Marble Halls & Silver Screens With Sarah Lee Ep. 111: The 'Build Back Bleh, Muppets Haunted Mansion, and No Guns Are Prop Guns' Edition

Apologies for getting this week’s episode up a bit later than usual — there were a few World Series baseball games that were taking the bulk of my attention (Go Braves ). But we’re here now, so let’s chat about a few things…


Brandon, uh, Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda seems to be failing pretty dramatically. And it’s really little wonder because Democrats packed so much into their reconciliation bill that it’s beginning to feel like the desperate act of a dying man: checking those bucket list items off before the man in the cloak comes calling. Biden’s even lost his own party support. But there are reasons, suggests this columnist writing at The Hill, to be optimistic. The failure of the agenda package gives Democrats an opportunity to prioritize, he writes.

No one said governing would be easy. After the 2020 elections, most investors thought President Biden would have to settle for a pared down legislative agenda because Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by the narrowest of margins. Instead, Biden bought the progressives’ argument to be big and bold after successfully enacting a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. But it has proved far more difficult for Democrats to agree on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill passed by the House of Representatives.

The logjam has left people wondering whether the Democrats can govern effectively. Faced with waning public support for Biden’s agenda, they are coalescing around a truncated bill that is roughly one half the size of the House bill. But many of the spending and financing components are unresolved.

From an investor perspective, one positive is that Democrats are being forced to prioritize spending from their long wish list of programs. But some skeptics claim the concessions are “phony.” The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, for example, contends “Biden is bowing to the left by keeping new entitlements and disguising their cost.”


Acknowledging that chopping up a ridiculous package no one wants into separate pieces no one wants is better for the Democrats, it’s also useful to note that this isn’t so much a success for the Biden administration as it is for the dwindling moderates on that side of the aisle as the progressives within the party overplay their hand.

But the country benefits, as well. So if Biden gets some of the credit, so be it. The walk-back toward the less expensive Manchin plan — which also cuts out some of the environmentalist pork — is probably the best the country can hope for as we survive the Biden administration. And we’re not even a year in. Feels like 90, though, right?

I talk about all that on the show today, as well as delve into how the NRA and Hollywood have always enjoyed a cozy affair no one really talked about, which makes the tragedy on the “Rust” film set that much more avoidable if Baldwin et al had simply followed the industry’s own guidelines. Newsweek ran a really excellent piece on this subject. Money paragraph below:

For an industry with a liberal reputation, Hollywood has a surprisingly cozy relationship with the firearms industry. Gun makers don’t have to woo Hollywood because Hollywood goes to them to ask for real guns to use in movies. The right gun in a movie can create icons, like the Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum that Dirty Harry carried. This revolver isn’t a very good firearm: it’s huge and unwieldy; it packs a ferocious recoil and it holds only six bullets. It’s essentially a novelty gun built around the .44 Magnum handgun cartridge, once the most powerful handgun round in the world. It still sells pretty well because it is immediately recognized as “the Dirty Harry gun.” We all remember John Rambo firing an M-60 machine gun; John McClain in Die Hard with his Beretta 92FS and MP5; James Bond’s Walther PPK; and of course, John Wayne’s Colt Single Action and his Winchester 92.

Guns and the violence they represent are big businesses in Hollywood.


I also offer my thoughts on the Muppets Halloween special on Disney (trailer below). It’s a safe one to plop your kids in front of this evening with their candy haul.

Happy Halloween, ghoulies.

The show lives on Spotify and you can also find me at iHeartRadio, Apple PodcastsFCB Radio’s Spreaker, and Deezer.


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