We are now a week into the Biden administration, and President Biden has set some clear and surprisingly dominant markers at the beginning of his presidency. He has kept firmly to his constitutional responsibilities in what appears to be an attempt to remind Americans of the official roles in our democracy. He has deliberately refused to intrude on the Department of Justice, saying he would leave up to it which cases to pursue. When a reporter asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki whether Biden believes the Senate should convict the former president of incitement of insurrection in his upcoming Senate trial, Psaki answered: “Well, he’s no longer in the Senate, and he believes that it’s up to the Senate and Congress to determine how they will hold the former president accountable and what the mechanics and timeline of that process will be.”
It’s amazing what a difference a week can make. These past four years have felt like living with an abusive stepfather. Never knowing what mood he’d come home in or what chaos he’d create. I feel such relief to know the White House is in competent hands. All the hard work remains, but, the active destruction has abated, the toxic stream of lies has stopped and some measure of calm restored.
Interesting analysis from Josh Marshall about the whole filibuster business.
So, interesting developments over night in the Senate. Both sides are portraying the agreement as a win. But basically McConnell caved. So chalk up a win for Chuck Schumer.
McConnell said that he got the assurances he needed when Joe Manchin and (less volubly) Kirsten Sinema said they absolutely positively won’t ever support getting rid of the filibuster. But they’d already said that. And unfortunately they made it clear from the outset that they’re not ready to get rid of the legislative filibuster during this Congress.
What McConnell wanted was for the Democrats to agree as part of the organizing resolution to take it off the table entirely for the next two years. The whole thing boils down to symbolism, in any case, since the majority cannot actually bind itself in this way. The majority can only always decide to change the rules on a majority vote. But as I argued yesterday these points of symbolism are very important. For whatever reason McConnell decided to call off the stand off.
That leaves us where we expected to be. The filibuster remains the rule of the Senate and will remain that way unless and until at least Manchin decides otherwise. That means Biden should have a pretty free hand getting his nominees confirmed. The Democrats can and will use the ‘reconciliation’ process to push through COVID relief and other budget relevant items on straight majority votes.
The next thing the Democrats need to focus on is making the filibuster more visible, which is partly a matter of floor votes but also a matter of working the press. Republicans have done a great job of making it impossible for the government to function and then running against its dysfunction. Political junkies know about the filibuster and that most legislation, in practice, requires 60 votes. But in most cases this just amounts to a lot of things never happening. In practice, that last point is all that counts. A lot of Republicans are up for reelection next year. It is critical to find a way to structure a lot of votes, and work press coverage of them, to make Republicans own their opposition to popular legislation. That’s next.
Thank you Heather, I am finally able to step back and get perspective. Living under 45 was synonymous with being in an abusive relationship. I could see what was happening the lies, the abuse of power, the lack of boundaries. What I did not realize was how I was losing hope that it is possible to have a leader with clear boundaries who could lead by taking action with clarity about what needs to be done in a respectful manner. I can finally begin to breathe that we have a leader with a moral compass. Thank you 45 for underlining how important clear boundaries, kindness and a moral compass are. Joe Biden was not my choice but I am sure he is just what this county and I needed at this time. I can trust him as I watch him choose his people and have such clear boundaries.
Heather, I have a question I’d love you to explore one day. Both Amendments 1 & 2 are being interpreted in ways that put us in actual danger.
The interpretation of the “Right to Bear Arms” has allowed an astonishing proliferation of guns - many unregulated - in our nation with the NRA playing a major roll. Gun violence is our other pandemic.
Now the abuse of “Freedom of Speech” in Amendment 1 has allowed lies and facts to be treated as equivalent. Without a framework of mutual facts as a basis, how can we agree upon, let alone build anything? Conspiracy theories, lies and distortion have always been with us, but, with the help of social media, they have grown exponentially and now pose a real threat to democracy. Now that we’ve opened this can of worms, what can we do?
You all don't take too long of a breather. 45 senators?! I voiced my objection to my own two "unrepresentatives" yesterday. Will do again daily until trump is out of their court. (Why hasn't he been arrested yet by NY state courts as an aside?)
Our government system says a sitting president can't (shouldn't) be arrested, and now that he's an ex president, our government (almost) said he shouldn't be tried?
The relief I feel cannot be overstated. I am concentrating on my family and my work more. I’m so grateful for President Biden.
Being President of the United States is among the most difficult and demanding jobs I can imagine. The number of challenges arriving on the Resolute desk, the pace of their arrival, their gravity, the broad spectrum of issues and challenges requiring attention must be overwhelming for anyone to cope with them. This helps to explain why Donald Trump, perhaps the least serious and most incompetent individual ever to sit in the Oval Office, eve n during a social call let alone fulfilling the responsibilities of the Presidency was so bad at it. Frankly while many have noted and complained about the portion of his time devoted to his golf game, I have prayed daily to see him spend more time golfing.
I find Trump’s threat to form a new Patriot political party laughable. This is a man with an attention span that makes it a virtual impossibility to complete a coherent sentence, let alone fulfill the tasks and responsibilities of launching and sustaining a political party. I suppose there are those with a genuine interest in seeing such a thing come to pass, no matter the nihilistic nature of such an aspiration. However if you had the funding capability and intellectual capacity to undertake such an effort, why in the world would you pick Donald Trump as the vessel into which to pour that ambition and effort.
Trump is quickly becoming yesterday’s news and it seems already the stink is setting in and the flies are circling like it is three day old trash left too long in the hot sun.
The contrast of Biden’s attention to the job of being President and Trump’s unserious approach to it are increasingly evident. It matters not if you agree or disagree with Biden’s policies or actions, in judging his effectiveness and attention to the business of being President. I am so thankful to see competence, commitment, and compassion return to the Presidency. Not just the U.S. but the entire world has missed this enormously.
As a life long Republican, I voted for Biden (and the two new Democrat senators from GA). I try to assess an individual on character before party. Will the candidate support the constitution and do their best to do what is right for our citizens and residents? I can not and will not fall prey to supporting a demagogue...I did that once before about 20 years ago in 2016. I have not switched parties although I have entertained the idea because the Republican Party has swung so far toward Trump (in this instance, being left or right doesn’t matter because Trump is his own direction). I hope the paranoia that seemingly intelligent people are in will dissipate as time goes on. I hope that company leaders will use political catnip ($$) to drive the country back to center. I hope true American Patriots will vote for candidate character and support of the constitution. I hope those of us who watched the insurrection of Jan 6 will no longer sit idly by...we must vote, we must march, we must be vocal, and we must never let this happen again. I may not know who or what I am fighting against. I do know that I fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...Non sibi sed patriae!
How can we (the USA) be a "leader" for the rule of law and order, around the world or even in our own backyard, when 45 old white men can say incitement to insurrection is a partisan witch hunt??? I despair of our entire system if this egregious behavior by the former president is allowed to go unpunished and worse, is actually rewarded as he will still have all the perks of an ex-president. Trump is a.criminal many many times over and should be convicted in the senate of incitement to insurrection!!!
Regarding the Senate vote today on constitutionality of the impeachment, I and most likely all of you (and, surprisingly, HRC) read it wrong. That's because the Senate rules are arcane and most all have no clue how they work. Fortunately, Lawrence O'Donnell, former senior Senate staffer, does know them and how they work, and he explained that today's vote on a Motion to Table is not the same as a vote on conviction, or even a vote on whether the impeachment is unconstitutional, and that it is not necessarily a harbinger of the final vote. Senator Portman's tweet saying that his vote against tabling the motion today should not be seen as his statement on how he will finally vote, demonstrates Lawrence was right.
That doesn't mean there are 12 Republicans planning to convict hiding in plain sight among the 45 who voted not to table - I will personally be flabbergasted if the Republican vote comes to 8-10 for conviction. but - to mix metaphors - it's not time yet to get the cart before the horse and go asses over teakettles.
Thanks, Lawrence, for teaching me something actually new that I didn't know, today.
Morning, all!! Morning, Dr. R!! Note the photo in this link of the alpha horse keeping his herd safe as they cross the road. Leadership: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_41.htm
Won't be surrendering my Biden/Harris coffee mug anytime soon.
Hopefully, Biden has not forgotten the importance of Teddy Roosevelt's Bully Pulpit; the key role of public opinion for bringing recalcitrant Senators into line. He has a role to build that public support and "incite, with significant force that they neglect at their peril," the Senate to pass his agenda, be it taking new directions, respect for the law, improving on obvious inequities, removing injustices....or prosecuting criminal Presidents....past or present! He should not renounce this important part of his constitutional role.
"We are now a week into the Biden administration..."
It's a change to hear news that Biden is operating within his Constitutional role in a constructive manner.
It's also not unexpected to hear that the GOP wasted no time in reverting to form by taking an onstructionist position on power sharing.
And it's really unfortunate to hear that in their haste to avoid their own culpability in enabling the last Administration, they've again decided, in advance, to pass on holding Trump accountable for what, in effect, was a treasonous act.
And finally, it's taken the internet trolls less than a week to begin blaming Biden for deficiencies in the vaccine rollout and immigration. There appears to be a widespread epidemic of childlike truculence whereby victimization is preferable to collective engagement.
The ship is turning. Slow and steady. Feels good to have a new captain and strong crew in place. We will weather this storm!
Although every indication points to acquittal (45 - 55 so the trial in the Senate proceeds), I think the Republicans are caught in a bind, damned if they do, damned if they don't. I think the Republicans are depending on the short public memory.
How much do we have to fear still? With the state Republican Parties becoming so Q'd, what is the strength of the conspiracy wing of the Republican Party vs. the business portion of the party. How widespread is the Q phenomenon? Why are so many Republicans, the ones who were so willing to play the turn-over the election, still afraid of these DT conspiracists and are ready to sacrifice democracy itself just to stay in power? I'm finding this all very depressing despite all the good things President Biden is doing. When are we going to feel like we have a stable democracy again, if ever?