Saturday, January 23, 2021

"Unity" Does Not Mean The Election Winners Signing A Political Disarmament Pact!

"Now the Republicans want our country to heal. Odd that these people who caused the wounds, now as they lose power, want to let the country heal. How sweet.

For four years, they have been throwing rocks at Democrats. Now, when they have run out of rocks to throw, they want to stop the rock-throwing.

Trump hit this country like a gutshot. You don’t just sew up the wound and let it heal. You have to get the bullet out first." - John Phillips, Letter to the Editor Denver Post (Jan. 21)

"Here’s the simple truth facing the Democratic agenda: In a Senate without a filibuster, they have some chance of passing some rough facsimile of the agenda they’ve promised. In a Senate with a filibuster, they do not."  Ezra Klein, 'Here's How To Lose In 2022, Democrats- And Deserve It',  NY Times, Jan. 22

"We are not required to play this game. Biden may or may not succeed in securing “unity.” But Republicans don’t get to unilaterally dictate in advance what counts as a true attempt to achieve it."-  Greg Sargent,  'Fake GOP Rage Over Biden's Unity Speech Is A Sucker's Game',  Washington Post, 

In the aftermath of President Joe Biden's Inaugural address with the theme of "unity",  some in the media - and most Republicans - seem to have missed the memo on what that means.  This is evident when one has witnessed how some Reeps, i.e. Sen. Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio et al, appear to have interpreted it to mean a unilateral declaration of "surrender" or signing a pact to self-immolate-  on the part of the election winners.

Further, as Chris Hayes has pointed out ('ALL In', Jan. 21) one side cannot unilaterally declare "unity" without the other side engaging in the process as well. And if that other side has been engaged in sedition, and lies about legitimacy or enabling them - there must be accountability and self-correction first.  In other words that other side must first have a "come to Jesus" moment of awareness and arrive at the acceptance of unity with humility. 

None of that has transpired, so it's kind of rich that the Repukes are having a cow over any promised unity as Joe Biden is moving swiftly to dismantle Trump’s legacy on his first day in office.  Biden then signing a raft of executive actions and orders that reverse course on immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic Also, he ordered a halt to the construction of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, ended the ban on travel from some Muslim majority countries, declared his intent to rejoin the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization and revoked the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline,

In the immediate aftermath the 'pukes squealed like stuck pigs: "Waahhhh! Where's all the unity he talked about?"  

Especially hysterical in reaction was Marco Rubio who barked that the Biden onslaught marked a "radical socialist agenda."  Actually, if Rubio wasn't such a blinkered right wing Cuban idiot - brainwashed by socialist boogeymen from the age of 3 - he'd have recognized a human agenda.  I.e. intended to restore a measure of humanity and civility that Trump had stripped away.

The 29-plus  executive actions thus far, and two directives, are an obvious move to "un-Trump"  the last four years of federal policies and with striking speed.   But hey!  This is what the party that wins the White House gets to do! No serious person of any mental capacity would expect nothing to happen, no actions to be taken.  Especially after the policy dumpster fire of the past 4 years!  After all, what was Mitch McConnell's famous saying?  "Winners make policy, losers go home!"

But you'd never know that from the comments of some of the Reepos.  They actually believe when Biden called out for unity he really meant a unilateral declaration of political disarmament by the Dems.  Of doing nothing, or even keeping most Trump policies in place. Nothing could be more erroneous.

Even one dimwit reporter, maybe from OAN?,  asked Jen Psaki at a recent press conference: "Where is there even a fig leaf of the unity Biden spoke of?"    The dolt even asked why there had been no appointments of any Republicans to cabinet positions,  as if such an idiotic move would constitute a show of unity.  But Ms. Psaki put the imbecile in his place.  She informed him that Biden's call for unity did not mean putting aside policy priorities in order to please Republicans.

Meanwhile, as all this questioning of unity is going on, no one is asking why Mitch McConnell has basically forced the Democrats - now in a de facto Senate majority - to be unable to form committees, or to ACT as a majority, i.e. in getting legislation voted on etc.  Mitch, a wizened and cunning manipulator of Senate rules - is using the threat of a filibuster to an obscure mechanism known as the "organizing resolution" to ensure the Dem majority is  unable to take command. (Thereby violating his own favorite saying). He has basically threatened to use the filibuster unless they accede to his agenda and timelines.

He is also daring the Senate Dems to try to kill the filibuster (a leftover from the "Jim Crow" era as Heather McGhee pointed out on ALL In) gambling that one of their own caucus - Sen. Joe Manchin - won't go for it. (Which is why Manchin could use some arm -twisting from Biden, like LBJ used to do when he needed action on some bills or measures after coming to power in his own way in 1963.)

But as millions of desperate citizens wait, this is what it's come to - no action by the Reeps on a needed $1.9 trillion relief package that even the bloody Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable have endorsed.   The only 3 Reepo Senators (Romney, Collins and Murkowski) who might sign on, say it's "too big", too much spending.  Which is nuts, because it's exactly what's needed to get the vaccination rollout expedited and the virus behind us so the economy can begin to recover.    

But the tight-fisted Reeps don't want to sign on. There's those awful deficits hanging over us, ya know! Almost like clockwork as soon as a Democrat enters the White House, Republicans pretend to care about deficits again.  The  problem this time is the Dems are "on the clock" to get something powerful done, and if they fail - if Biden fails-  look for an even more virulent Trumpism to emerge in 2024, after they lose the House in 2022.  At least that is political columnist Ezra Klein's forecast.  

 Listening to White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield last night (ALL In) it appears she is still in fantasy land that the Reeps will cooperate.  Chris Hayes pressed her over and over about whether she'd be prepared to kill the filibuster but all she said is "the president prefers to work with Republicans".  But what if the Reepos don't want to work with him and would rather let this relief "emergency" package waste in limbo until after the Senate trial is over - maybe in March?   She would not commit, thereby making Ezra Klein's point (who appeared right after) that the Democrats are destined to lose the House next year then the White House in '24, if they allow the Republicans to obstruct them and gaslight them into not using the filibuster.  (i.e. Because they "may need it when they are back in the minority".) 

Kate needs to recall the words of Sen. Jim Clyburn on this issue:

"I’ve said to the president-elect, ‘reach out across the aisle. Try to work with the Republicans. But don’t let them stymie your program. You can’t allow the search for bipartisanship to ruin the mandate the American people gave you.’”

Senate Democrats could eliminate the filibuster if every single one of them wanted to, but given the 50-50 split even a single defection would doom them. Enter Joe Manchin who  has promised to be that defection. Mere days after the election, he went on Fox News and said, “I commit to you tonight, and I commit to all of your viewers and everyone else that’s watching. I want to allay those fears, I want to rest those fears for you right now because when they talk about whether it be packing the courts, or ending the filibuster, I will not vote to do that.”

Why kill the filibuster?  The Senate may be  split 50-50, but the 50 Democrats represent more than 41 million more Americans than the 50 Republicans.  Thus power inequity is built in and it favors minority rule if the right tricks are played - which McConnell is doing now. This is not a good system.  The elimination of the filibuster rectifies that and the Dems must use it or perish into the political wilderness in the next three years..

NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has noted "Biden reached out to inhabitants of alternative realities"  in his Inaugural Address, calling for “the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity.”

The inherent problem here is that "alternate realities" do not enable unity by their very nature.  If one "reality" demands obstruction and disdains actual governing for that priority, then my reality - which dictates the opposite- means we cannot agree or even compromise.  Thus it also means we cannot unite because to do so means implanting an existential threat into my reality for sober governance.  Hence, one cannot integrate a nihilist or nihilistic ideology into any stable governing compact or system.  It is like trying to mix oil and water, or matter with antimatter.  

The claim that what the Republicans fear is more "stimulus" and hence more money printed (as Bill Maher signaled in his opening monologue on Real Time last night), misses the point.  As NY Times' Paul Krugman observed:

"While coronavirus relief legislation is often called “stimulus,” that’s not what Biden is trying to do. The economy in 2021 isn’t like the economy in 2009, depressed because there isn’t enough demand; we haven’t fully recovered because we’re still on partial lockdown, with some activities curtailed by the risk of infection.

The goal of policy in this situation isn’t to pump up spending, getting people to eat out and travel. It is, instead, to help people, businesses and local governments get through the difficult period until widespread vaccination lets us go back to business as usual.

And we know, as certainly as we know anything in economics, that the economy will be depressed at least into the summer and probably beyond. The last package didn’t provide remotely enough aid to get us through those months. Asking whether that package boosted the economy therefore completely misses the point; it’s obvious that America needs another round of disaster relief.

So how is it that Romney, who definitely isn’t a stupid man, doesn’t understand the most basic aspects of pandemic economics? My guess, as I already suggested, is that in the years since he was governor of Massachusetts he has shut himself into the conservative intellectual bubble, and he no longer listens to sensible economic analysis,"

Ezra Klein's warning in his Times' op-ed is even more sobering::

"The political scientists William Howell and Terry Moe write that “populists don’t just feed on socioeconomic discontent. They feed on ineffective government — and their great appeal is that they claim to replace it with a government that is effective through their own autocratic power.

Donald Trump was this kind of populist. Democrats mocked his “I alone can fix it” message for its braggadocio and feared its authoritarianism, but they did not take seriously the deep soil in which it was rooted: The American system of governance is leaving too many Americans to despair and misery, too many problems unsolved, too many people disillusioned. It is captured by corporations and paralyzed by archaic rules. It is failing, and too many Democrats treat its failures as regrettable inevitabilities rather than a true crisis."

Klein's point was that the Democrats must cease being timid and do whatever they need to do in order to pass the biggest programs and packages early.   The party cannot afford to fart around or let Mitch and his crew play 'rope a dope' with Schumer, ending the year with nothing major done- only incremental crumbs.

Above all, the Democrats - including Biden, Schumer and Pelosi - need to grasp that acting in the cause of unity does not mean signing away all their power to the minority party in a political disarmament pact!  Especially as the Reeps haven't even acknowledged up to now their part in stoking the lies about the 2020 election!

See Also:

Fake GOP rage over Biden’s ‘unity’ speech is a sucker’s game


With this new fake outrage fest, Republicans are working to reframe the national debate over how to repair the damage done during Donald Trump’s presidency on terms favorable to them.  This reframing is designed to bury their own culpability for the injuries they inflicted by actively enabling Trump and by deliberately harnessing the destructive forces he unleashed toward their own instrumental ends....

Biden did state clearly that unity requires “the defeat” of “political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism.” As it happens, intelligence services agree that violent white supremacy is “the most persistent and lethal threat” facing the homeland, and that Trump’s lie about the election’s illegitimacy threatens to incite more extremist violence going forward.

Biden is absolutely correct in saying that the primary threat to unity in this country — to civic peace, to democratic coexistence, to mutual acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the opposition — is the bundle of right-wing movements he described. 

Their game now is to extort a price for agreeing that Biden is actually pursuing unity.  That price is that Democrats must refrain from holding them accountable for all they've done to feed  the impulse that threatened to tear the country apart.

See Also:

by Joan McCarter | January 24, 2021 - 7:56am | permalink

— from Daily Kos


With every day that passes in which Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibusters the organizing resolution for the Senate to pass unless Democrats promise him he can filibuster President Biden's agenda in the coming years, he further cements his legacy. Not as a Senate mastermind, but as a white supremacist extortionist. Mind you, he's been that for most of his career, but didn't really come into full realization of it until the nation elected a Black man, President Barack Obama. He did it in large part by using the filibuster, a "Jim Crow relic" in Obama's own words.

Obama called for eliminating the filibuster in his eulogy for Rep. John Lewis to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, "making sure every American is automatically registered to vote, […] adding polling places, and expanding early voting, and making Election Day a national holiday, […] guaranteeing that every American citizen has equal representation in our government, including the American citizens who live in Washington, D.C. and in Puerto Rico, […] ending some of the partisan gerrymandering—so that all voters have the power to choose their politicians, not the other way around." Not to put too fine a point on it, the filibuster is far from being an institution created by the Framers of the Constitution to preserve the rights of the minority.

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