Dear Irony: Enough Already!

I like irony as much as the next guy — probably more than him. But even irony, it turns out, has its limits — or should.

Evangelicals praising a man Jesus would despise. The party of personal responsibility literally never taking any. A country racing to open back up for business even as the virus that will cause it to close down again — perhaps even starving it — races, unstoppable, through the heartland.

We get it! Everything in Trump World stinks of irony. And what’s ironic about that? Donald Trump himself can neither hear nor see irony. It’s as invisible to him as decency is. How do we know?

Irony requires a sense of humor in order to see it. The stark contrast — what a thing should be versus what a thing actually is — starts with oneself. If you can’t see the irony of your own circumstances, you can’t see irony period. In Donald Trump’s case, he can’t see the irony of his own lies — that every claim that he’s the best at something is demonstrably, ironically false because he’s the worst at it.

The irony overload isn’t helped a jot by a news media that, itself, is part of the irony. Ironically, America’s news media has no idea how badly they’re doing.

For instance — they still want to talk about Tara Reade (never mind that her story has changed repeatedly over time) and her accusations against Joe Biden. Have they shown anything like the same interest in the 20+ women who’ve accused Donald Trump of far worse — consistently and unwaveringly. And none of them are being represented by a lawyer who contributed to Trump and who have openly praised Vladimir Putin.

Oh, the irony.

We keep seeing — where Donald Trump’s corruption, deceit, treachery are concerned, there literally is no nadir — no bottom-most point where a rebound of some kind begins.

Irony in the Age of Trump feels equally bottomless. That was kinda funny — at first. Now, it’s not even remotely funny. Hmmmm… is that ironic? Quick — someone get Alanis Morissette on the phone!

Let’s Be Real: Election 2020 May Be “Trump v Biden” On The Surface, But In Every Other Way, It’s “Obama v Trump” — LITERALLY

Maybe this race was simply fated to go this way. Prior to the South Carolina primary a few weeks ago, everyone pretty much agreed that Joe Biden’s candidacy was done. And then yesterday, Bernie Sanders withdrew from the race (keeping his name in to get as many delegates as he can so as to exert influence over the platform — a good move). The 2020 Election began in earnest at that moment.

And then Barack Obama’s name popped into the conversation. Obama initiated part of it (an important point). He put out this tweet —

Donald Trump responded — as he would. During Wednesday’s daily political campaign ad masquerading as a coronavirus update, Trump addressed the fact that Bernie had dropped out, making Biden his opposition. Trump asked why Obama hadn’t backed Biden until now. Being Trump, he asserted that Obama “new something” — something Trump himself knew — and soon, we’d all know what that “something” was…

If ever a man needed desperately to have the words “Oh, shut the fuck up!” howled like a raging wind into his bloated orange face, it’s Donald Trump.

The final move came from Obama. It showed not only grace and tact but clear evidence of political skill. The Democratic Party aches for Barack and Michelle Obama to get into this thing. Word “trickled out” from various places that indeed Obama and Michelle absolutely intend to enter the conversation at a place and time so as to maximize the effect of their entering the conversation.

And that’s where stand as of this morning.

Being both an excellent politician and a smart man, Obama refused to endorse any of the Democratic nominees because he was letting We The People do the talking. The fact is, regardless of who emerged from the process, Obama was going to endorse them because the Democratic nominee would be the only person in a position to defeat Trump. Donald Trump is as subtle as a wet fart — and just as disgusting. Do we really have to say it out loud? Obama didn’t back Biden until now because it would have been INAPPROPRIATE.

End of story.

Now here’s where it gets good. Obama doesn’t need to do anything right this second. He knows Trump will do most of the damage to himself by himself. Trump will maximize Obama’s moment for him. Joe Biden is no one’s idea of a legacy candidate. What Joe Biden represents, what he IS — is a president whose election will instantly restore LEGITIMACY to our government. Biden’s election — just the fact of it — will mean The Rule Of Law is back in the house. And the Senate. And the Executive Branch.

Joe Biden won’t just “win” this election. As Joe himself could tell you, it’s not about him. It’s about US. It’s about what Donald Trump and the Republican Party have done to us. Trump has made it his priority to undo everything Barack Obama accomplished. Literally everything. We all know why.

Trump made this “Trump v Obama” the moment he took the oath of office and began sledgehammering the ACA. Problem is, “Trump v Obama” is “Trump v We The People” and We The People have had enough. Even Republicans (the former Republicans I mean) now sing Obama’s praises. Though they disagreed with him politically, they now see that intelligence, grace and decency matter a shit-ton. And they see — in the face of the coronavirus pandemic that the ACA is vital just to get through the current crisis; Medicare for all is where we must land however.

Joe Biden will be a caretaker POTUS — the exact thing we need as we turn off the spigots of self-destruction before the tub overflows, floods the bathroom and crashes down onto the floors below. Joe Biden’s immediate moves will be to — as much as possible — put things back as they were. But that can only be a starting point. Biden has been consulting regularly since South Carolina w Obama — I bet the subject of VP choice has come up. This will be a key — not in whether or not Biden beats Trump but in how completely and utterly Biden beats Trump.

A choice like Kamala Harris would be awesome (though she’d also be a killer Attorney General). Elizabeth Warren — awesome. Stacey Abrams — awesome. Amy Kobuchar — good but not awesome. Whoever the veep is — they’ll be the next POTUS in 2024. That’s why the veep choice is vital — that’s our future. Literally.

The reason Democrats are salivating at the thought of Obama stepping into the ring to directly speak to Donald Trump is because Obama will decimate Trump and Trump knows he’ll die a horrible death that way — in public. A poll released yesterday said that more Americans believe Barack Obama would be a better leader during this pandemic than Trump. Their opinion won’t change in the coming weeks. And the more we learn about just how egregiously terrible Team Trump’s response was — and how many Americans have died because of it — and the more Team Trump’s horrible response makes mince meat of the economy — Barack Obama will look even more amazing to us — as a destination — than he already does.

What campaign ad — that appeals to anyone outside Trump’s ravenously racist base — can Team Trump run against Obama? Anything he says will make Obama more popular and make those aching for the return of Obama’s decency to pour politics even more ardent.

C’mon — an Obama v Trump election? The Fates themselves pushed us here. And I don’t believe in Fate.

As much as Trump is a lightning rod for publicity where the world hangs on every goddamned word that spews from his anus-shaped mouth, so too will Barack Obama. But, by comparison, his words will sound like the pronouncements of an Oracle.

The choice put before us will be stark, clear & easy. Good thing because we’re going to need as many Americans as possible to show up at the polls in order to overcome the massive suppression operation the GOP will mount because it’s all they know how to do.

Donald Trump wanted Election 2020 to be yet another freakish, Trump-branded reality show. As my old pal the Crypt Keeper used to say, “Be careful what you wish for, you may just ‘get it’!”

Donald Trump is about to “get it”.

Hey, America — There’s A New Boss In Town — It’s The “African-American Vote”

Common wisdom (often more common than wise) has whispered for a while now that African Americans were the core constituency of the Democratic Party. Don’t have them behind you (on a national level)? You aren’t going far.

Yesterday, that bit of common wisdom looked unnaturally wise. Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign went from zero to hero almost entirely on the strength of the African-American vote. As a voting block, African Americans didn’t just flex their muscle, they demonstrated just how powerful a muscle they wield. Now, let’s be clear — African Americans don’t get on the phone with each other to discuss how they’re all going to vote. Jews don’t do it either. Neither do Latinos or any voting block (except Bernie Bros apparently and Republicans). African Americans — though not voting “as a group”, voted as a group of individuals with a common experience: American politics at their expense.

As a group, African Americans have a very particular history. As a group, Jews have a very particular history. That history imprints upon a group in myriad ways, most of them very subtle — but definitive. When you cannot automatically trust the political system you have no choice but to participate in, you approach it a little differently than someone who’s always benefited from that system. White people get to take our system’s inequalities for granted one way. People Of Color get to take them for granted the other way.

African American voters are pragmatic through and through. There’s one thing that, as a group, they’re aspirational towards like no other (because it touches them so completely): social justice. When you’ve never actually gotten to experience what everyone else has taken for granted — the thing that gives them monumental advantages over you — you recognize that before you can have anything else, FIRST, you must have THAT.

You must have social justice in order to have a remote shot at all the other things you deserve — same as everyone else.

Donald Trump has made it clear as can be that one of his biggest missions is to reverse, undo, destroy or shit on EVERYTHING Barack Obama accomplished as president. Trump has billboarded his racism from the get-go. Birtherism should have been the end of Trumpism. We should never have gotten to “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing”. A decent Republican Party would have made racist birtherism anathema to them.

They didn’t. Because decency died in them long, long ago. The people now calling themselves “the Republican Party” share philosophy (though not name) with the Dixiecrats. I recommend historian Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” which explains how the Republican Party — at its founding — were a lot more like contemporary Democrats than contemporary Republicans. Names mean a lot less than core philosophy.

The modern Republican Party is very much the Dixiecrat Party — Nixon’s Southern Strategy come back to life as a ravenous Christo-fascist hate-zombie who knows the demographics bode poorly for white, Christian, male power. Southern-sympathizing white, Christian male power. What African Americans know — we’re still fighting the Civil War. And we’re still fighting the Civil War because we let slavery in the door.

Rather, we didn’t kick it out upon the nation’s founding. We compromised with something you cannot compromise with and maintain your integrity. You cannot say “All men are created equal” while owning other “men”. You can’t.

African Americans have lived and died on the crux of that matter. As a group, they did not ask to be here. Once here, they did not want to BE here. Once that choice was taken away — to have their old lives back — they wanted to survive the inhumanity being inflicted upon them. The stolen labor. The stolen children. The stolen lives and property and dignity and even history.

Poll taxes and voter ID laws are all ways racists try to stop African Americans from voting. On one side of this equation are all those people TRYING to stop people of color from voting. On the other side are people of color who just want to exercise their right to vote. It’s kind of organic that those people of color would therefore — on a regular basis — vote differently than the people trying to suppress their vote. ‘

Back in Lincoln’s day, that would have meant massive turnout for Republicans — the Party of Lincoln.

But the two parties have swapped names — that’s really what’s happened here. The Party of Lincoln has morphed into modern Democrats while the Confederacy has morphed into the Republican Party. When African Americans turn out en masse — as they did yesterday for Joe Biden — it has actual historical significance. While speaking as individuals — with the same righteous indignation in their hearts and the same pragmatism in their heads — also African Americans spoke as a group. They brought Joe Biden’s presidential run back from the dead not because they dislike Bernie Sanders (or anything Bernie stands for) but because 300 years of group experience has taught them that whatever serves social justice best — that is how they must vote.

I say all this as a socialist. I was thrilled to attend Bernie Sanders’ first campaign rally here in LA in 2016. I took my son even (he was 17 — and has, since, become a bit of a Bernie Bro — in his “Bernie Or Bust” thinking). I aspire to everything Bernie aspires to. But, I’m pragmatic, too. And there’s reality. I have to live in it — so must Bernie.

I trust that, should he not win the nomination, Bernie Sanders will do what he said he would and back whoever the Democratic nominee is. But what of the most ardent Bernie followers — the ones ( like my son) who have said they won’t vote if Bernie isn’t atop the Democratic ticket? I hate to say this (son — ya listening?) Taking your ball and going home is such a White Guy thing to do.

For real.

If you really want social justice — and social justice is the foundational idea on which Social Democracy and socialism is based (that and economic justice — but, it’s the social justice that demands the economic justice not the other way around) — then you, at least, have to look at how African American voters voted yesterday. They chose Biden because they see the clearest path toward social justice.

If we make the 2020 Presidential campaign an epic battle between Good — social justice — and Evil — All Things Trump — we will win that battle hands down, going away and by a mile. We have, on our team, a group with a great nose for social justice. They’ve pointed us clearly in one direction.

Hey, White People — let’s start listening for a change.

We’re Confused About “Leadership” Because MEN Have Fooled Us Into Thinking THEY Were “Leaders”

One of the first games we play with each Democrat who jumps into the crowded pool of 2020 presidential candidates is “Gotcha!” with their past. The current environment has finally swung toward the Progressive wing of not just the Democratic Party but of the American Electorate, too. Joe Biden, for instance, is being hoist on the petard of his support for legislation earlier in his career that now looks toxic. The “Gotcha!” supposes that when we throw that question down, the candidate is going to congratulate the journalist for catching the contradiction they hoped no one would find. And then… what? Withdraw? Almost always, the first impulse — when being asked that silly question — is to dodge, to change the subject. Good thing it doesn’t look guilty or anything… Both question and response are tied to a very old — very worn out — notion of what “Leadership” is. They suppose that a leader — being a man — assumes the mantle of “Leader” with great gravity. He looks at the world and “gets it”. He looks inside — at the path that brought HIM to this place of “Leadership” and “Greatness” — and (because HE alone can “fix it”), he utters “A Great Pronouncement”. And that profound belch will be a hill he dies on some day — because the last thing any Male Leader can do is change his mind. FFS — women do that, right? Women “change their minds” and “adapt” because, well, they’ve always had to — because some man was telling them to or forcing them to or simply “fixing it alone” while the woman looked on helplessly. Because men have always been the leaders (a trend changing way, way, WAY too slowly), we associate male qualities with leadership — not because leadership is inherently male, but because we’re creatures of habit. We’re intellectually lazy and easily persuaded of nonsense and (as this sight is so fond of saying) bullshit. Men — being sperm donors — can easily come and go. They can impregnate and move on without any emotional connection to their “output”. This is hard-wired into male biology. Because men have always been the leaders, we’ve come to associate this quality with leadership. If women had (as they probably SHOULD HAVE) been our leaders, THEIR biological imperatives would have been more prominent. Women bear children. It is the foundational fact of their biology. It impacts how they see the world. They know for a fact that you cannot bear a child or rear a child all by yourself. You can but — it won’t be good for you or the child. Women know that their survival, their child’s survival, depends on other people. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, yes — it takes a village. Consequently — if you sit among a group of women making a decision, I think they’ll bear me out — the process is communal. It tries far harder than any man fixing it alone to hear and accommodate every voice in the room — because they’re all part of the village it takes to raise their child. If we redefined “leadership” in female terms (as opposed to “feminine”) — looking at how women lead, most of the qualities would be similar to how men lead. There still needs to be strength, charisma if possible. But all those qualities would be tempered — because they have to be. Because women have learned from millennia of having to work their magic on the sly, that you need to listen first — then act. If Joe Biden has two brain cells, he’ll take a “female approach” next time he gets asked about the less appealing parts of his legislative record. He’ll respond: “That was the ‘old Joe Biden’. This Joe Biden has evolved and is evolving. He wants your help to be the best Joe Biden he can be — while serving your needs.” Men need to learn how to evolve. Like women have. Imagine the leaders they could be someday