Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me looking unenthusiastic, holding a sign that says 'YAY.' surrounded by confetti, pictured in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

Joe Biden has again asserted Republicans are somehow being held in thrall by Donald Trump and, once he's out of office, they'll go back to being the good people they are at heart or whatever.

Jesus fucking Jones, Joe. No matter how many times you say it, it's not going to make it true.

As I noted on Twitter, this is just aggressively wrong. Trump is not an anomaly of Republican politics. He was an inevitability.

And I don't know what the fuck Republican Party Joe Biden is talking about, because, for my entire lifetime they have been attacking marginalized people, exploiting bigotry, waging class warfare, taking the nation to war on lies, defunding the social safety net, destroying public education, abetting polluters, subverting democracy, and otherwise generally being despicable pigshits, so even if the GOP returned to stasis post-Trump, they would still be fucking nightmares.

Biden's continued misrepresentation of the GOP in this moment of resurgent fascism is disqualifying. It's just that simple.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] In other Biden news, he was getting shit wildly wrong in 1995, too:
In 1995, Sen. Joe Biden offered high praise for William Barr, the once and future attorney general who has been roundly criticized by Democrats for his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the 2016 election.

"As I know you know, but others should know, too, I truly enjoyed working with you when you were attorney general," Biden told Barr, who had served as President George H.W. Bush's attorney general in the early 1990s. "You were one of the best I have ever worked with, and there have been a lot of attorneys general since I have been here, and I mean that sincerely."

When Biden made that remark, he was the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Barr, who had moved to the private sector after Bush was defeated in the 1992 election, was testifying at a hearing on "enhancing the effectiveness of incarceration."
During Barr's first AG nomination hearing in 1991, Biden also complimented Barr on his candidness about wanting to repeal Roe and told him he hoped he'd be an ally in his "efforts to pass sweeping anti-crime legislation in the early 1990s. 'And if we do, it will only be with your help if we're able to,' Biden told Barr at the hearing." Cool.

And finally on the subject of this fucking guy, remember how I said yesterday that Biden doesn't want to campaign in the primary and instead wants to skip straight past having to earn the nomination and go right into the general against Trump? Well, the media is accommodating his arrogant strategy with headlines like this one at ABC: "Biden to Take on Trump While Both Campaign in Iowa, to Call Him 'Existential Threat to America'."

As Eastsidekate said to me in a private message, "How do we get ABC to breathlessly report on Julián Castro's planned speeches?"

Exactly. What Biden plans to say in a speech isn't news. Trust that every campaign is sending press releases about upcoming speeches to news outlets, and they don't get headlines like this one. That's a problem for every one of us who supports a candidate, or multiple candidates, other than Biden.

* * *

After visiting Flint over the weekend, Julián Castro has proposed the creation of a presidential task force on lead, which would be tasked with eliminating "lead poisoning as a major public health threat." His "People First Plan to Eliminate Lead Exposure" would: "Significantly increase resources to identify and remediate lead hazards; ensure we are able to respond to any future lead emergency; and strengthen lead poison prevention efforts and provide increased resources for families already impacted by lead poisoning." It is a very solid and necessary plan.

In other Castro news, his "People First Policing Plan" continues to draw accolades, with the liberal group Demand Justice "planning a digital ad campaign to thank Castro for [calling for reforming and restricting the 'qualified immunity' defense for law enforcement officers, which is regularly used to shield officers from civil lawsuits for brutality or misuse of deadly force] and to call on other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to do the same."

* * *

In debate news, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign announced she's "received donations from 65,000 supporters, practically securing a spot on the first Democratic presidential primary debate stage at the end of June."

According to Politico, fourteen candidates have now met both qualifying requirements (polling at 1 percent or higher in three polls approved by the DNC or getting 65,000 donors, with 200 donors in 20 different states): Gillibrand, Biden, Castro, Senator Cory Booker, South Bend IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, author Marianne Williamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

An additional six have qualified through polling alone: Senator Michael Bennet, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Tim Ryan, and Rep. Eric Swalwell.

The four candidates who have failed to qualify by either metric are: Miramar FL Mayor Wayne Messam, Rep. Seth Moulton, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and professional grump Mike Gravel.

Also, NBC has announced the five moderators for the first two-night debate later this month: Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and José Diaz-Balart. "Holt will moderate the first hour, with Guthrie and Diaz-Balart appearing alongside him; Holt will also appear in the second hour, with Todd and Maddow moderating."

Meanwhile, the DNC still refuses to agree to a debate on climate change, with DNC Chair Tom Perez saying it's "not practical," to which climate warrior Washington Governor Jay Inslee responded: "What's impractical is trying to plant your crops under 8 feet of water in Iowa or trying to rebuild your home after it's burned to the ground in Paradise, California." Good point well made!

You know, I am 99% certain that Donald Trump will refuse to debate the Democratic nominee during the general election, because the debates are the highest visibility events for the challenger, and Trump will want to deny that airtime to his opponent. So, unless the eventual nominee manages to somehow goad him into a debate, they'll be able to use the time, should the networks agree to still air the "debate" even if Trump refuses to show, to talk about whatever the fuck they want.

It won't be as good as a real debate, mostly because people won't tune in without the promise of a Trump shitshow an actual debate, but the nominee will have a chance to hold forth on climate change, and abortion rights, and everything else that matters to people who aren't unquestioning cultists of Trump.

In any case, in addition to figuring out a plan in case Trump refuses to acknowledge the election results if he loses, I hope all the candidates running are working on a plan to try to bait him into a debate and what they'll do if they can't.

* * *

Last week, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, acting White House Chief of Staff, and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mick Mulvaney unceremoniously fired all 25 members of the CFPB's advisory board. There are other reasons for the Trump administration to undercut the CFPB, naturally, but it's also a big fuck-you to Senator Elizabeth Warren right as her campaign is getting traction, as the CFPB is her baby. They are such sinister dirtbags.

Beto O'Rourke has followed up the release of his voting rights plan by releasing "a voter registration toolkit to give every person the resources to register new voters in their communities." Because, as O'Rourke says, "That work must start immediately." Good stuff.

Senator Amy Klobuchar also has voting rights on her mind: "Tonight I joined the @NHYoungDems to talk about voting rights. In New Hampshire, students' voting rights are under attack and across the country voter suppression is on the rise. The right to vote is a bedrock of our democracy and I will fight to protect it." YES.

Senator Kamala Harris is thinking about Equal Pay: "56 years ago, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law — a major milestone in the fight for women's equality in the U.S. In 2019, that fight continues. Too many women are still paid less than their male colleagues for the same job. That's why we must pass the #PaycheckFairnessAct." Heck yeah.

So is Senator Cory Booker: "The Equal Pay Act was signed into law 56 years ago today. But the wage gap still exists — it's even wider for women of color. We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate so that women can hold employers accountable for giving them less for equal work." Right on.

And Senator Bernie Sanders is still a hot mess on immigration:
Sanders called the ongoing surge of illegal immigrants crossing the United States-Mexico border a "serious problem" but also condemned actions taken by [Donald] Trump to stem the flow of migrants.

Sanders, who like many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have strongly opposed Trump's immigration policies, would not go as far as to characterize the border surge as a "crisis."

"It is a serious problem, but it is not the kind of crisis that requires demonization of desperate people who in some cases have walked a thousand miles with their children," Sanders said in an interview with Dana Bash on CNN's State of the Union Sunday morning. "It is an issue we have to deal with. But the issue of climate change, the issue of tens of millions of Americans not having health insurance, the fact that half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, those are more serious crises."
He is so frustrating. He's right that Trump's actions are vile trash, but there is a crisis at the border because of those policies. And he's right that migrants and refugees are not a threat to us, but their plight is still a "serious crisis," and it's a serious crisis that is not mutually exclusive from the "serious crises" he mentions, because the people who are showing up at the southern border are there because of climate change and economic insecurity, including lack of access to healthcare. He should be connecting undocumented immigrants' struggles to Americans' struggles, not doing this us-vs.-them bullshit. Fuck.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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