For more than a year now, much of the lefty commentariat, including yours truly, has been shining a harsh spotlight on the un- and anti-progressive actions and rhetoric of Joseph Robinette Biden and Kamala Devi Harris, who today become our president and vice president. We have expressed our deep skepticism of any utterances or tweets from those two that feel like bones tossed to the political left and center-left.
During the Obama/Biden years, Congressional Republican leaders made it their mission in life to thwart President Obama's agenda, even when he proposed solutions first devised or implemented by Republicans. Unlike them, I have no desire to see Biden/Harris sabotaged at every turn. Just some turns, such as carrying out the perpetual mass slaughter that our capitalist empire has made its stock in trade.
My main reason for wanting to emphasize this point, that I'd be happy to see all of Biden's bold words become actions, is the Big Picture, not any particular policy point: Failure to deliver for the People will likely result in the election of a competent, ideologically coherent far-right Republican in 2024. If Biden, Harris, and Congressional Democrats don't understand that the people are literally hungry for substantive change that benefits them, don't produce when the chips are down...well, then, fuck the Democrats and the jackass they rode in on.
Democratic Identity Games: Business As Usual
Yesterday, on NPR's Here and Now, Greg Myre practically gushed with glee over Biden's appointments for Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence: a black man and a white woman, respectively.
General Lloyd Austin, retired, has only been retired for five years; therefore, in addition to Senate confirmation he needs a majority vote in both houses of Congress to waive the rule that one must be out of the service at least seven years to sit in the Pentagon's biggest chair. But, y'know, he'd be the first African American to occupy that seat. It doesn't seem all that harmful, but consider the precedent and the potentially slippery slope: Before you know it, some active-duty general will be appointed to run the Defense Department, obliterating that whole "civilian control of the military" thing.
Avril Haines, whose bio includes rising through the ranks in the Intelligence Community with preternatural swiftness, will be the first woman DNI if the Senate votes to confirm her. You won't find NPR or any other legacy media outlet asking why we have such a huge and all-encompassing Intelligence Community in the first place. Haines is certainly not likely to scale back the intrusiveness and abuses of the 17 agencies; if recent history is any guide, she will probably expand them.
The Inspiration for This Entry: Abby and Mike
New parents Abby Martin and Mike Prysner have started a new series of patron-only podcasts for the Patreon benefactors of their project Empire Files. The first two installments covered the untold stories of the 6 January white supremacist orgy at the Capitol in DC. (Sorry I haven't posted anything on those events here, but I've been kinda busy with other projects—e.g., making enough money for rent, groceries, and debt service.)
Parts I and II of this podcast have a total running time of about three and a half hours, and I listened to the whole bloody thing. They have uncovered some amazing information, although, sadly, they don't provide enough in the way of sourcing. Abby, who in addition to her journalistic work is an accomplished painter, paints a pretty solid picture with help from Mike and special guest Brian Becker:
- A large component of the Capitol Mob was overtly fascist, with all the trappings and trimmings and flags and costumery.
- The president of the United States actually encouraged the Stop the Steal actions, as did a handful of Republican Congresscritters.
- Thus Trump et al have shown their true fascist and white supremacist colors, and nothing like Trump should ever be allowed anywhere near the White House. (At least Abby gives a nod to the radical question of whether we should have a president at all, especially a president with as much power as the White House exercises.)
- As in 1930s Germany, this expression of fascism involved a mob; the mainstream media portray this mob as a bunch of undisciplined yahoos, but, like Hitler's Brownshirts, there was a well trained right-wing militia at the vanguard.
- Furthermore, all us lefties who assert that the Biden White House will just be fascism with a friendlier face need to get a clue about the difference: Biden doesn't have a destructive mob behind him (and, no, #KHive doesn't count).
- So, as Abby and Mike regret to inform us, we should be relieved that Trump is out and a far less Trumpy old white dude is in.
They do not go so far as to say that we have any real hope of pushing the Biden administration leftward. They're not that naïve.
I was moved to comment that Becker in particular has misperceived the arguments that the Caitlin Johnstones and Glenn Greenwalds have been putting forward, including that social media ban-hammers on Trump & Co. will be brought down even harder on the true left.
Lefty bloggers and YouTubers and credentialed journalists are not saying that Biden and Trump are two sides of the same coin, let alone on the same side. They are not identical. A Biden administration will not necessarily be better, but it will be less horrible. It's not just about Trump's bullying tweets that have made our presidency an international embarrassment versus Biden's nauseating stream-of-oatmeal platitudes. But both men are working within a system that is evil unchecked. They are both willing accomplices to the worst atrocities that the US-centered multinational capitalist empire dishes out, such as the Saudis' and Emiratis' relentless attacks on Yemen (facilitated by guess whom).
I gotta go do some actual paid work before this post gets too long. I may disagree with their diagnosis, but I will continue to support the Empire Files team with my $5 monthly contributions, and I will even encourage readers who can afford it to do the same.