HomeActivismgrassrootsThere’s no Magic Move, only good tools—plus OT–1/25/2021
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I missed this one over the weekend from Naomi Klein. To see all the five possibilities, head over to the article at The Intercept.


Pity the art directors, the stylists, and the stage managers. So much effort, taste, strategy, and money went into planning the semiotics of Joe Biden’s inauguration. The precise shade of Kamala Harris’s royal purple (screw you Vogue and your sloppy cover!). The selection of a smallish made-in-New-York brand to dress Jill Biden in ocean blue (way to support small businesses in a pandemic!). The sheer weight of Lady Gaga’s gold dove brooch (the “Hunger Games” fun of it!).

And yet it was all for naught. Because in a sea of exquisitely matching face masks, Bernie Sanders’s ratty old mittens upstaged them all, instantly becoming the most discussed, delighted-in, and deranged visual message of the historic occasion. What should we make of this? Why did so many millions connect to whatever language the mittens were speaking? Was it pandemic delirium — all of us projecting our social isolation onto the most isolated person in the crowd? Was it sexism and racism, the Bernie Bros once again failing to acknowledge the subversive messages expressed in the fashion choices of glass-ceiling shattering women? Was it, as a friend just texted as I typed these words, “the world’s secret wish that Bernie was our president”?

What is the meaning, the mittenology of it all?

As with so much else related to this new administration, it’s too soon to tell. What follows are five possibilities.

It is crucial to understand that this had nothing to do with anything Bernie did — other than be Bernie in the only way he knows how. Like so much of his historic 2020 primary campaign, the symbolic power of the mittens was the work of the “us” in “not me, us,” a decentralized movement of movements that represents thousands of grassroots organizations and tens of millions of voters, and that stands for policies supported by majorities of Democratic voters, according to many polls, but are still rejected by its elite. Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, student debt cancellation, free college, a wealth tax, and more.

On Biden’s big day, the movement that represents those policies and those values made global meaning out of a pair of old mittens. It did because it could. It was a friendly little flex with a not-so-friendly undercurrent. We’re still here, it said. Ignore us, and we won’t sit nearly so quietly next time.


🤔😎😁😜👇We are watching how things evolve Joe.

On Biden’s big day, the movement that represents those policies and those values made global meaning out of a pair of old mittens. It did because it could. It was a friendly little flex with a not-so-friendly undercurrent. We’re still here, it said. Ignore us, and we won’t sit nearly so quietly next time.


Fun read, def reflects my hopes. I’m not quite as optimistic about the substance of meme culture, sadly.


The dreaded bipartisans strike. It’s sad that a beautiful New England state like Maine has two of them.


Some senators are pushing back on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue package over concerns that it provides too much money to wealthy Americans, according to a report from Politico.

The bipartisan group of senators, led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, expressed their concerns in a phone call with the Biden administration on Sunday, Politico reported.

The group of 16 senators reportedly told White House officials that they were in favor of increasing funds for vaccine distribution but felt the proposed $1,400 direct payments should be reserved for low-income Americans.

Collins specifically questioned why families making $300,000 could be eligible for payments, Politico reported.

While six-figure earners could qualify for the stimulus checks, the amount of the payments decreases as income increases, meaning they would not receive the full $1,400 amount.

The senator previously told Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig on Thursday that she was “sympathetic” to funding certain measures in the bill, like vaccine distribution, but was concerned over the total cost.

“It’s hard for me to see when we just passed $900 billion of assistance why we would have a package that big,” she said. “Maybe a couple of months from now, the needs will be evident and we will need to do something significant, but I’m not seeing it right now.”

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who was also on the call, also expressed concern about the overall cost, saying, “This isn’t Monopoly money,” according to Politico.



If Biden falls for this scam, say hello to a Republican Congress in 2022.


Moderates in both chambers are hoping to grow their influence and cut deals under the Biden administration.

Staring down at least two years of a narrow Democratic majority in a 50-50 Senate where Vice President Harris will be the tie-breaking vote, centrist lawmakers are eager to help break Washington’s most well-known habit: a penchant for gridlock.

In the Senate, 16 lawmakers, many of whom were involved in last year’s coronavirus negotiations, have formed a bipartisan gang with an eye on looking for potential areas where they could cut a deal.

“The numbers are so tight. All of us want this place to work. We’ve got a golden opportunity to make it work, we really do. And our bipartisan, bicameral group is going to be a force, and when I say a force, we’re going to try to find that middle,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), the most outspoken Senate Democratic centrist.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), another member of the group, said their objective was to “try to get results and avoid a lot of the stalemates that we’ve had in the past.”

In the House, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus added 16 new members, bringing its total to 56 members.

“With Congress now narrowly divided in both chambers, bipartisanship will be key to enacting meaningful legislation,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a caucus co-chair.

The groups could be a potent force in a closely divided Washington, particularly in the Senate where Democrats need the support of at least 10 Republicans to pass most legislation unless they get rid of the legislative filibuster.

And they are hoping they’ll have an ally in President Biden, a former longtime senator who is known for cutting deals and who came up through the party’s center lane.

“We’re working through everything, we’ve been having good conversations with the Biden transition,” Manchin said.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), another member of the Senate group, added that he had “made it known” that he “thought there would be opportunities to identify common ground on a whole host of different issues” with the Biden administration.


A big reason why I didn’t vote for Barfdone.


so this is one place that Bernie would have Stephanie Kelton and others getting the MMT word out. sure, it wouldn’t change things all at once, but it would start the ball rolling.

part of why they couldn’t allow him to be President. the power of being raised a certain way is just beginning to sink in. and then the culture reinforces it constantly.


What is it when they turn on the printing presses at the mint 26 hours a day for tax cuts for the rich?


something they laugh about in wine cellars?


Old dogs up to old tricks. They would use 1 American who doesn’t need the benefit as an excuse to deny 50k Americans benefits they desperately need. It worked in the 80s, but only the most bubble-dwelling Establishment rubes would fall for it today.


What’s stopping them? See those f’n “problem solvers” above.


Adam Jentleson had a front-row seat for all of this — and he really, really doesn’t want to watch it happen again.

Jentleson was deputy chief of staff to Harry Reid, who led Senate

Democrats against McConnell throughout the Obama years. His Senate experience left him with the impression of a broken institution badly in need of reform, and he’s written a new book, “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy,” that argues the filibuster has to go. The procedure, he writes, has its roots in allowing white supremacists to thwart majority rule — and that its ubiquitous use today has allowed a radicalized GOP minority from blocking legislation that has overwhelming popular support.

It’s a timely message. President Biden is going to need to be able to pass legislation if he’s going to successfully pick up the pieces in a post-Trump America — and that means breaking the perpetual logjam in the Senate. But McConnell hasn’t gotten any less cynical since his Obama-era power play, and this time, the Republican will have far more leverage. If McConnell could dent Obama’s agenda with 40 Senate votes, imagine what he can do to Biden’s with 50.

(After Jentleson and I spoke, McConnell this week has attempted to stop Senate committee work from even getting started — blocking the Democratic majority from taking over committee seats — unless Democrats agree to keep the legislative filibuster in place for the rest of the session. So far, Democrats have refused to accede.)

To avoid reliving their Obama-era disappointments, Jentleson tells Rolling Stone that it’s critical for Democrats to do away with the filibuster.

The rule allows the minority to hold up any Senate legislation unless it can get a whopping 60 Senate votes, a near-impossible threshold. But the filibuster isn’t in the Constitution and its constant use is a relatively recent development in Congressional history. Jentleson argues that if Democrats ever want to keep their promises to constituents, it’s well past time to do away with it.

When asked what’s stopping them, Jentleson’s upbeat tone momentarily vanished and a touch of exasperation crept in: “He’s very good at getting inside Democrats’ heads.”


So sad that many Dems let the 🐢 live rent free in their heads. The only Dem that makes the 🐢 go into his shell is Bernie.


They’re corrupt cowards to start with so that’s why McConnell is so successful.



But Rauch’s “strongest argument for a pardon” is the most mistaken of all. Here he invokes some classic American exceptionalism to further the cult of elite impunity. “Prosecuting an ex-president is a bridge the country has never crossed,” he writes. “The implications of seeing a former commander in chief in the dock are vast, profound, and unknowable.” Setting this precedent “might just as easily set a precedent that presidents prosecute their predecessors.”

One feels like showering Rauch with a bucket of ice water. Hello, Earth to Lawfare! Trump was impeached a year ago for trying to gin up a fake prosecution of Joe Biden in Ukraine — he was just too daft and incompetent to get away with it. He also, let us recall, sicced a fascist mob armed with flex cuffs, guns, bear spray, and a gallows on the Capitol, and when they were inside chanting “hang Mike Pence!” further stoked their anger at his own vice president while he was mere feet away in hiding.

This fussy handwringing about future presidents possibly abusing their power is peanuts compared to what Trump has already done. The fact is the United States is a corrupt, rickety, unstable semi-democracy, where one party out of two does not recognize the legitimacy of its political opponents. Contrary to Rauch’s description of President Ford’s pardon of Nixon as a “wise and farsighted decision, one that served the cause of justice better than the prosecutorial process could have done,” a large reason we are in that situation is because a whole generation of Republican criminals was allowed to evade legal accountability.

If previous criminal presidents had been seen in the dock, Trump very likely never would have become president in the first place. Rauch says that Trump and Nixon are the only modern presidents to have been “credibly accused of serious crimes while in office,” but this is not true at all. George W. Bush openly admitted to ordering torture, along with half his top-level staff, while George H.W. Bush pardoned several of the Iran-Contra criminals when the investigation was closing in on his own role. Many of Trump’s top staff were Republican lifers who avoided accountability right alongside their former presidential bosses. One of the people deeply involved in the Iran-Contra pardon decision, for instance, was William Barr, who would go on to serve as Trump’s attorney general and attack dog.

If even a quarter of the Times reporting on his pre-presidential life is true, Trump should have been put away on several occasions for about every kind of financial fraud there is. When elites can commit crimes with impunity, a nation tends to develop a case of moral rot. With nothing holding them back, the worst, most shameless, and most unscrupulous people worm their way to the top of society — people like Donald Trump. Allowing him to get away with what he’s done will just make it clear to all the other aspiring despotic criminals that achieving high office is a ticket to being immune from prosecution. Lock him up!


This is good news


On his first day in office, President Joe Biden quickly set about undoing some of his predecessor’s signature policies: He said the United States would rejoin the Paris Agreement; he halted construction of a wall along the Mexican border; and he ended the ban on travel to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries.

Tucked into all of those high-profile moves, though, was a memo with a title seemingly designed to be ignored: “Modernizing Regulatory Review.” Sent to the press at 9:43 p.m. on Wednesday in the middle of the Tom Hanks-led inaugural celebration, the White House was not expecting the dry document to drive headlines or set American hearts aflutter.

But the memo could unleash a wave of stronger regulations to reduce income inequality, fight climate change and protect public health. Among left-leaning experts on regulation, it’s a signal that Biden could break with 40 years of conservative policy.

“I realize what I’m about to say to you sounds absurd,” James Goodwin, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform, told HuffPost. “It has the potential to be the most significant action Biden took on day one.”

The order could eventually lead to major changes at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an extremely obscure White House office located inside the only slightly less obscure Office of Management and Budget. OIRA, as it is known, is charged with vetting proposed regulations and has the power to weaken, delay or even kill new rules proposed by other government agencies.

Since then-President Ronald Reagan gave the agency expansive powers with an executive order during the conservative boom times of his first term, progressives have bemoaned OIRA’s narrow economic cost-benefit focus, arguing that it ignored social and environmental costs and benefits not easily translated into dollar amounts.

“Progressives, and to some degree government agencies, have always lamented that because the benefits are harder to measure, cost-benefit analysis always puts regulation at a disadvantage,” said Stuart Shapiro, a public policy professor at Rutgers University and former OMB staffer.

Citing a theoretical Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit mercury pollution, Shapiro noted it would be much easier to measure how much compliance would cost businesses than how much society might benefit in terms of lives saved, illnesses stopped or childhood development protected.

Lobbyists and other corporate interests have historically seen OIRA reviews as their last chance to block or delay regulations designed to protect consumers and workers and mandate safety measures. During President Barack Obama’s administration alone, it delayed a mandate for the installation of rear-view cameras on cars for years and watered down rules protecting workers from exposure to dangerous silica dust and regulations governing the disposal of toxic coal ash.

Biden’s order appears set to dramatically overhaul that process, saying regulatory reviews should instead promote “public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.” It also says OIRA’s director should proactively encourage agencies to develop rules that benefit the public.

“For the past several decades, we’ve seen Democratic administrations being almost apologetic about using regulations to advance the public interest,” said Matt Kent, who works on regulatory policy for Public Citizen. “This is a real change of pace.”


More good news


Flowers, now a senior fellow of environmental justice and civic engagement at the Center for Earth Ethics at the Union Theological Seminary, soon found herself on Biden’s task force alongside former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

She recommended incorporating social justice considerations into every aspect of the new administration’s environmental agenda—and felt ecstatic, hours after Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, to see that her recommendations were being taken seriously.

The new president, she said, wasn’t offering “empty campaign promises.”

She and other prominent environmental justice advocates said two executive orders he signed Wednesday night placed unprecedented focus on racial equity and environmental justice, setting the stage to aggressively target the disproportionate impacts of pollution and climate change on environmental justice communities.

“He’s rebuilding trust with vulnerable communities, frontline communities, and with the federal family,” said Mustafa Ali, the vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation. “These orders serve as a north star for the direction the federal government will be moving in.”


That is promising. Forming a committee is a start; let’s see how it translates into policy.


T and R, NYCVG!! 🙂



Absolutely correct.



supremes have been doing the same thing for years. twisting supposed precedent. flat out ignoring others. twisting logic and meaning to give us a horrendous set of precedents. approved by both parties, although yes, if we’d had a “liberal” court it wouldn’t be as bad.

we’ll never know what that might have looked like, bc they were too busy being republicans.



This strain is here in the US. Likely deadlier and definitely easier to catch


Medical/biological fact: viruses form families.




they made me do it, mom.


Another incumbent Republican Senator declines to run. It will be tough for a Dem to win in reddening Ohio, but this could set up a messy fight between the Trumpist and non-Trumpist Republicans for the nomination. Also more likely he would vote to impeach.


Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman won’t run for re-election; Republican cites ‘partisan gridlock’


Hopefully the republican infighting leads to a democratic senator. Preferably not a DINO.


With three rescues, these Dodo videos really get to me


Did the pootie get ditched? Whenever I hear the People magazine type bios on Biden, they mention his two rescue dogs, but not the adopted pootie!


It appears that the kitty has yet to be adopted


On Sunday (January 24), White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a tweet that said, “First Feline updates would be greatly appreciated.”

Psaki said, “I’m also wondering about the cat, because the cat is going to dominate the internet whenever the cat is announced and wherever that cat is found.”

Details regarding what kind of cat the Bidens will have, where they will get it from, or any possible names have not yet been revealed.

The last cat to live in the White House, India, belonged to President George W. Bush.


biden should adopt the kitty. good pr. huge staff to look after him/her.