Submit Questions for our Q&A Podcast!

Hi everyone, we’re starting our Q&A podcasts this month, in which we’ll be answering questions from you guys! We’re starting with one per month, and will do them more often if we get more submissions! Submit questions via email at duedissidence@gmail.com, or simply comment on this post with your question, then tune in next week to hear them answered in our podcast episode!

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Democrats’ “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” Theories Blind Them To Valid Criticisms, Which May Spell Doom in 2020.

by Keaton Weiss

In 1995, political consultant Chris Lehane wrote an extensive memo which analyzed the conservative media, and, more specifically, its role in mainstreaming conspiracy theories related to, at the time, the first couple of the United States, Bill and Hillary Clinton. The impetus for Lehane’s authoring that memo came when he noticed speculation circulating on the then up-and-coming ‘internet’ about the circumstances of Vince Foster’s death, officially ruled a suicide, in 1993. A few years later, as the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was consuming the country in 1998, Hillary herself popularized the term “vast right wing conspiracy” in a television interview with Matt Lauer, claiming that she and her husband had been the victims of several carefully co-ordinated, and completely bogus, smear campaigns, since Bill announced his candidacy for president.

Ever since, the Democratic faithful have taken for granted that such a conspiracy exists, and, to a certain extent, they’re correct. The right-wing media is a well funded, well organized, and, by now, well oiled machine very much capable of salacious, sensationalistic scandal-mongering. Right-wing media played a key role in the swift-boating of John Kerry in the 2004 election. They also claimed that Operation Fast and Furious was an insidious plot by the Obama administration to deliberately arm Mexican drug cartels in an effort to bolster support for gun control legislation here in the United States. They ran an innuendo campaign in the wake of the US consulate attack in Libya that eventually earned Hillary Clinton the “Butcher of Benghazi” nickname in many conservative circles. Examples abound.

So yes, the right-wing fever swamp is a real thing. Equally real, however, is the pervasive tendency among Democratic voters to assume that any and all scrutiny of high-ranking Democrats is a creation of it, and therefore, dismissible out of hand. Their contempt for conservative media, and all who consume it, has instilled in them a permanent knee-jerk response to everything they hear from right-wing sources: that first, none of it is ever true, and second, that none of it will ever gain traction in the world of mainstream public opinion.

This unwillingness to take these narratives seriously, and adjust their political strategy accordingly, has wrought disastrous consequences upon Democrats’ electoral prospects. The 2010 midterm election campaign was dominated by insane, over-the-top rhetoric from the newly formed Tea Party over the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Absurd as it seemed to the cosmopolitan liberal class that Obama was being compared to Hitler and Stalin for passing a relatively modest, market-based healthcare reform law, the Democrats lost 63 House seats and 7 Senate seats that year – their worst drubbing since 1948.

Then, of course, there was the 2016 presidential campaign, when Hillary herself was on the ballot. Before she had even announced her candidacy, news broke that Hillary had used a private email server to conduct State Department business while she was Secretary of State, and that this had potentially serious legal ramifications. The Clinton campaign, as well as the bulk of Democratic primary voters, and even Bernie Sanders, her opponent throughout the primary contest, dismissed the email scandal as a non-issue; just another incarnation of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” obsessed with taking her down. Yet, immediately after James Comey’s press conference on July 5, 2016, in which he exonerated her of any criminal wrongdoing, a poll showed that 56% of the American people thought she should have been indicted. In that very press conference, Comey cited that there was in fact “evidence of potential violations of the [Espionage Act] statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” and that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of such material. We later found out an earlier draft of Comey’s statement had described Clinton as “grossly negligent,” but that the words “extremely careless” were chosen as a substitute, because “gross negligence” could have carried with it criminal liability for Clinton.

I could go on at length about this, but my purpose here is not to rehash this whole unfortunate episode. Rather, my point is that the Clinton email scandal is an example of how Democrats were caught flat-footed by a controversy that they had dismissed as a ridiculous nothing-burger from the get-go. In fact, right now, as you’re reading this, there’s an art exhibit in Venice called “HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails,” which Clinton herself just visited, and claimed the exhibit proved the absurdity of the whole ordeal. Objectively speaking, however, there was reason to be suspicious of Clinton’s decision to conduct State Department emails on a private server, and then to delete over 30,000 emails after being ordered to turn them over to authorities, and then to claim she had followed proper protocols when Obama’s own OIG report stated otherwise rather explicitly. This is especially concerning given that a majority of non-government parties with whom Hillary took meetings as Secretary of State were Clinton Foundation donors.

Now, it was one thing, in that situation, to have been a good Democrat – a loyal foot soldier – and to contend that there was no fire there. It was another thing, however, to have insisted all the while that there wasn’t even any smoke. The latter was not only delusional, it was politically reckless; a charge I don’t think even the most steadfast Clinton supporters can deny, given how everything turned out. And Democrats are making similar mistakes in the run-up to 2020.

The first example of this blindness to legitimate and politically potent criticism that will be lodged at them in a general election lies in Elizabeth Warren’s “Pocahontas” problem. I know, I know, you don’t wanna hear it. I can see your eyes rolling as you read this, because to you, this is just the Republican smear machine at work. To you, there’s nothing to this story; it’s just inane, meaningless ‘deplorable fodder.’

Except it isn’t. There is documented evidence that Warren intentionally passed herself off as an American Indian, and that she benefited tremendously from having been successful in doing so. Furthermore, she’s never actually been honest about why she did this. She has claimed, in her apology for the whole affair, that her greatest regret was that she “should have been more mindful of the distinction with tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty.” In reality, we all know where the real political liability comes from here, and it’s not from the Cherokee Nation themselves. It’s from white, working class voters who will no doubt resent that she falsely claimed minority status in order to take advantage of affirmative action policies. Harvard Law listed her as American Indian on their federal affirmative action forms from 1995 to 2004.

So not only is there a lot of smoke there, but this is the exact type of issue that Trump and his base can best exploit politically, because it feeds the white grievance sentiment that Trump so viscerally animates in large swaths of the American electorate, beyond just his most ardent supporters. You can deny this if you’d like, but if you’re a Democrat, you do so at your peril, just as you denied the political potency of Hillary’s email problems.

And finally, there’s the issue of Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and the Ukraine. I know Democrats are giddy this week over the House’s decision to launch an impeachment inquiry. And just to be clear, I support the inquiry. But I support it only because, given the circumstances, they had no other real option. I am, though, quite bearish on its political efficacy for Democrats, mostly because when it comes to the Bidens and Ukraine, I’m sorry to say, there is reason for skepticism.

If you consume liberal media, they have been nearly unanimous in their assertion that there’s nothing to see there, and that the Bidens did nothing wrong, and have nothing to be concerned about. But in the very piece on NBCNews.com entitled “There’s No Evidence of Trump’s Biden-Ukraine Accusations. What Really Happened?,” journalist Jane C. Timm writes the following:

“As vice president, the elder Biden lead the U.S. diplomatic efforts to bolster the country’s fledgling democracy and root out corruption after mass protests ousted the country’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Biden spoke frequently with Ukrainian leaders and in April 2014, he traveled to Ukraine, bringing financial support and warning the Russians — who had recently annexed Crimea — to stop intervening in Ukrainian sovereignty.

In May 2014, Hunter Biden was hired by a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, as a board member reportedly making $50,000 a month. He stopped working with the company earlier this year.

The company had ties to Yanukovych, raising eyebrows among White House aides and others who saw potential for a conflict of interest. The Obama White House said at the time that the younger Biden was a private citizen, and that there was no conflict of interest.”

This reeks of textbook gaslighting, as those paragraphs seem to outline, at the very least, circumstantial evidence that something may have been fishy about Hunter’s dealings, in contradiction to the title of the article.

At the same time, right-wing outlet FOX News published a much different story regarding this matter, specifically covering Congressman Ted Lieu’s contention that there was no corruption involved in Hunter Biden’s arrangement. Their headline is as follows:

“Rep. Ted Lieu defends Hunter Biden’s $50,000 monthly salary from Ukranian firm, suggests it’s normal.”

The clear implication of that headline, from, yes, an admittedly biased network that is absolutely part of the right-wing propaganda machine, is that such an arrangement is not normal, or, at least, it ought not be normal, whereas NBC claims there’s no basis for suspicion. Ask yourself honestly: which of these narratives makes the most sense to the most people? Do you actually believe that most Americans think Hunter Biden would’ve received the same deal had his name been Hunter Johnson? Hey, Democrats, here’s a hint: THEY DON’T. I’m sorry, but they just don’t. And I mean that exactly how I just wrote it, because people have a gut feeling about these things, and, in politics, gut feelings are extremely powerful.

So you might think it unfair that the Bidens will be scrutinized over this Ukraine business by the Republicans and their allies in the right-wing media for as long as this impeachment inquiry lasts. But they will be. And, by the way, you should also be prepared to hear about the DNC’s confirmed efforts, in 2016, to solicit dirt on their political opponent, Donald Trump, from, you guessed it, Ukraine! As published in The Hill:

“In its most detailed account yet, the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington says a Democratic National Committee (DNC) insider during the 2016 election solicited dirt on Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and even tried to enlist the country’s president to help.

In written answers to questions, Ambassador Valeriy Chaly’s office says DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa sought information from the Ukrainian government on Paul Manafort’s dealings inside the country in hopes of forcing the issue before Congress.

Chalupa later tried to arrange for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to comment on Manafort’s Russian ties on a U.S. visit during the 2016 campaign, the ambassador said.

Chaly says that, at the time of the contacts in 2016, the embassy knew Chalupa primarily as a Ukrainian American activist and learned only later of her ties to the DNC. He says the embassy considered her requests an inappropriate solicitation of interference in the U.S. election.”

Once again, Democrats’ dismissal of these considerations, as well as their overt and snobbish contempt for anyone who dares to raise them, could yield disastrous political results in 2020. Remember, Democrats: only about 30% of Americans identify as members of your club, which means that 70% of the American people are not pre-disposed to siding with you on these matters. They have no reason to invest in the Democratic Party’s rationale, because they’re not part of the Democratic Party institution. And, most importantly, they’re not in on the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” They’re just calling things as they see them, and in many cases, they look at you guys and they don’t like what they see.

In order to avoid these political pitfalls, Democrats must, at the very least, learn to compartmentalize their attitudes towards these critiques. Yes, some of them are absurd. Some of this stuff is just salacious mudslinging. But some of it isn’t. Democrats’ electoral success in 2020 could hinge upon their ability to discern which is which, before they walk into another political bear trap.

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Bernie Must Start Making the Electability Argument. Right Now.

by Keaton Weiss

Summer’s over, folks. And with the crisp air, falling leaves, football Sundays, and pumpkin spiced everything, comes the time for everyone to start getting serious about the 2020 Presidential primary. Contrary to CNN’s laughably, though predictably, biased analysis billing this a now two-person race between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, the primary campaign is now a pretty close three way contest which, despite the corporate media’s best efforts, does include Bernie Sanders.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Elizabeth Warren has had a great summer, reviving a campaign that was once thought to be DOA and “planning” her way to bona-fide frontrunner status, and Joe Biden is stubbornly maintaining a solid lead atop the pack. Bernie’s numbers have also been stubborn, in that they’ve stayed pretty much the same since the Democratic field took shape with Biden’s entry into the race in late April.

I don’t say this to alarm you. And it’s hardly panic time. Yes, the media has written Bernie off. What else is new? As long as he’s in the game polling-wise, he’s got a shot. In a crowded field, the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, are especially important in establishing momentum and viability. Bernie’s one million individual donors will give him the resources he needs to compete in those states, and his one million volunteers will give him an extremely robust GOTV operation. In a tight three-way race where perhaps only 28% of the vote in Iowa is enough to get a win on the board, that could make all the difference.

Having said that, his campaign could certainly use a boost – a political B-12 shot, if you will. The question is, if you’re Bernie Sanders, how do you get one? It’s not so easy when the entire corporate media apparatus either attacks you constantly or ignores you altogether. There’s also the problem that Sanders is more or less a known quantity, especially within the Democratic Party. To whatever extent his populist, redistributive policy agenda is attractive to the Democratic electorate, those inroads have already been made. To continue appealing to the party base on policy grounds at this point may be more of a drawing-blood-from-a-stone exercise than we’d like to admit. The fact is, much of the Democratic electorate simply can’t be won over on those grounds, because many of them just don’t have an interest in such a policy program. The power base of the Democratic Party is no longer the working class, but the professional class, especially professional class women, for many of whom the greatest injustice of our time is the fact that they make $85,000 a year while some man in the office down the hall from them makes $95,000. They’re homeowners, they’ve got healthcare, and they can afford to pay off their student loans. Plainly put, the system works for them. Asking them to join a democratic socialist-led multiracial working class movement is a non-starter. You’d have an easier time selling an Eskimo an air conditioner.

Now, can Bernie win without any of those voters? Possibly. He and his volunteer army would have to register scores of thousands of first time voters, and make sure independents register as Democrats in closed primary states and turn out for him on primary days. If he manages to grow the electorate in this way, he’s got a shot. But to feel good about his chances, he’ll want to give himself some sort of breakthrough with the aforementioned problematic class of Democratic voters. And there might just be a way to do it.

Granted, a lot of these voters hate his guts, for one absurd reason or another, or in Mimi Rocah’s case, for no particular reason at all. But one old, straight, white man they really hate, even more than Bernie Sanders, ostensibly at least, is Donald Trump. And this is why Bernie must start making the electability argument. Right now.

The electability argument allows him to differentiate himself from Elizabeth Warren without attacking her explicitly. The corporate media is already suggesting that it’s sexist to support Sanders over Warren given their supposedly similar policy stances, and even smaller, more independent feminist outlets are of course making the case that using the electability argument against Warren is itself a misogynistic smear against an intelligent, accomplished, ambitious woman. So Bernie himself might not be able to point out the obvious fact that Warren’s passing herself off as an American Indian, and subsequently being lauded as Harvard Law’s first woman of color with tenured professorship, is the reddest of red meat for Donald Trump and the white working class who’s both available to the Democrats and also susceptible to racial demagoguery. Or that a professorial Ivy League technocrat isn’t exactly the ‘way to the industrial-midwestern Rust Belt heart.’ Those arguments are probably too hot for him to touch. Making them will of course be our job as outsiders.

What Bernie himself can do quite convincingly, though, is make an affirmative case for why he is the candidate best positioned to defeat Donald Trump in a general election. He can point to the polls, which consistently show him faring very well against Trump, both nationally, and in critical swing states. He can even point to a recent poll in Texas which had him beating Trump by six points. In Texas, where a win would guarantee Democrats the White House.

But beyond polling well in head to head matchups with Trump, he can tout his high favorability ratings across the board, outside the Democratic Party, including very impressive spreads among independents (54-35, favorable to unfavorable), and even Republicans, 26% of whom have a favorable view of him. He can invoke his very successful town hall appearances in Trump country, one in West Virginia in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, and of course, his widely praised FOX News Town Hall  in Pennsylvania. Remember, Warren declined to appear on FOX, calling it a “hate for profit racket,” a line that no doubt won her some points with the Democratic rank and file, but, to my point, foreshadows a lack of mass appeal come general election time.

He can also go one step further; and this, some might say, would be too bold, too risky, too “divisive.” But I think he can “go there” on the topic of 2016. He can tell the Warren-backing, professional class pearl-clutchers who abhor Trump to no end that he would have won that election if they gave him the chance, and that perhaps they shouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Sure, he’d get tons of shit for saying that. Some of it would come from people who will never vote for him anyway. Some of it would come from media outlets who will never be without a Bernie hit piece up their sleeve no matter what he says. And some of it will come from upper class, so-called “liberals,” who, despite their distaste for Trump, would rather he be president than Sanders, for reasons of pure self interest. But some of it will come from people who know in their heart of hearts that he’s right. He would have won. And some of these same people won’t give him any shit at all. Some of them will get that gnawing feeling in their gut that they were wrong to support Clinton four years ago, and perhaps they should just admit that to themselves, and correct their mistake this time around.

Let’s also remember that a fairly large plurality of Joe Biden supporters name Sanders as their second choice, and that Biden’s support is primarily based on the premise that he’s the safest bet to defeat Donald Trump. To those voters, the electability argument would be a much easier pitch, as electability itself is far and away their most important consideration. The case against Biden’s electability is becoming clearer by the day, as he seemingly can’t get through a public appearance of any kind without bewildering his audience with nonsensical tangents and diatribes on everything from his friendships with segregationists, to forgetting Barack Obama’s name, to the need, in 2019, for black parents to turn on their “record players” for their children so they can “hear words.” And being that Biden is a fellow old, white man, Bernie can probably get away with executing this more direct line of attack against him.

And finally, making such a case would be, in Bernie’s case, something different. And because Bernie is often criticized for being too repetitive in his messaging, this shift in approach would get people’s attention by virtue of simply being new for him. And of course, the haters will all say that this is a sign of desperation, and that he’s simply fear-mongering about how his rivals are more likely to lose than he is, and so on and so forth. But again, they all remember 2016, they remember they said the same things back then, and most of them know they screwed up. And if only a small percentage of those who know they screwed up are big enough to admit it and course correct, that could provide the 2-3 point bounce in the polls that may just be the difference between wins and losses in the all-important early states.

This strategy must be implemented promptly; as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t summertime anymore. The next two primary debates in October and November will be hugely important. It’s time to go on offense in a way that answers the Democratic electorate’s most pressing question: who can win? Bernie has the best “plan for that,” and he’s gotta start rolling it out.

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Podcast: Dave Chappelle, Shane Gillis, and the New Rules of Comedy – w/Justin Van Voorhis

Comedian, writer and filmmaker Justin Van Voorhis discusses the current state of comedy, including Dave Chappelle’s new special, the firing of Shane Gillis, and more.

Enjoy reading this blog? You can help keep us going by making a secure donation via PayPal, just click below! Thank you for your support!

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Are We Really Going To Do This Again?

by Russell Dobular

Being a Democrat, even a nominal one like myself, is a lot like being a Mets fan. While there are plenty of teams in baseball with a losing record, the Mets are unique in their preferred style of losing: from ahead. Being a Mets fan means walking the dog in the 8th inning, feeling secure that a 12-run lead can’t possibly be overcome, and then returning home to find that lead has evaporated in the past twenty minutes and now you’re into extra innings. I found that constant disappointment so painful and frustrating that it turned me off to all sports by the time I was ten. Unfortunately, I remain a Democrat for lack of better options in our system, and that means having a similar experience once every four years.

Much like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden is leading in all of the polls among Democrats. And much like Hillary Clinton, he easily wins in theoretical matchups against his likely general election opponent, more than a year before the voting starts. And again, just like Hillary, he really doesn’t give a fuck what you think about his high-dollar fundraisers, where he offers the 1% solace and the reassurance that “nothing would fundamentally change” under his administration. Now there’s a campaign slogan. And in one more eerie similarity to the doomed Clinton campaign, the lack of genuine enthusiasm for his candidacy is such that he draws smaller crowds to his events than you’d get for an REO Speedwagon reunion tour, in spite of his huge polling lead.

There are a lot of differences between Democratic and Republican primary voters, but none are more important to electoral outcomes than the way they choose their candidates. Republicans pick nominees that they feel passionate about. Democrats pick nominees that they think other people will feel passionate about, or at the very least, find tolerable enough to vote for them. As we’ve seen time and time again, trying to imagine what non-Democrats are going to find appealing is a fool’s errand, and Democrats, on the whole, aren’t very good at it. This is partly because of the basic premise that they start from: ‘who’s the best person we can field that will appeal to inland-dwelling deplorables?’ When you’re trying to find a candidate who can win over who you think of as shitty people, your solution is probably gong to be to pick a shitty candidate. That’s pretty condescending and likely to play to the voters you’re trying to persuade not as a genuine attempt to speak to their interests, but as a reflection of how little you think of them. Nominating a doddering old Mad Men-era benign racist to take on Trump would be telling the electorate in no uncertain terms, “This is how we see you.” And it is.

When you ask Democrats what the rationale for Biden is, they don’t talk about policy or integrity. What they’ll invariably tell you is that Biden is the best we can do in a country full of troglodytes. Sadly, according to Joy Reid, that goes double for the older black voters who underlie his polling lead. In a recent interview with Time magazine editor-at-large, Anand Giridharadas, addressing Biden’s horrific answer in the 3rd debate regarding how best to address the legacy of slavery, Reid claimed that among black voters over 40 that she’s spoken to, support for Biden isn’t predicated on the premise that he’s not a racist, but entirely on the assumption that America is so racist that he’s the least racist candidate who can win. We can safely assume that was also the reason black voters got behind someone in 2016 who ran an inarguably racist primary campaign against the first black President. How to explain Obama’s two terms then? According to Reid, it was an “aberration,” in the view of her community. So how did Hillary fare with black voters in the general election under the same set of assumptions? Low black turnout ended up being one of the key factors in her loss.

Turns out a lot of African Americans, especially the younger voters who have cut their political teeth on the Black Lives Matter movement, weren’t all that eager to vote for someone who straight out called herself the candidate of “hard working Americans, white Americans,” just a few years earlier. And yet, here we go again. There are videos of Biden floor speeches that make Hillary’s “deplorables” fundraiser look like a James Brown concert. And you can be assured the Trump team has all of them locked and loaded and ready to drop the second he clinches the nomination.

What’s really mind-boggling about Biden’s seemingly unassailable lead is the way that Democrats are once again unerringly honing in like a Tomahawk cruise missile specifically designed to find the least electable person in the field, on one of the few people who could actually lose in 2020. Its kind of uncanny.

As a progressive, I’d love to say that only a progressive can win, but Donald Trump is so fucking awful, I can’t honestly say that. Pretty much everyone in the top to mid-tier would likely beat Trump, with one exception; Joe Biden, and for a lot of the same reasons that Hillary was uniquely positioned to lose to Trump. Biden represents the status quo at a time when the country is desperate for change. He has a checkered enough past on racial issues for Trump to muddy the waters on the question of who’s more racist, probably fighting that issue to a draw. I know, Charlottesville. But Biden helped craft mass incarceration, while Trump signed the first major bill aimed at dismantling it. If I’m working on the Trump campaign, I’m all over that framing. And just like Hillary couldn’t do anything with the corruption angle, in light of the Clinton Foundation’s fairly transparent pay-to-play structure and her $500K speeches to banks, when Biden goes after Trump on that score, Trump will go after his family. And don’t kid yourself, there’s a lot for him to work with there. 

Even if you somehow manage to get past all of that, there’s the simple and obvious fact that Joe Biden is clearly in the throes of cognitive decline. I know some in the press are trying to counter that early by making the same claims about Trump, but that’s just wishful thinking. Trump sounds like the same crazy bastard he’s always been. Biden, on the other hand, is not the same Joe Biden. Sure, he was always a gaffe machine, and I’m hearing a lot of Democrats reassuring themselves, with a big assist from the corporate media, that that’s all it is. But that isn’t all it is. “Poor kids are just as smart as white kids” is Biden being who he’s always been; a benign racist who forgets sometimes that what might have made him the “liberal’ in the room when addressing a union hall circa 1975 doesn’t fly anymore. This is different. The Biden we’re seeing today is not the Biden who took on Paul Ryan. This is a man that no responsible parent would trust to watch their kids for fear he might accidentally burn the house down trying to make toast. Senility is one of the few traits that are so definitionally disqualifying that there’s just no getting past it, no matter who the opponent is. So naturally the Democrats think it’s about as good an idea as running a candidate who’s in the middle of an FBI investigation. What could possibly go wrong?

As a result of his early-stage dementia, Biden has fallen apart at various points on stage in every debate thus far and regularly does so even at his own pre-planned, scripted events. What do we think is going to happen when his mind starts to wander in the middle of a debate with the Master of Disaster, Donald J. Trump? Give the devil his due; the man has a nose for weakness and a talent for manipulating the press into adopting his framing. You can already hear Trump’s response to a crazy Biden ramble-fest: “Does anyone understand what he just said? No really, can anyone make any sense out of any of that? What the hell is he talking about? You sound like my dad after he got Alzheimer’s, which is a terrible disease by the way. Its nap time Joe, go home and take a nap, this is too much exertion for you. No really, I’m concerned for you. This is why your buddy Barack told you not to do this Joe. He knew you weren’t up to the strain. And so on. A Biden nomination means an election cycle in which you’re bound to wake up to the headline, “Is Biden Going Senile?” And because he very obviously is going senile, it’s going to stick.

All this to say, he’s very likely to be the nominee. Because these are the Democrats we’re talking about. The New York Mets of politics. If there are ten ways to win and one way to lose, they’ll always find the one way. It’s who they are, as woven into their DNA as choking in the clutch is for my hometown team. As a betting man I can tell you I’ve lost money every time I assumed that the Democrats wouldn’t do the absolute worst thing they could possibly do in any given situation. I’ve never lost money betting against them. The same clueless dumbasses who slapped a “Dated Dean, Married Kerry,” bumper sticker on their cars in ’04, supremely confident in their political acumen and maturity, are going to proudly march into the voting booths this time around and nominate a man who’s about three years away from needing ’round-the-clock care. So, if you have any money laying around, put it all on Biden for the primaries and Trump for the general. By the time the Donald gets done wrecking what’s left of the country, you’re probably gonna need the cash.

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The Jerking Families Party’s Not-So-Happy Ending.

by Keaton Weiss

First of all, it’s quite likely that Bernie Sanders actually won the rank and file vote for the Working Families Party endorsement. The party decides upon its presidential endorsement via a “weighted vote,” which is essentially a superdelegate model. In this case, unlike other years, they have decided to withhold the breakdown of “member votes” vs. “leader votes,” sowing doubts as to whether or not the party leadership acted to override the members’ consensus. For a succinct, detailed, and very persuasive analysis of why it’s quite likely that the member vote went for Sanders and that the party leadership voted to alter their decision, I’ll refer you to Matt Bruenig’s excellent piece in Jacobin Magazine.

That aside, let’s just for a moment take at face value the “weighted vote” of the WFP’s endorsement, which went to Elizabeth Warren. This isn’t the first time this ostensibly progressive organization has made the dubious, eyebrow-raising decision to cozy up to power rather than challenge it. They endorsed Andrew Cuomo over Zephyr Teachout in the New York gubernatorial primary of 2014, and Joe Crowley over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018. Also in 2018, the party grudgingly gave their party line to Andrew Cuomo after he defeated their endorsed candidate, Cynthia Nixon, in the primary. There was some doubt as to whether Cuomo would have even accepted their general election endorsement after being spurned by them during the primary, but ultimately, the Working Families Party fell in line and made amends with the party establishment – a trend that has obviously continued through this week.

If an organization that calls itself the “Working Families Party” could, in a laboratory, concoct a candidate from scratch, they would create Bernie Sanders. On its own homepage, the Working Families Party, as of this writing anyway (homepages can change, of course), bills itself as follows:

“The Working Families Party is a grassroots, multiracial party of working people coming together across our differences to make our nation work for the many, not the few. We’re electing the next generation of transformational leaders and building durable, independent progressive power in communities across the country. But we can only do this together.”

Substitute “Working Families Party” for “Bernie Sanders campaign”, and the word “party” for “coalition,” and you’d have a statement that’s entirely accurate. Not only does Sanders’ platform represent the most ambitious pro-worker agenda in generations, his movement-based style of obtaining and maintaining political power is precisely the model that the WFP touts, once again, on its homepage. 

So, regardless of whether or not there were any superdelegate-like shenanigans employed to put Warren over the top, we must ask ourselves the equally important question of why a) the vote was close enough to overturn in the first place, and b) why WFP leadership feels that Warren is a better choice than Sanders, who overwhelmingly won the party’s endorsement four years ago.

The answer is that they see Warren as a Trojan Horse, and Sanders as a Bull in a China Shop. They see Elizabeth Warren as a progressive candidate who’s palatable enough to the establishment so as not to make too many enemies and cause too much alarm; someone they can package as a gift to the DNC, and then, once she’s inside the Oval Office, can unleash her progressive agenda upon the halls of power, defeating the establishment from within, the same way the Greeks toppled Troy. Bernie, on the other hand, is more of a blunt instrument. He challenges the entrenched power structure directly and with the brute force of one million volunteers; working people who are ready to storm the Bastille and conquer the neoliberal status quo the old-fashioned way: through revolution.

The latter – Sanders’ strategy – is a giant undertaking, no doubt. It’s a David vs. Goliath battle that will require working people to unite, and against all odds, dismantle the oligarchy to deliver an economic and political order that is truly democratic. It’s a long shot, of course. But the former strategy, the “Trojan Horse” strategy that the WFP sees in Elizabeth Warren, is a straight-up sucker’s bet. For two reasons:

The first is explained by very recent history. Barack Obama tried this exact same strategy in 2008, and was thwarted by the DNC. His campaign sought to build a grassroots army outside the party establishment’s parameters, and was given a hard ‘no’ by the consultant class. Obama’s strategy of challenging party orthodoxy while ultimately agreeing to play by their rules is being duplicated to a T by the Warren campaign. And if Barack Obama, whose policy set is decidedly to the right of Warren’s, was stopped at the gates of Troy, you can only imagine how harsh and swift the political class will come down on any similar effort put forth by Warren, who’s already assured them she’s willing to play nice if she has to.

But secondly, and more importantly, and perhaps rendering reason number one irrelevant, a Trojan Horse is only effective if…wait for it…THERE’S AN ARMY INSIDE OF IT! And there simply is no grassroots working class movement taking shape in Elizabeth Warren’s campaign. According to virtually all available data, Warren’s supporters are disproportionately wealthy, white, and highly educated. However you feel about that, it’s objectively not a “multiracial [coalition] of working people” who are ready to get their hands dirty in pursuit of “independent progressive power.”

Warren’s base of support is firmly positioned within the Democratic Party, and are very comfortable where they are, both politically and economically. What this means is that Warren’s coalition has no real use for the Working Families Party, and has nothing whatsoever to gain from the WFP’s success in building the kind of working class movement they’re supposedly striving to create. Conversely, Bernie Sanders is himself an independent, as are millions of his supporters. These are people in search of a party, or any political organization for that matter, who will welcome them with open arms, and the WFP could have perhaps played that role, while simultaneously fulfilling their own stated mission of creating a diverse, independent progressive power base.

Instead, they once again did what they’ve been known to do throughout their short history: play sheepdog for the Democratic Party. In this way, their endorsement of Warren makes perfect sense. If their raison d’etre is to vouch for left-of-center Democrats on progressives’ behalf, then Warren and the WFP are actually a match made in heaven. Such a match leads me to believe that they were never actually serious about independent working class coalition-building, but rather, creating the illusion of such a movement in order to give working class progressives the idea that there’s a place for them in the Democratic Party. Well, the jig is up. The Jerking Families Party, as the Rush Limbaugh in me has now coined them, has written itself a not-so-happy ending.

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Podcast: Party’s Over – Democratic Debate Recap

Keaton and Russell give their thoughts on the September 12 Democratic debate in Houston.

And listed below:

Totally Non-Partisan Debate Round Up

by Russell Dobular

Amy Klobuchar: “I’ve sponsored or co-sponsored over 100 bills, all of which were innocuous enough to get past Mitch McConnell. This included landmark legislation like my Nazis Are Bad resolution and my bold Kiddie Porn Shouldn’t Be A Thing Act. So if you want the kind of President who focuses on the fruit that’s hanging so low that even a GOP Congress will take no exception to it, I’m your gal.”

Julian Castro: “Joe, did you just pee yourself?! He peed himself! I can’t believe he peed himself! And now he’s denying it! There’s like a thin stream of old codger urine right there behind the podium! Did you forget you peed yourself already?! (Under breath) Yep, that outghta do it. Top tier, here I come.

Cory Booker: “Yes, I’ve been compared a lot to Obama. But I think that’s only because we all look alike to the white pundits who make these shallow observations. Hell, they couldn’t even tell Obama and Kamala apart until she shit the bed in the last debate. If you’re black and speak in complete sentences its like that Shazam movie, only instead of a superhero, you turn into Obama.”

Beto O’Rourke: “They tell me I can’t drop the F-bomb tonight, so let me just apologize to everyone who bought a T-shirt. As to why I won’t get out of the race and run for Senate, I’m not supposed to talk about this, but Warner Bros. is currently in pre-production for an Addams Family prequel which is going to be a kind of young Lurch origin story. And guess who’s up for the lead?”

Pete Buttigieg: “There’s a war going on in this country right now. And it goes beyond red states and blue states, Republicans and Democrats. The war I’m speaking of is between the wealthy donors who keep pouring millions of dollars into my campaign and the millions of voters who don’t think speaking Norwegian is a qualification. Well, let me just say to those people, with America imploding and the yuan collapsing, who do you think is going to lead? The Norwegian century is clearly at hand. You heard it here first.”

Andrew Yang: “You get a thousand dollars! And you get a thousand dollars! And you . . .”

Bernie Sanders: “Venezuela, Jorge? Really? Venezuela? I thought the DNC decided not to do a FOX News debate. But in all seriousness, I know your people, generally speaking, have had a rough history with far left-wing governments. But you’ve also had a rough history with CIA backed-coups, and right-wing dictatorships supported by the US. So why aren’t you asking about what my administration would do to avoid another Pinochet, instead of trying to tie what you surely know are commonplace European-style social programs to Venezeula? I ask because I think a lot of Democrats assume that Univision doesn’t have the corporate agenda of the English-language media, in spite of the fact that you personally prove that false on a regular basis.”

Kamala Harris: “Trump! Trump! Trumpity-Trump-Trump! Hahahahahahahahahahaha! (Pause) Autopsy photos make me sad. (Beat) Hey Joe, let’s try “Yes we can.” Shit, nothing? That killed in rehearsals. Listen people, I’m working with a handicap here. Being an undiagnosed sociopath, I know my sense of propriety can be strange and off-putting. Hence all the weird tonal shifts and disconcerting affect. Nobody on the San Francisco cocktail circuit seemed to notice the empty void at the core of my being, but TV is an unforgiving medium.”

Joe Biden: “Did you know that three dogs fighting can . . . it can make Arianna Grande . . . and also, Maduro has a small wooden box. I’ve seen it! Furthermore, I just want to say to my friends on stage here . . . there’s nothing like what my father used to say, which is . . . Ozymandius, King of Kings, look on . . . and also, buy records. And I also want you to know that I used to have a Dodge truck with a mango scented air-freshener.”

Elizabeth Warren: “Having a background in bankruptcy law, I’d like you all to stop for a second and do the math. Bernie is loathed by the party establishment and as we know from 2016, those folks don’t play fair; Biden is like Jack Nicholson at the end of Cuckoo’s Nest, and Harris is creepy as fuck. And barring an asteroid hitting Washington and wiping out all four of us at the same time, no one else on this stage stands a chance. All that to say, yes, this is happening. Warren 2020, baby. Its real.”

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