Five Things: July 19, 2020

What? A Five Things on the weekend? Sure! I’m not usually going to do them on the weekend, but today I feel like doing one, so here we are. And here’s what I’m thinking about today:

Biden’s path to victory: Do nothing — The article linked to here does a rundown on Biden’s largely low-key presidential strategy, which can basically be summed up as, “Be a moderate Democrat; don’t interrupt Trump while he’s imploding.” Which, you know what? I’m totally for! And seems to be working in any event. Biden fans, such as they are, will point out he’s been putting out a raft of proposed policy initiatives, some of which are surprisingly progressive, and they aren’t wrong. It’s just that literally no one cares, because at the moment the president is ditching doing anything about the pandemic in order to stuff secret police into rented unmarked vans in Portland. Biden could prance about naked in his basement with sparklers wedged between his buttcheeks and people would still be, rightly, more concerned about what Trump is doing, and not doing. I don’t think there’s ever been an election, certainly in my lifetime, where the argument of “I’m not that dude” has ever been more compelling.

Will a Trump wipeout change the GOP? The article here suggests maybe, but I’m not in the slightest bit convinced. I’ve been watching the GOP since the Gingrich days, folks, and the thing about the GOP is that there’s never been a time when it’s been defeated that its response has been “Oh, wow, maybe we should change tactics.” No, it’s always — always — doubled down, which is why it is what it is today: The party of white supremacists and emergent fascists, led by incurious bigot who has contempt for the same “law and order” he pretends he is rallying for. The GOP is the party which, at every point when the choice was doing to the moral and responsible thing, especially in the last four years, said, “okay, but what if we… didn’t?” and went from there. Their only real problem at this point is, having arrived at naked white supremacist authoritarianism as they have, the question of where they double down from here is not one with a pleasant answer. I’d be happy to be wrong! I don’t think I am.

(This brings me little joy; I remember having two functional major political parties. It was better than what we have now. White supremacy is a hell of a drug, y’all.)

Looking for NEOWISE: I got a picture of the comet on Friday night, I’m happy to say:

It’s not a great picture — I took it with my Pixel 4 — but the impressive thing was that I was able to take it at all. For the last several days our skies have been cloudy, which made comet hunting difficult-to-impossible; Friday was literally the only day in a week where we had a mostly cloudless sky. I’m hoping for another one before the comet fades out of sign entirely, hopefully to get a slightly better picture. But no matter what, I got to see this year’s comet with my own eyes, and so did Krissy. That’s pretty cool.

New self-portrait: Oh, look, it’s me:

Photoshop updated its RAW photo editor recently, so I spent yesterday fiddling about with it, on the grounds that in fact it would be nice to actually use more of the program to make my pictures better (or at least, more interesting to me). This occasioned me taking a few selfies with my Nikon in order to play with them in Photoshop; this was the best one. I could use a shave. Otherwise I’m happy with it. Generally I’m happy with 51-year-old me, in a photographic sense. I think I could look a lot worse.

And now, “Joey”: As part of our quarantine hobbies, Krissy and I are learning this song on guitar, because it’s one of Krissy’s favorite songs from one of her favorite bands, and also, it’s four chords, none of which are terribly difficult (G, Em, C and D, if you were curious). We practice it a bit most days. We’re not completely terrible! But, not as good as the original. Here’s the original.

71 Comments on “Five Things: July 19, 2020”

  1. Also: #NotAllRepublicans, as in, not every Republican party member is a racist authoritarian hot mess, but every Republican party member should be aware of the racist authoritarian hot mess that their party is right now, and also, that this is what it’s been working to become over the last three decades.

    Also, of course, if you vote for Trump for a second term, you’re pretty much on board for the racist authoritarian hot mess to continue and get much, much worse.

  2. I used to be one of the world’s biggest Concrete Blonde fans. Saw them three times, and once even got a personal letter from Johnette. Really wish I still had it.

  3. With what we’ve seen here in Portland, I’m not sure this country will survive (at least as a democracy) until Biden takes over in January. The Feds’ violent tactics were were terrible enough. Their next step (people from unmarked vans grabbing people who were simply walking down the street) was really, really scary.

    Our AG is trying to get a court order to make them stop. I’m just not sure they’ll pay any attention to a court order.

  4. Love Concrete Blonde! Joey is one of those songs that I will sit in the car to listen thru the whole way if it is on the radio even though I have reached my destination.

  5. Congrats on your comet picture. My husband has been comet hunting to no avail-we live in the hilly part of north Alabama and it’s been cloudy as well.

  6. Jude has had her over the top on a tripod binoculars and full on telescope set up for nights to capture Neowise. Colorado night time skies have not cooperated. Tonight, however, the forecast is positive. Fingers and red light flashlights crossed.

  7. Re: ‘not that guy’ and ‘white supremacist authoritarianism’: events in Portland and the current attempt to defund the USPS are separately terrifying and together on the verge of making me gibber :(.

  8. I don’t know what to make of what is happening in Oregon right now, except that it is beyond dysfunctional.and pathetic. The governor–THE GOVERNOR– was making the news rounds yesterday basically saying there is nothing she can do except for asking them politely to stop. “Be nice, boys, this is not good play”.

    This is bullshit. She has absolute power to call in state police and the national guard to shut this fascist insurrection down, but she pretends that she can’t This is the face of Democrats losing if they even do their basic constitutional job.

  9. I saw a yard sign in my neighborhood (pretty expensive, very Republican) that read “I’m a Republican not an idiot, Biden 2020”. It was printed but looked like it might be custom made rather than commercially produced.

  10. “ The party of white supremacists and emergent fascists, led by (an) incurious bigot who has contempt for the same “law and order” he pretends he is rallying for.” is a good concise summary. Will steal it.

    Yes, one can say “not all Rs”, but when they always vote in a block, it’s a distinction without a difference.

    The only thing scarier than the paramilitary goon squads in Portland is Cuccinelli’s promise to take that show on the road. Call your reps and senators, everyone. This gang of bullies are also cowards, who back down when forcefully challenged.

    The only thing that will stop the Rs from continuing to double down is beating them so hard and so often that they want to look for another strategy. I’d say that they should go the way of the Whigs, but one-Party rule quickly becomes corrupt.

    Register to vote, be sure of your status on the rolls and have more than one plan for being sure you cast you ballot.

  11. Went to the Observatory Park in Great Falls Va last night to look at the comet. Easily visible through binoculars, as was Jupiter and some of the Galilean moons. Only problem was people showing up late, after dark, with their headlights on.

  12. I think the best we can hope for is that the Republicans get so totally wiped out in November that they shatter into nothing viable, and the Democrats go on to divide into centrist and further left, which (because of the moving Overton window) actually is closer to what the original pre-Reagan
    Republicans and Democrats were. And the fascists, neo-Nazis and the rest of the Republican tagalongs can die in a Dumpster fire.

  13. I saw Concrete Blonde live once and they decided, on the fly, to switch up and play “Joey” as a super fast pink song. It was hilarious and awesome.

  14. Ah, Concrete Blonde. They were one of my wife’s favorite bands when we met, saw them at Rutgers University in 93. We covered this song in our band, which is how we met.

  15. @Niles You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. What was going on in Portland was pretty run-of-the-mill until Dumbo and his brownshirts got involved. There are protests in Portland all the time and the vast majority of protestors are peaceful and law-abiding, but there is a small group of assholes–some of whom are right-wing instigators–who consistently show up just to break stuff and start shit with the cops.

    The Portland cops and city officials and are used to this and generally handle the situation pretty well. A few blocks downtown have been defaced with graffiti and broken windows, but the idea that Portland is a “war zone” or that it’s not safe to be downtown is a fiction by sensationalist media and the Trumpist right who are trying to turn these protests into a Reichstag fire.

    You might find this Twitter thread enlightening if you’ve been getting all your information about Portland from right-wing media.

  16. For the country to force a remaking of the Republican party would take not just ONE electoral pasting, but a bunch of them, strung together, forcing the Republicans into the wilderness for at least the better part of a decade. We had a shot at that after the big gains Democrats and progressive voters had in 2006 and then in 2008, but then they let the Tea Party happen in 2010, and the result was that the Republicans didn’t have to learn any answer OTHER than “If we double down, we can win really big!” They may have lost in 2012, but they just kept on doubling down, which gave them means to stymie President Obama’s agenda and deny him a court appointment, and then it gave them the Presidency and the current disaster unfolding. A Trump loss in 2020 won’t generate any Republican introspection in and of itself if they have a nice rebound awaiting them in 2022.

  17. 538 is still saying that Drump still has 40.5% of America behind him. Add that to the RNC allowing those lying, dystopian visions as campaign commercials and I think that Republicans are going to have to prove that they are anyway better than Trump himself.

    Biden needs to stay the course and just show what Leadership means. Let Trump attempt political suicide and see if Republicans really are functioning adults. All the rest of us functioning adults need to line up with Biden and make sure hell on earth is over.

    I think I’ll go and put on some Concrete Blonde now, It might stop the gag reflex I get every time Trump pulls another one.

  18. I prefer the politically charged (and, sadly, still relevant) “God is a Bullet” or the haunting “Tomorrow, Wendy is Going to Die.” But you really can’t go wrong with Concrete Blond.

  19. I don’t know. I think we do what they can do, because to not do what is possible is to cede this country and lots of people to harm’s way.

    Almost everything else is discouraging for me, though. You can’t make people decide to accept evidence (particularly when it’s not what they want to hear) – since evidence is what generally keeps people from going so far off the rails, it’s hard to imagine how to get somewhere saner. It also implies that people really don’t like the Democratic Party, to the point that they are willing to vote themselves into a kleptocracy and maybe a fascist state to avoid voting for its people. I don’t know why – some of it is likely policy decisions that can’t and shouldn’t be changed (that “all men (people) are created equal” thing that Trump’s people don’t seem to like), but some of it is not.

    The GOP is past the point of reasonable people believing in its speech and its willingness to behave by its principles (the ones it claims to have, not the ones it actually (doesn’t) have), but since they’ve gotten this far by pretending things they don’t like exist, I imagine they’ll treat the last four years like a season on Dallas and pretend that none of this happened. The only cure for that is electoral damnation, and I don’t see that – even the people in the GOP who supposedly have principles have been quite willing to sacrifice them to get what they want, and it’s paid off for them.

  20. Dear John,

    You know, I would be happy with having one functional major party that learns from its follies, because we don’t have even that.

    Twice, now, the Democrats have fucked up in exactly the same way. Back in 1992, they owned the government, the presidency and Congress. Clinton came in with a whole platform of progressive actions — gay rights, national healthcare, major environmental initiatives. The conservative DINOs in his own party shot them all down, crying, “Oooh, boo-hoo, our constituents will never accept this, we will be voted out of office and lose control…”

    What happened? The Republicans came along with an honest-to-Satan platform of action and took control of Congress in the next election and made Clinton’s life hell for the remainder of his term in office.

    Come 2008, I asked a friend of mine who’s a middle-level functionary in the Democratic machine if we were going to get a repeat of 1992, or had the Democrats learn from their mistake. She assured me that they had learned.

    She was wrong. The DINO’s did exactly the same thing to Obama’s progressive shopping list (which was remarkably similar to the one we hadn’t gotten 16 years earlier) and shot him down. For the same reasons. So, what happened in 2010? Second verse, same as the first.

    I am not holding out much hope for the third time, because the official “Party Line” is that those mean ol’ Republicans were the ones who kept the Democratic presidents from getting anything done. They take no responsibility for the time when they WERE in a position to get things done, and the DINO incrementalists screwed themselves. And us. They still bleat and whine. “Don’t move too fast. Don’t do anything too extreme. Blah Blah.”

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  21. If a Republican voted for Trump, they are complicit in his actions.
    If a Republican did NOTHING during the past three years to stop Trump, they are complicit in his actions.
    They didn’t give a fuck what Trump was doing because he was doing it *other* people, not them. They don’t give a pass because the leopard is now eating their face.

  22. Steve said, “It’s sad that the best choice is (Biden).” I wonder how much of this is illusion?

    In Canada now the same party has gotten in twice with just one notable person (with a good hairstyle) OMG, what if he had been hit by a bus?
    The opposition party has had no credible person for a long time, at least, not one to argue notably in parliament, although maybe this will change when they have a leadership convention in August.

    I can only hope folks with a party membership, democrats and otherwise, know something we don’t about other members being credible too.

  23. Dear Steve,

    No, what is sad is that you’ve got a champion who has BRAGGED about committing sexual assault and who not only lies multiple times a day but genuinely believes his own lies. And the very best you can do is try to pin a vastly watered-down version of that on Biden.

    You’ve a coal-black pot trying to call a kettle grey.

    That is beyond sad.

    pax / Ctein

  24. Whenever the Republicans have suffered a resounding defeat, they spend time discussing what went wrong. Why did we lose suburban women? (oh, so many reasons.) Why have the elderly abandoned us? Eventually, they always conclude that it’s not their policies that are the problem, it’s that they need to to do a better job selling them. So they continue with the policies that failed before.
    It’s really hard to find a way to pitch parents on the idea that they should send their children to school with the virus on the rise and no plan to keep them safe. It’s also hard to convince the elderly to accept the notion that they are expendable.

  25. Went to Shoreline Park to go comet-hunting last night. We had our usual Silicon Valley horizon-level haze, and some of the people who brought binoculars could see it, but we didn’t, and couldn’t. Took us a while to find a parking space, though :-)

    Biden is not the best Democrat, but he’s Definitely Not Trump, which is close enough; I think the Dems could borrow Vermin Supreme and still win. I’m more concerned about the Senate races; we’d be a lot better off if the Democrats take that also.

    I really enjoyed how much more music opened up when I learned to add the Em to G/C/D (or the Bm to D/G/A, depending on what tuning I was in.) I really should get around to learning good minor key progressions as well.

  26. Even though you claim your photo isn’t the greatest pic, I was still in awe of it. I try to limit myself to one trip outside a day (trash, mail, maybe store, etc.) and it’s usually not at night. Also, I forgot about the comet. Of course, I don’t even know if So. Cal. can even see it. Thanks for the view.

  27. There is no coming back from this. Even if it is a total Biden wipeout, the underlying issues that created Trump are still there. That being, vast swaths of America are incurious bigots, too.

    We are a dead nation. No one will trust us to not bring in the next Trump.

  28. Ah yes, Concrete Blonde! Their version of Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness” has been stuck in my brain for nearly four years now…

  29. Regarding your third thing: a friend and I went out to Joshua Tree on Wednesday to find the comet, and do a little general star gazing. This friend has a rather large set of binoculars which have some kind of magical lenses which reduce chromatic aberration quite a lot. We found the comet (which was *stunning*), then watched the Galilean moons for a bit, found a couple galaxies (M51, M81 and 82, I think?), and checked out a couple of open clusters.
    My phone (same as yours, but a generation older) managed to turn out some really nifty images. I’m particularly proud of this one:

  30. Dear Niles,

    Do you seriously expect the state police to go up against armed and armored federal troops?! They’re not equipped nor trained to handle that level of assault. It’s nuts to imagine any sane police officer would do that– they’d be utterly outgunned.

    The State of Oregon is not equipped to wage war against the US, not even on the skirmish level. The Governor is correct.

    pax / Ctein

  31. You thought Hillary Rodham Clinton was a sure-fire win in 2016, too — so much so you drowned Bernie Sanders in a tub of “benign” neglect. 2020 is going to be repeat of 2016, because Biden is doing his best imitation of a potato growing sprouts — amid concerns the MSM refuses to address regarding his basic mental competency, but people talk with their friends about a LOT.

    Trump excites voters — in the wrong way, but all his partisans have convinced themselves COVID-19 is some CommieLibburulPelosiPlot to destroy their “Free-DUM”! THEY will turn out to vote for him — but who besides the DNC Party Faithful will vote for Biden?

    The election will be a blowout, all right — the LOWEST voter numbers in history, because the DNC anointed, not elected, a candidate with all Hillary’s negatives, a few extra nasty ones of his own, and the energy of a dead battery. In that environment, Trump wins — just like George W. Bush did.

  32. Err… Timeliebe… Clinton DID win the election. And Dubya LOST in 2000. Remember? It was the Electoral College that did us in: The system worked pretty much as designed, which is to say, rigged. What happens this year will be exceedingly interesting and maybe it will be as you suggest, but right now polling suggests that it’s Trump with the enthusiasm problem. (I mostly rely on fivethirtyeight for polling and interpretation, and yes, that has its problems also. But they were among the few entities outside the Trump cult that felt he had as much as a 1 in 3 chance in winning back in November of 2016.)

    One other point: the U.S. has a confusing and subtle electoral system. We don’t have A “two-party system” but rather over 50 different electoral systems. They all have features in common, one of which is that it doesn’t make much sense to speak of “party membership” unless you’re speaking of the way that people self-identify as “Democrats” or “Republicans” rather than membership as it would be understood anywhere else. In Illinois, for example, your formal membership in a party is established when you ask for a partisan ballot in the primary election. Other states are worse (Wisconsin, for example) while others require a partisan declaration as part of voter registration. What ever party or state it is, the party has no say in the matter. The formal party structure is mandated by the State as well, and the “party” has no say in the matter or even who occupies those elected partisan offices. On the other hand, the notion of party is still indeed relevant when restricted to specific government bodies. So parties become very real when one speaks of the Ohio House of Representatives or the Cook County Board or the U.S. Senate; which caucus organizes the body determines the broad outlines of policy and priorities, but note that unlike what one might reasonably expect, having one party dominate the House, Senate and Executive here in the States rarely results in a party government as it does in most other countries.

  33. 1. I’m not a Biden fan but am liking his chances a lot more. Still, I liked Clinton’s chances in 2016, then…

    Here’s hoping the footsie stomping Sanders stans and ideological purists don’t damn us to four more years of hell. Seriously, you’re either with us or against us.

    2. My sentiments, exactly. I maintain that anyone who signs on for toxic spill 2.0 is in support of every atrocity Trump and his merry band of bigoted, ice-blooded “muricans” have committed. The “those are just the blathering’s of a nutty fringe group and not really representative of the party as a whole” apologists have finally, finally stopped lying to everyone and said “fuck it, this is who we are. brace yourselves, bitches.”

    3. Can’t comment on visuals because blindness but, I’m sure they’re nice. 😊

    4. Good luck with the hobby!

    Lastly, I’m with Aurelia; every apple in their basket is a rotted, worm infested mess. I’m not fond of conservatives in general but, the Trumpites turn my stomach. Their beliefs are objectively wrong and should be stomped out.

    I wish the less rabid among them would Stop cloaking repugnant attitudes in “disagreement” and own their bigotry.

    @G. B. Miller:

    What’s that saying about people with nothing to lose? Bigots and pandemic supporters/deniers are going to take an L no matter what happens.

    Anne Somerville touches on the price of perpetual oppression in an old “Difficulty Setting…” follow-up. I’d suggest taking a gander at what she has to say if you want a serious answer to your question.

    Mine is, certain folks better hope and pray that he doesn’t; Somerville’s insights should help you understand why. Suffice it to say that white dudes haven’t cornered the market on rage.

  34. As a lifelong Republican, this is a very disturbing year. Too much authoritarian wannabeism out there. Watching me type this, my wife challenges me on the lifelong republican thing considering I haven’t voted for a republican presidential candidate since 2004. Then again, I live in Kentucky and Trump will win the state regardless of what I do.

  35. I just read Nils and Ctein about the state police taking on the federal troops. The big problem with using force is a problem noted by Thomas Paine about the redcoats. Paine said, in effect: Once there is a single bullet, or casualty, the bonds of affection are sundered forever.

    As for the feds being from Homeland Security, I keep thinking of San Francisco in Corey Doctorow’s Little Brother.

    How come the people and congress can’t give HS oversight? For example, when HS changed the standards for inspecting phones at the border (no longer requiring probably cause or even slight suspicion) a congress questioner, powerless, could only use with sarcasm.

    Example: When HS was going to impose passports on the farmers and small towns along the Canadian border, as the price of passing over, two former U.S. presidents, when asked at a dinner in Toronto, said they had not heard of the new passport law.. Presumably because the American people give HS a blank cheque. The law has since been passed.

    And if HS is so important, why was there no consequences, no resignation, when the head of HS publicly said that some of the 9/11 killers has crossed in from Canada? Why was it not important for HS to have such basic facts straight?

    The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. Otherwise you get HS using federal troops.

  36. trump is a failure.
    If reelected we can kiss the country goodbye.
    The people need to stop believing that anything good will come from the republican party.

  37. “who besides the DNC Party Faithful will vote for Biden?

    Ugh. If i had a nickel for every third party voter or independent voter who said EVERYONE ELSE is playing party politics but them, i could fucking retire.

    Maybe you havent noticed, but lifelong republican voters are actively campaigning against Trump and for Biden. They see that 4 more years of Trump could destroy this nation, kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, and sink the economy. They are voting for Biden because they see thats whats best for the nation, despite their party affiliation.

    I voted for Bernie in the 2016 primary. And then I voted Hillary in the general election because my personal political preferences werent worth helping Trump win and set the country on fire. I voted for Warren in the 2020 primary. And I will vote for Biden in the general election because my personal political preferences arent more important to me than more people dying under Trump. I will vote for what I think is best for the nation, not for what matches my party affiliation.

    So in answer to your question of who will vote for Biden besides the “Party Faithful”, the answer is a lot.

    And only because it seems like maybe you’re not seeing this, I will point out that if anyone is holding their political identity as more important
    than what is best for the nation, its YOU. You’re tearing down Biden because he is backed by the DNC, and you think the DNC did your boy Bernie wrong in 2016, so you’re going to show your loyalty to your independent voter identity, to score points in your mind against the DNC, and let the nation burn. Your party loyalty is more important to you than the harm your vote does to the nation.

  38. the thing about the GOP is that there’s never been a time when it’s been defeated that its response has been “Oh, wow, maybe we should change tactics.” No, it’s always — always — doubled down, which is why it is what it is today

    That’s true, and yet… things haven’t been this bad in a long time. It has happened in the past that Republicans have so utterly discredited themselves that they could not elect a President for 20 years, and had to settle for a RINO when they did: they didn’t elect a real R partisan for 18 more years, and they couldn’t get a majority of Senators for another 12 years after that. When you prove to people hard enough, enough times, that you can’t govern and don’t care enough or are too stupid to learn how, they will eventually abandon you.

    Hate, greed, and xenophobia have always had a constituency in America but in the last 100 years they’ve had to lie about themselves a lot, and required a lot of otherwise decent people to turn a blind eye, in order to actually wield power. Their problem now is that they’ve been saying the quiet parts so loud for so long that they might not be able to find takers for their spiel, at least until enough witnesses have died for generational forgetting.

  39. Not sure how many times you have to point out to rabid Berners that he got far fewer votes in 2020 than 2016, but apparently it’s still a thing. Someone who can’t even win the Dem primaries has no chance in heck in the real election.
    Thing is, Trump is not an aberration in the Republican party, apart from most of them are better able to hide their rampant corruption, we’re just lucky that he is so incompetent. When we get the next interchangeable empty suit (Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Rafael Cruz, Scott Walker, et al) the policies don’t change, you just have a marginally more palatable front man – the looting, tax breaks for the rich, and exploding deficits will continue.
    If the D’s don’t get the senate, we’re screwed. If Trump re-elects, time to bail out back to Europe for me.

  40. I think Biden not being a woman likely makes him more palatable than Hillary Clinton for some, alas – the vituperation that female health officials have been exposed to selectively during the pandemic is a clear indication of general misogynism (or at least an unwillingness to accept women in positions of authority). The GOP also hasn’t spent thirty years accusing Biden of everything up to and including the dirty dishes in the sink.

    Every time I think they can’t go any lower though, the GOP has found a way to dig down deeper. As long as it works, they have no reason not to keep doing it (other than, like, conscience and stuff, but that hasn’t been a factor for the party in quite some time). They have been good at using rhetorical tools, and until that stops working for them or until people refuse to accord them the right to set the terms of argument (which having a party of Internet trolls and a government that looks like it’s run by internet trolls might help with) – until it works like “Nothing to see here” in Naked Gun – they won’t stop.

  41. @toomanynickels

    Nice assessment.

    The better question is, who but the privileged and self-indulgent are going to let the perfect anywhere near the good?

    As far as I’m concerned, these insolated snowflakes are as complicit in the last three plus years as their supposed counterparts.

  42. I have hope: The Lincoln project, the sentiment among the voting populace (yes a BLOC will vote for Trump no mater what, but I hope that the % in decreasing (or that the number of voters overall is increasing, or that ‘moderates’ will vote for Biden) all seem to indicate that sanity will prevail in November

    and I have fears: the Senate and House seats that may not change sides (Can Mitch McConnell be unseated? will Jones lose in Alabama?) will RBG be staying in her seat until at least January 21st. Will trump step down if /when he loses? or will he cry ‘fraud’ and throw the nation into MORE turmoil?

  43. It wasn’t just that Hilary was a woman. It was that she had been the focus of an extreme campaign of hatred waged by the GOP for nearly a quarter of a century. That’s a hard mountain to climb. That’s the reason it was unfortunate she won the nomination, not because she couldn’t have been a good president. She was arguably as well or better prepared to be president than anyone in history.

  44. The optimist scenario is that Biden governs better than his stated positions. As has been pointed out to me, FDR rapidly swung to the left of his campaign positions under pressure from the people. I am already slightly encouraged by some of the changes to Biden’s environmental positions and hope to see him actually follow through. Another wise person told me progressives have only “lost” if their politics is solely electoral.

    So instead of fuming about Bernie bros being the “problem,” pressure your center-right/center Democratic officials to do the right things. You might also ask how Bernie managed to reach Latinx and young people of all backgrounds. It was a) policies that spoke to their needs and b) not having a history of deporting and blowing up brown people.

    On the question of Unity, the establishment primaried AOC even though she was an incumbent. They did not pressure Engel to concede even though he lost by double digits. They put money behind establishment candidates in Senate primaries (which they don’t normally do) except for the one incumbent they thought was too left. An African American progressive in Kentucky put up massive numbers despite all the money going to McGrath. Unity is always presented as a one way street. If we act up, we’re poison. If they stomp down, it’s Unity.

    Instead of yelling at us to submit, maybe try giving us a reason to think you are worth our time. Democrats lose because the Party’s central message is put a smiley face and a bandage on a broken system. The Republicans figured out that standing for Evil is more effective than standing for Nothing because Evil at least acknowledges that most people cannot survive the status quo. Biden has the same nostalgia for 2010 or 1994 that Republicans use to have for the 1950s (and now have for the 1850s.)

    And yes, Trump has to go. If that’s the end of the discussion, then the Democratic Party is going to fail in the long term. Either the Republicans will come back with just-as-evil-but-not-as-stupid and/or the Social Democrats will become an actual third party.

  45. John stated about the Republican Party, “…the question of where they double down from here is not one with a pleasant answer.”

    This very nice song from Pink Floyd in 1979 might provide one answer:

  46. Bottom line, we can fight for the soul of the democratic party and restore its purity when non-privileged folks aren’t under as immediate a threat as they are now.

    Some of us haven’t the luxury of courting butthurt and/or disillusioned democrats for whom defeating Trump isn’t a priority.

    They’ll either do what’s necessary or they won’t. If deaths in the tens of thousands, the deployment of the US military/secret police against anti-racist demonstrators and the normalization of white supremacy aren’t enough to bind noses in November, then…

    Staying home and pouting because the candidate doesn’t check all the boxes (I wanted Warrenor Harris and like articulate progressives who’ve never voted against integration, employed the “black friend” defense or penned scathing essays on the evils of working wives/mothers) isn’t an option for me.

    I have to suck it up and do my part. If I don’t, I’m complicit in everything that follows, as are the moderates and Sanders stans who went home with their ball in 2016.

    If certain factions decide to jump ship then, I wish them luck in all their endeavors and hope they get what they need.

    I hope they succeed where other splinter groups have failed and that we all come out alive.

  47. @G.B. Miller: With luck, people who aren’t obsessive political junkies will have noticed that the presidency isn’t the only thing on the ballot this November, and will vote for a Democratic Senate. That is the firewall. Trump can’t do a fraction of the damage he’s managed to pull off absent a compliant and complicit Senate.

  48. Privateiron: “Instead of yelling at us to submit”

    I want you to post quotes by Democratic leadership who has demanded that independents quote “submit” unquote. I want proof that this is standard party position. Otherwise, you sound like a prat.

    With just months before an election that could make or break the country, where a loss to Trump could easily kill another quarter million americans, where white supremicist groups have DOUBLED in the last four years, where blacks being murdered by cops is a mind numbingly regular occurrence, where sexism is making a comeback, where unemployment has hit a level rivaled only by the great depression, you have the unmitigated gall to make up some bullshit about how YOU are being oppressed??? People are literally dying. Massive numbers of lives are literally on the line with this election. And you want to play victim to the DNC’s “oppression” because you didnt like the rules for delgates? RBG could get replaced by another rapey frat boy setting progress back to the 50’s, but you’re bitching about injustice of procedural rules that ends up favoring the middle of the road primary candidate???


    No one. And I mean NO ONE is demanding you submit to anything. No one is demanding party loyalty. You are not the victim of oppression here.

    The only pressure you are feeling is to DO WHAT IS BEST FOR THE NATION and everyone is feeling that right now. EVERYONE. And third party butt hurt bernie bros get no special dispensation to claim special exemption butthurt victim status to “vote their conscioence” if their “conscience” shows zero regard for the deaths they cause. If you vote your conscience and that means helping trump, then nobody wants anything to do with your shitty ass “conscience”.

    “But the DNC” == “but her emails”

    “But the DNC” is the hill you are willing to let other people die on.

  49. @mythago Bingo. Even if Sanders were to beat Trump–already a generous hypothesis–having Sanders at the top of the ticket makes a Democratic Senate much less likely.

  50. Sigh.

    Marginalized folks and others worried about Trump’s reelection,

    So we’re abundantly clear, take care to vote down ticket so that Trump’s reelection won’t further endanger you.

    Certain folks will assume you don’t know to do this if you aren’t explicit enough about it in your urgent arguments against his reelection.

  51. I think if the numbers show up, the Democratic Party has to follow. The GOP didn’t want Trump, but the numbers followed, and so did they. If the party won’t follow its members, then it’d better explain why (other than “We don’t want to”) or it won’t have the votes to do anything. I guess it could pout and whine (“Come back or the greater of two evils will get elected.”) but ultimately parties are there for the people, not the other way around.

    Yang said (accurately) that Trump is not the only problem Democrats have. Getting rid of Trump won’t make the people who support him not support someone like him – that’s what they want, and that’s what their party wants. Lots of people won’t support Democrats, even if the alternative to them is an party of bargain-basement Chucky clones without principles or conscience (and with no significant ability to keep their right arms down). I’m not sure why that is, but it’s a problem. Relying on team spirit and group identity has worked well for the GOP in winning elections but is disastrous for making a useful and functioning government. What people want sometimes is not financially or physically possible (e.g. lower taxes + more spending) and if that is the only way to get elected, there won’t be anything to get elected to for very long. Reality is the ultimate test of policy, and it should be at least the basis for argument, not your name badge or label. Allowing the GOP to set the terms of argument is a mistake in the same way that letting trolls run the internet is a mistake. There are lots of things to fix.

    Trump couldn’t have done what he’s done without the complicity of his party. If you want things to change, getting rid of Trump is not enough – getting rid of the party that sold its soul, principles, and country out for him is necessary.

  52. If I might zoom out to look at the big picture, at a time when commenters are wondering why people “don’t get it.”
    I think, if we can agree with the not-so-crazy concept that the digital world is influencing our attention spans, then maybe we can consider (although we are the newest most improved generation) the “crazy,” ego-hurting concept that our generation has been changed in our ability to think slow and deep by the invention of television.

    Isn’t it true that most people, when they think of catching the news, think of TV over newspapers? And that they “don’t get” the different cost-benefits between the two?

    I won’t say more, just alert you to how Neil Postman, in various Vintage publishing books, has some neat thoughts. (He’s on at least one Youtube video, come to think of it)

  53. All the naysayers about Biden fail to recognize one thing: voter behavior.

    When voting numbers in primaries, even under a pandemic, are SUBSTANTIALLY higher than 2012 and 2016, it tells me that the candidate really isn’t Biden…it’s Not Trump….and, by voting behavior, they are REALLY enthusiastic about Not Trump.

    And progressives…you better not act the way you did after previous Democratic wins. Progressives demonstrably sat on their asses and let Tea Party proponents flood the phones and offices of Congresscritters. They put no pressure on legislators for progressive ideals. Most Congressional legislators never saw much pressure for progressive ideas until the threat to take away the ACA from Republican Congress got serious.

  54. This discussion of the Presidential campaign brings memories of OGH’s post from 2016.

    Undeniably, the Bene Gesserit… er, Republican Party’s breeding program brought forth the Kwisatz Haderach (in the person of Trump) one generation too early – before anyone, including them, was quite ready for it. Three-plus years is a long time, though. The Tea Partiers seem to have said “mission accomplished” and gone home for a cuppa, and various people (thinking of David Frum in particular) have distanced themselves from the more “illiberal” elements of Trumpism, and it certainly seems, as Mr Scalzi says, that it would take a monumental stuff-up on Biden’s part to diminish his chances. Still, I wonder what surprises November has in store.

    The site says of NEOWISE: “Can I see it? Yes! Because it is especially bright, the comet is visible in the night sky with the naked eye.” Yeah, not if you’re on this side of the equator you can’t. Too much planet in the road. Take heaps of photos for us, youse northern-hemispherians.

    My hands-down fave Concrete Blonde tune: “Still in Hollywood.”

    “And on the bus today? I met the queen of L.A.
    At least she said she was, and who am I to say?
    She was 65 and full of life
    She had purple-painted cheeks and glitter on her eyes…”

    Can’t *not* love that. Wish they’d performed it, the one time I saw them live.

  55. @PrivateIron:

    On the question of Unity, the establishment primaried AOC even though she was an incumbent.

    Eh? Cite?
    The Republican establishment certainly supported Caruso-Cabrera, in the form of Chamber of Commerce and Murdoch paper endorsements, and what money she raised seemed mostly to come from Wall Street interests. But did she get endorsements from Democratic officeholders? Funding from Democratic Party organizations? Not so far as I can see.

    Either the Republicans will come back with just-as-evil-but-not-as-stupid and/or the Social Democrats will become an actual third party.

    Or the AOCs of the world take over the Democratic apparatus, which is enormously more probable than any third-party wanking. I hope we are seeing the ending of the Sixth Party System, and that this ending will see the collapse of the Republican party. But I do not see the SDs becoming an independent force.

    @Sarah Marie “we can fight for the soul of the democratic party and restore its purity
    It’s hard to “restore” that which never existed. I’d settle for getting the D party to stop punching hippies as its instinctive response to any kind of criticism.

    @Hap: “The GOP didn’t want Trump, but the numbers followed, and so did they.”
    The GOP was inevitably going to produce something like Trump just by doing the things they’ve been doing to win elections for the last 40 years. They have been saying “black is white, up is down, night is day” for so long that the people who started doing that tactically have died of old age and been succeeded by followers who actually believe the talking points. If you’re under 50 you literally have never seen a Republican Presidential primary that wasn’t a shitshow of grifting and kowtowing to the prejudices and fantasies of the stupidest 1/3 of the electorate. Most of the “Presidential candidates” in the last half-dozen Republican primaries have not been candidates in the sense that they ever had any hope of winning: they were in it for the 15 minutes of fame, hoping to use the exposure to help sell their books or hawk their snake-oil scams. The Republican party is like a person whose immune system so totally collapsed that it’s ineffective at keeping mold from growing on his body, who rots to death because of it.

  56. I wasn’t thinking enough. Trump was what they sort of wanted – they wanted someone with his opinions but the sense not to tweet/say them out loud – they wanted plausible deniability so that they could evade responsibility for what they wanted (as if combining conspiratorial thinking with dishonesty and cultishness was going to end up somewhere else). The GOP’s problem was that his (and its) fan base wanted to be able to hold those opinions openly and unapologetically, and when he showed up it was like manna from heaven.

  57. Bottom line, a fire breathing creature is burning things down everywhere he goes (as these things go, some of us aren’t in the rubble or even smelling the smoke because advantage and privilege) and the main people responsible for slaying it are squabbling.

    To hippies, moderates are looking more and more like enemy forces. Said moderates are “punching hippies” who criticize them.

    Meanwhile, hippies are holding their breath until their faces turn blue, stomping off in a huff or throwing themselves to the ground and crossing their arms.

    Folks from both factions are threatening to take their hoses and buckets and go home unless they get what they want.

    In the midst of this chaos, the fire-breather is turning the landscape into a desolate wasteland, an environment that will almost certainly be uninhabitable for the most vulnerable of us (some groups know damn well that some of the people on “our side” aren’t worried about this and are just as keen to see us wiped out.

    It’s this same squabbling that empowered the fire-breather in the first place; folks either defected to the other side or opted out of the democratic process (this hurt *all* of the democrats running for office, not just Clinton) in 2016because the candidate Didn’t pass their purity test.

    It’s purity politics that saw the elimination of candidates that were miles above Biden.

    We expect congress to lay down their swords long enough to get things done, why shouldn’t we expect the same of our own party in an emergency situation?

    Black folks weren’t too happy with the party or it’s 2016 nominee, either.

    He has some of the same complaints, as do most black folks.

    Watching the treatment of the black and brown candidates in this election cycle, I have them, too. Still, you can bet I’ll step up and do what needs doing when it counts. After all, it’s *me* on fire and, as it stands, the alternative to Biden will almost certainly get me and mine reduced to ash.

    I’m honestly tempted to thank the republicans (to be sure, there are quite a few RSHDs among them) who are working actively to get him out.

  58. “There shouldn’t be a two-party system! The two-party system is broken!” The two-party system is what we have; insisting it’s broken is an exercise in meaningless rhetoric. Maybe you’re right and maybe you’re wrong (parliamentary systems don’t seem all that much better) but you vote in elections with the system you have, not the one you want to have.

    “Both Parties suck!” Politics sucks. Politics is the art of the possible. “The possible” means you have to get other people to vote for what you want. You have to convince them it’s in their interests as well as yours. Sometimes you have to make compromises; sometimes those compromises stink. Sometimes you let one bill go through that you hate in order to get support for a more important bill that you really really want. If you want a purified Party that never compromises, that pushes through its own ideology regardless of who or what gets damaged along the way… well, congratulations. You’re basically a Republican.

    I will never stop wondering if in 2016 those narrow margins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were made possible by taking votes from Hillary’s totals and giving them to Jill Stein. Trump’s winning margins in those states were smaller than the number of people who voted for Stein. If the election was stolen in those states, the fact that a lot of morons willing to vote for Stein made the theft easy to pull off.