Who Really Has the Conn

From a Google image Search – Fortune

President Biden had to leave late for his meeting at the G20 Summit in Rome because he wanted to announce in Congress that an agreement had been reached on the Build Back Better bill for human infrastructure. The bill is not actually finalized. It must be formally written and edited before it can be presented, but this supposedly clears the way for the other Infrastructure bill, the hardscapes package, to come up for a vote in the House. This bill has already passed in the Senate. 

We know that progressives in the House withheld voting on the hardscape package because they needed leverage to keep the human infrastructure package alive. It has been a tortuous process and the bill has been mercilessly cut so that we will never get to see how the big package would have transformed the experiences of the middle class and the poor in America. 

For example, we will not get to see how offering free post high school education might have helped cities with 12-year-olds-to-18-year-olds who are most at risk. We will not get to see if spending dollars on teens would have quieted some of the turmoil in our cities where we watch young lives being wasted every day for reasons we can only guess at. We can see that there are wars going on, but the web of connections involved in the conflicts is unclear. 

President Biden wanted to take a victory with him to Europe, especially on climate change, since his trip will wind up in Glasgow for COP26, the UN Climate Summit. Did he get a victory? If you think of the entire process as baby steps, all his shuttle negotiations with Manchin and Sinema and with progressives in the House led by Sanders counts as sweat equity in terms of fighting for this Build Back Better bill, which has our climate change commitment in it. Biden worked hard and hopefully the two opponents of the bill will not renege on agreements that seem somewhat shaky. 

Last night Rachel Maddow also brought our attention to the fact that the Senate is not approving Biden’s nominations for Ambassadors and that many embassies are without a head diplomat. How embarrassing for the leader of the free world to be disrespected by his own countrymen in the US Congress. 

It may appear that Democrats control the Executive and the Legislative branches of our government, but it seems that Republicans are actually in control by obstruction and with the compliments of the filibuster. 

Republicans also turned the nation’s courts into partisan courts and gave us dueling judges. If a judge interprets a law as unconstitutional or against existing US law, another judge overturns that decision. This is what is happening with the many shocking voting laws which give Republicans unfair advantages in elections. This is what is happening with women’s rights, always hard-won, always last won, and always vulnerable to the judgment of condescending men and self-righteous “Christian” women.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is conducting a consequential fight in the governor’s race in Virginia, where a Trumpian candidate, Glenn Youngkin, is up against the Democratic incumbent, Terry McAuliffe. Democrats are worried that this election is a harbinger of what will happen in 2022. It is still so difficult to comprehend how on earth the Republican Party is still alive at all if Trump is the apotheosis of Republicanism. But Youngkin, a new man with who-knows-what to offer, is tied in the polls with the experienced current governor, Terry McAuliffe and everyone is waiting on their edge of their seats for the results of the election. 

McAuliffe is being accused of plans to have Virginia schools teach Critical Race Theory, a course only taught in colleges. There is chaos in Virginia school board meetings because of vaccinations and masks and now, what is in student’s textbooks along with what books they are being assigned to read. Some parents object to Toni Morrison’s Beloved being assigned reading for seniors in some schools. In other words, Trump’s base is using all the usual fear-mongering techniques to bring off a Republican victory. It’s all very retro Civil War racism and these people are being used. It is certainly a mini course in what the 2022 elections could be like. And then there are all the various voting machinations to factor into the equation.

With Trump still looming in the background, and sometimes the foreground, we send our President off to Europe, but Europe may wonder if he is a ‘PINO’ – President in Name Only with Republicans still calling the shots in the Senate and Trump’s peeps still large and in charge in so many American states. Will they rally around Biden or take a more ‘wait and see’ approach to America as Biden attempts to negotiate significant global policies? Lurking over his shoulder is the entire Republican phalanx with the right-wing media keeping things lively in Europe and in America. 

This week CBS began broadcasting national news from Sinclair Broadcasting, with their favorite nothing-out-of-the-ordinary, nothing-to-see-here commentator, Kristine Frazao, heading a program called The News Desk or sometimes The National News Desk taking the place of the Kelly Clarkson Show. The right-wing goes for a subtle approach on these ‘news’ broadcasts relying on skewed facts, snide tones, and sarcasm to own the libs. They also have inserted this Foxy news show into other time slots. With Sinclair going national, pretty soon the left will have no voices on American media. I’m not sure why the left is letting this happen. If media becomes all about ratings and right-wing media will do anything to get high ratings, the left needs to find a more compelling way to offer their views to America, and we need to do it soon. 

These tactics used by Republicans did not originate with Trump, he just made them go virile. Many people on the left issued warnings over the past decade and many of us feel like saying, “I told you so.” Until Trump we were voices in the wilderness, but the Republican base was not this energized. Now we exist in warring camps and Democrats cannot seem to get popular messaging that resounds with a public constantly fed a diet of political Trumpian artificial sugar. 

Republicans have managed to control any Democrat who might make it to the Oval Office since President Barrack Obama and that means they have controlled America’s agenda openly, with a few exceptions like the Affordable Care Act, since 2008. Even controlling the Executive Branch and Congress has not managed to shake Democrats free of Republican control and this is the year 2021. That is 13 years of obstruction and propaganda and four years of the worst president ever, who was, of course, a Republican. Before that it is possible that they exercised more subtle control over Bill Clinton also. 

The Republicans have driven wedges between Americans in places we did not even see the chinks. Some members of the Republican base seem to have lost all control over themselves and Democrats seem unable to find clever ways to get back out in front. Trump is an authoritarian. He does not understand democracy; it is against his very nature. The fact that Republicans cling to him shows that they understand his powers, which for some reason are prodigious although not intellectual. His powers seem seated in his lizard brain. He should never lead a Democratic nation and if he leads again, we will no longer be a democracy, which we barely are now.

Biden, Godspeed in Europe. I wish Angela Merkel was still the leader in Germany. I wish Queen Elizabeth didn’t have to miss the summits. We are waiting to see how Europe treats America. Then we need you to come home and whip up some hypersonic missiles.

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