Conjunction Misfunction

As he usually is, Clay Jones is spot-on once again. Thanks, Clay, for setting the record straight. Now if only the Republicans would listen!


Silicone Valley Bank crashed Saturday with $212 billion in assets. It’s the second-largest bank failure in history. This prompted Cocaine Bear, I mean Donald Trump Jr, to tweet, “I don’t remember banks collapsing under Trump.”

Seaway Bank and Trust Company, Proficio Bank, First NBC Bank, Guaranty Bank, Fayette County Bank, The Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Argonia, Washington Federal Bank for Savings, The Enloe State Bank, Louisa Community Bank, Resolute Bank, City National Bank of New Jersey, Ericson State Bank, The First State Bank, First City Bank of Florida, Almena State Bank all collapsed during the Trump administration. In case you’re counting, that’s 15 banks that collapsed during the Trump administration. Just because Sniffles Jr doesn’t remember something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Ten years from now and he won’t remember dating Kimberly Guilfoyle.

Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted, “They give money to Silicon Valley Bank. They give money to…

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The Games They Play

Politics as performance art … er, without the art.  I don’t know about you folks, but I’m sick and damn tired of the games people play, the manipulation and hypocrisy from our elected officials.  Just do the job and sit down and shut up!!!  Here’s what we can expect to dominate over the next month or two …

Get ready: Two big upcoming theatrical performances

Biden wants to tax the rich, and House Republicans don’t want to raise the debt ceiling. Here’s what will happen.

Robert Reich

09 March 2023

President Biden is proposing to trim the federal budget deficit by close to $3tn over the next 10 years. He was an FDR-like spender in the first two years of his presidency. Has he now turned into a Calvin Coolidge skinflint?

Neither. He’s a cunning political operator.

Biden knows that he – along with his three immediate predecessors (Trump, Obama and George W Bush) – have spent gobs of money. In addition, Bush and Trump cut taxes on the rich and on corporations.

Not surprisingly, the national debt has soared. It’s not so much an economic problem as a political one. The huge debt is giving Republicans a big, fat target.

House Republicans are planning to stage theater-of-the-absurd pyrotechnics – refusing to raise the debt ceiling. Which means that at some point this summer, Biden’s treasury department will say that the nation is within days (or hours) of defaulting on its bills. A default would be catastrophic.

To counter this, Biden is planning his own pyrotechnics.

In the budget released this week, he’s proposing a “billionaire minimum tax” that would require wealthy American households worth more than $100m to pay at least 20% of their incomes in taxes (most middle-class Americans pay about 30%). Plus, they’d have to pay 20% a year on unrealized gains in the value of their liquid assets, such as stocks, which can accumulate value for years but are taxed only when they are sold (and not even then, if left to their heirs).

Here’s the important thing: the tax would apply only to the top one-100th of 1% of American households. Over half of the revenue would come from those worth more than $1bn.

Biden is proposing additional tax hikes on the wealthy: reversing the Trump tax cut by raising the top tax rate to 39.6% from 37%, increasing the corporate tax to 28% from 21%, and raising the tax on stock buybacks from 1% to 4%.

All told, Biden’s new tax proposals would amount to an almost $3tn tax increase over a decade – on the richest of the rich. Oh, and did I say? Taxing the rich is enormously popular.

Biden also wants to let Medicare officials negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices and cap the costs of drugs for seniors – a proposal that is also hugely popular.

But here’s the dirty little secret. Neither of these two theatrical productions – neither the Republicans’ refusal to raise the debt ceiling nor Biden’s big tax hike on the super-rich – will ever happen. They’re both fantasies.

A default on the nation’s obligations would bring on an economic calamity that Republicans don’t want to be responsible for. And a giant tax increase on the super-rich would be a miracle, given their political clout.

These two productions are being staged for the public – two competing performances, each intended to score political points against the other.

Biden’s performance is rational, and the Republicans’ is irrational and unserious, but that doesn’t really matter.

They will both end in a dramatic flurry of last-minute negotiations, seemingly death-defying moves and countermoves, and breathtaking cliffhangers.

Exciting? Of course. Important? Meh.

The denouement? The debt ceiling will be raised. The national debt will be lowered a bit. Social Security and Medicare will be left alone. And Biden and the Democrats will have leeway to do one or two more things before the gravitational pull of the 2024 election pulls them in – perhaps expand childcare or pre-K or enable more students to attend community college.

Yesterday I was in Columbus, Ohio, debating Arthur Laffer about the economy. We appeared before hundreds of students who had never heard of Arthur Laffer (or me, for that matter). If you’ve heard of him but don’t quite recall what he did, let me refresh your recollection: Art was the founder in the 1980s of so-called “supply-side economics,” the bonkers idea that the benefits of lower taxes on the wealthy trickle down to everyone else.

Trickle-down economics provided the theatrical scripts for Ronald Reagan’s, George W. Bush’s, and Donald Trump’s tax productions. The tax cuts were real, but the idea they were based on was always a fantasy. Nothing ever trickled down.

Now About Our Vice-President …

Vice President Kamala Harris isn’t front-and-center in the news very often, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t working.  Like President Biden, she quietly goes about her job rather than spend her time on a media blitz trying to keep her face on everyone’s news feed as some politicians do on a daily basis.  And, like the president, she is often the subject of criticism.

Donna Brazile, a political analyst who I have long admired, is a professor and contributor to ABC News, and she has written a thoughtful assessment of VP Harris that I found enlightening.  Certainly we all hope that President Biden remains hale and hearty throughout his presidency, but regardless of age, things sometimes happen to the human body, so we need to know more about the person who would step into his shoes if he were to die or become unable to fulfill his duties.  Ms. Brazile gives us a bit of insight into Kamala Harris and her path to the vice presidency.

The Excellence of Kamala Harris Is Hiding in Plain Sight

Donna Brazile

02 March 2023

Vice President Kamala Harris occupies an office that can be the butt of jokes and criticism. The only duties of the vice president spelled out in the Constitution are to cast tiebreaking votes in the Senate and to become president if the office becomes vacant.

I’ve never run for government office, but as a Black woman who has spent my life working in politics — including as manager of Vice President Al Gore’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2000 — I know what it’s like to be underestimated, over-scrutinized and unfairly criticized, just as Ms. Harris has been. Yet I’ve never been under such a glaring spotlight as hers.

I have watched politicians up close for decades. And‌ I have known Vice President Harris for years and urged Joe Biden to make her his running mate in 2020. I ‌believe that the criticism of her is unrelated to her performance as vice president and fails to account for the role she plays in the White House.

As a consequential and successful vice president himself for eight years under Barack Obama, President Biden has a keen understanding of the job he once held and he has tasked Vice President Harris with major responsibilities. She has done an outstanding job and her record in two years stands up to that of her predecessors. Has she solved every problem? No, but name me one vice president who has.

We should think about our expectations for the vice presidency. It was only starting with the presidency of Jimmy Carter, and the role Vice President Walter Mondale played in foreign and domestic policy, that the job became more than a ceremonial position. Vice President Harris ranks third in breaking Senate ties (and first in the first two years in office), after John C. Calhoun and John Adams. While some claim that her duties breaking ties in the Senate have limited her scope of influence, the reality is that Ms. Harris regularly traveled the country to meet with Americans even as she cast the tiebreaking vote on key legislation to better the lives of the American people, including the Inflation Reduction Act.

To advance President Biden’s objective to strengthen America’s foreign alliances, Ms. Harris has met (mostly in person) with more than 100 world leaders to repair damage to our international relationships caused by Donald Trump. At the Munich Security Conference in February she announced that the Biden administration has formally concluded that Russia is guilty of “crimes against humanity” in its war against Ukraine and warned China not to assist Russia in its invasion. Through public-private partnerships, she helped raise over $4.2 billion to address the root cause of migration from Central America.

Ms. Harris has pushed for federal legislation to secure voting rights, worked to expand access to the child tax and earned-income tax credits, is co-leader of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, was an integral part of the White House’s push to get Americans vaccinated against Covid, and is the chair of the National Space Council.

Questions have been raised about the fitness of just about every vice president to move into the Oval Office should the president die or is unable to continue serving for another reason. Mr. Biden knew what he was doing when he selected Ms. Harris to be his vice president and had confidence that she would be up to the task of succeeding him if necessary. I hope that never happens, but if tragedy strikes, Mr. Biden’s judgment will be proven correct.

Ms. Harris has more experience in elected office than several past presidents and vice presidents — a successful record beginning in 2004 as San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general and including four years as U.S. senator. By contrast, Presidents Trump, Dwight Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover and Zachary Taylor never held elected office before becoming president. Many other presidents had fewer years in elected office than Ms. Harris has had.

Ms. Harris has been derided by some as an affirmative-action hire, perhaps because Mr. Biden pledged to select a female running mate when he campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination.

On many occasions when people of color and women have climbed the career ladder we’ve heard criticism that they advanced only because of their race and/or gender. This was the case last year during the confirmation process for Ketanji Brown Jackson, a brilliant and extraordinarily qualified jurist who is the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

For too many Americans, the idea that nonwhites and women actually got their jobs because of their qualifications, experience and talents is hard to believe. Maybe that’s because for most of American history, white men were the only people considered for high-level jobs in what amounted to affirmative action for them.

And as the first woman, African American and Asian American to serve as vice president, Ms. Harris has arguably faced greater — and a different type — of scrutiny than previous vice presidents.

The clothes and shoes she wears, the role of her spouse (Doug Emhoff, America’s first second gentleman), the way she sometimes laughs, her cooking skills and staff turnover in her office have all drawn greater attention than her predecessors experienced.

Mr. Emhoff summarized the challenges confronting his wife in a 2021 interview. “She has faced challenges as a groundbreaker her whole career,” he said. “When you’re breaking barriers, there’s breaking involved and breaking means you might get cut sometimes, but that’s OK.”

Vice President Harris is fulfilling the dream of the empowerment of Black women advanced by the Rev. Willie T. Barrow, a Black woman who was a field organizer for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a co-chair of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and supporter of his presidential campaigns.

Ms. Barrow, who was an inspiration to me when I was a young member of the staff on Mr. Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign, died at age 90 in 2015. She was a mentor to Mr. Obama before he entered the White House but didn’t live long enough to see Ms. Harris become vice president.

Ms. Barrow never received the accolades and fame she deserved for her work because the most visible leadership roles in the civil rights movement, government and elsewhere were reserved for men. But I have no doubt that she and other Black female civil rights pioneers paved the way for Ms. Harris to climb to the second-highest office in our government.

Vice President Harris stands on the steely, unbowed shoulders of Black women like Willie Barrow and others who broke barriers before her. It shouldn’t be so hard for a leader like Ms. Harris, so visible in the office she holds, to get some credit where credit is due.

The East Palestine Disconnect

My granddaughter has, rightly, taken me to task for not giving more attention to the catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, just a few hundred miles from our home. But, try as I might, I have been unable to stay focused on it long enough to write a post. The disaster has become both a political football and a racial one, thanks to certain politicos, and I find myself growling and cursing every time I try to put fingers to keyboard. Jeff, however, has no such problem and has written a well-researched, timely, and passionate post about the disaster and the situation to date. Thank you, Jeff! I owe you one!

On The Fence Voters

So Donald Trump visited East Palestine, Ohio, yesterday. Visiting the scene of the crime is what immediately came to mind when I saw him arrive in “Trump Force One.” But what I saw from many in that community was nothing of the sort. There were cheers, clapping, and fawning – something resembling a rock star coming back on stage for an encore.

What in the hell is wrong with these people?

I’m sorry. I do not mean to lump everyone in East Palestine into the same camp. Indeed there are folks there who despise the man. But let’s face it. Trump got over 70 percent of the vote in that area in 2020. Certainly, those are landslide numbers by any stretch of the imagination.

And what they do not know, at least most of them, is that when Trump came into office in 2017, he gutted scores of regulations spanning…

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The Right Thing To Do

When I woke up yesterday morning and the first thing in my newsfeed was that President Biden was, at that very moment, in Ukraine, I was surprised, to say the least.  I knew he had hoped to visit, but last I heard, the trip was unlikely to take place due to security concerns.  The news of his time spent with President Zelenskyy reinforced my views that President Biden is a good and decent man.  It also reinforced what I’ve been saying for a while – don’t judge him by the number of years he’s been on this earth.  Biden has a reserve of energy that would put most people half his age to shame. Former policy advisor and political journalist Taegan Goddard said that the trip “will likely go down as one of the most important moments of his presidency.”

Eugene Robinson, writing for The Washington Post, gives us a bit of insight into Biden’s trip …

Biden’s Kyiv visit shows Putin seriously misjudged his courage and resolve

Eugene Robinson

20 February 2023

As President Biden walked the streets of Kyiv on Monday beside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, air raid sirens began to wail. A Russian fighter jet had reportedly taken off from Belarus, carrying the type of hypersonic missile that Ukraine’s defenders cannot shoot down. The two leaders did not flinch.

Say what you want about Biden, he lacks neither courage nor resolve. His surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital might be the first time a sitting president has braved an active war zone — with no inviolable U.S. military cordon around him — since 1864, when Abraham Lincoln went to see the fighting at Fort Stevens, near the northern tip of the District of Columbia, and came under fire from Confederate sharpshooters. “Get down, you damn fool!” shouted a young Union officer named Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who later served as a justice on the Supreme Court.

No one took a potshot or fired a missile at Biden. But to reach Kyiv he had to endure a 10-hour train ride from Poland — followed, after his visit with Zelensky, by another 10-hour journey back to safety. The president spent a full day exposed to potential Russian fire.

What many people fail to understand about Biden, the oldest president in our history, is the extent to which he is guided by a sense of mission. He came out of retirement and ran for the White House only because he believed he had the unique ability, and thus the obligation, to save the nation from another four years of Donald Trump. And he has faced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the same burden of duty imposed by history.

“I’m a great respecter of fate,” Biden said last year, having seen so much of it during his long and eventful life: He lost his first wife and daughter to a car accident, lost his first son to cancer, almost lost his second son to drug addiction. And in 1988, he suffered two brain aneurysms and was given no better than a 50 percent chance of survival.

In his 2007 book, “Promises to Keep,” Biden wrote: “Maybe I should have been frightened at this point, but I felt calm. In fact, I felt becalmed, like I was floating gently in the wide-open sea. It surprised me, but I had no real fear of dying.”

In Kyiv alongside Zelensky, Biden walked with the cautious gait of an 80-year-old man. Perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin, in deciding to launch the invasion, thought Biden’s age meant his response would be one of weakness or vacillation. If so, he neglected to take into account Biden’s deep and abiding Roman Catholic faith, his belief in destiny, his commitment to the rules-based international order — and the fact that Biden is rarely more animated than when he talks about drag racing in his Corvette at triple-digit speeds. He is a man with considerable tolerance for risk.

Biden and Zelensky reminisced about the awful moment when the war began. “Russian planes were in the air and tanks were rolling across your border. … You said that you didn’t know when we’d be able to speak again,” Biden said. “That dark night one year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv. … Perhaps even the end of Ukraine. You know, one year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”

Other world leaders allied with Ukraine have visited Kyiv, as have other high-ranking U.S. officials, including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But Zelensky said Monday’s was “the most important visit in the whole history of the Ukraine-U.S. relationship” — and that was an understatement.

Without Biden’s leadership and diplomacy, it is hard to imagine how the NATO alliance could have been made stronger by Putin’s invasion, rather than weaker. Without Biden and Congress providing what almost amounts to an open spigot of military and economic aid, it is hard to imagine Ukraine not only surviving the Russian onslaught but also reclaiming lost territory and inflicting massive casualties on Putin’s forces.

I should also mention Vice President Harris, who last year, at the annual Munich Security Conference, warned of the “imminent” Russian invasion at a time when some allies were still skeptical that Putin would pull the trigger. Last week, at this year’s Munich gathering, she laid out a compelling case for holding Putin and his soldiers criminally responsible for “crimes against humanity.”

It would be no surprise if Putin reacted to the Biden visit with a deadly barrage of missiles against civilian targets. No one can keep Putin from waging his war. But Biden can — and will — keep him from winning it.

There will be critics of Biden’s trip, both within the U.S. and from outside, but in my book what the president did was courageous and was the right thing to do.  Full stop.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy embrace after their visit to the Wall of Remembrance to pay tribute to killed Ukrainian soldiers, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

George Orwell In 2023!

I had fully intended to watch Sarah Sanders’ response to President Biden’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, but I was unable to watch more than about the first three or four minutes, by which time I wanted to punch her face through my laptop screen!  My first thought upon listening to her, watching her, was “Orwellian”.  So, I turned her off and went on about other things.  From what little I did see, and from what others have written about her speech, I get the impression that she and I either live in two completely different universes, or that our brains are wired so differently that one of us might just be an alien from another planet!

I think that Paul Krugman, writing for the New York Times, summed it up best of all the views I’ve read thus far …

War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Democrats Are Radicals

Paul Krugman

09 February 2023

Political speeches, very much including State of the Union addresses, rarely make much difference. They can, however, be useful guides to the political landscape.

President Biden was evidently feeling feisty on Tuesday. In particular, he kept baiting Republicans with the suggestion that a number of them are threatening Medicare and Social Security — which they are.

Delivering the Republican response, Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that the United States is divided between two parties, one of which is mainly focused on bread-and-butter issues that matter to regular people, while the other is obsessed with waging culture war. This is also true. But she got her parties mixed up — Republicans, not Democrats, are the culture warriors who’ve lost touch with ordinary Americans’ concerns.

First, about Medicare and Social Security. When Biden said that “some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” he was greeted with shouts of “Liar!” But last year Senator Rick Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released a “plan to rescue America” that explicitly included as one of its reforms “All federal legislation sunsets in five years.”

Yes, a program that sunsets can be renewed. But what Biden said was true — and how sure are you that the modern G.O.P. would, in fact, vote to maintain Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist?

There’s also the matter of arithmetic. Republicans have pledged to eliminate the budget deficit within 10 years, and unless we raise taxes — which they vehemently oppose — that’s essentially impossible without drastic cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

And let’s not forget that these are programs for seniors — programs that are central to Americans’ long-term financial planning, the bedrock on which most people’s hopes for a decent, dignified retirement rest. Putting them on the chopping block every five years, even potentially, would create immense anxiety.

Hence the hysterical G.O.P. response to Biden’s claims. But those claims were entirely true.

But let’s talk about the Sanders response to Biden, which was even more revealing.

Sanders’s speech was a diatribe against wokeness. This is standard G.O.P. fare these days and exactly what you’d expect in, say, an address at the Conservative Political Action Conference. But this wasn’t a CPAC speech; it was meant to address the nation as a whole and rebut the president of the United States.

So as Greg Sargent of The Washington Post points out, it was remarkable that Sanders spoke largely in right-wing insider jargon. She boasted of eliminating C.R.T. in her state, without even explaining the abbreviation; how many Americans know that it stands for “critical race theory,” let alone why that’s supposed to be such a bad thing?

For that matter, focus groups suggest that most people don’t know what “wokeness” means, or why they should fear it.

But wait, it gets worse. Sanders seemed to say (although her syntax was a bit garbled) that woke policy was responsible for “high gas prices” and “empty grocery shelves.”

So first of all, how does that work? How did critical race theory cause a global spike in crude oil prices, which raised prices at the pump all around the world? How did it snarl supply chains and cause a worldwide shortage of shipping containers?

Second, a politician who was actually in touch with real people’s concerns would know that the examples she used to illustrate Biden’s policy failures are well past their sell-by date. Gas prices did indeed surge for a while, hitting around $5 a gallon last summer. But they’ve fallen drastically since then.

Currently, my preferred indicator of fuel affordability — the price of a gallon of gas as a percentage of the average worker’s weekly earnings — is roughly the same as the average for 2018-2019. I don’t remember Republicans howling about gas prices at the time.

And the complaint about empty shelves is even more out of date. Supply chains were very messed up a year ago, but the pressure has greatly eased since then, and while there are always a few scarce items — avian flu helped cause an egg shortage, although prices are probably heading down — complaints about empty shelves are very stale at this point.

Put it this way: Sanders’s version of the problems facing ordinary Americans seems to be based, not on any direct sense of people’s lives, but on Fox News reporting that hypes bad things under Biden and never mentions when things get better again.

Just to be clear, there are culture warriors on the left, and some of them can be annoying even to social liberals. But few have significant power, and they certainly don’t rule the Democratic Party, which isn’t locked into a closed mental universe, impervious to inconvenient facts, whose denizens communicate in buzzwords nobody else recognizes.

Republicans, however, do live in such a universe — and what Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed us was that they can’t step outside that universe even when they should have strong political incentives to sound like normal people and pretend to care about regular Americans’ concerns.

State of the Union

I am always amazed at the degree to which our friends on the other side of the pond understand our own political/social situation. David Prosser, as always, gives us his own view of Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address. Thank you, David!


Since the State of the Union speech earlier his week I hav been following political analyses ofwhat Mr Biden said and the reaction of both the press and the public to it.Shockingly it does not appear taht the press is fully behind Joe Biden yet and the Public still don’t seem to think he’s performing his job.Both are strange given that he has created over half a million jobs since January and has the economy under control and has even shaved a vast amount off the National Debt.

This man is performing better than the miracle of the loaves and fishes for the people of his country. Now maybe when you’re close to the action you can’t see the wood for the trees, and perhaps because Joe is the quiet man he is, not constantly blowing his own trumpet, no-one sees the good he does close up. But good there…

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What Gives … ?

The media assessments of President Biden’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night have been overwhelmingly positive (I refer to actual news media and journalists, leaving out the likes of Fox and NewsMax that I do not consider to be legitimate news venues.)  More than a few have called his address the “best State of the Union ever!”  The speech highlighted Biden’s accomplishments, which contrary to public opinion, have been significant, especially given the opposition from Republicans in Congress.  And yet … despite his accomplishments, Biden’s approval rating remains low.  Robert Reich asks (and partly answers) the question:  What gives?

Why the discrepancy between what Biden has achieved and what Americans think about him?

Robert Reich

8 February 2023

My friends,

As I mentioned last night, I thought Biden’s second State of the Union address was superb. It was one of the best State of the Union speeches I’ve witnessed — and I’ve witnessed many.

Biden’s record so far has also been impressive — even though for the first two years of his presidency, the Democrats held a razor-thin congressional majority, and the Republican Party has become more traitorous and treacherous than at any time in modern American history.

Yet despite Biden’s impressive record, only 42 percent of Americans approve of his presidency. That’s barely above the 41 percent at his last State of the Union address, and a lower approval rating at this point in his presidency than any president in 75 years of polling except for Trump and Reagan (who at this point was hobbled by a deep recession).

Despite Biden’s significant achievements, fully 62 percent think he has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing” during his presidency. Majorities believe he has made no progress on his signature initiatives — from improving the country’s infrastructure to making electric vehicles more affordable to creating jobs.

And even though jobs are being created at an almost unprecedented rate, unemployment is at its lowest since 1969, and inflation is dropping, Americans are deeply pessimistic about the economy.

So what gives? Why the discrepancy between what Biden is achieving and what Americans think?

Let me add a few thoughts of my own.

First, let me stress my belief that Joe Biden has been an exceptionally good president. The only reason I bring up his low ratings is to try to understand why, despite his achievements, most of the public doesn’t seem to share my view.

Opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate, as we’ve all witnessed in the last major elections. Yet Biden’s consistently low ratings across almost all polls — and the bizarre fact that he’s polling no better than Trump did at this point in Trump’s presidency — can’t be blamed simply on inadequate polling methods.

Many of you blame the media — both Fox News and its radical right imitators, as well as the mainstream — for minimizing Biden’s achievements and exaggerating his inadequacies.

I largely agree. Fox News and other rightwing outlets continue to poison America. As to the mainstream media, as to anyone who reads this letter knows, I’ve been deeply concerned about its “two-sides” ism and absurd attempts to draw moral equivalence between Republicans and Democrats.

That said, only a small fraction of the public is exposed to Fox News or to the New York Times or the Washington Post. The media alone can’t account for Biden’s low ratings.

I want to suggest to you three other culprits that to my mind are playing a larger role.

First is the legacy of Trump, along with the deeply cynical and angry divide he has spawned in America. Even if George Washington were president right now, some 40 percent of the public would likely despise him.

Second is social media, which has become a cauldron of ever more extremist rage. Under Elon Musk, for example, Twitter has become less of a “public square” than a hell-hole of hate. No national leader is immune to such relentless battering.

Third and perhaps most importantly is the continuing crises that most Americans find themselves in. Some two-thirds of us are living paycheck to paycheck. Almost no one has job security. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage continues to drop. COVID is receding but “long” COVID is taking a devastating toll. Fentanyl and related drug poisonings continue to rise.

Joe Biden and his administration have made important progress. Their legislative victories are important. The American Rescue Act helped millions survive the pandemic. But most Americans are still hurting. Hopefully, by the fall of 2024, the hurt won’t be nearly as bad.

A Strong, Intelligent, Compassionate Speech

The president spoke non-stop for over an hour, stuttered only a few times (I, too, am a stutterer and would not have done nearly as well as he did!), and gave a passionate, intelligent, well-reasoned speech.  There were one or two points on which I might have disagreed, but not strongly.  I have some views on his speech, as I’m sure those of you who watched it do, and I’ll share them here, and be happy to hear what you thought, as well.

First, over the past several months, I have heard many say that President Biden is too old for the job, that his mental acuity is declining.  Folks, let me tell you something … if you watched the speech last night, there can be no doubt that he is as sharp as ever!  I could not have given a speech for that long, incorporated that much, and still had the stamina to shake hands with a few hundred people as I tried to leave the building!  He knew what he wanted to say, was passionate in his views, empathetic where empathy was called for, and he was strong where strength was needed!  He made no bones about the divided Congress and some of the Republican antics, and he plainly stated that if certain bills came to his desk, he would veto them!

He did something that has not been done before, as far as I know, in the history of State of the Union Addresses … he gained bipartisan agreement to an issue.  He garnered a verbal agreement to take cutting Social Security and Medicare off the negotiating table in cost cutting discussions connected to raising the debt ceiling.  That, folks, may not seem like much, but believe me … it is.

He had energy, he had passion, he has a strong desire to overcome the partisan obstacles that are hindering this nation.  Those who say he is too old … think again.  Yes, he is old and in that, my biggest concern would be that something – a stroke, heart attack, or death – would overtake him at some point, but … John F. Kennedy was the youngest president when he was elected in 1960 … and look what happened.  To those who claim he is too old and shouldn’t run again, I ask you this:  Who better?

Give me a name … tell me who else you see out there who could not only win an election in 21 months, but also lead this nation as well as President Biden is doing?  I can think of a number of younger Democrats who, at some point in the future, might well be excellent presidential material:  Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Hakeem Jeffries come to mind almost immediately.  But not today.  First, none have the name recognition nor backing, the political capital, that would be needed to propel them into the Oval Office.  Second, given the rising climate of bigotry, propelled by many Republicans such as Ron DeSantis … well, you see the problem.  Of those three, one is LGBTQ and the other two are Black.  No, it shouldn’t matter … it really doesn’t matter … but it would quite probably be enough to keep them from winning the election in 2024.

I hate that presidential elections now last for the entire two years prior to the actual election.  It means a number of things:  we are deluged with campaign ads and requests for donations for two full years; our elected officials are too busy campaigning for the next election to do their jobs now; the dynamics turn on a dime and the potential candidate who is ‘on top’ today may sink to the bottom tomorrow based on one leaked piece of information, whether fact or fiction.  It’s like being on an out-of-control carousel!  That said, it doesn’t change, so we must face the reality and prepare for it.

If the Democrats continue bemoaning President Biden’s age and occasional stutter, if they keep saying he shouldn’t run, that he isn’t mentally sharp, yet they have no better option, they are in effect handing the 2024 election to whichever Republican candidate becomes the nominee, likely Ron DeSantis.  The Democrats need to bite the bullet, such as it is, band together and throw their full support behind the president.  If they fail to do this, the party will be too divided to make an effective showing in 2024 and will hand the presidency to the Republican Party.

President Biden was impressive last night … his record of accomplishments, coupled with his strong address last night prove he’s still up to the task of leading this nation.  He is intelligent, and of equal importance, he is a genuinely good person who cares deeply about people — ALL people.  Unless Democrats have an HiH (Hero in Hiding), a John F. Kennedy or some other candidate with “the right stuff”, then they need to unite behind the candidate who has already accomplished much and who has what it takes, despite his age, to get the job done.

So … what did you think of his speech?

State Of The Union — Peace or Chaos?

Tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, President Joseph Biden will give his second State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress and numerous guests.  Among the guests will be Row Vaughn and Rodney Wells, the parents of Tyre Nichols who was brutally beaten to death by police in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 7th.

For a number of reasons, there are additional security concerns this year. The magnetometers have been removed from the entrance to the House chamber, one of the first moves the Republicans made once they gained the majority in the House.  Also, according to a Capitol Police bulletin …

“… recent incidents targeting politicians and law enforcement agencies within the past month indicate that there is a heightened threat toward government officials.” 

Lest you think this is just so much hyperbole, I would remind you of the vicious attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and then I would further remind you of the violent attempted coup at this very same Capitol on January 6th, 2021.  There can be no doubt that there is a danger brewing under the surface in this country, and further that there are far too many fools with guns out there – some whose offices are in this very same Capitol building!

Capitol Police have constructed a non-scalable fence around the Capitol grounds, and are taking other security measures, no doubt fully remembering January 6th.  Will it be enough?  Today, there are a number of representatives sitting in Capitol offices who played a role in one way or another in the events of January 6th.  They should be disqualified, but somehow they escaped the 14th Amendment that prohibits anyone who has previously taken an oath of office (Senators, Representatives, and other public officials) from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

I admit to being … concerned … about tomorrow night’s events. I still feel the horror of January 6th, still see the hatred that is festering in this country, hear the voices chanting “Hang Mike Pence”.  Not a single one of the plotters and schemers behind the insurrection are in prison, but are all free men & women, free to plot further rebellion, and relatively few of the ‘foot soldiers’ of that day are in prison. So yes, I am concerned.  I hope that my concerns are ill-founded and that the events of tomorrow evening will go off without a hitch.

Now, about that State of the Union …

It’s probably just as well that I wasn’t invited to give the speech, for I’m sure President Biden will do a far better job than I would.  The “state of the union” seems to be, in my ever-so-humble opinion, a disaster.  This nation is more divided than at any time in the past 150 years, perhaps longer.  Fully half of our elected officials no longer remember their oaths, no longer care about this nation as a democracy but rather would turn it into an autocracy at the first opportunity.  And outside of government, thanks to the divisiveness of our leaders, thanks to their lies and corruption, We the People are also divided … in a way I’ve never seen before, not even in the days of Jim Crow or Vietnam.

The current state of the union is that it’s a bloody mess.  This is not the fault of President Biden, who has been quietly getting the job done, has managed the impossible in a number of areas, but is rather the fault of We the People.  It was US who elected the corrupt politicians who now sit in Congress and make decisions every day that are ruining our lives.  It was US who were so poorly educated that we fell for the rhetoric spouted by the likes of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Marge Greene, Ron Johnson and so many others.  It is US who have opted for the entertainment value rather than the seriousness of purpose, have voted for the clowns rather than the intellectuals.

I have no doubt that the President’s message tomorrow night will be one of hope, one that highlights the positive rather than the negative, and that’s as it should be.  The response from the Republican Party will be given by none other than former Press Secretary under Donald Trump, and current Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  I hope that the night does not turn into a three-ring circus of the sort the Republican Party is known for.  At the least, it will be interesting … let’s hope that’s all it is.