Sunday, March 24, 2019

Hell No, Joe

Joe Biden is running for president, again. Joe has been around almost forever by now, and he has run for president a couple of times already. Something always gets in the way, something about Joe's own mannerisms and style. Joe is uncritically liked by most people. They love that kind of handsome, kind of goofy, Corvette-polishing hipster grandpa thing. It's a double-edged sword, though. The same goofy, devil-may-care, hair-plugs and capped-teeth thing works for him and against him. He changes lanes without looking, going from chummy joking around to super-serious variations on “get off my lawn.” So just Joe being Joe has always been kind of problematic. As it turns out, that's only the beginning.

Joe's got a lot of legislative history, and it's impossible to keep those old passions and votes out of sight. Once word gets around, Joe should disappear once again from the scene. That is, unless, and this is completely possible, nothing at all really matters anymore except for that capped-tooth grin, and still attractive jaw line, and the hair plugs.

Here is some idea of the 'splaining that Joe needs to get started on:

Early attitudes

Joe opposed school busing for purposes of racial distribution. In 1975, he introduced legislation that would forbid the Department of Health and Human Services from using Federal funds to bus students to achieve race-balancing goals.

From the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, Joe was against abortion rights before he was for them.

Joe had watched carefully while Nixon profited politically from his “law and order” stance. Law and order was code for we'll put those uppity blacks who are burning our cities either in prison or back in their ghettos. (With a nod to those uppity hippie war protesters too.) Joe figured that tough-on-crime (i.e., blacks and hippies) was the way to go, and he never looked back.

The Reagan Years

Joe was very busy during the Reagan years, working his bi-partisan magic for evil purposes. His Republican partner was no less than Strom Thurmond, who is generally not remembered fondly.

In 1984, the two of them sponsored and helped to pass the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. This law could be described as the beginning of mass incarceration with super-long sentences for mostly black defendants. The law eliminated the entire concept of parole for all Federal convictions, and it severely cut back on the possibility of reducing sentences for good behavior.

In 1986, the same dynamic duo sponsored and passed the Anti Drug Abuse Act, which set extreme mandatory sentencing guidelines for drug offenses. This law was modeled on the ferocious "law and order" era drug laws that had impressed the voters back in the 1970s, such as the Rockefeller drug laws in New York. I remember that example very well. All of a sudden you didn't get 90 days at Riker's Island for getting caught with one joint, you got seven years in Attica. Joe's 1986 law introduced the two-track approach for offenses involving crack cocaine, chiefly associated with black defendants, and powder cocaine, chiefly associated with white defendants. The mandatory sentences started with five years for possession of any old tiny rock of crack. This obviously racist idea resulted in longer-then-life sentences for a lot of black folk, many of whom are still in prison. Many of whom, in fact, are carrying so many consecutive years that they won't get out until the 22nd Century. 

Also around this time Joe Biden helped to introduce the concept of civil forfeiture to American jurisprudence. The laws were written to appear only to seek to seize assets of drug dealers that had been purchased with the proceeds of drug sales. They were so generously written, however, that the forfeiture applied to almost any property of almost anybody whom law officers “suspected” of some kind of crime. In effect, if you had something that the local or federal police wanted, like cash or a nice car, they "suspected" you of being a drug dealer and seized the cash, or the car, or the boat, or whatever. Amazingly, these laws are still in effect today. No charges need to be filed; no convictions are required. The citizen from whom the property is stolen, I mean seized, is, of course, free to hire a lawyer and sue the government to get the property back. That one always gives me the chills. I remember going to Bankruptcy court and having my client's case called. "Good morning, your honor," I'd say, "Fred Ceely appearing for the debtor."  The other lawyer, in a suit that cost more than my car, would say, "good morning, your honor. Mason Dixon Troubridge the third appearing for the United States." Thanks, Joe! Good old Joe, friend of the little guy!

The George H.W. Bush Years

Joe Biden worked hard during the tenure of old George Herbert Walker Bush to expand the number of death-penalty eligible crimes to fifty-one. Joe has always been one to be tough on crime.

H.W. Bush appointed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and good old Democrat Joe directed the hearings. He allowed sustained anti-Anita Hill questions, and he failed to call two witnesses who could corroborate Hill's testimony and expose Thomas' lies under oath. (Fifteen years later, Joe would perform a similar function in the confirmation of Sam Alito.)

The Bill Clinton Years

Bill Clinton was happy to play along with most of the conservative agenda, whether it was being tough on crime, putting a stop to all of that welfare cheating, or limiting the availability of bankruptcy protection.

In 1994, Joe Biden was instrumental in passing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which added fuel to the fire of mass black incarceration.

In 1999, Joe helped to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act through the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which directly facilitated the catastrophic financial melt-down of 2008. It turns out that there was a reason for all of that federal regulation of banks. We still haven't learned that lesson. 

Throughout the presidency of Bill Clinton, Joe strongly supported the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, raising unnecessary tensions in the area that continue to generate negative repercussions to this day.

The Obama Years

In 2008, President Obama put Joe in charge of Iraq policy, because of his supposedly extensive experience in foreign policy. Our guy on the scene was Ambassador Zalman Khalilzad, who hand picked Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, to be prime minister. Joe backed the play. This led to a total civil war between the majority Sunnis and the Shiite minority. Vast numbers of Iraqis were killed in the mess, and during Maliki's eight years in power something like $500 billion dollars in corruption money was skimmed by the Shiite government. Great job, Joe!

Obama also put Joe in charge of American policy in Central America. Guatemala, Honduras, you know, Central America. After consulting with the corrupt ruling families in the area, they and Joe agreed on something called, “The Alliance for Prosperity.” If you are already imagining an alliance for the enhanced prosperity of the corrupt ruling class, coupled with a tough-as-nails program to suppress societal pressure from the bereft poor, you're right on the money. Professor Dana Frank of the University of California at Santa Cruz said that the Alliance “supported the very economic sectors that are actively destroying . . . the economy and the environment.”

Joe and Bankruptcy

Joe has always been very pro-bank. He backed laws in 1978 and 1984 that restricted or eliminated debtors ability to discharge unsecured debts in bankruptcy. Student loans were a main target of these bills. He was instrumental in the passage in 2005 of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which was, of course, designed specifically to deny Chapter 7 protection to citizen debtors, at the request of the banks, and to protect the rights of banks to collect anything that resembled a debt. Even Bill Clinton, himself quite the friend of banks at the expense of citizen debtors, had refused to sign a similar bill after Elizabeth Warren had explained it to him and Hillary.

Is Joe Biden Corrupt?

I'm not saying that he is, but I've heard talk.

Joe has a few charities, and some investigative reporters are very interested in the way that the funds collected are used. The charities seem mostly to pay salaries for their employees.

During the fiscal year, 2016-2017, The Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children applied 45% of funds collected to executive salaries.

Even more glaringly, during that same year, the Biden Cancer Initiative used a full 75% of its funds raised to pay salaries, including a whopping $500,000 to its president, Greg Simon. (Mr. Simon is a former executive director of Biden's Cancer Moonshot Task Force.)


I guess that it's a good bet that real journalists will be bringing up all of these things pretty soon, and then if there are some debates involved the other candidates might mention them too. Or not, because everybody loves Joe Biden. They might be afraid to bring up Joe's negatives, because you know that Joe will just make that serious face, put on his best serious voice, and give them a big “how dare you!” kind of a non-defense. Then he'll change his mask to that beaming, charismatic smile, and he'll make a joke to the crowd, who will love it, as usual, and forget whatever came before.

Joe has quite the knack for politics. He may still have a future in the politics business.

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