At a nationally televised Town Hall last Sunday afternoon, an unshaven Butiggieg (trying to make his face look less white perhaps) looked irritated, defensive, and put-upon. Articulating a widespread sentiment in the city’s highly segregated Black neighborhoods, a Black mother spoke movingly about the injustice of having to worry about the threat posed to the public safety of her children by the local police. Cable news anchors marveled at how Butiggieg had “lost control of the situation” while Black citizens hooted and shouted at his ineffective efforts to smooth things over, Obama-style, with the help of a cringingly accommodating and technically Black NAACP official. The mayor seemed to have swallowed his silver tongue.
Frederick Douglass Would Not Be Impressed by the “Douglass Plan”
None of this should be particularly surprising to anyone who’s read up on Mayor Pete’s vapidly centrist, corporate-imperial biography. Seeking to overcome poor polling among Black voters even before the Eric Logan killing, Butiggieg recently unveiled his “Douglass Plan,” offensively named after the great Black civil rights and social justice champion Frederick Douglass.
Douglass would not be impressed by Butiggieg’s neoliberal and technocratic scheme, which promises to expand Black “entrepreneurship” and “minority business ownership” while minimally reforming “credit-scoring” and lending practices in “race-neutral” ways. Butiggieg has also called for a new Voting Rights Act that would ban voter ID laws and require potentially discriminatory voting law changes to be reviewed by the Justice Department.
If that sounds like milquetoast Mayo on white bread, that’s because it is. The “Douglass Plan” contains no serious structural intervention to overcome the nation’s deeply entrenched patterns of mutually reinforcing class and racial disparity – patterns so extreme that Black median household wealth is equivalent to eight cents on the white median household dollar. There’s no call for reparations and redistribution, no great fund to pay for Black schools and guarantee good and useful jobs, no promise to tear down the nation’s giant racist mass incarceration state, no call to free millions of Black Americans from the lifelong stigma of felony records (“the New Jim Crow”). There no call to redirect resources from the bloated Pentagon system to the meeting of social needs, no promise to take over the nation’s leading parasitic financial institutions and redirect the nation’s economic surplus to correcting social and environmental ills. There’s no call to reverse gentrification (a pronounced feature of Butiggieg’s South Bend ) or to undo endemic de factorace-class segregation, which trap tens of millions of Black Americans in communities devoid of jobs, good schools, green spaces, full-service groceries, safety, medical services and more.
For Things Continuing More or Less as They Are
But nobody should ever have expected anything more than nominally and superficially progressive from Pete Butiggieg. He’s an elitist and neoliberal “pragmatist” and technocrat in the centrist Clinton-Obama-Blair-Macron mode. This is consistent with his Harvard and Oxford education (socialization and indoctrination), his six years as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves, his six-month deployment in Afghanistan, and his three years working for McKinsey and Company, “the world’s most sinister and amoral management consulting company. McKinsey,” Nathan Robinson wrote in a must-read Current Affairsreport on Butiggieg last March, “ is in the news almost every week for some new horrendous deed, from advising Purdue Pharma on how to ‘turbocharge’ OxyContin sales to counseling dictators worldwide on how to build more efficient autocracies.”
Pete is not the answer to any question worth asking.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
It’s Debate Eve! I’m excited to hit the stage tomorrow, June 26 at 9 p.m. ET. I can’t wait to share with you my vision for a more just and fair nation.
Tonight, the first of two Democratic Party presidential debates kicks off. One debate tonight, one tomorrow. There are 25 candidates running for the party's nomination. 20 have qualified for the first debates -- meeting the arbitrary criteria. Ten will debate tonight and ten will debate tomorrow night.
The debate kicks off at 9:00 pm EST and will air live on NBC, on MSNBC and on TELEMUNDO.
Debating tonight will be: US House Rep and Iraq War veteran Tulsi Gabbard, former US House Rep Beto O'Rourke, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Cory Booker, US House Rep Tim Ryan, former US House Rep John Delaney, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Jay Inslee and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro.
Moderating -- or just showing off -- will be NBC NIGHTLY NEWS anchor Lester Holt, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS and TELEMUNDO anchor Jose Diaz-Balart, TODAY SHOW host Savannah Guthrie, MEET THE PRESS host Chuck Todd and talk show host Rachel Maddow.
As important issues could be determined by this election -- never-ending wars, the health of our earth, unemployment, the consolidation of money and power, healthcare, etc -- eyes will be not just on the candidates but on the moderators as well. Are they asking questions that address the issues the country is facing? Are they conducting themselves in an appropriate manner or are they, yet again, just clowning?
There are real issues that need to be addressed and, tonight, five members of the media have the power to do that.
The ten on stage are running to become president. That means the questions should rise to that level. What would they do? How would they do it?
There's no need to pretend this is THE VIEW or an MSNBC talk show -- meaning, no 'hot topics.' Stick with the realities that Americans are living with and how these ten candidates plan to address these issues.
Rachel Maddow has become the least trusted personality on MSNBC and she probably shouldn't have been included in the moderators for that reason alone. Her chasing of ghosts and gossip has ruined her image. But the higher ups are convinced this is the perfect opportunity for Rachel to restore her image. For that reason alone, you should keep an eye on her -- does she rise to the occasion or simply glory hog it yet again like the buffoon she's become?
Chuck Todd's big issue? Can he listen? The moderators, like the candidates, should be able to think on their feet. That means actually listening and having follow ups that clarify what the candidate is saying. Just showing up with a list of prepared questions will not suffice.
Todd and Maddow are the two with the most to lose. But no one's expecting a Candy Crowley from either -- a performance so awful and incompetent that it ends a broadcasting career. (For those who missed it, Candy now spends her time eating, reTweeting blow job Tweets, eating, desperately seeking employment anywhere -- will moderate anything! -- and eating. It's a glorious retirement following her glorious career.)
Among the candidates tonight, the one with the most to lose is Senator Elizabeth Warren. Of the ten, she is the press favorite and the press has spent the last few weeks attempting to rehab Warren and make her more 'electable' -- whatever that means. The only one who can woo voters is Elizabeth herself. Her image going into the debates is that of someone who can give a speech but, as demonstrated in interviews, someone who stumbles when moving away from pre-crafted statements into the area of semi-spontaneous remarks.
It's expected that Elizabeth and Rachel will touch on the non-issue of impeachment. (Elizabeth's second most recent Tweet was about that topic. Second most recent on her campaign feed.)
Impeaching Trump is not really a presidential debate issue. It's a matter for the House of Representatives. What the candidates on the stage need to do is to demonstrate who they are and what they would do as president.
But impeachment is just the sort of junk issue that Rachel brings with her and why her show has tanked in the ratings. POLITICO reported yesterday:
Democratic campaign officials had a warning for lawmakers Tuesday: Voters think they’re too focused on impeachment and instead want to hear more about their legislative agenda.
Likely voters in 57 battleground districts say the Democratic caucus' aggressive policy agenda hasn't broken through the noise emanating from Washington, according to polling conducted for the Democrats' campaign arm. Rathr, voters view Democrats as preoccupied by impeachment.
This is a presidential debate. What would you do as president? No one on that stage can answer that, as president, they would impeach Donald Trump because the president doesn't have that power.
The president does have the power to bring troops home, for example. So the ongoing wars better be part of the conversation.
And every time Elizabeth Warren promises another give away -- You get free education! You get free healthcare! You get free prescriptions! -- she better be asked how she'll pay for it. You can't continue these never-ending wars and also pay for what the country needs.
In a perfect world, all five moderators would have the US government's budget in front of them and refer repeatedly to the financial costs of these ongoing wars. This is America's VISA bill that no one wants to open. We keep saying we'll send in a payment next month. And the bill keeps mounting. It's already effecting our finances and that will only be more true in the coming future.
For the Trump obsessed among the moderators, they can talk Trump by addressing real issues, like immigration.
As his administration refuses to follow our laws -- preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry -- they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death. At the expense of our humanity, not to the benefit of our safety.
Trump obsessed? This is a debate among Democrats. It would be wonderful if for one two hour political event, the focus could be on them and what they would do as president. I don't think anyone in America is confused as to what Donald Trump would do and has done. (Some like it, some don't, some are indifferent.) Cory Booker's got a vision for "a more just and fair nation" (see Tweet at the top of this snapshot). I want to hear about that and assume many Americans would love to as well.
It would be wonderful if the Democrats could use their time on the stage not to rehash what is but to illuminate what can be.
Amy Klobuchar appears ready and able to do that.
Here it is: a plan for my first 100 days as President of the United States. The urgent problems our country is facing require immediate action and bold solutions, and I plan to get to work delivering results on Day One.
She's got a plan already for her first 100 days if elected president. Seems like the moderators should be reviewing that and asking questions about that.
Another issue to address? Education.
"Beto O'Rourke met with local educators in North Miami. One of the biggest things he talked about when it came to education was equality in education and focussing more on public schools and their educators. He also talked about a plan where teachers' student loans are forgiven."
War in the wide range shot and in the close up.
Jay Inslee says he has a plan.
My plan: Ends coal production and fracking Bans oil drilling on public lands and offshore Puts an end to fossil fuel subsidies Fully commits to clean energy Holds polluters accountable
That issue alone would effect our climate, our economy, our ongoing wars and much more. Seems like it should be a major topic in the debate tonight.
I don't know what -- if anything -- of value Bill de Blasio brings. His Twitter's filled with boasts about what he's done with NYC -- boasts most Dems in NYC would disagree with and then nonsense.
Lucky to have the talented, debater Dante de Blasio helping me get ready for Wednesday!
Are you running to replace Stephen Colbert as the host of a late night talk show or are you running to try to become president? It's really hard to tell with that sort of nonsense combined with your already questionable 'achievements.'
It's true there are a lot of Democratic candidates running for president. But I'm the only candidate leading a movement to change our food quality and improve the health of our nation.
It's not 'sexy' but it is a real issue. (And for the record, Marianne Williamson is running for the nomination as well and she's addressed this topic repeatedly. Tim's wrong when he claims he's the only one.)
Another important issue?
Last weekend, I visited a mobile home park in Iowa where residents are fighting a steep rent hike and, like so many folks across the country, are struggling. This is one of the reasons I put forward a plan to address housing challenges head-on. bit.ly/JChousingPlan
That issue could really spark a discussion. Along with Julian, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard have discussed this issue. Tulsi met, for example, with first responders in California who aren't able to live in some of the areas that they were protecting from the fires due to the fact that the rent and the homes are so costly. Some have argued tiny home communities might be one answer. Rent control is also an option to consider. There are many options and it would be great for America to hear what Julian, Elizabeth, Tulsi and the rest are supporting and what they envision.
Rising sea levels hit Miami, floods wipe out towns in the Midwest and fires devastate California. What's the common cause? Climate change. We have to act now.
Really, John? So you'll put aside tawdry gossip and address an actual issue? Well I guess we'll see tonight.
When antitrust regulators let giant corporations put profits over workers & consumers, this is what happens. Disney is on track to make $9 BILLION at the box office in 2019. CEO Bob Iger took home $65.7M last year. And workers are facing layoffs.
That's not from Elizabeth's campaign feed, it's from her feed as a US Senator. Going through all of her campaign Tweets this morning was depressing as hell.
Does no one advise her on her staff?
First bit of advice should be, stop finger pointing!
She's not overseeing TARP here. (Or, to be frank, overseeing it badly.) She's supposed to be showing leadership.
That requires going beyond finger pointing.
I believe we all know the mess we're in. How are you going to get us out of that mess?
Every time she speaks, every time she (or her campaign) Tweets, that should be the message. That it's not been the message is part of the reason she's struggled so long and so hard.
In some Democratic circles, there is a feeling among some women that we have to consolidate around Elizabeth because she's the one with the best chance.
I haven't decided who I am supporting. But it will be someone who proposes real solutions and demonstrates real leadership. I'm not interested in whomever we think right now might be electable in a year. It's bad enough that we're told to hold our nose in the general election but to be told that in the primary as well?
And it wouldn't necessarily require holding my nose to vote for Elizabeth. All it would require would be for her to stop telling the world who did the wrong and start emphasizing how we can fix things. That's what a leader does -- brings the country together and addresses the issues that need addressing.
That's the only reason Joe Biden's held on to his lead thus far. He's offering nothing in his remarks other than, I can work with everyone, I can return us to a day when we got along, I can hold hands with anyone, blah blah blah.
Elizabeth doesn't have to go as far as Joe does -- no one should -- but she should be able to explain how a problem gets fixed and make the solution the message.
A serious debate will help all the candidates on stage tonight. It will help elevate the reputations and images of the moderators. And it's what the country needs.
We'll have to wait and see if that's what gets delivered tonight.
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