Friday, July 12, 2019



Biden's Not Passing Any Torches Voluntarily by Nancy Ohanian

Almost two decades ago, I was talking with a guy I worked for, a guy with tremendous accomplishments who I both respected and liked. But I noticed he was slowing down a little and there were a couple of moments where I could see the senility starting to creep into the conversation. He's in his 90s now and I ran into him the other day, He seemed on top of his game and as fresh and spry as he had ever been. I'm not a doctor but digging around online I found this helpful explanation: "When people get older, their bodies and minds slow down. In the best cases, the decline is barely perceptible, and these folks stay as sharp as tacks through their 90s or even 100s. They can walk well and get around independently like pros. In fact, some active seniors weightlift, bike and bungee jump way past the age anyone thought they could. In the worst cases, seniors may develop dementia and be unable to remember the names of their loved ones and what happened yesterday. They may still be strong and physical, or they could have mobility issues. Many seniors fall into a middle ground between these two extremes, and it is called senility... If you become occasionally forgetful or can’t remember the name of your co-worker from 10 or 20 years ago, that’s normal. It could just be part of senility, or the aging process. Other common symptoms of senility include occasionally:
Stumbling to find or use a word
Forgetting events or things
Forgetting the names of acquaintances or people you know/knew casually
Straining to remember the particulars of a long-ago conversation or even a conversation or event from last year.

The key word here is occasionally! Heck, even people in their 20s and 30s may come up against this kind of thing... [T]hese changes are as perfectly normal as graying hair. They can also be just as dismaying, if not more so... If you’re wondering whether you have dementia or senility, a useful question is this: 'Is it affecting your daily life?' In other words, is not being able to remember the details of a few conversations from 10 years ago impairing your ability to cook? Probably not. On the other hand, not being able to remember where the food is every day or not being able to buy food does impair your ability to cook."

When I ran into Bernie in Burlington a few months ago he was totally cooking. We talked for a few moments about James Madison High School where we were both students. He recalled that Chuck Schumer, who, unlike Bernie, was there when I was. Bernie seemed fit as a fiddle and able to slide right behind the Resolute Desk and start-- well achieving this.

I don't get that same idea about some of the octogenarians in Congress, like Pelosi and Hoyer, nor about Biden or Trump. AOC, tased a little about it in her interview with David Remnick for the New Yorker this week.

David Remnick: Well, when you came to Congress, did you have a plan? How you wanted to be? What you wanted to push forward? How you wanted to communicate?

AOC: I think in some parts—how I wanted to communicate, yes. And I think for me, over all, the plan was to try to expand our national debate and reframe our understanding of issues, because I felt as though that was something that wasn’t being done enough, especially on the Democratic side, for Democrats.

We don’t know how to talk about our own issues in ways that I think are convincing, so we fall into Republican frames all the time. And we’re too often on the defense, we’re too often afraid of our own values and sticking up for them. And I feel like we run away from our convictions too much. And so one of the things that I wanted to do was to hold a strong line, and redefine our values, and remind people that I think what we need to be doing right now is coming home as a party. I don’t think we should be afraid of being the party of F.D.R. I don’t think we should be afraid of being the party of working people. And it feels to me that at some point we did start becoming afraid of those things.

DR: And became the party of what instead?

AOC: I think we became the party of hemming and hawing and trying to be all things to everybody. And it’s not to say that we need to exclude people, but it’s to say that we don’t have to be afraid of having a clear message. To say, we believe in the human dignity of all people. We believe that health care should be a right. We believe that all people should be paid a living wage. We believe that, as our economy evolves, it’s time to expand public education beyond K through twelve, to K through sixteen, K through college, or K through vocational. And what we call bold agendas, or Republicans call socialist, are things that they’ve always called socialist. And [we should] wear it, understand that that’s what they’re going to say, but don’t run away from the actual policies that can transform people’s lives... I’ve been pretty shocked with the concentration of power internally-- not just the influence that lobbyists have, which I think a lot of people kind of understand and see-- but how the actual rules within Congress have changed over the years to put, I think, an insane amount of power in a handful of people within even just the House of Representatives.

DR: Are we talking about the House Speaker? The majority leadership in the Senate?

AOC: The Speaker, leadership, committee chairs . . . Congress used to function in a way where each member used to have much more power as an individual than they do now. And over the years the rules have changed to kind of consolidate power, to a very large degree, with the Speaker, with the Minority Leader, et cetera. In fact, Justin Amash, who just resigned from the Republican Party, congressman from Michigan, made this same exact point when he decided to leave the Republican Party-- the Republican caucus, rather.

...DR: You worked for Bernie Sanders. How do you think he did? Is he too old?

AOC: I don’t think that! I don’t think it’s about being too old.

DR: You can’t be too old in this situation? I mean, let’s face it, we’re looking at two guys who, going in, going in to the Presidency-- Biden and Sanders-- they’d be older than Ronald Reagan coming out.

AOC: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I think that, when it comes to age, I think age gets used as a proxy for capacity. And so I think there are some folks that are of a certain age where you can kind of question their capacity.

DR: AOC: I think Donald Trump is a perfect example.

AOC: [Laughs.] I don’t think he’s all there.

DR: Joe Biden?

AOC: I think Joe Biden, his performance on the stage kind of raised some questions with respect to that. But I don’t want to say, just because someone is seventy-nine, they can’t or shouldn’t run for President. I don’t want to use those proxies, a number as a proxy for capacity. I think you have to assess a person’s capacity on a case-by-case basis.

DR: What makes Joe Biden “not there” for you? And if he were to get the nomination-- or a centrist of any kind, center-left, however he’s defining himself, but certainly a center figure in the Democratic Party-- how should progressives behave?

AOC: Well, it’s not just about being centrist, per se. It’s, when you are struggling to talk about segregationists, and you err on the side of discussing them in glowing terms, that is a big problem. I think struggling in talking about women’s rights is a big issue. Struggling to convey respect for women in this day and age is a big issue, I think those are systemic issues. Like, those are very deep. Those are not gaffes. They are problems. And so it’s before you even get to, where are you on public college and where are you on a living wage, I think, just, like, where are you on understanding the people that live in this country?

DR: I guess what his supporters would say-- and even you could make this argument-- is, when you take somebody who’s had a long career, and they were living in times of old standards of speech, political reference, mistakes, when are they disqualified? And when is that just part of the package? Because you’re twenty-nine, and, let’s say we’re sitting here, or somebody’s sitting here with you, in twenty years, and you’re running for President. It’s possible that you’ll do everything perfectly for the next twenty years and make no mistakes. But maybe not likely. How do we hold people accountable for old standards of the way people addressed each other, and the way they were physically with each other? In Joe Biden’s case. Busing itself was certainly an incredibly complicated issue at the time.

AOC: So I think the No. 1 indicator on this is, does the person know how to apologize? And if you don’t know how to apologize for praising segregationists, then that’s a red flag already, because I think people are very forgiving on that. I think people understand that over the course of a career, as the country evolves, our politics will evolve.

But if we approach past mistakes with defensiveness, then that, I think, is indicative of a problem. Because if you’re defending a past position that the country has moved on from, then it calls into question your judgment for the present.
It's worth taking a look at the way Alex Shephard wrote about the fight Pelosi's in the middle of with the younger activist member of her caucus. Yesterday, writing for the New Republic about how her feud with these freshmen reveals a great deal about her approach to leadership and her disinclination to use her power, to the point that she has to be viewed as being completely risk-adverse.

The rift between Pelosi and her left-flank says much about the generational divide in the Democratic Party. But more than anything, it speaks to a profound philosophical difference. Pelosi and Democratic leadership believe in accumulating power, but rarely wielding it. They believe that taking action-- whether it be on issues like health care, or holding a criminal president accountable-- could backfire. Any use of power, the theory goes, any spending of political capital, risks being met with a profound reaction from the GOP, from swing voters, and from conservative Democrats that will ultimately hurt the party’s ability to win elections, and so, retain power. Ocasio-Cortez and others, meanwhile, are arguing not just for the party to use the tools at their disposal, but that using their Constitutionally mandated power to hold people and institutions accountable will lead to electoral gains rather than losses.

Pelosi’s approach to impeachment is probably the clearest example of this schism. Fearing that opening impeachment proceedings will distract from-- and undermine-- the 2020 campaign, she has put the brakes on many measures to hold Trump and his administration accountable. Instead, she has made opaque and confusing public statements, claiming that Trump is “just not worth it” and that he “self-impeaches” every day. She has similarly declined to go after other Trump officials. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, most recently, has been rightfully attacked for his shameful handling of a plea deal with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein while serving as U.S. attorney for Florida’s southern district. Pelosi could launch impeachment proceedings against Acosta. Instead she launched a petition-- attached to a fundraising ask.

While Pelosi has a well-earned reputation for whipping votes and retaining loyalty, thanks in large part to her ability to dole out the huge sums she rakes in from donors, she has also consistently wielded power in this cautious manner.

As Ryan Grim argued last week in the Washington Post, there are historical reasons for this approach. “Democratic leaders like Pelosi, Joe Biden, Steny Hoyer and Chuck Schumer were shaped by their traumatic political coming-of-age during the breakup of the New Deal coalition and the rise of Ronald Reagan-- and the backlash that swept Democrats so thoroughly from power nearly 40 years ago,” Grim wrote. “They’ve spent the rest of their lives flinching at the sight of voters. When these leaders plead for their party to stay in the middle, they’re crouching into the defensive posture they’ve been used to since November 1980, afraid that if they come across as harebrained liberals, voters will turn them out again.” These Democrats are “haunted by the Reagan era” and equate moving left with devastating losses.

Over the same period, the Republican Party has embraced a completely opposite approach to politics. While Democrats have long seen power as something to accrue and wield responsibly, they typically do little more than hoard it. The GOP, meanwhile, seeks power at all costs and wields it with abandon. No figure in contemporary politics sums up this approach better than Mitch McConnell, who has gone to extraordinary lengths, particularly when it comes to the federal judiciary, to use his power to reshape the government. The kinds of bold gambits on which McConnell has embarked-- blocking Merrick Garland from the Supreme Court is a particularly galling example-- are based on the idea that not only should power be used to the fullest extent possible, but that Republicans will more likely be punished for not acting than they will for taking aggressive action.

And in response, more often than not, Democrats are reactive, almost apologizing for what power they have. Leaders like Pelosi contort themselves to appear moderate and eager for compromise. They are terrified about any approach that looks like open, unabashed advocacy for the rights of undocumented immigrants, or restoring some degree of economic equity by (gasp) raising taxes on those who can most afford to pay them. They fear being called tax-and-spend socialists, more than they desire progressive results. And so they retreat, again and again, fearing that doing much of anything could cost them campaign contributions, and, ultimately, cost them seats. Looking over the barren landscape of recent American politics, it’s easy to see that this is not a particularly rewarding strategy.

Another day in the life...

McConnell’s nihilist approach often involves wielding power not for the sake of a specific policy outcome, but to accrue yet more political power. Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez are arguing that their party has the means to profoundly alter people’s lives: They can take action on the border, where ICE and CBP agents are torturing migrants; they can bring to justice members of the Trump administration, including the president himself, for flouting the law and favoring the wealthy; they can fight for economic policies that don’t benefit party donors, but instead make it easier for all people to afford housing and health care. In other words, they can do something. The other option, too much of the time, is doing nothing.

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At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just indicted and convicted the democraps. When will you sentence them (to death)?
Like Mueller and the democraps, you are willing, reluctantly, to rhetorically indict and convict, yet you refuse to sentence. Makes your blog sort of pointless fundamentally... no?

You summed up the democraps anecdotally but still refuse to do so generally:

"Pelosi could launch impeachment proceedings against Acosta. Instead she launched a petition-- attached to a fundraising ask."
(note: she refuses to even launch a petition wrt trump. but fundraising... you betcha)

This is your democrap party in a nutshell. Use every political opportunity (the Nazis screwing the pooch) and constitutional crisis not to make the nation a better place, but to make your party richer.

Fuck the democraps and fuck each and every sheepdog they employ to keep the voters stupid, lazy and gullible... and devoted.

AOC nicely ID'd the problem with *HER* party. One wonders why, then, does she still cleave to that shitty tribe?

fuck we're stupid!

At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem with the democraps is NOT ageism. It's corruption and cowardice.

Bernie is fine synaptically. He's got a problem with courage of his convictions, though. Nobody that believes what he says could ever endorse $hillbillary. nobody.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger jazz lover said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, "we're" not stupid - you're not a liberal, not a Democrat. You're a libertarian bullshitter with no actual solutions, just seething contempt for the left. Tell me which conservatives sites you haunt with this kind of acrid criticism. I'd love to see your posts on how vile the Republican Party is. Or at least how the current power they hold has less to do with any fundamental brilliance on their part and more to do with the general ineptitude and cowardice of Democrats.

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep telling yourself that, 5:41. Just like the infinite monkeys with infinite time and infinite typewriters, you just might come up with Shakespeare.

At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Gizmo said...

Well said 5:41! You speak for many of us. The troll you answered is a serious crackpot.

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:41 and Gizmo - I am so happy to not be the only one who is tired of the moronic comments of Mr. or Ms. "democrap" (pretty sure it is a man) who uses the same tired rantings every single day. We can only hope "democrap" gets tired of DWT and goes to some conservative sites and annoys everyone on those sites. Please make it so!

At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If wishes were horses then Party beggars would ride. I bet your feet hurt.

At 6:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:41 sounds a lot like trump telling us he's such a stable genius.

His words and actions prove he's not.

You may rightly be "tired" of it. Doesn't invalidate my premise.

And for the record, the Nazis are mentioned often in my "rants". The problem on this site, however, is it tries to promote the democrap party. It is that fool's errand that I'm forced to address. Context and all that.

Interesting how you can read all the eviscerations of the party, individuals and policies of the democrap party written by all the authors on this site... yet happily comply by 'holding your nose and voting for them' when election day arrives.

"Do as I say, not as I write" is the meme of this site. Context.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I want to know from know-it-all Party trolls like 7:06: If you bozos are so smart, why isn't Hillary president today?


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