Friday Talking Points -- Bipartisan Kabuki's Last Act

[ Posted Friday, June 4th, 2021 – 17:43 UTC ]

The ushers are flashing the lights in the lobby. Intermission is over, and the last act of the "Bipartisan Infrastructure Kabuki" extravaganza is about to begin. Actually, truth be told, we were among those who thought this play would be over by now, but apparently a final act was hastily added at the last minute, for no real apparent reason.

President Joe Biden called Senator Shelley Moore Caputo today, in what most view as the final negotiation attempt which will try to hammer together a compromise infrastructure package that 10 Republican senators will actually vote for. Biden is, in essence, making his final offer. It is eminently reasonable, considering where the two sides started from, but that doesn't mean it will have any chance of success, since Republicans are really just trying to run the clock out and stall for as long as they can get away with before they admit to the world that there simply is no infrastructure bill that 10 Republican senators are ever going to vote for -- at least not while a Democrat sits in the Oval Office.

President Joe Biden unveiled his American Jobs Plan in March, right after the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. His opening bid was $2.3 trillion in new spending, all of which were solid investments in America's future. Republicans immediately insisted that they would vote for nothing they didn't include in their particular definition of "infrastructure," which equated to: "Can you drive your car on it, or not?" Sadly, this is not an exaggeration, although they later did relent a tiny bit on a few things that cars cannot actually drive upon.

Republicans took an entire month to come up with a counteroffer, which they touted as a $568 billion plan, but which actually contained less than $200 billion in new spending. Biden then dropped his offer by a half-trillion dollars, down to $1.7 trillion. Republicans countered with what they called a $928 billion plan, which actually only contained $257 billion in new spending. Again: all of Biden's proposals have been 100 percent new spending.

Originally, Memorial Day was supposed to be the end date for this process -- that's when Biden had said if he didn't see substantial progress, he was just going to walk away and pass his plan using budget reconciliation rules (which avoid the filibuster in the Senate). But he extended his timeline -- a clear victory for the GOP, which is only truly interested in stalling this exercise in futility for as long as humanly possible.

This week, Biden invited Senator Shelley Moore Caputo to a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office. She has become the chief GOP negotiator, which means that for once West Virginia's two senators jointly hold the fate of a presidential agenda in their hands. But more on Joe Manchin in a minute.

All along, Republicans have said that touching any part of their latest tax cut (passed with an entirely partisan vote, mind you) was a red line they would not cross. They wanted unspecified "user fees" (read: increased gas taxes) and a new tax on electric vehicle drivers (most of whom are assumably liberals) to pay for everything instead. Biden countered with a new idea that fell outside the Trump tax cut -- a new "global corporate minimum" tax of 15 percent, to ensure that American corporations pay at least something in taxes (55 of the largest U.S. corporations didn't pay a dime of taxes last year). And Biden insisted on two things: the plan had to be at least $1 trillion, and that meant $1 trillion in new spending -- no more gimmicks, in other words.

From a bargaining viewpoint, Republicans could conceivably chalk this up as a victory. Biden has come down more than half from his initial $2.3 trillion offer, while they would have only risen from zero to $1 trillion. Also, Biden was being entirely reasonable by splitting the remaining difference -- he would come down from $1.7 to $1.0 trillion, while Republicans would move up by roughly the same amount, from $257 billion. That's fair. This is reportedly what was in Biden's offer to the Republicans today.

However realistic though it may be, it is still completely unrealistic to think that such a number could be agreeable to any Republican senator, much less 10 of them. After all, that is four times as high as they have previously indicated they could go, and it would mean voting for a brand new corporate tax, which is anathema to Republicans in general. So there is every expectation that the Republicans will reject this offer.

The only remaining question is whether they will walk away from the table entirely or make some laughable counteroffer that Biden will then reject. Either way, though, the clock is ticking and if no deal is in hand on Monday, Democrats are going to immediately begin moving on "Plan B" -- passing all (or the lion's share, at least) of Biden's initial $2.3 trillion plan by reconciliation. Their only worry at this point will be what Joe Manchin will demand at the last minute, as he gets his name in the news once again.

Whatever happens, though, hopefully the curtain will fall on this Kabuki theater and we can all pretend it was done in good faith, so that Manchin can be comfortable voting for the bill using reconciliation. Unlike many other of Biden's priorities, this will not require reforming the filibuster rules at all, so it should be an easier sell with Manchin. But then, you just never know, with him.

Republicans will be able to pat themselves on the back for wasting, at a minimum, almost three months of Biden's term. They will not have one a single concession, they will have zero input into the bill, and their opposition votes will not block passage of the bill at all. So the wastage of time is their only consolation prize, but seeing as how it is precisely what they were aiming for all along, they'll still see the whole thing as worthwhile.

As long as Biden doesn't try to slip the deadline again, of course. This is still a danger -- there might be one more act of Kabuki to sit through, in other words.

Perhaps not, though. Joe Manchin isn't the only Democrat in the Senate, and the progressive wing is getting more and more fed up with all this delay just to assuage one man's insane fantasy that bipartisanship is somehow even possible in today's Senate. Manchin was reportedly shocked that the January 6th commission investigation didn't get enough bipartisan support to pass, and Chuck Schumer has lined up a whole roster of Democratic bills for the Senate to vote on in June -- none of which are expected to beat the filibuster -- just to prove to Manchin and a few others (notably Kyrsten Sinema) how futile it is to expect any sort of normal behavior from today's Trumpified Republican Party.

Even Biden himself is getting a little annoyed. In the midst of a very moving speech on race and how America is in a fight for democracy right now, Biden addressed both Manchin and Sinema (although not by name):

I hear all the folks on TV saying: "Why didn't Biden get this done?" Well, because Biden only has a majority of, effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.

This wasn't entirely true, about their actual voting patterns, but it was a clear message nonetheless -- Biden's patience is not endless. And his frustration is growing. He is not alone, in that. No Democrat in the audience other than Manchin even wanted to see this final Kabuki act, after all. But here we are, waiting for it to begin.

President Biden has been getting a few things done in the meantime. His Tulsa Race Massacre speech was historic (he was the first president to visit for the anniversary, 100 years after it happened) and it showed a renewed sense of purpose on the issue of voting rights, where state-level Republicans continue to pass laws designed not only to suppress Democratic votes, but also to allow for partisan hacks to declare elections null and void after the fact as well. This is no less than a direct assault on American democracy, so it was good to hear Biden giving the issue the prominence it deserves. He also announced Vice President Kamala Harris will be taking the lead on passing federal laws that will rein in the worst of the state-level excesses Republicans are now so busy enacting. This effort will, in essence, boil down to convincing Sinema and Manchin to change the filibuster rules to allow for questions of constitutional rights to be passed with a simple majority vote, so it is unclear what the chances of it succeeding actually are, at this point.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Republicans continue their descent into madness. Think that's overstating the case? We don't. And we're not the only ones:

A conservative writer has confirmed a report that former President Donald Trump is telling associates that he expects to be reinstalled as president this summer.

"The scale of Trump's delusion is quite startling," National Review senior writer Charles C.S. Cooke wrote on the magazine's website.

. . .

But Cooke went even further, saying Trump not only believes he'll be put back into the Oval Office but also that he will be gifted with a Republican majority in the Senate, believing that two Democrats will be booted from Congress and replaced by the GOP candidates they defeated.

He cautioned conservatives against downplaying or dismissing the report.

"This is not merely an eccentric interpretation of the facts or an interesting foible, nor is it an irrelevant example of anguished post-presidency chatter," he wrote. "It is a rejection of reality, a rejection of law, and, ultimately, a rejection of the entire system of American government."

Trump, he wrote, is "so unmoored from the real world that it is hard to know where to begin in attempting to explain him."

Some of us have thought that for a while, now. And it's not just Trump, either. Former lieutenant general and confessed felon Michael Flynn was asked, at a QAnon conspiracy convention this week: "I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can't happen here?" by a member of the audience who pronounced the country's name "Minnimar."

Flynn's answer? "No reason. I mean, it should happen. There's no reason."

Calls for the Pentagon to court martial Flynn to strip him of his pension went unheeded. Perhaps because he is not the only military official who seems to have gone around the bend these days -- so much so that the possibility of a military coup right here at home in the U.S.A. is now a tangible thing to be feared.

As we said: a descent into madness.

In Arizona, the continuing saga of having Looney Tunes characters conduct an election "audit" creeps forward once again, prompting the secretary of state (a Democrat) to set up a site where she posts all the disturbing things official observers have witnessed during the past few weeks of this circus, while the official county recorder (a Republican) of the county in question felt the need to write a piece for the conservative National Review entitled: "The Madness Of The Maricopa County Election Audit." In it, he asks the reader to think about being audited by the I.R.S.:

For that reason, even though an IRS audit might annoy you and cause you some stress, you'd eventually realize that you have nothing to fear as long as the audit is done fairly and properly.

But you'd likely feel differently if the IRS outsourced the audit to someone who:

  • Had no applicable professional credentials
  • Had never previously run a tax audit
  • Believed that Hugo Chavez had nefariously controlled your tax-auditing software
  • Had publicly stated prior to examining your taxes that you’d certainly committed tax fraud

That is what is happening to elections in Maricopa County, Ariz. -- the home of almost two-thirds of Arizona's voting population.

He then goes on to document the idiocy that is currently underway in his own county. He ends with a scathing denunciation of the company conducting the "audit."

Perhaps I could have celebrated another confidence-boosting audit if it had been run by a professional elections firm like Clear Ballot. Or else a top-notch auditor like Deloitte.

But Cyber Ninjas? I'm not going to believe a darn thing they say. And I'm a Republican who voted for Trump.

OK, just a few random items left and then we'll move on to the awards. Trump's stupendous blog -- announced with much hoopla and fanfare one month ago -- just turned out the lights this week. It lasted all of 29 days (as many pointed out, this is not even three Scaramuccis!). But a special award for snarkiness goes to HuffPost, who ended their report on the blog's demise with some salient facts:

"From the Desk of Donald J. Trump" was preceded in death by Trump Airlines, Trump beverages, Trump: The Game, numerous Trump casinos, Trump magazine, Trump Mortgage, Trump Steaks, a Trump travel website, Trump telecom, Trump University, and Trump Vodka.

Late-breaking news, as well: Trump will remain banned from Facebook for at least two years. Whew!

Speaking of snark, or social commentary, or whatever you want to call it, we had to smile at the Florida punk rock promoter (for a night headlined by Teenage Bottlerocket, which we have to admit is a great band name!) who decided to make his own statement on vaccination by selling tickets to the show for $999.99 -- but with a discount price of only $18, available only if you can prove you've been vaccinated. Nicely done.

And finally, within a few days there will be an official report released by the federal government on the question of unidentified flying objects, which should certainly cause a media splash. Some already have the main scoop: the report essentially concludes "maybe... maybe not," by not ruling out extraterrestrials as the cause of some of these phenomena. So there's that for us all to look forward to!


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We would like to award Melanie Stansbury an Honorable Mention this week, for winning a special House election in New Mexico. Stansbury will now represent Deb Haaland's old district, after Haaland was elevated to Biden's cabinet. It's a Democratic district, so the win itself wasn't particularly impressive, but the margin was.

Some were a bit nervous about this election, even though Biden won the district handily too. The Republican in the race tried to make the whole contest one of law-and-order Republicans versus defund-the-police Democrats. It didn't work. Stansbury fought back by stating her actual views and ran ads with cops telling the voters how much she had supported the police in the past.

The Cook Political Report was warning that a victory for Stansbury was likely, but if the margin was 10 points or less, it would mean dire things for Democrats in the 2022 midterms.

Stansbury won by almost 25 points. Well done, and welcome to the House of Representatives, Melanie Stansbury!

But the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award is a group one this week, since the choice was obvious. Last Sunday night, the Democratic delegation in the lower house of the Texas legislature just stood up and walked out. By doing so, they denied the Republicans a quorum, meaning their Draconian voter-suppression bill could not pass, since the legislative session turned into a pumpkin at midnight.

Here's the story:

Texas Democrats staged a dramatic walkout in the state House late Sunday night to block passage of a restrictive voting bill that would have been one of the most stringent in the nation, forcing Republicans to abruptly adjourn without taking a vote on the measure.

The surprise move came after impassioned late-night debate and procedural objections about the GOP-backed legislation, which would have made it harder to vote by mail, empowered partisan poll watchers and made it easier to overturn election results. Republicans faced a midnight deadline to approve the measure.

. . .

The exodus from the floor came after Chris Turner, the House Democratic chairman, sent instructions to colleagues at 10:35 p.m. Central time instructing them to exit the House, according to an image shared with The Washington Post.

"Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly," Turner wrote, referring to the key that locks the voting mechanism on their desks. "Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building."

"We decided to come together and say we weren't going to take it," state Rep. Jessica González (D) said in an interview after the walkout, adding that she objected to the measure's content and the way it was crafted with no input from her side of the aisle. "We needed to be part of the process. Cutting us out completely -- I mean, this law will affect every single voter in Texas."

. . .

In a statement, Turner said that dozens of House Democrats were prepared to give speeches objecting to the bill, but that "it became obvious Republicans were going to cut off debate to ram through their vote suppression legislation. At that point, we had no choice but to take extraordinary measures to protect our constituents and their right to vote."

After the walkout, House Democrats assembled at a predominantly Black church in Austin, Mt. Zion Fellowship Hall, to speak to reporters. Staff members said leaders chose the location to highlight the party's successful fight against a bill they said would have targeted voters of color in particular.

"We remain vigilant against any attempt to bring back this racist bill in a special session," Sarah Labowitz, policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement.

They were brave for doing so, and making it so dramatic (nice touch, giving media interviews from the church), but they know that in the end their effort may be doomed to failure (the governor has already called for a special session of the legislature, and he's now threatening to veto the part of the budget that authorizes pay for the legislators). So they issued a rather pointed warning as well:

"Every American needs to be watching what's happening in Texas right now," Rep. Colin Allred (D-Tex.) said Sunday at a news conference. "And we have to have a federal response to this because this has gone way too far."

"This isn't legislation," he added. "This is discrimination."

Democrats urged Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation, which has been stalled in the U.S. Senate.

"This is a now-or-never moment in American democracy," Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) said, adding: "If we don't act now, then our democracy is not going to look the same either in 2022 or 2024."

Some were even more direct in their pleas to national Democrats to do something:

Martinez Fischer, who also helped lead the weekend walkout, said he hoped their protest would "wake the nation up," and called on the Senate to move on H.R. 1.

"It's important for Leader Schumer and leaders in the Senate to understand just where we are -- at a crossroads in America," he said. "I recognize that there are certain senators that believe that eliminating the filibuster is tantamount to destroying our country. And my only response to that is that there are people who want to destroy our country state by state, and we have to recognize that and that there is a greater good."

So while it may only be temporary, for now these brave Democrats succeeded in stopping the grand Republican plan to make elections partisan (and Republican) in as many places as they can. Doing so easily earns them the thanks of the rest of the nation and our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award as well.

[Congratulate these Texas Democrats on their official contact pages, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We admit we've given Joe Manchin quite a few Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards of late, so we're going to give this week's MDDOTW to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, just so she doesn't feel left out or anything.

Sinema gave an interview this week where she doubled down on her support of the filibuster (which may be what prompted one of her biggest political supporters to disgree so strongly with her on the subject, later in the week). Sinema does not, to put it mildly, have the facts or history on her side in the fantastical arguments she makes:

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is sparking a new round of progressive fury with her defense this week of the legislative filibuster.

Sinema, speaking to reporters alongside GOP Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) in Arizona, indicated that she hadn't shifted from her opposition to changing the Senate's rules, arguing that it "protects the democracy of our nation rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years."

"To those who say that we must make a choice between the filibuster and 'X,' I say, this is a false choice. The reality is that when you have a system that is not working effectively -- and I would think that most would agree that the Senate is not a particularly well-oiled machine, right? The way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior," Sinema said.

She added that she thought the filibuster was designed to "create comity and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together." When a reporter followed up on if Sinema was going to budge on the filibuster, she added: "No."

The filibuster never "protected the democracy of our nation," period. It protects the ability of a few to thwart democracy, in fact. Her suggested "fix your behavior" is just downright delusional. What 10 Republicans does she think are ever going to "fix their behavior" on anything Democrats are for? Democrats could introduce a bill declaring that the sky is blue, and at least 41 Republicans would vote against it just because they could. It simply is not possible, which is why we used the word "fantastical." The filibuster was never about "comity" or bipartisanship. It has always been a partisan tool, period.

So for getting her facts and her history wrong, and for not coming up with any better defense of the indefensible, Kyrsten Sinema is this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact Senator Kyrsten Sinema on her Senate contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 621 (6/4/21)

There's no cohesive theme to today's talking points, rather just a few little themelets. Enjoy, as always, and please use responsibly.


   Forward, or backward? Make up your mind....

These first few of these are in reaction to last week's successful Republican filibuster of the January 6th commission bill, which would have opened a nonpartisan investigation into the insurrection and all its causes.

"So let me get this straight -- Republicans in the Senate, who never met a Benghazi investigation they didn't love no matter how many of them were launched, are now telling us we should 'move on' and 'look to the future' rather than closely examine what led up to an insurrection which besieged the United States Capitol and interfered with the formal process of electing a president. We're just supposed to sweep the most serious attack on the seat of American government since 1814 under the rug? Without knowing what the commander in chief was ordering the Pentagon to do -- or, more likely, not do -- that day? And yet, for all this talk of 'moving on' and the future, the Republicans are also supporting a months-long so-called 'audit' of one Arizona county's ballots from the 2020 election. Where's their 'move on' spirit when it comes to that one, and all the others around the country? We've got to hire some absolute yahoos who have never done any election-auditing work in the past to determine whether the ballot paper has bamboo particles in it? Are they serious? Sounds like somebody's getting bamboozled, that much is pretty plain."


   Not backing the blue

The mother and longtime partner of Capitol Police offer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after defending the Capitol against the insurrectionists, had a few things to say about Republican senators who refused to vote for the commission. Sandra Garza, who had been with Sicknick for 11 years, was particularly scathing about these Republicans:

It's all talk and no action.... Clearly they're not backing the blue.... For them to vote "no" -- it's not protecting law enforcement, and more importantly, it's not protecting our democracy.... I think they just don't want to do the right thing.


   Stop the real steal now!

If Democrats were smart, they'd turn Trump's new favorite phrase around and use it against all the anti-democratic GOP plotting going on at the state level.

"Donald Trump's Big Lie is that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from him. Ever since he's been using the slogan 'Stop the steal!' to describe a free and fair election that was not, in fact, stolen from him. But all the laws Republicans are passing in red and purple states right now all have one real underlying intent -- to make it easier for Republicans to steal the next election, or any election they don't like the results of, really. They are changing their elections systems from ones run by dedicated professionals to ones controlled by their own party hacks. They are doing this for a purpose and that purpose is to make it harder for true democracy to prevail in future elections. So I would tell all Democrats and all Americans who care about the sanctity of fair elections to join with me in demanding: Stop the real steal -- because it is coming if we don't."


   Save the filibuster or save democracy

This is crafted for an audience of two, obviously.

"Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have both been adamant about their support for the filibuster, proclaiming -- against all evidence -- that it somehow fosters bipartisanship and democracy. What it favors, in fact, is something Alexis de Tocqueville never dreamed about in his wildest nightmare -- the tyranny of the minority. This summer, Democrats have a clear choice. They can move their agenda for America's future forward or they can see all their bold ideas wither on the vine, as Mitch McConnell kills them one by one. If the filibuster is allowed to remain unchanged, then Democrats will have precious few legislative accomplishments to tell the voters about on the campaign trail, and they may wind up in the minority in Congress as a direct result. But far worse than just losing partisan control is what will happen if none of the voting rights bills make it to Biden's desk -- we could be looking at the end of the American democratic experiment as we slide into the dark swamp of fascism, White supremacy, and might-makes-right. Sinema and Manchin have a clear choice: they can save the filibuster, or they can save democracy. But they won't be able to do both, and the day they are going to have to make this choice is coming soon."


   Our democracy is fundamentally at stake

Think that last one was overstated? We don't. In fact, over 100 scholars from some of the nation's most-prominent universities just released a letter this week, which lays out the stakes and then identifies the problem, in no uncertain terms. This excerpt is a little long to be an actual talking point, but any Democratic politician worth his or her salt should be able to pick a few key lines from this to quote. We are providing the beginning and end of this letter (which is well worth the time to read in full), as a public service:

Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. The refusal of prominent Republicans to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, and the anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas -- and under serious consideration in other Republican-controlled states -- violate these principles. More profoundly, these actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy. As scholars of democracy, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage.

The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens' voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.

. . .

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his "Stop the Steal" crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary -- including suspending the filibuster -- in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.


   Fighting for corporations to pay zero taxes

Biden brilliantly put the Republicans in a box with his most-recent offer. So Democrats should exploit it for all it is worth, the minute they turn down his offer.

"The Republican senators negotiating for a bipartisan infrastructure bill rejected Biden's first way of paying for the plan, which would have raised the corporate tax rate. They said they couldn't change the tax cut they passed a few years back, it was a red line for them. So Biden came up with a new way to pay for things -- a 15 percent 'global minimum' tax on corporations who use offshore post office boxes as addresses so they can avoid paying any tax to the United States. This is a very real problem -- 55 of the nation's biggest corporations paid zero taxes at all to the federal government last year. And it is no surprise because this happens each and every year. Biden is proposing a tax that forces them to pay their fair share. Republicans rejected it. Which means that Republicans are fighting hard for corporations like Amazon to pay zero taxes at all. There is just no other way to put it. They try to fool everyone into thinking they are somehow now some sort of populist party, but the truth is pretty plain to see. This is what they really stand for -- zero corporate taxes at all."


   Please explain how this could be anti-fraud

Hit Republicans hard on the specifics of all these laws they are busily passing to change our election system into a complete partisan mess.

"So Republicans say that all their voter-suppression laws are all somehow targeting some mythical fraud that nobody's ever seen any proof of outside the deranged brain of their Dear Leader. That's the reason they cite, over and over again -- we've got to make elections safer, they tell us. So I would like them to explain how making it illegal for counties in Texas to hold early voting on Sunday mornings, while still allowing early voting on the same day, just after one o'clock in the afternoon. How does that fight fraud? How is a vote at the same polling place using the same method by the same person change from suspicious and possibly fraudulent to completely acceptable, depending on where the sun is in the sky? How is a vote cast at two in the afternoon somehow to be trusted when the same vote at ten in the morning is somehow suspect? Please, any Republicans who would care to, I'd like to hear the explanation for this. But I'm not exactly holding my breath, if you know what I mean."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


69 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Bipartisan Kabuki's Last Act”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This wasn't entirely true, about their actual voting patterns...

    Once again, it actually was entirely true - if you understood what Biden was talking about.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This is what is known as a Bidenism ... he always hopes that people can read between the lines and know exactly what he means.

    Over the years, I have become expert at this. Ahem.

    The example used here over the last few days is a classic example. Of course, he didn't mean that those two Dem senators vote more with Republicans. Of course, he meant that those two Dem senators vote more with his Republican friends than any other damn ... er... Dem senator.

    What is so hard about that?

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Biden said today that Covid-19 deaths were up. Of course, he meant that they were down.

    Intelligent people hear this and keep the conversation between themselves and their inner voice - not say that it was not entirely true.

    D'ya know what I mean!? :)

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, just to be clear, Biden has forgotten more than all of us will ever know.

  5. [5] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your MIDOW award this week. The Texas Democrats blocked democracy-threatening legislation in an absolutely electrifying example of political theater.

  6. [6] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    And I must sadly concur with the MDDOW award for my senior Senator. Early on, I could begrudgingly accept that Sen. Sinema was trying to 'reach across the aisle' and retain the filibuster, one of the few remaining vestiges from a time when the U S Senate was an "Old Boys' Club". The argument already made little sense, as the Republican Senators have been expressing their disdain for bipartisanship since Moscow Mitch famously established his only goal was to make Obama a "one-term President".
    The "let's give the new guys an opportunity to show their colors" effort has not provided A SHRED of evidence that the Republican Senators in the 117th Congress are going to suddenly find enlightenment. Many of Biden's Cabinet appointees were approved without a single Republican vote. The "Jan 6 commission" vote was the final proof, so Sen. Sinema has no logical defense of her continued insistence to not disarm the insurrectionists.

  7. [7] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Elizabeth [1]: " if you understood what Biden was talking about."

    Are you auditioning to be the Sarah Huckster Sanders of the Biden administration?

  8. [8] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    An honorable mention for MIDOW should also be for the Congressional Democrats who finally obtained testimony from Don McGahn. While this may seem like an 'inside baseball' story, it's actually an important Constitutional issue: can the Executive Branch refuse to participate in the Legislative Branch's oversight functions?

    This is, of course, another example of 'elections matter': " during the Trump administration, the Justice Department argued energetically against McGahn’s testimony. The litigation dragged on until this year, when the Justice Department — now under the leadership of President Joe Biden’s appointees — cut a deal with congressional Democrats and McGahn to allow his testimony, The New York Times reported."

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Do you understand?

  10. [10] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Did you see comment 15 in Thursday's thread?

    I would love to hear your explanation of what Biden really means on that. It seems to be just the opposite of what you have been saying about vaccinating the whole world.

  11. [11] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    It's a choice between the filibuster and democracy?


    It's a choice between big money and democracy.

    How is a vote for big money candidates from one half of the big money party good for democracy when a vote for candidates in the other half of the big money party bad for democracy?

    That is an explanation I would love to hear.

    But you do not have the balls.

    Grow a pair.

    "Now is not the time for half-measures. Now is not the time for timidity."

    Now is not the time for more of your moosepoop propaganda.

    Shame on you.

    Who is paying you to do this or are you just that incompetent?

  12. [12] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    TP 4,5-
    It's the filibuster. It's the Parliamentarian. It's Manchin. It's Sinema.

    It's all part of the show.

    Just because of group of scholars says something stupid doesn't make it not stupid.

    Any Deathocrat politician worth his salt would stand up against the big money interests instead of working for them.

    Any journalist worth his salt would not be providing cover for the Deathocrat politicians that are not worth their salt.

    A journalist worth their salt would check out the Ralph Nader Radio Hour at 57:30 in The Carbohydrate Economy episode where Ralph introduces to the public discourse an idea to create a media conglomerate owned and controlled by ordinary citizens to provide news that it not controlled by the big money interests. (see comment 13 and 14 on Thursday's column)

    A journalist worth their salt would inform citizens about One Demand that would force politicians to choose between taking big money or getting the votes of ordinary citizens.

    Your salt seems to be made up of Stupid Ass Lame Timidity.

    "Now is not the time for half-measures. Now is not the time for timidity."

    Grow a pair.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don ... I'll look later and explain. Heh. Time for lounging poolside without the pool. :)

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Yeah, no kidding, italyrusty!

    Biden's gotta Bidenism. Once upon a time that sort of mattered.

    But after over thirty thousand Trump lies who cares if Joe misspeaks? Maybe the folks in Facistmedia (Fox, OAN etc.) but regular 'Muricans, not so much. Or not at all.

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    So, I got sun tan lotion in my eyes and I can't stop crying.

    And, your link from Thursday doesn't work for me.

    But, I will say that the global roll out of COVID-19 vaccines has been a complete disaster. The inequity of vaccine distribution has been called, correctly, grotesque. The COVAX Facility has worked to some degree but not the way it was supposed to work.

    There are still front line COVID health workers in some countries who have not yet been vaccinated, let alone those who are most vulnerable to severe disease and death.

    As for Biden, well, I'm already on record here to say that I found his bragging about being the most vaccinated country to be nothing short of reprehensible. Deplorable would be a good word for it, too. Ahem.

    As for his sharing of vaccines - that should have been done yesterday, not six weeks from now. Which is not easy politically - mostly because too many leaders, Biden included, have failed miserably in communicating to their populations the necessity for equitable distribution of vaccines and the global priority imperative.

    Rich countries will soon be fully vaccinated. I got my first shot last week. But, the virus continues to spread at will in too many countries and regions. The chances that it will mutate into something that will be resistant to the vaccines we currently have are increasing daily. And, then what good will it have done for rich countries to be fully vaccinated?

    We are going to be dealing with the COVID-19 viruses for a very long time. It will become endemic. I hope we all learn how to better deal with it and fast!

    I'm going to bed with a cold cloth over my poor eyes ... :(

  16. [16] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    somebody said something about the pie filling buster?

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    well if you want the best pie filling, my advice is to grow a pear. wait, somebody already suggested that?


  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Are you talkin' to me!?

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    As for Biden, well, I'm already on record here to say that I found his bragging about being the most vaccinated country to be nothing short of reprehensible. Deplorable would be a good word for it, too. Ahem.

    To Whomever kidnapped our Elizabeth Miller, we would like her back for tonight's Dance Party.

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    That's it! Add my name to the Death to DINO Joe Manchin Camp.

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I haven't changed, Caddy and, I will be here for the party tonight but it will be late.

    Did we decide on a theme or will it be another free for all!?:)

  23. [23] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    With the filibuster in place, Republicans know that they do not have to work with Democrats on legislation that the Dems are behind — there is no way it will pass, so why give them anything!?!   But without the filibuster, Democrats would not need to seek out help from Republicans to pass legislation...and it is that knowledge that will force Republicans to seek out bipartisan cooperation!  In order to avoid giving Democrats everything that they want, Republicans will have to work with Dems to get their own wants into the legislation.  If Manchin is truly wanting bipartisan legislation to become the norm, then he should be willing to get rid of what prevents it from occurring — the filibuster must go!  

  24. [24] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Whoops, hit the dang submit button by mistake...

    I have heard people argue that without the filibuster, that neither party will need the other to force legislation through; resulting in all our laws flipping as soon as the WH flips. But it is the threat of this complete flipping of our laws that will encourage bipartisanship in creating of our legislation. The public does not generally enjoy change to laws that they have become accustomed to and that are popular.

    Look at “ObamaCare” as a perfect example! Republicans had their base foaming at the mouth to get rid of “ObamaCare”... but when tossing it meant gutting the Affordable Care Act, their base balked! Yes, they are the same thing, but the GOP’s base were never able to figure that out for some reason as the ACA always polled much higher in popularity with Republicans than ObamaCare polled. Point is, it isn’t easy to get rid of good legislation once it becomes law. The end of the filibuster will make it easier to pass good legislation that our citizens support, and get rid of bad legislation that we want changed! It will force us to work together if we want to see improvements.

  25. [25] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    If Manchin feels so strongly about the importance of bipartisan legislation, why isn’t he doing anything to push for it? Instead of telling Republicans that they do not have to do anything because he isn’t willing to pass anything without their approval, Manchin should be telling Republicans that unless 10 get on board and work with Dems to pass some legislation, he’ll scrap the filibuster and then they get nothing! You want bipartisanship, Joe? Then do something to get the Republicans to act!

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Your comments above on the filibuster make so much sense.

    It's as if Manchin et al. are up to something that has nothing to do with the filibuster. What he is doing and how he is going about it makes no sense at all!

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    It does make sense if you'll recall that Trump won Manchin's West Virginia by over 40 points in both 2016 & 2020.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yeah, but what Manchin is doing is not good for the people of his district, whether they understand that or not.

  29. [29] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Stevie Ray Vaughan

  30. [30] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yeah, but Manchin, Sinema numerous other Democrats have to campaign as "being a BULWARK against their own Party's 'excesses. '"

    Recall how, after four years of mis-Administration, 500,000 extra dead Americans and insane unemployment, Trump still got 74 million votes in 2020.

    All because of four little words,



    Defund the Police.

  31. [31] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Suggest "Guitar Virtuoso" for this evening's Sunday Night Dance Party.

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Anyway, what d'ya say we get the CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party underway, eh!?

    I'll start with a favourite tune from the first Canadian rock band to reach platinum status for a debut album in their home country. Guess who? No, not the Guess Who, believe it or not!

    It's a Lindsay Mitchell composition and it contains one of my all-time favourite lyrics ... "I hope you'll believe me when I tell ya, baby, I love you more than my guitar." Heh.

    It's I Ain't Lookin' Anymore

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Guitar "virtuoso"? Yeah, that sounds good!

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think you'll like this one, Caddy - it's Gary Moore doing The End of the World ...

    One Fine Guitar Solo!

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    More Gary Moore, RIP - I really love this guy!

    'Best Guitar Solo Ever, Probably

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here is Gary Moore doing the guitar solo on stage with George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The former Beatles were duly impressed!

    While My Guitar Gently Weeps

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, here is my favourite analysis guy analyzing the video in my [36] ...

    Fil from Wings of Pegasus

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "It was face-meltingly good!" Oh, man ...

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here's a better video to go with my [37] ...

    George, Gary and Ringo

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Now, enjoy a full concert, live from the Montreux Jazz Festival featuring The Jeff Healey Band

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    More good stuff from Jeff Healey, RIP ...

    Roadhouse Blues

  42. [42] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Meh. Not bad.

    But not 'Murican.

    Guit-Steel Blues.

    Junior Brown. DEFINITIVE PROOF that God exists. "It was hell," recalls former Athiest.

    The Clap.

    Yes (live.)

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How about a little Santana!

    Black Magic Woman

  44. [44] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    I can see why you like this guy. He has a lot to say on that axe of his.

  45. [45] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    RIP, Jeff Healey, yea verily.

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    One Sunday night, not too terribly long ago, I featured Gary Moore and sent it out especially for Chris and Mrs Chris Weigant.

    But, I guess they didn't like it ... or, more likely, didn't see it. :(

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This one is just for you, Caddy!

    Junior Brown, Analyzed!

  48. [48] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    So I was thinking maybe we should rename it

    Sunday Night Canadian Rock and Roll Appreciation Party.

  49. [49] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I couldn't play the Clap video from [42] so here is another one ...

  50. [50] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, there certainly wouldn't be a shortage of tunes!

  51. [51] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Smooth One.

  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, I just remembered ... the Juno Awards are on tonight, were on tonight. I don't watch anymore because I don't know any of the new artists.

  53. [53] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Oh, I love, love, love Smooth w. Rob Thomas!!!

    I'm dancing around the living room right now ...

  54. [54] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Damn ... can no longer sing AND dance at the same time. Sigh.

  55. [55] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Need You Now ... just because.

  57. [57] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Ready for a slooooooow dance. Heh.

  58. [58] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My favourite Eagles song ... Peaceful Easy Feeling

  59. [59] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I have to call it a night, folks ... Caddy. But, next week I want to highlight a fabulous band that I hope one day to see live.

    Parallel 49 - United We Rock is a recording project right now with a heavy focus on keeping Canadian Classic Rock alive and well.

    They do phenomenal covers of many Canadian artists, including PRiSM - as close to the originals as is humanly possible!

    See Forever Eyes - Parallel 49

    See Forever Eyes - PRiSM

  60. [60] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    MY FAVE Eagle's song, Hotel California.

    Once I asked the band to let me sit in on Bass, in front of a handful of hundred Octoberfest goers in Big Bear. Guitarist quietly showed the chord progression to this song, and we thence rocked the Casbah with a pretty close to note for note cover.

  61. [61] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    K, G'Nite Elizabeth. Good deal, tonight. Hands across the water, Baby!

  62. [62] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Being able to do this sort of thing is what they call "Having Big Ears" in the music business.

  63. [63] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, that is pretty darn amazing, I have to say!

    And, I want to know more!!! Save it for next week ...


  64. [64] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    My MAIN MAN is Paul Simon.

    Here's the title track from his underappreciated 1983 effort "Hearts and Bones."

  65. [65] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Elsewhere by Sarah McLaughlin.

  66. [66] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I am duly impressed, Caddy!

  67. [67] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    is that the one about him and carrie fisher?

  68. [68] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Could we simply trade Joe Manchin for, say, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)?

    Facing reelection next year she's scheduled to get major flak from Trump. So she's arguably already half way out of the GQP. Further, she voted both to establish and later to not repeal Obamacare. And she voted against Trump in his second Impeachment.

    ALTHOUGH ALASKA is "Republican" Trump only won it by 10 points last year (53-43%) so this is not an Alabama or Idaho. And Murkowski wouldn't even have to turn Democrat -- just so long as she's not #MarchingWithMitch anymore.

    The upside is she leaves the madness behind. Period, full stop. No more Big Lie!

    The downside not so bad.
    Of all politicians Murkowski can pull this off successfully.

    Remember how she beat the Tea Party candidate along with the field via a freaking write-in campaign? WITH the last name "Murkowski?"

    She can do this.

  69. [69] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    I'm not certain but I believe, yes.

Comments for this article are closed.