Ezra Klein | This Presidency Isn’t Turning Out as Planned – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president. His Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, was Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Reserve. The director of Biden’s National Economic Council, Brian Deese, was deputy director of Obama’s National Economic Council. His chief of staff, Ron Klain, was his chief of staff for the first two years of the Obama administration and then Obama’s top Ebola adviser. And so on.

The familiar names and faces can obscure how different the new administration, in practice, has become. The problems Biden is facing are an almost perfect inversion of the problems Obama faced. The Obama administration was bedeviled by crises of demand. The Biden administration is struggling with crises of supply.”

Brilliant. Many valid points, despite the comments, which have some truth too. Maybe the Republicans threw the banana peels, but Biden chose to slip on them all.

Gail and Bret | Welcome to the ‘Well, Now What?’ Stage of the Story – The New York Times

Gail Collins: Bret, I suspect that even some diligent readers roll their eyes and turn the proverbial page when the subject of the filibuster comes up.

Bret Stephens: In the thrills department it ranks somewhere between budget reconciliation and a continuing resolution.

Gail: Yet here we are. Looks like Joe Biden’s voting rights package is doomed because he can’t get 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster. I’m inclined to sigh deeply and then change the subject, but duty prevails.

Bret: It’s another depressing sign of Team Biden’s political incompetence. How did they think it was a good idea for the president to go to Georgia to give his blistering speech on voting rights without first checking with Kyrsten Sinema that she’d be willing to modify the filibuster in order to have a chance of passing the bill? And then there was the speech itself, which struck me as … misjudged. Your thoughts?

Gail: If you mean, was it poorly delivered — well, after all these years we know that’s the Biden Way. He can rise above, as he did with the speech about the Jan. 6 uprising, but it’s not gonna happen a whole lot.

Bret: I meant Biden’s suggestion that anyone who disagreed with him was on the side of Jefferson Davis, George Wallace and Bull Connor. The increasingly casual habit of calling people racist when they disagree with a policy position is the stuff I’ve come to expect from Twitter, not a president who bills himself as a unifier. And again, it’s political malpractice, at least if the aim is to do more than just sound off to impress the progressive base.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT commentd:
Great conversation, thank you Gail and Bret. For me, the zenith was: Gail: Have to admit Harris has never knocked me over as a potential president. And as veep she’s stuck between assignments that nobody could possibly do, like solving the Mexican border crisis, and things she’s just bad at, like some of the inside-the-administration jobs her staff doesn’t seem capable of mastering. A group that is roiled by consistent turnover, by the way. Tell me your thoughts. Bret: Someone told me — it might have been you — that Harris is warm and funny in person. But she’s a lousy politician, and it showed when she flamed out of the Democratic primary before the Iowa caucus. Fixing the border is not mission impossible. It requires a mix of tough-minded security provisions of the sort past Democratic administrations were willing to put into place; ambitious legislative proposals to create broader avenues for legal immigration; a willingness to accept “Remain in Mexico” as an interim policy provided we help the Mexican government ensure humane conditions for migrants; and long-term security and economic assistance for troubled Latin American states.” Gail pitched the ball, and Bret hit the home run. I disagree with Brit that Biden is dead for re-election. He has elder chops. He just has to stay centered, pun intended.
David blogs at InconvientNews.Net.

Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6 – justsecurity.org – NYU Law School

I learned about this disturbing article from Shermandigest.wordpress.com.

“One of the most vexing questions about Jan. 6 is why the National Guard took more than three hours to arrive at the Capitol after D.C. authorities and Capitol Police called for immediate assistance. The Pentagon’s restraint in allowing the Guard to get to the Capitol was not simply a reflection of officials’ misgivings about the deployment of military force during the summer 2020 protests, nor was it simply a concern about “optics” of having military personnel at the Capitol. Instead, evidence is mounting that the most senior defense officials did not want to send troops to the Capitol because they harbored concerns that President Donald Trump might utilize the forces’ presence in an attempt to hold onto power.

According to a report released last month, Christopher Miller, who served as acting Secretary of the Defense on Jan. 6, told the Department’s inspector general that he feared “if we put U.S. military personnel on the Capitol, I would have created the greatest Constitutional crisis probably since the Civil War.” In congressional testimony, he said he was also cognizant of “fears that the President would invoke the Insurrection Act to politicize the military in an anti-democratic manner” and that “factored into my decisions regarding the appropriate and limited use of our Armed Forces to support civilian law enforcement during the Electoral College certification.”

Miller does not specify who held the fears that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act, and he wasn’t asked by Congress. However, it’s now clear that such concerns were shared by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as former CIA Director and at the time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Before Nov. 3, Milley and Pompeo confided in one another that they had a persistent worry Trump would try to use the military in an attempt to hold onto power if he lost the election, the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker reported. “This military’s not going to be used,” Milley assured Pompeo.”

Source: Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6

Biden transcript and video: Read the president’s Jan. 6 speech : NPR

“Without uttering former President Donald Trump’s name, President Biden issued a scathing critique of his predecessor on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Biden condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol, undertaken by Trump supporters one year ago, and said Trump himself spun a “web of lies” about the 2020 presidential election that fueled the violence.

Read a full transcript of Biden’s remarks below. Follow live updates of the day’s events here.”


Madam Vice President, my fellow Americans: to state the obvious, one year ago today, in this sacred place, Democracy was attacked. Simply attacked. The will of the people was under assault. The Constitution, our constitution faced the gravest of threats. Outnumbered in the face of a brutal attack, the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the National Guard and other brave law enforcement officials saved the rule of law. Our democracy held. We the people endured. We the people prevail.

For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such attack never, never happens again.

Source: Biden transcript and video: Read the president’s Jan. 6 speech : NPR

Thomas Friedman | How to Stop Trump and Prevent Another Jan. 6 – The New York Times

“. . . .  I love that phrase — unexpected truths. We have launched a space telescope that can peer far into the universe to discover — with joy — unexpected truths.

Alas, though, my joy is tempered by those two other stories, by the fact that here on Earth, in America, one of our two national parties and its media allies have chosen instead to celebrate and propagate alternative facts.

This struggle between those seeking unexpected truths — which is what made us great as a nation — and those worshiping alternative facts — which will destroy us as a nation — is THE story on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurgency, and for the coming year. Many people, particularly in the American business community, are vastly underestimating the danger to our constitutional order if this struggle ends badly.

If the majority of G.O.P. lawmakers continue to bow to the most politically pernicious “alternative fact” — that the 2020 election was a fraud that justifies empowering Republican legislatures to override the will of voters and remove Republican and Democratic election supervisors who helped save our democracy last time by calling the election fairly — then America isn’t just in trouble. It is headed for what scientists call “an extinction-level event.”

Only it won’t be a comet hurtling past the Webb telescope from deep space that destroys our democracy, as in the new movie “Don’t Look Up.”

No, no — it will be an unraveling from the ground up, as our country, for the first time, is unable to carry out a peaceful transfer of power to a legitimately elected president. Because if Donald Trump and his flock are able in 2024 to execute a procedural coup like they attempted on Jan. 6, 2021, Democrats will not just say, “Ah shucks, we’ll try harder next time.” They will take to the streets.

Right now, though, too many Republicans are telling themselves and the rest of us: “Don’t look up! Don’t pay attention to what is unfolding in plain sight with Trump & Company. Trump won’t be the G.O.P.’s candidate in 2024.”

Who will save us?

God bless Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the two Republican House members participating on the Jan. 6 investigation committee. But they are not enough. Kinzinger is retiring and the G.O.P. leadership, on Trump’s orders, is trying to launch Cheney into deep space.

I think our last best hope is the leadership of the U.S. business community, specifically the Business Roundtable, led by General Motors C.E.O. Mary Barra, and the Business Council, led by Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella. Together those two groups represent the roughly 200 most powerful companies in America, with 20 million employees. Although formally nonpartisan, they lean center-right — but the old center-right, the one that believed in the rule of law, free markets, majority rule, science and the sanctity of our elections and constitutional processes.

Collectively, they are the only responsible force left with real leverage on Trump and the Republican lawmakers doing his bidding. They need to persuade their members — now — not to donate a penny more to any local, state or national candidate who has voted to dismantle the police or dismantle the Constitution.”

David Lindsay Jr: Great column, Thomas Friedman, thank you. While there are a few good comments, most criticize Friedman, since all rich business people are evil and authoritarian.  I’m sure that Friedman is right, and they are wrong. My father was a wall street lawyer, who worked for major multinationals like Mobil Oil, but his passion was to study Abraham Lincoln and the civil war. The Lindsay brothers were committed to the civil rights movement, and a democracy of law as well as order. My father once explained to me that big corporations were not all evil, especially in a democracy, because if the government were to turn bad, and become authoritarian, the only force in the country strong enough to stand up to the government, are the big corporations. They are like a ballast, in my own words, that keep this ship from tilting too far to the left or the right. I hope he was right.

Rebecca Solnit | Why Republicans Keep Falling for Trump’s Lies – The New York Times

Ms. Solnit is a political essayist.

“When called upon to believe that Barack Obama was really born in Kenya, millions got in line. When encouraged to believe that the 2012 Sandy Hook murder of twenty children and six adults was a hoax, too many stepped up. When urged to believe that Hillary Clinton was trafficking children in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor with no basement, they bought it, and one of them showed up in the pizza place with a rifle to protect the kids. The fictions fed the frenzies, and the frenzies shaped the crises of 2020 and 2021. The delusions are legion: Secret Democratic cabals of child abusers, millions of undocumented voters, falsehoods about the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine.

While much has been said about the moral and political stance of people who support right-wing conspiracy theories, their gullibility is itself alarming. Gullibility means malleability and manipulability. We don’t know if the people who believed the prevailing 2012 conspiracy theories believed the 2016 or 2020 versions, but we do know that a swath of the conservative population is available for the next delusion and the one after that. And on Jan. 6, 2021, we saw that a lot of them were willing to act on those beliefs.

The adjective gullible comes from the verb to gull, which used to mean to cram yourself with something as well as to cheat or dupe, to cram someone else full of fictions. “Not doubting I could gull the Government,” wrote Daniel Defoe in 1701, and Hannah Arendt used the word gullible repeatedly in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” published in 1951. “A mixture of gullibility and cynicism is prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements, and the higher the rank the more cynicism weighs down gullibility,” she wrote. That is, among those gulling the public, cynicism is a stronger force; among those being gulled, gullibility is, but the two are not so separate as they might seem.”

Prosecutors Move Quickly on Jan. 6 Cases, but Big Questions Remain – The New York Times

“By almost any measure, the criminal investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is a prosecutorial effort of unparalleled complexity and scope.

For an entire year, federal agents in almost every state have been poring over mounting stacks of tipster reports, interviews with witnesses, public social media posts and private messages obtained by warrants. They have also collected nearly 14,000 hours of video — from media outlets, surveillance cameras and police-worn body cameras — enough raw footage that it would take a year and a half of around-the-clock viewing to get through it.

While the Justice Department has called the inquiry one of the largest in its history, traditional law enforcement officials have not been acting alone. Working with information from online sleuths who style themselves as “Sedition Hunters,” the authorities have made more than 700 arrests — with little sign of slowing down.

The government estimates that as many as 2,500 people who took part in the events of Jan. 6 could be charged with federal crimes. That includes more than 1,000 incidents that prosecutors believe could be assaults.”

David Lindsay: Excellent article, thank you. I found one of many good comments, which informed on subject I am deeply curious about. If this is true, wonderful.

Aurora
Vermont5h ago

Merrick Garland knows that if he is ever to indict former president Donald Trump he can never give the slightest indication that such an investigation is on. Donald Trump would label it a witch hunt and make sure the whole world knows it. Avoiding a circus atmosphere is critical to prosecuting such a case, if ever prosecuted. If a criminal trial were to occur Trump’s defense team would use the same tried-and-true strategy that has served Trump so well these past 6 years: people are attacking Donald Trump for political reasons; it’s Democrats against Republicans. Garland has one other bullet to dodge in his investigation: at trial he’ll need 12 guilty votes in a country where 40% of Americans fully support the former president. For this reason Garland must have an ironclad, squeaky clean case. The good news, for those of us who put reality above crazy conspiracy theories and political histrionics, Merrick Garland is the perfect choice to build an ironclad, squeaky clean case. But it will probably take another year.

4 Replies185 Recommended

Mike Pence Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty. – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — For Vice President Mike Pence, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay in his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president.

Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

David Axelrod | It’s Not Over for Joe Biden – The New York Times

You can’t always get what you want, so get what you can:

In 2010, some voices on the left vigorously argued that an A.C.A. without a government-run option to compete with private insurers was not worth passing. Yet some Senate Democrats resisted the public option, so Mr. Obama passed the law he could, convinced it would still do enormous good.

For months, Mr. Biden has been trying to balance the expansive social and climate agendas of progressives with the reticence of Mr. Manchin, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and other moderate Democrats.

Mr. Biden and congressional leaders tried to thread the needle by halving the size of his Build Back Better proposal while including pieces of as many of his original plans as possible, funded in shorter increments. The theory was that the popularity of these programs would compel future Congresses to continue them.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I agree with David Axelrod. I am sorry that the climate mitigation part is not mentioned as savable, and I’m curious. Is it still on the table? Manchin has said he would support it in a smaller bill, while his critics say he is lying, because of his steadfast support of coal, oil and gas interests, millionaires and billionaires. Can someone enlighten me on this question?

Laurence H. Tribe, et al | Will Donald Trump Get Away With Inciting an Insurrection? – The New York Times

Laurence H. Tribe, Donald Ayer and 

Mr. Tribe taught constitutional law at Harvard for 50 years. Merrick Garland was one of his students. Mr. Ayer oversaw criminal prosecutions and investigations as Ronald Reagan’s U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California. He later served as deputy attorney general. Mr. Aftergut handled a number of complex investigations and prosecutions as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco.

“In his nine months in office, Attorney General Merrick Garland has done a great deal to restore integrity and evenhanded enforcement of the law to an agency that was badly misused for political reasons under his predecessor. But his place in history will be assessed against the challenges that confronted him. And the overriding test that he and the rest of the government face is the threat to our democracy from people bent on destroying it.

Mr. Garland’s success depends on ensuring that the rule of law endures. That means dissuading future coup plotters by holding the leaders of the insurrection fully accountable for their attempt to overthrow the government. But he cannot do so without a robust criminal investigation of those at the top, from the people who planned, assisted or funded the attempt to overturn the Electoral College vote to those who organized or encouraged the mob attack on the Capitol. To begin with, he might focus on Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and even Donald Trump — all of whom were involved, in one way or another, in the events leading up to the attack.

Almost a year after the insurrection, we have yet to see any clear indicators that such an investigation is underway, raising the alarming possibility that this administration may never bring charges against those ultimately responsible for the attack.