Joe Biden’s Prez, hasn’t fixed everything yet!

$7.25? Really?

joebidenI suppose I should be really upset. Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. has been President of the United States for a whole month. And 46 hasn’t fixed everything yet! What is WRONG with him?

He’s only overturned SOME of 45’s awful positions. For instance, he reversed a Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender people from serving in the military. He has reinstated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, “the Obama-era program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation since it was created in 2012 through an Obama directive. The previous guy issued his own executive order to undo DACA in 2017.

“Other orders targeting foundational policies of the last administration include a Biden directive to reverse Trump’s ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, executive action to rejoin the Paris climate accord, and a proclamation stopping construction of his predecessor’s border wall.” But there are a whole bunch of others that need to be obliterated.

Oh, yeah, he’s helped to ramp up production of the COVID vaccines. But I don’t have MINE yet! It’s not scheduled until March 31! Yeah, he did that mask mandate on federal property, increasing food aid, and protecting those on unemployment because of the virus. But we want more, MORE!

Is this Cabinet process slow, or what?

Joe Biden has picked a diverse group to be in his Cabinet, but a bunch of them haven’t been confirmed yet. What gives? C’mon, Joe, whip those Senators into shape!

I’m particularly waiting for North Carolina regulator Michael S. Regan, his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, and New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, his pick for interior secretary. Haaland would be the first Native American to lead the Interior Department, the “powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations.”

Maybe they can address the environmental racism that Full Frontal with Samantha Bee highlighted recently.

Seriously, though

I find myself, on a daily basis, less stressed. Former governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) probably is too. He said that he spent the last four years having to explain every comment, every tweet 45 issued, and now he doesn’t. I suspect that those Republicans who complained about Twitter’s “overreach” in banning 45 are not-so-secretly relieved.

Will the COVID relief package pass with bipartisan support, or with just the Democrats? I suspect that the bill could pass with some modification, but now I’m just spitballing.

Here’s an observation that some of my more liberal friends will hate. The $15/hour wage is not going to make it, even though it has been pushed for so long, it probably should be $22/hour by now. The conservative senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) offered a raise of the federal minimum wage from $7.25, which is still the law in about 20 states, to $11/hour. If he’s really for that, maybe DE Joe should suggest WV Joe that he actually  propose it, or maybe $13.

Yes, I know it’s grossly inadequate. But the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in a dozen years. That doesn’t mean that the half loaf is the end goal, only a starting point. As Otto von Bismarck said, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”

January rambling: dn ǝpᴉs ʇɥƃᴉɹ

Ameristan

The UN Security Council’s Counterterrorism Committee says there’s been a 320 percent increase in right-wing terrorism globally in the five years prior to 2020.

Confronting Two Crises: The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Opioid Epidemic, and the IH by Jonathan Rosen and Peter Harnett.

Martin Luther King Jr. Defended Democracy Against Racism and So Must We.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali’s Surprising Secret Friendship.

The Quest to Unearth One of America’s Oldest Black Churches. First Baptist Church was founded in secret in 1776. It’s been hidden under a parking lot in Colonial Williamsburg for decades—a metaphor for the failures of archaeology and American history.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom draws a direct line from the Bible to the blues.

Why Do People Keep Going to Church? — Even during a pandemic, it’s important to realize why worship is essential.

Lost touch: how a year without hugs affects our mental health

The Sycamore Tree – John Green.

There’s a right and wrong way to be bored.

The Happiness Project: Finding Joy in Tough Times.

NOVA  – Secrets in our DNA.

parts-of-the-skeleton-in-the-closet
From https://wronghands1.com/2021/01/08/parts-of-the-skeleton-in-the-closet/

Wikipedia at 20: last gasp of an internet vision, or a beacon to a better future?

The Orwellian Misuse of Orwellian.

JEOPARDY!: Ken Jennings Get Trolled by a Recent Contestant and the Guest Hosts Scheduled in 2021 So Far.

The Hollywood Con Queen Who Scammed Aspiring Stars Out of Hundreds of Thousands.

The best Gibson guitars were made by the ‘Kalamazoo Gals’.

Now I Know: The Imagination Library and The Blessing of Overpriced  Orange Juice and A Bridge With Some Firepower and The Bridge That’ll Flip You and Why Harriet and Duncan Weren’t Allowed in Iceland and The Internet Scammer Who Won.

What makes for a good flag!

dn ǝpᴉs ʇɥƃᴉɹ, created by the upsidedown text site.

ON THE WAY OUT

One Last Trump Dump, all of the folks he insulted on Twitter; why it’s clear Biden won; his campaign promise tally; the full list of the last-minute pardons; and more

Chomsky: Coup Attempt Hit Closer to Centers of Power Than Hitler’s 1923 Putsch.

Ameristan: Did He Bring the War Home?

Republican House members who voted for impeachment: Liz Cheney (WY), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Peter Meijer (MI), Dan Newhouse (WA), Tom Rice (SC), Fred Upton (MI), David Valadao (CA)

US Reaches Grim Milestone of 400K COVID Deaths.

Never Happens Here – Lincoln Project.

Jaquandor: Dear 45.

Cartoon: The end of an error.

Yes, He Can Be Convicted by the Senate After January 20.

Music

Seasons of Trump – Randy Rainbow.

With a Song in Her Heart – Laura Benanti as Melania.

One Day More  – James Corden.

Bye Bye Bloatus – Rufus Wainwright.

K-Chuck Radio: Some 45s  for 45

Right side up!

Transcript of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem

Joe Biden: “We Must End This Uncivil War”

Executive Order on Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census

Executive Order: 1776 commission rescinded.

I watched this year for Nigel.  

Enjoy the world’s greatest palindrome: 1 20 2021

MORE MUSIC

I Need You – Jon Batiste.

Fanfare on Amazing Grace composed by Adolphus Hailstork.

A Musical  from Something’s Rotten.

I Say A Little Prayer – H.E.R.

Coverville 1342: The Madness Cover Story II and 1343: The Motels and Sam Cooke Cover Stories.

Close To You – MonaLisa Twins.

Seasons of Love – Broadway stars.

So much for Joe Biden to do on Day 1

climate change

joebidenI’ve been reading lots of people’s advice about what Joe Biden should do “on Day 1.” Most of it I tend to agree with philosophically. The trick is that his “first day” would have to be 2500 hours long.

Obviously, his initial focus will be the coronavirus pandemic, which is getting worse in the US every week. And the desire to get vaccines in people’s arms is of utmost importance. (My wife is getting her first injection in mid-February, me at the end of March.)

The related economic downturn also needs to be addressed. Bernie Sanders says $2,000 checks should be the “first order of business” for the new President and Congress.

Clearly, we cannot assume that the seditious violence we saw on January 6 has passed. Not only do federal authorities have to continue to find more folks to charge but to stem future attacks.

What on earth 

Beyond that, there will be a lot of Biden undoing what his predecessor did. He’s repeatedly promised on his first day in office to have the US rejoin the Paris climate accord. Fighting climate change has been a key priority on the campaign trail. The previous environmental policy has been a disaster.

djt “declined to tighten standards on industrial soot emissions, despite the evidence linking dirty air to respiratory illnesses.” For instance, the EPA reviewed standards. “The agency’s scientists warned of the links between the pollutants and deadly outcomes in respiratory illnesses (like COVID-19).

“It recommended tightening the current emissions rule set by the Obama admin in 2012. But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to merit a change. The policy decision came as the admin has worked to roll back over 100 environmental regulations.”

I’ve wondered if Biden had a shadow Cabinet this past autumn. Undo, undo, reinstate, undo, reinstate. He will have the country rejoin the World Health Organization, part of the effort to protect our nation’s health.

I believe he should commute all federal death sentences. His predecessor was cranking up the gallows in his latter months.

Of the people, et al.

I’m all for reforming the government, “including expanding on and codifying into law an ethics pledge.” The policy had been instituted in the Obama administration. It “addresses lobbying issues and also any improper or inappropriate influence from personal, financial, and other interests.” Wow. I thought we had that already but certain people were just ignoring it.

He favors expanding early voting, allowing more time to register and request ballots, and letting voters track their ballots. New York State was very slow to get to the first two and hasn’t achieved the third yet.

Biden listed a number of other priorities on the campaign trail that, while worthy, may be more difficult to achieve in even 100 days. Advancing racial equity by addressing systemic racism. Expanding protections for union employees

The ACLU has its Civil Liberties and Civil Rights To-Do List, fortunately not all on the first day or even first 100 days.

All of this is to say, I’m planning to cut Joe some slack, just a little. Frankly, the outgoing guy is sucking up a lot of oxygen in the room, as he always does.

To prosecute or not to prosecute 45

“a pattern of disregard for public order”

donald-trump-hollywod-star-behind-bars
Per CNN

President-elect Joe Biden – love the sound of that – is hoping to “avoid divisive Trump investigations.” Biden ran as a unifier, and he knows that over 74 million people voted against him. He’s told aides that he’s concerned that to prosecute djt would split the country.

I totally get it. When President Barack Obama came into office, with Biden as his Veep, he wanted to  move on “from the previous administration’s scandals and ultimately ignored President George W. Bush’s administration’s use of torture on prisoners of war taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan battles.” I grimaced at the time but understood.

So I was interested to see the take of Philip Allen Lacovara. A former counselor to the Watergate special prosecutor, he explained in the Washington Post why Biden has “no choice” but to prosecute his predecessor.

It is a sentiment shared by Andrew Weissmann, former senior attorney to special counsel Robert Mueller.

A New Day

On January 20th, 2021, “‘We’re going to be… in the situation where we no longer are talking about indicting the president but, rather, a former president, somebody who is a civilian,’ Weissmann explained. ‘And the question’s going to be: Does the rule of law apply to that person?

“‘And it’s very hard to see an argument if it is shown… that the president has committed tens of millions of dollars of tax fraud or bank fraud or both. Any other person would normally be prosecuted, then it really shouldn’t be the case that just because he becomes president, that he shouldn’t have the day in court where a jury decides whether or not he committed those crimes prior to becoming president.'”

This makes sense to me. But with the country as fractionalized as it is, many will perceive it as retaliation. Millions won’t believe Biden’s insistence that he would leave decisions up to an “independent Justice Department.” They’ll say that this is the kind of prosecutorial bullying one would expect from attorneys generals such as William Barr or John Mitchell.

Lacovara knows it may be appealing to try to turn the page on the past four years. “‘In virtually any other presidential succession, this course might be prudent and consistent with our history of peaceful transitions without recrimination, vindictiveness, or rummaging around for criminality.’

He’s Special

But the soon-to-be-former President is “‘in a category by himself,’ notes Lacovara. ‘One need not embark on a malicious hunt to identify serious criminal abuses by Trump and many of his closest aides.’ “The conduct by him and his administration showed a pattern of disregard for public order, ‘including those embedded in federal criminal statutes.'”

Weissmann responded to a “New York Times column suggested that putting Trump on trial for obstruction of justice will be perceived as Biden placing those who supported” his opponent on trial.

“‘I think that’s looking at it the wrong way. Remember, a jury is going to have to make the decision and is going to have to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt in the same way any other defendant is entitled to all of the due process rights that we have in this country.”

Assuredly, it would be wrong to “lock him up” just because he might run again in 2024. And his puffery may be a tactic to pollute any jury pool, who might believe he’s being persecuted, not just prosecuted. He is quite good at that. Still, the facts should determine what actions might be taken by federal courts.

Frankly, I hope he’s indicted in state courts. As this September 2020 article in New York magazine notes, “State laws aren’t subject to presidential pardons.” This includes if he should choose to pardon himself – don’t rule it out – his family, and others.

Give Biden access to the damn briefings

No justification for withholding the PDB

Presidential Daily Briefing
Presidential Daily Briefing

This came up in a conversation with my sisters. One of them has Trumpian friends. They are making the argument that the current regime ought not to give Joe Biden access to the Presidential Daily Briefing. Their argument is “What if they got the election wrong?” This is hurting my head.

ITEM: Presidential candidates begin to receive intelligence briefings in the immediate aftermath of the political conventions. “So when an individual becomes their party’s nominee, the briefing is offered to them… It’s an analytic briefing, so there are no… operations discussed, no covert actions discussed, no sources and methods discussed. It’s simply what do we see as the threats…why do we see it that way…how those threats evolved and where might they be heading.”

ITEM: “Such briefings had been standard practice since the candidacies of Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson… This understandable dilemma… had occurred in a great many transitions, with the outgoing administration not sure which candidate would accede to the office and thus very protective of sensitive and classified information. But… its intelligence officers [were] on the hook to provide the best and most useful available information to candidates who might soon be in the White House.”

ITEM: You’ll remember “the close 2000 election when the outcome was in doubt for more than a month after the voting. In spite of that, President Bill Clinton’s outgoing administration began intelligence briefings for George W. Bush before he was officially declared the winner.”

The Incredible Sulk  

ITEM: This regime is not allowing Biden “to receive intelligence briefings —  even those he was getting during the campaign.” In other words, IMPOTUS is even denying Biden access to the level of info that Obama gave to him before the 2016 election. This just shows pique, not any national security concerns that Biden, who used to get such information as Veep and even as the prez candidate, ought not to get them now.

Even a week ago, even Republican senators “are calling for Biden to have access to the information.”

“‘I just don’t know of any justification for withholding the briefing,’ Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said. ‘I see no problem with that,’ said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican Party’s longest-serving senator. ‘I think so, yes,’ said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest confidants, when asked if Biden should be briefed.”

Instead, on Tuesday, he fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election. In a tweet, naturally. He said that Christopher Krebs’ “recent statement defending the security of the election was ‘highly inaccurate.’ The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, comes as Trump is… removing high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal.”

The Biden team is locked out of key vaccine information as COVID rages. “More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” the President-elect said this week. “How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What’s the game plan? It’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking.”

Ascertainment

Per the Presidential Transition Act of 1963,  the chief duty of Emily Murphy at this moment “is to affirm the projected result of the presidential contest.” This is something “previous GSA administrators have generally done within a matter of hours of the election being called.” This action allows the incoming administration’s personnel to get busy setting up a new government.

Ascertainment is necessary for the seamless transition of power. Meanwhile, she’s looking for another job, suggesting she knows how this will play out.

The losing candidate’s false claims of “a stolen election are unoriginal, and evoke a dangerous historical precedent.” John Oliver has much useful to say about the election results. Also, check out the Weekly Sift.  Or even Randy Rainbow.

Not incidentally, the regime has “replaced the top tier of  Pentagon officials with men who have two things in common: fervent loyalty to Trump and a complete lack of qualification for their jobs.”

Oh, yeah, they’ve rushed to auction off Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling rights before the Biden inauguration. January 20, 2021, can’t come quickly enough.