Key takeaways from a battle for power!


"Human nature" all the way down, leading top star experts say:
For our money, Jordan Weissmann nailed the key takeaway from Thursday night's TV debacle.

He presented his key takeaway at Slate.
Beneath a pithy headline, Weissman started with this:
WEISSMAN (6/28/19): Joe Biden Is Old

Early on in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate, Eric Swalwell, the 38-year-old U.S. congressman from California, decided to take his shot at Joe Biden.
He recalled how, when he was just 6 years old, a politician had come to the California Democratic Convention and said it was time to “pass the torch to a new generation of Americans.”

“That candidate was then-Sen. Joe Biden,” Swalwell said, delivering the punchline to a mix of groans and applause. “Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He’s still right today.” Biden, the front-runner heading into the debate, smiled broadly, taking the dig in stride. “I’m still holding onto that torch. I want to make that clear to you,” he said in response. Then [Biden] started reciting a dry, stumbly bit about education policy. It was hard to follow.

In that moment, the whole depressing subtext of the former vice president’s campaign temporarily became text. Biden is old. At 76, he would be the most-senior first-term president in history. But unlike his fellow septuagenarian, Sen. Bernie Sanders, it was impossible to watch Biden debate without noticing just how many steps he seems to have lost.
Just to be clear, Biden is 76 years old today. If he enters the White House in January 2021, he will be 78!

Weissmann continued from where we left off. We think he'd already recorded the one key point from Thursday's food fight, much of which was rather dim-witted, some of which was perhaps conducted in something resembling bad faith.

According to Weissmann, "It was impossible to watch Biden debate without noticing just how many steps he seems to have lost." In truth, that has been our own impression ever since the former veep began campaigning this year.

Entering the White House at 78 seems a bit risky to start with. That said, Biden right now, at 76, seems to have lost several steps from the pol he used to be—and even then, at his best, he was always a "gaffe machine."

A few weeks ago, we said we found it hard to believe that Biden was going to make it. We said that because it seemed to us that he no longer had all his skills and capacities—and even back when he did, he tended to make the incommodious statements on which our press corps likes to feed, with which it likes to play.

We think Weissmann nailed Thursday's key takeaway. In our view, it seems unwise for Biden to be in this race at all. That leaves us looking at the others—at the people who decided to "take their shot" at Biden, whether on Thursday night itself or in its aftermath.

We're speaking here about Candidate Harris, whose ability to win praise for bogus statements and presentations constitutes a giant political asset. At present, she'd be our choice for the nomination, though we're somewhat disinclined to believe a word she says.

(At present, why would we pass over Candidate Warren? We'll visit that point next week, with reference to Kristof's logic.)

We're also speaking here about our mainstream journalists and pundits. They've tended to perform their usual unhelpful role in assessing what happened Thursday night.

Before we continue, we want to thank a set of major anthropologists for helping us see what actually happened that night. "What happened was typical 'human' behavior," these verklempt future experts have told us.

In our view, Weissmann nailed Thursday's key point. Everything else has followed from there.

We expect to discuss these events for several days to come. For today, here are two more possible takeaways to ponder:

Views of mandated busing back then:

Candidate Biden stands accused of opposing mandated busing way back when, in the 1970s. Along the way, he has somehow brought hurt to "a little girl" and to Candidate Swalwell, who was once only 6.

This is supposed to tell us something, though it doesn't mean Biden's a racist!

Biden opposed mandated busing back in the 1970s! In our view, it's fortunate that this doesn't make him a racist, because according to the Washington Post, the vast majority of black Americans were underwhelmed with the practice then too!

Isaac Stanley-Becker did the reporting
for the Washington Post. We can't vouch for his survey numbers, but we also don't find them shocking:
STANLEY-BECKER (6/28/19): The year that Joe Biden entered the Senate, in 1973, Gallup asked Americans whether they thought busing children from one neighborhood to another was the best means of integrating the nation’s public schools.

Five percent of those surveyed said they favored that approach; broken into racial groups, 4 percent of whites and 9 percent of blacks said they supported busing.

Integration? Yes, a majority said. In principle.

But not if it meant compulsory busing.
According to Stanley-Becker, 9 percent of black respondents supported mandated busing as the best route to integration! As for the other 91 percent of black respondents, they presumably weren't racists either, though we'd want to double-check with Harris before settling on any such view.

For details on that 1973 Gallup poll, you can just click here.

We'll note that Stanley-Becker has his thumb on the scale just a tad as he describes what those numbers mean. Given the thrashing Biden is taking, we think those numbers provide a bit of context, the enemy of human stampedes.

Strange absence of busing proposals today:

We're grateful to our major anthropological sources for articulating a key point. According to these disconsolate experts, any discussion of this type will reflect the unimpressive "wiring" of our deeply flawed human brains.

For that reason, such discussions may sometimes tilt toward dumbness. They may even seem to exhibit the occasional act of bad faith.

With those caveats in place, let's proceed with our discussion. Our experts have said that the current public "discussion" has taken this typical form:

Biden should have supported it then—but we don't support it today!

These experts note that the Reverend Sharpton is based in the state of New York, which has "the most segregated schools in the country." They ask when he last proposed mandated busing. We don't quite know what to say.

They note that Candidate Booker, when he was mayor of Newark, joined hands with Governor Christie and billionaire mogul Mark Zuckerberg to "transform" that city's schools, largely by reining in its teachers' fiendish unions. Hundreds of millions of dollars changed hands, but no one ever suggested busing, these rueful experts allege.

As for Candidate Harris, these experts note the current academic profile of the schools she once set out to fix. The profile was compiled a few years ago by Stanford's Professor Reardon:
Average student, in relation to grade level
Berkeley Public Schools, Grades 3-8

White kids: 2.7 years ahead
Black kids: 1.9 years behind
Hispanic kids: 1.1 years behind
According to Professor Reardon, there was a 4.6 year achievement gap between Berkeley's average black and white kids just in grades 3-8!

These experts ask what Candidate Harris has ever suggested doing about that. Also, as a candidate with strong feelings about such matters, what sorts of busing proposals has she brought forward today?

Nicolle Wallace's home town of Orinda is right next door to Berkeley, thee experts further note. Have Wallace and Harris ever joined forces to roll the buses between these two districts? Why not, these scholars ask, rolling their eyes as they do.

At any rate, these fiery pundits and pols today! They say Biden should have supported it then, but they don't propose it today!

For our money, Candidate Biden's missing steps constitute the key takeaway from Thursday night's excitement.

Top anthropologists differ. It was all the "gossip" and all the heavily tribal group "fictions," these rueful scholars have said, citing Professor Harari's account of where our species came from.

Behavior which may exhibit bad faith is quite common, these heralded experts keep saying. They also point to the mandated dumbness which has ruled our public discourse for at least the past forty years.

Eventually, this ubiquitous upper-end dumbness put Donald J. Trump where he is. Scholars say this is "human nature" at work—and these heralded anthropologists don't offer that as high praise!

What's new in Orinda: Wallace grew up and attended public schools right next door to Berkeley. According to the leading authority on Orinda, the town was 0.8% black in 2010 and was, in that sense, approaching a "tipping point."

At any rate, black kids would have a lot of gain from being bused to Orinda. The leading authority describes this recent cultural struggle:
While Orinda is marketed as a quaint and quiet ‘semi-rural’ city just outside of Oakland and Berkeley, there are significant issues with noise and exhaust pollution from leaf blowing. With the "semi-rural" topography of rolling hills, the sound is inescapable as it echoes throughout the neighborhoods. There was an attempt made to ban leaf blowing beginning in 2010 with ”Quiet Orinda”, which was covered in a feature article entitled "Blowback" in The New Yorker magazine. A group of residents sought to ban the use of leaf blowers citing the terrible noise and harmful effects to the environment from the exhaust.

Despite strong citizen support, the Orinda City Council refused to enact a ban on leaf blowers in 2010. The "Quiet Orinda" group attempted to seek a compromise in 2011 but the Council refused to make changes with the Councilwoman Amy Worth telling the San Jose Mercury News, “We spent a significant amount of time reviewing (the leaf blower issue), hearing testimony last year, and I guess my position remains the same...I think we worked very hard several years ago to craft a noise ordinance that sought to seek a compromise between the various perspectives.”
If Berkeley kids could be bused to Orinda, they'd finally have a chance to see our American democracy in action!

We'll guess that Wallace and Harris have tried to arrange for mandated busing, given how strongly they feel about it. But when all the leaf blowers get going at once, it's hard to break through all the noise!


  1. According to Professor Reardon, there was a 4.6 year achievement gap between Berkeley's average black and white kids just in grades 3-8!

    The economic, social and educational differences may be more significant than the racial differences. The blacks in Berkeley tend to be quite poor. The whites tend to be upper middle class and highly educated. It's not surprising that the child of a Professor is far ahead of a child in a single-parent, welfare family.

  2. "In our view, it's fortunate that this doesn't make him a racist, because according to the Washington Post, the vast majority of black Americans were underwhelmed with the practice then too!"

    Thanks for your little demonstration of zombie 'logic' here, dear Bob. So, if these "black Americans" were all super-enthusiastic about busing, that would make an opponent of it 'racist'? Nice.

    "If he enters the White House in January 2021, he will be 78!"

    Age-discriminating much, dear Bob? That, I hear, is the one zombies are allowed to do these days. Older people should hurry up and die, leaving it the younger, more pwogwessive generations. Nice going, dear Bob.

    " We said that because it seemed to us that he no longer had all his skills and capacities—and even back when he did, he tended to make the incommodious statements..."

    Why, thanks for confirming that to you zombies this is all about making statements. Serving globalist banksters, while bullshitting and clowning on TV. Thanks, Bob, but then, we already knew that.

    1. Youre like one of those faggots that watches the Matrix and shit. Worthless suburban sperm toad. Word up.

    2. Relax, 7:31. Mao can't help himself because he's a dembot zombie.

  3. Busing sucks, Kamala sucks, Democrats suck, and Trump is going to win by a gigantic margin.

    1. Trump will easily beat Harris that's for sure, and sucks.

  4. I would love to find out Kamala Harris's address in Berkeley as a child. She is the daughter of two PhDs, one from India and one from Jamaica. Was she living down near the Bay with poor blacks? Or, was she living nearer the hills, with educated whites and Asians? I tend to suspect the latter, because the poor black area was undesirable, due to high crime rates.

    Wouldn't it be funny if she was in a mostly white elementary school district, and the integration plan meant adding poor blacks to her class? Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Wouldn’t it be great if your inquiring mind cared to learn the truth about King Of Lies, Trump.

    2. My wife thinks that Harris did live the less educated, poor black section.

      @10:11 yes, Trump lies a lot, if that's your point.

    3. My suspicion was entirely wrong. Our local paper gives the precise details of which school she went to. Given her family's educated background, she probably benefited greatly from being in a school with students from comparably educated backgrounds.

    4. Harris, you think, lies. While Trump, you know, lies.
      The point, OTOH, is that lies don't matter to you. What matters to you is that you get the sweet, sweet shot of bigotry Trump gives you, while Harris' fight for equality leaves you meh.

    5. "Making false allegations of racism is egregious and morally bankrupt....Just as Americans rebuffed the demagoguery of McCarthy when he exploited and inflated the indisputable problem of Communist infiltration to expand his power, we should reject those demagogues who exploit and inflate racism for political gain."

    6. 5:42,
      That's why I don't make false allegations of racism.
      BTW, your not fooling anyone by making believe you don't love Trump's bigotry.

  5. Biden seemed shaky. Bernie Sanders did not. He seemed as vigorous as ever, answering with clarity and staying true to his vision. Why no mention of him from Somerby, who once said this:

    “We like Sanders’ politics”
    (Supplemental: Are we able to like or respect more than one thing at a time?

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2015)

    1. Today Somerby says about Kamala Harris: "At present, she'd be our choice for the nomination, though we're somewhat disinclined to believe a word she says."

      1. How can he support a nominee who he doesn't trust to tell the truth?

      2. Is he selecting a choice based on something other than policies and programs? If not, what happened to his Bernie support and why wouldn't Warren be his second choice instead of Harris who is for different things?

      3. Can't he support a female candidate enthusiastically, without damning her with faint praise? If he calls her a liar, how is that any different than the things he called Clinton (failed candidate, terrible campaigner, etc)?

      The enthusiasm gap seems to be Somerby's and it is what contributed to staying home or going third party last time.

      Is it perhaps that Somerby is actually enthusiastic about the Russian candidate -- Trump and not any of the Democrats, but must pretend to be liberal here in order to pick up his paycheck? Is his goal to tarnish Harris, not to support any liberal candidate?

    2. Is it "perhaps that Somerby is actually enthusiastic about the Russian [sic] candidate - Trump?" - anon11:09 - how whacko can you get?

    3. AC, how well do *you* know Somerby?

  6. Many kids are bused to school in the sense that they ride a school bus. This includes both private and public school students. Parents seem to have little objection to that. Maybe they object to the term "compulsory." It may be wrong to assume that the objection is to desegregation via busing.

    In the years since the 1970s, parents have become more protective of their kids generally. Kids who once got to school on their own by walking many blocks or taking a public bus, now are driven to school or walked to school by parents.

    I don't understand how Somerby thinks he can make direct comparisons between present and past without taking into account other social changes.

    1. "Many kids are bused to school in the sense that they ride a school bus."

      Whoa. Dembot brilliance, in full display.

  7. 10:38, I think Bob was being entirely consistent, since he expressed concern about Biden’s age. No telling who he would nominate for VP, but I’m thinking it would be someone in the vein of Joe Lieberman, which would be bad. Very bad, if Biden were to keel over whilst being handsy.

    Me, I’m a Bernie bro, but damn this is going to be a long slog of an election cycle, as usual. But I enjoyed Bob’s post today quite a bit. Verklempt, that’s one I had to look up. Now I know one more word of Yiddish. It’s amazing how many words from that language have inserted themselves into the American lingo.


    1. Maybe, but Somerby has talked a lot about Biden’s performance in the debate last week, and not a single word about Bernie’s. And Bernie is still polling strongly. Bernie did not look debilitated by age, nor were his answers shaky like Biden's. Why use age as the sole disqualifying factor?

    2. This frigging campaign has been going on for months now, and the election is almost a year and a half away. This is crazy, but apparently there is nothing that can be done about it.

    3. The campaign has been going on since Donald Trump announced his 2020 candidacy for re-election on January 20, 2017.

  8. So Biden (whose children went to private schools) was courageously following the polls about busing. That isn’t true leadership, but it is something.

    He seriously considered the possibility of a constitutional amendment to ban mandated busing back in the 1970’s, whereas in a post-debate interview last week, he claimed he always supported busing to correct “de jure segregation.”

    And in the 70’s, he claimed that liberals only supported busing because George Wallace opposed it (as if liberal support for busing was a *reaction* to Wallace). He also made an argument that you often hear conservatives make, that it is racist to think that black kids “need” to be around white kids in order to learn.

    He opposed other measures besides busing that attempted to promote integration of schools.

    It looks as though Biden opposed integration when mandated by the courts or the government.

    For what it’s worth, this pits him against frequent Somerby hero MLK, who believed in the necessity of integration over and above simple desegregation, and who clearly saw the white backlash that would accompany these efforts.

    1. "He also made an argument that you often hear conservatives make, that it is racist to think that black kids “need” to be around white kids in order to learn."

      Duh. Is this supposed to be controversial? I mean, outside the zombie 'community'...

  9. Biden is leading because he is a centrist and because he has name recognition. I won't vote for him under any circumstances. I would rather work on electing a Democratic senate and impeaching/removing Trump if he is elected again, instead of voting for someone like Biden.

    Aside from his policy issues and past history of supporting the wrong things, his refusal to change his views and apologize for past mistakes, his refusal to understand that touching children and women (from outside his own family) without permission is wrong, and his treatment of Anita Hill are all disqualifiers. His benign sexism is a disqualifier. To the extent that he holds his views because of his age, then age is certainly a problem.

    1. I don't know why I'm surprised that Biden is now a racy racially-insensitive reprobate after eight years of being one heart beat away from the presidency.

      In 2008, Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro were morphed into race-baiting bigots by their own party.

      It's what you guys do.

    2. We also do math correctly.

  10. When a man conducts a competent debate, he gets positive notice. When a woman does it, she is called "ruthless" and "fake" by folks like Kevin Drum. Serious candidates conduct exactly the kind of practice sessions and they try to plant their sound bites with the media, just as Harris did.

    This is what sexism looks like in campaign commentary.

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