A year in the life of Joe Biden

overturning Trump policies

joebidenA year in the life of Joe Biden. Well, he did ask for the job. I’m just going to touch on the points that most resonated with me. So it won’t cover EVERY SINGLE THING he did in the past 365 days. First, the good.

He named “literally thousands of talented and diverse appointees… the ambassadorial corps, and the leadership of numerous regulatory agencies – most of whom have already effected huge and positive federal policy shifts in everything from student loans to toxic chemicals to human rights.”

Specifically, he’s gotten  40 federal judges approved. “80 percent are women and 53 percent are people of color.” His predecessor got half that many approved in that first year and received huge praise.

Also, there’s the $1.9 trillion Covid relief deal, which kept many American families afloat.

Biden reinstated the pause on the federal death penalty. The previous guy ended a 17-year pause on federal executions and 13 people were put to death between July 2020 and January 2021.

Indeed, much of what he accomplished, particularly early on, involved undoing what had taken place in the previous four years.

But beyond that, I feel that he’s a fundamentally decent person, prone to gaffs as he has been for decades, but not inherently nasty.

The mixed

Sure, the trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed in November, AFTER the election, when it was uncoupled from the Build Back Better bill. All old poli sci folks know that politics is the art of the possible. Personally, I would have preferred passing an infrastructure bill in August and working on the passable components of BBB in separate bills.

The US rejoined the Paris climate accord which Biden’s predecessor had left. I’m not sure what the 2021 event accomplished…

72 percent of American adults were fully vaccinated, a little later than the target. Which means a whole lot of people are not. The US rate still trails much of the world.

The unemployment rate has dropped dramatically, but so has the workforce.

The bad

I think most of his problem has been overpromising, creating extraordinarily high expectations, and underdelivering on them.

In July 2021, he said that the withdrawal from Afghanistan would in no way look like the 1975 pullout from Saigon, South Vietnam. As noted, I supported the action, but the failure to get more people out before the pullout was a blunder.

Biden declared that we would be free of the COVID by the 4th of July. Of course, he didn’t anticipate the delta and omicron variants. But one could see the sluggish growth in the number of vaccinated, despite the mandates, and the ill will they generated. The administration needed to do better making the testing kits available much sooner.

No voting-rights legislation was passed and his recent plan to end the filibuster, despite his fiery rhetoric, was never going to happen.

The ugly

A lot of the economic strains have been baked into the system. An increase in wages has been long overdue; the federal minimum wage is STILL $7.25. Now there is some leverage for higher wages.

The “just in time” supply chain, with so much manufacturing from outside the United States, has long been one pandemic, one large war away from the crisis that took place in 2021. As Reuters notes: “The economy is experiencing high inflation as the COVID-19 pandemic snarls supply chains.” Some like to call it Bidenflation, but I’m not sure what he could have done to prevent it.

He IS the oldest US President, and I believe the stiffness of his “ambulatory gait” over the past year allows some to write him off with a Let’s Go, Brandon meme.

The unfixable?

Here’s a larger question, though. Is the United States governable? The New York Times asked that very question a year ago. It quoted Julie Wronski, a political scientist at the University of Mississippi.”When two people playing a game cannot agree on the basic rules and layout of the game, they cannot play. When groups within American society believe in two different sets of rules on how to play the game of democracy, it cannot be played and we become ungovernable.”

So when Biden promised to work “across the aisle” to pass legislation, and some in the GOP deign to actually work with him, they’re dubbed RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). They are threatened with primaries, backed by 45. Nate Silver of 538 posits that Jan. 6 strengthened Trump’s hold on the Republican Party. It’s sad, but I have to agree.

I’m not sure what Biden can do about the fact that most Republicans continue to believe in the Big Lie, that the 46th President was not legally elected. Perhaps America is heading to a place where it can no longer call itself a democracy.

Buttons

Right after the 2020 election, when it was clear that Biden had WON, I ordered a half dozen buttons. Two of them are Biden/Harris. One said, “Unity over division” – not happening yet. “Hope over fear”; fear seems pretty strong. “Trust over lies”; lies are still winning. “Science over fiction”; it would be nice.

If you’re more optimistic, PLEASE let me know.

Things we learned from djt

Our democracy is fragile

On Facebook last week, I made a request. What are things we learned from djt and his last four or five years in public life?

One couple has downloaded the Constitution, referring to it often for the past 4 years. Another has learned more about the document, “in particular the 12th amendment. But also the 13th and the 25th.”

Of course, I knew about the Electoral College, but prior to the 2020 presidential election, I’d thought of the post-Election Day aspects of it as often as I’ve considered gravity. The recent machinations on December 14 and January 6 are like the wedding guests storming the officiant’s office demanding to see the couple’s license.

A friend chimed in: “The legal meanings of the word treason and what distinguishes it from sedition; and the federal statutes regarding both. How martial law works.

Also, “the structure of the United States District Courts; how and the meaning of SALT (in addition to Strategic Arms Limitation Talks).” Are you referring to that Angelina Jolie movie?

My buddy Steve noted: “The difference between simple corruption and an actual impeachable offense.” I thought when he was impeached they should have gone after him over the emoluments clause.

A friend suggests “There are innumerable norms that have provided guidelines for presidential behavior.” That’s irrefutably true. Will the other members accept djt into the former prez club? Doubtful. It got me thinking of the fact that I can’t remember half the people in his Cabinet.

Who knew the Hatch Act was so ineffectual on the highest-ranking folks? Who has violated it? Ivanka Trump, repeatedly. Kellyanne Conway, ditto.  And others.

You folks have done well

A parent noted “The names of dictators around the world, as well as names of responsible world leaders.” Yow, me too, and I hadn’t thought about it. Their child wants to know whether “there is any better leadership anywhere in the world, especially related to COVID and climate change.”

“Inherently good people can become mean and vindictive when pushed to their limits. Let’s hope that’s just a temporary condition and they can heal.” Unfortunately, the “good” and “temporary” nature I’m just not feeling.

The January 6 insurrection one can trace to a time before djt. In the last four years, it runs from Charlottesville (2017) to the planned kidnapping of the Michigan governor (2020) and beyond.

Some other responses:
Our democracy is fragile
The danger executive orders pose for human/civil rights. Methods a political party uses to suppress the vote of American citizens.
The “loving thy neighbor” commandment is frustrating and confusing. I knew that already but nothing brought it home as these four years have.

What “deplorables” can accomplish when they work together and by extension what any group can accomplish when they work together.
Some people are happily embracing their prejudices, and that empathy is a quality to be embraced.
Misogyny is our biggest problem. The majority of folks would rather have a racist president than a woman President.
There are more bigots and haters than I could ever imagine. And it makes me sick

Our culture is suicidal.
There are no checks and balances in our government.
The process of the transition of the president on inauguration day.
How is it that nearly one-half of the country could support after living through 4 years of narcissism, bigotry, and daily lying?

[“I learned…”] Not everyone who lives in America loves America and respects the Constitution. The symptoms of malignant narcissism. How easily we could go from a democracy to an autocracy. That I could really hate someone with every fiber of my being.

His accomplishments

Someone I do not know says, “Anyone saying Trump didn’t do a good job as President is full of Fake News BS…Pelosi is promoting sedition and Treason…this Congress is a Malcontent Group of vindictive people…Hillary Lost…period…now listening to PBS. I’m beginning to think the Durham Durham investigations have found out WASHINGTON is Corruption…and the best way to avoid exposure is for the Corruption to Cheat and Lie. Shame on Congress…”

If you’ve read my blog over the past quadrennial, you’ll note that I have a different POV. I will give him credit for two things, though. The First Steps Act. “The act was… an effort to improve criminal justice outcomes, as well as to reduce the size of the federal prison population…”

The other is to pour money into getting a COVID vaccine. Unfortunately, he totally undercut that effort by denying the pandemic’s seriousness, contradicting CDC guidelines on mask-wearing, failing to provide any federal coordination for PPE acquisition, and holding superspreader events, among other failures.

The big lie

Unfortunately, lies can trump the truth.

There was a bit of dialogue:
“I have learned is how effective ‘The Big Lie’ technique can be.”
“A man said the bigger the lie, the more people believe it because a big lie has the quality of being unbelievable, therefore people don’t believe that someone would make it up. So they believe it’s true.”
“If everyone believes it then it must be true. I have been debating the election fraud story with believers of it. I have shown and proved how everything they believe is not factual but even then, they won’t admit to the lie or acknowledge even a part of the truth.”

And in fact, part of that quote is attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. It probably wasn’t him, though he is cited on millions of webpages.

Conversely, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” That’s a quote by Maya Angelou

Back in August of 2020, he said, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”‘ He was announcing his strategy for undermining the election, attacking the postal service, et al. That was the birth of the series of baseless post-vote challenges.

In the midst of a 2020 election debated, he made a statement to the Proud Boys. “Stand back and stand by.” That dog whistle was blown just a few months later. Afterward, he tells the insurrectionists, “We love you. You’re very special. Go home.” How sweet.

Decline of American democracy: Chavez, si; Hitler, nein

“Sharif’s daughter – who also has political ambitions – gave investigators an ’06 document she says proves she doesn’t own these properties.”

When I saw the Vox piece, The decline of American democracy won’t be televised, it made a lot of sense to me. Arthur has conveniently explained the premise further.

What I was really happy about in this piece, though, is what it does NOT contain: a reference to Adolf Hitler. It’s not that one cannot make parallels between what’s going on now in the United States and that prewar period “in which the Nazi party rose from obscurity to stand on the brink of complete power over Germany.” It’s that it has been used so often, in references to both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, among others, that it has lost almost all meaning.

The example used by Vox in the “democratic backsliding” is Hugo Chavez, the late leader of Venezuela, in his attacks on the courts, free press and other institutions designed to create checks and balances.

Not incidentally, his successor, Nicolas Maduro has thrown opponents in jail and now he’s pushing to rewrite the constitution, which will further consolidate his power. This week, his opponents organized an unofficial protest vote against the constitution change. Millions of Venezuelans showed up. Gunmen fired on crowd of protesters in Caracas, killing a woman and injuring others.

Another international story that’s caught my attention: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could lose his job. From, of all things, the Daily Skimm:

“Last year, the Panama Papers were leaked. They’re the millions of docs that outed some high-profile people for being shady with their finances to avoid the Tax Man. On the list: Sharif’s three adult kids. They allegedly used offshore companies to buy expensive London real estate. Pakistanis want to know where the money came from. So, the country’s Supreme Court asked a group of investigators to look into it.

“Last week, the investigators accused the Sharifs of forgery and hiding their financials, but the Sharifs say ‘not true.’ Sharif’s daughter – who also has political ambitions – gave investigators an ’06 document she says proves she doesn’t own these properties. But turns out, the doc was typed out in Calibri font…which didn’t come out until ’07. Oops.”

Of course, there are no parallels between these three children of a politician and any other three adult children of a public official. I just thought it was… interesting.

June rambling #2; Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands

We all are Omar Mateen.

Beatles.Brexit
Brexit: Sam Bee and Sam Bee and John Oliver.

New Yorker: Why Brexit might not happen at all.

John Oliver: Doping.

How an Outsider President Killed a Political Party.

Bev Harris – Hacking Democracy documentary (2012).

Americans Against Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands PAC.

Oklahoma’s inferiority complex.

“That Black Boy…”

‘New data’ on school-to-prison pipeline is old news.

Jesse Williams takes racism to task in powerful BET Awards speech.

The Story Of How The First White Member Of Delta Sigma Theta Was A Segregationist’s Worst Nightmare.

Here’s that racist Red Cross poster that subsequently was removed:
red cross poster

President Obama designates Stonewall National Monument.

How to Interview a Rabbi About Kosher Marijuana.

R.I.P., Alvin Toffler, 87; his ‘Future Shock’ provided prescient glimpse forward.

The facts about kissing.

SamuraiFrog answers my frivolous questions.

Now I Know: The Barrier City and and Time to Go to Jail.

A story about a pair of flats that wanted to be a heel.

The Twilight Zone lost episode. Plus Suspense – Nightmare at Ground Zero, written by Rod Serling.

TWC Question Time looks at favorite adaptations of works that originally appeared in comics.

How they made Popeye cartoons at the Max Fleischer Studio.

Orlando

Human Rights Campaign: an 18-minute tribute to the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub on Latin night.

We all are Omar Mateen.

Sam Bee on Orlando.

Church whose pastor praised Orlando shootings is being asked to leave by landlord.

The Second Amendment doesn’t give you the right to own a gun.
TVad.med

Father’s Day

Chuck Miller: The awful part of Father’s Day.

David Kalish: How my essay squeaked into The New York Times, despite my doubts.

Nina Marinello: That was my dad…

ALLISON WRIGHT: DIVE BARS AND CARD GAMES WITH DAD.

MUSIC

John Rutter: The Importance of Choir.

Broadway for Orlando.

R.I.P. Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist for Parliament-Funkadelic and Talking Heads, has died at 72. The beloved musician lost his battle with stage four lung cancer.

Retro Y’all (Ralph Stanley Edition) and Just a little more with Dr Ralph.

Brenda Holloway is 70.

Lin-Manuel Miranda And Stephen Go Historical about Button Gwinnett.

Isolated vocals on “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, featuring the late Carl Wilson

The Hat – Ingrid Michaelson. “Binghamton cold.”

Alice in Wonderland, circa 1966 and the appropriate Jefferson Airplane.

‘Zappa Plays Zappa’ Pits Zappa vs. Zappa.

The Case For 1971 As Rock’s Greatest Year.

Paul Simon to retire?

GOOGLE alert (not me)

East Lothian-based Brightwater aims to recruit thousands of SME customers. “A successful cleaning entrepreneur has joined the battle to win business customers from Scottish Water with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. Roger Green founded the Brightwater supply operation with e-commerce veteran Richard Rankin…”

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