How do we not get djt 47?

a movement

I need your help. Please explain to me how we do not get djt 47. I do not see how this doesn’t happen on January 20, 2025. I’m certainly not happy about it.

Despite some successes (the infrastructure bill et al.), Joe Biden does not engender the necessary enthusiasm. The expected recession of 2023 did not take place. The inflation rate is down, but especially without those stimulus checks, it “feels” worse. (Frank S. Robinson explains “the big misunderstanding.”)

In 2011/2012, even when he seemed to be trailing in the polls, Obama could share his Spotify playlist and show how relatable he was. Joe is… Joe, grandfatherly, a policy wonk without the requisite swagger despite the aviator glasses.

October 7, the start of the Israel-Hamas war, has been a losing issue for Biden. Those who support Palestine feel betrayed by him. Specifically, Arabs and Muslims in places like Michigan have openly indicated that they will not vote for him in 2024 as they did in 2020. The Biden administration is navigating both support for Israel and the desire that the Israelis work to minimize Palestinian casualties. As someone said at a recent book talk, Joe is schmoozing. The problem is that neither position is palatable to a wide swath of voters.

Likewise, Foreign Policy magazine indicates that Biden has no good options in Yemen. “The decision to bomb the Houthis was likely the administration’s least bad path.”

The border crisis affects not just the border states but those cities where the migrants have been shipped to. Yet djt wants to scuttle bipartisan legislation to address the issue, and House Republicans might just fall in line to do just that.

Demographic slump

According to the polls, Biden’s job approval rating is down among black voters, especially the younger ones, even more than he’s losing Hispanic and non-Hispanic white voters.

It’s not that he’s too old to do the job, but he’s an old-generation public service guy who has been prone to malaprops for a very long time. An editorial in The Hill suggests that perhaps the President is a superager, “someone generally older than 80 who has cognitive and physical function higher than their peers, more akin to people decades younger — and argued that framing Biden in particular as “too old” is both ageist and politically motivated.


Nothing that happens with djt seems to affect his core supporters. His presidency has been “defined by corruption, self-dealing, and abuse of power.”  He fomented violent insurrection against democracy and called the criminals convicted for their actions on January 6, 2021, “hostages.”

His legal difficulties are part of his campaign. He uses the cases as “proof” that Joe and his allies are engaging in “election interference.” He’s practically begging judges to find him in contempt – see, “they’re denying me my right to participate in my defense.” A convicted sexual predator, also guilty of defamation of character, can win a caucus and a primary.

Maybe he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in NYC, and it wouldn’t affect his voters, as he said eight years ago.

So, in some bizarre way, it seems consistent that his attorney would speak before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding djt’s claims of absolute immunity. He posited that “a President could order the assassination of his political rival and not ever face prosecution unless the House successfully impeached him and the Senate convicted him for that crime.”

As Major Garrett of CBS News noted, djt can and does run simultaneously as an incumbent, an outsider, and a victim. djt support is a movement. If he is elected again, he’ll abuse the office of the presidency and has promised to use the government to punish his enemies.


Joe’s only positives are negatives: djt is an existential threat to democracy. djt put those three SCOTUS justices on the court to gut abortion rights and women’s health. Is that enough? I see 2000/2016 again.

If djt isn’t convicted of something criminal by November 5, I fear the outcome of January 6, 2025. If djt didn’t think he should have had to leave office on January 20, 2021, his supporters would think he should be reinstated four years later.

So tell me, how don’t we get the return of the Orange? Please tell me how I’m wrong. I’d LOVE to be wrong.

Not entirely unrelated, here’s the trailer for a new movie called Civil War. i have no plans to watch the film. 

Will Joe Biden be prez on 20 Jan 25?

America’s “moral net”

joebidenIt’s Joe Biden’s 81st birthday. The occasion got me wondering whether he’ll be President on the afternoon of 20 Jan 25.

Specifically, can he pull together a coalition of voters who’ll pull the lever for him on 5 Nov 24? For many Democrats in 2020, he wasn’t our first pick in the primary. I voted for Elizabeth Warren, even though the primary race was over by the time New Yorkers had a chance to cast a ballot.

Still, I voted for him in November 2020, not only because I thought he’d be mildly competent but because the other guy scared me half to death.

Old-fashioned politics

He has had success. Last week, I heard Franklin Foer, the author of The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden’s White House and the Struggle for America’s Future, make a convincing case for the incumbent’s accomplishments. 

The problem is that progress tends to be necessarily incremental. Lowering prescription costs has been enacted, but it’s only ten drugs, not until 2026. The tax incentives to fight climate change in the Inflation Reduction Act will take time many don’t think we have. His gun safety act, necessarily a legislative half-loaf, can’t prevent mass shootings in the short term. 

In July 2023, David Brooks of the New York Times asked, “Why is Biden not getting the credit he deserves?” He points to the Misery Index, a “crude but effective way to measure the economy” by adding the inflation and unemployment rates.

The Fed controls the increased interest rates. Biden has in the past released gasoline from the strategic reserve, but the supply chain determines the prices. 

North by northwest?

Brooks notes the rates when Reagan (11.4), W (9), and Obama (9.5) won reelection. Biden’s was at 7.7 then; in October, 7.5 (unemployment rate –  3.8 plus Inflation rate 3.7). “Household net worth is surging.” Yet then and now, about 3/4 of the population in Gallup polls think that the country is heading in “the wrong direction.”

I always thought that was a peculiar question. Certainly, I think the country is going in the wrong direction with the book banners, election deniers, and the like. But I wouldn’t put that on JRB. Immigration is a serious problem that the White House and Congress should address, but the House has proved that its priority doesn’t involve governing. The Supreme Court rolls back issues of justice regularly.

Brooks cites the anthropologist Raoul Naroll, “who argued that every society has a ‘moral net,’ a cultural infrastructure that exists, mostly unconsciously, in the minds of its members. America’s is in tatters. This manifests a loss of national self-esteem…”

Brooks states that “during the Trump era, Americans… lost faith in one another,” with those supporting 45 “converted to the gospel of American carnage” and those opposing him “appalled” that their fellow Americans could support him.

Of course, there is a lot of existential stress in society, a post-COVID malaise, and hearing about the successes of Bidenomics cannot cut through.

Moreover, per Newsweek: “Americans are running out of savings as stimulus checks end across the country and the economy stares down a potential recession. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Americans had a 22.7% savings rate in 2020, which fell to 3.4% in September 2023. The average American family may have more than $40,000 in household savings, according to job platform Zippia, but the median household savings is just $5,300.”

The old age issue

For decades, Joe Biden was prone to verbal gaffes, including when he was Vice-President. I have noticed that he will likely devolve into a word salad, mainly when tired. That would explain the rambling comments when he arrived in Hawaii after the Maui fires. My daughter had no idea what he was talking about. Being versed in Bidenese, I explained he was comparing the pain the folks were feeling with the loss of his daughter and first wife; it was weird.

When the polling shows that Biden is currently losing to djt in the swing states – if you can believe the polls –  some folks, such as former Obama advisor David Axelrod, suggest Biden step aside in favor of another candidate. But who? Certainly not Kamala Harris, whose negatives are similar to Biden’s.

A challenge from a Democrat

I wouldn’t mind someone challenging Biden in the 2024 primaries, though. And I don’t mean RFK, Jr., who was Steve Bannon’s Trojan horse and is now presumably running independently. The contest may focus his message better.

Oh, wait, there’s… what’s his name again? Oh, yeah, Dean Phillips, a Minnesota congressman I had never heard of. Andrew Yang, who ran for prez back in 2020, touts Phillips: “Dean is what most Americans want: a sane, moderate 54-year old presidential candidate who will work to make things better.  I joke that Dean should change his name to Generic Democrat, because polls show that Trump loses to a generic Democrat by 8 points.”

And Marianne Williamson is running again. The pundits dismissed her as a flake last time, but punditry is highly overrated, as President Hillary Clinton could tell you.


Of course, there are the Republicans, the five on the debate stage on November 8, and the guy who has been in court a lot. No, I didn’t watch the debate or djt’s counterprogramming.

The nominee isn’t going to be Chris Christie, who endorsed Trump in 2016 after he dropped out of the race, thinking djt would become more presidential with CC’s advice, and then blasted the Big Lie in 2020.

Tim Scott was such a nonentity that the big news was that after the event, he said he had a girlfriend, Mindy Noce. Then, he “suspended” his campaign. Do people ever “unsuspend” their campaign?

I read from multiple sources that Vivek Ramaswamy was the person others wanted to punch in the face. Or maybe Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis could step on him with their three- or five-inch heels.

Speaking of Haley, the Boston Globe noted: “There’s been a spate of recent commentary arguing that former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is emerging as the top rival to former president Donald Trump in the Republican presidential sweepstakes. Our Scot Lehigh noticed it in New Hampshire. But other commentators have been keen on Haley of late, including in The New York TimesPolitico, and National Review.” I feel that she’d fare better against Biden than djt would. 

The same old song

But barring divine intervention, djt will be the GOP guy . Now, some of his potential voters indicated that they might not vote for him if he’s convicted of severe crimes. But by Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024, djt may have enough delegates to seal the nomination. If Republican voters were strategic, they’d vote for someone else, but…

And a third-party candidate could cloud things. No one following Joe Manchin’s career believes he’s leaving the Senate to go fishing.

If 2024 is, in fact, a rerun of 2020, I’ll vote for Joe Biden – or whichever Democrat is on the ballot – because the other guy is even scarier. Heck, the GOP is terrifying. The national Republican party is filled with AINOs—Americans in name only.

Worse, a former U.S. Attorney and noted legal analyst, Joyce Vance, urges Democrats to “have a serious conversation with the American people about what Donald Trump intends to do if he wins again.”She warns: “If Trump wins in 2024, we lose the Republic. That’s not drama, and that’s not overstatement. That’s what Trump is promising.”

James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor in New York’s Southern District, agrees. The final paragraph: “Trump says he wants to ‘terminate the Constitution.’ To do this would require more than an executive order. But if the unthinkable happens and he regains power, we can say a fond farewell to the rule of law and to John Adams’s statement that we are a ‘government of laws, not of men.'”

Yet, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl believes Americans Seem Alarmingly Open to djt’s “Campaign of Revenge and Retribution.” That’s scarier than the guy himself.

Ultimately, I think Biden, or more likely some of his surrogates, will lean into the abortion issue, noting that djt appointed the three Supreme Court justices that helped to overturn Roe. They’ll note that in every state where voters spoke on the issue, they’ve rejected the radical restrictions. 

Two years of Joe Biden

“Who dares to mock Dark Brandon now?”

joebidenAfter two years of Joe Biden as President, a few things are rather clear.

His accomplishments will be underestimated and probably underreported. As Salon noted, “Who dares to mock Dark Brandon now? Joe Biden keeps rolling up the wins.” Moreover, “Republicans badly underestimated [him] — and in his first two years in the White House, he’s driven them nuts.”

From gun control to the CHIPS Act to respecting marriage, he’s getting things done. Under Biden, more jobs were created than the last three GOP Presidents Combined. He signed a bill to end profiteering from prisoners’ calls to loved ones. If his infrastructure bill is insufficient, it’s because Presidents and Congresses have kicked the issue down the road for decades.

January 6

I’m pleased that he marked “the second anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol by awarding the Presidential Citizens Medal to 12 individuals associated with that day and the 2020 presidential election.” This signals he takes the assault on our democracy seriously, unlike others.

The medals were given to seven affiliated with the Capitol Police or D.C. Police departments: Harry Dunn, Caroline Edwards, Aquilino Gonell, Eugene Goodman, Michael Fanone, Daniel Hodges, and the late Brian Sicknick.

Politicians who “refused to buckle to pressure to overturn the presidential election results in their states” were Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, departing Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Al Schmidt, former city commissioner on the Philadelphia County Board of Elections.

“The final two recipients, Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, were election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, who reportedly endured threats and harassment after the election. Freeman and Moss have been accused by former President Donald Trump and some of his allies of election fraud by including fake ballots in Georgia’s election total. All of the recipients were mentioned in the final report by the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot.

The House GOP

The Republicans in the House of Representatives will try to make his life miserable. For instance, “the powerful Oversight Committee Chairman is pushing a baseless narrative that Biden is ‘compromised.’”

U.S. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky “has promoted the false theory of fraud in the 2020 election, blaming alleged “troubling reports of irregularities and improprieties” on Democrats,” for which he has been regularly criticized. If it’s not Joe’s fault, it’s his son Hunter’s doing.

When Jim Jordan tried to jump the gun on oversight requests, the Biden White House rightly told him to wait his turn. Expect retaliation for that.

Even when Joe Biden errs, he’s measured by a different standard.  The AP conducted a side-by-side look at the Trump and Biden classified documents issue. Yet many Republicans, starting with former Veep Mike Pence, make a false equivalence.

Add to that the narrative of him as a “bumbler” – the rightwing media is rife with it. They also mislead. 

Will anything happen this year?

Joe Biden’s disapproval rate will be high, in part because progressives want him to do MORE in the areas of housing, healthcare, tax reform, criminal-justice reform, prison reform, and most notably, climate change mitigation.  Of course, politics is the art of the possible, and I don’t know what will be possible with the clown car in the House.

There’s a lot of conversation about whether Joe Biden will run again for President. Here’s my thought: I don’t care yet. Moreover, if he’s NOT running, as soon as he announces that, he becomes a lame duck. I realize the 2024 election cycle has begun already, but he could wait until May Day to decide, and the earth will not fall off its axis.

A year in the life of Joe Biden

overturning Trump policies

joebidenA year in the life of Joe Biden. Well, he did ask for the job. I’m just going to touch on the points that most resonated with me. So it won’t cover EVERY SINGLE THING he did in the past 365 days. First, the good.

He named “literally thousands of talented and diverse appointees… the ambassadorial corps, and the leadership of numerous regulatory agencies – most of whom have already effected huge and positive federal policy shifts in everything from student loans to toxic chemicals to human rights.”

Specifically, he’s gotten  40 federal judges approved. “80 percent are women and 53 percent are people of color.” His predecessor got half that many approved in that first year and received huge praise.

Also, there’s the $1.9 trillion Covid relief deal, which kept many American families afloat.

Biden reinstated the pause on the federal death penalty. The previous guy ended a 17-year pause on federal executions and 13 people were put to death between July 2020 and January 2021.

Indeed, much of what he accomplished, particularly early on, involved undoing what had taken place in the previous four years.

But beyond that, I feel that he’s a fundamentally decent person, prone to gaffs as he has been for decades, but not inherently nasty.

The mixed

Sure, the trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed in November, AFTER the election, when it was uncoupled from the Build Back Better bill. All old poli sci folks know that politics is the art of the possible. Personally, I would have preferred passing an infrastructure bill in August and working on the passable components of BBB in separate bills.

The US rejoined the Paris climate accord which Biden’s predecessor had left. I’m not sure what the 2021 event accomplished…

72 percent of American adults were fully vaccinated, a little later than the target. Which means a whole lot of people are not. The US rate still trails much of the world.

The unemployment rate has dropped dramatically, but so has the workforce.

The bad

I think most of his problem has been overpromising, creating extraordinarily high expectations, and underdelivering on them.

In July 2021, he said that the withdrawal from Afghanistan would in no way look like the 1975 pullout from Saigon, South Vietnam. As noted, I supported the action, but the failure to get more people out before the pullout was a blunder.

Biden declared that we would be free of the COVID by the 4th of July. Of course, he didn’t anticipate the delta and omicron variants. But one could see the sluggish growth in the number of vaccinated, despite the mandates, and the ill will they generated. The administration needed to do better making the testing kits available much sooner.

No voting-rights legislation was passed and his recent plan to end the filibuster, despite his fiery rhetoric, was never going to happen.

The ugly

A lot of the economic strains have been baked into the system. An increase in wages has been long overdue; the federal minimum wage is STILL $7.25. Now there is some leverage for higher wages.

The “just in time” supply chain, with so much manufacturing from outside the United States, has long been one pandemic, one large war away from the crisis that took place in 2021. As Reuters notes: “The economy is experiencing high inflation as the COVID-19 pandemic snarls supply chains.” Some like to call it Bidenflation, but I’m not sure what he could have done to prevent it.

He IS the oldest US President, and I believe the stiffness of his “ambulatory gait” over the past year allows some to write him off with a Let’s Go, Brandon meme.

The unfixable?

Here’s a larger question, though. Is the United States governable? The New York Times asked that very question a year ago. It quoted Julie Wronski, a political scientist at the University of Mississippi.”When two people playing a game cannot agree on the basic rules and layout of the game, they cannot play. When groups within American society believe in two different sets of rules on how to play the game of democracy, it cannot be played and we become ungovernable.”

So when Biden promised to work “across the aisle” to pass legislation, and some in the GOP deign to actually work with him, they’re dubbed RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). They are threatened with primaries, backed by 45. Nate Silver of 538 posits that Jan. 6 strengthened Trump’s hold on the Republican Party. It’s sad, but I have to agree.

I’m not sure what Biden can do about the fact that most Republicans continue to believe in the Big Lie, that the 46th President was not legally elected. Perhaps America is heading to a place where it can no longer call itself a democracy.


Right after the 2020 election, when it was clear that Biden had WON, I ordered a half dozen buttons. Two of them are Biden/Harris. One said, “Unity over division” – not happening yet. “Hope over fear”; fear seems pretty strong. “Trust over lies”; lies are still winning. “Science over fiction”; it would be nice.

If you’re more optimistic, PLEASE let me know.

Leaving Afghanistan after two decades

“It’s hard to deny the evidence in front of you.” – General Mike Mullen

AfghanistanI wrote what I thought about the US leaving Afghanistan back in May. But if I noted what I felt about the country ENTERING the war, I don’t recall. I thought it was…inevitable. If it had been tied to the limited mission of capturing Bin Laden and his accomplices, that’d be “reasonable.”

Here’s the really weird thing about our totally unnecessary war in Iraq – which I’ve documented often in this blog – including here and here and here and a bunch of other places. When we entered the Iraq war, it was as though it slipped the collective minds that we were in Afghanistan.

I’m not just talking about the American people. The US government under W was sharing its assessment of its “success” in Iraq but saying relatively little about Afghanistan. Did they… forget?

Anyway, I was going to write something more about the end game in Afghanistan, but all I could find was a quote from the movie The Princess Bride: “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia.'”

And a quote that Mark Evanier cited: “A friend of mine spent several years in Afghanistan working as a doctor attached to the U.S. forces. He told me some pretty harrowing tales about his tour o’ duty here but the thing I remember most is when he said, ‘Staying there is a disaster. Leaving there would be a disaster. Nothing about the country is not a disaster.’ I think that’s proving to be the case.”

I agree with much of is linked to here, even when they occasionally contradict each other.


Bloomberg: Why Both Russians and Americans Got Nowhere in Afghanistan. If you’re not going anywhere no matter what happens, or what price you’re forced to pay, you can outlast superpowers. (You may recall that the US and other Western countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980 because of the Soviet incursion.) On one of the news programs recently, a general suggested that American hubris was the reason the US thought it would succeed when the USSR failed.

Alan Singer in Daily Kos: “Nation Building” Fails in Afghanistan

Nation of Change: Why did a military superpower fail in Afghanistan? This external approach, based on military occupation, to promote democracy in occupied foreign countries was “doomed to fail.”

Daniel Larison: Biden’s Prudent Decision to Withdraw from Afghanistan. It doesn’t say much for our political culture that it takes far more political courage to end a pointless war than it does to start one.

Matthew Yglesias. Biden (and Trump) did the right thing on Afghanistan
The war was lost long ago — if it was ever winnable.

Fred Kaplan of Slate: Trump’s New Big Lie: Afghanistan. Biden has handled the withdrawal very badly. That doesn’t mean Trump would have done better.

Seth Meyers

The “liberal press”?

Weekly Sift: Afghanistan, Biden, and the Media. “What struck me about that discussion, though, was how one-sided it was. Even ordinarily liberal MSNBC shows, or newspaper outlets like the Times and the Post, were unified in their denunciation of the Biden administration and its plan to withdraw our troops. I haven’t seen that level of unanimity since the post-911 era, when the Iraq and Afghanistan wars started. A lot of bad ideas sneaked into the discussion around that time, and didn’t get criticized because there was no room for criticism.”

Fred Kaplan in Slate: A Top U.S. Military Officer Finally Admits He Was Wrong About Afghanistan

The Atlantic: What I Learned While Eavesdropping on the Taliban

Cartoon: Leaving Afghanistan.

Foreign Policy: Two Talibans Are Competing for Afghanistan. The gap between the group’s international leadership and its rank-and-file fighters has never been wider. (This is why the messaging about Taliban 2.0 seems inconsistent.)

Afar: The Organizations Aiding Afghans and How Americans Can Help

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