Rep. Dingell sees Lent as a time of reflection, shares predictions for President Biden's State of the Union
David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and once again, today is Fat Tuesday. I'm David Fair. And for those who participate, Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is a Christian annual period that starts on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days, not including Sundays. It represents the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness. Typically, participants choose to give something up for the entirety of that period. That makes today a very popular day for indulgence. If you were a fan of the Paczki, this is your day. Every year, a box full of these delicious treats arrives on our doorstep at WEMU, and each year, it is signed the same: "From Representative Debbie Dingell." Once again, on behalf of a grateful staff, we thank you, Mrs. Dingell.
Debbie Dingell: David, Happy Paczki Day. And it's good to be with you this morning.
David Fair: You are a self-described Catholic girl. What does Lent mean to you?
Debbie Dingell: Lent is a time that we renew our faith. I spend a lot of time reflecting upon many of the things that the nuns taught me. Obviously, we are...it begins the lead up period to Easter, where our Lord rose again from the death. But, for me, I use Lent as a time of reflection.
David Fair: And as you ponder and reflect, will you be giving anything up for Lent as people often do?
Debbie Dingell: You know, I probably am going to try to give up sweets. But what I really do try to do during Lent is to do something positive. So I'm going to increase my volunteer work. Every weekend, I will do some kind of service project. I began doing that years ago, and I continue to do that.
David Fair: On a lighter note, on this final day before Lent, how many Paczkis will you take down?
Debbie Dingell: I am trying to be good today for Lent, so we've got to continue the tradition. And I've got to tell you. My COVID weight is at a dangerous level. I've got to get the weight off, which is truthfully, honestly, I'm probably going to give something up this year. Normally, I try to focus on just the positives.
David Fair: In addition to giving these delicious treats to so many, it's been a way for you to support Michigan business over the years. Where do you order your Paczkis from?
Debbie Dingell: Well, there's a place in Dearborn that I order them from, and I do get them to a couple of different places because I try to celebrate them and all of us can buy Paczkis from different bakeries in our communities. Michigan's rich with cultural traditions. And, you know, sometimes, David, as we are looking at what's happening in Ukraine right now, Michigan's got very significant, you know, Polish communities, Ukrainian communities, Czechoslovakian, Russian, that we celebrate the cultures and traditions that came from those countries to this country. And I encourage people to go to ethnic restaurants, bakeries in their communities and support them to celebrate and learn about other cultures.
David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and we're talking with 12th District Congressional Representative Debbie Dingell on Fat Tuesday. Today also marks WEMU annual one-day Mardi Gras pop-up fundraiser. Our music hosts will gather to entertain you with the sounds of New Orleans between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and to raise money for our unique blend of music throughout the year. You can donate any time at WEMU dot org, and in advance, we thank you for your support. With our one-day Mardi Gras fundraiser in mind, Representative Dingell, your late husband, John Dingell, was instrumental in passing the measure that created federal funding for public broadcasting. Over the years, there have certainly been attempts to bring funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to an end. Given all of the financial demands and hardships caused by the pandemic and the global uncertainty you just referred to, we are all too well aware of that now. So why do you feel it important to continue federal investment in PBS, NPR, and all of the member of public radio and television stations, including WEMU?
Debbie Dingell: Public radio, public television serve very critical roles in our communities, because you report the facts. You bring community stories. You try to in a very non-biased way. You're the old-fashioned, traditional news and quality. You know, if you say educational, then people turn off. But the programing it is on, uh, public radio and public television is very important in terms of bringing perspectives to the community from all sides, exposing people in the community to rituals and traditions to making sure we're learning our history but also staying current with current events. And having said that, this was not planned--it's a pop-up--I too must have to make my contribution for public radio. And I'll give more later in the year, but I'll pledge $200 for today, David.
David Fair: Well, we thank you very much. And if you'll just stay on the line once our conversation comes to an end, my trusty producer, Mat Hopson, will take your donation. And we thank you heartily. Once again, Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras fundraiser conversation continues with Congressional Representative Debbie Dingell on 89 one WEMU. The real festivities begin after the news at 10:00 this morning, when Michael Jewett takes over throughout the day. Michael, the WEMU music crew, and special guests will be celebrating the New Orleans sound on WEMU, and we'll have special drawings, all sorts of entertainment for you throughout the day. You can invest in our ability to march you down Bourbon Street throughout the year by donating at WEMU dot org. And, as you just heard, Debbie Dingell made a contribution, and you can do the same at WEMU dot org. I do want to take a moment to talk about something of national and global importance, and that is to take place tonight. President Joe Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address. Now, the president is tasked with finding a way to recognize the fatigue, the suffering, and pessimism in a nation exhausted by the pandemic, rocked by rising inflation and high food and gas prices, and now, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the worst geopolitical crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union. What do you expect to hear?
Debbie Dingell: I think we're going to hear the president try to pull us together as a nation. Clearly, Ukraine is not something that can be ignored, and he will address it. And I think right now for all of us, we need very steady leadership. And I do want to, David, take this opportunity besides talk about State of the Union. Last night, we had a classified briefing with Republican and Democratic members, and a person stood up and talked about the quality of the intelligence and how what we learned helped prepare the world and salute the men and women of our intelligence agencies for being so accurate and right on about what could potentially happen. Now we need to come together. The president is got to bring us together. People are tired. He's got to tell them, prepare them for what is going to happen in that democracies are under attack around the world. He needs to show people he really does understand what's happening to them every day with inflation, when they're going to the grocery store and filling up their car, and how he's going to address those issues. And people are tired of COVID. We are entering the next phase. We are all tired of it. We're sick of it. It is not sick of us. So how do we manage our lives going forward so we keep human connection? But when there's the next surge, we don't see more people die. He's going to press other issues like it is very real. You just look at the floods that we had in Michigan last year. The new United Nations report on global climate and the increasing temperatures and what the real world consequences are for the world. I think you're going to hear him give the speech that is going to hold us together. He's going to show what he has accomplished in this first year and give a vision of what we need to do for this next year.
David Fair: There are some who will contend that the president has not accomplished nearly enough in his first year. Build Back Better appears nearly dead at this point, and it is believed the president tonight will shift his messaging away from that to a four-point economic rescue plan to address inflation and rising prices. Are you and your fellow Democrats willing to concede it's time to move on from Build Back Better?
Debbie Dingell: Here's what I would say to you. I'm not sure. I think the word Build Back Better probably has a connotation that many people don't understand. But I'm going to tell you that what was in that bill really matters to many people. Child care continues to be an issue for both employees and employers, but people can't go back to work because of that long-term care, so that people can stay in their own home as they age and have that as an option, which, right now, our current systems are focused on institutional care. We need to, for Michigan, electric vehicles are the wave of the future, but they're not going to be successful if we don't invest in an EV infrastructure. There are many important issues inside of that bill. You'll hear him talk about tonight lowering prescription drug prices, negotiating prices, so insulin costs are permanently lower. So I think you'll hear him talk about issues that matter, that we have to continue to work on, and have people understand what the issues are and not have a slogan phrase that doesn't tell them what the issues are that they really weren't care about.
David Fair: Well, we'll be listening tonight, and you and I will further discuss when we get together again on Friday. Thank you for the time today.
Debbie Dingell: Thank you, David. Be safe, and I hope people will watch tonight and enjoy Fat Tuesday because Lent's here tomorrow.
David Fair: That is Debbie Dingell. And, for the moment, she represents the 12th Congressional District, but under the redrawn political maps, will run for reelection in the new 6th Congressional District. Once again, today marks WEMU's one-day pop-up Mardi Gras Celebration fundraiser between 10:00 this morning and 4 this afternoon. You'll get the musical sounds of New Orleans, some special offerings, and you'll hear from some special guests all reminding you the money you send today provides the resources to keep WEMU alive tomorrow and beyond. Donate any time at WEMU dot org, and we thank you. I'm David Fair, and this is 89 one WEMU FM and WEMU HD1 Ypsilanti.
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