Monitoring Biden and other Contemporary Events

Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2021 05:58 am
Joe Biden wants to revive FDR’s Conservation Corps

To understand what a climate workforce could actually achieve, look to Colorado

LOOK EAST from the benches on top of Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Denver’s skyline is just visible in the distance. The venue, ringed by sandstone cliffs, is where many Coloradans saw their first concert and where fitness junkies gather for early-morning yoga. Less well known is the role the amphitheatre played in American history. It was built by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal programme that put some 3m men to work building infrastructure and parks during the Great Depression. Now “Roosevelt’s Tree Army”, as the corps was called, may be getting a 21st-century makeover. President Joe Biden, who has not been coy about his admiration for FDR or his desire to emulate the New Deal, wants to fund a new version of the CCC aimed at tackling climate change and its effects.

There is no shortage of work to be done. In 2020 nearly $12bn in maintenance was needed in America’s national parks. Western states want to increase controlled burns and forest thinning so blazes do not turn into megafires. The infrastructure bill Mr Biden signed doubles as a climate to-do list, allocating money to clean up abandoned mines, help communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters and set up charging stations for electric cars.

Mr Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps would be funded by the $1.7trn “Build Back Better” bill that lawmakers are haggling over. As it stands, about $15bn of the roughly $500bn devoted to climate measures would create 300,000 jobs through AmeriCorps, a national-service agency. Sceptics say the corps’ mission lacks focus. What exactly counts as conservation or resilience anyway? John Barrasso, a Republican senator from Wyoming, has interpreted the “tree army” nickname literally, arguing that the corps is a front for lefties to “wage war” on the fossil-fuel industry.

To get a sense of what a revamped CCC would actually do, turn to Colorado. The state recently announced the creation of its own climate corps, which supporters hope will act as a pilot for the federal programme. It awarded the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) a new AmeriCorps grant worth $1.7m a year for three years, creating 240 new positions for young people. The idea that the CCC is a brand-new programme isn’t true, says Scott Segerstrom, executive director of the CYCA: “It is building on existing infrastructure.” Each year between 1,400 and 1,800 people serve in Colorado’s conservation corps. The new grant will merely swell their ranks. Funding for a federal corps would similarly beef up existing programmes across the country.

Climate work conjures up images of physical labour in the backcountry. In Colorado, some new corps members will train as wildland firefighters or rip out invasive plants that suck up more water than the parched West can afford. But the Mile High Youth Corps, which serves 23 counties on Colorado’s Front Range, also offers an example of the work a federal climate corps could perform in cities and suburbs. Workers often install energy- and water-saving equipment, such as high-efficiency toilets or shower aerators, in poor communities.

All this sounds good in theory. But there are roadblocks to implementing a programme like Colorado’s in every state. When Roosevelt started the CCC in 1933, some 13m Americans were out of work. The Depression had squashed livelihoods and farmers had abandoned their fields as dust storms suffocated the Plains. The corps was meant to lift its workers and their families out of poverty. Shannon Dennison, a preservationist who is restoring the old CCC camp near Red Rocks, points out that corps members had to send $25 of the $30 they earned each month home.

In the early months of the pandemic, when at least 20m Americans were unemployed, the circumstances seemed comparable. But now firms across industries are scrambling to find workers. Even proponents of Mr Biden’s corps admit that recruiting enough young people to toil in labour-intensive jobs for little pay will be difficult. Joe Neguse, a Democratic congressman from Colorado who led the push for the CCC in the House of Representatives, says increasing pay and benefits is crucial to recruiting a more diverse corps than that of the 1930s, which consisted mostly of single white men. Still, half of Americans under 45 surveyed by Data for Progress, a left-leaning pollster, said they would consider working in a climate corps. Some may soon get their chance.

bobsal u1553115
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2021 07:47 am
It's a great idea.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2021 11:20 am
0 Replies
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 06:05 am
HCR wrote:
Today, Nate Cohn noted in the New York Times that the policies President Joe Biden and the Democrats are putting in place are hugely popular, and yet Biden’s own popularity numbers have dropped into the low 40s. It’s a weird disconnect that Cohn explains by suggesting that, above all, voters want “normalcy.”

Heaven knows that Biden, who took office in the midst of a pandemic that had crashed the economy and has had to deal with an unprecedented insurgency led by his predecessor, has not been able to provide normalcy.

In her own piece, journalist Magdi Semrau suggests that the media bears at least some of the responsibility for this disconnect, since it has given people a sense of the cost of Biden’s signature measures without specifying what’s in them, focused on negative information (negotiations are portrayed as “disarray,” for example), and ignored that Republicans have refused to participate in any lawmaking, choosing instead simply to be obstructionist. As Semrau puts it: "Democrats want to fix bridges, provide childcare and lower drug costs. Republicans don’t. These are political facts and voters should be aware of them."

To this I would add that Republican attacks on Democrats, which are simple and emotional, get far more traction and thus far more coverage in the mainstream press than the slow and successful navigation of our complicated world.

In illustration of the unequal weight between emotion and policymaking, Biden’s poll numbers took a major hit between mid-August and mid-September, dropping six points. That month saw the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was widely portrayed as a disaster at Biden’s hands that had badly hurt U.S. credibility. In fact, Biden inherited Trump’s deal with the Taliban under which the U.S. promised to withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, so long as the Taliban met several requirements, including that it stop killing U.S. soldiers.

When Biden took office, there were only 3500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a high of 100,000 during the Obama administration. Biden had made no secret of his dislike of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and, faced with the problem of whether to honor Trump’s agreement or send troops back into the country, committed to complete the withdrawal, although he pushed back the date to September.

What he did not know, in part because Trump’s drawdown had taken so many intelligence officers out of the country, was that as soon as Trump’s administration cut the deal with the Taliban, Afghan troops began to make their own agreements to lay down their arms. The Biden administration appears to have been surprised by the sudden collapse of the Afghan government on August 15. As the Taliban took the capital city of Kabul, Afghans terrified by the Taliban takeover rushed to the Kabul airport, where an attack killed 13 U.S. military personnel who were trying to manage the crowd.

Republicans reacted to the mid-August chaos by calling for Biden’s impeachment, and the press compared the moment to the 1975 fall of Saigon. That coverage overshadowed the extraordinary fact that the U.S. airlifted more than 124,000 people, including about 6000 U.S. citizens, out of Afghanistan in the six weeks before the U.S. officially left. This is the largest airlift in U.S. history—the U.S. evacuated about 7000 out of Saigon—and evacuations have continued since, largely on chartered flights.

By comparison, in October 2019 under Trump, the U.S. simply left Northern Syria without helping former allies; the senior American diplomat in Syria, William V. Roebuck, later said the U.S. had “stood by and watched” an “intention-laced effort at ethnic cleansing.” And yet, that lack of evacuation received almost no coverage.

Complicating matters further, rather than agreeing that the withdrawal was a foreign policy disaster, many experts say that it helped U.S. credibility rather than hurt it. According to Graham Allison, the former dean of Harvard Kennedy School, “The anomaly was that we were there, not that we left.”

And yet, in mid-September, while 66% of the people in the U.S. supported leaving Afghanistan, 48% thought Biden “seriously mishandled” the situation.

Aside from getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan, is it true that Biden has not accomplished much?

Biden set out to prove that democracies could deliver for their people, and that the U.S. could, once again, lead the world. He promptly reentered the international agreements Trump had left, including the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization, and renewed those Trump had weakened, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Biden set out to lead the world in coronavirus vaccinations, making the U.S. the world’s largest donor of vaccines globally, although U.S. vaccinations, which started out fast, slowed significantly after Republicans began to turn supporters against them.

Under Biden, the U.S. has recovered economically from the pandemic faster than other nations that did not invest as heavily in stimulus. In March 2021, the Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan stimulus package to rebuild the economy, and it has worked spectacularly. Real gross domestic product growth this quarter is expected to be 5%, and the stock market has hit new highs, as did Black Friday sales yesterday. Two thirds of Americans are content with their household’s financial situation.

The pandemic tangled supply chains both because of shortages and because Americans have shifted spending away from restaurants and services and toward consumer goods. The Biden administration mobilized workers, industry leaders, and port managers to clear the freight piled on wharves. In the past three weeks, the number of containers sitting on docks is down 33%—and shipping prices are down 25%. Major retailers Walmart, Target, and Home Depot all say they have plenty of inventory on hand for the holiday season.

With more than 5.5 million new jobs created in ten months, unemployment claims are the lowest they have been since 1969, prompting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office to tweet, “Armstrong Walks the Moon!... Wait, sorry! That’s a headline from the last year unemployment claims were this low.” Workers’ pay has jumped as much as 13% in certain industries, and there are openings across the labor market.

The American Rescue Plan started the reorientation of our government to address the needs of ordinary Americans rather than the wealthy who have dominated our policymaking since 1981. It provided more than $5 billion in rental assistance, for example, and expanded the Child Tax Credit, so that by the end of October, $66 billion had gone to more than 36 million households, cutting the child poverty rate in half.

Over the course of the summer, Biden negotiated an extraordinarily complicated infrastructure package, winning a $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill that will repair roads and bridges and provide broadband across the country, and getting the larger, $2.2 trillion Build Back Better bill through the House. Now before the Senate, the bill calls for universal pre-kindergarten, funding for child care and elder care, a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and protection against climate change.

Has the Biden administration accomplished anything? It has created a sea change in our country, rebuilding its strength by orienting the government away from the supply-side economics that led lawmakers to protect the interests of the wealthy, and toward the far more traditional focus on building the economy by supporting regular Americans.

Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 06:59 am
Yeah, yeah. But still “sub-par”, according to… some.
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 07:40 am
Large numbers of USAmericans long to be ruled by a sovereign superman, a spellbinding strongman. This was a role that Trump felt he could inhabit comfortably – the objective fact that he really didn't measure up was of no concern to the MAGAtards who so badly wanted to believe in him. That wouldn't have worked for Joe Biden twenty years ago and it won't work for him today. He's not that kind of charismatic figure. Trump succeeded in fulfilling his supporter's expectations – even though he accomplished very little. The irony is that many voters have low expectations for Biden, yet he's already passed game-changing legislation.
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Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 08:12 am
Talk is cheap.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 11:43 am
You sound like the Dos Equis guy.

"I don't normally..."

Suuure you don't.

Being progressive is precisely the problem (I should punctuate this sentence with "jackass" but that would be rude to actual donkeys). Liberals and conservatives can get along with minor issues, such as taxes being too high, schools being too woke, stuff like that, differing on other points.

But progressives are so invested with looking ahead that they can't understabd how we got here. If you don't know how you arrived on a path (Biden's Alzheimer's symptoms are a very good symbol), chances are it would be a bad idea to follow you forward.

We need less spending. Less programs. Less interference in our lives. We don't need morw government.

Conservatives and liberals can potentially agree that the state is bloated, and it's time to pull the plug. Progressives think the solution to inflation is to outspent or outproduce it.

You may be able to get me to agree that someone needs to cut spending habits, though we'd disagree on which group (I'd say medicinwe and education has poured money into nonworking programs). This makes you a LIBERAL not a PROGRESSIVE. Say it with me, "My name is edgarblythe, and I am a liberal."
(Hiiii, edgarblythe!)
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 12:07 pm
This is my one and only response to one of your stupid diatribes. Don't bother responding to me because I don't intend to read anything else that you post.
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Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 03:28 pm
Michael Moore always makes more sense than most of us. This from today's email.

Stop Watching and Reading the Pundit Boobery
Upending some current myths and half-truths

Michael Moore
Nov 28

Look — what’s the problem here? Do I have to explain everything? I don’t want to! Stop watching and reading the pundit boobery! Unbelievable! I’m trying to get through the last of my Thanksgiving day leftovers and I now have to stop and summon all my Marvel superpowers to turn the Speeding False Train of Knuckleheads around and shoot bolts of facts and wisdom into everyone’s heads. I didn’t ask for this job. If you’ve noticed lately I will actually wait for weeks now as I listen to bullshit piled on bullshit before I step in and try to straighten things out. So here I go:

1. Biden’s approval ratings are at an historic low!

No, they’re not! The polls say 52% of us disapprove. That’s because when they call me or you and ask us if we approve we say ”No!” We don’t approve of the human infrastructure bill being chopped down. We don’t approve that there’s still no voting rights bill. We disapprove of Biden not getting Manchin and Sinema in line to vote for these bills. We disapprove of him pulling OSHA back from forcing companies to require employees be vaccinated as a workplace safety issue!

But let’s get this straight — none of this means that the 52% who disapprove are the people who are voting for Trump’s Republicans next year — or for Trump in 2024. A big chunk of the 70% who say they think “the country is going in the wrong direction” are people like you and me and millions of our friends because we believe not passing these laws after nearly a whole year means we ARE heading in the wrong direction. If Biden and the Democratic Congress doesn’t deliver on the promises they ran on, then millions of Biden voters will simply stay home on Election Day next year and then we WILL truly be going deep, deep, deep in the wrong direction.

Again: when 52% say they disapprove — at least a fifth of that number are us! And we are disapproving for the right reasons. Not because we’ll vote for Trump.

2. The country rejects Bernie, the Squad, Democratic socialism, Black Lives Matter and critical race theory!

No! They do not! They may not like AOC or me or Bernie or the word socialism but the vast majority of this country agrees with everything we are trying to get passed in Congress:

•73% of all Americans believe everyone should have paid family leave (CBS poll)
•63% believe community college should be tuition-free (Pew poll)
•64% want stronger gun control laws (Morning Consult poll)
•75% believe “climate change” is real and must be addressed NOW (AP poll)
•62% believe the minimum wage should be raised to at least $15 an hour (Pew poll)
•84% believe Medicare should cover hearing aids, glasses and dental (CBS poll)
•67% believe children should have access to free pre-K (CBS poll)
•67% of voters say that federal voting rights legislation is necessary (Navigator poll)

3. Inflation is at an all-time high!

NO. It is not. The temporary higher prices are the result of a once-in-a-century global pandemic — and they are already self-correcting. When you’ve got pundits saying gas is up 6% over last year — well, of course it is! Because nobody was driving last year! Jeez. And don’t forget, the oil companies, not wanting to be left out of the record wealth accumulation by the rich during the pandemic, have jacked these prices up worldwide. Stop being conned by a media that knows squat about economics. None of this has anything to do with Biden. I promise I’d be the first to point it out.

Companies are raising prices well above increases in their costs.

Let’s be clear: America wants help with its kids, help for their aging parents, help with reducing college debt, and Americans want Big Pharma to cut the crap with charging us $795 for a single pill. The public hates politicians saying they’re going to do something and then don’t.

4. Employers can’t find enough employees because people just don’t want to work!

WRONG! Everybody needs work! But the pandemic has been a wake-up call. And millions of workers have decided they will no longer work for **** wages, crap health care, no paid vacation, no pension, no future. Why go to work and risk your life being closed-in with a half-unvaccinated group of idiots? For what? Ten bucks an hour? And then rush to get to your second job? Hell no.

And so with no planning, no leaders, no movement, the working class of America has said **** YOU to the business world, the corporate bosses, the cubicles and the assembly lines. They are refusing to go back to work until they are paid a real middle class wage. They’ve decided to suffer without a paycheck and are willing to holdout until they are treated right and paid what they deserve. The Left has always hoped for a nationwide strike that would bring about economic justice. No one, though, could figure out how to pull it off. Until Mr. Covid-19 came to town.

Well, now we have a nationwide workers strike underway! The media will never claim that’s what’s going on because to do so would acknowledge the power we hold and that we are defeating the most important weapon the rich have over us: the power to demoralize us, to crush our spirits, to always remind us who is in charge. Until that day that they’re not. And that day has arrived. So now I ask liberals, the Left, good Democrats, and our anemic but much-needed labor unions — what are we going to do with this miraculous moment? Millions of workers are refusing slave wages — but that can only hold on for so long. Time to support them! Time to organize! Time to pass around those Union vote cards! Time to demand a $20 minimum wage (you bastards should’ve taken Bernie up on his bargain-priced $15/hr offer when you had the chance)! A raise for retirees on Social Security! Free health care for all! I beg you all — this is an historic moment and we will regret it if we miss it.

(Here’s something I did recently. In re-opening our nonprofit theater in Michigan, we needed to hire staff to check people’s vaccination cards at the door. I was told I wouldn’t find workers. I offered $22.50 an hour. Within two hours of posting the job openings, we had 40 applicants. Nuff said.)

The State Theatre re-opening in Traverse City, Michigan
Help Mike Enrich Uranium

The first “bi-partisan” infrastructure bill was so watered down. An exhausted President Biden, hunched over his desk as he signed it into law — the poor guy, already feeling half-defeated and pretending to be excited about touring the country at 90 mph in an electric Hummer to rah-rah up the American people over his great accomplishment (ROADS! BRIDGES!) — when he knows the legislation was chopped to pieces and won’t really give us what we truly need. An example: The American Water Works Association said it would cost $60 billion to replace all the dangerous lead pipes in America. To get this bipartisan infrastructure bill passed, he whittled the lead pipe replacement funds down to just $15 billion. So, for every 100 cities that are poisoning their children and giving them permanent brain damage, only 25 will get help? Or perhaps all 100 will get to replace just 25% of the pipes so we can con Black and Hispanic America into believing we’re doing something for them. Who gets to be the lucky Flint of this decade? Who gets to pick the 25% who will get to drink clean water? King Solomon, there’s a call for you…

Old rusty utility pipes sit on the ground where workers are installing new water pipes in Oakland, California. Who decides which lead pipes stay and which get replaced? (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Imagine if when Lincoln ended slavery, and the only way he could get any bill passed was to compromise and say “OK, in the spirit of bipartisanship, we’ll agree to only free the slaves in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. It’s a start! We’ll free the others later!” Or when women were finally allowed to vote, suffragists, in order to get the Amendment passed, gave in and agreed that only married women would get the vote.

In this “Build Back Better” human infrastructure bill — a bill that MUST pass the Senate in the next 3 weeks — we must all stand firm for what is right and just.

And I just want to distinguish the painful difference between actually creating real change — such as, no child shall ever be poisoned by any government-delivered water ANYWHERE in the United States, period — and the creation of the illusion of change, the pretense that your government is actually doing something that matters. Well, thankfully most citizens can now see the bullshit coming at them faster than a runaway Pillsbury Doughboy balloon at a Thanksgiving Day parade.

Here’s an example of why no one has taken to the streets with passion to help Uncle Joe:

In order to make it look like the Dems are doing something for “climate,” fully one-third of this second $1.6 trillion infrastructure bill — $555 billion — is, as they like to say, “devoted to climate!” Here’s the truth: $320 billion of that $555 billion for “climate” is not actual cash to go toward saving the planet. It’s $320 billion in tax credits — gifts to corporations! — who promise to do what they should already be doing with their earth-abusing industrial products and their fake green efforts — all being set up so that they get to pay less taxes! THAT is not going to save Mother Earth. We are in the middle of an environmental catastrophe. An extinction event is underway. Young people know it. Many of the old time leaders of our environmental movement are in bed with Wall Street, corporate America, capitalism. Tricking people into thinking a full $555 billion in this bill is going toward thwarting the planet’s collapse — well, people aren’t stupid. They know this isn’t the real green new deal we need because it funds the wealthy class and does nothing to reduce consumption and the profit motive. Sadly, few “leaders” in “the movement” will tell you the truth.

Let’s cut the crap and get this bill passed. Cut out the corporate welfare hidden under the guise of “green” and tell Manchin and Sinema, “there — now you got the number you wanted. Vote for the damn bill!”

The House has passed it. The Senate will take it up this week. It’s time for all of us to activate, make noise, call Senators, buy Senators, do what we need to do in West Virginia and Arizona and come up with any bat-**** crazy idea that may just get this bill passed.

Who’s game?

Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 03:41 pm
All hard truths as usual from Michael, and these are all just stop gap measures, not the real money the US needs to spend. That is the sad truth!

And, I am moderate to conservative Dem.
0 Replies
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 03:51 pm
I should have been born in the 1880s in a rural Ohio, collage town. Tiffin.
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 03:52 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Why? You would be dead now and we would miss all your timely posts.
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 03:54 pm
Maybe he is posting via a portal in time?
0 Replies
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 03:58 pm
If I time travelled I would wish it were forward.
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 04:17 pm
I know of exact time and places in the past I would like to go to. Then again, what in the future exists? I think I would have to go to both, however, travel to the past seems to be more logically possible.
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 06:08 pm
I won't say time travel is impossible. I do believe I will never experience or even witness it. To me future travel seems more likely because there are no verified factual recorded events proving anybody visits the past.
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 06:48 pm
My feeling on time travel is you can't go into the future because it has not existed yet; therefore, someone can't go there. The scene isn't "set".

Yesterday has happened, so the scene exists.

"there are no verified factual recorded events proving anybody visits the past." This is a reason to believe that time travel doesn't exist.
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 07:15 pm
Oh well.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2021 07:27 pm
But y'all'd be there, too.
0 Replies

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