trust more" than Ms. Harris
and "payday lenders who are more sincere," alluding to an institution long
accused of exploiting poor communities of color.
On Fox News, Mr. D'Souza said that because Ms. Harris's Jamaican father
had traced his ancestry to a slave owner, her racial identity as a Black
woman was in question.
The Fox News host Sean Hannity, meanwhile, called Ms. Harris a senator
with a "radical extremist record" whose selection "solidifies what's the
most extreme radical far-left out-of-the-mainstream ticket of any major
political party in American history."
I really find this "destroy America" charge galling coming from
Republicans. The America I grew up in was one where a middle-class
standard of living was protected by labor unions, where infrastructure
was either owned by the public or conscientiously regulated to protect
the public interest. It wasn't perfect. Some people were excluded, and
some were treated shabbily, but the country was founded in ideals that
promised something better. That's been destroyed, most enthusiastically
by Republicans (and sure, with help from more than a few Democrats, but
rarely with the same utter lack of concern for consequences). So what
exactly is it that they think Biden-Harris want to destroy? And why?
It's just really hard to figure out what's left, still unscathed by the
depredations of unfettered capitalism, that the Democrats may uniquely
want to diminish. The best I can come up with is a tiny atavistic kernel
of white male ego, but even I can't figure out why that's something to
care about, let alone reason to vote for a party that doesn't seem to
care a whit for the environment, for health and safety, for workers and
their families, for civic and world peace.
Natasha Korecki/Christopher Cadelago/Marc Caputo:
How Kamala Harris outflanked her skeptics to become Biden's VP pick.
This pegs Harris, Susan Rice, and Karen Bass as the final contenders,
with Tammy Duckworth in the running late. One concern about Duckworth
was that she was born in Thailand, where her father was stationed in
the US Army.
GOPers can't find their Kamala: "The attacks from Trump's allies
just don't seem to fit."
The Biden-Harris ticket is the antithesis of Trumpism.
Annie Linskey/Chelsea Janes:
Harris's wooing of Black activists paved a path to the ticket.
Kamala Harris's controversial record on criminal justice, explained.
"Progressives will have to weigh what Harris is saying now versus parts
of her past."
Trump makes fear-based appeal to women after Biden picked Harris.
Ian Millhiser/Aaron Rupar:
The Trump campaign attack on Kamala Harris's citizenship is right out
of the birther playbook.
Newsweek editors finally apologize under pressure for racist birther
op-ed about Kamala Harris. Also:
Kushner panders to Trump's new racist birther crusade against Harris.
Kamala Harris crystallizes Trump's view of women: They're 'nasty' or
Trump: Biden is insulting men everywhere by picking woman as running
mate. "If you're looking for a quintessential example of fragile
masculinity, look no further."
Kamala Harris is the choice Joe Biden needed to win over Silicon Valley.
Harris's special touch with the ultra-rich has been integral to her
political ascent in San Francisco, where she first served as district
attorney before her statewide wins as attorney general and then US
senator. Harris was a regular presence on the city's cocktail circuit
and has been profiled in society pages ever since her 30s. Her campaigns
were funded by the old-money families that predated the modern tech boom.
When that boom did arrive, Harris capitalized and built an orbit of
new-money fans that she will further bring into the Biden fold. Her
biggest donors over the last two decades read like a who's who list of
tech moguls: Salesforce founder Marc Benioff has told Recode that Harris
is "one of the highest integrity people I have ever met." Early Facebook
president Sean Parker invited Harris to his wedding. Fundraisers for her
presidential bid included billionaire Democratic power brokers like Reid
Hoffman and John Doerr.
Chris Lehane, a longtime adviser to Bay Area donors, recalled Harris
as a "workhorse" when it came to making fundraising calls during her
first run for California attorney general in 2009.
"She'd work the whole list," he said, "and then ask for more names."
One particularly close bond for Harris has been with Democratic mega-donor
Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire philanthropist and wife of the late
Steve Jobs. When Powell Jobs was invited to speak at the annual Code
Conference in 2017, she brought Harris along with her.
The unlikely bond between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Fox News is leading the attack on Kamala Harris. See the links under
Media Matters below for more examples.
Biden's pledge to choose a woman for VP was popular -- and so is Harris.
Jeffrey St Clair:
Roaming charges: It had to be you: In case you want some obscure
facts to go with the snark. Like Trump contributed $6,000 to Harris
campaigns in 2011 and 2013, and Ivanka gave Harris $2,000 in 2014.
Links to Nate Silver's
2020 Presidential forcast, which gives Trump the same 28% chance of
winning he had in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. By the way, I find the
"snake chart" particularly useful here for identifying the marginal
battleground states, as well as providing rank orders on either side.
Right now, the swing state is Pennsylvania, which is much more
reassuring than Florida or Arizona (both shows as leaning Biden,
but not needed to get to 270).
In her first speech on the ticket, Kamala Harris goes full prosecutor:
"The case against Trump and Pence is open and shut."
Kamala Harris gives new meaning to the Biden campaign.
Kamala Harris's foreign policy, explained: "It's more robust than
you might think." Curious choice of word: "robust." It's as utterly
conventional as you might guess, with happy talk about allies, snarling
at Russia and China, routine support for "defense" spending, the usual
pledge of allegiance to Netanyahu, and a token nod acknowledging that
climate change is something to worry about. Her most unorthodox move
was to vote to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Media Matters: Some kind of nervous breakdown at Fox:
Radio host Joe Pagliarulo promotes sexist attack against Kamala Harris;
Diamond and Sillk: Kamala Harris "is not even Black";
Beware the double Trojan horse: Ben Shapiro calls Kamala Harris a
"Trojan horse" and Joe Biden "a Trojan horse for Kamala Harris";
Fox News guest says Kamala Harris shouldn't be considered "African-American"
because she "is from the legacy of" slave owners: That's Dinesh D'Souza;
Laura Ingraham says Biden-Harris ticket is "too left-wing for Reverend
Mark Levin kicks off his show by ranting unprompted about Kamala Harris'
Tucker Carlson lashes out after guest corrects his pronunciation of
Kamala Harris' name;
Sean Hannity says choice of Kamala Harris as VP makes Democratic ticket
the "most radical" in history;
Fox News chief White House correspondent defends Trump campaign's lie
Tweet of the week, from
Something I just keeping back to over and over is the tremendous
continuity between the last two Republican presidents, both of whom
left the country in ruins, amidst historic catastrophes. The entire
party and movement are rotten to the core and unfit to govern.
Steve M. astutely replied:
And yet Democratic politcians never say this -- mainstream Dems don't
want to insult Republican voters, while progressive Dems are so angry
at mainstream Dems that they lose sight of the sheer godawfulness of
Some scattered links this week:
Michael Cohen releases details about his forthcoming memoir.
Title is Disloyal. Publication date September 8. Annie Karni:
In tell-all foreword, Cohen promises sordid tales Trump 'does not want
you to read': "In his memoir, Disloyal, Michael D. Cohen,
President Trump's onetime lawyer and fixer, claims that he had unique
access to Mr. Trump, a man with 'no true friends.'"
A novel way to fund a green economy: "Instead of bailing out Exxon
and other fossil fuel companies, a National Investment Authority could
democratize finance and help ordinary people and their governments fight
The government has been pretty kind to fossil fuel companies these last
few months. Recent disclosures from the Federal Reserve's secondary
bond-buying program show that it has now bought $17 billion worth of
ExxonMobil debt and $28.5 million from Energy Transfer Partners, the
company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Private asset manager Blackrock
oversees this purchasing program, among others.
Blackrock, with friends in both parties, is on the verge of becoming
a fourth branch of government. Despite its pledge in early 2020 to
recalibrate investment practices with climate change in mind, so far
on behalf of the Fed it has seemed to offer up nearly unlimited public
funds to bail out the world's biggest polluters. These investments serve
as a lifeline to a deeply troubled and increasingly unprofitable industry.
Meanwhile, state and local governments -- and the millions of people
who'll soon lose their unemployment insurance -- have found bailouts
much harder to come by. And hopes for a green recovery (which an
increasingly large swathe of the Democratic Party supports to stave
off depression and climate catastrophe) look alarmingly scarce.
We can't fight climate change without China: "The Democratic Party's
2020 platform echoes President Trump's hawkishness on China. That's a
Co-opt & corrupt: How Trump bent and broke the GOP.
What are the chances Trump could actually go to jail?
GAO finds Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their
top DHS roles.
The helpless outrage of the anti-Trump book: "The Trump era has birthed
a distinct new genre of political writing: irate, forgettable, and strangely
complacent." Review of Donald W Drezner: The Toddler in Chief: What
Donald Trump Teaches Us About the Modern Presidency, and Jonathan Karl:
Front Row at the Trump Show, with side glances elsewhere. I'm struck
by a quote from long-time ABC White House correspondent Karl (previously
known for his "reputation for pitching softballs to Bush Administration
officials"): "I don't believe there has ever been a more exhausting,
exhilarating, dangerous, maddening, frustrating, downright bizarre,
or more important time to be a White House reporter." I'm sure that
dealing with Trump on a daily basis can seem to be all of those things --
except important: nothing Trump says has any bearing on the stories
journalists should be telling about his administration, and detracts
from their ability to do so.
US push to extend Iran arms embargo fails at UN Security Council:
2 votes for (US and Dominican Republic, of 13 needed), 2 against (Russia
and China), 11 abstentions. More:
Could covert war with Iran become overt before November 3rd?.
I doubt it, but the scenario I wouldn't put past Pompeo goes like this:
Trump loses, but is still in office until January, and uses that period
of time to launch various offenses against Iran. Iran, in turn, will be
tempted to hold back until Biden takes office, hoping for restoration
of US support for the nuclear agreement; Iran's failure to retalliate
will be taken by Trump as license to escalate further. Note that some
of the attacks could be facilitated by proxies, like the new UAE-Israel
Pompeo set to double down on failure to extend Iran arms embargo.
How DeForrest Brown, Jr, centers the black body in techno music:
I don't usually put music links here, but have had trouble keeping
track of them for Music Week. I reviewed several records by Brown
especially recommending his (i.e., Speaker Music's) Black Nationalist
Sonic Weaponry (A-).
What is QAnon? A not-so-brief introduction to the conspiracy theory
that's eating America: "Do millions of Americans really believe
Donald Trump is saving children from underground demons? It seems
that way." I admit that I never had any interest in even finding out
what QAnon referred to. Still don't, even after often reading that
Trump's most fervent supporters are psyched on whatever it is. Even
if it weren't nuts, I doubt it would ever have a fraction of the
ill-effects of believing in Atlas Shrugged. Or, for that
matter, The Road to Serfdom. The old mental illnesses are
still the direst.
America's death march: Whoever wins, this election won't save us:
"Neither [Biden nor Trump] will stop hyper-nationalism, crisis cults
and other signs of an empire in terminal decline." I hate coming off
as an optimist, but Hedges has turned into a useless critic of modern
life, like the existentialists around the time I stopped bothering
with them. There are gross malaises that Hedges may still have some
insight into, but there's also a lot of nuts-and-bolts dysfunction
that even Biden can figure out and do something to keep utter chaos
and collapse at bay -- like keeping the Post Office delivering mail.
Halting global warming and unwinding America's worldwide "empire of
bases" may be a bit harder, and Biden doesn't have the best of track
records, but even there the election decision will surely have some
The dystopian tech that companies are selling to help schools reopen
Billionaires have made an absolute killing during the pandemic. The
number is staggering.
How the GOP became the party of resentment: Review of Rick Perlstein's
book Reaganland, the fourth volume in what promises to be an immense
history of American conservatism from Goldwater on. (I've read the second
volume, Nixonland. Been meaning to get to the others, but I'm daunted
by their length -- over 3,000 pages to date.)
Most candidates run to the center in the general election. Biden is
moving left. Title is misleading, as the only criteria Klein is
using is where the VP picks stands in relation to the Presidential
candidate (Clinton-Kaine, Obama-Biden, Kerry-Edwards, Gore-Lieberman),
and depend on making assumptions that may not be warranted. The first
three VP's came from more centrist states, but if anything came off
as more populist (especially Edwards). Lieberman came from a more
liberal state, and was probably viewed as more liberal than Gore at
the time, but he later discredited himself. Harris is from a more
liberal state than Biden, but isn't all that liberal for California.
On the other hand, the left-right spectrum has shifted this time,
with Trump so extreme on the right it's nonsensical to even try to
split the difference. I don't expect Biden to try to move left, but
some left-aligned policies are so popular there's no reason not to
go with them. If Harris looks to be a bit to his left, I don't see
how that hurts him.
What would Keynes do? Podcast/interview with Zach Carter, author
of The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard
For Keynes, there's always something outside of consumer preferences
that they need to align with. There's always a good life and a good
society that we're trying to guide society towards. He believes there
are objectively good things in the world, that not everything is
relative, that not everybody's preferences are equal. That is a
paternalistic approach, as you note.
The way that his successors who take him seriously as a philosopher
try to resolve this -- and I think [John Kenneth] Galbraith is the most
successful in this -- is to say this is what democracy is for. We don't
want to have big, bad, terrible monarch telling us what to do. But in a
democracy people can express their preferences politically. And using
the market as an alternative to democratic politics is signing us up
for a particularly bad life. . . .
[Keynes] could never really make up his mind about where he was on
the question of socialism, but it was very clear to him by the end of
his life that large sections of the economy had to be socialized if we
were going to realize the type of good life that he wanted realized.
In the States, we think of him as this guy who legitimizes deficit
spending. In the UK, he has a very different legacy: his most significant
policy achievement in the UK is socializing British medicine. He's the
financial architect of the National Health Service.
Trump's incoherent policy on TikTok and China.
Falling upward: The surprising survival of Larry Summers: "He
is once again a senior economic adviser to another prospective
An inland hurricane tore through Iowa. You probably didn't hear about
it. Gusts of up to 112 mph did considerable damage, leaving a
quarter-million without power. There is some video from Chicago showing
heavy rain, but no other mention of it. I've seen completely dry wind
storms in Kansas, with winds in the vicinity of 80 mph. They are very
rare. I've seen hurricanes from the Gulf of Mexico dump a lot of rain
in Kansas, and I've read that the 1900 Galveston hurricane still
produced hurricane-force winds as far inland as Chicago, but this
wasn't one of those.
Trump's bizarre obsession with Mount Rushmore.
Louisa Loveluck/Chris Mooney:
Baghdad's record heat offers glimpse of world's climate change future.
The Never Trumpers have already won: "They're not trying to save the
GOP from a demagogue. They're infiltrating the Democratic Party." Review
of Robert P Saldin/Steven M Teles: Never Trump: The Revolt of the
Exceptionally close to the Never Trump insurgency, Saldin and Teles
take a cozy approach to their study of this movement and its central
characters, faithfully drawing on their accounts of the rise of Trump.
They start with the national security experts -- figures such as former
National Security Council staffers Peter Feaver and Philip Zelikow.
Officially, this stalwart crew feared that Trump threatened the Cold
War national security consensus that had once led conservatives beyond
geopolitical "isolationism." Views once safely quarantined to the
libertarian or racist fringes of their party were now getting a second
look, they worried.
Their concern here was hardly disinterested: More important than
anything else for them was that Trump was breaking the taboo within
the Republican Party that forbade calling the Iraq War a gross error.
That Never Trumpers were more bothered by Trump's apostasy on Iraq
than by his racism, self-dealing, and ignorance of the Constitution
makes sense. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that their revolt
against Trump has won them much influence in the Democratic Party --
where second thoughts on Iraq, for instance, is now the norm even
among those who originally voted to authorize the war. It is true
that they have reinforced the view among Democratic hawks that it is
safest to attack Trump over foreign policy issues, especially when
they can paint him as doing favors for Russia. But that's not because
they've cultured any support among rank-and-file Democrats. All they
did was to sway a few centrists into thinking that they might pick up
support among nominal Republicans for impeachment and such if the
issues were defined strictly in national security terms. That never
worked, other than to sidetrack Democrats from pressing more popular
charges, like corruption and gross negligence. By the way, Saldin
and Teles wrote a reply to this review:
Don't blame Never Trumpers for the left's defeat. They have a
point, provided you don't count Michael Bloomberg among the Never
Trumpers -- although you could argue that he was the biggest one
of all, especially in a world where free speech is denominated in
The most tremendous reelection campaign in American history ever:
"Inside the chaotic, desperate, last-minute Trump 2020 reboot." I can't
read this because "You've reached your monthly article limit." But I
read the Kos synopsis:
Trump's campaign IS the cesspool of corruption and incompetence we
thought it was.
Trump's "blasphemous" attacks on Biden were torn from the Republican
hymnal: "The president's pearl-clutching critics have forgotten
how defaming Democrats' faith is a longstanding tradition for the
GOP." Still, no examples here further back than 2012 -- I expected
at least a reference to the Republicans' characterization of the
Democratic Party in the 1880s: "The party of rum, Romanism, and
rebellion." After all, charging your opponent with antipathy to
religion just exposes your own bigotry and intolerance. Nwanevu
quotes Ashley Parker: "Rather than look for campaign ammunition
in the former vice president's long track record of politically
vulnerable votes and policy proposals, Trump has instead chosen
to describe Biden as a godless Marxist bent on destroying the
country with a radical agenda that would make Che Guevara blanch."
At least those are charges that require no work researching, or
any measure of self-reflection.
Trump's new favorite talking point about US coronavirus cases is highly
misleading: "Trump wants you to believe the US coronavirus outbreak
is similar to Germany's and South Korea's. Don't buy it."
How Trump's mail voting sabotage could result in an election night
The Postal Service says tens of millions of mail-in ballots are at risk
of not being counted. Also:
The White House says USPS isn't removing mail-sorting machines. Postal
workers say it is. By the way, I've seen reports in the Wichita Eagle
that mail-sorting machines have been removed in Kansas and Missouri.
Normally, when efficiency is a concern, you install more machines, not
Jacob Bogage/Joseph Marks:
House accelerates oversight of Postal Service as uproar grows, demanding
top officials testify at 'urgent' hearing.
Meadows gets into heated exchange as he tries defending Trump's war on
Trump tampers with Postal Service after months of railing against
Adam Clark Estes:
What's wrong with the mail: "As November nears, the Postal Service
is facing a crisis that could interfere with the election."
Amy Gardner/Josh Dawsey/Paul Kane:
Trump opposes election aid for states and Postal Service bailout,
threatening Nov. 3 vote.
Postal service changes pose threat to voting, says former USPS
Americans must defend the Postal Service like our democracy depends on
Trump's attack on the Postal Service is a threat to democracy -- and to
Trump says he opposes USPS funding in an effort to block mail-in voting.
"Friday night massacre" at US Postal Service: Postmaster General boots
top brass ahead of election.
Philip Rucker/Josh Dawsey/Ashley Parker:
Tracing Trump's Postal Service obsession -- from 'loser' to 'scam' to
David Sirota/Matthew Cunningham-Cook:
Trump's Postal Service chairman has led Senate GOP's $100 million Super
Andy Sullivan/Heather Timmons:
US Postal Service reorganization sparks delays, election questions.
Trump's attacks on the Postal Service deserve sustained, red-alert coverage
from the media.
The Postal Service scandal doesn't belong only to Donald Trump. Mitch
McConnell played a big role. This led me to another link reminding
us that the Republican war on government doing anything useful for
ordinary people has deep roots:
When Reagan tried to destroy the Postal Service.
Conservatives are trying to destroy the US Postal Service. Instead we
should expand it.
Betsy DeVos's plot to enrich private schools amid the pandemic:
"The secretary of education wants religious schools to flourish at
the public system's expense; and she's doing it under the cover of
the coronavirus crisis."
Big Pharma's Covid-19 profiteers.
How a homemaker with no political experience took on Europe's longest-serving
dictator: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, in Belarus, challenging Alexander
Lukashenko. Election results gave the win to Lukashenko, with over 80%
of the vote. This, in turn, has led to protests:
Israel and the UAE just struck a historic peace deal. It's a big win
for Trump. Hard to see where Trump deserves any credit here. As
a practical matter, Israel has been very low on UAE's foreign policy
list for quite some time, so joining Egypt and Jordan in recognizing
Israel isn't much of a thing. Perhaps more importantly, this gives
Netanyahu an excuse for backing away from his campaign promises to
annex the West Bank -- which are disturbing especially in Europe,
where BDS is increasingly popular.
But at the heart of the agreement is a trade: As the statement lays out,
Israel will "suspend declaring sovereignty over" parts of the West Bank
that it had previously expressed intentions to annex. In exchange, the
UAE will treat Israel as it would any other country it has friendly
relations with -- making it only the third Arab country to have such
open relations with Jerusalem.
More on Israel/UAE:
Why Democrats are holding out for more comprehensive stimulus:
"They don't think Trump's executive actions come close to covering
what's needed -- and they have the leverage to push for more."
Besides: "Republicans are set to bear more of the political backlash,
PS: Robert Christgau forwarded this string of tweets from John Ganz
(@lionel_trolling). I couldn't follow it as presented, so wondered if
copying it down might help. Christgau's comment:
Read the five-part thread, reread a few of your political tweets,
and ask yourself whether he nailed you or not. If you find that
question discomfiting, please try to err on the side of not being
contrarian till the election is over.
- There's also a kind of anti-respectability politics, which views
everything that appeals to conventional people as either hopelessly
naive and dowdy or thoroughly hypocritical, and sometimes as both
- Usually this attitude is fostered in bohemian milieus, where a
shared commitment to 'epater les bourgeois' and cultivated
anti-conformism mistakes itself for political principle, it's almost
beneath mentioning that it becomes its own sort of conformism
- You get an importation of the intellectual habits of art criticism
and social appraisal into politics, in some ways a welcome new
perspective for political judgment to consider, but have the
unfortunate result of turning everything into a question of affect or
- There is always a performative aspect of politics, it's a kind of
theater, so the eye trained to either judge artistic or social
performances is going to make very witty and sometimes penetrating
observations about politics, but usually they have more wit than
- Politics, or rather commentary on politics, is one of the last
places where people can maintain the very 19th century pretension of
being simultaneously totally ensconced in a tiny elite cult of
decadence while convincing themselves they understand the feelings of
There are also some comments by Ganz:
- Some of the points of the bohemian political commentators are
undoubtedly correct: much of conventional society and its ruling class
are hypocritical and stupid, and their vaunted norms both hide their
misconduct and prevent them from thinking
- But they don't really have much of substantial position beyond
seeing through these things and flaunting their own superiority to it
- Very fond of armchair sociology, they can't raelly theorize their
own sociological position vis a vis the squares and dupes and how they
need them for their existence
- It's histrionic in the old sense of the word: a kind of theater of
poses and attitudes, which might provide worthwhile critique of the
serious world that is actually just as full of pretense, if it could
drop its own pretense to self-seriousness and authenticity
Well, no, I don't think he "nailed" me. I don't even think he struck
a glancing blow. Although it's hard to tell what he was aiming at, due
to the total lack of specific references. I don't doubt that there are
strands of socio-political analysis that reflect one clique making fun
of, belittling, and/or looking askance at a broader population, scoring
points with their wit. At least since I started reading critical theory,
I've always been critical of trying to understand, much less practice,
politics as an aesthetic concern. In fact, I'm pretty skeptical of
anyone who attempts to impose an arbitrary ethics on it.
I have no idea what kind of political analysis Christgau wants to
counter, but I can make a guess given his time frame: from now to the
November election. On a good day, you can imagine an infinite range
of political possibilities, and that's what people like me prefer to
talk about. I'd like to write about why patents are always bad, or
why everyone should have free access to the internet, and advertising
should be banned there (except when you specifically ask for its, and
even then you need to ability to challenge it). However, between now
(roughly speaking) and election day in November, the political universe
we live in has radically constricted to the choices on the ballots, in
particular the two dominant political parties here in the US). During
that time, the only practical thing you can do is to compare A and B
(or, realistically, R and D) -- or, at least, that's the position of
people who are totally invested in the election to the exclusion of all
else. I'm not generally disposed to do that. In particular, I want to
reserve the option of saying when both sides are in the wrong -- and I
swear to you, I'm not being contrarian; there is always some underlying
principle at stake. And those principles are grounded in serious thought;
they're not just things that strike my aesthetic fancy.
Of course, politics isn't just voting. If, between now and November,
cops kill yet another unarmed black teenager for no reason, I'm not
going to tell you not to go march, even if I suspect doing so might
reflect poorly on the election. It might even be a good idea to put
a march together in Washington for funding for the USPS, unemployment,
to stop evictions, etc. (a good time might be during the so-called
Republican Convention, but not at wherever it's supposed to be -- not
to draw attention to them but to take away from their news cycle).
And sure, take it easy on the Democrats until November. If they win,
you'll have plenty of occasion to critique them in the future, but at
least you'll be starting in a better place. And if they lose, you'll
need them more than ever.