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        Bernie Sanders’s impending FOX News appearance is bizarre if you actually think he’s some sort of leftist radical instead of the slightly unusual discourse liberal that he is. A real incendiary charge I know but if you’re going on the opposition’s propaganda network because It’s An Audience Democrats Don’t Usually Reach, well, the shoe fucking fits. There are other examples also: his endless defense of the non-racism of Trump voters, of course, is a big one, as all discourse liberals have spent the last decade or so pretending that the right isn’t as bad as it is so as to maintain the essential belief that they can still be reasoned with. There’s more: if you read between the lines, both his newfound defense of the filibuster and his longtime push for an anti-Citizens United Constitutional amendment are both such obvious mistakes for someone who wants major progressive change, but what if he believes that he can Find The Words to crumble all obstacles to progressive change in this country such that even the most massive barriers to change won’t matter? It strikes me as highly risky and frankly pretty dumb. But if you think that the political divide is so easy to fix that it can be fixed with some words, I guess it makes sense.

        FWIW I don’t think Sanders is operating entirely out of a motivation of white racial innocence here. I just think he’s in a bubble. Vermont is 93% white and less than 20% urban, and yet it is arguably the only actual blue state (as in the party dominated the entire state and not just urban counties) in the union as Democrats won just about all the counties in 2016. (Hawaii is the only other one that might qualify.) Combining the racial and rural makeup of West Virginia with highly progressive politics is pretty unusual! It’s a very quirky state, but Sanders truly seems to think that it’s the norm nationally and that there is a left-wing WWC that can be unleashed simply by making class-based arguments. Seems dubious (the weakness of evangelical Christianity in the Northeast might have a little something to do with Vermont functioning the way it does, after all), but it is a hallmark of discourse liberalism that our political debates are fake and that people only think they hold the views they hold. Usually discourse liberalism is a vehicle for centrism and talks a lot about civility and all that, but there’s no reason it has to be for any given ideological strain, and I can’t think of another explanation of the facts here.

        The irony is that Sanders’s supporters who migrated to him after being so disappointed by Obama just wound up getting the same thing but with a slight rebranding. That said, while Bernie’s natural coalition couldn’t win a Democratic primary last time, with more candidates running this time maybe he can, and that would not be great. With Warren in the race, we can do better.

        Lev filed this under: ,  

        The polls don’t drop after that touching stuff, though probably they will make it a lot harder to staff the campaign with anybody who isn’t also a very old white guy. Which he might have preferred anyway as it would match up with the good old senate of yore that he so misses. But that’s not going to make for the best performing campaign.

        Here’s the thing: Biden is seemingly unstoppable now because he’s quiet. He’s not officially in, he’s above the fray, almost a blank slate. Quite a lot of Democrats feel that beating Trump is more important than a historic candidacy, which is largely a false choice but I do sort of get it intuitively. If Trump’s fundamentals point to a loss then just about any viable candidate will beat him, but given that the public has been inundated with Game Change bullshit masquerading as journalism for so long it’s not all that surprising that they think that choosing just the right candidate is all-important. And Biden can powerfully represent himself as the heir of the Obama Administration, of course. It’s not a bad place to be.

        But once Biden starts mixing it up it’s going to fall apart. He’s gonna say dumb shit and go off message constantly. He’s going to be windy and boring on the stump. He’s going to release policy proposals that are likely to be ripped apart. In spite of how he presents himself he’s never really been any sort of steadfast beacon of stability. He’s also going to have to talk an awful fucking lot about a career that certainly has some positives but also has a lot of really bad things as well. Biden has always presented himself as a working class guy but he had an iron grip on a seat from a rich state back before it was a safe blue state, albeit one that now tends to produce the least progressive Democrats around. Basically a breeding ground for bank friendly, corporate politicians. All I’m saying is that the bankruptcy bill is certainly not the only favor he did for the bankers and fighting for the little guy is only going to be tenable if much of that stuff is ignored. It won’t be.

        Biden will have to talk eventually, it’s unavoidable, and that’s when the magic ends. Honestly the smartest thing he’s ever done strategically is to prolong the silence it as long as he can. If he can keep his current silent posture up until a few weeks before Iowa he may be unstoppable.

        Lev filed this under: ,  

        I just kind of figured that was the case all along.

        And yes, there are some Republicans that don’t like children in cages but I’m guessing that few don’t dislike it enough to even vote for a spoiler candidate, let alone a Democrat. No doubt some are like that dummy from The Newsroom who want to take their party back (though that clod wouldn’t have been welcome in the GOP after 1980 IRL), but that’s not how political parties work. A vote for fascism is a vote for fascism, whether reluctantly or wholeheartedly given. And quite a few Republicans do actually like this stuff. I’ll confess that I don’t get it on an intuitive level but it’s not like Trump is doing stuff that only 10% of the party likes. Doing stuff that 60-70% of the party likes and counting on the rest to resort to whataboutism in order to stay onsides was perhaps not the best move, but it was good enough for 2016 and he has a decent if small shot for 2020 so it wasn’t like the worst strategic play.

        But I’m sure a white guy Democrat will finally give us the (white) national unity that we so desire. Biden/Beto 2020!

        Lev filed this under: ,  

        Having say a dozen good Dem candidates a la 2008 would have been the sign of a healthy field and a sign that the party is confident it can beat Trump. (Though a major party nomination is always worth having because you never know, as Donald Trump or Bill Clinton could tell you.) But three times that is more a sign that the party doesn’t value any other office, which is bad. Some people would make a good president but should maybe become career senators or longtime governors, etc. My former Rep., Eric Swalwell, is an ok guy, a smart guy, but this is a waste of everybody’s time.

        That said, for all the people running, you’d think it would be a desirable time to be president after next year but it’s actually going to suck. Passing anything meaningful would mean both winning the Senate and killing the filibuster, which basically would have to happen at the behest of Joe Manchin, a Democrat who doesn’t care about his own party’s agenda and just wants to be a guns and coal champion. He’s an anachronism but he’s pivotal. Then there’s the inevitable clash with a Trumpified judiciary, led by an extremely sharp and cynical political operator named John Roberts. The Court is damaged but the press is always going to side instinctively with Republican daddies like Roberts. And beyond all that, frankly, there’s the not insignificant possibility that defeating Trump will convince conservatives to try to tear it all down, which is hardly impossible given the structure of our government. It could happen in all manner of ways. But even if they don’t go all out, they will certainly up the stakes from what they were up to under Obama. They won’t quit ever. In some ways The Emerging Democratic Majority was the worst book to be published ever, not because it was wrong but because it convinced liberals that they just need to wait it out. Me, I rather think that the less able Republicans are to earn power even in the lopsided system we have now, the worse the threat gets. And winning low turnout midterms is still well within reach for a party that can’t do much better than 45-46% nationally.

        A reckoning is coming. Quite possibly in the next Dem president’s term. And we’re going to need someone of the Lincoln/Washington/FDR caliber to weather it. Probably most of the people running don’t see it that way but even so I can’t imagine actually wanting to have to take that on. The republic is threatened if Trump wins or loses. That’s the reality. It should be sobering.

        Lev filed this under: ,  

        I mean, he could, but I’ve long given up on Israel getting its shit together. Hope he does but it probably wouldn’t make a whole ton of difference.

        I do feel for Israeli lefties. Can’t be fun to have to pump up people for Joe Lieberman, even if the alternative is George Wallace.

        Lev filed this under:  

        I think this is going to backfire, and once again, elite Democrats really don’t seem to get it. Back in 2016 the DNC did a couple of things to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign out. Nothing that would have changed the course of the campaign and given Bernie the win, all other things being equal. But some things. Then the next election cycle, nobody gave money to the DNC. Clinton folks never tire of dismissing the 42% of Democrats who supported Sanders as a silly, irrelevant minority, but it’s not a good idea for party committees to go around pissing off two fifths of their potential donors, particularly when there have never been more options on where to park your money for political causes. The effects of the DNC’s interventions were predictable, and those interventions were stupid.

        The DCCC is behaving stupidly now because all senior Democrats are still shook up about Joe Crowley losing to AOC last year and they think this will prevent it happening again to them. It won’t. What it will do instead is make progressives stop giving to the DCCC, making it less powerful and influential overall. This is probably a good thing, honestly, and progressives should have stopped donating to them already because ActBlue makes it very easy to ensure that not a single dollar of your money goes to elect a Blue Dog (and also cuts out the substantial middlemen that the DCCC interposes in the form of mandatory consultants). But I’m quite sure that some progressives do give to the DCCC, at least for now, and I suspect that emerging Bad Dem villain Cheri Bustos (how strange that we’re getting a new one from Illinois right as Rahm Emanuel’s political career enters its twilight phase) is about to discover just how little fun it is to run a party committee shunned by a huge chunk of its donors. And all because these folks are so entitled that they don’t believe in fair play in party politics. What a thoroughly rancid lot.

        Ironically, this attempted intraparty McConnellism provides ample reason for why most of these folks should maybe have to worry more about a left-wing primary now and then. That’s probably unfair to Mitch McConnell, whose assholishness is encapsulated by this stunt, but not so much his evil genius for knowing how to use money to build power.

        Lev filed this under: , ,  

        The guy popped up on my radar years back because he had a tendency to say things that seemed to reflect a strong awareness of contemporary political realities, which is not nothing in a party dominated by pre-Boomers who often talk about politics in terms that feel decades out of date. Thought he’d be a good voice to have in the mix, even despite a pretty convincing critique in Current Affairs, but the worst people like him, so sorry. But it’s interesting that he’s being pushed as he is.

        Once upon a time I thought that “the patriarchy” was a pretty dumb concept even if you granted (as I did) the reality of institutional sexism. I just thought it was just too vague to be useful to a serious political critique. I now only think it’s a dumb term. The concept, though, seems pretty much indisputable to me now, as the Hillary’s Emails Election showed, but then there’s also this thing where every white guy running against Trump gets the star treatment. Weird how that goes! Admittedly Biden was always a paper tiger and Beto wasn’t for real, so I guess it’s take three on this, but if Buttegieg falls down then no doubt it’ll be somebody else. Hickenmentum! The weirdest thing is that the people giving “Mayor Pete” the glorious coverage now could just as easily give it to a straight white female neoliberal, of which there is one in the race. Instead they did the opposite. Not that I’m going to shed any crocodile tears for Amy Klobuchar, but she and Buttegieg represent basically the same tendency in Democratic politics. Only one of them has a penis though.

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        Lev filed this under:  

        So much amazing music over decades and yet:

        That’s right, James Brown’s #1 song in the Amazon music store is his opus from the Rocky movie with Dolph Lundgren. Obviously his best work in a movie that’s basically a clip show of the prior Rocky movies.

        Look, blame us millennials for bringing back “Africa” from deserved oblivion, but this is much, much worse.

        Lev filed this under: