Many of us made our deal with the devil-- not without impeccable reason-- but now want to change the deal. It doesn't work that way. I never had a moment's doubt that there was nothing that would get me to vote for Joe Biden. I didn't vote for Hillary either but I would have voted for her sooner than Biden. I've known who this guy is since the 1970s and that's not the kind of person I want in public office. Less horrible than Trump? Oh, yes, without a doubt. But this is less horrible than Trump; ready to make that classic cinema scene Commander-in-Chief?
Folks I know who made that bargain are now horrified by Biden's nominations. What did you expect?
In California, 11,032,365 people (63.6%) voted for Biden (or against Trump) and 5,947,294 voted fro Trump. (No, I don't know why they haven't moved to Moscow-- either the real one or the one in Idaho-- yet either.) My old friend Norman Solomon wasn't responsible for all 11 million Califiornia Biden votes, but he prominently urged his readers to hold their noses and vote for him, presumably knowing full well, he might have been urging them to vote for someone who may wind up being-- I think so-- a worse president than Nixon, Reagan or either Bush/Cheney. (I did notice that in the district where Norman once ran for Congress, preliminary numbers show Biden got well over 70% of the vote.)
On Monday, Common Dreams published an essay by Norman, Hey Joe, Where You Going With That Pentagon in Your Hands? It was a reference to one of my favorite songs of all time. How favorite? I hired The Byrds to play at my college when they released it (above) and when I was hired as general manager of Sire Records, the very first thing I did was dig up an old Patti Smith tape of the song that Sire's boss, Seymour Stein, had financed-- before Patti was signed to Arista-- and released it, along with "Piss Factory," without getting any legal permission from anyone, not realizing one gets into trouble for that kind of thing. Somehow, I didn't; no one noticed.
No one knows who wrote "Hey Joe." It might have been Dino Valenti (Chester Powers, Jr.) from Quicksilver Messenger Service but probably by his pal Billy Roberts, Jr. who might have played it at a concert at San Quentin (opening for Johnny Cash) when Valenti/Powers was serving time for using pot. The Leaves did the first commercial version. It was also covered by The Surfaris, The Standells, Love, and Shadows of Knight before The Byrds released it on Fifth Dimension (1966). The first time I ever met Jimi Hendrix-- he was backing John Hammond, Jr. at the Cafe Au Go Go-- he introduced me to Chas Chandler of The Animals, who brought Jimi the song and produced a version of it for him that finally made the song a 60s staple that was later recorded not just by Patti, but by Cher, Wilson Pickett, Soft Cell, Nick Cave, Deep Purple, The Offspring and by Ice-T, one that I that I executive produced.
If you didn't know what a tangent is... now you do. Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung wrote this morning that "If not household names, Biden’s picks are steeped in the ways of Washington. Former deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken, a longtime Biden adviser, is set to become secretary of state, a position once held by John F. Kerry, who now will be climate envoy. [Would have it been too much to ask for Biden to appoint someone under 76 to this particular post?] Jake Sullivan, who was national security adviser to Vice President Biden, will now become national security adviser to President Biden... Biden also tapped Alejandro Mayorkas, who held several posts in the Obama administration, as the nation’s first Latino homeland security secretary; Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a former career Foreign Service officer, as ambassador to the United Nations; and Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, as the first female director of national intelligence. Biden’s picks are all known quantities whose nominations signal a return to a more predictable era of American policy. By design, they seem meant to project a dutiful competence, as Biden creates a government overseen by those who have run it before. Many of his picks have spent most of their adult lives in Washington, forging deep relationships with those who have done the same and finding familiarity in the think tank speaking circuit, in the cocktail party crowds, and in writing for wonky but influential publications. They all have long-standing relationships with Republican lawmakers, which could smooth their confirmation hearings and open the possibility of some bipartisanship, and they are well known among NATO and Middle Eastern allies.
Solomon wrote that "By all accounts, the frontrunner to be Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of Defense is Michèle Flournoy. It’s a prospect that should do more than set off alarm bells-- it should be understood as a scenario for the president-elect to stick his middle fingers in the eyes of Americans who are fed up with endless war and ongoing militarism. Warning and petitioning Biden to dissuade him from a Flournoy nomination probably have scant chances of success. But if Biden puts her name forward, activists should quickly launch an all-out effort to block Senate confirmation. As the Biden administration takes office, progressives have an opportunity to affirm and amplify the position that Martin Luther King Jr. boldly articulated when he insisted that 'I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism.' In the present day, the pernicious and lucrative aspects of that madness are personified in the favorite to be Biden’s Defense Secretary."
As if Antony Blinken and Avril Haines aren't bad enough-- and 100% predictably so-- Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, writing yesterday for Foreign Policy, noted that "Despite widespread support of Flournoy from many foreign-policy experts, who dismissed any nefarious influence from her past ties to the defense industry, some progressive Democratic lawmakers have raised a battle cry. 'Flournoy supported the war in Iraq [and] Libya, criticized Obama on Syria, and helped craft the surge in Afghanistan,' Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, a progressive backer of Sen. Bernie Sanders and an architect of the 2019 War Powers Resolution to end U.S. involvement in Yemen, tweeted on Sunday. 'I want to support the President’s picks. But will Flournoy now commit to a full withdrawal from Afghanistan & a ban on arms sales to the Saudis to end the Yemen war?' Flournoy, as Pentagon policy chief during the Obama administration, clashed with Biden when he was vice president over the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, as did much of the Obama administration, and in the past pushed to keep more U.S. forces in Iraq... [P]rogressives specifically raised issues with Flournoy’s ties to defense contractors and expressed frustration that she wasn’t willing to agree to an outright ban on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, instead favoring just a ban on offensive weapons sales. Some progressives have also been frustrated by the Biden team’s unwillingness to commit to defense spending cuts and to redirect more of the Pentagon budget toward domestic priorities."
Norman Solomon concluded his Common Dreams essay by warning his readers that "The foreseeable dangers of picking Flournoy to run the Pentagon are compounded by Biden’s selection of Antony Blinken to be Secretary of State. It was Blinken who, 18 years ago, served as staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while its chairman, Joe Biden, oversaw the pivotal and badly skewed two-day hearing in summer 2002 that greased the congressional skids for approving an invasion of Iraq. Blinken, along with Flournoy, co-founded WestExec Advisors, which the Washington Post’s breaking-news coverage of the Blinken nomination gingerly described as 'a political strategy firm.' ... a nice euphemism [for] 'helping defense corporations market their products to the Pentagon and other agencies.' The term 'war profiteering' would be even more apt. If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, there are ample reasons for apprehension about the top of the military and foreign-policy team that Biden has begun to install for his presidency. But realism should not lead to fatalism or passivity. Extricating the United States from the grip of the military-industrial complex will require massive and sustained organizing. With that goal in mind, a grassroots campaign to prevent Michèle Flournoy from becoming Secretary of Defense would be wise."
I'm not sure what Sahil Kapur meant when he wrote that so far Biden's picks give competing wings of the Democratic Party something to celebrate. He asserted that Biden is "attempting the high-wire act of balancing diversity demands with ideological fissures between progressives and right-wing goons, war mongers and corporate whores [which Kapur, coming from another country, incorrectly refers to as 'moderates']. He has sought personnel with government experience who aren't seen as too controversial to gain approval from a divided Senate... So far, he's giving everybody from progressive activists to centrist Democrats something to be happy about and little to fight over." I must have missed something. Did he throw a bone to progressives? When? Far right quasi-Democrats Matt Bennett from a GOP-front organization (Third Way) and the most right-wing Democrat in the House, Blue Dog Matt Gottheimer (NJ), were joyfully singing Biden's praises. And Ben Sasse (R-NE) crowed that he's "glad he’s resisting the far left on most of the picks to date." But I can't find one bona fide progressive happy with his selections so far.
Back to DeYoung for a moment, she noted that "Sullivan, who supported the Obama administration’s TPP trade pact, has since acknowledged that Democrats overlooked the potentially negative consequences of such trade deals on American workers. Trump blamed both his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, and Biden for destroying manufacturing jobs with the NAFTA trade deal. In a September report, Sullivan underscored how trade deals can drive employers to pull out of U.S. communities and disrupt the livelihoods of people with few available alternatives. Democrats have frequently responded to this problem with federally funded economic-assistance programs, which Sullivan said were often 'too little, too late.' It remains unclear if Sullivan and other members of Biden’s team have a view of trade that is more than just cosmetically different from that of previous Democratic administrations, a prospect their defenders reject." I just wanted to take a second for a little reminder here. Establishment shills like Biden nd his team of crooks, don't have to look at Trump's self-serving analysis to understand what's wrong with U.S. trade policies. Clinton (and Rahm Emanuel, also rumored to be on Biden's list of "the-worst-scumbags-I-want-in-my- administration) were unable to pass NAFTA without massive Republican help because the mainstream of the Democratic Party-- still somewhat progressive at the time-- adamantly opposed it. Bernie was in the House in the early 1990s.
When the Dow crossed 30,000 for the first time ever, one right-wing commentator went against the grain to say it was because business was received that Biden isn't naming Elizabeth Warren Treasury Secretary. I suggested he announce he's making someone like Mayo Peter Secretary of Labor instead of Bernie and the Dow will go through 60,000. There are plenty of videos and statements like this, but here's another one from the well of the House, this one from 1993: