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Copy of A Progressive State of the Union Message

06/28/2022

There is more talk of building the wall. Perhaps we should melt down the Statue of Liberty and use it to make a wall against the "tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

The Russian invasion of Ukraine:

This is a little long, but life in the U.S. is a little complicated; there are no short, simple answers. I have provided a soundtrack of this if you haven't the time to read it. I need to point out that much of this treatise is cut and pasted from many sites with some editing on my part, and I haven't taken the time to attribute anything to the dozens of sites I visited. I apologize for that. I don't get paid for this, so you get what you get for free. None of this is intended to proffer my expertise on these matters but rather to gather like-minded comments into a coherent treatise on our nation's problems. Generally, if you copy a sentence or paragraph and paste that into Google, chances are it will take you to the page where I got the info or several with the same data.

The following items are not listed in order or priority as each of us, I suspect, would prioritize them differently. Feel free to set your priorities. For the readers, I have highlighted the GOP text in red and the Democrats in blue for ease of reading, I hope; if you're listening to the audio, you'll have to pay attention - it will say either GOP or Democrats at the beginning of a statement. My stuff is just my stuff like what you're hearing right now.

Following are some differences in how the Democrats and Republicans are approaching some of the biggest problems facing our nation in 2022. This should help guide the reader/listener in making their voting decision come November this year.

The GOP has so lost its way morally and politically that any values that guided their organization at one time may be irretrievably lost. For instance, here, in part, was the introduction to the GOP Party Platform in 1972.

"This year, our Republican Party has greater reason than ever before for pride in its stewardship. When our accomplishments are weighed-when, our opponents' philosophy, programs, and candidates are assessed-we believe the American people will rally eagerly to the leadership that since January 1969 has brought them a better life in a better land in a safer world...

  • Now, four years later, new leadership with new policies and new programs has restored reason and order, and hope. No longer buffeted by internal violence and division, we are on course in calmer seas with a sure, steady hand at the helm. A new spirit, buoyant and confident, is on the rise in our land, nourished by the changes we have made. In the past four years:<break time='1s' />
  • We have turned toward concord among all Americans;
  • We have turned toward reason and order;
  • We have turned toward government responding sensitively to the people's hopes and needs;
  • We have turned toward innovative solutions to the nation's most pressing problems;
  • We have turned toward new paths for social progress - from welfare rolls to payrolls; from wanton pollution to vigorous environmental protection;
  • We have moved far toward peace: withdrawal of our fighting men from Vietnam, constructive new relationships with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, the nuclear arms race checked, the Mid-East crisis dampened, our alliances revitalized."

The Republican National Committee's Executive Committee voted on June 10, 2020, to adopt the same platform the party used in 2016. This excerpt from that decision says it all:

"WHEREAS, The RNC enthusiastically supports President Trump and continues to reject the policy positions of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as those espoused by the Democratic National Committee today; therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the,President's America-first agenda;"

Next, I offer a short discussion highlighting the differences between the Democrats and the GOP on several critical issues facing our nation in 2022 and beyond.

Criminal Justice:

Democrats: Want to legalize marijuana federally and expunge the records of individuals imprisoned on pot-related charges. President Joe Biden prefers to leave legalization up to the states but argues for decriminalizing the drug, meaning users could not be arrested for possessing it. Most Democrats support eliminating mandatory minimums in federal sentencing and ending the use of privately run prison facilities. Still, there is some disagreement on whether individuals should be able to vote while incarcerated.

GOP: Not surprisingly, the Republicans look at the past for solutions to the future. When Trump signed a long-sought criminal justice reform measure in 2018, he envisioned using the legislation to make significant inroads with Black and moderate swing voters. The First Step Act was not just hailed as a rare bipartisan achievement for the 45th president but as the beginning of a significant shift in GOP politics. Three-and-a-half years later, few Republicans - Trump included - seem interested in the topic. Voter concern over spikes in crime has Republicans retreating to their 1980s mindset. Talk of improving our criminal justice system has taken a back seat to calls for enhanced policing and accusations that Democratic-led cities are veering toward lawlessness.

COVID:

Democrats: After being handed an almost total clusterfuck-bungling of the pandemic by # 45, Biden went to work in his first 100 days. When he took office in January, President Biden pledged 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days. At the end of March, he doubled that commitment. Around 16 million shots were given during the entire Trump administration, which means that around 220 million were delivered during Biden's first 100 days in office.

GOP: Republican attorneys general hit the Biden administration with a barrage of lawsuits even before the end of its first 100 days, foreshadowing what could be a litigious four years between President Biden and the top state law enforcement officials. The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) said its members have filed at least 19 lawsuits against Biden's administration in less than 100 days. They've also sought to intervene as litigants at least eight times. The anti-mask movement within the GOP is infamous.

January 6 investigation:

Democrats: The January 6 commission was a proposed commission to investigate the 2021 United States Capitol attack. Proposed on February 15, 2021, by Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, she planned to create a "9/11-type commission". The proposal was negotiated by Republican John Katko and was to consist of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. A bill forming the commission passed the House of Representatives on May 19, with all Democrats and 35 Republicans voting in support of it. However, it was blocked by Senate Republicans on May 28, with 54 Senators voting in favor and 35 voting against, failing to clear the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

GOP: True to their nature to stonewall, resist, pervert the truth, lie, and block efforts to find the truth, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy who had earlier advocated for congressional action to form such a commission was then offered such a commission that had included all three conditions he requested. However, McCarthy announced on May 19 that he opposed the formation of a commission to investigate the attack. He accused Pelosi of negotiating in bad faith, and stated that the scope of the legislation needed to examine other instances of political violence.

Refusing to be part of the 1/6 committee was one of the monumental political blunders of our time. Now, with the committee reporting out the GOP is feckless in their protests and can only sputter about the investigation that daily paints them in a worse light. In one of my more lucid moments, I rebranded the GOP as the "ELF Party". The letters, E, L, & F standing for "Exaggerate, Lie & Fake-it).

Economy & Inflation:

Democrats: The moderate New Democrat Coalition (NDC) came forward today (June 8, 2022) with a pragmatic 24-page Action Plan to Fight Inflation - and it's the best inflation-fighting blueprint to come out of Congress yet. The Action Plan would strengthen global supply chains and increase price competition by reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade. Tariffs not only raise prices for consumers by adding a surcharge on goods produced in whole or in part from overseas, they also enable domestic firms to raise their prices without increasing supply because competition is reduced.

GOP: Dawdle, diddle, and debate! Republicans have revealed that their plan to fight against inflation is to hold congressional hearings... someday... if they can regain the majority. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) serves as part of the Republican Party's leadership team in the House of Representatives. In an appearance on Fox News on June 12, Stefanik was asked what her party's inflation-fighting plans are if Republicans win the House in the November elections. "This is going to be one of our number one priorities, so number one, Trey, having a hearing on inflation," said Stefanik. The congresswoman did not explain how holding a hearing would do anything to combat the problem. Other comments by the GOP, "Republicans only need to look back to 2016." Yep, let's move forward by going backward! "deliver on budget deficits, government regulations, and taxes. At the same time, the Trump campaign leveraged slogans like "build the wall" in response to growing concerns about illegal immigration. Republicans made border security a "dominant" issue-and it worked."

Equality/Racism:

Democrats: "It is our moral imperative, to tell the truth about our past to finally reconcile with this nation's history of racism and white nationalism," Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a New York Democrat said in a statement announcing legislation aimed at protecting and promoting the teaching of African American history in K-12 schools. "The moment we are in requires of us a clear-eyed vision to ensure that not just our children but people of all ages have access to resources and education that accurately recount African American history," he said. The legislation itself has the modest goal of directing some $10 million a year over five years to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which would, in turn, use the funds to develop and make available high-quality teaching materials related to teaching African American history, provide professional development for early childhood, elementary and secondary teachers, establish a teacher fellowship program and engage with local and state leaders interested in incorporating the museum's resources into their curriculum.

GOP: This Democratic push comes amid a major backlash among conservatives to critical race theory - the academic assertion that racial inequity exists in all facets of American life, including education, health care, the criminal justice system, and more. Some of the most dramatic examples, legislation proposed in GOP-controlled Florida would ban public schools from making people feel "discomfort" when being taught about racial discrimination in U.S. history, and in Virginia, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin established a tip line for parents to report instances when educators teach "divisive" subjects. In total, 17.7 million public school students - more than a third of all students in the country - have had their learning restricted by such local and state policies, according to a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Women's Rights:

Democrats: The struggle for women's rights has gone on since the founding of this nation and long before that. The right to own property, to vote, to divorce, equal pay, the list of rights denied women throughout history is a long one. Now, old white men want to dictate to a woman that she must be a mother no matter her wishes or the manner in which she became pregnant. This from "Ten Resolutions For The Democratic Party in 2022": "We've fought off ridiculous personhood amendments successfully for years, and we can lead on reproductive rights just like we have with marijuana. And don't get caught up in the ridiculous double-speak of the anti-VAX movement, which apparently believes that "my body my choice" means that its members get to infect the world like a Neo-Typhoid Mary without repercussions because Roe v. Wade gave women the right to choose what happens inside their own uterus. Not the same, you insufferable Karen-bots. Not the same."

GOP: Gov. Ron DeSantis is clearly continuing on his path of authoritarian leadership as he is likely to sign a 15-week abortion ban into law in Florida. It apparently isn't enough for him to ban teaching the American history of slavery, racism, and Jim Crow, or to dismiss COVID-19 mitigations such as masks and vaccines in favor of unscientific treatments, or to ban books, or kill the rights of LGBTQ+ Floridians by forbidding his constituents to even say the word "gay," but now he's going after the rights of women over their own bodies.

The U.S. Senate voted against advancing the Women's Health Protection Act, a bill that will have codified Roe v. Wade to protect abortion rights. With a 49-51 vote, the bill was blocked, falling short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster from Republicans.

All Republican Senators voted against the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday. Republican Senator Ted Cruz said he was "proud to oppose" the bill. "Let's be very clear: Today's vote would not codify Roe v. Wade," Cruz said. "It would go much further, eradicating the common-sense abortion laws that Texans and others have enacted through the democratic process."

Education:

On a federal level, education isn't on top of either party's priority list. At the local level, education has become a hot-button issue given the GOP's opposition of critical race theory, or CRT, being taught in schools. Over the past year, a number of states, including Florida and Oklahoma, have pursued legislation restricting the teaching of CRT, a once-obscure, university-level academic concept that examines the impact of racism in America's policies and institutions.

Democrats: The Democrats are dedicated to ensuring the next generation has access to quality education and the tools to drive our economy forward. Our country is strongest when our workers are trained with the knowledge and ingenuity to perform at the highest levels. Here are some of the ideas Democrats have championed for two decades.
• Free public college for families under $125,000
• Op-Ed: anti-school choice policy alienates Hispanic
• Turn around struggling public schools; expand public options
• Double investment in Pell Grants & more tax credits
• Make college tuition tax deductible
• Standardized tests to advance learning, not bureaucracy
• Charter schools OK, vouchers not
• Support lifelong learning and Distance Learning
• Bush broke the promise of NCLB by not funding it
• Democrats are the party of public education
• Education is a top priority in the Democrat presidency
• Character education is an important aspect of education
• Accountability is a key to public school success
• Reduce class size, modernize facilities, hire new teachers
• Enact new tax programs to enable more life-long learning
• The U.S. needs public school accountability, not vouchers

GOP: Rewrite history, like Putin is doing in Russia. In states like Florida, Texas, and Missouri, Republican governors and legislatures are instituting very similar policies. You cannot teach, for example, that the United States subjugated Blacks, Asians and other non-white races and ethnicities to systemic injustices. Textbooks that approach a discussion on historical events-European settlers massacring native peoples; the Trail of Tears; even slavery-are downplayed if they're taught at all. In some schools, the "noble cause" of the Confederacy has permeated lessons: the South didn't secede because of slavery, the myth goes, but for "states' rights"-ignoring the fact that each state that seceded specifically listed its desire to maintain slavery as the root cause for its decision.

Voting rights:

Democrats: Senate Democrats are scrambling for a Plan B to pass voting rights legislation after Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced they would not vote to change the Senate's filibuster rule despite the pleading of President Biden. Now some Democrats are discussing a novel approach to circumventing a Republican filibuster that may allow voting rights legislation to pass with 51 votes without changing the Senate's rules.

GOP: Sabotage! That's the name of the GOP's game! Following Trump's defeat in the 2020 presidential election, and his subsequent unfounded claims of voter fraud, many GOP-controlled state legislatures pursued a crackdown on voting laws.In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that creates more hurdles for people to vote by mail, places new restrictions on early voting and makes it harder for non-English-speaking voters and voters with disabilities to receive assistance at the ballot box. Similar measures have been taken in Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Iowa. A newly surfaced recording of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists last October reveals a multi-pronged GOP strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts. In the recording obtained by Politico, a Republican National Committee staffer outlines a plan to train and install volunteers to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places. Matthew Seifried, the RNC's election integrity director for Michigan, also said Republicans are setting up a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.

Guns:

Democrats: Save our children! Legislate sane gun laws! Action, not platitudes and excuses!
• The Raise the Age Act
• Prevent Gun Trafficking Act
• The Untraceable Firearms Act
• Ethan's Law
• The Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act
• The Kimberly Vaughan Firearm Safety Storage Act
• Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act
• The Keep Americans Safe Act

GOP: Obfuscate, dawdle, diddle, and defecate on any attempts to save the lives of our children! A top Republican senator warned his fellow lawmakers Sunday against throwing their support behind the framework of new gun control legislation until the actual bill text has been hammered out. "There is still no deal, and yet we continue to be asked by colleagues, by constituents, by reporters, 'Are you supporting the bill?'" Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told Fox News Sunday. "This is a very dangerous way to legislate," he added. "Behind closed doors - you need the transparency of a public conversation with the bill text in front of you. I personally refuse to indicate whether I, or how I will vote on a bill until after I've seen the text because there are a lot of things that can go wrong," Lee went on.

LGBTQI+ Rights:

Democrats: President Biden and a large majority of Democrats believe that no one should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love. Since President Biden took office, he has championed the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans and people around the world, accelerating the march towards full equality. To mark Pride Month, President Biden will sign an Executive Order Advancing Equality for LGBTQI+ Individuals, and he will welcome LGBTQI+ families, advocates, elected officials, and leaders to the White House for a reception. There was a time in human history when Jews couldn't marry Christians, and Protestants couldn't marry Catholics. People of color couldn't marry white people. The virtual ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans by immigrating Europeans was called "Manifest Destiny" In virtually every instance of discrimination, religion and what God supposedly said was used to justify our bigotry. The ways in which we find opportunities to discriminate are many, and mindless. Now religious bigotry has turn on the gay community.

GOP: The Republican preoccupation and obsession with LGBTQ folks continue despite their acceptance by a majority of Americans. GOP-led states recently passed laws to keep transgender girls and women from competing in sports. Florida doesn't allow anyone to say "Gay". This right-wing entity, controlled by a restrictive ideology and led by someone who shamelessly refuses to acknowledge he lost a presidential election, bears no resemblance to a sane political party. It is taking the entire country down with it, back to the 1950s.

Immigration:

Democrats: The administration's plan to lift Trump-era immigration curbs instituted during the pandemic, colloquially called Title 42, is roiling the Democratic Party as candidates and incumbents dash away from Biden's position in an election year. Republicans and some Democrats are beginning to insist on a vote to delay the easing of the immigration limits, even as progressives and some immigration reform advocates stand with the administration's policy - if not its politics.

GOP: More backward movement: four years after Republicans embraced Donald Trump's nativist and often racist playbook to keep control of Congress, the party is once again placing the volatile politics of immigration at the center of its midterm election strategy. From the US-Mexico border to the US Capitol, in hearing rooms and courtrooms, Republicans are hammering the issue. At the forefront of the debate is a once-obscure public health order invoked by the Trump administration in March 2020 to control the spread of coronavirus along the southwestern border.

There is more talk of building the wall. Perhaps we should melt down the Statue of Liberty and use it to make a wall against the "tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

The Russian invasion of Ukraine:

Democrats: The Biden administration plans to sell MQ-1C Gray Eagle attack drones to Ukraine, anonymous sources disclosed to Reuters at the start of June, but the deal still needs to be approved by Congress. The Gray Eagles would be a potent addition to Ukraine's arsenal, but a political tug-of-war is taking place over whether or not the drones will go. It sounds like hyperbole, but it's not; the seventy-plus years of world peace we have enjoyed since WWII, although marred by smaller conflicts, is jeopardized by Russia and Putin's brazen and unjustifiable invasion and brutal targeting of civilians. History will decide if the free world stood up to tyranny or folded to save money on gasoline.

GOP: The last thing the GOP cares about is Ukrainian lives! "The Republican message on Ukraine is all over the map. They are calling Biden weak, claiming his sanctions won't do enough or will do too much, arguing he is unfocused or too focused on Putin." This Republican rambling is not by design. It reflects legitimate differences in the party (i.e., pro-fascist v. fascist-curious) and a mob of weak leadership; it's mostly a bunch of dumb people saying whatever dumb thing first pops into their pea brains. They want to attack Biden for being weak and attack him if sanctions lead to higher gas prices or other disruptions to American life."

Poverty:

Democrats: The Democrats have always championed fighting poverty. While that remains an issue, the availability of jobs and all the other shit happening in the world has pushed fighting poverty into the shadows. We must keep it on the radar for action!

GOP: Looking backward, as usual, House GOP leaders likely will argue that the 1996 welfare law - principally its creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, with its work requirements, time limits, and other features - has been a major success, while other anti-poverty programs have largely failed and should be reshaped along the lines of TANF. House Republicans will likely propose work requirements for safety net programs in their plan to address poverty. However, the evidence indicates that such requirements do little to reduce poverty and, in some cases, push families deeper into it.

We might note that when Reagan was president, we started hearing about the "Trickle Down" theory. What we've learned is that the ultra-rich, dining on foie gras and souffle, get the shits, and what we working-class folks get for our hard work is what trickles down the pants leg of the super-rich!

Climate change/Environment:

Democrats: After Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 election, they created the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to lead the way. After a year and a half of work, the committee released a Tuesday comprehensive report aiming to chart the U.S. course toward solving this existential problem. The plan focuses on fusing climate solutions with economic growth and job creation, laying out 12 key pillars like investing in infrastructure, developing renewable energy, building resilience to climate impacts, and prioritizing environmental justice. This will no doubt be robustly opposed by the GOP. We are running out of time. When we reach that point of critical mass on this problem, the required solutions will be dramatic, and most people's lives will be a nightmare.

GOP: On Thursday, the GOP's Energy, Climate and Conservation Task Force announced a six-pillar plan for how the Republican Party will address climate change should it win back the House in November. That, at least, is how the party has sought to present the plan and largely how it's being reported. But it's worth being clear: This six-part strategy is not a climate plan, and nobody should confuse it for one. Though allegedly the result of a year of work from a subdivision of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's "Commitment to America," helmed by Louisiana Congressman Garrett Graves, the new "plan" is a microwaved set of talking points that might be familiar to the tiny circle of climate reporters who are professionally obligated to pay attention to the various climate-scented things the GOP has belched out these last few years. The six pillars themselves are a grab bag of buzzwords presumably harvested from the party's favorite think tanks and trade associations: "Unlock American Resources," "Let America Build," "American Innovation," "Beat China and Russia," "Conservation With a Purpose," and "Build Resilient Communities." The policies therein are the same things Republicans have been asking for as long as anyone can remember. These include boosting domestic fossil fuel production and exports, restoring coastal wetlands, and building some renewables.

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Admitting both my bias toward liberalism and defending my opinions in general, I have to say that what is most striking to me is the difference between the "Left" and "Right" politically in this country as it pertains to their approach to governing. The Democrats seem very focused on "people" solutions and forward-thinking ideas using technology and science; that's not to say they are all great ideas, but they are proactive and positive approaches.

The Republican approach and ideas seem to drip with negativity and distrust of others. They reach for old solutions and punitive measures to "control" the masses rather than create a positive atmosphere where one is encouraged to do the right thing. The comparison that comes to mind is that of a teacher who screams and threatens children into learning and one who creates an atmosphere of openness, trust, and love.