Archives for category: Biden

I will vote for Joe Biden. I will vote for him with enthusiasm. The alternative is almost too horrible to contemplate.

Donald Trump is a wannabe fascist. Under Mitch McConnell’s direction (or control), Trump is filling the federal judiciary with rightwing extremists and incompetents. Trump is vicious. He has not an ounce of empathy. He is incompetent, and he has surrounded himself with incompetent lackeys, who are determined to dismantle the federal government and break every international institution created since 1945 to assure mutual cooperation. Given another four years, he will utterly destroy whatever is left of our government, ideals, our hopes for a better future, our belief in progress.

Joe Biden didn’t win the nomination because the Democratic establishment backed him. In fact, Biden was written off by the Democratic establishment after his mediocre performance in the early primary states. His campaign was running low on money. He did not have campaign offices in most states. His campaign hit the skids.

But then came South Carolina, where African American voters united behind him and made him the leader of the pack. Most Democrats want to rally around a candidate, and he was the one. His political revival was nothing short of amazing. His campaign was near dead, and now he is the presumptive party nominee.

Bernie Sanders has powerful, passionate, and loyal supporters, and a remarkable fund-raising machine. But after Biden won South Carolina, other candidates dropped out and endorsed Biden, not Sanders.

Let’s face it. Most Democratic voters don’t want a revolution. They want to beat Trump, and they like Biden’s chances. Even with an almost invisible campaign, he’s ahead of Trump in battleground states and national polls.
They like Biden’s decency. He’s kind, not mean like Trump. He’s civil, not vicious like Trump. He has the capacity for empathy, unlike Trump, who is incapable of giving comfort or solace to anyone. Biden has known personal grief and suffering. He is human. He is mainstream and establishment, which Sanders’ followers criticize, but apparently most Democrats find comforting.

Both Trump and Biden are in their 70s. Neither has put forward an electrifying vision for change. We know what Trump stands for: racism, xenophobia, inciting hatred, blaming others for his failures, never taking responsibility, constant boasting, persistent lying, unbridled narcissism.

After more than three chaotic, jarring, frightening, crisis-ridden, and mean-spirited years of Trump, most Democratic voters seem to be looking for stability, a steady hand at the tiller, and competence. That’s what they see in Biden.

Biden offers a return to “normalcy.” Not charisma, or grand promises, or change, but calm. The fact that the country is currently gripped by a public health crisis and a collapsing stock market makes the appeal of calm even stronger to a weary, frightened, and nervous nation.

Let us hope that Biden, if elected, does not restore the failed education policies of Arne Duncan or install an Education Secretary who clings to the test-and-punish regime. Let’s hope that he recognizes the failure of Race to the Top and avoids anyone who was part of it.

Evidently Trump is so afraid of facing Biden that he was willing to break the law and risk impeachment to hurt Biden’s chances. Now we will have a nasty campaign in which Trump says over and over “Hunter Biden, corrupt.” “Sleepy Joe.” Trump has a mean machine ready to attack and slime Biden, as he would have slimed anyone else who opposed him.

People who live in glass houses…

When the Trump regime is eventually analyzed by historians, I am willing to bet that they document public corruption and ethical breaches that make Teapot Dome look like a tea party. The Trump family has profited, and Trump himself has made money, in defiance of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

The Republican Party is now raising hundreds of millions to keep Trump in office. Michael Bloomberg promised during the campaign that he was prepared to spend $1 billion to defeat Trump, but so far there is no sign of that Bloomberg billion. Biden is far behind Trump in fundraising. If the primary is any indication, the American people know what is at stake. At last report, the GOP had a huge financial advantage over Biden.

Mr. Trump and his shared committees with the R.N.C. raised $63 million in March and entered April with a combined $244 million in cash on hand. Mr. Biden and the D.N.C. had $57.2 million in the bank, after accounting for unpaid debts.

If money alone were enough to win campaigns, Mike Bloomberg would be the Democratic nominee; he spent $1 billion and won only American Samoa.

Biden now has the endorsement of all his Democratic rivals.

But what about Tara Reade? I don’t believe her. She had many opportunities to make her charges public over the past 27 years, but she waited until March 2020, after Biden was well advanced on his path to the nomination, to go public. She could have spoken out in 2008, when Biden was selected to run with Obama. She didn’t. She could have spoken out in 2017, when the #MeToo movement emerged in response to multiple revelations about sexual predator Harvey Weinstein; at that time, many women announced that they too had suffered sexual abuse. She didn’t. She could have spoken out when Biden announced that he was running for president in 2020. She was silent. She claims he sexually assaulted her in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. The basement is where senators and their staff go to catch a trolley to the Capitol. It is a busy public space with tight security. There are no hidden niches where a prominent senator could assault a young intern without being observed. Men who force themselves on women tend to be repeat offenders (think Weinstein, Trump, Jeffrey Epstein), yet no other woman has accused Biden of heinous behavior. I won’t even go into her repeated tweets praising Putin in fulsome language. PBS interviewed 74 Biden staffers and found no one who supported Reade’s allegations. Why did she alone have this dreadful experience? I don’t believe her. If this is the issue that determines your vote, why would you support a man who has been credibly accused of sexual assault by multiple women and has publicly declared his view of women as sexual prey?

Biden’s job for now is to reach voters and energize the base as well as the independents who are sick of Trump’s narcissism and lies. At present, Biden is locked down like almost everyone else in the country. No rallies, no pressing the flesh, no person-to-person events. Maybe he can run a so-called “front porch” campaign, sitting quietly at home while Trump knocks himself out with idiotic and unhinged remarks.

He said he will pick a woman as his vice-presidential nominee. It should be someone with the experience and knowledge to be ready to act as president on short notice. I personally favor Elizabeth Warren. But there are other excellent candidates, including Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris. Biden knows the gravity of choosing the right running mate.

For all of us, for the nation, for the world, the choice in November is crucial. It is Biden or Trump. Period.

I will do whatever I can to help elect Joe Biden.

I have one good reason to support Joe Biden. It can be summed up in one five-letter word: Trump.

Reader Randy Abraham offers more reasons:

The twittersphere has recently been aflame over Bernie Sanders’ decision to suspend his presidential campaign, and then his recent endorsement of frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

His most fervent supporters contend that Biden offers them nothing beyond a “not-Trump” candidacy.

This is what I say to them.

How about a sane immigration policy that does not separate families in crisis or lock children in cages?

How about health care policy that would boost subsidies for struggling families, lower the eligibility age for Medicare, provide a public option, and negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical firms?

How about forgiving student debts for low income students that were incurred at state and community colleges and historically black colleges and universities?

How about raising the minimum wage?

How about an end to trade wars that has led to closures of factories and job losses among exporting industries?

How about an end to reckless foreign policies that are bringing us to the brink of war?

That’s nothing?

Regardless, we don’t have the luxury of demanding enthusiasm, and pointing out a lack of enthusiasm can depress moral and voter turnout.

Fortunately, we don’t have to hold our noses to campaign, support, and vote for Biden.

This country is facing probably the most monumental challenge in its history. Our economy is on life support and a disease outbreak is rampaging through the country.

Our relations with our allies is in crisis, and in that vacuum of leadership authoritarians are on the march.

This is a time for tough, proven leadership that knows how to exercise the levers of power.

During the eight years that followed the debacle of the Bush-Cheney years, the Obama-Biden administration brought the economy back to almost full employment, reformed the healthcare industry and provided coverage for 20 million people, enacted banking reform to curb the worst abuses of the financial sector, rescued two iconic automakers from insolvency, made massive investments in renewable energy, restored our strained alliances and standing in the world community, and honorably ended an ill-conceived and ruinous war.

And Biden’s considerable talents and abilities were pressed into service on Day One.

In 2009 this nation was in the throes of what was then the worst economic and financial collapse of our lifetimes, and President Obama entrusted Vice President Biden to oversee the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – better known as the stimulus.

And despite the controversy over the historic size of the stimulus package, the Obama administration met every spending deadline, and it kept costs so far under budget that it was able to finance over 3,000 additional projects with the savings.

And unlike the current coronavirus stimulus program, in 2009 we put active monitoring and oversight systems to avoid waste, mismanagement and fraud.

And VP Biden was able to convince three Republican Senators – Snowe, Collins and Specter – to break the logjam, cross the partisan aisle, and vote for the stimulus package.

A year later, he convinced Specter to switch parties and provide us with the deciding 60th vote for the Affordable Care Act.

His role in contentious negotiations with obstructionist Republicans also helped reauthorize unemployment insurance during the Great Recession, resolve a taxation deadlock, avoid a fiscal cliff, and diffuse the debt ceiling crisis.

Biden is also a recognized expert on international relations and a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his stature and relationships with world leaders will be vitally needed as we try to repair the frayed relations that were a result of Trump’s misguided hyper-nationalist misadventures.

As a Senator, Joe Biden also chaired the Judiciary Committee and led efforts to pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included the Assault Weapons Ban and the Violence Against Women Act.

As Vice President, he was integral in President Obama’s attempt to uphold our values and America’s leadership role.

As part of that effort, President Obama wisely enlisted Biden’s talents in the use of diplomacy to solve problems and bring people of various nations together.

When we convened the US-Africa Leaders Summit — and brought along 500 business men and women to forge greater economic ties with one of the world’s fastest growing regions — we reached out to these nations as equals, and that effort culminated in the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which allowed sub-Saharan countries to sell their goods in the United States duty-free and forge stronger ties with American interests.

An historic agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions provided the potential to prevent a nuclear arms buildup in an already unstable Middle East and ease regional tensions, and also possibly free up Iranian oil and gas for the European market, with the potential to undercut Russia’s ability to use its own oil and gas supplies as a geopolitical weapon to counter economic sanctions imposed by America and an energy-dependent Europe in response to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and its illegal annexation of the Crimea.

Through years of negotiations and diplomacy, we managed to enlist the world’s great powers in the effort, overcame criticism that we would fail to engage the hostile and untrustworthy Iranians, and countered accusations that he was ensuring an Iranian doomsday bomb and exacerbating an existential threat to our ally Israel.

And finally, an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes — unprecedented in the scope and aggressive intrusiveness of its inspections and enforcement regime – had been passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council and upheld by Congress.

And due to Biden’s mastery of diplomacy and his effective use of personal relationships, this historic effort was not derailed by China’s and Russia’s habitual use of their veto powers in the UN Security Council.

In addition, easing travel restrictions and normalizing relations with Cuba marked the end of the Cold War in the Western Hemisphere and promised to relieve isolation for Cuban citizens, marginalize hardliners, strengthen the hand of reformers, and undercut attempts by Russia and Venezuela to forge wider hemispheric links.

We also reached an agreement with China, the world’s largest carbon polluter, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions — a first for China — and provide 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030; we secured an understanding with India on greenhouse gas emissions; and enlisted 190 countries, including China, to reach a historic agreement, the Paris Accord, to address climate change.

Also under President Obama and VP Biden, we also assembled a 65-nation coalition of allies — and adversaries — to combat the ISIS terrorist group, and overcame ethnic and regional rivalries in order to stand up a regional fighting force that also had the potential to serve as the model for wider regional cooperation, including eventually transitioning into an ongoing regional peacekeeping force and a regional economic development and trade partnership.

We beat back the H1N1, zika and ebola virus, and proactively placed scientists and health professionals in medical hot-spots around the world — including in China — to monitor the emergence or spread of dangerous contagious diseases.

Our attempts to broker a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, our success in rallying Western Europe to sanction Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, our success in getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons without a fight, our determination to assemble a coalition to combat the terrorist group ISIS on their home turf, and ongoing attempts to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomacy marked a renewed attempt to organize a world community around something besides war and an attempt to dominate other peoples:

Under President Obama and VP Biden, we strove to reaffirm and uphold the principles that inspired us to save the world from fascism and authoritarianism, and strengthen a community of nations with the capacity to coexist and resolve problems peacefully.

Free trade agreements under negotiation with European and Asia-Pacific powers promised to establish enforceable worker and environmental protections — standards that typically are not championed by the free trade advocates and have not been enforced in past agreements – and blunt the efforts of the investor classes and financial elite to outsource jobs and factories, exploit impoverished citizens in developing countries, pit countries against each other in competition for jobs and investment, and escape the labor and environmental regulations of developed Western nations.

But all that progress is now at risk under an administration that has overturned or undermined consumer protections and regulations designed to protect the public from predatory business practices and the environment from pollution and profiteering, and has alienated longtime allies and security and trading partners.

And so now here we are, facing a restive and anxious set of allies around the world who are now as uncertain of our commitments to them as we now are of our own place in the world — and in an international order which we ourselves largely created and have led for over 70 years.

And our adversaries are increasingly becoming emboldened, more adventurous, and eager to exploit those doubts that we have engendered by our lack of clarity and direction.

And in this rapidly changing state of affairs the world is being forced to call into question our previous assumptions and position of moral authority, status, and fitness for leadership.

And because of Trump’s moves to upend and withdraw from existing agreements and alliances, and because of the ambivalence he has displayed toward allies and security and trade partners, the world is now undergoing a realignment that threatens to leave the U.S. increasingly isolated diplomatically, economically, culturally, and militarily.

In just three years under Trump, the U.S. has gone from the recognized, respected, and undisputed Leader of the Free World to something akin to rogue superpower status.

And in the event of a miscalculation or ill-conceived policy that leads to a general economic reversal or collapse, a widespread outbreak of war, pandemic, or humanitarian crisis, the U.S. could find itself a pariah nation.

We now face a choice between two competing visions and sets of values.

One calls for us to work within and strengthen a hard-fought community of nations and shared values, and to coexist and resolve problems peacefully without a desire to dominate and exploit other peoples.

The other calls for us to look to other nations with suspicion, to enact policies that provide additional benefits and privileges to the richest and most powerful, that limit redress and representation among the most marginalized and powerless, and that act as the ‘muscle’ behind a new global colonialism driven by moneyed interests and unaccountable dealmakers loyal to no country’s flag and which do not enjoy the consent of its people.

For the past 70 years, we have led the way in making the world more free, more safe, and more prosperous, because the rest of the world was convinced of the strength, not just of our economy or military, but also of our principles.

We led because of our commitment to freedom, liberty and justice.

And today, if we are to regain our stature as the leader of the free world, that indispensable nation, and first among equals, we need to restore our moral leadership, and for that we need a man of honor.

And that man is Joe Biden.

Randi Weingarten and I talked about what happens next: after the pandemic, how we protect schools and children from “opportunistic” tech entrepreneurs, what does Cuomo have up his sleeve, can we trust Biden to ditch Race to the Top bogus ideas?

Our conversation was recorded and live-streamed by the Network for Public Education. Carol Burris introduced us. The conversation wa facilitated by Darcie Cimarusti and Marla Kilfoyle, the fabulous staff of NPE.

Bill Becker worked for two decades in the U.S. Department of Energy. Bill is the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. I had the good fortune to meet him at a conference at Oberlin College a year or so ago. I have been on the mailing list for his blog ever since.

He wrote:

Wanted: A Vision for America

By William S. Becker

Joe Biden has just released an updated clean-energy platform, inspired in part by his desire to attract Sanders’ voters with stronger plans for leading a “clean energy revolution”. His new plan contains nine elements that range from holding polluters accountable to helping fossil energy workers displaced by the energy transition.”

It’s a predictable list and unlikely to satisfy climate hawks. But what its missing most is a vision for the nation. That has been the case for all of the policy platforms we saw from the Democrats who sought the presidency. Vice President Biden needs to communicate a unifying vision that is uplifting, principled, and aligned with the nation’s highest ideals. It needs to invoke the better angels who have been on sabbatical in America for too long. It needs to remind us what we all (or nearly all) have in common, rather than where we disagree.

Donald Trump dominates the presidential accessories market with “Make America Great Again”. It’s punchy enough to fit on a baseball cap, and everybody wants America to be great. Unfortunately, there is little agreement on what “great” is, and the devil is in the details.

Earlier this year, one of the pollsters posed Ronald Reagan’s famous debate question: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago.” The response was a predictable and resounding yes. That was before CVID-19 changed everything.

But even when the stock market was setting record highs and joblessness was low, those are superficial and temporary metrics that don’t tell us much about “great”. Are we morally and ethically great right now? Are we united around a shared aspiration for our country? Is our Congress functional? Does the rest of the world respect us? Are we at peace?

Do we respect and trust the most powerful guy on the planet?

When Dr. Martin Luther King stood at the Lincoln Memorial to tell us his dream, he didn’t recite a list of policy proposals. He let the better angels speak. His dream lifted us (or most of us) up.

This not to dismiss or belittle policy promises. Federal policies have been my bread and butter for the last 20 years. They form the roadmap to the future we want. Goals such as net-zero by 2050 are the mile markers. But we need something more. Trump has had the bully pulpit and the Twitter megaphone to dominate every daily news cycle for three years, so we have a pretty good idea of what his vision is. Joe Biden needs to give us an alternative. Here are some examples he can consider:

a) We want America to be an inspiration to the world rather than a disappointment. Let’s Make America Proud Again.

b) We want a country that guarantees equal opportunity for all its people, but not necessarily equal results. We should not expect success to be given to us. We should earn it.

c) We want a nation that values and cares for its natural resources, whether it’s wilderness and biodiversity or clean air, water, and skies.

d) We want a nation that cares about future generations.

e) We want a country that has grown past the propaganda that we can’t have environmental protection and lots of jobs at the same time. We can, and we must. The solar, wind energy, energy efficiency, and environmental restorations sectors are proving it.

f) We want to be finally and truly energy independent. Trump says we already are because we produce more oil than anyone else. He’s wrong. By one count, the oil disruption we are experiencing now is the 20th over the last 40 years. Shouldn’t we switch to energy that is inexhaustible, ubiquitous, harvested harmlessly, and free? You know, resources like sunlight, wind, geothermal energy, hydroelectricity, and bioenergy that the Saudis and Russians can’t manipulate?

g) We want America to be an active and constructive part in the community of nations. Let’s stop pretending that we can stand alone when all nations are inexorably bound together in the modern world. It’s probably unavoidable that an egomaniacal president will have an egomaniacal foreign policy. Let’s fix it..

h) We want an inclusive nation that respects the rights and the contributions of all races, religions, and nationalities who contribute to America’s success.

i) We need to stop using GDP as the only indicator of America’s health. It doesn’t measure happiness. And we should redefine growth to prioritize quality over quantity.

j) We want to be a country that pays it forward, we give back to our communities with volunteerism and civic engagement, and give back to our country with national service.

k) We want a country that lives up to the expectations of our greatest leaders, where we will “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty” in the words of President Kennedy; where we judge each other by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin, in the words of Dr. King; where our greatest concern is not whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side, in the words of Abraham Lincoln; where “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much (but) whether we provide enough for those who have little” in the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; where we see wars as a “plague of mankind” and work to banish them from the Earth, as George Washington hoped; where we truly are that shining city on hill that President Reagan invoked; and where in the words of President Barack Obama, we “recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideas and those who died in their defense.”

That is the country we should be, Joe Biden might say, and that is the country we will be again.

Progressive activist Norman Solomon was a Sanders delegate to the Democratic convention in 2016. He now is national director of RootsAction. In this article in LA Progressive, he warns that Trump is a neofascist and that his re-election will end all hope for progressive change.

He quotes Noam Chomsky:

But here’s a key point: People who deny or downplay the real threat of neo-fascism consolidating itself via Trump’s re-election are, in effect, serving as enablers for the forces of the virulent extreme right that already controls so much of the U.S. government.

“It’s important to remember that right now, the issue of greatest urgency is to get rid of the malignancy in the White House,” Noam Chomsky said in an interview last week. “If we don’t do that, everything else pales into insignificance. To keep this for another four years means racing to the abyss on global warming, possibly reaching irreversible tipping points, sharply increasing the threat of nuclear war, stuffing the judiciary with young, ultra-right, mostly unqualified lawyers who will guarantee that anything to the left of Attila the Hun can’t survive for a generation, and on and on. This is top priority.”

In that video interview with The Intercept, Chomsky added: “There’s a thing called arithmetic. You can debate a lot of things, but not arithmetic. Failure to vote for Biden in this election in a swing state amounts to voting for Trump. Takes one vote away from the opposition, same as adding one vote to Trump. So, if you decide you want to vote for the destruction of organized human life on Earth. . . then do it openly. . . . But that’s the meaning of ‘Never Biden.’”

Veterans of the political struggles of the 1960s explain in this open letter published in The Nation why they will vote for Joe Biden. In my view, anyone who opposes racism, fascism, and the dominance of the fanatical religious right should vote for Biden.

The letter begins:

On April 13, 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders urged his supporters to vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden. Writing as founders and veterans of the leading New Left organization of the 1960s, Students for a Democratic Society, we welcome Bernie’s wise choice—but we are gravely concerned that some of his supporters, including the leadership of Democratic Socialists of America, refuse to support Biden, whom they see as a representative of Wall Street capital. Some of us are DSA members, but do not believe their position is consistent with a long-range vision of democracy, justice, and human survival.

Now it is time for all those who yearn for a more equal and just social order to face facts. All of us have charged for years that Trump is the leader of an authoritarian party that aims for absolute power; rejects climate science; embraces racism, sexism, homophobia, and violence; holds the democratic process in contempt; bids to take over the entire federal judiciary; represses voting rights; and violates plain human decency on many fronts. These are the grounds for our solemn determination: A common effort to unseat him is our high moral and political responsibility.

In our time, we fought—for a time successfully—against the sectarian politics of the Cold War. We were mindful then of the cataclysm that befell German democracy when socialists and communists fought each other—to death—as Hitler snuck by and then murdered them all.

Now we fear that some on the left cannot see the difference between a capitalist democrat and a protofascist. We hope none of us learn this difference from jail cells.

We have dedicated much of our lives to the fight to extend democracy to more people, more institutions, more places. We continue this work in diverse ways motivated now as then by a spirit of community and solidarity. But now the very existence of American democracy is in jeopardy.

Some of us think “endorsing” Joe Biden is a step too far; but we who now write this open letter all know that we must work hard to elect him. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.

Open the link and read the rest of the letter.

I note that my good friend Mike Klonsky, who was National Secretary of SDS in 1968, decided not to sign the letter. You can read his reasons here, but he too will vote for Biden, because, as he writes:

In my view, Trump and Trumpism represent the most reactionary political force in the world today and the most immediate and serious threat to peace and human freedom in the post-WWII era.

Tactically, I’m taking my cues mainly from leading progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders who, to one degree or another, are supporting Biden’s election as a way of defeating Trump and pushing forward our progressive agenda.