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E-S-P-E-C-T – Who is getting it, and who isn’t?


While it’s difficult to take The NY Times seriously when they do the reflex “both-sides”, false equivalence, Dems-in-Disarry shuffle, of late the paper has been a place to find some growing appreciation for Biden and Democrats. Even Bret Stephens has been forced to make some grudging admissions about Biden getting stuff done.

At the same time, there’s more and more open discussion of the threat to America that Republicans represent. Here’s a few sample highlights from the Gray Lady:

9-20-22:  What I Saw as the Country’s First National Climate Adviser. Gina McCarthy talks about the way things are starting to turn around on climate thanks to Biden:

…In my early days as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, auto dealers were predicting that shifting to cleaner cars meant vehicle costs would skyrocket and sales would drop, while the autoworkers and steelworkers talked about plant closings and layoffs. Even very early on in the Biden administration, when labor was fully engaged and squarely at the table, the old paradigm that cleaner standards meant job loss was hard to break. And unions worried that a big shift to electric vehicles could pose a fundamental threat to their workers.

…When President Biden came into office, he signed executive orders that created timetables and milestones for every sector of the economy and mobilized his entire administration toward this goal. The president sent clear signals to the private sector that clean energy was the future, and they needed to be all in. Autoworkers, steelworkers and the automakers were now ready to come to the table, alongside climate advocates, farmers, workers, environmental justice activists, and more.

Then, we secured the historic Inflation Reduction Act — the most aggressive action on climate in U.S. history. When Mr. Obama took office, there were 500 charging stations nationwide. Now, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we plan to install 500,000 chargers across the country. Every major automaker signed on to the president’s goal of achieving 50 percent E.V. sales nationwide by 2030, a goal considered laughable just two years ago.

The United States is now becoming a magnet for clean energy innovation and investment. Since President Biden took office, companies have invested nearly $85 billion in manufacturing of electric vehicles, batteries and E.V. chargers in the United States. The United States is now on track to triple domestic solar manufacturing capacity by 2024, and in 2021 alone, investors announced $2.2 billion in new funding for offshore wind supply chains.

We have a long way to go, but if Democrats can keep control of the government, we’re headed in the right direction. An Ezra Klein podcast interview with Jesse Jenkins notes that one of the under-appreciated elements of the Inflation Reduction Act is that it puts a lot of standards into place that should have a big long term effect in decarbonizing the country.

9-19-22: You Cannot Be Too Cynical About Trump (or His Imitators)Bret Stephens and Gail Collins do their usual comedy routine, but…

Bret: That being said, it isn’t such a bad thing that the G.O.P. keep fumbling the politics of the midterm, because the last thing the country needs is yet another crop of Trumpy Republicans in Congress. So I say, go Lindsey! [meaning Graham is screwing up bigly by pushing a national abortion ban]

Gail: Wow, so you’re hoping for a Democratic-controlled Congress as well as a Democratic-controlled White House?

Bret: Which Bolshevik was the one who said “the worse, the better”? That’s kind of my attitude here. It’s not that I relish the idea of continued Democratic control. Far from it. But then I look at the alternative.

But Stephens proves he’s still less than reality-based with this:

…Bret: All depends on the opponent. If you were a Republican primary voter and your choice was between Donald Trump and DeSantis, who would choose? No fair to answer “Canada” or “euthanasia.”

Gail: Exactly why I’m never going to be a Republican primary voter. And I don’t believe there’s a Democrat with an infinitesimal possibility of nomination I wouldn’t prefer to DeSantis.

Bret: No fair avoiding the question! I’m no longer a registered Republican, but I’d root for DeSantis over Trump in a primary, and I’d vote for DeSantis over, say, Kamala Harris or Gavin Newsom in a general election, though I hope that’s not the choice I would have to make…

Note that Stephens doesn’t even bring up Biden running for a second term — nor does Collins. Oh well.

9-18-22: What Joe Biden Knows That No One Expected Him To. Ezra Klein is impressed that Biden has embraced something important — although he has reservations as well.

…Here, two facets of the Biden administration reveal themselves, one of which I don’t think gets enough credit, the other which I worry doesn’t receive enough critique. The first is that the Biden administration has put technological advance at the very center of its agenda. Every big bill Biden has passed has carried a theory of how better policy could lead to better technologies that could lead to a better world. The second is that the Biden administration’s technological optimism is paired with an institutional conservatism: Too many Washington agencies proved too cautious during the pandemic, and little has been done to make them more daring.

Let’s start with Biden’s ambition. Four major bills have passed during his presidency: The American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Every one of them, at a core level, is about creating or deploying new technologies to solve ongoing problems.

Last week, I wrote about how much of Biden’s agenda relied on building, and what it would take to make that much building possible, at the speed it needs to happen. But Biden’s agenda is just as reliant on inventing — and just as much needs to be done to make the government a dearer friend to invention.

Still, this is an unexpectedly thrilling side of Biden’s presidency. A liberalism that is as ambitious about solving problems through invention as it is through redistribution would be powerful indeed.

9-18-22: The Return of Combat JoeCharles Blow makes a point that has eluded too many for too long.

…Biden often drifts back into that idealism, seemingly longing for and lost in a long-gone politics in which bipartisanship was more common and an antidemocratic opposition party was unfathomable.

But then reality resurfaces, and he is reminded that he is in a war, not just a disagreement. He is reminded — and must remind the country — that these are dire times.

Unity Joe had to give way to Combat Joe almost from the beginning.

Yeah — Republicans have gotten just a little too openly nasty to explain them away with the both-sides treatment, for those willing to be honest about it.

…Combat Joe appears periodically, and now is another of those periods. His strong warning against Trump and his followers — whose philosophy Biden said is a form of “semi-fascism” and poses a threat to the country — was a welcome stand, a stiffening of the spine in a time when only stiffened spines can prevail.

Yes, Biden tried to soften his latest comments and walk them back a bit in the face of criticism, but what was said could not be unsaid.

…At a summit convened at the White House last Thursday, Biden condemned white supremacy and other forms of bias, saying, according to The New York Times, “In America, evil will not win, will not prevail.”

According to The Times, Biden said, “There are those who say if we bring this up, we just divide the country.” He continued, “Bring it up, we silence it instead of remaining silent.” 

As he put it, “We cannot be intimidated by those who are talking about this as somehow that we’re a bunch of wacko liberals.”

Now, saying it at a White House summit is not the same as saying it in the State of the Union, but it’s still welcome. Walking away from vociferous truth telling in the name of unity is like ignoring war in the name of peace. It solves nothing; it allows tragedy to unfold unchecked. Welcome back, Combat Joe.

9-17-22: How Low Can They Go? Maureen Dowd can’t avoid reflex slaps at Biden, but the main thrust of her column is where Republicans have taken us:

…In some ways, it’s easier to battle racism, sexism, xenophobia and fakery when the principals are gleefully spewing it. You can fight back on the record and in real time.

In other ways, however, having it all out in the open sends a foul stench through American politics, intensifying the brutish and bleak mood of the country.

Politicians who purport to be guardians of American “values” are rewarded for being inhumane. The nastier, the better. Republican pols have gone from kissing babies and rope-line handshakes to full-on viciousness.

I asked Trump during the 2016 campaign why he had gone so dark. “I guess because of the fact that I immediately went to No. 1,” he replied, “and I said, why don’t I just keep the same thing going?”

…They [Republicans] are willing to make life worse for vulnerable, exhausted people who are already in a terrible position — and chortle while they’re being cruel.

As Blake Hounshell noted in The Times, DeSantis is courting Trump donors by adopting the racially charged playbook of Trump, who “made frequent and aggressive political use of Latino migrants during his run for the presidency in 2016 and long thereafter, casting many of them as ‘criminals’ and ‘rapists’ during his presidential announcement at Trump Tower.”

The callousness of DeSantis’s manipulations is clear.

Ugliness is what the G.O.P. is wearing this fall.

They have been wearing for a lot longer than that, but it’s progress that Dowd is finally noticing

9-16-22: Now all Biden has to do is Build It. An Ezra Klein podcast with Felcia Wang has this in the blurb about it:

In the past few months, Joe Biden’s agenda has gone from a failed promise to real legislation.

Taken together, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act (along with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act) have the potential to put America on a path to decarbonization, develop some of the most advanced and crucial supply chains in the world, and build all kinds of next-generation technologies. It’s hard to overstate just how transformative these plans could be if they are carried out in the right way.

The conversation is about how his agenda calls for a lot of things to get built to make it happen, and the problems that entails. (Transcript here.) But — this is happening because of Biden. (See the 9-18-22 Klein commentary)

9-13-22: Ukraine’s Achievement Is Biden’s, Too. Bret Stephens plays armchair general about what Ukraine has done and should do next — but does find time to give credit to Biden for making it possible — if in a minimalist fashion at the beginning and end.

This column is rarely short of criticism of the Biden administration. So let me loudly cheer the fact that the staggering gains Ukrainian forces have made against Russia are a victory for Joe Biden, too.

…As the war enters a new phase, it will inevitably bring new dangers. No danger is graver than failing to prevail. Full credit to Biden for getting, and acting on, the point.

9-13-22: It Is a Well-Known Truth That Opponents of Democracy Don’t Want You to Have Nice Things. Jamelle Bouie does chapter and verse on why you can’t have democracy when people are actively fighting the things needed to make it work:

As a nation, the United States is committed to a creed of free market capitalism. But this belies a heritage of egalitarianism and economic equality in American political thought. Among the oldest and most potent strains of American thinking about democracy is the belief that free government cannot exist in tandem with mass immiseration and gross disparities of wealth and status.

I gestured toward this idea last week when I wrote that today’s opponents of democracy are driven by an opposition to the “more equitable distribution of wealth and status, which a robust democracy — and only a robust democracy — makes possible.” Here, with a little more space and time, I want to show my work.

…Wherever you look in U.S. history, you see Americans grappling with the connections among equality, inequality and democracy. Crucially, many of those Americans have struggled to make democracy itself a tool for the more equitable distribution of wealth and status. As the historian Lawrence Goodwyn recounts in “The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America,” “A large number of people in the United States discovered that the economic premises of their society were working against them” and so they tried “through democratic politics to bring the corporate state under popular control” and use its power to bring a measure of equality to their lives.

Voodoo economics and ‘trickle-down’ myths do nothing to promote democracy.

9-12-22: Ukraine Deflates MAGA Macho Myths. Dr. Paul Krugman discusses how Ukraine’s success give the lie to Republican posturing about ‘strong leaders’.

But there’s something special about the MAGA embrace of the mystique of Russian might: a worldview that equates tough-guy swagger with effectiveness. This worldview has warped the right’s perception not just of the Russian Army but also of how to deal with many other issues. And it’s worth asking where it comes from.

Many Republicans have admired Putin for a long time — even before Donald Trump took over the G.O.P. Back in 2014, for example, Rudy Giuliani said of Putin, “That’s what you call a leader.” And Trump continued to praise Putin even after he invaded Ukraine.

…The result is that the war, while it is of course overwhelmingly a fight for Ukrainian freedom, has also, weirdly, become a front in America’s cultural and political wars.

There’s growing speculation about what will happen inside Russia if the invasion of Ukraine ends in outright defeat. But you also have to wonder how the U.S. right will handle the revelation that sometimes tough guys finish last.

The key distinction is what ‘tough’ actually means.

I could go on. Granted, this is a small sample from just The NY Times. The larger media still has a problem with the way they cover Democrats — they continue to  reflexively pick up talking points from the Right and amplify/legitimize them — and the Democrat’s lack of a dedicated media messaging machine comparable to what right-wing oligarchs have built also is a problem. Plus, Democrats still need to do better messaging — which is why Dark Brandon is refreshing.

(And I wonder how Democratic candidates who were distancing themselves away from Biden a month ago are doing now?)

But… Republicans are now so openly a threat to America that even the most oblivious media types are finding it just a bit harder these days to ignore semi-fascism on the march.

To paraphrase George W. Bush, is our media learning?


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Do you think the media coverage of Democrats is getting a bit more favorable, and do you think Republicans are getting more heat on where they are headed?

Too little, too late on both.





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