Voters are in a surly mood and, as should be expected, it's largely directed towards the people in power, or at least perceived to be in power, Biden and the Democrats. And that surliness certainly isn't only because of one or two issues. The Republicans have been very successful at negatively messaging everything from inflation, gas prices and the pandemic to political dysfunction and an inability for Biden and his party to deliver on campaign promises, while the Democratic messaging machine seems to have nearly collapsed entirely. Mark Barabak expressed it exactly his morbid L.A. Times column this morning, Looking Back On A Plague Year And Ahead To More Political Upheaval. 2021 was disgusting and, he wrote in his review, "so much fun, why not live it again? Our plague year began, in fittingly grim fashion, with pro-Trump insurrectionists overrunning the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 election and bring down democracy. It was the culmination of an unprecedented effort to thwart the will of voters and subvert America's 244-year-old rule of law."
Will Republicans pay a price for all their perfidy? Barabak: "Don't be too sure. Shocking as the assault on the Capitol was, the rampage has become just another source of partisan division. To use a stock market analogy, you could say the events are already priced into the midterm election: Those most outraged by the rioters' execrable actions were probably anti-Trump-- and, thus, anti-GOP-- to begin with. Few of those inclined to vote Republican are likely to change their minds because of what happened on Jan. 6. Besides, if you believe the polling and focus groups, most voters have other things on their minds, like inflation, supply-chain problems and the never-ending restrictions and upheaval the pandemic has imposed on our daily lives."
David Sirota went further in a much-discussed column, The Democrats Are Trying to Lose in which he makes the case that "Democrats are going beyond refusing to give Americans an affirmative reason to vote for them: in sabotaging their own purported agenda around Biden’s Build Back Better bill, they seem to be trying to lose to the authoritarians in the GOP they claim to oppose... Americans are being simultaneously asked to believe that Democrats are mounting a valiant last-ditch defense of democracy against insurrectionists and election deniers, and yet we’re also watching Democrats proudly surrender the midterm elections to those same fascists, knowingly creating Weimar-esque conditions for an authoritarian takeover. Taken together, this is far more than hypocrisy: in JFK lingo, this is an admission that the ruling party wants the bear-any-burden brand of democracy defenders, but without the pay-any-price actions that might assure the survival and success of liberty."
He makes the point that Biden's and the congressional Democrats' governance has "culminated in the modern expression of austerity, corruption, ineptitude, and let-them-eat-cakeism that coincided with the rise of fascism in Europe less than a century ago: In this iteration, a Maserati-driving coal magnate from one of the country’s poorest states stepped off his luxury yacht and told the country that he’s rescinding his promised support for any relief, just after he proudly backed a giant defense spending authorization bill, and after he previously demanded a giant bailout for his Wall Street donors. The declaration by the Wolf of West Virginia was a huge win for corporate lobbyists, Manchin’s billionaire donors, and his family’s fossil fuel business."
But the reason is obvious to any minimally functioning brain stem outside the Beltway: the pass-the-blame game isn’t working. As in the 2009-2010 period, Americans were promised specific economic benefits, the ruling party has made a show of refusing to deliver those things, and is now making an even bigger, bolder spectacle of betrayal. Naturally, voters don’t appreciate being given the middle finger, especially when they are engulfed in multiple crises.
Corporate media doesn’t like to acknowledge this simple story because it’s not exciting and doesn’t serve media owners’ interests, but every now and again there’s a begrudging admission like the one at the very bottom of a recent much-discussed New York Times article about the “socialism” label and declining Democratic support among Latinos. In the twelfth paragraph of the piece, the newspaper finally admitted that “the majority of those surveyed said they wished that Mr. Biden could have enacted more change than he has so far, which pollsters tied to ‘deep anxiety about the economy.’”
Of course, had these capitulations, betrayals, and insults risked the 2022 midterms in service of some larger moral-but-politically-divisive cause like combating the climate crisis, perhaps you could make a case that it was all worth it.
But, in fact, quite the opposite has happened: while flattering credulous liberals with “believe science” rhetoric, Biden has used his executive authority to ignore climate science, boost tar sands pipelines, and vastly expand fossil fuel drilling, in some cases at an even faster clip than his Republican predecessor.
While Biden fans have spent months pretending the president somehow has no power to fight his own party members like Manchin, Biden’s White House has also been proving the opposite as it helps the fossil fuel industry stomp on Michigan’s Democratic governor and make the climate cataclysm even worse.
This morning when I was reading the Wall Street Journal report on how life expectancy has dropped in the U.S. by 1.8 years, I was waiting for bleating goats like Madison Cawthorn (Nazi-NC), Lauren Boebert (Q-CO), Marjorie Traitor Greene (Q-GA), etc to take to social media start blaming Biden, unable to grasp that the 100% of the statistics were in regard to Trump's term in office and that not one nano-second of this drop in life expectancy had anything to do with Biden, whose administration, in fact is fighting to turn that around.
Marc Cevasco is Ted Lieu's chief of staff. He's fount of information about Democratic Party thinking and I follow him on Twitter. Yesterday, I saw this thread I'm going to reproduce here in a more narrative fashion. He began by providing some context about how, "in the face of unprecedented crises and near universal opposition from congressional Republicans, President Biden and Democrats are delivering for American families." His thread embodies the optimistic vision congressional Democrats would like to see the media focus on and would like to see absorbed as the conventional wisdom that the public takes into the voting booths next year rather than the barrage of twisted pessimistic Republican Party propaganda.
"The Biden Administration," Cevasco began, "successfully stood up the COVID-19 vaccination program-- (funded by the American Rescue Plan), which has gotten 490 million shots in arms, saved more than a million American lives, and prevented at least 10 million hospitalizations. Before President Biden took office less than 1% of Americans were fully vaccinated. Today more than 71% of American adults are fully vaccinated. Before President Biden took office only 46% of schools were open. Today 99% of schools are open. Additionally because of the American Rescue Plan and historic economic recovery, child poverty is on track to be cut by 40%. Before President Biden took office the unemployment rate was 6.3%. Today it’s 4.2%-- reaching that goal 2 years ahead of projections. Before President Biden took office over 18 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits Today only 2 million are. Before President Biden took office Moody’s estimated 2021 GDP growth at 2.9%. Today we are on pace for 5-6% growth-- the best since 1984. The President and congressional Democrats acted quickly to pass the American Rescue Plan, jump starting our economic recovery. We also worked across the aisle to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure law to rebuild roads and bridges, replace lead pipes, and create millions of good-paying jobs. There is much more to do-- and we continue to work on Voting Rights and Build Back Better. But as 2021 comes to a close it is important to recognize the progress that has been made in less than a year."
This (below) was both a wise and a smart announcement Biden made today, although canceling, government-owned student debt would be a lot better-- and why does it always feel like we're pulling teeth to get them to do anything right?
[T]oday my Administration is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments for an additional 90 days-- through May 1, 2022-- as we manage the ongoing pandemic and further strengthen our economic recovery. Meanwhile, the Department of Education will continue working with borrowers to ensure they have the support they need to transition smoothly back into repayment and advance economic stability for their own households and for our nation.
As we are taking this action, I’m asking all student loan borrowers to do their part as well: take full advantage of the Department of Education’s resources to help you prepare for payments to resume; look at options to lower your payments through income-based repayment plans; explore public service loan forgiveness; and make sure you are vaccinated and boosted when eligible.
Writing for Shepherd Express, Milwaukee's alternative weekly, this week, Joe McNally, addressed the propaganda problem Democrats face in a column, The Nation’s Most Dangerous Source of Lies and Disinformation. He wrote that "There are two opposing ways of looking at Chris Wallace’s abrupt departure from Fox News after 18 years to join a new CNN channel. The first is relief one of the last first-rate journalists on Fox will no longer provide cover for the nation’s most dangerous source of rightwing lies and disinformation. The other is the realization millions of Americans who erroneously rely solely on fraudulent Fox propaganda to shape their understanding of the world will be even less likely now to encounter any honest, fact-based journalism to counter the network’s increasingly extreme political attacks on democracy itself."
The continuing attempts by Fox News to minimize Trump’s violent Jan. 6 attack on American democracy apparently prompted Wallace’s departure. Chris personally complained to network executives about Tucker Carlson’s documentary Patriot Purge, falsely portraying the FBI and federal prosecutors as the villains of democracy for punishing the violent Trump mob that rampaged through the Capitol brutally injuring police officers and threatening to murder Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress to stop them from certifying President Biden’s election.
We now know Fox News personalities themselves didn’t believe anything they said on the air about how peaceful those rioters were. Before he invoked the fifth amendment to avoid self-incrimination for crimes, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows turned over to the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6 personal emails from numerous Fox hosts begging him to convince Trump to call off the insurrection.
“Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home... this is hurting all of us... he is destroying his legacy,” Laura Ingraham pleaded. Brian Kilmeade added, “Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.” Even Sean Hannity, who usually had his own direct line to Trump, urged: “Can he make a statement?... Ask people to leave the Capitol.” Carlson was one of the few who remained silent, apparently enjoying the show just like Trump.
Republican support for democracy and honest elections has drastically declined since Nixon’s days. In 1974 Congress didn’t have to impeach Nixon for his crimes. When Republican Senate and House leaders obtained enough evidence, they simply withdrew their support and Nixon resigned.
This year House members and Senators in both parties were running for their lives through the Capitol from the violent insurrectionists Trump sent to overthrow Biden’s election. Yet only seven out of 50 Republican Senators joined Democrats voting to convict Trump on House impeachment charges, far short of the two-thirds needed to bar Trump from ever holding office again.
Even after Trump was defeated by the largest vote in American history, Fox News is not about to allow Republicans to abandon Trump’s most nationally divisive hot button issues. When Trump bragged the media depended upon him for big ratings, he was always talking about the network he watched all day.
Fox has always echoed Trump’s most angry, hateful rhetoric. Political conflict is good television. For Fox News, when that conflict escalates into political violence against the government of the United States to overthrow the choice of 81 million Americans for president, it’s even better television.