Monday, December 09, 2019

More Monday Male Beauty

Inspector General: Russia Investigation Wasn’t an FBI Witch Hunt

Like Hitler and the Nazi regime, Donald Trump works to use two propaganda efforts to subvert the truth and to play to his knuckle dragging base.  One is to attack the independent media. that endeavors to report the truth regardless of whether or not it is popular with Trump and what Hillary Clinton aptly referred to as the "deplorables" in his base.  As a recent piece in the New York Times noted: Hitler and the Nazis had found the simple slogan they repeated again and again to discredit reporters: “L├╝genpresse.” . . . .  which in English is “fake news.”  The other method is to promote conspiracy theories and outright lies.  One of the latter is Trump's refrain that the entire Russiagate investigation was a "witch hunt" and therefore should not be believed by his cult- like true believers. With the release of the Inspector General report, the Trump "witch hunt" mantra against the FBI suffered a major blow - much to the chagrin of Attorney General William Barr, perhaps, in my opinion, one of the most corrupt individuals to ever serve as Attorney General. A piece in New York Magazine looks at the inspector general report. Here are article excerpts:
Throughout both the Mueller and the subsequent House Intelligence Committee investigations of Trump campaign and administration dealings with foreign governments, [Trump's] the president’s allies have relentlessly promoted a counter-narrative full of lurid conspiracy theories. They all date back to an alleged “deep state” plot in 2016 to keep Trump from becoming president by using allegations allegedly planted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to accuse his campaign of colluding with Russia.
A long-awaited Department of Justice report in response to these claims from Inspector General Michael Horowitz has largely exonerated the FBI of charges of political bias, while criticizing the reliance on the so-called Steele Dossier in the agency’s application for a wiretap on one key Trump operative, foreign-policy adviser Carter Page. Horowitz’s boss Attorney General William Barr is not happy about it, according to the Washington Examiner . . . . Barr made clear his displeasure with Monday’s report almost as soon as it came out.
While Horowitz suggested that the wiretap on Page was not properly secured, he views that sideshow as irrelevant to the bigger investigation and does not think it represents some sort of coordinated effort to invent a scandal designed to damage Trump’s campaign, as Politico explains in its takeaways from the IG report: . . . Horowitz found that the Crossfire Hurricane team — the codename agents gave to the Russia inquiry — did not receive Steele’s election reporting materials until after the investigation had already been opened using information about Papadopoulos the team received from a foreign ally.
Horowitz also found that the decision to pursue an investigation was above the pay grades of the “FBI Lovebirds” Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the key figures in the right-wing counter-narrative whose emails to each other displayed hostility to Trump.
Horowitz will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee later this week to discuss his findings, and you can be sure Republicans will make every effort to link his criticisms of the pre-Trump Justice Department and FBI to the “witch hunt” they are alleging during impeachment proceedings currently in the hands of the House Judiciary Committee. But it looks like slim pickings for those claiming that candidate or President Trump is an innocent victim of partisan shenanigans.

Monday Morning Male Beauty

U.S. In Afghanistan: At war With the Truth

A piece in the Washington Post blows the lid off the disastrous war in Afghanistan that indicates the senior American military and political official seemingly learned nothing from the Vietnam War debacle and knowingly lied to the American public.  To read the piece is disturbing and it underscores that no lessons were learned from Vietnam and underscores the reality that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it - something that is alarming in the age of Trump when Republicans appear hell bent to repeat the mistakes of Germans who allowed Hitler to rise to power. Much of the blame falls on the George W. Bush administration that began the disaster and then made things worse by invading Iraq. Following administration found themselves stuck with a debacle and no easy exit and, one suspects were mislead by military leaders who never want to admit error.  Read the entire piece.  My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones, friends or suffered injuries in a war that should have perhaps never been started. Here are excerpts:
A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.
The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.
The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle.
In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.
With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”
“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost,” Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department. “Who will say this was in vain?”
Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures.
With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.
The interviews also highlight the U.S. government’s botched attempts to curtail runaway corruption, build a competent Afghan army and police force, and put a dent in Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade.
Since 2001, the Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have spent or appropriated between $934 billion and $978 billion, according to an inflation-adjusted estimate calculated by Neta Crawford, a political science professor and co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University.
Those figures do not include money spent by other agencies such as the CIA and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for medical care for wounded veterans.
The documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting.
Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.
To augment the Lessons Learned interviews, The Post obtained hundreds of pages of previously classified memos about the Afghan war that were dictated by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld between 2001 and 2006.
Dubbed “snowflakes” by Rumsfeld and his staff, the memos are brief instructions or comments that the Pentagon boss dictated to his underlings, often several times a day.
Rumsfeld made a select number of his snowflakes public in 2011, posting them online in conjunction with his memoir, “Known and Unknown.” But most of his snowflake collection — an estimated 59,000 pages — remained secret.
With their forthright descriptions of how the United States became stuck in a faraway war, as well as the government's determination to conceal them from the public, the cache of Lessons Learned interviews broadly resembles the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's top-secret history of the Vietnam War.
When they were leaked in 1971, the Pentagon Papers caused a sensation by revealing the government had long misled the public about how the United States came to be embroiled in Vietnam.
The Lessons Learned interviews contain few revelations about military operations. But running throughout are torrents of criticism that refute the official narrative of the war, from its earliest days through the start of the Trump administration.
At the outset, for instance, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan had a clear, stated objective — to retaliate against al-Qaeda and prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Yet the interviews show that as the war dragged on, the goals and mission kept changing and a lack of faith in the U.S. strategy took root inside the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department.
Was al-Qaeda the enemy, or the Taliban? Was Pakistan a friend or an adversary? What about the Islamic State and the bewildering array of foreign jihadists, let alone the warlords on the CIA’s payroll? According to the documents, the U.S. government never settled on an answer.
As a result, in the field, U.S. troops often couldn’t tell friend from foe.
Year after year, U.S. generals have said in public they are making steady progress on the central plank of their strategy: to train a robust Afghan army and national police force that can defend the country without foreign help.
In the Lessons Learned interviews, however, U.S. military trainers described the Afghan security forces as incompetent, unmotivated and rife with deserters. They also accused Afghan commanders of pocketing salaries — paid by U.S. taxpayers — for tens of thousands of “ghost soldiers.”
None expressed confidence that the Afghan army and police could ever fend off, much less defeat, the Taliban on their own. More than 60,000 members of Afghan security forces have been killed, a casualty rate that U.S. commanders have called unsustainable.
On Oct. 11, 2001, a few days after the United States started bombing the Taliban, a reporter asked Bush: “Can you avoid being drawn into a Vietnam-like quagmire in Afghanistan?”
“We learned some very important lessons in Vietnam,” Bush replied confidently. “People often ask me, ‘How long will this last?’ This particular battlefront will last as long as it takes to bring al-Qaeda to justice. It may happen tomorrow, it may happen a month from now, it may take a year or two. But we will prevail.”
In those early days, other U.S. leaders mocked the notion that the nightmare of Vietnam might repeat itself in Afghanistan.
The Vietnam disaster was not only repeated, but in Afghanistan has dragged on even longer. The only positive is that far fewer Americans have died, but many will bear the physical and mental health scars for the rest of their lives.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

LGBT Discrimination Keeps Close Company with Racism

Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has faced flake from some in the black community for making the statement that being gay allows him to empathize with the discrimination suffered by members of the black community. To some, sadly, they seemingly believe that they alone have a monopoly on being the victims of discrimination. I disagree with this mindset and, as a gay man who lost his job for being gay and who is still the victim of bigotry by the "godly" far right Christian crowd and the 12th century "natural law" of the Roman Catholic Church, I disagree that one who is a member of a minority group targeted for discrimination cannot feel special empathy for other groups and individuals who likewise face discrimination and bigotry.  Columnist Colbert King makes this argument in a column in the Washington Post that draws parallel's between homophobia and racism.  Here are column excerpts:

Mayor Pete Buttigieg has taken flak from some African Americans for suggesting that being gay helps him relate to the struggles of African Americans. Buttigieg, his critics say, is appropriating the black experience for his own selfish political agenda.
I’ll let them sort that out. But this I know: Being black causes me to feel empathy with the LGBTQ community and others who are victimized by bigotry.
Two situations cited in a column I wrote on discrimination nearly 30 years ago helped shape my feelings.
From the first: “Men on board ship live in particularly close association; in their messes, one man sits beside another; their hammocks or bunks are close together; in their common tasks they work side by side; and in particular tasks such as those of a gun’s crew, they form a closely knit highly coordinated team.
“How many white men would choose, of their own accord, that their closest associates in sleeping quarters, at mess, and in a gun’s crew should be of another race? How many would accept such conditions, if required to do so, without resentment and just as a matter of course?” 
These were not the musings of a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but the official statement of the chairman of the General Board of the Navy to the secretary of the Navy, Jan. 16, 1942. The subject: “Enlistment of men of colored race in other than messman branch.”
As to the question “how many white men would choose” associations with blacks, the General Board chairman said “the answer is ‘few, if any’ and . . . if the issue were forced, there would be a lowering of contentment, teamwork and discipline in the service.”
That view prevailed until July 26, 1948, when President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order that led to the end of racial segregation in the armed forces.
Then came this, 40 years after the Navy’s General Board spoke: “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. . . . The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the Military Services to maintain discipline, good order, and morale; to foster mutual trust and confidence among servicemembers . . . to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of servicemembers who frequently must live and work under close conditions affording minimal privacy.” — Defense Department Directive 1332.14, Jan. 28, 1982.
That pernicious Defense Department regulation against gays relied on the same stereotyping and myths that undergirded the military’s bias against African Americans.
The regulation was cited by U.S. District Judge Oliver Gasch in his Dec. 9, 1991, decision to uphold the Navy’s right to expel a gay midshipman from the U.S. Naval Academy.
The midshipman was within months of graduating in the top 10 percent of his class. He was on tap for a prestigious postgraduate assignment on a nuclear submarine. His talents as a singer enabled him to sing the national anthem before the Army-Navy game on nationwide TV during his senior year. He simply told a classmate he was gay. Once he said he was gay, he became unfit to associate with his classmates.
The Defense Department was judging men and women not on the basis of their ability to perform as sailors, soldiers or Marines or serve in the Air Force, but solely because of a distinction that should have been irrelevant: race in the first case, sexual orientation in the second.
Last year, President Trump imposed policies restricting Obama’s 2016 directive allowing transgender service members to serve openly.
Simply stated, LGBTQ discrimination keeps close company with racism.
So, yes, because I have been and am on the receiving end of racial prejudice, I can relate to others who fall victim to bigotry.
That may explain why I share, in a special way, the revulsion, pain and anger felt by many Jewish community members over the profane and viciously anti-Semitic seven-second Snapchat video recently recorded by two George Washington University students.
And why I recoil at the sight of torch-wielding white nationalists in Charlottesville marching and chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Change one word, and they are railing against me.
Yes, I can relate to the struggle of other groups. To feel otherwise is to be as callous as those who look the other way when blacks are in the bull’s eye.  Maybe that’s what Mayor Pete was trying to say.
Very well said.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Can a Southwest Virginia Coal Town Reinvent Itself?

Grundy, Virginia.
Here in Virginia rural area politicians continue to run on an agenda of "god, guns and bashing fags" and a majority of residents support Donald Trump who promised to bail them out of their economic plight but instead has mere made a show of hating the same people they hate: non-whites, gays, non-right wing Christians and, of course, liberals. Meanwhile their economic fortunes continue in a death spiral and the younger generations leave for more urban areas and a better financial future.  A lengthy piece in the New York Times looks at the efforts of one Southwest Virginia town's efforts to reinvent itself.  Lots of state and federal monies have been poured in seemingly with little success. The reason, in my view that the article does not address? The area remains very unwelcoming to outsiders and those in the racial and social demographic groups the residents and Trump hate and far too many of the residents cling to form of right wing Christianity that is nothing short of scary to progressive forward thinking people and businesses. No amount of economic development funding is going to change this obstacle to economic rebirth.  Thus, the economic decline and depopulation continues.  Here are article highlights:

GRUNDY, Va. — Jay Rife surveys the landscape — hundreds of flat, grassy acres reclaimed from a spent mountaintop mine once operated by the Paramont Coal Company. A few handsome homes stand on one end of the project. An 80,000-square-foot shell, to house some future manufacturing operation, is being built on another. For the intrepid, there are trails for all-terrain vehicles. There’s an R.V. park. The whole site has been wired for broadband. Elk have been imported from Kentucky for tourists to look at.
Buchanan County, where Grundy sits, has spent $35 million to $40 million on the development, called Southern Gap, some seven miles from town along U.S. 460. Mr. Rife, the head of the county’s Industrial Development Authority, says the project “is going to be the salvation of Buchanan County.”
Few places have had as many shots at deliverance. None, so far, have succeeded in stemming Grundy’s inexorable decline.
This corner of southwestern Virginia has long sought alternatives to coal as a source of sustenance. The Appalachian School of Law, which opened in the 1990s in the shell of Grundy Junior High School, was heralded as a new economic engine, lubricated — of course — with taxpayer funds. So was the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, founded in 2003 some 20 minutes down the road in Oakwood. County officials considered a dental school, but figured it was too expensive. . . . Then there is downtown Grundy itself, much of which was moved up the hill to avoid periodic floodwaters from the Levisa Fork, a tributary of the Big Sandy River.
Virginia estimates that the relocation and flood-proofing projects, started almost 20 years ago, cost $170 million in federal and state funds, more than $170,000 for every woman, man and child living in town today. The Army Corps of Engineers shaved off the flank of a mountain across the river to create an elevated platform on which the new commercial district would sit. Virginia’s Department of Transportation bulldozed much of the old downtown and routed U.S. 460 through it, built on top of a levee protecting what was left of Grundy’s old center. Finally, in 2011, Walmart opened a superstore to anchor the new site, perched somewhat oddly above a two-story, publicly funded parking lot.
Still, the effort does not quite amount to a reinvention. The economic engine is still the one that carried this corner of Appalachia through the 20th century. “We are a one-industry community, and that’s coal,” Mr. Rife said. A few steps from Walmart, an office of Welmore Energy, a coal-producing subsidiary of the Ukrainian steel conglomerate Metinvest, serves as a reminder of that dominance.
And that, today, is a problem. At the peak of coal’s fortunes in the 1970s, more than 35,000 people lived in Buchanan. Over 5,000 worked in the mines. Mr. Rife remembers downtown sidewalks in Grundy, the county seat, packed with thousands of people on weekend shopping expeditions. Karen Brown, the principal of Grundy High School, recalls Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes parked in the high school lot when she went to school there.
Coal is still the most prominent business, employing one in six workers in the county and accounting for one-third of its total wages. But it can no longer support such living standards. . . . The county population has declined to under 22,000, of whom almost 3,500 people receive disability benefits. Over a quarter live in poverty. And it is getting old. The only age group that has grown in the last two decades is the population over 55.
Grundy is hardly unique. It is one of many victims of globalization, technology and other economic dislocations that have wreaked havoc with small-town America. For years, most economists argued that rather than spend millions in pursuit of a new economic engine for such places, it would make more sense to help residents seek opportunities elsewhere.
But the proliferation of towns like Grundy across what used to be the nation’s industrial heartland — stymied by joblessness, awash in opioids and frustration — has prompted a new sense of alarm. . . . Lawrence H. Summers, once a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, put it this way: “There is probably no issue more important for the political economy of the next 15 years, not just in the United States but around the world, than what happens in the areas that feel rightly that they are falling behind and increasingly left apart.”
Migration, as economists would have predicted, has become an increasingly compelling option: Those lucky enough to find work somewhere else leave. They include Ms. Brown’s two daughters — Peyton, 23, and Bailee, 25 — who last summer followed their husbands from the coal industry to more stable jobs at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky.
Overwhelmingly, they support President Trump, who promised to bring coal back. But it doesn’t look as if they have much faith in the promise. As Hoot Dellinger said, leaning over the edge of his booth, “This community will never prosper again.”
Without prosperity, who will stay? “Ninety percent of the girls become nurses and leave,” Mr. Ward said. “We’ve seen a lot of guys chasing gas up in the Marcellus Shale.” But even moving doesn’t always work out. As shale jobs there have waned, Mr. Ward added, “a lot of them are trying to come back, and there’s nothing to come back to.”
I do not know what the solution is since, far too many refuse to accept that their mind set and right wing religious and social views are perhaps among the biggest obstacles to positive change. 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

More Thursday Male Beauty

Biden 2020 as Romney 2012

A lengthy piece in Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball looks at the current Democrat presidential primary contest and draws parallels between Joe Biden's and Mitt Romney's 2012 primary victory.  The comparison is worrisome given that Romney went down to defeat in the general election - something I fear could well happen with Biden even as I and many others will vote for whoever is nominated rather than Trump (one friend has secured bumper stickers which say "The Democrat in 2020").  Yet some on the far left of the Democrat coalition may reprise 2016 and sulk at home or throw away their votes on 3rd party candidates and, by default, re-elect Trump who is the antithesis to all that they claim to support. Such behavior - one cannot call it reasoning - is mind numbing, but a true potential given the cult mentality of some on the far left. I truly do not believe the nation can survive another four years of Trump - at least not as a democracy - as the Republican Party displays more and more desire to push the country to a near autocracy.  Here are article highlights:

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Joe Biden doesn’t rhyme with Mitt Romney, although one of the words emblazoned on the side of Biden’s bus (malarkey) sort of does.
More to the point, we are beginning to wonder if the endurance of Biden at the top of the Democratic heap is beginning to resemble Mitt Romney’s endurance two cycles ago.
Despite his troubles, Romney seemed like the best bet to win the nomination for almost the entire campaign (except perhaps for when Rick Perry entered the race to great acclaim in August 2011).
The same may be true of Biden, although the race remains volatile. But Biden’s position is arguably stronger than Romney’s was at this time eight years ago.
In that 2012 race, Republican voters appeared at times quite willing to go with a different option than Romney. From late August 2011 through February 2012, Romney was surpassed no less than five different times in the national RealClearPolitics polling average, first by Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich (for two different stretches), and then, finally, Rick Santorum. Yet Romney always ended up back in the lead after his setbacks and emerged by the end of the first month of primary contests as the clear favorite to win the nomination (that year’s race started in January, not February). Romney benefited from split opposition as the primary season went along, with Santorum, Gingrich, and Ron Paul all cannibalizing the non-Romney vote.
Biden, meanwhile, has consistently led national polling. For a brief time in early October, Elizabeth Warren effectively tied Biden in the RealClearPolitics average, but Biden has since regained a decent-sized lead — he’s in the high 20s, with no one else within 10 points of his lead: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) along with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all clustered within the low-to-mid teens.
In the first two contests, Biden trails in Iowa and New Hampshire. However, he leads in Nevada and South Carolina, which round out the February contests before March 3’s Super Tuesday kicks off a three-week barrage of primaries.
Democratic voters have been sampling their other options, but they have not coalesced around a clear alternative to Biden. Again, this is reminiscent of GOP voters’ inability to ever settle on a true Romney opponent.
Beyond the top four, the freest-spending candidates (by far) are two others: late-arriving Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, and wealthy activist Tom Steyer. Neither have been able to crack the top tier anywhere, although they have surpassed many other candidates who have far more formidable political resumes but far less money to spend.
Bloomberg, who could spend a billion dollars on ads without making a dent in his personal fortune, is pursuing an unusual strategy, declining to seek the breadth of donor backing currently required to qualify for debates and focusing on building his support nationally as opposed to in the early states. It is an unusual strategy that we don’t think will work — ultimately, we’re skeptical that Democrats are all that interested in buying what Bloomberg is selling, and whoever does well in the early states will bask in the glow of free media more valuable than Bloomberg’s paid variety — but Bloomberg’s level of spending may end up being unprecedented for a primary.
The four polling leaders, and the two big spenders, are denying oxygen to the other candidates, of which there are many. That’s even after Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT), former Rep. Joe Sestak (D, PA-7), and, most notably, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dropped out of the race earlier this week.
Her exit arguably helps Biden the most. Not because Biden necessarily stands to inherit the bulk of Harris’s meager support, but because her exit removed someone who even in her diminished state seemed like a potential threat to him.
Biden’s top challengers right now — Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg, all of whom are whites elected from northern cities/states — do not appear to have any obvious appeal to black voters, particularly older black voters. Poll after poll shows Biden, who served dutifully and effectively as the first black president’s second-in-command, with an imposing lead with African Americans. Nationally, Quinnipiac University pegged his support at 43% with blacks and The Economist/YouGov at 48%, with the next-closest candidates struggling to break double figures.
Could black support shift? Sure. Again, let’s keep an open mind. But the possibility of dramatic change isn’t the same as the likelihood of dramatic change. Biden could do poorly in both lily white Iowa and New Hampshire and still retain significant black support, so long as his leading rivals remain Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg. The real threat to Biden is if one of these three win both Iowa and New Hampshire — and maybe even more diverse Nevada too — thus establishing themselves as the clear alternative to Biden. . .
Why are we so fixated on black voters? Because they form the bedrock of the Democratic Party, dominate the voting in many Southern states, and strongly influence the voting in many more.
Biden remains the most acceptable candidate available for black voters, at least at the moment, and those voters also tend to be more moderate-leaning, too.
As Theodore Johnson noted in our recent book, The Blue Wave, the growth of liberal/progressive self-identification among Democrats has been driven by whites, not blacks. With Warren and Sanders positioned clearly to Biden’s left, with Buttigieg currently showing so little appeal to blacks, and with the black candidates either struggling or exiting, Biden’s position with black voters remains formidable.
This is not to say Biden has been a strong candidate or has run a great campaign. He continues to show his age in public appearances and debates, and he is lagging his rivals in fundraising. That’s different than Romney, who raised the most among the Republicans in 2012 and had a well-funded Super PAC that his allies deployed to great effect at critical moments of the campaign (one wonders if the nascent Biden Super PAC could do something similar — he very well may need it).
The Democrats who fear Biden may not be up to the task of this grueling campaign could well be proven right, and if Biden were to be nominated only to lose to Donald Trump, parts of the left will make the same argument that parts of the right did in 2012: the party establishment sacrificed ideological purity and received nothing in return.
For the general election, it isn’t just who is chosen as the Democratic nominee. It’s how he or she is chosen, how damaged the nominee is from the process, and how fractured the party is once it’s over. Democrats being Democrats, some will be off sulking for a while.
And some primary voters may disappear in the fall: It’s easy to imagine some supporters of the outsider candidates, most notably Sanders, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-2), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, falling by the wayside, even if the candidates themselves dutifully get behind the eventual nominee.
Still, Trump is a great unifier for Democrats, and that effect will kick in come fall, maybe even summer. We still see the general election as basically a 50-50 proposition, which is reflected in our early Electoral College ratings.
I cannot help but be very afraid of where things might end up come November 2020. Emigrating might yet be a plausible option.