The Issue Is: Congresswoman Barbara Lee and conservative commentator Michael Knowles

This week, Elex Michaelson is joined on "The Issue Is" by two powerful voices from opposite ends of the political spectrum: Progressive Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Conservative Commentator Michael Knowles.

First, 12-term Congresswoman Lee stops by to discuss the Vice President’s recent trip to the border, infrastructures negotiations, her long-time opposition to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and the recognition of Juneteenth as a national holiday.

Then, Knowles, whose new book "Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds" was released this week, returns to the show to talk free speech, cancel culture, immigration, and former President Trump’s possible electoral future.


BACKGROUND: This week, after months of intense negotiations, the White House endorsed a bipartisan infrastructure deal. The framework, which would see $1.2 trillion of spending over the next eight years, is focused on roads, highways, bridges, and broadband, among other physical infrastructure elements. A far cry from Biden’s initial $2.2 trillion proposal, the new plan does not focus on more so-called "human" elements of infrastructure such as child and elder care, those now being tackled separately through Congressional budget reconciliation, which likely will not garner, nor require, bipartisan support. President Biden has indicated he will likely not sign the bipartisan agreement without the parallel legislation.

LEE'S CENTRAL TAKE: "We're just looking now at what the bill would entail and drilling down on many of the provisions, but let me tell you, I'm really pleased that the President said he's not going to sign one bill, but he's going to sign two. We have to have reconciliation for the second one to make sure that the child care economy, and that the care economy, and that our children, receive the type of permanency in terms of the child tax credit, all of the issues that are about human infrastructure… we have to keep moving forward to make sure that children receive the type of resources to live, to be lifted out of poverty…. hopefully [Republicans] see the light and do the work that's necessary to support their constituents. This is not about red states or blue states, this is about the American people..."



BACKGROUND: Last week, President Biden officially declared Juneteenth a federal holiday. Long-observed in many corners of the country, Juneteenth recognizes when slaves in Texas were made aware of their emancipation, some two years after the official end of slavery. At a bill signing at the White House, Biden was joined on stage by Vice President Harris, Opal Lee, often referred to as the "grandmother of Juneteenth," and a host of Congressional members, including Representative Lee.

LEE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It is a long time coming for this country to recognize African Americans' freedom. But Juneteenth also is personal for me, and one of the reasons I was so excited to be there with the President and Vice President Harris, Opal Lee, and all my colleagues, is that my grandfather was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1875, ten years after General Granger came to Galveston to let the enslaved Africans know that they were free, but also, my great grandmother, Fanny Wilson, was born enslaved in one of the towns right around Galveston, so we always celebrated Juneteenth as a child… it's not just for me personally, but for every single African-American in this country who has had to fight so hard, so hard, just for justice. So this was one step toward justice, and one step toward truth, and one step toward racial healing…"



BACKGROUND: Friday, some three months after being appointed by President Biden to oversee the crisis at the border, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to El Paso, Texas. The trip, which many on the Right criticized for taking place some 800 miles away from the epicenter of the migration crisis along the Rio Grande Valley, comes weeks after the Vice President traveled to Guatemala and Mexico City to study the underlying root causes of the recent surge in migration.

KNOWLES’ CENTRAL TAKE: "I want Joe Biden to go to the border, and I think Joe Biden recognizes that the easiest way that he can get out of this issue is by sending Kamala Harris. I think basically what Joe did was he picked up Kamala and tossed her in front of this bus, of this very difficult issue for them... The fact that we have upwards of 6000 people pouring into this country every day is untenable. It's really bad for Democrats. I think the reason that they're not doing anything about it is because, one, the progressive base ideologically is on board with open borders, and the Democratic Party, more broadly, thinks that flooding the country with illegal aliens is going to give them an electoral advantage, either through a mass amnesty or through registering them to vote through laws like HR1, or even just down the line generationally…. But the problem they face is that the majority of Americans don't like these open borders, and this includes a huge number of Democrats as well. So Joe Biden realizes this is a lose-lose situation for him, which is why I think he's sending his number two…."



BACKGROUND: Saturday, June 26, some five months after leaving office, former President Trump is set to hit the road, holding a series of campaign-style rallies. This, as speculation mounts that he may run again in 2024. Given that Michael Knowles’ new book Speechless tackles the issues of political correctness, language, and free speech, Michaelson asked him to evaluate Trump’s use of political speech, and his chances in the next Presidential election.

KNOWLES’ CENTRAL TAKE: "He really understood how to weaponize language in a way that basically only the left usually does, and he did it very well.... It seems as though President Trump is going to run again, he's made a number of signals about this. This is really bad news for Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis is doing a lot of great stuff in the Republican Party, and specifically in Florida, and he's running very much in the Trump-lane - even their body language and the way they speak seem to be similar... One imagines there will be a lot of other candidates in 2024 as well. I must say, though, I hesitate to make any predictions about 2024, I don't think anybody in 2013 would have predicted that Trump would be the nominee in 2016, and so there's a whole lot that can change moving forward. But I do think, regardless of whether it's Trump or someone else, they really need to learn from Trump. Trump recognized in 2016 that political correctness was the gravest threat to America, that the debates over words, and pronouns even, is not just a distraction, but that it actually carries with it all of these premises - you know, if you can redefine the pronouns, you're redefining the way we understand human nature - and the left is very, very good at that. So if we are going to have a nominee in 2024, whether it's Trump or someone else, I want them to be just as poetic as The Donald…"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to

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