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Arrows Up

Do you remember when Newsweek started to do that “Who’s Up, Who’s Down” little box in each issue? To me, that was the start of the decline of that magazine. Oh, it was catchy. and one looked at it, but how irresponsible of what was supposed to be a thoughtful weekly magazine covering crucial issues, to try to distill this into some kind of sports metaphor. And I well remember how in 2008, they almost always gave Hillary Clinton a down arrow; either she lost a primary, or more usually, she won one or two, but the snarky people who ran that feature would always put “She is running out of primaries.” things like that.

So we know that it is beyond simplistic to try to analyze governance in terms of “ups and downs” But in terms of the “horse race,” which the media now almost always accentuates, this kind of thing predominates. We can’t get rid of it, though it is misleading and facile. But, since it is “a la mode,” let us note that the imaginary arrow is pointing way up for Biden and Democrats this last week.

Today, the Jobs Report shows 528,000 jobs added in this country, and an unemployment rate of 3.5%, the lowest unemployment figure in fifty years. This convincingly belies the “we are in a recession!” nonsense that all of the Republicans and far too much of the media latched onto when the GDP number slightly declined. Of course these numbers will change next month, and likely the jobs added will be a good deal less, and then the “Recession!” headlines will start again. But taken in totality over the months. the economy is strong, with inflation being the one drawback for now.

There is so much more. Kyrsten Sinema finally came through, at least as far as she ever does, along with Manchin earlier, and will support the Inflation Reduction Act, which should pass. There is still a question of what the Senate Parliamentarian will allow on this piece or that, but most of it should pass. And the bill is not ideal; there are things which we would want which are not in there. But given everything, and our beyond slim majorities, it is not bad. And there are enough Democrats whom I respect, such as Senator Schatz of Hawaii, who are very much for this bill, to cause me to think that it is indeed worthwhile to pass it; that it will be important for the environment, and may even reduce inflation somewhat.

The CHIPS Act recently passed as well. Given the limited numbers which Democrats hold in Congress, President Biden, aided by House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer, have done a rather remarkable job of passing important legislation, in the face of intractable Republican opposition, propaganda, and mockery.

We also note that gas prices have dropped for fifty straight days, with many stations showing a price of less than $4.00 now. This is obviously higher than last year, but given the factors, including massive oil company price gouging, it is a significant reduction. It is certainly possible that prices will go up again, particularly right before the election, since oil companies never want the Democrats to win. But the current drop is not negligible.

This week, we learned about the elimination of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Whoever is credited with the planning and implementation, it happened with Biden’s approval, and so he deserves credit for it as well.

Now, the general tenor, incessant from Republicans, and certainly accepted and even amplified by the media, is that Biden’s presidency has been a terrible failure. This was always absurd, and is particularly so now. We have all seen various presidential regimes. How many of them have accomplished more in less than two years, particularly with the political headwinds, a Republican Party which is worse than it ever has been, and which takes pride in voting as a bloc to stop every bill that the Democrats propose?

We all know that things can rapidly change, particularly with Republicans and much of the media just waiting to go back to their “Biden is a failure; put the Republicans back in charge,” narrative. Very likely there will be another negative report on inflation, at least it will not drop “enough.”

It is such a tightrope that Democrats have to walk, that one bad jobs report right before the election will be headlined on every station. One hates to have to depend on some luck in the last pre-election statistics, but it often comes down to that, because Republicans essentially own the media.

The thing to note is that this has been a very good week for Democrats; first with regard to the economic news, and then with the great victory in the Kansas election, where by a margin of 59-41%, voters refused to allow their state legislature to take away abortion rights. That is a righteous cause and energy which has to be channeled into the upcoming midterms.

Somehow, virtually every election has to be about abortion to at least some degree, as well as climate, guns, and Republican totalitarianism. Any party which actually features the fascist Viktor Orban as a keynote speaker, drawing cheers from the fascist sympathizers who make up that party, should be more than defeated, it should be ostracized from public legitimacy.

Democrats need to capitalize on the good news, and even more importantly, make the elections a referendum on the Republicans, who are far too dangerous to be allowed to govern anywhere. Do not shrink from that, do not think that “going high” will win on its own nobility of sentiment. Tell the people what the Republicans are now. They want the United States to be Hungary or Russia, and they want to be able to tell everyone else what to do and not do. This is completely inimical to the founding principles of this nation. This cannot be allowed to go one step further, and it must be rolled back.

That will of course depend on people’s willingness to come out and vote in record numbers, and not to be dissuaded by the various noises and distractions which Republicans and their media arms make. Full speed ahead. Arrows up!

16 Responses

  1. The Inflation Reduction Act falls far short of the original Build Back Better bill, but since BBB is dead, the IRA is probably better than nothing. It can be sold to the public as a bill that reduces inflation whether it does that or not. (“This morning gives us promise of a glorious day”!) Most people won’t have any idea what’s actually in the bill or what slimy side deals have been gifted to Manchin or Sinema.

    In the lingo of sports: “We need a win” and “It’s not pretty but we’ll take it”.

    • I’m currently listening to an old copy of “Up With People! A Sing-Out Musical” in an attempt to become more optimistic.

      • I certainly did not pore over the bill, I don’t even know where one would, until passed. But most climate activist groups seem basically happy with it, which is the most important part of the bill for me.

      • A couple of high school friends of mine joined Up With People and toured with them for awhile. From their description afterwards, it sounded like a Protestant equivalent of the Hare Krishna (ISKC) people or a cross (pun intended) between Norman Vincent Peale and EST.

        • Yes, I’ve heard it is/was a cult-like group. I was joking about listening to their music.

  2. Please see RD’s last column for the usual Friday night links, since the pitiful excuse for a commenting system known as WordPress won’t let me post links on the comment threads of William’s columns.

  3. What is NOT in the Inflation Reduction Act (but was in the Build Back Better bill):

    •Paid family and medical leave

    •Extended child tax credits

    •Universal prekindergarten

    •Improved maternal health care

    •Subsidies for home and community based services (HCBS) for the disabled and elderly to allow them to remain in their homes

    •Medicare expansion to cover dental, hearing and vision care

    •Strengthening the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to make it easier for workers to unionize

    Who are the people these programs would serve?
    •Women
    •Children
    •The elderly
    •The sick and disabled
    •The poor
    •The working class

    • Disgusting. The number of things that had to be taken out in order to get the vote of 2 so-called Democrats. Plus we see Manchin get help for his fracking pipe line and Sinema get her way on carried interest, which will ensure her employment after her term is over.

    • And, of course, it no longer contains any provisions to rein in the carried interest provisions of the IRS code. It does, apparently, contain a provision to tax stock buybacks, which is not as good as making them illegal (as they were before Reagan) but it’s something.

  4. UGGH… Today’s Wordle answer was the first word I guessed… YESTERDAY. Bummer.

    • Darn, sorry to hear. You still have a tremendous record. i saw your comment before i tried the wordle, and though I did my usual early guesses, giving me four letters, it is possible that your comment got me to think of a letter which I don’t use as often as you might, though I am pretty sure that I would have considered it anyway, given the limited letter choices left. Anyway, that letter enabled me to get the word. I didn’t know if you start with the same first guess each time, or if so, what it was, although i guess I now know what it was for you yesterday. That is frustrating.

      • I rotate thru 9 different sets of 3 words which test 15 letters for my first three guesses, If I had one more cycle before today I would have been a GENIUS. So far 2 of the words I rotate thru have been the answer, the other time I was on the right cycle (which is just lucky) but it was my second guess.

  5. The FBI has raided Margo Largo! Melania is singing “Moanin’ Low” tonight.

    William, can you put on your lawyer’s hat and help us understand what the FBI may be doing? Marc Elias is writing about it on his twitter account.

    • Beata, this certainly is not my original idea, but it seems likely that this is directly related to the classified documents which Trump took out of the White House. That would seem to be the most likely reason for doing this. But of course no one outside of the FBI knows for sure now. And of course evidence they find related to other criminal matters might well be legitimate fruits of the search.

      One would think that Wray would never have authorized this without very good reason to believe that they would find something to implicate Trump, and maybe others.

      I actually have mixed feelings about this, because the Republicans will use it to distract from everything else, and to rile up their base to vote in November. Trump already did this in his statement;and Kevin McCarthy has appallingly now stated that “when” the Republicans take over the House, he will set up hearings to investigate the FBI, and Garland. And Republicans have no barriers and no interest in anything but winning, so they will of course try to use all of this to inflame their base toward some kind of civil war.

      Not that this should ever intimidate the AG or FBI, but I rather wish that we could have concentrated right now on our recently passed legislative accomplishments. i say this, because a “win” here, which would be some kind of jail for Trump, would take a year or two, and even then is uncertain; while meanwhile the Republicans will have used it for their evil purposes. is that a price we have to pay? Very possibly. But the evidence found will take a while to be revealed, while Republicans try to use it to destroy the entire justice system.

      I do know that the standard of probable cause to allow this raid would have had to be very high. And Wray was chosen by Trump. The smart lawyers on TV know those things, and are saying them, but this war is not about logic from the other side. One can certainly say that we were going to have this kind of showdown fairly soon, so we cannot avoid it, even if it might not be the ideal political time for it. The wheels of justice move along.

      • Thank you, William.

        Does it seem to have been necessary to issue a search warrant to raid Margo Largo with haste? Possibly because the FBI had information that classified documents (or the great whatsit?) would be destroyed in the immediate future? The news I am hearing is that Trump was in New York during the raid.

        The timing of the raid does seem odd. I understand what you are saying. It’s impossible to know if this is a good or bad development in the overall political scheme of things. We cannot see into the future. My feeling is that justice must be done, nevertheless.

      • The BBC had a very insightful interview about how this raid must be viewed through a political lens as much, if not more, as a legal one, given the current “volatile” nature of our democracy. The interview warned that the raid could be “galvanizing” for Trump supporters. So that echoes what you are saying, William. Should we careful what we wish for?

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