Thursday, December 10, 2020

Last Call For Getting The Gang Back Together

Knowing that she would never survive a Senate confirmation fight, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice has been tapped by Joe Biden for the head White House Domestic Policy Council role, something Mitch and the boys can't do squat about.

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice to run the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to people familiar with the decision.

Rice, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was vetted to serve as Biden’s vice president and was a contender to be secretary of State, a position that went to Antony Blinken.

Democrats had concerns about Rice’s ability to get confirmed in a Republican-controlled Senate, and the director of the Domestic Policy Council is not a Senate-confirmed position. The Biden team had been looking to find a high-profile role for Rice, but the top domestic policy job comes as a surprise given her expertise and experience in foreign policy.

A spokesperson for the Biden transition declined to comment. A spokesperson for Rice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In her position, Rice, 56, will play a large role in implementing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, a wide-ranging set of policy proposals that would invest trillions of dollars in American infrastructure and manufacturing, clean energy, caregiving, education and racial equity.

A person familiar with Biden’s thinking said he chose Rice for the role because of her deep experience in crisis management and interagency processes. The person said Biden does not see foreign, economic and diplomatic realms as separate and discrete and her deep knowledge of how the federal government works will be an asset to implementing his domestic policy agenda.

Biden officially announced Rice’s appointment Thursday morning, along with his nominations of Marcia Fudge to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary, Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative and Denis McDonough as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans,” Biden said in a statement.

Rice’s decision to take the domestic policy job also signals that she still harbors political ambitions. She floated the possibility of running for Senate in Maine against Susan Collins and was a finalist to serve as Biden’s running mate. The top domestic policy job will fill out her foreign policy-heavy resume.
So yes, Rice will be part of the Biden domestic policy team, rather than the foreign policy one, but having someone with the expertise she possesses is a huge benefit to Biden in that department. She knows how to get things done, and I expect she'll be a key part of using the power of the executive branch to go around Mitch and his endless Senate GOP roadblocks.

The Coup-Coup Birds Take Flight, Con't

As some seventeen Republican attorneys general have now signed on to the Texas lawsuit demanding the Supreme Court overturn the election and declare Trump the winner, the slow realization that we are in the middle of a active coup is finally beginning to permeate the American people. Rush Limbaugh is openly telling his listeners to expect a broken union.
All right. Mr. Snerdley is asking if we’re ever going to be able to win. And he’s talking about elections. Votes. Are we ever gonna be able to win without taking back some of these cities? He’s talking about blue cities like New York, Philadelphia. I assume you mean Detroit? Do you include Milwaukee in this? Definitely, all right. What about Oakland, California? Too far gone. San Francisco? You think we can get San Francisco? Look, we won election after election after election without winning these cities or the states they’re in.

I thought you were asking me something else when you said, “Can we win?” I thought you meant, “Can we win the culture, can we dominate the culture.” I actually think -- and I’ve referenced this, I’ve alluded to this a couple of times because I’ve seen others allude to this -- I actually think that we’re trending toward secession. I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York? What is there that makes us believe that there is enough of us there to even have a chance at winning New York? Especially if you’re talking about votes.

I see a lot of bloggers -- I can’t think of names right now -- a lot of bloggers have written extensively about how distant and separated and how much more separated our culture is becoming politically and that it can’t go on this way. There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can’t be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way.

And I know that there’s a sizable and growing sentiment for people who believe that that is where we’re headed, whether we want to or not -- whether we want to go there or not
. I myself haven’t made up my mind. I still haven’t given up the idea that we are the majority and that all we have to do is find a way to unite and win, and our problem is the fact that there are just so many RINOs, so many Republicans in the Washington establishment who will do anything to maintain their membership in the establishment because of the perks and the opportunities that are presented for their kids and so forth.
And of course the problem is not that Trump has failed, but that "RINOs" have failed Trump. As Steve M. points out, Republicans in Congress cannot accept a Biden win now, even if they wanted to, which they don't.

Three Republican senators who aren't retiring will probably endorse the electoral vote: Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski. Add Toomey and you might well have the complete list of senators who'll reject the protest. In the House, the only Republican I have any confidence in is Adam Kinzinger.

They can't back down now -- their base will come for them the way they're coming for legislators and election officials of both parties who won't toe the line.

This handful of Republicans plus all the Democrats will ensure that Biden's win is ratified.

And after that, the violence will start. Be ready.

Here's my nightmare scenario.

One thing I absolutely know is coming in the next Congress, is that the GOP will repeatedly try to force a national voter ID law that eliminates early voting and vote-by-mail, and they will block everything until they get it, cabinet appointments, COVID-19 relief, spending bills, everything. Democrats aren't going to be able to handle it, and they will cave.

The violence will still happen, of course.
At some point, after the violence starts increasing this winter and into the spring, we're going to have grown adults say that Joe Biden is responsible for the casualties, that it doesn't really matter if he "stole" the election if tens of millions of Americans believe he did, and more than a small number are killing and destroying, that this violence was the inevitable result of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, and that Biden and Harris should both resign for the good of the nation.
There will absolutely be Democrats who will nod their heads and say that Biden and Harris should do exactly that, that Harris should name a new Republican VP, one who will be confirmed by the Senate, and then installed as a "caretaker" President. Depending on the level of violence and the continuing spread of the pandemic, it could happen within a matter of months.

And I don't know what happens after that.

I absolutely want to be wrong, I absolutely want to believe that good people will stand up for this country and come to its aid.

But this is America.  We used to do that, on occasion.  Not anymore.

Absolutely Unfriended, Disliked, And Blocked

Led by New York Attorney General Tish James, 46 states and the FTC have just declared war on Facebook with a massive, bipartisan antitrust attack to get the social network to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp, among other things.

Federal antitrust authorities and dozens of states launched a double-barreled legal assault on Facebook on Wednesday, in lawsuits that seek to break up the Silicon Valley giant and address years of complaints about its worldwide social networking empire.

Both suits ask a judge to make Facebook spin off its messaging service WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram — two of the world's most popular mobile apps, which it acquired in deals that passed muster with federal regulators less than a decade ago.

Democratic and Republican attorneys general from 48 U.S. states and territories, including New York, are behind one of the suits announced Wednesday. The Federal Trade Commission, filed its own suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

“No company should have this much unchecked power,” New York Attorney General Tish James said in a news conference announcing the suit, adding that Facebook engaged in a “buy or bury strategy” against potential competitors.

Facebook’s critics in and out of government immediately praised the lawsuit. “Facebook’s reign of unaccountable, abusive practices against consumers, competitors and innovation must end today,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a statement. “For too long, Facebook has avoided real competition through anticompetitive acquisitions, unchecked power over consumers, and the failure of federal antitrust enforcers to take action.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), an ally of President Donald Trump, tweeted: "This is a necessity. The @instagram and WhatsApp mergers with @Facebook were anti-competitive, they were meant to be anti-competitive, and they should be broken up."

Both cases accuse Facebook of illegally using its power for more than a decade to muscle out rivals and snap up rising competitors, specifically including WhatsApp and Instagram, before they could gain a foothold. That spending spree has continued even as Facebook faces rising antitrust scrutiny in the U.S., Europe and Australia — just last month, it said it would buy a customer service startup called Kustomer in a deal that news reports valued at more than $1 billion.

Facebook pushed back on the complaints, noting that antitrust authorities looked at the Instagram and WhatsApp transactions at the time.

“Years after the FTC cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day,” the company said in a tweet.

The suits represent the latest escalation of a power struggle between governments around the world and the United States' wealthiest tech companies. The Justice Department and a smaller coalition of GOP-led states lodged a similar antitrust case against Google in October. States and the DOJ are expected to file additional suits against Google in the coming weeks.

The federal cases have landed during the final months of Trump's presidency. President-elect Joe Biden has voiced his own harsh criticisms of Facebook, accusing the company of "propagating falsehoods they know to be false, although his transition team and early personnel picks have drawn scrutiny for their ties to Silicon Valley.

Facebook has denied being a monopoly, noting that it ranks behind Google in how much revenue it claims from the $160 billion global market for online display advertising. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also portrayed Facebook as a champion of the "American free speech tradition," in contrast with China's vision of a censored internet.

Still, the litigation follows a massive change in the U.S. political fortunes for Facebook and Zuckerberg, who co-founded the company in his Harvard dorm room in 2004 and now ranks fifth on Forbes' list of the world's richest billionaires. Less than a decade ago, Facebook's cachet in D.C. was enough to draw then-President Barack Obama to its California headquarters for a town hall alongside Zuckerberg. Now, political leaders in both parties say the company's unchecked power makes it a threat to rivals and countless Americans.

I have to say with this level of near-universal condemnation of Facebook, Zuckerberg's days are clearly numbered, but those days could still be well into the hundreds, if not thousands. Facebook is big enough to fight back for years and anything will almost certainly go to SCOTUS.

And for the record, Guam and DC are joining in, but South Carolina, South Dakota, Alabama, and Georgia, all states with GOP attorneys general, are not. Even California and Washington state are joining this suit, which should really, really tell you that Zuck is, well, good and Zucked.
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