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Fri Apr 16, 2021, 09:25 PM

Friday Talking Points -- GOP White Supremacist Caucus Forms

Some Republicans have apparently decided that political dog whistles are just no longer even necessary. After the bombast of Donald Trump, they're now quite comfortable just openly saying exactly what they mean -- no matter how racist it might be.

We refer to the formation of a new congressional caucus: the "America First Caucus." Normally, this wouldn't be all that big a deal -- just some group of extra-Trumpy GOP members getting together to figure out what their Dear Leader would want them to do in Congress. But their founding document was leaked, and it goes a wee bit further in laying out the founding principles of the new caucus. Here are their first few paragraphs on immigration, for instance:

The America First Caucus recognizes that our country is more than a mass of consumers or a series of abstract ideas. America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions. History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse [sic] into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country. While certain economic and financial interest groups benefit immensely from mass immigration, legal as well as illegal, and the aggregate output of the country increases, the reality of large segments of our society as well as the long-term existential future of America as a unique country with a unique culture and a unique identity being put at unnecessary risk is something our leaders can afford to ignore no longer.

As such, America's legal immigration system should be curtailed to those that can contribute not only economically, but have demonstrated respect for this nation's culture and rule of law. America's borders must be defended, and illegal immigration must be stopped without exception.

They call for protecting "this nation's culture," which is described as "a unique culture and a unique identity" (at least before all those undesirable immigrants tried to ruin it). These are all dog whistles, though, so in case you missed it, they further define exactly what they're talking about, in no uncertain terms: "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions." White people, in other words. There's just no other possible definition of "Anglo-Saxon," really. The only surprising thing was that they didn't come right out and say "Aryan" rather than "Anglo-Saxon."

In case this wasn't evident enough, the caucus further injects their racial ideal into, of all places, architecture. No, really! Here is the first paragraph of the section on infrastructure:

The America First Caucus will work towards an infrastructure that reflects the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom. As the Romans demonstrated with aqueducts, walls and roads, function and beauty are not at odds. Federally funded infrastructure, including roads, buildings, airports, seaports, bridges, should demonstrate a pride of workmanship. A bridge is not merely something to cross from side A to side B, it is a connection among peoples.

"European architecture" is "stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom." They'll even let the Italians into their Anglo-Saxon club, since Roman aqueducts are spoken of approvingly. Any other (non-European, one supposes) architecture must be summarily rejected, since it so obviously does not live up to their stated standards of beauty and freedom. Which is nothing more than: "White people designed and built it."

As we said, they're now just saying this stuff right out in the open. There just is no other possible way to interpret what they are saying other than it is pure White supremacy of the first order. White people get to determine the ideal culture of America, while immigrants (the document later clarifies this as only the ones who entered after 1965, which assumably lets all their own immigrant ancestors off the hook, since none of these congressmen are actual Native Americans) are the ones who need to immediately adopt all of White culture, and they certainly better not try to build an aqueduct that doesn't look as classically beautiful as those Roman ones do.

This group was the brainchild of the usual suspects, the craziest of the crazy: Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Louie Gohmert. Who are now entirely comfortable with letting the world know who they really are.

The real question is what the rest of the Republican Party will have to say about this. So far (this news broke today), we haven't heard a peep out of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or any other prominent GOP leader. The longer they stay silent, the more they signal their acceptance of a group of Republican elected officials just coming out and blatantly admitting that they ascribe to White supremacy. This has all been aided and abetted by the hotheads on conservative cable channels, who are also now feeling comfortable just flat-out making White supremacist arguments on the air.

This all should come as no surprise, really. Donald Trump began his political career by denouncing Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, after all. And he had a notable amount of political success beating this very ugly drum. He certainly didn't create the racism in the Republican ranks, but he legitimized and normalized it to a degree America hasn't seen since the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. For roughly a half-century afterwards, it was not deemed acceptable to say such things in polite society. Now, though, Republicans just don't care. They've all but destroyed the very idea of "polite society" already, and they are riding high on Trump's exploitation of racism in the ranks of their own voters, so this really must have seemed like a natural next step to them.

Which, of course, doesn't make it any less horrifying or disgusting. And the rest of the Republican Party now has a very tangible choice: denounce this indefensible White supremacy within their own ranks in the strongest terms, or allow evil to triumph by good men and women doing nothing. Our guess is they'll be quite comfortable with the "do nothing" route, since most of them have been following that path ever since Trump got elected. "Tweet? What tweet? Sorry, I haven't read it," will now become: "New caucus? Haven't heard of it... sorry, gotta run...."

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is calmly doing what he was elected to do -- make politics boring once again. Think about it -- in the past week, Biden has rolled out two major foreign policy announcements and made progress on various domestic programs, and he has barely caused a blip in the media by doing so. We already predicted this, and we are even more confident of the prediction now -- Joe Biden's presidency will be favorably compared to Dwight D. Eisenhower's. They will be seen as competent but boring executives who got a lot done while calming the frayed nerves of a nation. Which is, in a way, exactly what we all voted for. The divide between the parties is becoming starker and starker -- Democrats stand for competency and commonsense solutions, while Republicans are trying to sell you a tinfoil hat to combat the alien cosmic rays that can control your brain. This may be overstating things a bit for humor's sake -- but not by much.

Part of the reason why Biden achieved some significant things without much media attention was the fact that the Derek Chauvin trial (the cop who killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for 9.5 minutes) was so heavily covered, for the second week in a row. Both sides have rested their case, so sometime next week the jury will begin deliberations. This will be a pivotal verdict no matter what it turns out to be, but the whole thing did kind of suck all the media oxygen out of Washington in the meantime.

What you may have missed (in the midst of all the trial coverage) was President Biden's announcement that America will be ending its longest war and bringing all troops home from Afghanistan by 9/11. Biden, in his remarks, put it plainly -- it is now "time to end the forever war." Biden also announced new sanctions on Russia, for hacking America's computer systems (including several federal government departments) and for interfering in our elections. There's a new sheriff in town, in other words, who isn't desperate for Vladimir Putin's love and approval. A return to normalcy, in other words.

On the home front, the weekly unemployment filings number came in lower than at any point since the pandemic began. It's still high -- 576,000 people filed jobless claims last week -- but it is also way down from the peak of the crisis. Perhaps this is part of the reason why Biden continues to receive widespread public support in the polls:

The latest Morning Consult-Politico poll, for example, has the president at 60 percent approval with only 37 percent disapproval. He's off the charts among Democrats (92 percent) and wins independents 52 percent to 40 percent. Sixty-three percent approve of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic (compared to 24 percent approval for congressional Republicans). Despite the actions of many GOP governors, nearly 70 percent of voters think "Americans should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus even if it means continued damage to the economy."

The next big issue on Biden's plate (other than his first address to Congress, which will happen on the 28th of the month) is negotiating his infrastructure plan in Congress. Yesterday, a collection of Republican moderates was supposed to release their own $600-$800 billion infrastructure plan as a counteroffer to Biden's $2.3 trillion proposal. However, after teasing this plan to the media, it has not (as of this writing, at least) appeared yet. So apparently they haven't been able to agree even among themselves what it should contain, or (more contentiously) how they're going to pay for it. The one idea we've heard that could be included is not going to be a political winner (especially for Republicans), since it would involve either a gas tax increase or a per-mileage "user fee" (tax) on everyone (which would collect money from electric vehicles who avoid paying any gasoline taxes at all). As we said, neither has ever been seen as a Republican-supported idea, which might explain why they're having problems coming to any sort of agreement.

They're in a bind because they truly want everyone to believe again in bipartisanship, but at the same time they've got to explain things like supporting raising taxes to the rest of their own party. And they're so constrained by Republican dogma that they will likely never be able to come up with anything even remotely good enough for Biden. But they'll even admit (anonymously) to reporters that Biden's already winning the media narrative, as one staffer for the "G-10" (the working group of 10 GOP senators trying to agree on a plan) put it:

Back to the nightmare. It starts with what they see as some hardwired media narratives they can't shake: that Biden is a reasonable, deal-making moderate and that Republicans talk about compromise but really just want to obstruct. It's a perception that has given the White House all the leverage.

"Biden is a horrible villain for us," said the G-10 staffer, meaning not that he was an actual villain but that he was difficult to villainize. "There are deeply entrenched narratives that have some truth but are no longer totally true. Reporters believe them despite all evidence to the contrary."

They see a White House "constantly rubbing dirt in the face of Republicans" over the party's lack of interest in bipartisanship while "passing as many partisan bills as they possibly can through reconciliation before they lose the House in 2022."

. . .

"Everything they support is defined as either COVID relief or infrastructure, and everything they oppose is like... Jim Crow voter suppression and evil," this G-10 aide said. "And you constantly just feel like you're in this gaslighting chamber of insanity. But it's working."

What is truly funny is any Republican daring to whine about a "gaslighting chamber of insanity" after the past four years of Donald Trump. But at least they do realize they're on the losing end of this argument.

Joe Biden has shown that he is open to the concept of bipartisan negotiations and legislation, but he is also not going to patiently wait forever for such a thing to materialize. If the Republicans can't honestly bargain for a reasonable deal, then Biden will indeed move forward without them and get legislation passed that is overwhelmingly popular with the American public. Republicans have the choice of either working -- quickly, with no endless stalling allowed -- to influence such legislation, or they can refuse and sit back and watch Democrats (rightfully) claim all the credit for the success. Again.

Biden has already split his domestic agenda in two. His "American Jobs Plan" was the first part, and he's got another one waiting in the wings (the "American Families Plan" ). This was done to separate the things the White House knew Republicans would never support into a secondary bill that could pass using reconciliation, while allowing Republicans to have input on the infrastructure parts that they historically have supported. The Republican position right now is that the first bill must be shrunk to the bare bones and all the things they don't want to vote for should be pushed into the second bill. Biden will likely negotiate along these lines for a limited time, but if an agreement doesn't seem likely in the near future, then he may just decide to pass both bills using budget reconciliation rules in the Senate. The ball is really in the GOP's court, which is why their failure to release their own plan (after teasing it to the media) was notable. Let's see if they can even agree on anything among themselves....

In other news out of Congress, the House is about to pass (or has passed) a few notable bills. For the second time, a bill will pass to allow Washington D.C. to become a state. Also on deck is a bill which would create a commission to study the question of reparations for slavery. This is not actually a reparations bill, it's just a blue-ribbon commission, but it would be a good first step to take (just to study the idea and issue recommendations).

Senate Republicans (except for six of them) apparently realized the political optics were bad, so they decided not to filibuster a hate-crimes bill aimed at fighting anti-Asian violence across the country. Mitch McConnell voted for it, as he well should have, since he is married to an Asian-American (Elaine Chao). The final vote could come some time next week.

Democrats in both houses introduced bills to expand the Supreme Court to 13 justices, but they're not expected to move anywhere any time soon, since President Biden has formed a commission to study court reform and most Democrats (including Nancy Pelosi) will be content to wait and see what they recommend.

That's about it for the week. One last interesting note -- Cindy McCain (John's widow) is going to get a choice ambassadorship in Western Europe, which she certainly fully deserves seeing as how she may have been a critical factor in convincing Arizona voters to vote for Joe Biden.

We're going to hand out a group award this week, to all the Democrats in the Maryland legislature. They scored a big victory this week, which coincidentally happened the week of the Derek Chauvin trial. Here's the full story:

Maryland's Democrat-controlled legislature on Saturday moved to pass a sweeping police reform package that repealed the state's police bill of rights, becoming the first state in the nation to do so and overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's vetoes in the process.

The state's police bill of rights covered due process for officers accused of misconduct. Advocates for repeal have called it "one of the most extreme in the nation." The new law will also give more oversight power to civilians.

Another one of the bills Hogan vetoed will require "certain" no-knock warrants to be approved by both a supervisor and the State's Attorney and be between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., barring "exigent circumstances."

One of the new laws will also require officers to use force only if it is "necessary and proportional."

The move, a win for police reform advocates, comes amid a national reckoning with policing after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last year. Many states have considered police reform in wake of Floyd's death.

"Maryland is leading the country in transforming our broken policing system," Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat, wrote in a tweet Saturday. "Now, for the first time in our nation's history, the rights of officers will not be held above the rights of individuals, and policing in Maryland will be transparent and citizen-centered."

This is how meaningful police reform happens. It is not merely a slogan to vaguely support (or not), it represents tangible change in how the police are allowed to operate. Cops and police departments and the towns, cities, and counties that employ them all need to be held accountable and liable when abuses happen. The more multimillion-dollar judgments against municipalities are handed down, the more such entities will think long and hard about what they allow their officers to do.

The threat of lawsuits is a powerful one in America. In fact, if each police officer had to carry liability insurance for his or her official conduct (paid for by their employer), a lot of these problems would self-correct over time. If insurance rates went up for one particular officer because he got sued repeatedly, then eventually no police department anywhere would hire him -- it'd just be too expensive for them to do so, when they could hire a more-professional officer without paying extra in insurance premiums. This may not be a perfect scheme to fix things, but one thing for certain is that awarding all cops blanket immunity for their actions just has not worked. We've tried that, so it is now time to try something else.

Maryland Democrats, this week, led the way. Which is why we are awarding all the ones in the state legislature that made this happen -- over their Republican governor's veto -- this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

We're hoping other state legislators (especially in states blue enough for this to actually succeed) are taking note.

[Congratulate Maryland state Democrats individually, if you live there, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

Andrew Yang caused a bit of a stir this week, for not disengaging with an overbearing idiot quite fast enough. Here's the story (and the video):

In the video, someone asks the mayoral front-runner whether a man, "while he's f---ing b----es, can he keep his Timbs on?" -- a reference to Timberland boots. Yang said, "I think it's purely up to your partner."

The man continued by asking Yang whether he "choke[s] b----es," to which Yang laughed and backed away, appearing to gesture with his hand that the conversation was over.

"I think most New Yorkers know that I try to be friendly to people, and in this case someone wanted a video and I thought I'd be friendly," Yang told reporters Thursday when asked about the clip. "But then he said something that was plainly inappropriate that I didn't find funny at all and so I walked away and ended the interaction as quickly as possible. You know, obviously I don't think that's appropriate."

Yang was indeed trying to banter with the guy and be lighthearted, but he really should have realized earlier that this wasn't exactly the mayoral look he's striving for (Yang is running to be mayor of New York City). But he did finally realize it was time to bail, so we're only going to give him a (Dis-)Honorable Mention. He's still fairly new to politics, so he's still working on developing his radar to spot "stop the interview/video" opportunities quickly enough, obviously.

Instead, we are giving this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week to President Joe Biden. Biden has chosen political timidity over fulfilling an explicit campaign promise, and it's a fairly important one. Here's the story:

President Biden has decided not to lift the cap on refugees for the current fiscal year from the level set by the Trump administration, according to a senior administration official, abandoning a previous proposal to Congress to allow a more refugees to come to the United States and instantly angering human rights advocates.

Biden plans to keep the refugee cap at 15,000, according to the official. That figure is a historic low set by then-President Donald Trump last fall. Earlier this year, Biden had proposed to Congress lifting the cap to 62,500. He has pledged to raise it to 125,000 for the following fiscal year, which begins in October.

Other media outlets reported that Biden knew full well how much heat he would get from Republicans if he made this move right now -- a move he not only promised but actually proposed to Congress. They're already using the situation on the southern border to make as much political noise as possible, and this would just hand them another weapon to do so. Meaning Biden's reluctance to take a bold stand here is understandable.

But it's certainly nothing to be admired. Biden knows Trump's number is far too low. He wants to change it. But he's afraid of doing so now, because he would draw a lot of political heat. That is not a quality in a leader to be proud of (to put it mildly), which is why Joe Biden is our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week.

Biden's been around Washington long enough to have learned one very hard lesson: it is never "the perfect time" to talk about immigration policy. There's always a "crisis" happening somewhere. That's part of why the DREAM kids are still waiting for a permanent solution. So it's not a very positive sign for movement on this key issue.

[Contact President Joe Biden on the White House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

Volume 614 (4/16/21)

A mixed bag this week. Oh, it didn't really fit anywhere else, but we at least have to tip our hat to the pranksters in Albany who manipulated one of those "artfully light up windows on a skyscraper" displays last week to taunt their own governor's failings. The display, which faces the governor's office, had spelled out: "NY TOUGH," but with only minimal changes this was turned into: "NY TOUCH," a rather snarky commentary on Andrew Cuomo's handsiness. Whoever made this happen, we have to say we were pretty amused by it!

But in any case, let's get to our suggested talking points for Democrats to use this week, shall we?

K.K.K. caucus?

Hit every Republican hard, on this one.

"I see there's a new caucus in the House of Representatives. Some of the Republicans decided to form what they're calling the 'America First Caucus,' which heavily supports, and I quote from their founding document, 'uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions,' as well as 'the progeny of European architecture... stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power, and a source of freedom.' I mean, they're not even trying to hide any of this any more. They are explicitly promoting White supremacy, right in the halls of the United States Congress. I suppose we shouldn't have expected anything different, since they also supported overthrowing a certified presidential election by violence -- a mob carrying Confederate flags, mind you. I call on every Republican who is disgusted by such naked appeals to White nationalism and White supremacy to denounce the America First Caucus and all Republicans who join it -- or, at the very least, be honest and call it the 'Aryan Caucus' or the 'K.K.K. Caucus,' or perhaps the 'Caucasian Caucus' -- that last one has a nice ring to it, right?"

Who cares?

This one is already gaining some traction.

"Republicans in Congress are complaining loudly that some of the things included in President Biden's American Jobs Plan are 'not infrastructure.' You know what my response is? It's the same response any average voter would give them -- Who cares? Who cares what you call it? Who cares what parliamentary pigeonhole you think it belongs in? Are you for the ideas, or are you against them? Tell us your objection to making home health care affordable for millions of Americans. If you're against things like that, then argue on the merits of each part of the proposal. Just saying it's not infrastructure therefore you somehow cannot vote for it in an infrastructure bill is exactly what voters hate about politicians, because it is just one more excuse for not getting anything done, ever. Joe Biden is tired of that kind of thinking. And so are a majority of the voters. You know what they want to see? Results. Not hair-splitting tantrums."

Recovery is well underway

Democrats shouldn't ever stop reminding everyone how well things are going.

"I see that this week's jobless filings are lower than they have been at any point since last March, when the pandemic began. Overall unemployment continues to drop as well. We still have millions of jobs to regain, but the recovery is well on its way. With more and more Americans getting vaccinated, the speed of the recovery will only increase over the summer. We're not out of the woods yet, but boy are we headed in the right direction! The Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan to allow all this to happen, and President Biden has been doing a stellar job on vaccine delivery. We are trusting that the voters will remember who voted for this recovery, and who voted against it, next year at the ballot box."

Polls show it, too

This one is always worth pointing out.

"Republicans have, for the past few years, chosen to stand for just about nothing. Their party doesn't even have an official platform or agenda anymore. It's a personality cult, plain and simple. Meanwhile, Democrats are getting things done that the people want to see accomplished. Don't believe me? Look at the polls. Biden's job approval averages in the mid-50s, when Donald Trump never even rose above 50 percent for a single day. Some polls put Biden up to 60 percent approval. Voters agree with the Democrats that the following things do qualify as necessary infrastructure investments: schools, 70 percent agree... replacing lead pipes, 78 percent... broadband, 68 percent... manufacturing, 69 percent... housing, 69 percent. On gun safety measures, 83 percent of the public wants to see universal background checks. Other reforms such as banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, mandatory waiting periods, and barring people with mental illness from gun ownership all poll between 64 percent and 83 percent. President Biden is right -- https://t.co/rNsV3pUIOO" target="_blank">there is bipartisan agreement on all kinds of issues Democrats are trying to pass. Republican politicians are falling more and more out of touch with their own voters. That's not exactly a winning strategy, folks."

Truly free speech

It's not just political donations, anymore, Mitch....

"Republicans seem horrified that the same corporations they bestowed free speech rights upon would ever have the temerity to actually use that political free speech to advocate for anything positive. It's not just all about tax cuts anymore, as more and more corporations are finding out what it truly means to be good citizens. It means standing up against naked attempts to rig elections and suppress minority votes. It means standing up for civil rights -- for everybody. Now that corporations are actually doing so, Republicans want to punish them. This week, however, a group of 100 corporate CEOs held a virtual meeting to determine what their next steps will be, politically, to show their disapproval for what Republican legislatures are doing across this country. This has to be seen as a real warning shot across the GOP's bow -- either stop trying to undermine democracy, or all those lovely campaign contributions are about to disappear entirely. We'll see whether the GOP gets this message or not."

Trump who?

As the Trump sets slowly in the Everglades...

"Last weekend, Donald Trump gave a speech to a bunch of Republican donors. And it was barely even a story. He threw out his prepared speech (because of course he did) and just ad-libbed an hour-long rant about how put upon he is and how nobody likes him anymore. He called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a, quote, dumb son of a bitch, unquote, and the astonishing thing was how little anybody even noticed. Trump is yesterday's news... even for most Republicans. The media has finally come out of its fugue state and realized they just don't have to pay attention to him anymore. So it's like: 'Trump gave a speech? Trump who?' -- a welcome development indeed."

Get your Fauci ouchie!

An important message.

"If it hasn't already happened where you live, within days any adult or child 16 years or older will be able to get the first of their vaccine shots. This is the final crucial push to reach herd immunity for everyone -- we're still at just under 40 percent of the population vaccinated, so we've still got a ways to go. Democrats would really encourage everyone to go out and get your 'Fauci ouchie' as soon as is possible. Especially Democratic voters -- we're going to need you next year, so we definitely want you to stay healthy and not die from COVID in the meantime. The best way to get safe is to get your shots, everyone!"

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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Reply Friday Talking Points -- GOP White Supremacist Caucus Forms (Original post)
ChrisWeigant Apr 16 OP
flying rabbit Apr 16 #1

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Fri Apr 16, 2021, 11:55 PM

1. K&R nt

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