By Maeve Higgins | Joe Biden, the Irishman – The New York Times

Ms. Higgins is a contributing opinion writer who regularly writes about immigration and life in New York City.

Credit…Paul Faith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“In November, a BBC reporter shouted a question at President-elect Joe Biden. He responded, “The BBC? I’m Irish” before flashing a huge smile and disappearing through a doorway. The clip went viral and Ireland went wild.

President Biden’s Irishness is important to him: He likes to quote Seamus Heaney and W.B. Yeats, and borrowed James Joyce’s words as he bid farewell to Delaware the night before his inauguration. An Irish violinist played Irish hymns at the mass before the event. Back in the old country, people are keen to claim him, too. His ancestral family are mini-celebrities there — his third cousin, a plumber named Joe Blewitt, emblazoned his work van with the words “Joe Biden for the White House, Joe Blewitt for your house.” Frankly, the whole thing is adorable. What I want to know is, how deep does it go?” . . .

It’s gratifying to see, certainly. But what my Irishness leads me to is the old Ireland, the truly dark and terrifying place that Mr. Biden’s forefathers fled from. Who is their equivalent now? And can the president see them for what they are and act accordingly?

The parallels between Ireland in the 1800s, when Mr. Biden’s forefathers left, and, say, Syria or South Sudan today are horribly apt. The Syrian people, brave and revolutionary, simply needed a fair system of government and, later, a safe place to recover and restart their lives. But Americans have looked away. The South Sudanese, reeling from brutal colonization, continue to struggle through ethnic division and civil war. Surely too in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, there are poets and musicians who dream of the rhyme of hope and history, if only we stopped to listen.

The early signs are promising. During his campaign, Mr. Biden promised to lift the cap on refugee admissions from 15,000 to 125,000. But so much more is needed from America — just as it was in the 19th century, when roughly one in two people born in Ireland emigrated. Patrick Blewitt, Mr. Biden’s great-great grandfather, left a famine-stricken land in 1850, becoming one of the 1.8 million Irish people to arrive in America between 1845 and 1855. His parents and siblings soon followed. Another million Irish people did not make it, staying behind to die of starvation or sickness.” . . .

Lovely piece by Maeve Higgins.  She would have us taken as many refugees as is possible without delineation. I can’t agree with her.  Biden is doing enough, to allow in 125,000 a year. Part of taking care of the planet, is reducing population growth. We need to stop illegal immigration, allow for guest workers after amending the constitutional amendment that makes their children all citizens, and work towards a generous Marshall like plan to help our neighbors to the south curb their population growth, and rebuild their economies, and in some places, their governments. Legalizing all addictive drugs, would help reduce the negative effects of the $50 Billion a year illegal drug trade, that destabilizes governments, while empowering drug gangs.

Regarding Syria and the middle east, we can return to strengthening our allies, if there are any left, after Trump betrayed them, and let the Turks, the Russians, and the  Bashar al-Assad regime slaughter them. 

David Lindsay on Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address

InconvenientNews.Net  1/22/21   That was quite an exciting day on January 20th.  I’m absolutely joyous, to be living now in the Biden era. I hope you all saw his inauguration, and the evening concert. They were inspiring.

The day was not without controversy. Two women of color on MSNBC and another network thought that the young poet upstaged Joe Biden. I thought Joe gave the best speech of his career, and the speech will be famous.

My sister Marney Morrison replied, “Re Joe Bidon and Amanda Gorman. Both are true – excellent speech and she was the best performer of the day – didn’t diminish him though – all the talent he attracted just raised his event up and amplified him and his administration.”

David Brooks wrote in the NYT today, that his favorite passage was this: “ “Here is the thing about life: There is no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days you need a hand; there are other days when we are called to lend a hand.” The Biden values are there: humility, vulnerability, compassion, resilience, interdependence, solidarity. Donald Trump’s patriotism was bloated and fear-based. Biden’s is the self-confident patriotism he absorbed by growing up in a certain sort of country during the American century.”

I hear in that historic speech, a dozen or so beautiful sentences or paragraphs. Hear are my favorite parts.   “We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.

We look ahead in our uniquely American way — restless, bold, optimistic — and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be. I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here.  I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

“. . . I have just taken the sacred oath each of these patriots took — an oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.  On “We the People” who seek a more perfect Union.”

“. . . Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity.

In another January in Washington, on New Year’s Day 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  When he put pen to paper, the President said, “If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it.”     My whole soul is in it.”

“. . . And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh. All of us. Let us listen to one another. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this. And, I believe America is better than this.”

“. . . Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans? I think I know. Opportunity. Security. Liberty. Dignity. Respect. Honor. And, yes, the truth.

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

“. . . So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s. We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example. We will be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security. We have been through so much in this nation.

And, in my first act as President, I would like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those we lost this past year to the pandemic. To those 400,000 fellow Americans – mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We will honor them by becoming the people and nation we know we can and should be. Let us say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives, for those they left behind, and for our country. Amen.

This is a time of testing. We face an attack on democracy and on truth. A raging virus. Growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis.

America’s role in the world. (Oops, right here the speech writer chickened out or ducked. Everyone gets to finish this opaque bullet point they way they like. Did they mean, America’s role in the world –diminished, or co-0pted by Vladimir Putin? I think they are probably saying, damaged by Donald Trump, without saying it.)

Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities. Now we must step up. All of us. It is a time for boldness, for there is so much to do.

And, this is certain. We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era. Will we rise to the occasion? Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children? I believe we must and I believe we will.”

David Lindsay:    I think that last paragraph above is my favorite. I love “cascading crises,” which echos the most ominous term in climate science, “cascading events.”  Cascading events are what will probably end life as we know and love it on this planet, if we continue to party and overpopulate and pollute. The most famous example that comes to mind, is that the melting of the frozen tundras of the world, causes the release of millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane, which will lead to more global warming, leading to more melting  . . . . .  et cetera.  Scientist have warned for years that we are starting what might someday soon (?) be an unstoppable, cascading chain of events. Joe Biden gets it. He is begging our anti-science fellow citizens to listen to the scientists.

Politico:  “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation,” President Joe Biden said.

Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans. This is America’s day. . . .

Source: Full text: Joe Biden inauguration speech transcript – POLITICO

Opinion | My Joe Biden Story – By Linda – Greenhouse – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…John Duricka/Associated Press

“As Ben Smith, the media columnist for The Times, suggested a few weeks ago, pretty much every journalist who passed through Washington, D.C., during the past half century knows President-elect Joe Biden and has a story to tell. I’d like to end this strange year, and welcome the new one and the new president, by telling mine.

I met then-Senator Biden in the mid-1980s, when he was a member of the Judiciary Committee and I was covering the occasional judicial confirmation. By 1987, he was chairman of the committee, after the Democrats retook the Senate in the 1986 midterms. That summer, President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.

Given the president’s success the year before in naming Justice William Rehnquist as chief justice and a little-known judge, Antonin Scalia, to fill Rehnquist’s associate justice seat, this nomination presented a huge challenge to Judge Bork’s opponents, and a disheartening one. Leaders of the liberal groups that assembled to fight the nomination of the outspoken conservative, a judge with reactionary views on civil rights and free speech, had little confidence that the Judiciary Committee’s chairman was up to the job.

Editorial | Joe Biden Takes Climate Change Seriously – The New York Times

“. . . .  All in all, a handsome batch of résumés, but résumés won’t match the urgent challenge ahead. How urgent? Just over two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s pre-eminent authority on global warming, warned that the world must transform its energy systems by midcentury in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, or risk widespread ecological and social disruptions — including but not limited to die-offs of coral reefs, sea level rise, drought, famine, wildfires and potential migrations of whole populations searching for food and fresh water. More pointedly, it stressed that the next decade was crucial, that emissions would have to be on a sharp downward path by 2030 for any hope of success, that there was no gentle glide path and that the world’s political leaders would have to take a firm grip on the emissions curve and wrench it downward in a hurry.

With that in mind, Mr. Biden pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and, along the way, eliminate fossil fuel emissions from the power sector by 2035. What this in turn is likely to require is set forth in a detailed Princeton study, summarized by The Times’s Brad Plumer on Dec. 15: a doubling, annually, in the pace of new wind and solar power; a huge increase in the number of new battery-powered cars sold every year, from 2 percent now to 50 percent of new sales by 2030, with charging stations to serve them; a big jump in the number of homes heated by electric heat pumps instead of oil and gas; and, necessarily, a vast increase in the capacity of the electric grid to handle all this clean power.

This transformation of the energy delivery system will not be achieved by regulation, although that will surely help, or, as some groups seem to believe, by simply ending hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas. What the Princeton study envisions is great amounts of new public and private investment, bigger by far than the modest energy-related tax breaks in the year-end spending and coronavirus relief package (which also, happily, included a provision that would curtail the use of planet-warming refrigerants called HFCs, thus bringing the United States in alignment with the rest of the world).

Extracting the necessary trillions from a potentially divided Congress is the tallest of tall orders. The betting now is on two possible legislative paths, maybe both: a stimulus bill with all sorts of green investments tucked into it, along the lines of the 2009 Obama stimulus but much bigger; and, after that, a big infrastructure bill targeted at projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Biden’s strategy is still in the making. But whatever path he chooses, progress in this still-fractured country will require all the energy and smart ideas his team can muster and all the negotiating skills Mr. Biden himself has acquired in a half-century of public service.” -30-

David Lindsay: Good editorial and comments.  Here is my favorite comment, of many good ones:

Woof

Let’s get to the bottom of climate change Americans , per capita, contribute to climate change more than any other Nation Country CO2 emissions per capita , tons

      US 16.56

       UK 5.62

France 5.19 I

    Italy 5.56

The French and Brits and Italians do not live worse than the US but pollute 1/3 as much as Americans To reduce climate change, the US , as a first step, need to tax gasoline on the EU level to discourage Americans from driving ever larger SUVs and Pick Ups It is that simple Joe Biden’s Climate Team Actually Cares About Climate it will start there

10 Replies155 Recommended

Opinion | Can Deb Haaland Stay a Hero? – The New York Times

Claudia Lawrence is a freelance journalist.

Credit…Adria Malcolm for The New York Times

“Within minutes of the announcement that President-elect Joe Biden had nominated Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico as interior secretary, Native social media was celebrating. People in our community who have met Ms. Haaland began posting photos of her at Native events throughout Indian Country; one of my friends wrote, “Our auntie has done it!”

The jubilation is warranted, because Ms. Haaland, a citizen of Laguna Pueblo, one of the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes, would be the first Native American to head the Department of the Interior, indeed the first Native American to serve in the cabinet at all. But there is no question that if Ms. Haaland is confirmed, her seat at the table would be a very hot seat indeed.

Native representation is good, but the community will want her to deliver on expectations. And right now, expectations are stratospheric. In the Native community, many assume that Ms. Haaland will be our warrior, righting centuries of federal wrongs against our people and our tribes, especially those inflicted by the Interior Department, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

But Ms. Haaland would need to calibrate a delicate balance between her populist identity as a champion of Native rights and tribal sovereignty and her new role defending the interests of the federal system. One of the first two Native women to be elected to Congress, Ms. Haaland is a remarkable trailblazer, but as anyone who has done it will affirm, breaking new trail, especially as one climbs upward, is riddled with potential mishap.

Ms. Haaland would not be the first Native American to serve in the upper echelons of a presidential administration. Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover’s running mate in 1928, was Native and even spoke fluent Kaw, which he learned at his grandmother’s knee. Curtis, though, is not admired as a role model, but instead derided as a reactionary assimilationist who promoted policies that significantly harmed Natives. The Curtis Act of 1898, which he introduced as a member of the House, broke up tribal lands, weakened tribal governments and abolished tribal courts.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I would have been much more impressed by this essay, if it had arrived after Ms. Haaland had made it through the confirmation period, or at least, after the Democrats won the senate.
I agree with two conflicting comments. One, that this piece was thoughtful and deep. I especially liked hearing about the Indian Vice President who screwed his people. That was an ugly, new story for me. But I also agreed with the comment, that the whole piece was a bit insulting to Ms. Haaland. Has she ever showed signs of betraying her people, or their environment? The writer offers little detail about Haaland’spolitical resume and skills, so the she appears more opportunistic, than informed.
Bless Joe Biden for proposing to put an American Indian and an environmentalist into his cabinet, to head the Dept of the Interior.

Frank Bruni | Can  Make American Politics Decent Again? – The New York Times

“I think it’s very hard to get back to the way things were,” said Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Senate Republican who voted to convict President Trump at the end of his impeachment trial. We spoke the day after the electors in the Electoral College formalized Biden’s victory.

One of the obstacles, Romney said, is a media environment in which different Americans now consume entirely different facts. “If you have 70 percent of Republicans thinking that Biden stole the election, that’s a hard hole to dig out of,” he said.

But if any president can make headway in this era of gall and grievance, it’s Biden. He was elected to soothe rather than stir, plod rather than strut, and by all appearances so far, he understands that.

Just look at his preternatural reticence in the face of Trump’s and other Republicans’ postelection provocations. Across much of November and December, reporters sought from Biden some howl of anguish, some fiery denunciation, and got oratorical oatmeal instead. He murmured metronomically that Republicans would eventually come around. It was unsatisfying but right. What would be accomplished by screaming the opposite?

Even when he finally took Trump and his Republican enablers to task in a speech on Dec. 14, he did so with an appeal for unity and a renewed pledge to work as hard for the Americans who hadn’t voted for him as for the Americans who had. His recriminations were measured and sandwiched between feel-good reflections on democracy.

Three days later, when he and Jill Biden were interviewed by Stephen Colbert, he remained impossibly placid and insistently positive as Colbert wondered about the ferocity with which Republicans were going after Biden’s son, Hunter. “It is what it is,” Biden said, assuring Colbert that no matter how unfair or overzealous Republicans’ effort, he would always try to work with them when Americans’ welfare was in the balance.

Times Editorial | Joe Biden Should Build on Common Ground – The New York Times

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Promises to pursue national healing and unity helped put Joe Biden in the White House. Americans embraced that vision. But the overall election results, with Republicans gaining seats in the House and possibly retaining control of the Senate, both exposed and increased the magnitude of the incoming president’s challenge.

In a nation so politically divided, making even modest progress on critical issues can be a slog. Mr. Biden will need to rally the public behind a Decency Agenda with broad-based appeal. That means first turning down the temperature of the culture wars, backing a policy agenda with broad public support and returning to constitutional norms that served the nation well for so long.

Common ground on policy is not terra incognita. The question is what to do with the common ground that’s already been scouted and surveyed. This effort can target the usual bipartisan suspects, like shoring up infrastructure and lowering the price of prescription drugs, but can also reach further afield, guided in part by the imperatives of the pandemic.”

Biden Plans to Tap Lloyd Austin, Former Iraq Commander, as Defense Secretary – The New York Times

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“. . . General Austin became the top commander of American forces in Iraq in 2010, when the United States still had roughly 50,000 service members there. Much of the attention had moved on to other hot spots in the Middle East, but major questions still existed about the direction of Iraq, including whether any American forces would remain in the country beyond 2011. General Austin and his commanders were convinced that a sizable force of over 5,000 troops needed to remain to help the fledgling Iraqi military. But the commanders on the ground were ultimately overruled by the Obama administration, which pulled out all American forces by the end of 2011.

Years later that decision would be blamed for the Islamic State’s ability to seize wide swaths of the country.

General Austin’s style was far more reserved than some of the officers with marquee names who spent considerable time cultivating their public image and using the news media to maneuver policy fights with the administration.” . . .

Opinion | Biden Wants America to Lead the World. It Shouldn’t. – by Peter Beinart – The New York Times

David Lindsay:   I didn’t like the beginning of this piece, but it got better and better. Obama announced that on his watch, the US would not lead the world, but lead from behind. Biden is sounding very eager to return to world leadership, and it doesn’t sound right, and raises a few red flags. Peter Beinart calls for solidarity and team work, rather than follow the leader. It would be a nice rebranding of Lead from behind.

“Biden Wants America to Lead the World. It Shouldn’t.

“. . .   Mr. Biden has offered two justifications for why America deserves this privileged role. The first is hereditary: “For 70 years,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs, “the United States, under Democratic and Republican presidents, played a leading role in writing the rules” that “advance collective security and prosperity.” In other words, America should lead the world now because it has done so effectively in the past.

Between 1945 and 1989, according to Dov H. Levin’s book “Meddling in the Ballot Box,” the United States interfered in foreign elections 63 times. So Mr. Biden’s cheery history of American Cold War leadership leaves a lot out. But even if you romanticize the post-World War II era, it is long gone.

Seventy years ago, as James Goldgeier and Bruce W. Jentleson recently noted, the United States accounted for roughly half of the world’s gross domestic product. It now accounts for just over one-seventh. Collectively, the European Union’s G.D.P., adjusted for purchasing power parity, is almost as large as the United States’. China’s is already larger, and the coronavirus pandemic is likely to only widen the gap. The phrase “leadership” assumes a power hierarchy that, at least economically, no longer exists.

Mr. Biden’s second justification is moral. As he wrote in 2017, “other nations follow our lead because they know that America does not simply protect its own interests, but tries to advance the aspirations of all.” But it’s hard to survey America’s behavior in recent decades and glean some special commitment to global welfare. According to a study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, America’s post-9/11 wars have displaced 37 million people. And even before Donald Trump entered the White House, the United States had refused to ratify international treaties that ban land minescluster bombs and nuclear tests, regulate the global sale of armsprotect the oceans, enable prosecution of genocide and war crimes, and safeguard the rights of womenchildren and people with disabilities. Most countries on earth have ratified all or nearly all of these agreements. No other nation has spurned every single one.

Mr. Trump has added to this litany of noncompliance by withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, the World Health Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Treaty on Open Skies and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This isn’t the record of a country that has earned the right to global leadership. It’s the record of a country that should work on global membership first.”  . . . .

“. . . .  It’s not ordinary Americans who believe the United States must “sit at the head of the table,” as Mr. Biden said last week. It is foreign-policy elites, who often slander public opposition to American primacy as isolationism. But there is a dissident foreign-policy tradition, often championed by those at the forefront of America’s domestic struggles for justice. In his 1967 speech opposing the Vietnam War, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the United States government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Such a government, he insisted, should not pretend “it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.” Rather than seeking to dominate the world, Dr. King argued, the United States should show “solidarity” with it: first, by curbing its own contributions to global misery and second, by joining with others to battle “poverty, insecurity and injustice.”

The Biden team should make solidarity — not leadership — its watchword for approaching the world. In so doing, it would acknowledge that while the United States can do much to help other nations, its first obligation — especially after the horrors of the Trump era — is to stop doing harm.”

Opinion | A Return to Decency – by Roger Cohen – The New York Times

“. . . .  This Biden makeover is all well and good, but the world has moved on, and the quest for the status quo ante cannot be the new president’s compass. Mr. Trump’s belligerence and Brexit have galvanized Europe in the direction of what Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has called “strategic autonomy.” For the first time, Germany has allowed the federalization of European debt, allowing the union to borrow like a government, an important step toward a stronger, more integrated Europe. It’s time for a “New Deal” between Europe and the United States that acknowledges European emancipation and shifting American priorities, while cementing an alliance of values and often overlapping interests.

Europe’s evolution has been evident in relations with China, which used to be purely commercial. Now, the expansionist China of President Xi Jinping is seen as a systemic rival.

The European Union has been critical of China’s human rights record, imposing sanctions in response to its repression in Hong Kong, and is rightly skeptical of Chinese boasts about its superior response to the pandemic. Still, European nations want to work with China. One of the major challenges for the West as the Biden administration takes office will be finding the sweet spot that confronts Mr. Xi’s China with firmness while avoiding outright confrontation.”