The White House announced that floundering Joe Biden will run for reelection in 2024. What that really means is that Biden will not run for reelection in 2024. This latest act of mendacity from the least honest White House in memory just confirms what everyone knows: Biden will be a vegetable if he even makes it to 2024.
The plan by some Democrat insiders has been to ease Biden out of the presidency and replace him with Vice President Kamala Harris. The idea was to wait until after January 20, 2023 so she could be eligible for two subsequent full terms. She would have nearly two years of acting presidential before she had to face skeptical voters in November 2024.
That plan is now untenable. Biden’s popularity in the RealClearPolitics average is just 41%. However, that is effervescent compared to Harris. A recent USA Today-Suffolk University poll put her approval rating at just 28%. For reference, Richard Nixon’s first veep, Spiro Agnew, had a 49% approval rating in the spring of 1970 as American bombs fell on Cambodia. Harris has tied the low point of Dick Cheney, who in mid-2007, just after the nadir of the Iraq War, also had a 28% approval rating. She is more mistrusted than any veep since pinko weirdo Henry Wallace, whom Franklin Roosevelt had to oust in favor of Harry Truman in 1944—one of the nearest misses to succession disaster in U.S. history until now.
There is another set of polls that is even worse for Kama-lama-ding-dong. The average of generic polls that ask respondents if they plan to vote Republican or Democrat for their congressman has Republicans up by 4.2%. Two polls in the average even have Republicans up by a freakish 10% and 13%. That poll is almost always biased toward Democrats; when Republicans approach parity, it usually foretells massive GOP inroads. In the 1994 landslide led by Newt Gingrich, which ended Democrat domination of the House that had lasted since 1932 (with the exception of just two congresses), Republicans and Democrats were merely tied in the poll on election day. Today’s polls raise the specter of a 1932-style shift in U.S. politics—this time in favor of the Right.
The idea of a dignified Biden-Harris swap in the wake of what looks to be a disaster of epic proportions isn’t workable. To avoid the appearance of sheer panic and Weimar Republic-grade dysfunction, Harris needs to be replaced now to make way for Biden’s exit and a succession to someone with at least a shred of credibility.
If today’s Democrats had any of Bubba Clinton’s original centrist instincts and capability for course correction, they would begin talking up Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) or a moderate Democrat governor like Jared Polis (Colorado) or John Bel Edwards (Louisiana). Unfortunately for them, they seem to lack this capability for adjustment. Those options would also run afoul of the Democrats’ racism and get-whitey agenda.
How low will Joe have to go before Democrats react to the crisis?
El Banquero Central y Los Pesos
The White House indicated it would nominate Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to a second four-year term. The administration had let Powell twist in the wind, Janet Reno style, to determine if he was servile enough and tacitly committed to Modern Monetary Theory, which holds that governments can print and spend as much money as they like without consequence.
Powell seems to meet the Biden criteria. While he demonstrated considerable independence under Donald Trump, whose expertise was choosing disloyal and ungrateful appointees, Powell has conducted himself under Biden as though he were a dutiful assistant secretary at the Treasury Department. Despite the U.S. economy having overcome WuFlu, Powell has continued the largest emergency monetary expansion in U.S. history (dollar printing) and, when combined with the federal spending bonanza that shows no sign of easing, has produced the biggest resurgence of inflation since the 1970s.
But will Powell work out the way Biden hopes, continuing to prop up the economy with massive dollar printing and trusting that the lying media will downplay the truth about inflation? Maybe not: Powell might not want to go down in history as the worst Fed chairman ever, a position currently held jointly by Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. Powell’s confirmation is assured: Senator Pocahontas Warren (D-Massachusetts) will give him a hard time for possessing any vestige of capitalist thought and vote against him, but Republicans seem disinclined to try to stop the reconfirmation.
Once assured of his second term, Powell is largely untouchable. While the law that a president cannot fire a supposedly independent Fed chief is wrong and in conflict with the president’s constitutional power as chief executive to administer the unitary executive branch, successive presidents have refused to assert their authority. Powell could quite easily decide inflation isn’t actually “transitory” but persistent and worsening—something most Americans plainly see. Should he further decide to curtail open-market operations (buying government debt and mortgages with dollars created from nothing) or even raise interest rates faster than expected, the shock to the economy, stock market, and other asset bubbles like real estate could be sudden and severe. It’s only downhill for the Biden administration from here.
Speaking of Modern Monetary Theory, one if its biggest proponents is turning out to be Turkish President Recep Erdogan. The strongman who plays footsie with Islamists has decided that the low interest rates he has ordered are unrelated to high inflation. Like gender, in the 2020s, apparently economics is whatever you want it to be. Unfortunately reality eventually dawns: the lira has collapsed and inflation is running at least 20%.
Speaking of the Fed, inflation, and Powell, Mark Simon and I discussed the latest along with several equities of note in our latest podcast. Listen here or watch on YouTube:
Trump is out with a book that gives cogent behind-the-scenes insight and new information about his presidency for the sake of history and those who defend his policies; it’s also gracious in its praise of the American people, who did the work for which he often took credit, and honest about his shortcomings.
Just kidding—he put out a crappy picture book. You can buy Our Journey Together for the low-low price of $74.99. But wait, there’s more: for just $229.99 you can get a copy that is signed by Trump himself and definitely not an autopen. The book is put out by “Winning Team Publishing,” apparently a venture led by Don Jr.
Nothing quite says “Merry Christmas” like a billionaire and his son grifting supporters for a couple hundred bucks.
Russia Russia Russia
This just in: Russia has not invaded Ukraine as feared by those who hype fear of Russia as a profession. The country massed troops on Ukraine’s eastern border as a signal of displeasure and reminder of its ability to apply force if it chooses. The outcome was foreseeable because it previously happened just a few months ago.
Moscow also blasted one of its own obsolete satellites out of low-Earth orbit. Actually it’s still there, just in many pieces. The test and subsequent condemnation distracts from the much larger threat to the thousands of satellites in orbit and the tens of thousands more that will join them in coming years, which is the risk from cyber-attack. But the actions got everyone in a huff, which was probably part of the point.
George Beebe of the Center for the National Interest summed up the situation very well in an event (full video below) hosted by the Center about whether Russia is poised to invade:
Russia and the United States are in a situation where neither side wants to see a war over Ukraine. It would be a very bad thing for Russian and American interests. Now you would ordinarily say that if both sides really don’t want a war, we should be relatively optimistic.
Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic about this for a very simple reason that the United States is looking at this situation and believing that it’s akin to what happened at the start of World War II between Nazi Germany and Poland. Then, Hitler had very definite territorial ambitions and the one thing that we learned from that episode was that you don’t appease aggressors like that. You don’t show weakness; you show that they’re going to be in for a serious fight, and when you do that the result is they back down.
They realize that the cost of launching military aggression outweighs the benefits and I think that's largely how we're approaching the situation with Ukraine right now. We’re showing that we will provide military training and support to the Ukrainians; we’re issuing bold statements like Secretary of State Blinken did about our ‘ironclad’ support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the belief is that this will cause the Russians to understand we’re serious and not to initiate any kind of military actions.
Unfortunately, I think the situation we're facing is a lot closer to World War I, where we could get into a spiral of action and reaction that produces a conflict that neither side wants or intends or expects, and in that kind of situation, the kind of action and rhetoric that the United States is engaging in actually increases the chances of conflict--not decreases it. I think this is a soluble problem: it’s one that we can manage if we show a little bit of diplomatic dexterity here mixing resoluteness and a willingness to try to find a way out of a potential trap that we might get caught in.
George may have been channeling Winston Churchill who wrote in The World Crisis 1911-1914:
One rises from the study of the causes of the Great War with a prevailing sense of the defective control of individuals upon world fortunes.
Mediocrity of the Week
Flying United in first or business class is how I imagine the Post Office might run a fancy operation. Once I scored seat 1A on an old 747 flying from LA to Tokyo, and was treated to a frumpy flight attendant telling an elderly woman passenger she couldn’t help her put her bag up because of her sciatica. As I put the woman’s bag up, I wondered how the also-elderly attendant would help passengers or even just herself in an emergency. Then I realized she could not possibly have sciatica or else she would be on permanent disability being paid to do nothing. Instead, she was being paid to do almost nothing.
In that spirit, United’s stew union has made a big stink about the airline’s plans to bring back the drink they used to serve premium-class customers during boarding. It’s an extremely low-cost touch that nonetheless makes the ordeal a little nicer. Oh, but it requires work at a time when flight attendants could otherwise be barking pointless or self-evident inanities into the PA.
First, the union started off with a nice little lie in their demur, which had the effect of revealing their actual motive:
Lest our objection to the return of this service become mischaracterized, we want to say upfront, this is not about Flight Attendants not wanting to offer this service to passengers on the aircraft. None of the employees of United Airlines more than Flight Attendants wants to return to a sense of normal on the aircraft, sooner rather than later.
Oh surely. But then the supposed reason for not wanting to do work, conveyed in true Karen style with a phony Covid-19 scare:
This ‘visual’ created stands in stark contradiction to the messages to which passengers have been exposed prior to boarding about the need to keep your nose and mouth covered with a mask due to federal regulations.
Of course the masks are just for show, but as long as we’re pretending, let’s get something for the experience, reasons the union.
The rest of us can look forward to the day when robots can serve drinks like the one in Rocky IV. Until then, fly foreign carriers whenever possible. It’s your patriotic duty.