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Monday, January 25, 2021


There are two possibilities and I have not the slightest idea which one of them is correct, but we will find out quite soon. The first possibility is that Biden genuinely believes that he can reach out across the aisle and legislate in the way that he did 30 years ago, continuing to believe that despite the experience of the Obama administration in which he played a central role. If he believes that, then he will continue futilely to reach across the aisle and get his head handed to him again and again until it is too late to accomplish what he needs to accomplish in order to win the midterms.


The second possibility is that he quite well understands how little he can get done in a bipartisan fashion and has decided to make an enormous show of trying for a short period of time before “his hand is forced” by the virus and the economic crisis and he is “compelled” to opt for killing the filibuster, after which he can give statehood to DC, enact the progressive program of legislation that he is laid out, and leave the Republicans to stew in their own juices.


As I say, I do not think we will have to wait months and months to see which way this plays out. Biden is not stupid and he may have understood from the start that the pandemic was politically a blessing in disguise precisely because it would make it possible for him to appear to be doing things out of necessity that he actually wants to do. We shall see.


While I have your attention, let me note on another matter that if Dr. Anthony Fauci is correct that we need to vaccinate 75% or 80% of the population by the end of the summer to go back to something resembling normal, then that means (the arithmetic is simple) 2 million vaccinations a day from now until then. We are currently above 1 million a day before any of Biden’s bold plans have been put into effect at all so 2 million a day is, I believe, quite achievable. It irritates me to see the White House spokespersons continue to describe 100 million vaccinations in 100 days as a brave, bold initiative when that level has already been achieved, but I grant that it is good politics so I will grumble on my little blog but otherwise keep my mouth shut.


Anonymous said...

I anticipate that the second of the two strategies you outline will be selected if the Republicans are unwilling to compromise in favor of Biden’s legislative agenda. On Sunday on Meet the Press, Senator Durbin, the majority Whip, stated that if the Republicans prove to be implacable, the Democrats will eliminate the filibuster, which can be done with a majority vote, and will move forward.

Anonymous said...

The Supreme Court has dismissed the emoluments lawsuits against Trump, and has ordered the lower courts to strike the lawsuits from their dockets. The reason? Since Trump has left office, the S. Ct. has ruled that the issue is moot, i.e., if Trump violated the emoluments clause, he would be subject to impeachment. Since he is no longer President, he cannot be impeached. This has no bearing on whether her can be convicted having been impeached before he left office.

PhilosophicalWaiter said...

The goal is now 1.5 million shots/day: Today the Biden administration stepped up their goal. I predict that this is will be supplanted by a 2 million shots/day in a month or so once the 1.5 million goal has been reached and surpassed within the next month or two.

LFC said...

This is completely off-topic, but I just became aware of this book, published last fall, that looks v. interesting and might be of interest to some here:

Benjamin McKean, Disorienting Neoliberalism: Global Justice and the Outer Limit of Freedom (Oxford U.P.).

I'm *not* suggesting you buy it from Amazon, but you can get a summary at the Amazon link (below) or, I'm sure, at Oxford U. Press's site.

Eric said...

Senate Minority Leader McConnell this evening on Twitter: "I’m glad that two Senate Democrats confirmed today they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster. They agree with President Biden and me on protecting the Senate.

With this win, we can move forward with a 50-50 power-sharing agreement built on the 2001 precedent."

For those keeping track, the two Senate Democrats McConnell is referring to are Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. The same Joe Manchin that Schumer begged to not retire back in 2018, giving him a plum Senate Democratic leadership position; the same Joe Manchin who voted against ending the filibuster for presidential appointments during the Obama admin; and the same Joe Manchin who said he was opposed to $2,000 direct payments to Americans suffering through the pandemic and economic downturn. (FTR, Dianne Feinstein, John Tester, Chris Coons?, & Angus King haven't been too enthusiastic about ending the filibuster, either.)

Now if only the progressive movement had a few Joe Manchins, Kyrsten Sinemas, and Ben Nelsons. Remember when the only way the Democrats could get then-Sen. Ben Nelson's vote to pass Obamacare was for Obama & Harry Reid to guarantee that Nebraskans' costs for the Medicaid expansion required under the Affordable Care Act would be covered by the federal government in perpetuity, while most other states would have to pay for their own Medicaid expansions out of their own pockets? That's real power. That's what the Force The Vote movement a few weeks ago should have been about. Instead, so-called Democratic progressives settle for party leadership just doing kente-cloth photo-ops and making promises to try to get Harriet Tubman's picture on printed on currency bills.

Anonymous said...

He may not need to make the choice if, as seems increasingly likely, we are headed for war with China.

David Palmeter said...


I share your frustration with the power structure of the Senate, but until progressives can convince more voters to support their policies, that's what we have to live with. I'm glad Chuck Schumer talked Manchin into running again in 2018. If he hadn't, it's a certainty that a Republican would have taken the seat. That would have meant, among other things, that Mitch McConnell would still be the sole arbiter of what measures will get a vote in the Senate and that Bernie Sanders would not be chair of the Budget Committee. The list goes on.

Anonymous said...

A note about the 100 million vaccinations: It's really 50 million first and 50 million second doses. Hopefully by 100 days it will be 2 million per day first dose, followed by 2 million per day second doses through the end of summer.

Danny said...

You're not talking about Biden reaching across to the crazy lefties, but what if you were?

Danny said...

'..the pandemic was politically a blessing in disguise..'

I think such musings display not an ounce of common sense.

Danny said...

'I will grumble on my little blog but otherwise keep my mouth shut.'

I am unclear on what exactly it is that you might do if you really get into a state. Maybe you will put God on trial and finds him guilty on your little blog?

Danny said...

Now we have the coronavirus vaccine, how soon can we get back to normal life? Come to think of it, I am unclear on whether the vaccine is supposed to slow down the rate of transmission of Covid-19. If the vaccines being administered are designed to protect people from severe side-effects of the disease, then maybe they were not developed to block transmission of the virus, and I kind of just had been assuming there should then be a reduction in transmission. Besides, vaccines do not provide 100% protection. It occurs to me that new variants of the virus may emerge and may require the manufacture of reconfigured vaccines to tackle them. Is it known how long current vaccines will protect against severe Covid-19 symptoms? And I could look up what most scientists believe, rather than just spitballing, but what is that really worth anyways?

I'm sure we've all wondered, but do bars, restaurants and schools stay closed?

And heck, I read somewhere that at least 40 percent of people don't plan to get the vaccine. Vaccines are not mandated right now..

Achim Kriechel (A.K.) said...

I read this Essey by Anne Applebaum in 'The Atlantic, the content of which Prof. Wolff referred to as "Deeply Depressing" here on the blog. It struck me that a lot of what she describes also fits very closely with phenomena that can be observed here in Germany and all of Western Europe. Mayors of small communities whose families face death threats every day. Politicians of all parties who are showered with hideous garbage. Volunteers from non-profit organizations who are insulted at every opportunity, as well as journalists who are attacked by a wild mob during demonstrations.

Maybe someone noticed what was going on in the Netherlands over the weekend. In almost all large cities there were massive riots that were so strong that the police lost all control. Looting and violence occurred on a scale that I thought impossible in one of the "richest areas" of the globe.

I think we have to realize that January 6th in Washington D.C. unfortunately only symbolizes the preliminary climax of a development that affects all societies that we have previously referred to as "Western civilizations".

One consequence for all those who try to understand rationally what is happening has to be: it is not an exclusive US-phenomenon what is happening there.

s. wallerstein said...

What's happening in the Netherlands, as you point out, is worthy of analysis. I don't know much about the Netherlands, but, from what I know, it's a society with fairly decent social benefits unlike the U.S. That is, while many see that the discontent among U.S. white working class and middle class as primarily the result of people who feel "left-out", who have no healthcare benefits, who can't pay for a university education, that's not the case in the Netherlands, as I understand it.

No one seems to be taking into account the tremendous psychological cost of almost a year of Covid lock-downs, of being cut off from mass celebrations, from not being able to socialize in bars as one used to, from having to wear a mask (it's summer here), from not being able to hug loved ones, etc. Covid restrictions vary from society to society, but the general climate of not being able to socialize as one used to affects people and they explode against authority figures such as the police and maybe even in the case of some of the January 6 rioters against the hated political elite. I'm a loner myself and I adapt to the Covid restrictions, but I can see that more extroverted and sociable people are very affected.

C said...

I agree with S. Wallerstein in terms of the tremendous psychological cost of the global pandemic for people, especially extroverts, even moderate or mild extroverts.

In the US, things will not return to "normal" until Fall or late 2021. That is 1.5-2 years of (social) life that have been massively disrupted.

I fully understand the reasoning for the lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, mask requirements, social distancing requirements, etc. but they do exact a psychological toll. When you effectively force people to suspend their (in-person) social lives for 1.5-2 years and force them to stay at home for long periods of time, many will eventually go crazy, lash out, and explode, especially angry, unemployed, young men. Just consider the Summer 2020 race riots, the plotted abduction of the Governor of Michigan, the 1/6/2021 Capitol Building riot, and now the Netherlands riots, among others.

Yes, you can consider fighting this virus akin to fighting World War III (against a virus, not other countries). But every world war has a massive financial, physical, mental, and emotional cost.