Note: Sorry for the total lack of creativity in the pictures.
Hardly anybody read my dreary piece on Joe Biden’s awkward tour of southern New Hampshire, and with good reason: once the title rolls over your eyes, you’re already aware that I’ll have nothing to share that you didn’t already learn for yourself a long time ago. Yes, Joe Biden is physiologically incapable of speaking in anything other than shopworn platitudes because to speak the truth would be to commit political suicide, as he would expose himself as another prostitute to Wall Street, the arms industries, the private prison systems, and many other awful actors besides. Sure, we need to get the word out about these unconvincing actors, but I can’t expect people who are already versed in these subjects to sit through a tedious introduction.
I’ll admit, I feel a similar impatience when I go to these events, knowing that I’m going to be fed a lot of pap that will force me to reconsider my own pledge that I will not kill myself and leave my cat without a human. I mean, the vacuous ether that exudes through the maws of these politicians is friggin’ agonizing. It used to be a lot easier for me to put up with it, back when I was just starting out and it was still surreal to see a politician up close and personal, but I’ve been to this circus too many times before, and once you’ve seen literally dozens of these clowns, well, you begin to feel as though you’ve seen ‘em all.
Then again, maybe I was still sulking in the afterglow of my time with Tulsi Gabbard. As I said in my last essay, that woman spoiled me: for four days in a row, she stood in restaurants and opera houses and living rooms and addressed her audience as intellectual adults. She didn’t appeal to our vanity by telling us how wonderful we are and how lovely things will be; no, she told us that we’re standing at “this nuclear abyss”, and she told us to pull our heads out of our backsides before the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket. She didn’t use that vocabulary, exactly, but her speeches weren’t the kind of saccharine fluff that you can put on a bumper sticker. No, she actually expected you to pay attention, whereas Joe Biden really seemed as if he’d just rolled out of bed. I mean, if you can’t be bothered to take your sunglasses off, then why should we inconvenience ourselves by showing up sober?
I knew that Kamala Harris, who was lurking somewhere in Gilford, New Hampshire, on Sunday the 14th, probably wouldn’t be quite as nauseating as Biden had, but all the same, I thought it would be asinine to make any assumptions and take any chances. Accordingly, I waited in a parking lot on Weirs Road, listening to a speech Ralph Nader made in Canada in 2015, until 11:30 AM, when Patrick’s Pub finally opened and allowed the first wave of motorcyclists and Bay State tourists to mosey on in. It still amazes me that there are enough “new money” families coming into Gilford and Laconia each summer to keep this half of the Lakes Region afloat, but that hasn’t been my problem in years. I can’t even remember the last time I went to Patrick’s . . . it must have been before I was a drinking man, back when I still thought I could make a girlfriend of a waitress by writing her a poem.
Well, I no longer write my waitresses poems, and I am no longer a stranger to drink. I figured it’d be a good idea to have a few rum cocktails before I listened to Kamala Harris—not strictly because I wanted to make her rally tolerable, but because everyone around me appeared to have smoked a whole heck of a lot of weed before they came into the bar. It would have made sense, as I learned from the bartender that Snoop Dogg would be performing in concert less than half a mile down the road in less than twelve hours. I don’t know how desperate that man has to be to come all the way to Gilford to perform, but then again, nearby Laconia is home to a lot of underachievers, men in their late thirties or early forties who spent their youth listening to artists such as Snoop, looking forward to a day when they, too, could be to paid to take drugs and look cool. Oh, but those days are over, just like my days of writing poetry on napkins and expecting to get a relationship out of it.
Between my cocktails, I had a sandwich called the Drunken Leprechaun, some kind of barbeque chicken supreme, which came with French fries that tasted as if they’d been tossed in cinnamon. It was a pretty good meal, good enough so that I wasn’t heartbroken when I discovered how heavy a tab I’d run up. I wasn’t even too terribly disturbed when, a couple of hours later, I received an email from the establishment, asking how everything went, and so on. I say “disturbed” because, as far as I know, I never gave anyone my email while I was there.
Technophobia is hardly an unknown subject here at overwritten.org, but this was hardly the day to be dubbing around in paranoia, as the airwaves were congested with stories about Jeffrey Epstein, an uncommonly wealthy man who spent some of his obscene wealth maintaining a collection of sex slaves, many of whom were under the age of eighteen. I had to think carefully before I typed up that description, as “underage sex slave” seemed to be just a bit superfluous. On the day of the rally for Kamala Harris, I was still a little rusty on the Epstein scandal, but I had read an op-ed in which it was suggested that Epstein may have been granted extralegal protection because he had so many buddies in the upper chambers of American government. “Conspiracy theory” no longer seemed like such a dirty word, and your guess was even better than mine.
Much has already been written about Bill Clinton’s friendship with Epstein, although most of the corporate news sources describe it as a “relationship” or, even more preferably, a “connection”, as if he were merely someone he bumped into while in line for the soda machine, or something. What is most fascinating to me is that, when asked about these unsettling legal developments, Bubba Bill said he boarded Epstein’s private jet “only” four times, even though it had already been known by as late as November of 2017 that Clinton had flown the friendly skies with Epstein more than twenty times.
President Trump was stirring the sauce, releasing xenophobic tweets against four of his most vocal critics in Congress. Predictably, the media devoured this nugget, and the flames of controversy are still raging, five days later. So strong are the flames that they have all but blinded us to the Epstein story, which CNN has all but forgotten this morning, burying it beneath footage of a man scaling the broad side of an apartment building and yet another speculative piece on Robert Mueller. There is no longer any doubt that Trump shot off those tweets to divert attention from Epstein, whose intricate involvement with powerful men (and women) threatens to tear down the gossamer of a veil that separates our childish notions about virtuous government from the sickening reality. Not that his tweets were likely to be necessary, as Epstein appears to understand that, if he squeals on his elite clients, then his cellmate might decide to get creative with a knife.
However, I had little tolerance for such stories on the day. I had to take a couple of backroads to get to the “house party”, though not nearly as many as I had to work my way through to arrive at Joe Biden’s house party twenty-four hours prior. Besides, I still have a functional knowledge of the Gilford roadways, thanks to the years I spent delivering pizzas here while I was in college. It was secluded, is what I’m saying, although the fact that we were standing in broad daylight helped to normalize it slightly. Parking was an absolute nightmare, so I had to walk half a mile just to get to the house.
As soon as I began to climb the driveway, I was besieged by the happy-go-lucky staffers, who are always so delighted to see you, but who will sour if you won’t play by the rules. They told me to send a text message to some five-digit number, just as the Biden crew had tried to sucker us into doing. I would have refused, but you had to send that text message in order to receive access, and once you received access, you had to take and wear a sticker reading “Kamala Harris—For the People”. Biden’s people forced us to take stickers, too, but they didn’t make us wear them; clearly, these bloodsuckers were even more ambitious, which makes sense, considering that Harris recently leapfrogged Biden in “the polls”.
For the record, this wasn’t really a house party, any more than Biden’s had been: it was just a rally held in someone’s backyard. As soon as I recognized the situation, I knew that I would be standing in the brutal, unrelenting sun for the next couple of hours, and I understood that the smartest thing I could do would be to make friends with people. It’s never wise to agitate the people who have to cozy up next to you and smell your sweat, so I decided to be all smiles and welcomes and to avoid making any serpentine references to Nietzsche, or something.
Presently, I found myself sandwiched between two guys who were close enough to my own age, and in front of us stood a seventeen-year-old girl who had come with her mother from Plaistow. “I’m not gonna be old enough to vote in the primary,” she said, “but I’ll be old enough to vote in the general, so I’m trying to meet as many of the candidates as I can!”
The man to my left nodded, looking somewhere above the girl’s head. “Yeah, I would like to meet more of the candidates, but it’s hard for me to find the energy. I have Lyme disease, so I need a lot of preparation for stuff like this, a lot of advance notice. I’ve met almost all of the candidates, even though I have Lyme disease, but I have to think about it and get ready for it, you know what I mean? A lot of people don’t really know that much about Lyme disease, but when you wake up in the morning—”
One of the staffers came by to ask if we had our stickers. We revealed our markings, like branded cattle, and then the staffer smiled as she walked away. I turned to the girl and asked, “How many of the candidates have you seen in person?”
She’d seen eight, including Andrew Yang and Cory Booker. She had met Kamala Harris before, but she wanted to see her again. I asked her what was the most important issue to her, to which she replied: “Education! I’m still in high school and I’m going to college, so education is obviously a big deal to me. And women’s rights, equal rights, stuff like that.”
“Oh, yes, that’s very important,” said the gentleman beside me. “I’m interested in healthcare, since I have Lyme disease, which makes it difficult for me to get out to these rallies. When I found out I had Lyme disease, I told my employer, and my employer fired me because they didn’t want me spreading the disease to anybody else. I tried to explain to them that it—”
“So, of all the candidates running for president,” I said to the girl, “which one is your favorite? Do you have a preference?”
She grinned, delighted to have an extended opportunity to express herself. “Right now, I would say . . . Yang—but not because he wants to give everyone a thousand dollars a month! That’s not why!”
“Yeah, Yang’s a pretty good choice. I do like the idea of universal basic income, though. That would definitely be a big help to me. Ever since I was diagnosed with Lyme disease—”
“Is there anyone you haven’t seen that you would like to see?”
“Have you seen anybody else?”
“Yes. I’ve seen Biden, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, Delaney, Bernie—”
“I love Bernie!”
The conversation ended here, as the staffers advised us to move toward the rows of chairs that had been set up in the backyard. I have no idea who owns this house, nor am I especially interested to learn, as the political/financial connection to Kamala Harris is unlikely to be as significant as the slightest detail in the Epstein case. The host of the event greeted us presently, explaining that she was voting for Kamala Harris because: “I share Kamala’s vision of a just America. She will fight for us. Kamala is a tireless fighter for the voiceless, and she has a vision for a future that includes every one of us.”
Much like the familiar details of Joe Biden’s disheartening record of human rights abuses and war crimes, there is little value in me parroting the details of Kamala Harris’s record of malfeasance in her time as Attorney General for the State of California. When Lara Bazelon debunked the myth, propagated by Harris herself, that she was a “progressive prosecutor”, her report was disregarded in many intellectual circles, even among several liberals, as the impractical bellyaching of a Social Justice Warrior. Yet, those of you who overlooked her article in The New York Times should take the time to read it—or, if you don’t have a subscription, watch her interview with Democracy Now.
Of especial interest to me is the revelation that, when Harris was the District Attorney for the City of San Francisco, one of her underlings was stealing drugs from the evidence lab and either selling them or consuming them—or both! When this lab technician was finally caught, Harris launched an ad hominem attack against the presiding judge, claiming that the only reason she was troubled by this was because her husband was a defense attorney. Fortunately, Harris was laughed out of the courtroom, and hundreds of cases were rightly dismissed due to that technician’s follies. There is actually a consistent pattern of suppression of evidence in cases Harris prosecuted or reviewed, and no remarkable instances of Harris addressing such suppression, never mind fighting it. I could continue, but I think you should check out Bazelon’s work for yourself.
Oh, and if you were to search “Kamala Harris prosecutor record” on Google, you would find four or five articles reporting Harris’s defense of her own record before you would find Bazelon’s piece, to which Harris is responding. It’s one thing to bury my video of Andrew Yang, considering that I’m a nobody, but to bury an article in The New York Times? Don’t make this so easy, guys!
It was hard to keep her record out of my mind while I listened to her speak less than a hundred feet in front of me. She quoted her mother, who told her, “The measure of us will be what we do for others. When I told my mother that something unjust happened, she would ask me what I was going to do about it. So, I decided to run for president!” Cue the massive applause from the crowd. You won’t hear any of those cheesy slogans when Tulsi Gabbard speaks, because her speeches are not one of “the Feelies” that Aldous Huxley warned us about in Brave New World: there is actually some substance to her message, whereas Harris is relying solely on her image.
What is her image? Well, Harris issued another meaningless tagline when she declared: “We must successfully prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump, and I argue that a prosecutor should do the job! Ha, ha, ha!” I’m not sure that she meant to say “prosecute the case against” in this instance, but that’s beside the point. The point is, she is trying to depict herself as a prosecutor we can trust; but why can we trust her? Because she presents herself as a progressive? Barack Obama presented himself as a progressive, too, but that didn’t stop him from overthrowing two democratically elected governments. Perhaps it would be helpful if Harris could explain what it is about her career in prosecution that equips her to promote progressive principles, but, as Lara Bazelon’s expose exposes, Harris has quite little in her past to run on.
Not that this will stop her from making vague homages to her career. “I know predators,” she told the audience in Gilford, “and we have a predator living in the White House.” Cue the applause. It was a richly ironic statement, considering her own history of preying on those who lacked a strong understanding of the legal system, but this irony was lost on the people who packed into this rural backyard. They didn’t want to hear unpleasant information about the duplicitous duopoly that has imprisoned our democracy; they want to hear Harris criticize Trump, using language that is fierce, edgy, and bold.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that is fierce, edgy, or bold in her statements—unless, of course, you’re such a hopeless shut-in that you’re still terrified of Ilhan Omar’s hijab. I mean, really: is it still considered controversial, outside of the farthest periphery of the Right, to accuse the President of predatory, racist, antisocial behavior? If you really want to mount a devasting critique of Trump, then you can’t settle for these simplistic criticisms, totally accurate though they may be; no, if you really want to prove that the emperor is naked, then simply point out how similar his policies are to Obama’s, or talk about how he submits to the feeblest pressure from Pompeo. Anybody with the CNN can compare Trump to Hitler; compare him to a jellyfish and you have our attention.
The problem is that most of the Democratic contenders are incapable of making this connection—not because they are unaware of it, but because acknowledging it would force them to acknowledge their own culpability, their own likeness to Trump. Harris is no exception, imprisoned as she is by her own affinity to corporate militarism.
Consider her comments on the massive kidnapping scheme taking place on the Mexican border: “Why are these people coming here with their children? They’re coming here because they know their children would face even greater danger at home.” There’s nothing intrinsically false in that statement, but it is stripped of all meaningful context: at no point on the day, nor on any other day, does Harris explain why the people of Mexico and Latin America face this “even greater danger”. She will never say that this “even greater danger” is the predictable consequence of the American government’s destabilization of those foreign countries, whether that destabilization takes on the form of military invasion, economic sanctions, terrorism sponsored by the United States, or some other equally hideous method. I don’t expect Harris to provide an exhaustive history lesson in one speech, but I do expect her to do more than criticize Trump; she has to explain why the larger crisis is occurring in the first place.
Oh, and one more thing on her border comments, or lack thereof: if she was serious about calling a halt to Trump’s crimes against humanity, then she would call out Joe Biden for overseeing and approving of the same practices when he was Vice-President. Instead, she spends her time calling him out for failing to support intercity bussing decades ago. I’m not suggesting that his voting record is irrelevant—I hardly can, when I spent a fair bit of this article examining Harris’s abysmal legal record—but it’s very suspicious that she (and her Democratic opponents) decline to use this issue to really cripple Biden. Similarly, she (and almost all of her Democratic opponents) appear to take no issue with Mike Pence’s attempted coup in Venezuela.
Now, I don’t want to pretend that the rally was a complete disaster. She did make some interesting economic proposals before retreating into the house: she proposed a $6,000 tax credit for families earning less than $100,000 a year, a policy which would be financed by repealing Trump’s hideous tax cuts; she called on Congress to close the teacher pay gap, which, in her estimation, stands at about $13,500; and she suggested fining corporations to force them to bridge the gender pay gap. All of this sounds nice, and perhaps she’s serious about signing it into law, but talk about trimming at the margins: what does this do for those who do not have a family, who are not teachers, and who are not women working in a corporate office? There is no reason to believe that she will try to displace the corrupt system with a functional alternative; all she will do, in the best-case scenario, is toss a few dollars to the public, as if this will somehow rebuild this country’s decimated middle class.
Take a look at the stories coming out of Los Angeles, where the homeless population is almost as large as the entire population of Concord, New Hampshire. Do those indigent people benefit from Harris’s $6,000 tax credit, or is that meager rebate intended merely to distract those who have kept their heads above water, to distract them from the people who are drowning all around them? There is no gender pay gap in a homeless shelter, although perhaps President Harris will raise taxes on Wall Street to pay for a few more bunk beds and soup kitchens. In the meantime, there was a cutesy moment at the rally when a nine-year-old girl rose to ask Harris a question about family separation at the border, to which the candidate replied:
“When I see you, I know that our future is bright!”