[Photo by Warren K. Leffler, “Federal City College, Skill Center,” 1969, Library of Congress.] The Republican Party has long ceased to offer policy ideas and is focusing on culture wars and obstruction. Their big statement this week has been to throw “Let’s go, Brandon” into speeches and, in the case of Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), into a rap video in which she stars. The phrase means “F**k Joe Biden,” for those in the know; they use it because social media moderators do not flag it.
Disappointed? Why? -
If you are disappointed with what appears not to be in what looks like the final budget bills now moving towards passage, please stop for a moment and both consider what is included and why it has been so difficult to include more and gain passage.
Even without everything on progressive Democrats wish list, this remains a transformative investment in our economy and working class American families. Are the final numbers large? Yes. Could they have been larger? Could more have been included? Could America afford a larger investment? The answers to each of those questions is also yes. Please remember this is less than an additional investment of 1% of our GDP over the coming decade. Also as an investment not merely a cost most of these will actually produce a tangible and measurable return.
So why could more not have been included? Many will fault centrist Democrats for failing to support many of the provisions on progressive’s wish list. Did those centrists like Manchin and Sinema fail to support some provisions? Yes. However, let us be clear that the Biden Build Back Better agenda will not get a single Republican vote. No Republican is supporting a longer extension beyond one year of the child tax credit that lifted 50% of children living in poverty out of those circumstances. No Republican is supporting lower prescription drug prices. No Republican is supporting paid family or medical leave, affordable housing, elder care, healthcare expansion, universal pre-K, or any of the other provisions that were dropped or those that remain in the bill.
So if you are disappointed remember who is responsible for your disappointment. American families could have gotten more if only a few Republicans had supported this along with 98% of Democrats. When you consider who should be representing your family’s interests in Washington, remember who voted for those interests and who opposed them. When politicians campaign for your votes and make promises they will support and work for those interests remember these votes and how they align with what is most important to you. If cultural issues are more important to you, you know who is going to bat for you. But if your family’s health, housing, education, finances, child and elder care, prescription drug prices, clean air and water, and climate change concerns are more important to you, you also should know who is really on your side.
Also celebrate the victories and wins on what is included and let's continue the fight for the rest of the agenda. This is not the last budget that will ever be proposed or passed.
Activists in the Democratic Party realize that the Republicans have handed us an opportunity to win over Independents and even some Republicans. The funniest example will be here in Naples Florida. In a Republican dominated area DeSantis' ban on businesses which require masking will, if enforced, outrage many of those who love art, opera and ballet since our beloved "Artis Naples" has instituted a policy of requiring masking and possibly vaccination proof for events. Coupled with a small but loud segment of our "neighbors" who want to make Naples City an abortion free city DeSantis and his cohort of Trumpians are turning off many independents and some Republicans as well as energizing Democrats. There is hope that, in a closely divided state (Rubio and DeSantis only won by less than 1% margins), we can turn Florida Blue.
I guess one way to address the "Let's Go Brandon" meme is to ask anyone wearing one to explain it to you, to make them say it out loud. Then say you don't get it. That would be a great time to ask what the GOP actually stands for instead of against, at the same time remind them how rude, crude, and socially unacceptable they're being.
After spending three hours yesterday having a long discussion with a very conservative person who wanted to find out more about why I said at a meeting last week that our democracy was in big trouble I took away a few incites. It seemed a what is now a rare opportunity to talk with someone with an almost opposite viewpoint from my own who wanted to listen and discuss. All the arguments on the far right are phrased in black and white; we can only have one or the other. This is characteristic of patriarchy based on the need to compete to win, if you aren't one up you are one down or a father knows best type arrogance. I call this the OR mentality. I talked a lot about the synergy of bringing multiple perspectives together so we could find the best solutions for all. In fact, the solutions would be better than any one perspective could come up. In fact, this is the AND mentality. Valuing differences. Each of us comes from very different life experiences and come to our positions from those experiences. We also have a lot of common ground and values when we look for them. Respect for one another is key. Heather's letter tonight has given me the most optimism I've felt for a long time. I'm impressed with what Secretary Blinken is envisioning and implementing. We, the People, all of us this time!
HARRY S. TRUMAN What do you know about Harry?
# Only 20th century president not to go to college;
# Experienced most personal failures before 40 of any American president;
# In Independence lived all his married life in the house of his mother-in-law, who thought him unworthy of her daughter and called him Mr. Truman even when he was president;
#With poor eye sight, he memorized the eye chart to get into WW I, where he excelled;
# An honest politician, he arrived in Washington as “Pendergast’s senator’ and was shunned by FDR and other senators;
# Achieved national prominence by his exceptional assault on corruption in military contracts;
# Personally did not wish to be Vice President;
# Was Vice President for 83 days during which a dying FDR did nothing to prepare him for the presidency;
# On April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died, Truman knew nothing about the atomic Manhattan project.
Thus commenced a turbulent presidency in which a raw rookie faced some of the most tumultuous decisions of any president, including FDR and Lincoln. “To err is Truman” and
‘The buck stops here” are book ends of his tipsy-turvy presidency. At one time his national poll numbers were below Nixon’s worst during Watergate. More than two generations later historians in the well-regarded CSPAN presidential rankings place Harry as near great.
The two best books on Harry are by my long-time friend, David McCullough (Pulitzer Prize winning TRUMAN and Hamby’s MAN OF THE PEOPLE. To really understand Harry, I strongly recommend the PBS American Experience TRUMAN, available in DVD.
Incidentally this high-school graduate was a voracious reader of history, especially biography, read Latin for pleasure, and his 1953-1971 letter exchange with erudite Dean Acheson, according to David McCullough, matched or exceeded the quality of the late-in-life correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
I’M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY
My dad was a Foreign Service Officer (a State Department person with a presidential commission similar to military officers' commissions). In the late 1950s he was posted to Lagos, Nigeria. (I was five). We came on home leave for three weeks to visit his parents in Baton Rouge Louisiana. Years later he told me this story.
He decided to find a forum somewhere in the Baton Rouge community to offer questions and answers about what was happening in equatorial Africa. He made a lot of phone calls to various community leaders: mayor, educators, ministers, and so forth He got no traction until he contacted a Black minister. That minister spread the word and invited him to speak in a church on some weeknight. The place was packed to the rafters, and the session went on for hours with lots of questions and conversation. At the time my dad was junior -- a vice consul equivalent to an Army first lieutenant -- but still engaged with his audience.
It's really good that Secretary Blinken is encouraging this kind of outreach. Foreign Service Officers on home leave are a really good resource for local communities.
Thank you, Dr Richardson for cutting through the noise and juvenile insults to talk about law makers trying to do decent work to actually help people.
I’m appalled and exhausted with mainstream media coverage that seems intent on tearing down this administration with their predictions of failure. It’s only been 9 months that Biden has been in office for godsake, and he walked into a gutted and dysfunctional mess left by tfg that were still trying to dig out of. Not to mention that only half of Congress is actually trying to pass legislation while the other half is coming up with “cute little phrases” and making country rap videos.
A few weeks ago, someone posted that the commenters here had a blind spot for Biden and couldn’t tolerate any negative reporting on the Biden administration. I think reason for that impression is that the media has been so unfair in their reporting, and this letter is one of the few places we can come and celebrate the victories and the positive things this administration is trying to achieve. We are all aware that no president is perfect, but we’re also not a bunch of misty-eyed romantics blindly loyal to Joe, as this commenter implied.
Imagine if other media outlets tried to inform and educate as much as Dr Richardson does in LFAA. I’m so tired of the bashing and the sensationalism that has replaced journalism. I’m actually going to cancel my NYT subscription because the only substantial reporting these days is in the wedding section.
I saw the Boebert video today but had no clue about the meaning of "Let's go, Brandon." Until now. What struck me was Boebert's performance, an insincere, preening, look-at-me contrivance. Recorded for all time we have a superficial dolt drawing attention to herself to compensate for a lack of qualifications and seriousness for an important role in our government. And to learn it was all a buildup to her crescendo, a crass and profane insult to the country's elected leader.
This is the Republican Party. It's the party that wants to rule us, no matter how many lies required, in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed at least 5 million lives globally, the existential threat of climate change, and so many other daunting challenges.
Thank you Dr. Richardson. Knowing the halls of the State Dept. were emptied under the former "person" I am heartened to read about Anthony Blinken's programs. Foreign service people are quiet Americans who toil yet do essential work on behalf of the democracy. They have roots here yet often have to move abruptly and take their families (if possible) to far away destinations. Too many U.S. citizens overlook foreign service folks. They have no clue about their sacrifice.
The perfect song to describe these scum:
Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt?
And for all the little piggies
Life is getting worse,
Always having dirt to play around in
Have you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts?
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt,
Always have clean shirts to play around in
In their styes with all their backing
They don't care what goes on around
In their eyes there's something lacking
What they need's a damn good whacking
Everywhere there's lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat the bacon
“Under Biden, the Democrats are replacing the Republican ideology of the past forty years, which focused on individual liberty and cowboy diplomacy, with a plan to invest in our people and to cooperate with other countries.
This return to principles that ushered in our most prosperous years hardly seems like a good reason to curse the president.”
Agreed. Thank you sister Heather.
How clever! The human failure and his wannabe bullies and liars have turned into smarmy teenagers. And again, the dumbed-down media plays this up instead of repeating President Biden’s excellent speech which needs repeating. Can we organize a search party for their thinking caps?
Thanks HCR, I guess we needed to know this juvenile crappola but it feels very much like red herrings to me. If every Democrat and independent would use the next 4 days to focus on all the good Joe Biden has accomplished in less than a year, we might see the shocking return of sanity on Election Day Tuesday.
Good morning all! The growing use of Let's go, Brandon by neofascist groups was explored on NPR this morning. It was, admittedly the first I had heard of it because I don't watch TV news and I don't listen to other news outlets. How very unsurprising for a group that did not censure the yutz who yelled "You lie" in the middle of Obama's first State of the Union to resort to schoolyard bully tactics.
In his newsletter this morning, Jamelle Bouie, the NY Times Op-Ed essayist, said something deeply wise with respect to the VA governor's race, which is now being used as a barometer for 2022, and in which the Rethuglican candidate is promising to remove any discussion of racism from the school curriculum--the usual ignorant mischaracterization of discussions we need to have as "CRT" (which of course it is not): "Democracy requires empathy. We have to be able to see ourselves in one another to be able to see one another as political equals. I think history education is one important way to build that empathy. To understand the experiences of a person in a fundamentally different time and place is to practice the skills you need to see your fellow citizens as equal people even when their lives are profoundly different and distant from your own. This is why it’s vital that students learn as much as possible about the many varieties of people who have lived, and died, on this land.
This democratic empathy is, I believe, a powerful force. It can, for example, lead white children in isolated rural Virginia to march and demonstrate in memory of a poor Black man who died at the hands of police in urban Minnesota."
Democracy requires empathy. Full stop. We have one party that embraces that mantra, we have one party that not only does not, it actively seeks people to become more selfish, more doctrinaire, more rigid.
This is a very astute observation by Professor Richardson:
“Instead of participating in the democratic system, Republicans turned over to conservative Democrats … the job of making conservative changes to the measure, while they simply fired insults at the president.”
It illustrates how McConnell has adopted the mafia-esque tactics of Putin & DT, by hiring henchmen, Manchin & Sinema, to damage their own party. Pardon my analogy, it seems like Republicans want to kill Democracy, and put the bloody knife in Democrats’ hands.
Republicans have essentially opted out out of the agreed legal framework of the United States Constitution, which instituted a revolutionary democratic republic and the protocols to sustain it.
Preservation and Progress - being both self identical and self sufficient over time - is one of the philosophical conundrums of being in the world.
Within the sphere of politics, the Founders, men of the Enlightenment, decided that the answer to staying recognizably the United States of America over time while adapting to changing times, was to be accomplished through reasoned debate of empirical evidence.
To these seemingly insolubly contradictory ends and by these rational means of coming to consensus, the Constitution can be amended, laws can be revised, judicial decisions revisited, and new representatives elected. To some degree, these are all acts of interpretation. They eschew the absolute truths of religion for the provisional truths of science, the contextual truths of history, and the necessary truths of logic. They demand a sincere and well informed engagement in the task.
The Founders knew this relied on an educated polity, so they restricted participation to a specific class of men. Our government improved on this by providing for public education and expanding civil rights. At heart, we need to think things through together and to play fair.
And it is all this which Republicans have opted out of. They may bully their way through to political victory, but Republicans neither honor the nation's past nor prepare the nation for the future. Like all outlaws, Republicans depend on a sufficient number of honorable people to keep things from falling apart. That would be us. Enough of staggering under the burden of Republican intransigence and insurrection. We need to stand together and step forward. Our most immediate task is to secure and expand the Democratic majority.
It is not difficult to portray the Democrats as a shining party on a hill when the GOP is such a cesspool. But I am still waiting to find out which Democratic Senators are financially sustained by which fossil fuel, pharmaceutical and financial oligarchs, and how that may correspond to their public positions on eliminating the filibuster. Is it just Manchin and Sinema? I have my doubts.