Posts Tagged ‘Biden Administration’

Adam Tooze on the Biden administration

April 30, 2021

For some Joe Biden has already exceeded expectations. For others his economic program is nowhere near enough to address the climate crisis and American decline.  While his Covid relief package has seen billions dispensed immediately, the Jobs Plan proposes to invest $35 billion in green R&D over eight years – less than Americans spend annually on pet food. 

So how radical is President Biden? Is there such a thing as ‘Bidenomics’?  And does the new President represent a break with the orthodoxy of Democrat predecessors such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama?

Discussing all those questions on the UK’s Downstream with Aaron Bastani is Adam Tooze, Professor at Columbia University.

He is the author of The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of Global Order, 1916-1931; The Wages of Destruction: the Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy and Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World —all outstanding books.

The video interview runs about an hour, which is long to watch something on a computer screen, but I think it is worth taking the time.  Tooze has a wide range of information, a powerful analytical mind and a sharp tongue.  He takes a global view rather than an American view.

All this makes him interesting.  He is, possibly, a little more inclined than I am to regard politics as a clash of opinions than a struggle for power or a conflict of interests.

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Biden my time – some links and comments

April 16, 2021

Here are some links to articles that I found of interest. Maybe you will, too.

Canción de Trump by Sam Kriss for Idiot Joy Showland.

Sam Kriss is a British blogger, new to me, who wrote a hilarious but insightful takedown of the Trump administration, with a sideswipe at Joe Biden and the Black Lives Matter protests.

Trench Warfare: notes on the 2020 election by Mike Davis for New Left Review.  (Hat tip to Steve from Texas)

A detailed analysis of the vote shows only a little change from 2016.  The election hinged on a narrow margin of victory in a few key states – less than 1 percent in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona and only 2.6 percent in Michigan.

Donald Trump, strangely enough, did best where COVID-19 was worst and unemployment was highest.  He probably has a rock solid 40 percent of the electorate behind him, and he is still a kingmaker in the Republican Party.

Barring some unlikely great achievement by President Joe Biden that will make voters’ lives noticeably better, the coming elections are likely to be a continuation of the back and forth struggle of the past 20 or 30 years. 

My Predictions for Biden’s Probably Truncated Presidency by Ted Rall.

Joe Biden faces extraordinary problems, and he is not an extraordinary statesman.  Ted Rall argues that he probably won’t complete his first term, for both health and political reasons.

Contrary to What Biden Said, U.S. Warfare in Afghanistan Is Set to Continue by Norman Solomon for Common Dreams.

The U.S. government announced a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but said assistance to Afghan national defense and security forces will continue.  This likely means continued bombing and missile attacks launched from outside Afghanistan, plus secret Special Operations forces, Pentagon contract forces and CIA operatives.

Taiwan—the Thucydides Trapper Who Cried Woof by ‘Gary Brecher’ for Radio War Nerd.

Threatening war with China over Taiwan is a bad idea.

Ukraine Redux—War, Russophobia and Pipelineistan by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

Threatening war with Russia over Ukraine is a bad idea.

Big Corporations Now Deploying Woke Ideology the Way the Intelligence Agencies Do: As a Disguise by Glenn Greenwald.

Talk of social justice, feminism and racial diversity gives secret intelligence agencies and big corporations cover for a multitude of sins.

1619 Project lead writer Nikole Hannah-Jones paid $25,000 for virtual lecture by Trévon Austin for the World Socialist Web Site. 

Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, also has done very well for herself.

Biden’s bombs and the forever wars

April 6, 2021

America’s Longest War: No Bang, No Whimper by Andrew Bacevich for TomDispatch.

Biden’s Foreign Policy Is Largely Indistinguishable from Trump’s, an interview of Noam Chomsky for Truthout.

Biden infrastructure plan isn’t all that big

April 1, 2021

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion-dollar infrastructure plan isn’t all that big, when you consider that it’s going to be spread out over 10 years.

Biden himself proposed a $7 trillion-dollar plan while campaigning, as Krystal Ball noted on her TV show.  Bernie Sanders proposed $11 trillion. 

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has proposed $10 trillion.  Even Joe Manchin of West Virginia, possibly the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, suggested $4 trillion.

The President has limited himself by proposing to finance it on a pay-as-you-go basis.  Since infrastructure contributes to future economic growth, it makes sense to finance it by borrowing, the same as taking out a mortgage on a house or any other long-term investment.

Politically, there is little to gain by holding back.  Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would be just as opposed to it if it were $2.25 billion or $2.25 million.

There are a lot of good things in Biden’s plan.  It’s bigger and better than anything Presidents Trump or Obama tried to do.  But is it enough?  Is it a first step, or is it all there’s going to be?

LINKS

Ocasio-Cortez on Biden infrastructure plan: “Not nearly enough” by Dominick Mastrangelo for The Hill

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Is More Than That – But Does It Go Far Enough? by Kara Voght and Rebecca Leber for Mother Jones.

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Needs More Climate Spending by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic.

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Is No Green New Deal, Left Says by Zahra Hirji and Ryan Brooks for BuzzFeed News.

Biden’s New Deal and the Future of Human Capital by David Wallace-Wells for The New Yorker.  Hat tip to Steve from Texas.

The passing scene: March 26, 2021

March 25, 2021

Here are links to some articles I found interesting, and maybe you will, too.

The US Intelligence Community, Flouting Laws, Is Increasingly Involving Itself in Domestic Politics by Glenn Greenwald.

“A letter from House Intelligence Committee members demands answers from the DNI about illegal breaches of the wall guarding against CIA and NSA domestic activity.”

When the CIA was chartered in 1947, it was prohibited from spying on Americans, in part because President Truman was afraid it would get involved in politics.  In the 1960s, the CIA was caught spying on U.S. political activists.  Now it is happening again in the name of a “war on domestic terrorism.”

A Biden Appointee’s Troubling Views on the First Amendment by Matt Taibbi for TK News.

“Columbia law professor Timothy Wu wonders if the First Amendment is ‘obsolete’ and believes in ‘returning this country to the kind of media environment that prevailed in the 1950s’.”

There is a contradiction between the view of Timothy Wu, an appointee to the National Economic Council, that anti-trust enforcement should be a priority in the Biden administration, and his view that Facebook, Google and other social media companies have a responsibility to protect the pubic from false statements.  These companies need monopoly power in order to carry out that mission.

If you give a private corporation or government agency the power and mandate to monitor communication to separate truth from lies, what you’re doing is giving that corporation or that agency a monopoly on lying.

Biden Team Prepares $3 Trillion in New Spending for the Economy by Jim Tankersley for the New York Times.  (Hat tip to Steve from Texas.)

“A pair of proposals would invest in infrastructure, education, workforce development and fighting climate change, with the aim of making the economy more productive.”

The consensus in the Biden administration appears to be that President Obama was too cautious in fighting the 2008 recession, and that they will not repeat that mistake.

Good!  But can he overcome Republican opposition in the Senate?  What about monopoly power, financial fraud, international competitiveness and other problems that can’t be solved simply by flooding the economy with money?  Still, it’s early days and a good start.

Does Biden Really Want to End the Forever Wars? by Jack Goldsmith and Samuel Moyn for The New York Times.  (Hat tip to Steve from Texas) 

“If he does, he must work with Congress and go far beyond narrowing old permission slips for conflict.”

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: If a headline asks a question, the answer is “no.”

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The forever wars are on track to continue

March 9, 2021

Click to enlarge

President Biden gives no indication of wanting to end the forever wars.  He does not plan to reopen negotiations with Iran or end the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia.  He is going along with a military buildup to confront China and Russia.  All this is bleeding the country dry, and making the United States weaker, not stronger.

LINKS

U.S. military budget: What can global bases do vs. COVID, cyber attacks? by Kim Helmgaard for USA Today.  “The U.S. has enjoyed military dominance for decades.  But in the face of emerging threats, some say a new strategy is in order.”

United States Counterterrorism Operations, 2018-2020 by Stephanie Saveli, etc., for the Costs of War project for Brown University’s Watson Institute.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

Biden’s “Nothing Will Fundamentally Change” Promise Extends to His Foreign Policy by Bernhard for Moon of Alabama.

Rewarding Failure by William Astore for TomDispatch.  “Why Pentagon Weapons Programs Rarely Get Canceled Despite Major Failure.”  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

Biden’s Protection of Murderous Saudi Despots Shows the Hidden Reality of U.S. Foreign Policy by Glenn Greenwald.  “That the U.S. opposes tyranny is a glaring myth.  Yet it is not only believed, but often used to justify wars, bombing campaigns, sanctions and protracted conflict.”

New President, Same Old Forever Wars by Jacob Silverman for The New Republic.  “Biden’s air strike in Syria shows how little is going to change about America’s military entanglements in the Middle East.”

Militarism, censorship in the name of freedom

January 27, 2021

It does not make sense to destroy freedom and democracy in order to defend it.

Reflecting the Authoritarian Climate, Washington Will Remain Militarized Until At Least March by Glenn Greenwald.  “The idea of troops in U.S. streets for an extended period of time—an extreme measure even when temporary—has now become close to a sacred consensus.”

Meet the Censored: Status Coup by Matt Taibbi for TK News.  “Silicon Valley Is shutting down speech loopholes.  The latest target: live content.”

The Biden governing coalition emerges

January 23, 2021

The Joe Biden administration represents a coming together of most of the power centers in American society.

Biden and the Democratic National Committee have the support of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the national press, the intelligence agencies, the Black Lives Matter movement, the liberal churches, academia and most self-described liberals and progressives.

[Added 1/24/2021]  I forget to mention key elements of the governing coalition—Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and Facebook, Google and Amazon.]

[Update 1/25/2021]  President Biden is really down on Mark Zuckerberg.  Maybe Facebook isn’t part of the governing coalition after all.

This is the culmination of what neoliberal Democrats such as Bill Clinton sought for decades, the displacement of the Repubican Party by the Democratic Party as the party of the establishment and the monied elite.

Last night I watched a good discussion of this by Thomas Frank with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper on the Useful Idiots program.  It’s well worth watching.

If the Biden administration can actually bring the coronavirus pandemic under control, and if it can bring the economic crisis under control, Biden could become the most beloved American leader since Eisenhower and the Democrats would make themselves a majority party for a long time to come.

In principle, there’s nothing in the nature of the Biden governing coalition to prevent this.  It is not to the interest of owners and managers of large corporations to see large numbers of their customers broke or dying.

But I don’t see any signs this will actually happen. We’ll see. 

I do see signs that the new governing coalition intends to crack down on dissent, both right-wing and left-wing.  To me, this is more alarming than the threat of any fanatic mass movement from below.

Where does this leave the Republicans? Their only choice is to combine opposition to what’s called political correctness and Woke-ness with a populist appeal to working people.

I think the populism of Republicans such as Senator Josh Hawley or Fox news commentator Tucker Carlson is mostly fake, like Donald Trump’s.

A political movement combining cultural conservatism with genuine populism would be powerful, but I don’t think it is likely. Again, we’ll see.

LINKS

Can President Joe Biden mend a torn America? by Thomas Frank for Le Monde diplomatique.  [Added 1/28/2021]  He says what I said, but much more eloquently and to the point.

The Next Neoliberal President by Thomas Neuberger for Down With Tyranny!

As Death Toll Tops 410,000, Biden Pursues “Wartime Effort” to Fight COVID, But Could More Be Done? an interview of Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, on Democracy Now!  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon is paid $31.5 million after decrying income inequality by Dominic Rushe for The Guardian.  (Hat tip to O).

US Companies Cut Off Donations to Republicans Who Rejected Biden Certification by Gregory Korte and Bill Allison for BLoomberg News.

We Need to Stabilize’: BIg Business Breaks With Republicans by David Gelles for The New York Times [Added 1/25/2021]

Zuckerberg’s Biden Problem by James Clayton for BBC News.  Maybe not a member of the governing coalition after all.  [Added 1/25/2021]

The Class Composition of the Capitol Rioters (First Cut) by Lambert Strether for Naked Capitalism.

The Organizational Capacity and Behavioral Characteristics of the Capitol Rioters (First Cut) by Lambert Strether for Naked Capitalism.  This article and the preceding one are the most objective reports I’ve seen so far about who the Capitol rioters where and what they were up to.  Conclusion: They were paper tigers.

The Echo Chamber Era by Matt Taibbi for TK News.

The Moronic Firing of Will Wilkerson Illustrates Why Fear and Bad Faith Mob Demands Reign Supreme by Glenn Greenwald.

The Biden administration begins

January 20, 2021

Joe BIden is sworn in as President

Joe Biden would be a reasonably good President for a nation enjoying peace and prosperity.

He is a nice person who doesn’t want to upset anybody’s apple cart. Like Warren G. Harding a century ago, he represents the human desire for “a return to normalcy.”

His predecessor’s administration was one long series of self-created crises, until last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

I don’t know how well a Biden administration will deal with the pandemic, but, unlike Donald Trump, Biden won’t be actively against doing reasonable things (like masking) to deal with the crisis. 

He has said he’ll bring the United States back into the World Health Organization, mandate masks on federal property and interstate travel and push for a huge $1.9 trillion COVID relief package (which may or may not get through Congress).  He’ll extend restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and continue the pause in student loan payments.

This could be good.  But he is not going to push for any overhaul of the U.S. health insurance or public health systems.  And the restrictions on evictions, foreclosures and student loan payments are not sustainable long term.  BIden assumes a quick return to normal, which may not happen.

Biden, unlike Trump, is not actively opposed to action on climate change.  He will rejoin the Paris climate accords, push for a “climate world summit” and order the drawing-up of a plan for 100 percent clean energy and zero net emissions by the year 2050—that is, 30 years from now.

We Americans have made progress in reducing emissions.  But to accomplish the goals that Biden has set forth would require shutting down the coal, oil and natural gas industries, and the industries that burn these fossil fuels, and replacing them with new industries that provide just as many jobs and, hopefully, just as much business profit.

There is a name for such a transition.  It is called a Green New Deal.  It would be a big change, bigger than the original New Deal.  I don’t know if Biden would be up for so big a change or not.

Biden promised to end the “Muslim ban,” which restricts travel and immigration to the U.S. from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, plus five non-Muslim countries added in 2020.  But he has not to my knowledge said anything about ending military intervention in those countries, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions being made refugees.

The USA needs to end our forever wars if we are to regain our self-respect and the respect of the world.  But it would be no easy task.  A peace economy would mean shutting down a big part of the U.S. economy.  I don’t know whether Biden has even thought about this.

Lastly a large part of the U.S. population regards the present administration as illegitimate.  Biden has to deal with rioters and insurrectionists, while trying to unite the American people as a whole.

The new President faces challenges that would task the ability of an Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt.  I don’t expect greatness of Joe Biden.  I expect him to be better than Donald Trump, which is a low bar.

LINKS

Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address.

What Joe Biden has promised to do on Day One and his first 100 days as president by Ed Erickson for CBS News.

Hard Times: Will America recover under Biden? by Andrew Cockburn for Harper’s magazine.

Biden’s American Rescue Plan and Its Opponents by Jack Rasmus.

The CDC’s Mission Impossible by “Yves Smith” for Naked Capitalism.  The pandemic crisis.

The New Domestic War on Terror Is Coming by Glenn Greenwald on Substack.

Image via Chicago Tribune.