Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Mangling Munching Manchin Machine

(Say three times fast)

Just like clockwork, the Democrats are out in coordinated force, blaming sexism and xenophobia as the core occult reasons for the opposition to party operative Neera Tanden's confirmation to the Biden cabinet.

Granted, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is full of noxious hot air when he points to the "incivility" of Tanden's thousands of vitriolic deleted tweets, aimed both at Republicans and progressive Democrats in the Bernie Sanders wing, as his reason for not voting for her to lead the Office of Management and Budget.  In tandem with that nonsense, he apparently believes that it is the very height of civility to deny his own constituents, living in one of the poorest areas of the country, a rise in the minimum wage to 15 lousy bucks.

So while Republicans (and Manchin) are crying their crocodile tears and claiming they are victims of Tanden's Mean Girl Syndrome (because they only want unity!), the Democrats are perfectly willing to forgo legitimate criticism of her corruption in order to defend her. When you have identity politics to fall back on, the sky is the absolute limit when it comes to glossing over such inconvenient facts as Tanden's call to attack Libya to get at its oil, her past efforts to destroy Social Security and Medicare, her red-baiting of any and all critics of neoliberalism and Hillary Clinton, her leadership of a Democratic slush fund disguised as a think tank (Center For American Progress, or CAP) , her acceptance of corporate bribes from billionaires and corporations to run said slush-tank, her physical assault of a former employee, and her destruction of a blog run out of CAP offices once employees began to unionize.

This is the woman that Joe Biden cynically proposes to control the purse strings of our country and to manage our lives in the process. It is a scary scenario, to put it mildly.

So it is all the more disheartening when even progressive stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez leap on the Identity Politics bandwagon in order to defend the bullying Tanden against that traitorous bullying misogynistic villain Joe Manchin. AOC actually helps to ridiculously lump Tanden in with two other more liberal endangered Biden nominees, Hispanic Xavier Becerra and Native American Deb Haaland, as a way to further paper over Tanden's despicable career.

We are supposed to believe that just because Indian-American Neera Tanden once survived on food stamps and lived in public housing, she will suddenly divert from career script and champion poor people. In an absolute subversion of the mantra of Martin Luther King Jr., we are asked to judge Tanden based solely upon the color of her skin and the configuration of her XX chromosomes, rather than upon the content of her truly rotten character.

The glossy veneer barely disguising all kinds of corruption and the record inequality which is carefully engineered and maintained by the political class and its partners in consolidated media is a very flimsy substitute for legislation in the public interest, run by true public servants rather than by the career-climbing servants of the oligarchy.

Witness, just as the latest example of this performance art, Monday night's candlelight vigil spectacular starring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to mark the 500,000 American deaths from Covid-19. Media reviewers have glowingly called their tasteful tableau such a powerful and refreshing step up from Donald Trump's own criminal callousness.

Because there's nothing like a shiny solemn candlelight vigil to substitute for a single payer health care system, regular Covid relief checks, and student debt forgiveness, right? 

Because things that help ordinary people are treated by the permanent ruling class as veritable plagues against free market capitalism. The body politic, to our leaders, is itself nothing but a Mean Girl calling them nasty names and hurting their feelings, when all they want is Unity and Civility. Harrumph!

Mangling Joe Manchin, meanwhile, dutifully plays his own designated role as the bad cop/useful idiot who prevents the noble and empathetic Joe Biden from completing his incremental agenda. Not formally defecting to the Republican side of the duopoly is simply a clever bargaining chip on Manchin's part, of course. He can dangle the threat of defection over their heads for the duration of his tenure, in the process giving his co-conspirators all the cover they need to implement their occult austerian agenda as they hide beneath their candle-lit masks of beneficence.

Just as the Tea Party Republicans once thwarted Barack Obama's hideous "Grand Bargain" with former House Speaker John Boehner to cut Medicare and Social Security, so too are right-wingers thwarting Neera Tanden's big career move to chief crook and budget-slasher. Sometimes you just have to pick your crooks and decide which bad guys you want to root for, to give you the slightest serendipitous bit of respite from the munching maw of neoliberalism.

Mangling Manchin may end up accomplishing some good in spite of his horrid old self. Then again, he could make a deal with Biden, who might agree to trash his minimum wage promise in exchange for Manchin changing his mind on Tanden.

As the New York Times frames the saga in its own extended mangled metaphor of an article, the White House is still "giving her confirmation a shot" while Tanden herself is "committed to rolling up her sleeves." Ouch.

It is so essential to remain vigilant as we're relentlessly regaled by these never-ending vigils, produced so carefully for our relief and stupefaction.


Jay–Ottawa said...

“Sometimes you just have to pick your crooks and decide which bad guys you want to root for, to give you the slightest serendipitous bit of respite from the munching maw of neoliberalism.”

Sounds like an updated quote from a transposed Diogenes after a fruitless search for an honest elected or appointed man, or woman, in D.C. Dude, around here, as in ancient Greece, there’s no such thing. The best you can hope for is the lesser of two crooks –– after first winnowing the number down to two from our many packs of crooks.

mjb said...

I wonder if Biden will get rid of DeJoy as head of the USPS. It's possible but does he have the will or interest in saving the postal service. Knowing his past "views", maybe he'd be fine with privatization of the USPS.

The Republicans should be happy with the Tanden appointment since it looks like she shares many of their positions on spending. Ah, politics.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I feel like I am sounding paranoid when I write this, but - like the January 6 riots - Manchin's role in Democratic politics - like the Blue Dog Democrats - seems very contrived. It is like this is a play with a twist and Manchin, who is supposed to be on the side of the "good" guys votes with the "bad" guys. And now, just to make the twist more interesting, he is on the side of those who are politically correct.

Incredibly disappointing the direction AOC seems to be moving.

I really do hope Neera Tanden gets knocked out of the Cabinet. She is so toxic.

valerietweedienz@yahoo.com said...

Manchin is also against Deb Haaland. I think this guy is a political troll.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Watching NASA’s video of Perseverance landing on Mars is moving. Can’t help joining in the joy of the team that celebrates the landing. Talk about getting a very complicated task (thousands of precise steps over several years) done to perfection! Watch it (3:25 min) if you need a boost after the reading the sos news of failures by American politicians.

Here is a Toronto reaction to the endless reports of failure in American politics. The line is plucked from a letter to the editor in the March issue of Harper’s (p.2).
“Watching from Canada as the United States undergoes a stultifying series of social and political crises has been frankly horrifying––like watching a once sharp-witted neighbor descend into dementia.”

VLT said...

I hope I'm not hogging too much of the comment space. I have been listening to Useful Idiots with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper. Apparently Neera went back and deleted a gazillion tweets - like really? How intelligent is this woman to be posting stuff that makes her look like a jerk on Twitter? What Katie pointed out was the company she keeps. Some of her buddies posted vile stuff - I mean really foul - about Bernie. And she responded favorably!


Agreed. The world is definitely looking on with horror at the rapid decline of the U.S. They were blaming it on Crazy Trump and looked forward to a saner Biden, but it definitely looks like the U.S. is unravelling. The money spent on the MIC that could have been spent on healthcare during a pandemic, or to support all those people who lost jobs and are being evicted from their homes - seem inconsequential given how much other countries are supporting their citizens. Meanwhile, Joe and his Republican allies/detractors and Munchin battle it out to decide if $1400 is too much to pay on top of the $600. I expect that the gloss on Biden will wear off soon.

I'm all for No Honeymoon campaign.

VLT said...

Just an aside:

Act Blue has a petition to get rid of the filibuster. I don't know about you but I don't want the likes of Mitch McConnell with veto power over meaningful legislation.

Mark Thomason said...

Act Blue's petition to get rid of the filibuster faces that paranoia of Senators who know that the current balance is exactly 50/50 and unstable, so that in two years, or four, or six, either party may feel desperate need for that filibuster. Senators have a longer time outlook than do most other politicians. They hope to be there for the rest of their active political lives. And Joe Biden was there for 36 years before moving on to VP and then Pres.

VLT said...


The filibuster is being misused - to put it mildly. The Democrats will never be able to make meaningful enough change to win over the electorate if they are blocked at every turn. The filibuster actually gives the minority party too much power. Whichever party gets elected, they need a chance to prove themselves and to see if their policies work. I am very aware that the Republicans are already planning for 2022 and probably WILL take back the Congress unless the Democrats show that life under the Democratic party will be better than life under Trump. This happened to Obama (not that I am an Obama apologist) but let's not repeat history.

Jay–Ottawa said...

aPlease don’t knock candlelight vigils. They’re a brilliant idea. The White House should hold such an event every month. CVs are instructive, photogenic and so moving. They provide the viewer with a sense of proportion without resorting to charts and numbers before a mostly anumeric population.

Next month let’s have a flood of candles depicting the people who died last year for lack of health insurance. In the following month, a candled representation of austerity, with a few candles representing the wealth of the bottom half of US society and on the opposite WH stairway the glut of candles representing the wealth of the top 1%.

After that, how about a candlelight vigil representing the number of people who lost their mortgaged homes or got evicted from their apartments for lack of jobs/money despite the $1.9 trillion safety net?

Now do you see the genius of Biden/Harris? And if that duo lack the time to host such vigils on a monthly basis, maybe commoners could step in and put their own shows together, much the way they used to stick thousands of crosses in an acre of lawn representing needless deaths from one or another national misadventure.

To stay on the good side of AOC, don’t forget after the show to clean up the wax and cinders from the National Mall or the steps of candled government buildings, like the Capitol, which has a grand set of symmetric stairways for such occasions.