HCR, I love the thesis of this post. The work of government isn’t the one issue that is being directly addressed by the President, but the multitude that allow the Nation (and her interests) to advance. It’s often a dull, backbreaking slog, but it’s important work carried out by civil servants and willing partners who disproportionately are motivated to do good for the country and her citizens. For those who seem to want to only destroy our government, this article is a great reminder of all it does, without fanfare. Thanks again.

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May 23, 2023·edited May 24, 2023

There goes President Biden again -- getting sh*t done both here and around the globe, while McCarthy and his band of broken toys try to burn it all down.

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May 23, 2023·edited May 23, 2023

I took the liberty of reading the whole press conference transcript the Professor cited yesterday, and copying some further comments from the President that reveal the administration's thinking on the debt ceiling standoff.

On the 14th: "I can’t guarantee that they wouldn’t force a default by doing something outrageous. I can’t guarantee that...I’m looking at the 14th Amendment, as to whether or not we have the authority. I think we have the authority. The question is: Could it be done and invoked in time that it could not — would not be appealed and, as a consequence, pass the date in question and still default on the debt. That’s a question that I think is unresolved... We have not come up with a unilateral action that could succeed in a matter of two weeks or three weeks. That’s the issue. So it’s up to lawmakers. But my hope and intention is: When we resolve this problem, I’d find a rationale to take it to the courts to see whether or not the 14th Amendment is, in fact, something that would be able to stop it."

On who gets the blame: "Of course no one would blame me. I know you won’t. You’ll be saying, “Biden did a wonderful job.” (Laughter.)... On the merits based on what I’ve offered, I would be blameless. On the politics of it, no one would be blameless. And, by the way, that’s one of the — that’s one of the things that some are — are contemplating. I actually had — well, I got to be careful here. I think there are some MAGA Republicans in the House who know the damage that it would do to the economy. And because I am President, and presidents are responsible for everything, Biden would take the blame. And that’s the one way to make sure Biden is not reelected."

On what's coming in vs. going out: "[P]art of what I’ve been arguing from the beginning is a need to consider the tax structure as well as — as well as cutting spending. I’m willing to cut spending, and I proposed cuts in spending of over a trillion dollars. But I believe we have to also look at the tax revenues... It’s estimated that if we had the appropriate number of tax personnel, that we would generate somewhere between $200 billion and $400 billion in tax revenue... Anyway, I was able to say too that the 55 corporations in America that made $400 billion[:] “You got to pay a minimum of 15 percent tax.” What a horrible thing. You’re paying more than 15 percent in taxes, every one of you out there. And so, guess what? We not only balanced the budget; we were able to reduce the deficit by $1.7 trillion... So my point is that there’s a lot of things that they refuse to entertain, and they just said revenue is off the table. Well, revenue is not off the table... [W]e continue to have a significant disagreement on, on the revenue side."

On the long game vs. short-term fixes: "Look, here’s the other thing. I’m sure — I’m not sure; my guess is I’ll get a question about, you know, “Well, wait a minute, you know, the American people aren’t satisfied.” Well, guess what? As I told you all before, most of this — what we passed - only kicks in over time. I decided that we were going to be in a position where we were not going to continue to pay the highest drug prices in the world... Well, a lot of this is just kicking in. We’re in a situation where next year, for the drug costs, no senior will have to pay — total cost — total cost of all the drugs, from expensive cancer drugs to whatever drugs they’re taking, will not have to pay more than $3,500 a year... The following year, they won’t have to pay more than $2,000. That saves another $200 billion that we’re paying out. But the other team won’t count this. Even though it’s the law — we passed it — they won’t count that as reducing the debt. So there’s a lot of those kinds of disagreements we have."

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Quite a story of international cooperation, cooperation among states within the US, and involvement of the private sector. A description of the way the world should work and, apparently, does work under Joe Biden's leadership. What a contrast to what the world would have been had 2020 turned out differently.

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"And they included key G7 partners Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Republic of Korea."

Having grown up in an era in which we were repeatedly told that North Vietnam was a "puppet" of China, and that SE Asian countries (somehow Australia mentioned in the list) would fall to communism "like dominoes" unless Ho Chi Minh was defeated, it is a bit surprising to see Vietnam on the "partners" list, even though I knew back in the day that the casus belli was BS.

Also wondering if China would be throwing it's weight around quite so much if US corporations and politicians had not been in such a rush to export US manufacturing and manufacturing technology to China in exchange for cheap labor. So often it seems like what very big money gets for cheap winds up costing society, the world, and the planet a bundle, one way or another in the end.

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In my lifetime we've never faced an internal threat as dangerous as Donald Trump. No one else who has the toxic combination of ingredients that exits in this man has risen to be elected President....and then lost re-election, only to not concede...lie about the loss and then attempt to stay in power. He is a totally unique and threatening animal...who is now backed into a corner of his own creation. His old playbook is quickly running out of tricks that worked.

Old line conservatives really do believe in freedom for themselves to choose how to do business, how to pay taxes, what to believe about God and spirit, about how to treat a body....that a two cell organism needs to become a birthed child no matter what the circumstances, or risks, but that everyone should have a pile of guns...with no restrictions...and thoughts and prayers is the best we can do for murdered and maimed people....and though they hate Trump, they empower him...won't destroy him...because he fights for their issues....and "his people" might get pissed if you piss on him too much. They all need each other to beat the liberals, the progressives, the commies & socialists out here....who they do not respect at all.

The folks at the Bradley Prize event last week never once attacked him by name, even though it was pretty obvious there was no deep love for him in the room. They did not praise him either. It's like they are somehow above it all.

Betsey DeVoss was VERY clear that her goal is to defund the Dept of Ed...kill it. She got a crystal lion for that...and applause. Others railed on about free markets...no regulations being the best way forward. That they are victims of religious persecution, because other folks have other belief systems...or even no belief system. They want us to believe in God the way they do.

They don't want Civil War monuments to confederates taken down or moved...they don't want men to become women...and we are all supposed to be ok with what they want, how they want it....and if that means Trump continues to spew his toxic brew...they aren't going to bitch about that....I guess it's not polite...but they will bitch about us...and surround it with a huge American Flag...a choir of white boys from Baltimore singing the words FS Key wrote, about 3 miles from where I type this...where Key took notes and wrote his observations as the World's greatest army & navy attempted to beat us in to submission, to their will...and failed...because the people of this city, black & white, male & female, free & enslaved held their ground...and won a victory...after the folks in DC had fled and allowed the White House to be sacked and burned and the Capitol to be looted...we held on and beat them. As I'm writing this, I'm more proud of Baltimoreans than I have ever been...."Rockets red glare...Flag was still there."

Let's fight the good fight....do not give up the ship.

For more about the Bradley Prizes event...read my most recent Substack piece

PEACE to all....and go Orioles

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The announcement that Senator Tim Scott (the first African-American elected by popular vote in the South) is a Republican presidential candidate reminded me of my encounter with Edward Brooke, the first African-American ever elected senator by popular vote (1966, MA)

I was taking a month of home leave on Marthas Vineyard after two years as Foreign Service Officer in Chile. I was flying down to New York City on a commuter flight. My seat mate was Senator Brooke.

He was unusually talkative, especially after hearing that I was strongly opposed to Nixon. He spoke of his ‘delicate’ political situation. He had publicly refused to support Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate in 1964. In the run up to the 1968 presidential election, he had supported Governor George Romney and Governor Nelson Rockefeller as the Republican presidential candidate. Now Nixon was the candidate.

Senator Brooke explained why he now was politically obliged to meet with Nixon and announce his support of the Nixon candidacy. We shared a cab from the airport and I dropped him at Nixon’s residence.

It was reported that, when Nixon was re-elected in 1972, he offered Senator Brooke a cabinet position or the ambassadorship at the UN, both of which Brooke rejected.

Brooke served two six-year terms as senator. In 1978 he was defeated for re-election, in part because his strong support for abortion lost him a substantial proportion of the Catholic support.

He also had some publicized financial problems. I do not recall whether his affair with newscaster Barbara Walters was public knowledge in 1978.

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It is amazing how President Biden can manage to get things accomplished even with this Republican MAGA crisis that’s developed here in the states. They (the MAGA crowd) did manage to keep him from an important portion of this trip so he could return and deal with McFarty, the puppet on strings, and the debt crisis they refuse to understand.

At least Biden sent a representative to take care of business, but it would have been much better if he, himself, could have taken care of it.

Now, it’s my belief (for those if you that require proof if things said), I’ll repeat myself. It’s MY BELIEF the MAGA Republicans (MTG, Jordan, and yes, McFarty) planned this so they could attempt to show that President Biden wasn’t capable of dealing with the crisis, and international affairs.

They failed. And yet, they are still stalling on the debt ceiling crisis, here, in the United States!

They’re demands are ludicrous, and they know it.

How far are they willing to go with this?

Do they realize they are making themselves look like absolute fools?

Do they actually think they are gaining support if the American people?

Those are questions worth pondering!

Do we really want the likes of what’s in leadership currently in the House of Representatives after 2024, and beyond? Truly?

What exactly have they accomplished to help us, the people, since they gained majority of the House?

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The Republican Party begins to resemble the Know Nothings and ought to be banished to the wilderness of retirement in the next election.

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Wasn’t it Sam Rayburn who said that any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one. The eternal battle between the jackass(s) and the carpenter…. The Republican destruction derby will stop at nothing

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We Need Voices.

The current executive branch, the Democratic side of the legislative branch, and the rational minority of the judicial branch of the federal government continue to operate under traditional political norms. But we are becoming painfully aware that our Constitution and the rule of law are all too vulnerable to cooption by forces hostile to a democratic system -- forces that are not bound by such conventions.

Historians Heather Cox Richardson and Jared Yates Sexton (standing on the shoulders of predecessors such as Richard Hofstadter) teach us that our democratic experiment has been under similar attack before. Sadly, these attacks result not from external forces or tiny terror cells, but from the actions of a large portion of the citizenry -- but not a majority.

My contention is that these attacks are primarily driven by economic interests of the very wealthy. They are adept at manipulating fringe ideological factions to join their crusades -- that is why we see evangelicals, white supremacists, anti-abortion, and anti-immigration elements often unite under one political banner. The leadership of these factions are often also the very wealthy -- their sincerity regarding their ideologies is questionable -- but their minions are often 'true believers.' Sadly, the 'true believers' are often the end result of campaigns of weaponized lies -- most 'true believers' lack the critical reasoning skills to evaluate these lies as such.

Our battle must be waged on two fronts -- 1) fight the ignorance that enables voters to be easily swayed by weaponized lies -- and 2), fight the wealthy in court to make them pay for economic crimes and prevent them from carrying out election fraud and voter suppression. As the E. Jean Carroll case shows, there can be overlap.

The first front requires powerful and charismatic voices of reason that can pierce the veil of ignorance and paranoia relied on by demagogues to convince the impressionable to vote against their own interests. The second requires lawyers and resources.

These voices of reason must be distinct from the political realm and free to speak truth to power. I believe we have in the good professor Richardson a protype for such a voice.

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by Josh Marshall

Even though this won’t come as new news to many of you, the following is still a clarifying prism. A negotiation is usually two sides haggling to get things they want. Leverage is often unequal. Sometimes one side isn’t “getting” anything but rather just trying to give up as little as possible. But in this negotiation, Republicans are getting various policy priorities and Democrats are “getting” Republican agreement not to create a global financial crisis. That’s extortion, not negotiation. A government can’t operate in any consistent or sustainable way when policy deliverables go to the party willing to credibly threaten the most damage to the country itself. #word


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Putin's blacklist of 500 signals desperation and slaps down his last, appropriately named, card.

Now for the Kremlin Capo's ultimate weapon, in the hands of his underling and mobsters, the debt ceiling.

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I just sent this out to seven family members and close friends, as follows, along with the essay of course: "This is a good column from a very reputable source on the role intelligent diplomacy can play in advancing national interests and promoting a more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren everywhere.  This hard, productive work is a welcome departure from inflammatory rhetoric and impromptu tweets over morning Big Macs. So is the work of Heather Cox Richardson, who is one of America's finest historians." Cheers, 

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Biden needs to do a ‘fireside chat’ speech on TV and radio, clearly explaining the difference between a government ‘shut down’ and not raising the debt ceiling: the difference in process between raising the debt ceiling and budget negotiations. Also he should explain how much of that debt was GOP and Trump gifts to the wealthy. He needs to highlight the stark priorities of each party. It needs to go on major networks and be concise and simple enough with a graph or two and scripting, that the dolts who are listening to the FOX and OneAmerica nonsense might hear something ‘new’ and factual for a few minutes.

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May 23, 2023·edited May 23, 2023

McCarthy and his minions - or he, as the minion of those standing behind him - continue to try to recast Biden's international work and successes as unimportant, recommending that the President should be taking care of America first. They continue to diminish Biden's successes. What continues to rankle me is that news coverage is about brief soundbites. Even PBS fails to report fully to show the significance of Biden's international work for AMERICAN security, as Heather has done here. The strength if democratic international order is crucial to world peace and prosperity. I believe too few fully understand how effective Biden's international work has been for the security of American citizens. McCarthy sure doesn't get it.

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