This week, lawmakers will begin to construct the details of the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package they declared their intention to pass. On August 11, the Senate approved a budget resolution telling committees to hammer out the details of a bill that will deal with the “soft” infrastructure not covered in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that dealt with roads, bridges, broadband, and other “hard” infrastructure needs. The larger bill will focus on child care, education, elder care, health care, and climate change.
How does one avoid post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD) after ratatat news about devastating hurricanes, frightening, uncontrolled forest fires, flooding that leaves a wakes of deaths and resource-less survivors, refugees and evacuees worldwide, relentless climate change, and pissant politicians?
Some of you may find solace from knitting, wood working, puzzles, yoga meditation, or some liquid excelsior. Since I knit not, my only wood working success was in third grade shop, I lack puzzle patience, my body cannot do yoga stretched, 30 seconds is my meditation max, and I am steadfastly a one-beer-a-day guy, I have found battleground relief elsewhere.
I relish spelunking in history and biography. I luxuriate in past stories of hair-raising tales and generally uplifting outcomes. Reading Peys on London during a horrific 17th century decade makes our current nightmares seem more like Perils of Pauline than PARADISE LOST.
My favorite thumb sucker is David McCullough’s BRAVE COMPANIONS, a marvelous collection of 17 biographic essays ranging from Baron von Humboldt to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louis (I’ll never look at a fish the same way again’) Agassiz. For me David, who became my friend at age 13, is our American Clio. He is a complete storyteller and, for me, BC is the essence of his quintessence.
When I get pissed at pseudo ‘originality’ Constitutionalists, I bask in Catherine Drinker Bowen’s MIRACLE AT PHILADELPHIA: THE STORY OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, a whacking fine account of how our Constitution was crafted. It was a perilous story fraught with do-or-die compromises, For me our Constitution is the most successful political document in all of history. I lament that our current court does not seem supreme.
Individuals store historic cocktails. Without resolving Carlye’s conundrum whether heroes master events or events create heroes, I love to read about noble personalities and knaves. There are many marvelous biographies (Taubman on Khrushchev is a stunner, and Doris Kearns Goodwin and Barbara Tuchman rank high among page-turner biographies). Recently I have re-read Margaret MacMillan’s HISTORY’S PEOPLE: PERSONALITIES AND THE PAST. Professor MacMillan, Canadian born and later at Oxford, provides sparkling, insider accounts ranging from FDR, Hitler, and Stalin to Babur and Samuel de Champlain.
My deepest get-away-from-it-all retreat is Daniel Boorstin’s THE DISCOVERERS, the best of his plethora of superb books. In TD Boorstin describes, in illuminating detail, how the measurement of time evolved, the predecessors to Darwin’s and Wallace’s breakthrough on evolution, the story of writing and the creeping progression to books with punctuation, pages and finally movable type, and much, much more.
On a daily basis my richest reading feast is Heather’s remarkable LETTERS FROM AN AMERICAN, which provides a succulent bouillabaisse of which I have previously discussed.
John Barrasso has a net worth of more than 8 million dollars . he was an orthopedic surgeon in Casper from 1983 -2007. He raked the money in doing surgery that most Americans could not afford until medicare was passed in 1965. He seems to have learned nothing about Christian charity at Catholic high schools in Pennsylvania, two years at Georgetown University and at Georgetown Medical School, if he thinks that the democrats soft infrastructure budget is a socialist plot. He is just another Republican who has no interest in improving the circumstances of those most in need in this country. As to Grover Norquist, there is nothing good that can be said on his behalf.
Your column excellently details how bad gerrymandering is in so many states where each citizens vote really is not counted equally creating this imbalance between the popular vote and representation by party. Once again our Supreme Court under John Roberts has repeatedly shown Its unwillingness to deal with this issue. Until this happens this will continue to be something that annually undermines our democracy
The whole ‘redistribution of wealth’ trope relies on ignoring where that wealth came from in the first place: the stolen labor of enslaved persons, the underpaid labor of factory workers, the unpaid labor of women at home.
The direction that FDR with leadership from Francis Perkin to establish Social Secuity and safety net policies and programs were pragmatic. They helped stabilize our nation, its workforce and businesses after a crippling depression resulting from degenerating business and economic practices which gambled with our nation as collateral.
The three trillion dollar "soft infrastructure " bill simply modernizes, bringing up to date the New Deal that European nations improved upon after WWII that makes them the envy of anyone who travels there and experiences their high quality of life for most if not all citizens. Europe is not "socialist". They are pragmatic.
We are not going to be great or even survive under the narrow minded, backward unthinking Republican view of the world. We desperately need practical solutions based leadership and citizen support that we have lost. We haven't won a war since WWII. We haven't created anything from scratch equal to the TVA, interstate highway system, landing on the moon, the internet or the New Deal. Our only achievements have been profit driven creations to establish needs ie 24-7 advertising where they don't exist, while letting real needs fester until their unmet demands rot our society. But we have Facebook and FOX.
The entrenched minority. Regardless of political party, our ("so-called") leaders at the local, state and national levels are supposed to represent all of their constituents and not just those who voted for them. I want to see myself represented, reflected and included in our branches of government -- but I also know that I don't want to see just people like me (a gay, jewish, white married man) represented, reflected and included. When I look at the Republican Party -- and I see a sea of white, male older faces who have tried to solidify their grip on how we will be governed for years -- I get sick with worry over our future in terms of healthcare, the environment, the opportunity for equity, education, I could go on. And this is why, those who believe we should all be represented, reflected and included need to band together and press for what's right and against what's archaic, unfair and unjust. As this column is written on the first night of the Jewish New Year, we must work for more Americans and those who are striving to be America to have a sweeter year ahead, filled with opportunities and better health. That won't be possible with the likes of McConnell, DeSantis, Lee, Abbott, Reeves, Barrasso, Paul, Graham, Rubio entrenched in power.
The percentage of women in state legislatures in 31%. 2/3s of the women are Democrats and 1/3 are Republicans. Only one state - Nevada -- has a majority female legislature (60% women). West Virginia (Joe Manchin's state) is the lowest with just 11.9% women. 26.4% are women of color or 8.2% of all the members of the legislatures. 25 women (25%) serve in the U.S. Senate and 101 women (23.3%) serve in the U.S. House. Women overall are 40% underrepresented.
The Wapo editorial board gets it right. And passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act should be easy. How could any politician oppose "voting rights" and survive in a democracy? Are they threatened by the very idea of all eligible voters participating? Why would that be??? Start with the obvious...
Way to hit it hard, HCR, after the break.🤔🤟🏽.
Our democracy is certainly at stake in this era of crazy cult-of-personality politics. It is clear that the orang is running again. He will be running against MY best hope for the future, Ms. Harris, and we should ALL suit up and show up
and assume the fight is ON.
Now, bitches, now.🤓
It sounds like an if not now, when moment for President Biden and the Democrats. If, long before the 2022 elections, they cannot pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $2.5+/= human infrastructure bill partially transforming America’s society, I believe that the Dems will lose one or both houses in Congress. Press the pedal and go for the best for the great majority of Americans or hunker down to a dismal final two years for President Biden and the Democrats.
"Tonight, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced that tomorrow he will sign another major voter suppression measure in his state."
Governor Abbott: "My fellow White Christian Texas, tomorrow I will sign another major voter suppression measure in our Great State of White Christians. And, I might add, f-k the Mexicans, f-k the Jews, but most of all f-k women. F-k 'em all, I say.
Guns firing into air.
Crowd goes wild screaming: "F-em"
“ the Michigan legislature, for example, has a Republican majority although Democrats have won a majority of the popular vote there for a decade”. This is not a representative democracy. Get rid of those who work to further undermine it.
Headline I'd like to see;
"Grover Norquist Drowns in Bathtub"
Thank you, again, HCR, for the historic background to the current crisis.
To prevent states from making vigilante injustice the law of the land as Texas just decreed, it looks like we (both Texas and the U.S.) need something like the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 which protected the equal rights in the Fourteenth Amendment. It prevented vigilante groups like the KKK from threatening African Americans or worse. Of course, the Equal Rights amendment isn't part of the Constitution as yet so even though women are 52% of the total population they are yet to have either economic equality nor political power. In this sense women are considered a minority majority.
Thank you, dear colleague for this fine column. I have only one point to make in criticism: the Senate was NEVER intended to be "representative" in the way that your text suggests it should be. That was, and is, supposed to be the job of the House. The Senate has ALWAYS been intended to represent the STATES. The introduction of direct election of Senators early in the 20th century did not change that. The difference between the functions of the two legislative bodies is a core principle of the Constitution. Indeed, the framers understood very well that by constructing the legislative branch in this way they were giving more weight to agrarian states and counteracting more urbanized ones.
The core problem is gerrymandering, which has been around for a very long time, has been done by BOTH parties over the years (e.g. by DEMS in the South when they held power there), distorts representative government in the House and thus prevents that body from exercising its intended function. On THIS point you are on the money. The voting rights bill now under debate is intended to end gerrymandering, among other things; for that reason alone it deserves to pass.
This sentence shoots to the top of the HCR Hall of Fame of Big Picture Encapusations of What's at Stake:
"But what Norquist didn’t spell out was that Democrats are trying to win control by protecting the ability of Americans to have a say in their government, while Republicans are trying to make their ideology the law of the land by skewing the mechanics of our democracy to permit a minority to rule over the majority."
While reading it I was transported back 50 years to two constitutional law classes in college, the highlight of my political science major. The same professor taught both, and his passion riveted me. Like a sermonizing preacher, he was fond of saying "majority rule, minority rights." Sometimes he'd say it twice but with a dramatic pause in between. I can hear him now.
Who could have imagined that this central guiding principle of our nation since its founding, never perfectly realized but always strived for, one day soon could become "minority rule, maybe some minority rights."
The only way the right can continue to keep power is to lie and cheat and rig the process, and we reached the apotheosis of that madness, I had thought, with Trump, but as the right continues its grass-roots (or maybe astroturf) organizing at the lowest levels of the process, I fear we're going to see continued assaults on democracy, now facilitated by armed citizens willing to use vigilante and ad hoc violence to get their way. No one said the death-rattle of this racist and patriarchal oligarchy would be pretty, I guess.