Friday Talking Points -- America Is Back

[ Posted Friday, June 18th, 2021 – 17:57 UTC ]

President Joe Biden had a pretty good week all around. He began the week in Europe, where he met with the leaders of NATO, the European Union, the G7, a few royals (just to mix things up), and Vladimir Putin. That's a pretty packed schedule, but Biden seemed to manage just fine. The Europeans were both visibly thrilled and massively relieved to be visited by a United States president who was, once again, a sane adult (and not a petulant little child-man). They heaped praise upon Biden -- mostly just for being "President Not-Trump." You may laugh, but please recall President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize solely for being "President Not-Dubya," years earlier. But more seriously, Europe announced some deals with Biden (including, notably, a truce being called on the subsidy war over Boeing and Airbus airplanes). Not only were personal relationships either reaffirmed or begun, tangible diplomatic progress was made. Europe stood as one with the United States over the contentious issues of Russia and China, which only strengthened Biden's position for his meeting with Putin. The Putin summit didn't produce a whole lot in the way of tangible deliverables, but then again it didn't produce an American president willing to believe Russia's ex-K.G.B. leader over his own intelligence services either, so it has to be chalked up as a major improvement. Throughout it all, Biden stuck to one very simple slogan that summed up what his trip was supposed to be showcasing to the world: "America is back."

Republicans (being Republicans) badmouthed Biden for all they were worth, back home. So much for that whole "politics ends at the water's edge" tradition, but truth be told that has been fading for the past few decades anyway, so this wasn't a total surprise. In fact (and astonishingly enough) the only Republican quote we heard this week that was exactly what an opposition party leader should say about a president abroad came from none other than Donald Trump. He actually said, of Biden: "I think the election was unbelievably unfair, but I want this guy to go out and do well for our country." Again, this used to be a fairly normal sort of comment ("If the president succeeds, then America succeeds, so of course I hope he does well") for these sorts of situations, but it was actually pretty extraordinary because, as mentioned: (1) it was the only one like it we heard, and (2) it came from Donald Trump, of all people.

In fact, there was an even-more-astonishing quote from Trump, in the same phone-in interview with Sean Hannity: "We got them by surprise in '16, and in '20 we did much better than we did in '16. Shockingly, we were supposed to win easily at 64 million votes and we got 75 million votes. We didn't win, but let's see what happens on that. The whole thing was shocking." Did you catch that? "We didn't win." That is the first time since the election that Trump has actually admitted that Joe Biden won the election, and he lost. It only took him seven-and-a-half months, but many (us included) expected Trump never to actually admit it in such plain language -- so it was a welcome surprise as well.

As for Biden's "America is back" tour, Republicans have been having a hard time complaining about such obvious success. They half-heartedly tried to claim Biden was somehow saying "We're taking America backwards, not forwards," but they quickly dropped this tactic when it gained zero traction. There was the usual vitriol over Biden gaffes (real and imagined), and lots of downright bizarre championing of Vladimir Putin's opinions, but they really didn't have much to work with -- and it showed. Other than Trump, the GOP has now sunk to the level where they will actually side with the leader of Russia over an American president (if you walk by Ronald Reagan's grave and listen closely, you will hear some very rapid spinning sounds). They also tried to somehow say that the summit happening at all was a gigantic mistake by Biden ("don't reward Putin!"), which completely ignores the fact that they cheered Trump's Putin summits on wholeheartedly. They also, laughably, tried to suggest Biden should somehow have "gotten tougher" on Putin, again hoping everyone would just conveniently forget all those times when Trump absolutely fawned over Putin, without getting a thing in return.

Back home, Republican messaging idiocy has been on full display over the lightning-fast passage of a bill to make Juneteenth (6/19) a federal holiday. The right-wing media is trying to somehow morph this into "they're cancelling Independence Day!" but not with any noticeable success. But much more on Republican idiocy later in the program.

Biden's old boss got a big win this week, when the Supreme Court threw out the latest nonsense court case trying to declare Obamacare unconstitutional. The vote, astonishingly, was 7-2, and this makes the record for such cases at this level now 0-3. We're hoping (to mix a few metaphors) that this doesn't represent the "third strike" against rabid GOP Obamacare opposition, but in fact that it has now "gone down for the third time" and will peacefully sink beneath the political waves, never to bother us all again. One can hope, at any rate.

Let's see, what else? More and more abuses of power by Trump and his henchmen are coming to light, as Democrats continue to investigate. This week, it was memos from the Justice Department showing some of the political pressure that was applied to the department between the election and the inauguration. No real surprise, just confirmation of what everyone already assumed, really.

Infrastructure efforts keep chugging along. There's a new bipartisan group with an oh-so-slightly-higher offer (higher than the last Republican offer) on the table, but so far Biden hasn't indicated what he really thinks of it. The White House did warn that they'd only continue trying the bipartisan route for another week or so, and that the reconciliation train is now boarding at the station. So things could develop next week on this front.

Mitch McConnell just keeps proving (and ourtight admitting) over and over again that he wouldn't join a bipartisan effort if his life depended on it, which really should help Democrats to convince Joe Manchin that it's time to do something about the filibuster (more on Manchin in a moment).

And we close with some COVID news. It looks like Biden's goal of "70 percent of American adults getting at least their first vaccine shot" by the Fourth of July is going to fall somewhat short (but not by a whole lot, no matter what the actual number winds up being, it'll be in the high 60s, which is pretty close). And the Washington Post did a data dive that produced a story which can be filed under "Duh" -- COVID infection rates are dropping in the parts of America where more of the public has been vaccinated, while the rates are rising in the areas with fewer vaccinated. What few in the mainstream media have pointed out is just going to become more and more obvious as time goes by: vaccination is a political issue, and the stubborn refusal of many Republicans to get vaccinated is going to directly cause more deaths in red states in the very near future. Or, to put it another way: yes, the Republican Party has indeed become a death cult, folks.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We have a few minor awards to hand out before the big one this week.

First up for an Honorable Mention are the Texas Democrats who all came to Washington this week to lobby Congress. These are the brave folks who denied the Texas Republicans a quorum to pass severe voting restrictions in their state. The governor is going to call them all back for a special session, though, so this will probably just postpone the inevitable.

Which was their message: Pass the For The People Act in Congress, to preclude such voter-suppression efforts at the state level. They deserve continued applause not just for their stunt, but for using the national political leverage they gained by it in the best possible way.

Also from Texas, House member Lloyd Doggett also deserves an Honorable Mention for his new idea on how to improve Obamacare. Since there are several diehard Republican states that still refuse to expand Medicaid, Doggett's bill would make it possible for individual cities and counties to independently buy in to the Medicaid expansion. This would avoid waiting for their state to do it, and is an absolutely brilliant solution to a seemingly-intractable problem. It could wind up getting millions more people heath insurance, which is a worthy goal indeed.

And we've got to be fair and also hand an Honorable Mention to Senator Joe Manchin for releasing a very detailed list of exactly what he can and cannot support in the effort to pass voting rights legislation. Manchin laid out his priorities for both the For The People Act and the upcoming John Lewis Civil Rights Act, and while his priorities list is a lot shorter than what's in the bill (and even includes some rather Republican ideas), the mere fact that he's being so detailed about what he wants is impressive enough, at this point. Up until now, his only public stance had been that any such bill had to be at least a little bipartisan, and that was it (we did write about this in more detail yesterday, if anyone's interested).

Stacy Abrams also deserves an Honorable Mention for almost immediately throwing her considerable support behind Manchin's new memo.

But we have to admit, there was indeed a clear winner of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week, and it was President Joe Biden.

Biden's Europe trip did indeed show the world that "America is back." He accomplished that goal, hands down. Foreign policy has returned to normal (meaning "sane"). The world breathed a gigantic sigh of relief. Praise was heaped upon Biden by his peers from the biggest of our allies. Biden met with Putin, and conducted himself well. All around, America was indeed back.

There's one more thing to add that kind of got lost in the fray this week, too. The Biden administration unveiled a policy that is approximately 20 or 25 years overdue. Ever since the Oklahoma City bombing, in fact.

Since that point, there has been an ongoing refusal to allow federal law enforcement to take seriously the threat of right-wing political violence in this country. Report after report showed that right-wing domestic terrorists were the biggest internal threat this country faced, and yet there was a political refusal to really do much of anything about it.

As Joe Biden tells the story, he decided to enter the race to beat Trump when he saw the response to the deadly Charlottesville white supremacist rally. That one event was the deciding factor for Biden -- that's why he ran. So this may not have been his biggest campaign promise, but it certainly was his most personal. And now he has followed through and the federal government can finally treat the threat with the seriousness (and resources) it has been demanding all along.

So for achievements both foreign and domestic this week, President Joe Biden is the clear choice for Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate President Joe Biden on the White House official contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We're going to have to punt on this one. We have one incident which was disappointing, but it somehow didn't seem to qualify for the main MDDOTW award.

So instead we'll give Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer a (Dis-)Honorable Mention for slipping up and using a very outdated term this week. In an interview, Schumer said the following:

When I first was an assemblyman, they wanted to build a congregate living place for retarded children. The whole neighborhood was against it. These are harmless kids. They just needed some help.

This used to actually be the accepted and standard term, and Chuck is old enough to have learned it when it was contemporary. But it has been seen as a slur and has been removed from polite (and political) conversation for at least the past few decades. So Schumer really should have known better.

To his credit, he immediately apologized, saying he was "sincerely sorry for his use of the outdated and hurtful language."

Which is, in part, why we decided it only really merited a (Dis-)Honorable Mention instead of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

And as always, if anyone's got any suggestion for a nominee that we overlooked this week, please let us know about it in the comments.


Friday Talking Points

Volume 623 (6/18/21)

As we are sometimes wont to do, we decided it was a good week for a rant. This is a subject we've long been annoyed about, but the lack of proper Democratic outrage for everything that is happening today is not just regrettable, it is fast becoming political malpractice.

We are in a very fragile and momentous period. It is getting more fragile by the day, as Republicans continue to attack and undermine pretty much every institutional norm in all of government. They have been exposed for being morally and ideologically bankrupt, and caring solely about getting and retaining power. That's it. That's really all the party stands for, anymore.

So where are the Democrats who are pointing this out, on a regular basis?


Where are our attack dogs?

Where are the Democratic attack dogs? Where are the people on our side who can get booked on nationally-televised political shows and show some fierce indignation and scorn for the Republican Party? Oh, sure, there's the Squad, but too many of their fellow Democrats are so frightened by the Republicans demonizing the Squad for them to be completely effective.

Granted, in general Democrats don't go in for the emotional side of politics nearly as much as Republicans do -- and that was true long before the rise of Trump and Trumpism. Democrats are more prone to rational debate and trying to build their case to the public with fact-based reasoning. But, really, who has time for that anymore? Who would watch that? When does a clip of any of that make the news and get seen by tens of millions?

Where is our version of a Ted Cruz? Or Lindsey Graham? Or even the governors of Florida or Texas? Where is the Democratic outrage towards the increasing insanity within the Republican Party? It's like the house is burning down and the Democrats are convening a hearing on the back lawn to soberly discuss the relative merits of different types of fire extinguisher, while the flames leap higher.

In fact, pointing out how insanely dangerous the Republican Party has gotten these days has really become pathetically easy, which is why I am so astonished that Democrats don't explicitly make that case, every time they get the chance.

Let's start at the top of the party, but because we'd be here all day discussing Donald Trump's craziness in full, we'll just limit ourselves to the past week. A respected New York Times journalist reported that, while watching President Biden meeting with Vladimir Putin, it finally sunk in for both Trump and those around him that: "Oh, someone else is president and not Donald Trump." Think about that for a moment. The election was almost eight months ago. Biden was sworn in to office in January. And Trump and his team are just now fully realizing that Biden is actually president. This is insanity, plain and simple.

But maybe you'll say: "Oh, well, that's just Trump." But it's not. Congress passed a bill this week to give every single Capitol Hill and other police office a Congressional Gold Medal for bravely defending the United States Capitol from insurgents hell-bent on a coup attempt. An astounding twenty-one Republicans in the House actually voted against the measure. So much for all that "defend the police" and "blue lives matter" talk, eh? In fact, Representative Andrew Clyde wouldn't even shake the hand of Officer Michael Fanone in an elevator this week. This story is just shameful -- or it should be, at least:

"I simply extended my hand and said, 'How are you doing today, Congressman.' I knew immediately he recognized me by the way he reacted. He completely froze. He just stared at me," Fanone said in an interview.

Fanone said Clyde did not motion to shake his hand in return.

"I said, 'I'm sorry, you're not going to shake my hand?'?" Fanone said he told Clyde.

He said Clyde answered, "I don't know who you are."

Fanone said he responded: "I'm sorry, sir, my name is Michael Fanone. I'm a D.C. police officer and I fought to defend the Capitol on Jan. 6." Fanone said he described being stunned repeatedly in the back of the neck and beaten unconscious, stripped of his badge and radio.

"His response was nothing," Fanone said. "He turned away from me, pulled out his cellphone and started thumbing through the apps." Fanone said Clyde turned on the camera app but did not point the phone in his direction. Fanone said he believes Clyde was trying to record audio of the encounter.

"After that, I just simply stood there," Fanone said.

He said Clyde bolted when the doors opened.

In a separate interview, Fanone used even more pointed language:

Once the elevator doors opened, Fanone said Clyde "ran, as quickly as he could, like a coward."

Fanone said he took his interaction with Clyde "very personally," saying it was an insult and "middle finger" not only to himself, but also to every officer who bravely responded to defend the Capitol on January 6.

That is today's Republican Party, folks. What other Republican has denounced such disrespect? None that I am aware of. This is par for the course in the Republican Party today. This, mind you, from a Republican who was reportedly "screaming like a banshee" in the House while the mob attacked the doors to their chamber. Now just for one minute imagine how much loud and indignant political hay Republicans would make over such an incident if a Democrat had dared such a snub. It would last for months! And yet, I'm willing to bet many of you haven't even heard this story yet. That is the measure of the utter failure of Democrats to show the right and proper amount of indignation.

And remember -- he was just one of almost two dozen House Democrats to vote against honoring the cops who defended Congress with their lives. Where's the outrage for all of them?

Not only are House Republicans shamefully voting against cops, they're also shamefully voting against honoring the liberation of the last slaves in America. The Juneteenth holiday bill was unanimously passed by the Senate, but 14 Republicans in the House voted against it. At least, with that one, it makes a little more sense, sad to say.

Astoundingly, some right-wingers came out in ideological opposition to the new Juneteenth holiday because, according to them, it will create a second Independence Day, and "cancel" July Fourth, somehow. Again, where is the sustained and vocal outrage from Democrats?

Republicans just seem to be getting more and more unhinged these days. The divorce from reality is almost complete, folks. People like Jim Jordan are just unbelievably out of touch, and they show it on a regular basis. In a hearing which touched on the new revelations of abuses of power by Trump and all his minions, much of the discussion centered on the recent news that the Department of Justice had been ordered by Trump's chief of staff to investigate whether -- and you cannot make this stuff up, folks -- Italians had somehow hacked the 2020 election from satellites. This wasn't the only attempt to get the Justice Department to buy into crazy post-election conspiracy theories, either. Thankfully, the acting attorney general ("acting" because the previous one had quit suddenly, likely to avoid being caught up in this idiocy) refused all such pressure to turn the Justice Department into a personal attack dog for Donald Trump. Jordan was outraged (as he usually is), but not because of the blatant abuse of power, but because the Justice Department refused a presidential order. No, really -- here's how he put it: "That is a problem. When the chief of staff to the president of the United States asks someone in the executive branch to do something, and they basically give him the finger, I think that's the problem we should be looking into." Such an insane viewpoint "gives the finger" to the entire concept of the Justice Department being independent of political pressure, you'll note. Again, think of how Republicans would react if a Democrat had expressed such an outrageous opinion.

Sadly, he's not even the stupidest or craziest Republican around. Now we've got even-worse lunatics running for high office. In New Hampshire, a guy who didn't just storm the Capitol on January 6, but actually posted a video of himself chugging a bottle of wine he had just stolen, isn't even aware who he is running to replace. Here's the exchange between Jason Riddle and an NBC reporter, about him entering the race to replace Representative Ann Kuster:

RIDDLE: I thought Ann was a state representative.

Q: No. So, a state rep is in the State House, in Concord.

RIDDLE: Yeah, that's what Ann is!

Q: No, no, no, she's in Washington.

RIDDLE: Oh. Well, I guess I have to run against that, then.

Clueless! And he's not even the craziest! Down in Florida... no surprise, right?... a candidate running for the House of Representatives was recorded threatening one of his opponents, Anna Paulina Luna, with a foreign hit squad. Here are just a few excerpts of what William Braddock had to say to a Luna supporter he was trying to win over:

I really don't want to have to end anybody's life for the good of the people of the United States of America. That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a fucking speed bump in the road. She's a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood....

I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians. Don't get caught out in public supporting Luna.... Luna's gonna go down and I hope it's by herself.

My polling people are going to charge me $20,000 to do a poll right before the primary. And if the poll says Luna's gonna win, she's gonna be gone. She's gonna disappear. For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few.... For the better or the good of the majority of the people, we've got to sacrifice the few....

I call up my Russian and Ukrainian hit squad, and within 24 hours, they're sending me pictures of her disappearing. No, I'm not joking. Like, this is beyond my control this point.

He even offered up more specifics about the hit squads:

Russian mafia. Close-battle combat, TEC-9s, MAC-10s, silencers kind of thing. No snipers. Up close and personal. So they know that the target has gone.

Braddock now has restraining orders against him, but for some reason has not been arrested yet. And he was bragging about assassinating a fellow Republican.

Have you even heard about this? Has any Democrat expressed the opinion that the entire Republican Party is quickly advancing down a road where political violence -- an incredibly dangerous concept -- is actually no big deal? I certainly haven't heard any Republicans condemning this, have you?

You think this is overstating things? I don't. Marjorie Taylor Greene apparently went too far when she compared having to wear a mask to fight a global pandemic to the Holocaust, so she was forced by her party to go to the Holocaust Museum, where she gave a half-hearted apology (of sorts). But she has not retracted nor apologized for calling the Democratic Party Nazis, and Republicans seem to be fine allowing that one to slide by.

This is dangerous idiocy, folks. This normalization of what used to be considered fringe, tin-foil-hat lunacy is not going to end well unless it is opposed now and doesn't get any further out of control.

You really don't have to look very far in today's Republican Party to find opinions and positions that aren't just rotten to the core, but are downright insanely dangerous. The United States Capitol has already been attacked once. A coup was attempted, in broad daylight, and Republicans refuse to even agree to investigate it. A sitting U.S. president tried to steal an election and he was aided and abetted by far too many in his own party. They are now consumed with rigging all the state-level election laws in their favor so the next time around they will be able to just disregard whatever the voters think and install a Republican president no matter what. Do you think that a House of Representatives run by Kevin McCarthy is going to certify Joe Biden's re-election if he beats Donald Trump once again? I don't.

Again, this is dangerous stuff to even contemplate. And it should provoke outrage. But for some reason, Democrats keep calm and collected and refuse to make a big deal out of any of it.

Democrats can't even do a good job of tooting their own horn on the things they have managed to accomplish. Far too few voters are even aware that the COVID relief bill passed earlier this year was a completely Democratic effort. Far too few realize that the Republican Party voted en masse against those $1,400 relief checks. When checks start arriving in millions of parents' mailboxes this month for the new child tax credit refund, few will realize that those checks didn't get there by magic but because Democrats put them there.

So I ask once again: where are our attack dogs? Where are the prominent Democrats who can get just as wound up as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan over the undermining of democracy that the Republican Party is now in the midst of? Where is the outrage? Where is the indignation? These are not normal times. Normal and calm political discourse is not what is called for here. A little high dudgeon would be nice to see instead. But I'm not exactly holding my breath waiting for it, if you know what I mean.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


53 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- America Is Back”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    That's a pretty packed schedule, but Biden seemed to manage just fine.

    You write that like you're still surprised??

    You really shouldn't be, ya know. :)

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think the Europeans heaped praise upon Biden because they all know well who he is, not who he isn't. Ahem.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You may laugh, but please recall President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize solely for being "President Not-Dubya," years earlier.

    Ah, I think it was wildly more complicated than that.

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    All respect to president biden, but making juneteenth a national holiday has been a decades long struggle. I'm surprised the response to it here was so minor.

  5. [5] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Well ranted. Can you think of a time when the Dems were effective at "attacking like dogs" the Republicans? In other words, is this new or have the Dems always been the more 'reasonable, polite, thinking-man's party'?

    If yes, why should we expect them to change now?
    If no, when did the change happen and what was the reason for the change?

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    How about a comment on those 14 Republicans who claimed that a holiday celebrating the end of slavery would be too divisive? The end of slavery? Divisive? For whom, the people who SUPPORT slavery?

  7. [7] 
    andygaus wrote:

    In paragraph 13 of the rant, "he was just one of almost two dozen House Democrats..." I think you mean Republicans. Probably everyone who read it understood the typo, but it should be mentioned.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Apparently, there was some very tough talk between the two leaders who now know where each other stands.

    Having said that, there have always been significant areas of mutual interest between these two great powers, not least of which is reducing the number of nuclear weapons. There is some optimism that talks regarding all nuclear weapons will now proceed after being dormant under Trump.

    Biden said that we will know in three to six months if any progress can be made on this and other issues.

    For me, all of this spells a successful meeting that can be described as constructive. If I can understand this, why can't any CNN reporter? Heh.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Trump actually said that!? Wow. I mean, just, wow.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "We didn't win." That is the first time since the election that Trump has actually admitted that Joe Biden won the election, and he lost. It only took him seven-and-a-half months, but many (us included) expected Trump never to actually admit it in such plain language -- so it was a welcome surprise as well.


  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Other than Trump, the GOP has now sunk to the level where they will actually side with the leader of Russia over an American president (if you walk by Ronald Reagan's grave and listen closely, you will hear some very rapid spinning sounds).

    Other than Trump, eh? Hmmm. That is really rather amazing.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What few in the mainstream media have pointed out is just going to become more and more obvious as time goes by: vaccination is a political issue, and the stubborn refusal of many Republicans to get vaccinated is going to directly cause more deaths in red states in the very near future. Or, to put it another way: yes, the Republican Party has indeed become a death cult, folks.

    Well, that and the fact that some countries haven't even had the vaccines to vaccinate their front line health workers, let alone the most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease and death, we are all now more vulnerable to the emergence of variants that are immune to the vaccines we have. Ahem.

    In other words, good luck to us all!

  13. [13] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Chris, if there had been a set of Talking Points this week- which, after all is the whole point of a post with 'Friday Talking Points' right there in the title, for Pete's Sake - it's past time to highlight the costs and benefits of low vs high vaccination rates.

    You have a good starting point here: 'What few in the mainstream media have pointed out is just going to become more and more obvious as time goes by: vaccination is a political issue, and the stubborn refusal of many Republicans to get vaccinated is going to directly cause more deaths in red states in the very near future.'

    New York state, with Democrats firmly in control, reached a marvelous milestone. As a result, the state can begin the long process of full recovery from the pandemic's economic and social losses.
    'Today New York State reached our goal of 70% adult vaccination.

    That means we can return to life as we know it.

    Effective immediately, state-mandated COVID restrictions are lifted across commercial and social settings'

  14. [14] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    As a follow-on Talking Point is the terrific cost of hospitalizations and permanent loss of 'productivity' for each life lost - a direct result to low vaccination rates.
    I haven't seen much media attention to any state's financial burden due to treatment of the uninsured and those on Medicaid. Surely there are many possible ways to 'spin' this thread.

  15. [15] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    re: nypoet22 [4]

    I heartily agree. I was living in North Little Rock, AR in the early 2000s when I first heard the word 'Juneteenth'. A radio station whose listeners were predominantly African-American had organized a celebration in downtown Little Rock.

    It's amazing that the entire nation will be commemorating the date annually, less than 2 decades later. That's due in no small part to the grassroots efforts of African-Americans and their allies - who we can safely presume vote Democrat.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    ... vaccination is a political issue, and the stubborn refusal of many Republicans to get vaccinated is going to directly cause more deaths in red states in the very near future ...

    Actually vaccination is a global issue, and until we all realize this, it won't matter if every single American gets fully vaccinated so long as the virus is spreading and mutating in most of the rest of the world where there are little or no vaccines.

    No (rich) country is safe, regardless of vaccination rates, until all countries are safe. It really is as simple and worrisome as that.

  17. [17] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Gov Northam did nothing that I'm aware of to warrant either an honorable nor dishonorable nomination this week. However, I do recall him being awarded 'most disappointing' at least once a few years ago. Do I remember correctly that at least one FTP column also demanded his resignation?

    Thank goodness he is still in office, refusing to be Frankenized.

    'Mr. Northam’s arc, from political pariah denounced by nearly every national Democrat to a popular incumbent with support from Black elected officials and even progressive activists, is a complex story of personal growth and political pressure, a testament to how crisis can also provide opportunity. However, it would not have been possible without the Black Virginians who rallied around him even as they stared down immense pressure to help force him from office — Black staff members who stayed in the administration, a Legislative Black Caucus that chose to focus on policy goals rather than resignation, and a Black activist community that quickly followed the lawmakers’ strategic lead.

    The result is a reshaped Virginia. Since 2019, and aided by a Democratic sweep of both state legislative houses, the commonwealth has become the first state in the South to abolish the death penalty, allocated more than $300 million to the state’s financially struggling Black colleges, passed sweeping police reform measures, and created the country’s first state cabinet-level position for diversity, equity and inclusion.
    Ms. Travers was among the first to show public support for Mr. Northam, joining well-known Black activists and clergy members in a news conference urging Virginia to give him another chance. Ms. Travers said they were met with condemnation from other activists — particularly younger ones.

    She said what happened would serve as a lesson for a younger generation of Black activists: There are times when the carrot is more powerful than the stick.

    “We didn’t see ourselves as being used,” Ms. Travers said. “We saw ourselves as looking at an opportunity to get this man to create some laws and programs that can move Black people forward.”'

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    happy juneteenth!

    although the new federal holiday was observed yesterday, today is the actual 19th. hooray for the permanent end of legalized slavery, and let's make it our country's continued mission to prevent all other forms of enslavement, such as human trafficking and credit usury, just to name two.


  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Happy Juneteenth to you, joshua and everyone!

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How about a theme for this Sunday night around Juneteenth ...

  21. [21] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    poet [19]

    How do your stop/prevent "credit usury"? The only two options (ban borrowing/lending, or limit interest rates) simply aren't viable options.

  22. [22] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Great article by Joyce Vance that the Washington Post seemed to bury for some reason! Talks about what Garland needs to do at the DOJ to clean house.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Interest rates can indeed be limited. But, I'm a deadbeat anyway so I don't care. ;)

    The theme for this evening is Happy Juneteenth! See you all later tonight at the CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party!

  24. [24] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Liz [26]

    Obviously it's possible to legally limit interest rates, but when you do, the loan sharks stop lending.

    I thought the new holiday was "Juneteeth" in honor of my new dentures. Now I have a broken heart.

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Presumably, there would be no need for loan sharks if interest rates were reasonable.

    And, don't be broken-hearted! Come to the party tonight ...

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ... just be careful when you sing along that they don't fall out! Heh.

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, I'm ready for some fun!

    It's time for the CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party, celebrating a very happy Juneteenth to everyone!

    I'll get things started with a special dedication going out to our very own CRS - let's have some fun!!!

    Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now!

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I love, love, love this song and I haven't heard it sung better than by the late and great Luther Vandross ...

    The Impossible Dream

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Of course, the Ron Tabak version of the Impossible Dream, if there is such a thing, would rank right up their with Luther's wonderful song. Which brings a tear to my eye, everytime.

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  31. [31] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    tony bennett live

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What's goin' on, what's happening my brother ...

    Marvin Gaye

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Rare Jimi Hendrix on acoustic guitar!

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, everybody, there may be a special treat on the way.

    In the meantime, here's something else that's pretty special.

    "Hello. How are you all doing? I'd like to dedicate this show to the American Deserters, Society [Ahem][Heh]... ... I'd like also to dedicate this show to Eva who keeps sending us roses but we've never seen her before, so ... "

    Ah, Jimi could be a real hoot!

    Here is Almost Sixty Minutes With... The Jimi Hendrix Experience in Sweden!

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Mahalia Jackson sings We Shall Overcome and offers up some words to live by ...

  36. [36] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    That's wonderful

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "This blunt confrontation against the practice of lynching is, to my mind at least, one of the keystones of protest music. It sounds just as raw and sadly relevant today as it did when it was originally recorded in 1939. Its horrific imagery and anti-racist boldness almost ensured that it was never recorded. Columbia Records refused to record the song for Billie Holiday, as did her producer at the time, John Hammond. Only smaller label Commodore had the courage to do so." ... Bill Verner, Duke University Library

    Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Sam Cooke, 1963 - A Change Is Gonna Come

    See more about how he came to write the song here.

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, as promised, though not quite the song I had in mind, here is Ron Tabak and PRiSM with a tune off of their debut and self-titled album called Freewill. It was written by Tom Lavin, PRiSM's bassist and guitarist until he left to found the Legendary Powder Blues band.

    We all have free will and we can choose to use it for good or ill. Tonight, it's all about using our 'freewill' to do what we can to move the struggle for justice forward to a better place.

    "Freewill...Mine to decide

    "Freewill...The choices are mine

    "It's all up to you no one else is to blame
    You make your own odds and you're ahead of the game"

    Freewill - Live from Detroit's Royal Oak Music Theatre, 1978

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don't everybody chime in at once. Heh.

    Okay, I'm going to close out my portion of the night's festivities with a favourite from Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues band ...

    Doin' It Right!

    ... but, the night is stil young, my dear Caddy, so take me, er .. it away! :)

  41. [41] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    and happy father's day, and happy birthday. y'know, my wife pointed out that i was 45 for the 45th president and am now turning 46 for the 46th. i suppose it's true of most '75ers, but it's a strange bit of trivia nonetheless.

    got a bit of songwriting inspiration this morning too. guess it's going to be an interesting time.


    i don't see what's so impractical about setting a ceiling on interest rates. if the sharks stop lending to people who have no business borrowing in the first place, wouldn't that be a good thing?

    furthermore, you've left out a third option, which is to take some of the teeth out of personal bankruptcy, especially when taken due to medical or educational debt. if 'caveat emptor' should apply to borrowers, then it should apply to lenders too, without exemption.


  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I missed your selections last night, Joshua ... alone again, naturally. :)

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Oh, and a very Happy Birthday to you, too!

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, I missed Caddy, too ... hope he isn't in the midst of any fire-related situations up in the mountains of California ...

    "Caddy, do you read me
    "(Am I coming in loud and clear)
    "Send a message if you need me
    "And you know that I'll be there"

  45. [45] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i posted at least one song.

  46. [46] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    see 34

  47. [47] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Whope! Sorry I missed the festivities last night!

    This, from a Guardian Opinion piece about the Chinese "threat."
    The greatest danger we face today is not coming from China. It is our drift toward proto-fascism. We must be careful not to demonize China so much that we encourage a new paranoia that further distorts our priorities, encourages nativism and xenophobia, and leads to larger military outlays rather than public investments in education, infrastructure, and basic research on which America’s future prosperity and security critically depend.

    Throughout history leadership has often focused the populace's attention on "external threats" (e.g. "the other") to distract them from noticing what a lousy deal the leadership is giving them.

  48. [48] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Bouncing Around the Room, Phish (video).

  49. [49] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Or <a href=Dixie Chicken, Little Feat/Waiting for Columbus

  50. [50] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Or Dixie Chicken, Little Feat.

    Or even Black Betty.

    Say, Elizabeth. Has it been long enough since we've done a Southern Rock theme? I promise I'll show up.

  51. [51] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Mosaic warfare? Battlefield 3-D printers to creat anything from drones to explosives on the spot? Must be...

    The U.S's Unstoppable War Winning Syrategy.

  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Southern Rock is a wide open theme, right? I say, let's go for it!

  53. [53] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How could I have missed Tony Bennett?

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