Except for the friends who didn't vote, I'm the only one of my friends who did vote for Biden. I didn't argue with them or criticize them or even feel any negativity towards them. The Orange Fascist Menace had to be defeated and they did what I just could not bring myself to do. Now however, and I bet you're noticing it too, sane progressives are trying to turn a holding-your-nose vote into a mental exercise that turns Biden into our hero. Please get over that fast if it's infecting you. He isn't. He's another president, likely to do more bad than good-- sure better than Trump, but as I always tell Nicole Sandler and David Feldman on their radio shows: a pile of runny diarrhea is better than Trump. The bar is too low to be meaningful.
Take the old video above, for example. I had hoped I'd never have to use it again... but knew I would be forced sooner or later. It's sooner and here he goes, following the instincts he's honed for more decades than many of us have been on earth.
"Lobbyists," he began, "aren't bad people." He's wrong; they are. And that includes the members of his own family and inner circle who have used their connections to make fortunes as lobbyists. He should stay the hell away from lobbyists. But, who could imagine Joe Biden staying away from lobbyists. He'd rather throw away good will with the American people-- who hate lobbyists more than they hate politicians-- than keep lobbyists at arm's length.
Today, Wall Street Journal reporters Chad Day and Andrew Restuccia wrote that Biden had already granted waivers to lobbyists so they can serve on his transition team, jeopardizing the natural goodwill millions of Americans feel towards a new president. What an idiot! And what an idiot Ron Klain must be to have allowed Biden to step into that pile of Trump. Day and Restuccia wrote that at least 40 people serving on Biden’s transition team are or were once registered lobbyists. The promise was that his administration would limit the corrupt influence of lobbyists, but-- exactly like the system Trump set up to replace the swamp with a cesspool, Biden's ethics rules "don’t impose a blanket ban on lobbyists, but they require individuals who are registered lobbyists, or have registered as lobbyists within the past year, to get approval from the transition’s general counsel to serve on the team."
Biden announced over 500 members of his transition team, which is tasked with implementing his "policy agenda, working with career government staffers to get up to speed on key issues and eventually embedding in agencies ahead of the inauguration. Five people on the teams-- Andrea Delgado, who is currently registered as a lobbyist for the United Farm Workers Foundation; Celeste Drake, who is currently registered as a lobbyist for the Directors Guild of America; Josh Nassar, who is currently registered as a lobbyist for the United Auto Workers; LaQuita Honeysucker, who was registered as a lobbyist for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union until earlier this year; and Scott Frey, who was registered as a lobbyist for the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees until earlier this year-- are currently registered as lobbyists or were registered within the last year... All five received waivers to serve on the agency review teams."
A statement from the transition team could have easily have come from the Trump Regime:
"Agency review team members are well-respected in their fields and for their extensive experience in the federal agencies they review. We have granted a limited number of authorizations...
The same official admitted that other transition officials have also received waivers, but refused to tell Day and Restuccia their names of even how many of them there are. The Journal also "identified 35 people who had registered as lobbyists prior to this year and who do not need special approval to work on the transition. Those individuals lobbied for a range of companies, unions and advocacy groups-- from BP America, Inc. and a company that owns private prisons to the Environmental Defense Fund and the American Federation of Teachers. Some haven’t lobbied for more than a decade, while others lobbied in recent years." I wonder what the fella from BP is working on.
Political candidates of both parties have grappled with what role former lobbyists should play in their campaigns and administrations. President Trump came under criticism in 2016 for tapping lobbyists to work on his transition team, and he later installed them in senior positions at many federal agencies. During his 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump had pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington. A analysis by ProPublica and the Columbia Journalism School [almost a year old] in 2019 found more than 280 lobbyists had served in positions in the Trump administration.
My old friend, Jonathan Tasini, a labor-oriented podcaster and author, is starting a newsletter, Working Life, which you can find here. This afternoon he launched it with an assertion that Biden would have won Florida if he had run as a populist. He contends that Floridians are looking for candidates who want to put more money in peoples’ pockets, makes it possible for people to make a decent living and narrow the inequality gap. "What they want to see is simple: is what you are proposing going to help me pay the bills?"
What really grabbed my attention in the Florida results was a relatively unremarked upon, at least nationally, Florida victory-- the passage of Amendment 2, which will raise the state minimum wage to $15-an-hour by 2026. (Side point for now: keep in mind that $15-an-hour, though a huge leap above the putrid federal minimum wage of $7.25-an-hour, is still below what the minimum wage, federal or state, should be... at least $20-$22-an hour). The vote on the initiative was overwhelming: 6,377,444 in favor (60.8 percent) and 4,111,094 opposed (39.2 percent) [votes are as of November 11th 2020]. That is a winning margin of over 2.2 million votes. The presidential election results: Trump 5,658,847 (51.2 percent) versus Biden 5,284,453 (47.9 percent). That is a winning margin of just 374,000 plus votes out of more than 10.9 million votes. I decided to look county-by-county at the Florida Trump vs. Biden race compared to the Yes-No vote on Amendment 2. In virtually every county, Amendment 2 outperformed Biden’s numbers-- in some cases, by a lot (20-70 percent)-- and that was true in counties that voted for Trump and even in counties where Amendment 2 lost but still tallied more votes than Biden. Consider these examples, looking at the total votes cast and the percent differences, and the “under-performance” of Biden versus Amendment 2:Miami Dade County • Biden: 617,201 (53.4 percent) • Trump: 532,409 (46.1 percent) Amendment 2— • Yes: 751,866 (70.55 percent) • No: 313,922 (29.45 percent) [Biden “under-performance”: 134,665] Palm Beach County • Biden: 429,856 (56 %) • Trump: 332, 760 (43.4 %) Amendment 2— • Yes: 503,661 (68.61%) • No: 230,457 (31.39%) [Biden “under-performance”: 73,805] Broward County • Biden: 617,689 (64.6 %) • Trump: 332, 960 (34.8 %) Amendment 2— • Yes: 666,522 (75.24%) • No: 219,328 (24.76%) [Biden “under-performance”: 48,833] Duval County • Biden: 251,952 (51.2 %) • Trump: 233,316 (47.5 %) Amendment 2— • Yes: 278,164 (58.1 %) • No: 200,624 (41.9 %) [Biden “under-performance”: 26,212] Hillsborough County (Tampa—the fourth most populous county in FL) • Biden: 375, 714 (52.8 %) • Trump: 326,158 (46 %) Amendment 2— • Yes: 402,095 (60.3 %) • No: 267,685 (39.97 %) [Biden “under-performance”: 26,381] Pinellas County (Tampa Bay-St. Pete area) • Biden: 277,191 (49.6 %) • Trump: 275,949 (49.4 %) Amendment 2— • Yes: 312,569 (59.65 %) • No: 211,452 (40.35 %) [Biden “under-performance”: 35,378] ... [T]he above differences in the numbers are pretty stark—and raises a legitimate argument that Biden should have put a wildly popular Amendment 2 at the forefront of his campaign in Florida, ESPECIALLY in communities where he had perceived weaknesses or a lack of excitement for his candidacy. And even if Biden still fell short in the state, a full-throated embrace of a stark, pocket-book appeal would likely help win other down-ballot races and, long-term, help the party build. Second point: I don’t share the progressive knee-jerk argument that polling shows the majority of the American people support progressives ideas like “Medicare For All” and, so, you just have to roll these ideas out and, presto, the people will vote in favor. That’s rubbish-- because (a) polling questions are very dodgy in how they can be framed [as an aside: it’s amusing to hear my fellow progressives denounce polls…and at the same time use polls to back up a central argument…makes for great fundraising emails, though!] and (b) polling never can factor in a brutal, well-funded, pro-corporate anti-campaign once an idea hits the streets. And that’s the point going forward: Progressive ideas are big winners BUT you need good organizing to win.