Tag: Joe Biden

In the Words of Marcel Marceau


Republicans had a proposition for Joe Biden, a Covid relief package that was clearly inadequate, and Biden gave them a (polite) brush-off.

While Biden might have an honest commitment to bipartisanship, unlike his former boss, he does not see it as an end in itself, nor does he see it as a demonstration of just how awesome he is:

Ten Senate Republicans attempted to sell President Joe Biden Monday night on a coronavirus relief compromise, even as Biden’s own party made plans to leave the GOP in the dust.

In the two-hour meeting, the GOP senators presented their $618 billion counterproposal to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and the president described his own $1.9 trillion plan to the senators. They agreed to keep talking, although senators conceded their discussions were just beginning.


Biden has spoken frequently of his ability to work with Senate Republicans after his long Senate service, and simply meeting with the group demonstrates his ability to hear his opposition out. But the reality is this: Republicans oppose Biden’s spending plans and are proposing something far smaller.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who helped organize the meeting, praised Biden for hosting GOP senators: “We’re very appreciative that as his first official meeting in the Oval Office that the president chose to spend so much time with us.” But she also acknowledged there wasn’t an explicit breakthrough between sides that are so far apart.


Shortly before the meeting, Democratic leaders announced they would begin a process that would allow passage of Biden’s coronavirus stimulus plan without GOP votes, a sign that Democrats have little confidence that a suitable deal can be struck with Republicans. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a centrist, said succinctly of the GOP’s plan: “The package has to be bigger than that.”

“This needs to be big enough to get the job done. If we’re having to come back time and time again, I just don’t think that’s good for the economy or for certainty,” Tester said at the Capitol.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they would continue setting up budget reconciliation this week, which would evade the Senate’s 60-vote requirement. They will pass a budget this week instructing committees to write a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which includes items like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and giving $400 in additional weekly unemployment assistance through September.

“While there were areas of agreement, the President also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address. He reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said after the meeting.

It’s refreshing that we have a President who does not believe his own PR spin.

We have not had that in at least 20 years.

Without Racism, the Right is Nothing

WaPo writer Phillip Bump defends Joe Biden from accusations that targeting racism is in fact an attack on the whole right wing movement in an essay titled, “Biden’s targeting of racist extremism is being portrayed as an attack on the right itself.”

The ever-racist Rand Paul has accused Biden’s of, “Calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book.”

Paul is saying that, “Biden thinks Republicans are racist liars.”

I think that Joe Biden’s entire political career shows that he is willing to work with Republicans, and he does not think that they are [all] racists liars.

This is complete bullshit.  It is clear that Biden’s efforts and  pronouncements are a NOT apart of deliberate effort to demonize and perhaps prosecute the his political opposition.

His entire career mitigates against this accusation.  Biden has always gone along to get along with the most contemptible people in politics.

However, there is a way that Rand Paul’s accusation IS accurate.

Specifically, it should be noted that the modern conservative movement, at least back to the days of William F. Buckley’s endorsements of segregation (And arguably as far back as the founding of the Republic), racism has been inseparable from the political right in the United States.

It is transparently obvious that meaningful sustained efforts to fight racism in will necessarily target the right wing.

Short version of this argument:  If Rand Paul is concerned that Joe Biden’s fighting racism is an attack on him, then Rand Paul needs to stop being a racist dirt-bag.

OK, This Promise was Kept

Joe Biden has shutdown the Keystone XL pipeline:

One of President Biden’s first acts upon taking office was to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the long-debated project to transport crude from Canada’s oil sands to the United States.

But Canadian officials, notably in Alberta, the province where the pipeline originates, are not giving up so fast.

The nearly 1,200-mile Keystone XL was intended to carry crude oil from Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with an existing network to deliver the crude to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

In canceling the pipeline, Mr. Biden took some of his first steps toward reversing the legacy of the Trump administration, which revived the project after it was rejected by President Barack Obama in 2015.


Elections have consequences.

The Good,

Gary Gensler, who surprised everyone when he was appointed by Obama as the head of the  Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and then aggressively pushed for regulation and investigations of fraud, is Biden’s choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  

Word is that Wall Street is crapping their pants over this choice:

Gary Gensler will be named chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by President-elect Joe Biden, said two sources familiar with the matter, an appointment likely to prompt concern among Wall Street firms of tougher regulation.

Gensler was chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 2009 to 2014, and since November has led Biden’s transition planning for financial industry oversight.

His appointment as the country’s top securities regulator is expected to put an end to the four years of rule-easing that Wall Street banks, brokers, funds and public companies have enjoyed under President Donald Trump’s SEC chair Jay Clayton.

At the CFTC, Gensler implemented dramatic new swaps trading rules mandated by Congress following the 2007-2009 financial crisis, developing a reputation as a hard-nosed operator willing to stand up to powerful Wall Street interests.

A former Goldman Sachs banker and a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, Gensler also oversaw the prosecution of big investment banks for rigging Libor, the benchmark for trillions of dollars in lending worldwide.

When he came into the CFTC, it was assumed that he would be yet another corporate stooge.

Instead he was a pleasant surprise in an administration that was largely defined by corporate stooges.

The Bad,

Samantha Power has been picked by Biden to head USAID

Power is a bloody lunatic, who is almost as prone to demand the use of military force as the late and unlamented John McCain.

The is a warmonger of the highest order, and given that USAID is frequently used as a cutout to support regime change activities by the US State Security Apparatus, this is not good.

Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power, (in)famous for her screaming duels over Syria with late Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin, was picked by Joe Biden to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in his administration.

Though her appointment was rumored in Washington for weeks, Biden’s transition team officially confirmed it on Wednesday. Power is best known for her “humanitarian” interventionism advocacy. As an aide at the Obama White House, she championed US intervention in Syria and Libya – where US-backed Islamist militants sought to overthrow secular governments – in the name of stopping “genocide.”

Let us not forget that the intervention that she forcefully championed in Libya has led to the return of open air slave markets, and Syria………

And The Ugly

That would be Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland, whose pathological hatred of the Russians is largely responsible for the Ukraine the mess it is today.  (War, Fascism, Corruption, the deification of Nazi Sympathizers, etc.), who has been picked by Biden to be the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs

This is a remarkably bad idea, if just because she was the prime mover behind the Ukrainian coup, which closely mirrors what happened at the Capitol on January 7

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia.

Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration.

You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych.


Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover.

Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the # 3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.


The neocons’ coup de grace against Obama’s better angels was Nuland’s 2014 coup in debt-ridden Ukraine, a strategic candidate for NATO membership right on Russia’s border.


The muscle for Nuland’s $5 billion coup was Oleh Tyahnybok’s neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and the shadowy new Right Sector militia. During her leaked phone call, Nuland referred to Tyahnybok as one of the “big three” opposition leaders on the outside who could help the U.S.-backed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on the inside. This is the same Tyanhnybok who once delivered a speech applauding Ukrainians for fighting Jews and “other scum” during World War II.

After protests in Kiev’s Euromaidan square turned into battles with police in February 2014, Yanukovych and the Western-backed opposition signed an agreement brokered by France, Germany and Poland to form a national unity government and hold new elections by the end of the year.

But that was not good enough for the neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing forces the U.S. had helped to unleash. A violent mob led by the Right Sector militia marched on and invaded the parliament building, a scene no longer difficult for Americans to imagine. Yanukovych and his members of parliament fled for their lives.

Nuland’s militaristic worldview represents exactly the folly the U.S. has been pursuing since the 1990s under the influence of the neocons and “liberal interventionists,” which has resulted in a systematic underinvestment in the American people while escalating tensions with Russia, China, Iran and other countries.

Nuland is a complete horror show, and she should be kept as far as possible from the reins of power as possible.

She is a disaster waiting to happen.

I Hope that this is a Fuck You to Mitch McConnell

When I heard that Joe Biden intends to nominate Merrick Garland as US Attorney General, my first reaction was that this is a MASTERFUL “Fuck You” directed at Mitch McConnell.

Just to remind you of recent history, when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia choked on his own bile in early 2016, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a well respected, and rather moderate, appellate court judge to replace him.

Mitch McConnell not only refused to allow a vote in Garland, he instructed members of the Republican Caucus not even to meet with him.

It’s how that lunatic Gorsuch ended up on the court.

In nominating Garland for AG, Biden has a chance to replace him with a younger judge (Garland is 68).

Additionally, Garland someone who has been thoroughly vetted on multiple occasions, and has served extensively at the Justice Department, being a US Attorney, an assistant to the AG, and Deputy Assistant AG.

One thing that is pretty clear about him, he won’t take any crap from Mitch McConnell:

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate federal judge Merrick B. Garland, a Democratic casualty of the bitter partisan divide in Washington, to be the next attorney general, tasked with restoring the Justice Department’s independence and credibility, according to people familiar with the decision.

Garland, 68, serves on the federal appeals court in the District. He is best known for being nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016 by President Barack Obama — a nomination that went nowhere because Senate Republicans refused to give him a hearing. The opening on the high court was eventually filled the following year by President Trump’s choice, Neil M. Gorsuch.


Many Democrats still think of Garland as a living example of Republican double-standards when it comes to the courts and the law, though some Biden advisers have come to view him as well-suited to restore norms of nonpolitical decision-making at the Justice Department, given his track record as a judge and a former senior official at the department, according to people familiar with the decision. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity because Biden’s selection has not been formally announced yet.

The Republicans said that it was too close to the election (9 months), and then pushed through  Amy Coney Barret in 6 weeks to beat the election.

Everything I’ve seen indicates that he probably won’t go after the blatant corruption and self-dealing of McConnell and his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, but nobody’s perfect.

Tweet of the Day

I may be wrong but I think there’s room at the Four Seasons.

— The Palaeoanthropologist (@HamishAlexande6) December 29, 2020

The favorite hotel of the Proud Boys is shutting down for 3 days rather than deal with them, and their violent protests, and virus spreading behavior at the inauguration.

This is glorious, as is the Four Seasons Landscaping snark.

This Does Not Bode Well

It turns out that Biden was involved in negotiations for the Stimulus package, and he actively worked to keep it small.

I knew that he has fetishized deficit reduction for years, but these are extraordinary times, and Joe Biden appears unable to move behind old habits.

When Biden said, “Nothing would fundamentally change,” he meant it, and and he intends to stick to it.

This is a recipe for disaster:

If there is any consistent throughline in Joe Biden’s long career, it is his commitment to the ideology of austerity.

He has obsessively pushed for Social Security cuts for decades, and he is stocking his administration with deficit hawks — including today’s announcement that notorious Social Security cutter Bruce Reed will be White House deputy chief of staff. Biden has even threatened to veto Medicare for All legislation on the grounds that it costs too much (even though Congress says it would actually save a lot of money).

Now, in the whittling down of the stimulus legislation, we see the first concrete example of how Biden’s ideology can change policy in the here and now — and in deeply destructive ways.


However, the New York Times reminds us today that Biden was “not an idle bystander in the negotiations.” On the contrary, the paper of record tells us that the president-elect played a decisive role in making sure the legislation was cut in half. Here is the key excerpt:

With Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate far apart on how much they were willing to accept in new pandemic spending, Mr. Biden on Dec. 2 threw his support behind the $900 billion plan being pushed by the centrist group. The total was less than half of the $2 trillion that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, had been insisting on.

Mr. Biden’s move was not without risks. If it had failed to affect the discussions, the president-elect risked looking powerless to move Congress before he had taken the oath of office. But members of both parties said his intervention was constructive and gave Democrats confidence to pull back on their demands.


That last line of Biden’s statement is arguably the most disturbing foreshadow of all: He is depicting the process — which starved America for months and now skimps on benefits — as a terrific “model” for the future.


But now we see what Biden austerity means in practice. It means meager $600 survival checks instead of $1,200 checks in the same package that pours money into the Pentagon, gives rich people big new tax breaks and doubles funding for Congress’s own private health care system. It means inadequate unemployment benefits in a bill that devotes $6 billion to making business executives’ meals tax deductible and $3 billion to a tax break for landlords.

If Biden is allowed to be Biden, the way that Obama was allowed to be Obama, and the activists and progressives allow themselves to be put back into the “veal pen,” in 2024, we are going to see someone far worse, and far more competent, than Donald Trump elected in 2024.

I’ll Take Lightweights with a Horrible Track Record for $500, Alex

In what is clearly a case of political payback for his yeoman duty slapping down Fox News dweebs, Biden has announced that he will appoint Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation.

He has no background in transportation, and his tenure as Mayor of South Bend was problematic, particularly with regard to race. 

I’m not sure if this is a throw away appointment, Transportation Secretary frequently is, or if Biden thought that he would be the guy to run a freeway through minority neighborhoods, but in either case, it kind of sucks:

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate onetime rival Pete Buttigieg to be his secretary of transportation and former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm to be secretary of energy.

The move elevates Buttigieg to a key role in the incoming administration’s expected push to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and economy and address climate change. Granholm, meanwhile, has been a strong voice for zero-emissions vehicles, arguing that the country must develop alternative energy technologies.

Biden also is tapping Gina McCarthy, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama and now leads a major advocacy group, to coordinate the new administration’s domestic climate agenda from a senior perch at the White House, according to three individuals familiar with the matter.

If you believe that personnel is policy, and I do, then this is yet more evidence that Joe Biden’s promise to his donors that, “Nothing will fundamentally change,” applies.

It is a formula for disaster.

Portly Performer’s Polyphonic Production Proceeds*

The Electoral Collage has made it official

Biden is officially President Elect.

This does not mean that the rat-f%$#ery has ended.

I expect shenanigans from Trump and his  Evil Minions™ to fight this until January 20, when the US Marshals Service drags him out.  (They are responsible for evictions in the District).

Not out of the woods yet.

*The fat lady has sung.

Biden’s Worst Cabinet Choice So Far

Biden has chosen Barack Obama’s Agriculture Secretary, Tom “Mr. Monsanto”* Vilsack (what a memable name) to reprise his role.

Given that his record as a lobbyist for big Ag, his steadfast refusal to address entrenched racism and sexual harassment in the Department of Agriculture in his last tenure, and his refusal to address anthropogenic climate change, there is a lot of outrage over this decision:

When President Barack Obama nominated Tom Vilsack, a two-term Iowa governor, to be secretary of agriculture in 2008, Vilsack was seen as a centrist who wouldn’t change much about how farming was done in America—for better or worse.


Fast forward to 2020, and Vilsack is poised to resume his role heading the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under President-elect Joe Biden, according to multiple outlets. This week, Vilsack emerged as a frontrunner ahead of two Democratic women: former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who would have been the first Black woman to lead the agency.

The prospect was greeted with tepid enthusiasm by some and outright ire among others. Many in the food world, possibly eager to find something to praise, pointed to his previous stint in the job as a net positive, and proof he could hit the job running. Yet for environmental advocates, Black farmers, food safety champions, and critics of corporate agribusiness, a return to the status quo feels inadequate.


For many advocates of racial justice in the food system, Vilsack’s nomination is an affront that suggests the Biden administration has little interest in making the ag sector more equitable and remedying USDA’s notorious history of racial discrimination against Black farmers.

Much of the disappointment stems from both the agency’s practices under Vilsack’s watch and his own reported reluctance to repair the damage of systemic racism. As The Counter reported in a 2019 investigation, employees alleged that Vilsack’s USDA repeatedly ran out the statute of limitations clock on discrimination complaints, while attempting to foreclose on farmers whose cases hadn’t yet been resolved. Employees also said that USDA manipulated Census data to obscure a decline in Black farming, which in turn allowed Vilsack to paint a rosy but inaccurate picture of his tenure.

One particular scandal during Vilsack’s tenure stands out right now: the controversial ouster of Shirley Sherrod, a Black USDA official. Vilsack forced Sherrod to resign after the far-right website Breitbart disseminated a selectively edited video to suggest that she had discriminated against a white farmer. (After the full video came to light, Vilsack apologized for his treatment of Sherrod and reportedly offered to resign over the incident.)

I don’t blame Vilsack over this incident.

It’s clear that the cowardice and hypocrisy driving this incident came from Barack Obama, or those closest to him in the White House.


For women who have experienced sexual abuse while working for USDA’s Forest Service—an agency that employees say fostered a decades-long culture of sexual harassment—Vilsack’s nomination is a punch to the gut, according to Lesa Donnelly, former employee and current vice president of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees. Donnelly is a well-known advocate who has been calling on the agency to better protect employees from sexual abuse. According to her, Vilsack was part of the problem: He was “unwilling to investigate complaints properly and hold people accountable” during his tenure, Donnelly told news outlet Government Executive in 2016. The thought of his return to the agency is retraumatizing many of the women she advocates for, she told The Counter in an interview.


Numerous other organizations, including those representing Black farmers, have vocally opposed Vilsack’s nomination.


Indeed, rigorous environmental policies did not seem to be a priority for much of Vilsack’s term leading USDA. In one telling moment, then-Secretary Vilsack refused to take a stance on whether crop subsidies should be conditioned on farmers’ willingness to adopt basic conservation measures. “There were moments during his first tenure when Secretary Vilsack missed an opportunity to make the environment a priority,” said Scott Faber, vice president for governmental affairs at the Environmental Working Group, noting Vilsack’s unwillingness to challenge the status quo.

These aren’t the only Vilsack-supported policies that have raised eyebrows among environmentalists: He often boosted ethanol, a fuel additive that has long been unpopular with the green set because its production requires a lot of land and chemicals. He spent the past four years promoting dairy exports, indicating he’d be hesitant to back policies that curb production, such as limiting the construction of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). As recently as 2014, Vilsack appeared eager to shift the conversation about the climate crisis away from agriculture. At an event at Drake University, he said that “agriculture tends to take the brunt of criticism about climate change, but the industry contributes only 9 percent of the greenhouse gases blamed for a warming planet.”


“It’s very important—essential—that USDA be vigorous and engaged, and that this not become a private-sector exercise, where carbon markets take over the conversation,” Deeble said. “We’ve got good programs at USDA right now that an ambitious secretary would be able to repurpose or modify slightly to get focused on climate change.”
On food safety, Vilsack “defaults to what the big companies want”

The Department of Agriculture doesn’t just regulate farmers. It’s also responsible for the safety of the meat, poultry, and eggs on our plates—roughly 20 percent of the American food supply. Consumer advocates contacted by The Counter say they don’t expect a Secretary Vilsack to do much more to keep that food clean and disease-free.

In his first tenure, Vilsack backed a proposal that would have allowed some chicken plants to dramatically increase line processing speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175. He also supported drastically reducing the number of USDA inspectors in plants, instead asking the companies to essentially police themselves.


It’s not just line speeds. When Vilsack was the head of USDA, his department rejected a petition to recognize some strains of antibiotic-resistant salmonella as adulterants, and make it illegal to process and sell meat and poultry that could sicken the public. A similar petition was submitted earlier this year—and Corrigan expects Vilsack, once again, to reject it.


Farm groups responded to Vilsack’s likely nomination with cautious optimism, noting the former secretary’s experience as a boon. “It is hard to argue with the fact that the USDA has been significantly eroded over the last four years in terms of research capacity and administrative capacity—it’s dropped down the rankings,” said Deeble of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “Getting somebody who knows where all the switches and levers are is valuable if you want to fix that.”

Yet there’s reason for skepticism. At the beginning of President Obama’s first term, Vilsack embarked on a long listening tour to hear from small-scale farms about the impact of corporate consolidation within agriculture. The tour left many hopeful that the administration would overhaul regulations in the meatpacking industry and shift some market power back to small producers. Many years later, the administration advanced a watered-down version of the rules, which were then rolled back by the Trump administration.


Yet Vilsack spent the last four years as CEO for the U.S. Dairy Export Council, a group that represents some of the biggest dairy conglomerates which in turn hold a lot of sway over prices paid to small-scale farmers. Market control by the biggest player, critics argue, has been a contributing factor in the recent spate of small dairy failures. “Secretary Vilsack’s experience in the last four years does give us some cause for concern,” Stranz said. “But we also know, however, that as an administrator for a federal agency, he has the wherewithal and ability to work to advance policy goals that benefit farmers across the country.”


Some advocates hoped that the Biden administration would work to combat consolidation in agriculture and feel let down by Vilsack’s nomination. In particular, they take issue with his failure to prioritize policies that would have given farmers and ranchers more leverage with the industry’s meatpacking giants.

Take the Farmer Fair Practice rules—also known as the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules—for example. As antitrust law advocates see it, Vilsack’s USDA dilly-dallied over the rules for too long, and by eventually introducing them in the final months of the Obama administration, it all but guaranteed that they would get axed by Trump. These rules would have made it easier for contract farmers to sue processors—who dictate almost all the terms of raising livestock—over unfair retaliation, such as terminating contracts of farmers who attempt to organize.


“He can’t work for industry if he’s governing the industry.”

Vilsack also accumulated fresh baggage in the last four years as president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, an organization tasked with generating overseas demand for U.S. milk and milk products. Vilsack has drawn heat for taking a nearly $1 million salary from his job, at a time when dairy farmers have struggled with low prices and bankruptcies.


It’s also important to note that since the Export Council counts some of the largest dairy suppliers in the country among its members, including Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the nation’s biggest milk processor and cooperative. DFA has been the subject of numerous lawsuits alleging antitrust violations and price-fixing practices, which many dairy farmers say have led to declining revenue and even driven some out of business. Now, they’re worried that Vilsack’s affiliation could pose a “huge” conflict of interest should he be confirmed as secretary of agriculture again.


Ultimately, Vilsack’s record as agriculture secretary was spotty. He missed opportunities to prioritize environmental policies and backed off on reigning in monopolies in the meat industry. And his record on civil rights has only worsened since he left office, amid a steady trickle of revelations about his treatment of Black farmers and victims of sexual harassment. These failures have left deep scars—scars that are dealbreakers for some and, at minimum, caution flags for others.

This guy is a complete horror show, and epitomizes everything that was wrong, and corrupt with the Obama administration. 

Capitulation to corporate interests, partnering with entities who are the source of the party, and a steadfast push for market based solutions in the event of market failures.

Vilsack was bad in 2009.  He is even worse now.

*I’m not making this up. This what he is actually what called by his opponents.

I Call This a Win-Win for Biden

Joe Biden has announced that he will be appointing Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services

I did not expect this, given Becerra’s support for Medicare for All, so it’s a win on a policy level. 

Additionally, it’s a win, because it means that Becerra will no longer be California Attorney General, where he has been a dedicated fluffer to bad cops and cop unions: (See also here, and here)

In his two years on the job, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has crafted an image as a progressive warrior, suing the Trump Administration dozens of times and delivering the Democrats’ Spanish-language rebuttal to the President’s State of the Union speech.

But there’s one major area where the Democrat isn’t allied with progressives: accountability for law enforcement. There, Becerra is at odds with the push by many in his own party to better police the police.

The attorney general is refusing to provide records on police misconduct that media outlets requested under a new law signed last year by Democratic former Gov. Jerry Brown. The legislator who wrote the law, also a Democrat, says the documents must be disclosed. But Becerra has sided with police who want the courts to weigh in before releasing records about officers who were involved in shootings, sexual assault or lying on the job.


Numerous police unions have filed lawsuits in recent weeks to try to block their departments from releasing misconduct records under the new law, Senate Bill 1421, which took effect on Jan. 1. The officers argue that the law only applies to records created on or after Jan. 1, while the legislator who wrote the law says it applies to any records in the police departments’ possession, including those from past years.


The records they released, all of abuses that were confirmed by internal investigations, showed one officer was fired after he offered to help a woman deal with drunk-driving charges if she had sex with him. In another case, an on-duty police officer had sex with a member of the public. Numerous other officers were dishonest or used force that resulted in severe injuries. It was the first time in many decades that such information has been made public in California, which has had one of the nation’s most restrictive police records laws.A broad coalition of media outlets have been requesting misconduct records from law enforcement agencies big and small since the new law took effect at the start of the year. Some agencies have complied—including police departments in Fairfield,Rio Vistaand Burlingame.

The records they released, all of abuses that were confirmed by internal investigations, showed one officer was fired after he offered to help a woman deal with drunk-driving charges if she had sex with him. In another case, an on-duty police officer had sex with a member of the public. Numerous other officers were dishonest or used force that resulted in severe injuries. It was the first time in many decades that such information has been made public in California, which has had one of the nation’s most restrictive police records laws.

Becerra refused to disclose any misconduct records regarding officers employed by the state Department of Justice. Then the free-speech nonprofit, the First Amendment Coalition, suedhim, arguing that his refusal has had a ripple effect, giving “a green light to other departments to disregard the new law.”


Becerra is not the first California Attorney General to side with police on accountability issues—or to take heat for it from the left. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, for instance, refusedas attorney general to support statewide standards for police body cameras, endorsing instead the law enforcement argument that such rules should be determined at the local level, even if the result was a patchwork. She also opposed a bill to put the state Department of Justice in charge of investigating police shootings.

Becerra has held a similar position on more recent versions of the bill, marking another instance in which he sided with law enforcement against efforts toward greater transparency. Progressive advocates for criminal justice reform argue that the state Department of Justice could be more objective than local prosecutors in determining if shootings are justified, because local prosecutors work so closely with police. Even Becerra’s Republican opponent saidthe state should be in charge of investigating police shootings.


Becerra’s office agreed to review the Sacramento Police Department after officers killed an unarmed man in his grandmother’s backyard, but that was only because local officials requested it. And even though his review has made some strong recommendations—including that the Sacramento police should overhaul their use-of-force policies—Becerra stopped short of endorsing a tougher statewide standardto justify police shootings, something progressive Democrats are fighting forthis year.

Hopefully, the next California AG will not be so beholden to crooked cops.

We Are Doomed

Just interviewed the head of a major progressive group who said that the Biden transition team reached out after the Tanden nomination to say “aren’t you happy, we met your demands, we brought in a movement leader”

— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) December 1, 2020

Biden-world isn’t being cynical with this pick, they actually believe that they are throwing a bone to progressives because they imagine progressives like Neera Tanden. Team Biden really thinks they are picking lots of progressives. https://t.co/5OgJvuJFKe

— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) November 30, 2020

It appears that senior staff in the Biden campaign have the political acumen of Little Orphan Annie, because they think that picking Neera Tanden is a favor to liberals.

This actually explains a lot.  

The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), now largely alumni of the Obama administration, honestly believe that your life story is your politics, which explains why they pushed the hapless Amy McGrath so hard. 

McGrath was literally the worst political campaigner that I have ever seen in my life

Neera Tanden is not, and has never been a progressive, she’s been a party apparatchik, and the thoroughly despised overseer of a Podesta brothers’ lobbying shop that masqueraded as a think tank.

This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the earth. Perhaps we should shoot him.*

Biden and his Evil Minions are going to lead the Democratic Party into an electoral catastrophe that will make 2010 look like Johnson in 1964.

Midterms are base elections, and they think that kicking the base in the nuts is doing said base a favor.

*What, you’ve never seen Ruthless People? Great movie.


A spokesman for Republican Senator John Cornyn has declared that Neera Tanden’s nomination for head of the Office of Management and Budget is dead on arrival

This is a good thing, even if the reason, “She says mean things about Republicans on Twitter,” is stupid beyond belief, because she yet another case of a member of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) failing upwards while wasting millions dollars of donors.

The bill of particulars against Tanden is extensive:

The bigger case against her nomination is that it is CLEARLY motivated, at least in part, as another indignity directed towards Bernie Sanders that the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

Neera Tanden has been the most vociferous critic of Bernie Sanders online, accusing him of being racist, sexist, a Russian agent, and everything short of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

As OMB chair, her nomination would be managed the ranking member (or chairman if the sky falls in Georgia) of the Senate Budget Committee, one Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

It’s clearly an attempt to, “Try to publicly humiliate,” Sanders.

To quote someone not named Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, “It is worse than a crime, it was a mistake.”

Spending political capital on “Hippie Punching” because it gives the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) a stiffie is stupid and wasteful.

There is a midterm election in 2 years, and neither Nancy Pelosi nor Chuck Schumer are going to bring out the base.

Oh God No

I don’t know who, except for Rahm Emanuel, would even consider giving the disgraced ex-mayor of Chicago a position in the Biden Cabinet, but it appears that he is under consideration:

When former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s name quickly surfaced as a possible transportation secretary in a Joe Biden administration, it came as little surprise to those in the political-media ecosystem.

If the longtime Beltway insider didn’t float his own name for a Cabinet spot, he has plenty of friends up to the task. Soon to turn 61 and out of power since abruptly pulling the plug on a bid for a third mayoral term 26 months ago, the TV pundit, investment banker and informal Biden adviser could be looking for a fourth act on the national stage in his third White House.

But it was a trial balloon those on the other side of the centrist-leftist Democratic divide quickly sought to pierce.

Leading the charge was progressive U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. After telling The New York Times that Emanuel would be “a pretty divisive pick” and signal “a hostile approach to the grassroots and the progressive wing of the party,” Ocasio-Cortez responded to a tweet on the subject by WTTW’s Heather Cherone with this: “We must govern with integrity and accountability. Laquan McDonald’s life mattered.”


His policy chops and experience in the White House, in Congress and working on transit projects as mayor make him a strong choice to join presumptive President-elect Joe Biden’s team. But Emanuel is lambasted by some Democrats for his reputation as a pro-Wall Street, anti-teachers union centrist, and especially for his handling of the 17-year-old Black teen’s shooting death by a white police officer who went to prison for it.

His second term was dogged by allegations he sought to keep the now-infamous police dashcam video of the incident from coming out until after he won reelection in 2015.

The city Law Department quickly reached a $5 million settlement in April 2015 with the McDonald family in their lawsuit about the shooting, shortly after Emanuel defeated Jesús “Chuy” García in a mayoral runoff election. The Emanuel administration fought against releasing the video until a Cook County judge ordered it in November 2015.

People will refer to his success as DCCC chair during the 2006 election, but many, if not most of the seats that were picked up resulted from Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy, and not his DCCC supported candidates who underperformed.

This man is a toxic and corrupt self-promoter.  Do not allow him anywhere near the halls of power.

I Thought That the Political Silly Season Started Months Ago

Bogart Said it Best

I was misinformed.

The silly season starts today, because, as The Root so eloquently states, “‘I’m With Joe’: Punch-a-Nazi Poster Child Richard Spencer Tweets His Endorsement of Joe Biden.

The Biden campaign immediately disavowed the endorsement, but this is the day when the campaign went from weird to being narrated by Rod Serling:

2020 is officially M. Night Shyamalan’s worst movie.*

I mean, I thought this shitshow had already jumped the shark when the mistresses of minstrel, Diamond and Silk, decided they were ready to talk about systemic racism, but this infamous year has apparently decided to pull an Evel Knievel over a mile-long row of sharks as the alt-right favorite with America’s most punchable face, Richard Spencer, has announced his endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

On Monday, the tiki-torch boy-band leader (he changed the name of his group to “White Sheet Boys” because “NSYNC With White Supremacy” doesn’t roll off the tongue very well) tweeted an image of his photo next to the words “I’m with Joe” and a quote from an earlier tweet of his that reads, “Liberals are clearly more competent.”


Still, a neo-Nazi like Spencer—who the Southern Poverty Law Center described as “one of the country’s most successful young white nationalist leaders,” a “suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old,” and “a kind of professional racist in khakis”—throwing his lot behind the Democratic ticket is one weird plot twist.

Anyway, according to Andrew Bates, the director of rapid response for Biden’s campaign, Biden is rejecting Spencer’s friend request.

“When Joe Biden says we are in a battle for the soul of our nation against vile forces of hate who have come crawling out from under rocks, you are the epitome of what he means,” Bates tweeted. “What you stand for is absolutely repugnant. Your support is 10,000% percent unwelcome here.

Go to link above for a video of someone punching Richard Spencer in the face.

*Obviously, the author is younger than I am, as evidenced by the Serling/Shamalan dichotomy in analogies.
Also, I’ve only seen one of his movies, The Last Airbender, which was so bad that it scarred me for life.

Joe Biden Chooses the 3rd Worst VP Contender

The worst possible selection would have been Susan Rice, the foreign policy Mandarin whose bellicose tendencies make John McCain look like Jeannette Rankin, and the second worst decision would have been Val Demings, who as chief of police in Tampa aggressively protective abusive and corrupt cop.

So, we’ve got Kamala Harris, whose record as California AG is problematic as Biden’s running mate.

I’m not enthused about the choice, but the only thing that would enthuse me would have been Bernie Sanders in a dress.

Sharon* told me about Biden’s choice, and suggested that we move to New Zealand.

I had to explain that New Zealand would have no interest in (optimistically) middle aged Americans who don’t bring a few million dollars in investments taking up permanent residence there.

My take is far less alarming, “Meh.”

Joseph R. Biden Jr. selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his vice-presidential running mate on Tuesday, embracing a former rival who sharply criticized him in the Democratic primaries but emerged after ending her campaign as a vocal supporter of Mr. Biden’s and a prominent advocate of racial-justice legislation after the killing of George Floyd in late May.

Ms. Harris, 55, is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party, and only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be chosen for a presidential ticket. She brings to the race a far more vigorous campaign style than Mr. Biden’s, including a gift for capturing moments of raw political electricity on the debate stage and elsewhere, and a personal identity and family story that many find inspiring.

Mr. Biden announced the selection over text message and in a follow-up email to supporters: “Joe Biden here. Big news: I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.” The two are expected to appear together in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday.

After her own presidential bid disintegrated last year, many Democrats regarded Ms. Harris as all but certain to try for another run for the White House in the future. By choosing her as his political partner, Mr. Biden, if he wins, may well be anointing her as the de facto leader of the party in four or eight years.

I’m hoping that AOC will run in 2024.  She turns 35 then.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

The Incredible Shrinking Warren

After a Presidential campaign that was largely done in by her prevarications on Medicare for All, Elizabeth Warren is walking back her support for Medicare for All even more in an attempt to convince Biden to select her as his VP pick.

I’ve never been a fan of the snake posters on Twitter, but it’s increasingly obvious that Warren has decided that her own integrity is a reasonable sacrifice to the altar of her Presidential ambitions, even while the snake posting was dumb politically, it was accurate:

In the thick of primary season, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden brawled over “Medicare for All”: He called her approach “angry,” “elitist,” “condescending”; she shot back, anyone who defends the health care status quo with industry talking points is “running in the wrong presidential primary.”

Six months later, with Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee and Warren in the running for VP, she is striking a more harmonious chord.


The shift is the latest public signal Warren has sent Biden’s way in recent weeks that she wants the job of vice president — and wants Biden to see her as a loyal governing partner despite their past clashes, which go back decades.

Warren’s policy-centered, team-player pitch is counting on Biden caring more about Jan. 20 than Nov. 3, when he makes his vice presidential pick. In other words, that the current crisis has elevated governing concerns above political ones — and that the times call for someone with her policy chops and, yes, plans.


Warren is trying to demonstrate her value to a future Biden administration and interest in the job without too explicitly campaigning for it, which could backfire. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a top Warren booster, has been muted on the idea of her being chosen as vice president, instead trying to draw attention to her legislative and policy work surrounding the coronavirus.


Still, Warren’s governing-partner pitch is complicated by her differences on policy with Biden over the years, particularly on domestic economic issues. Her willingness to bash fellow Democrats made some Obama administration officials feel that she was self-servingly sanctimonious.

Some context clear here, when some administration officials said that Warren was, “self-servingly sanctimonious,” they really mean that the don’t like women who are insufficiently deferential to men.

There is a reason that Christine Romer was quoted as saying, “I remember once I told Valerie [Jarrett] that, I said if it weren’t for the President,* this place would be in court for a hostile workplace.”

Warren’s answer on Medicare for All this week, however, is a possible sign of her willingness to align herself with Biden’s positions. Biden has shown a similar flexibility by embracing Warren’s bankruptcy reforms, the subject of many of their clashes in the early 2000s. Biden and his campaign have also shown a new openness to big, progressive proposals to revive the economy.


People close to Biden say that politics and governing will both be factors in his VP decision but that the media coverage overanalyzes how a pick might affect the outcome in one swing state or another, as opposed to his own priorities.


“While people are always gaming out all the angles on who they think can best help the candidate win, I find they tend to underestimate the degree that someone who has been in the White House for eight years and held the job [himself] is going to be thinking about” the decision, he said in an interview.


Taking no chances, Warren has been trying to showcase her potential political upside. She deployed her robust email list to raise money for Biden after she formally endorsed him. “I never had as many [contributors] until she endorsed me,” Biden said in a joint donor call with Warren that the campaign posted online Sunday.

She is not going to get the nod, and she will have sold her soul for some not particularly magical beans.

* As the old saying goes, “A fish rots from the head.”