While the country holds its breath awaiting the next Joe Biden disaster or the next supererogatory Donald Trump rally, or the next quixotic Mike Pence 2024 presidential campaign event, beneath the surface the political tides are running at Shakespearean levels. Seeking to enlist Cassius in his plot to assassinate Julius Caesar, Brutus says:
We at the height are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
From our current vantage point, it looks as though the 2024 election might come down to a rematch between Trump and whoever survives the coming Democrat bloodbath this fall. Can senile Joe Biden continue to impersonate a sentient being behind the Resolute desk for another three years? Or will the likely loss of both houses of Congress to the unworthy Republicans motivate the donkey party to find fresh-faced replacements for both Biden and his manifestly unsuitable vice president, Kamala Harris? As I noted last week, it's not impossible to replace both halves of a winning ticket in mid-stream: the Democrats pulled it off between 1972 (historic Nixon/Agnew landslide) and 1974 (Watergate) and saddled the GOP with two candidates it never wanted or even nominated, Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller. So if you think it can't be done, think again.
The only question is whether the Democrats have the guts to do it to themselves. Back then, the Howard Baker Republicans labored under the impression that the Democrats wanted the same ends for the nation as they did; they were only arguing about means. They also believed that the media played things straight down the middle and, faithful to their constitutional role in a free Republic, didn't take sides, cut corners, or manufacture stories from whole cloth. In the end, the GOP bonzes even did the Dems' dirty work for them, sending a delegation of senior leadership to the White House to tell Tricky Dick the jig was up and it was time for him to go. From a 49-state, 520-electoral vote tsunami to the bum's rush in less than two years; the bloodless coup really was a remarkable achievement and a first in American history.
Should the Democrats wish, or be forced, to keelhaul Biden, however, such a decision will come with a hefty price tag. They'll have to explain to their black voters why Harris was discarded without ever being able to articulate the reason that dare not speak its name: she's simply too stupid to function:
Another problem is that the Democrats have no plausible replacements ready to step in should the need arise. So dedicated are they to the woke doctrines of their lunatic-Left base, they are saddled with the box-checking likes of Pete Buttigieg, Lloyd Austin, Xavier Becerra, Miguel Cardona, Alejandro Mayorkas, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Anthony Blinken, none of whom belongs anywhere near a cabinet meeting unless it's held in a water closet. Further, the Democrats' program of crazy nostrums such as Modern Monetary Theory—just print money!—and Green Energy (free wind and solar!) have resulted almost overnight in rampant inflation, severe energy shortages and skyrocketing prices.
So it should be a simple matter for the Republicans to point out the manifest real-world flaws in the Leftist program, sit back, run a bunch of guys named Moe, and wait for the election returns in 2022 and '24. The only problem is the elephant party has its own elephant in the room in the form of Trump, who seems bound and determined to run again and avenge his tainted loss to Biden in 2020. To that end, he's already embarked on a campaign of waving the bloody shirt in anticipation of settling the score in '24.
The problem is, while Trump still has an enormous, if shrinking, following, the former president's candidacy could easily galvanize the Democrats to turn out at least as many votes against him as the GOP will get for him. This is not the place to debate the details of the "stolen election," which at the very least was held (right under the Republicans' noses) under highly irregular circumstances, including the unconstitutional changing of election law in several swing states and the mysterious hiatus in the wee hours of Election Night that screamed "hinky" at the top of its lungs.
For this, however, Trump and the Republicans are partly to blame. The Democrats took advantage of Trump's fatal credulity about the alleged dangers of Covid-19, as well as the Republicans' habitual indolence when it comes to poll-watching. If the election was indeed stolen the Tammany Party stole it fair and square, and all the GOP needs to do is look in the mirror to find the real culprits.
History is against the former president; only one man has come back from a re-election loss to win again the following cycle and that was a Democrat, Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War (in 1884), defeating James G. Blaine. He lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but defeated Harrison in the rematch of 1892. The Republican who bears the closest resemblance to Cleveland is probably Nixon, the sitting vice present who lost the election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy, spent some time in the wilderness (losing a California governor's race in the process), and then returned from the political graveyard to beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Despite the unfairness of his loss, Trump is not entitled to a second term simply because of it.
Can Trump pull it off? Maybe, but unlikely. Outrage over the election-night shenanigans will fade, and Trump will be 78 years old in November 2024, just a year younger than the superannuated Biden is now. The White House is no country for old men, especially one who never forgets a grudge and will spend much of his time seething and seeking revenge. The most a Trump primary candidacy can do is block the path for younger, more viable candidates, some of whom will steer clear of him and thus pre-emptively tank their own prospects.
Further, even a senescent wreck like Joe Biden can still make trouble for the former president, wounding him again even before the presidential campaign season officially kicks off the day after the midterms. Biden is reportedly pushing his attorney general, Merrick Garland, to go after Trump because, well, when you have Irish Alzheimer's, you only remember the grudges.
Finally, even should Trump somehow get through the primaries (he won't be unopposed) and then win, who among us wants to relive 2016-2020? The endless witch hunts, the two impeachments, January 6... the Democrats will never give up their Nixonian pursuit of him, in part because he's just too easy a target. Throughout his term, every slight had to be answered, every dig repaid not in kind but in tweets that served no purpose other than to rally the base. Policies were announced, then abandoned. The Wall never got built; a massive wave of illegal immigration is about to wash over the southern "border" -- which for all practical purposes has ceased to exist. Meanwhile, his personnel choices were almost uniformly terrible (Rex Tillerson? John Bolton?), opportunities were squandered, and most of MAGA was gone before the end of the first year, including Steve Bannon, Rich Higgins, and Sebastian Gorka.
And don't even get me started on the colossal blunder that was Jan. 6, a stench that still lingers in the country's nostrils and which alone should doom a second Trump candidacy, and for which he has shown no remorse even as the poor fools who heeded his words languish in prison.
Sure, it felt great to watch Hillary Clinton and her flying media monkeys melt down on that stunning election night, but what good has come of it? After just a year of Joe Biden, the country is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and dissolution; would we have been any worse off under Hillary? The sorry truth is, probably not.
The awful truth is there's no time to waste, no time to fantasize about a Trump restoration with a potent vice president who could, in dreams, win two terms outright in the years 2028 and 2032. The country, bound in shallows and in miseries, simply doesn't have the time. The right man has made his entrance: why compel him to waste four years on the sidelines as Trump's veep and then be forced to run on Trump's record in 2028? It makes no sense.
On such a full sea are we now afloat. The decline has long since begun. So whom should the GOP nominate in 2024? I think we all know the answer to that. More on him next week.
Joe Biden has started to announce appointments to key roles in his administration should he be inaugurated in January. He finds himself constrained by the unexpected failure of his party thus far to retake the senate and its reduced majority in the House.
Consequently, it doesn't look like we will be seeing Elizabeth Warren at Treasury, Bernie Sanders at Labor, or -- a popular rumor over the past few weeks -- Hillary Clinton as Ambassador to the United Nations. But instead of those ideological actors, we're getting mostly career political staffers and bureaucrats, aka the Swamp.
The big fish thus far is longtime Biden ally Antony Blinken for Secretary of State. Blinken -- the son of wealthy investment banker and Clinton-era Ambassador Donald Blinken -- served as then-Vice President Biden's national security adviser before being promoted to Deputy Secretary of State by Barack Obama. He is also a Russia hoax-supporter and an ardent champion of the kind of hawkish foreign policy which Trump ran against in 2016. As The American Conservative's Curt Mills wrote this morning, the worry about Blinken isn't so much that he's a "wild-eyed radical," but that "his policy views are emblematic of a broader rot within the American establishment."
The same could be said for the the other intended appointments announced on Monday, including former Foreign Service Director General Linda Thomas-Greenfield to the U. N. and former Hillary Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan. The latter, as you might have guessed from his relationship with Mrs. Clinton, is another hawk, but he is also noteworthy for having had a hand in secretly negotiating the Iran deal, which the U. S. has since backed out of.
Environmentalist groups are upset by the potential appointments of both Sullivan and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who Biden has announced as a senior advisor, as both are reportedly skeptical of their cause. Sullivan appears in one of the leaked Clinton E-Mails questioning the idea that carbon neutrality by 2050 is at all realistic. As for Rep. Richmond, environmentalists are concerned by his closeness with oil and gas in his home state of Louisiana. The Sunrise Movement, an environmentalist activist group, put out a statement opposing his appointment which read,
One of President-Elect Biden’s very first hires for his new administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his Congressional career than nearly any other Democrat, cozied up to Big Oil and Gas, and stayed silent and ignored meeting with organizations in his own community while they suffered from toxic pollution and sea-level rise.
Now, should those of us who are concerned about the resource sector as a source of good jobs and safe, reliable (and clean) energy be encouraged by these appointments? Probably not. There's a civil war brewing on the left, which has been held in check until recently by shared loathing for Donald Trump. Though Biden might feel forced staff up with conventional swamp creatures, before too long he will feel the need to satisfy the loudest lefties in his caucus. Short sighted as they might be, carbon taxes and increasing restrictions on fracking are the easiest bones he can throw them.
Of course, for the Greens, those would only whet the appetite.
Believe it or not, there are a few honest Lefties -- Van Jones and Bill Maher (language warning) immediately come to mind-- and journalist Matt Taibbi is one of them. So, perhaps, is Michael Moore, whose refreshingly honest documentary about the "environmentalist" grifters just got yanked on YouTube for political wrongthink. Here's Taibbi's decidedly non-tribal look at what's going on on the censorious Left:
On April 21st, 2020, just before the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, Oscar-winning director/producer Michael Moore released a new movie called Planet of the Humans. Directed by Jeff Gibbs, the film is a searing look at the ostensible failures of the environmentalist movement, to which Moore and Gibbs both belonged. “Jeff and I were at the first Earth Day celebrations,” Moore laughs. “That’s how old we are.”
Distributed for free on YouTube, the film’s central argument is that the environmentalist movement, fattened by corporate donations, has become seduced by an industrialist delusion. “The whole idea of the film was to ask a question – after fifty years of the environmentalist movement, how are we doing?” recounts Moore. “It looks like, not very well.”
That's an understatement. "No enemies to the Left," has long been a "progressive" rallying cry; one of the reasons the Left is constantly on the attack is that it rarely if ever has to protect its left flank, or worry about the enemy getting to its rear. Moore's movie changed that. Which is why, after a manufactured outcry from the usual suspects whose gravy-trained oxes just got gored, YouTube took the film down for a "copyright infringement" over four seconds of fair-use footage.
The significance of the Moore incident is that it shows that a long-developing pattern of deletions and removals is expanding. The early purges were mainly of small/fringe voices on either the far right or far left, or infamously fact-challenged personalities like Alex Jones. The removal of a film by Moore – a heavily-credentialed figure long revered by the liberal mainstream – takes place amid a dramatic acceleration of such speech-suppression incidents, many connected to the coronavirus disaster.
A pair of California doctors were taken off YouTube for declaring stay-at-home measures unnecessary; right-wing British broadcaster and trumpeter of shape-shifting reptile theories David Icke was taken off YouTube; a video by Rockefeller University epidemiologist Knut Wittknowski was taken down, apparently for advocating a “herd immunity” approach to combating the virus. These moves all came after the popular libertarian site Zero Hedge was banned from Twitter, ostensibly for suggesting a Chinese scientist in Wuhan was responsible for coronavirus.
These and many other incidents came in addition to a slew of moves aimed at right-wing speakers accused of varying degrees of conspiratorial misinformation and/or hate speech, from a decision by Twitter to begin “fact-checks” of Donald Trump to wholesale removals from Facebook of “anti-immigrant” sites like VDare and the Unz Review.
One problem is the so-called “reputable” fact-checking authorities many platforms are relying upon have terrible factual histories themselves. There’s an implication that “misinformation” by foreign or independent actors is somehow more dangerous than broadly-disseminated official deceptions about U.S. misbehavior abroad, or manufactured scandals like Russiagate. We now expect libertarian or socialist pages to be zapped at any minute, but none of the outlets which amplified the bogus Steele dossier have been put in Internet timeout.
Taibbi notes correctly that the partisan "regulation" and "fact-checking" of speech on social media platforms is simply censorship. Sheep on the Right will bleat that it's not the government taking down speech it doesn't agree with it (that would be forbidden under the First Amendment) -- but the Bill of Rights has now been thoroughly shredded by the absurd Wuhan panic, so what difference, at this point, does it make?
Censorship -- especially the arbitrary takedown of a film by a mainstream leftist like Moore -- is still censorship.
The drive to step up “content control” isn’t all driven from the top down. A major additional factor has been the growth of a new intellectual movement geared toward delegitimizing speech and rationalizing censorship. The Moore incident provided a clear demonstration of how this new social reflex works. “Maybe we’re wrong,” Moore says. “We’d have liked to have that discussion. That was a big reason we made the movie.”
Instead, critics rolled out a now-familiar playbook to depict the movie as too villainous to exist.
"Too villainous to exist." This is the Leftist argument against everything it hates. Tax it! Criminalize it! Ban it! Everything from fossil fuels to free speech has come under their baleful gaze, and all of it must go. That way lies totalitarianism; on the Left everything that has outlived its usefulness, such as the First Amendment, is Nikolai Yezhov (pictured, and non-pictured, above), a secret policeman known as the "Bloody Dwarf," who helped run Stalin's purge, until the purges finally got him too, and he had to be "disappeared" -- not just physically, but from the pages of history as well. Having long hidden behind the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, the Left no longer finds it useful, and wishes to criminalize it under the rubric of "hate speech."
No wonder President Trump just signed the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, which seeks to rein in such platforms as Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter and other tools of politically correct enforcement.
Section 1. Policy.Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.
In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.
Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.
That's how they were sold, of course -- free and open to everybody. That, however, turned out to be the drug-dealer approach to marketing his wares: a free trial, then the hook, then a lifetime of misery and penury. As Moore correctly notes, no one is safe in this latest version of the Great Terror:
In the past, a copyright dispute would have been a matter for courts. So, too, would questions of defamation that might have been raised by the likes of McKibben. Now critics can just run to Mommy and Daddy tech companies to settle disputes, and there’s no clear process for those removed to argue their cases. This is a situation that carries serious ramifications, especially for people who have less reach and financial clout than Moore. “If they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody,” is how Moore puts it.
Maybe Moore is wrong about the environmental movement, but these new suppression tactics are infinitely more dangerous than one movie ever could be, and progressives seem to have lost the ability to care.
This is the world the Left is preparing, not only for its ovine followers but for free-thinking men and women everywhere. Who's in? Who's out? Just ask Nikolai Yezhov, if you can find him.