Monday Reads: House Floats and Senate Trials

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I was awakened last night by the blast of the emergency system tone really early this morning or late last night.  A ten year old girl from New Iberia Parish had gone missing. Some one had seen her get into a car with a man who turned out to be a known sex offender.  Fortunately, an alert sanitation worker in the next parish over recognized the car when his crew passed by it early today.  The girl is now undergoing a medical examination and the police have the suspect in custody.

I was also greeted by my cat spilling my coffee all over my laptop.  So far it appears to be doing okay but we’ll see how long that lasts.  I scrambled to get it turn upside down immediately.  I also have to finish grading a bunch of things.  So, how’s your day going?

Today’s pictures are of the Mardi Gras House floats that have been popping up all over the city. It’s easy to guess which ones are uptown and which are downtown by me!  I’m behind on mine because of this class I’ve been teaching and all the assorted headaches.  I get my covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday afternoon and I still won’t have a day off until Friday so this week seems absolutely frazzled compared to the last year where sitting at home was de rigueur.

Another Republican Congress Critter has died from covid-19.    Not sure if he was of the anti maskers but if not, his colleagues likely killed him with their anti masking antics.

Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) has died. Wright tested positive for coronavirus several weeks ago. Wright had also battled lung cancer last fall. Wright was 67 years old. Wright succeeded fmr GOP TX Rep Joe Barton in 2019 after Barton retired.

However I have found some interesting tweets including a deathbed crusade to fully open schools.  Since the debacle with the empty stockpile, we’ve had quite a few teachers unable to get their vaccines.  Anecdotally, I know several who are now home with the virus.  UNO is supposed to start opening campus in March.  Fortunately, I’m pretty much zoom bound in this class but at least I should have both doses if I have to go back.

It’s really hard to imagine that Republicans are still pushing free range herd immunity but pictures in Tampa Bay after the Super Bowl seem to show that it’s a different world out there in places with Republicans in charge.  Our Mayor is doing everything possible to keep people out of the Quarter including closing bars down.  Last night, however there was still a convergence to the bars all over.  I watched the parade to bars by young white couples while walking Temple and chatting with my neighbor who already got her double dose as she hit the 70 year mark last year. I just don’t get how anything is more important than keep you and  your healthy but I guess I’m officially on old coot now.

The British variant of covid-19 is “Spreading Rapidly in U.S. A new study bolsters the prediction by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the so-called B.1.1.7 variant will dominate Covid-19 cases by March.”  This is reported in the NYT.

A more contagious variant of the coronavirus first found in Britain is spreading rapidly in the United States, doubling roughly every 10 days, according to a new study.

Analyzing half a million coronavirus tests and hundreds of genomes, a team of researchers predicted that in a month this variant could become predominant in the United States, potentially bringing a surge of new cases and increased risk of death.

The new research offers the first nationwide look at the history of the variant, known as B.1.1.7, since it arrived in the United States in late 2020. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that B.1.1.7 could become predominant by March if it behaved the way it did in Britain. The new study confirms that projected path.

“Nothing in this paper is surprising, but people need to see it,” said Kristian Andersen, a co-author of the study and a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. “We should probably prepare for this being the predominant lineage in most places in the United States by March.”

So, will we get another huge surge? Dr Fauci did say we need to keep an eye on those variants and some of the vaccines do better than others with them.

Trump’s impeachment trial continues.  Politico reports that “POLITICO Playbook: Democratic impeachment managers feeling muzzled”.

Democrats who’ve struggled for years to hold DONALD TRUMP accountable are at a crossroads again: Do they go all out to convict Trump by calling a parade of witnesses to testify to his misdeeds? Or do they concede it’s a lost cause, finish the trial ASAP — and get on with President JOE BIDEN’S agenda?

Several of the House impeachment managers wanted firsthand testimony to help prove their case that Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot, our sources tell us. But Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER, Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Biden administration officials have been eager for the process to move quickly, we’re told.

It’s been a source of frustration for some Democrats privately. Trump, these people have noticed, is already on the rebound politically, at least among Republicans. The GOP base has rallied to his defense, and many Republican lawmakers who witnessed the terror of the Capitol invasion are back in Trump’s corner.

That’s why there had been talk among the managers about calling individuals who could change minds — if not the minds of 17 GOP senators needed to convict, then perhaps a slice of the GOP electorate that still supports Trump. Some of the ideas floated: having Capitol Police officers tell their stories about fighting the mob, or inviting Republican officials in Georgia who were pressured by Trump to overturn the state’s election tally.

There’s also been chatter about bringing in former White House officials who observed Trump on the day of the riots.

Schumer and other Senate Democrats argue, however, that they don’t necessarily need witnesses since Trump’s crimes were in plain sight and documented in videos and tweets. Privately, senior Democrats also note that 45 Senate Republicans have already decided they think the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, so why bother dragging this out?

Trump’s team continues to argue that the Senate cannot impeach a former President.  However, a top Republican lawyer has disagreed publicly.  From the NYT: “Breaking With G.O.P., Top Conservative Lawyer Says Trump Can Stand Trial. Charles J. Cooper, a stalwart of the conservative legal establishment, said that Republicans were wrong to assert that it is unconstitutional for a former president to be tried for impeachable offenses.”

Many legal scholars disagree, and the Senate has previously held an impeachment trial of a former official — though never a former president. But 45 Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader who is said to believe that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses, voted last month to dismiss the trial as unconstitutional on those grounds.

Mr. Cooper said they were misreading the Constitution.

“The provision cuts against their interpretation,” he wrote. He argued that because the Constitution allows the Senate to bar officials convicted of impeachable offenses from holding public office again in the future, “it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders.”

Mr. Cooper’s decision to take on the argument was particularly significant because of his standing in conservative legal circles. He was a close confidant and adviser to Senate Republicans, like Ted Cruz of Texas when he ran for president, and represented House Republicans — including the minority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California — in a lawsuit against Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He is also the lawyer for conservative stalwarts like John R. Bolton and Jeff Sessions, and over his career defended California’s same-sex marriage ban and had been a top outside lawyer for the National Rifle Association.

At this point I do not care who agrees that he can be impeached I just want to see his ass in place where he can never run for public office again.  I’d also rather hear from the staffers who saw what he was saying and doing at the time.  I never what to see his fat freaky face on TV again nor do I want to hear his icky voice.

The WSJ is reporting that Senate leaders are reaching an agreement on what the next schedule in the Trial will look like.

On Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers said that in that speech Mr. Trump only used the word “fight” a “little more than a handful of times and each time in the figurative sense,” and noted that he urged supporters to march peacefully and made no explicit mention of rioting. The lawyers said the president was exercising his rights under the First Amendment.

They also argued that news reports that law-enforcement officials had missed warnings about an attack on the Capitol indicated the riot had been planned in advance and “therefore had nothing to do with the president’s speech.”

The Senate trial begins on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are closing in on an agreement for a resolution that would outline the rules and schedule for the trial, according to the person familiar with the talks.

I can at least report that purging Trumpist policy is still on the Biden/Harris team platter. Chait has never been a favorite of mine but here is a bit of analysis that at least provides some hope.

Chait writes this about the ongoing deficit size fixation Obama inherited compared to Biden who inherits a new situation following Trump.  I still personally expect the republicans to suddenly get deficit size religion again but here’s is argument.

The rise of Donald Trump is the largest single cause of the transformation. It was obvious to some of us all along that Republican claims to have a passionate concern for fiscal probity were insincere. Trump has made it impossible to ignore. The beliefs that sincerely animated reporters and officials in Washington during the Obama era — that the Tea Party was a reaction to debt levels, that Republican leaders were willing or able to deal with Obama — were turned into a running joke by a Republican president who won the nomination in part because he never fooled himself into believing any of these things. Trump’s ability to blow out the budget deficit and wantonly pick winners and losers without any shame or meaningful Republican blowback destroyed the whole premise.

Democrats in Congress also learned an important lesson from the Obama era. Many moderate Democrats shared a belief with the mainstream media that bipartisanship was both possible and necessary. Democrats in Congress squandered much of their time pursuing fruitless negotiations with Republicans, chasing a deal they were sure lay just around the corner. Only in retrospect did they realize that Republicans were stringing them along to allow opposition to build while they ran out the clock.

One of the biggest obstacles Obama faced in 2009 was the excessive confidence of his putative congressional allies that they could strike an agreement with Republicans. Biden’s congressional allies have fewer illusions about the incentives of their Republican counterparts.

Economic thinking itself has changed in important ways over the last decade. Economists previously feared that the federal government floating trillions of dollars in additional debt would cause interest rates to rise. (Indeed, this seems like a straightforward application of supply and demand.) Instead, interest rates have failed to budge, eliminating the austerity pressure that exerted such a powerful impact in the 1980s and 1990s.

This is the center piece of my House float. It’s a painting by a friend Rex. She does some nice work. All the people will have surgical masks and the assorted critters will have Mardi Gras masks. You have heard of the Mardi Gras Penguin?  Right? Just have to get them all up.

I can say that the entire deficit fixation was more of a political fixation than economic thinking.  Most main stream economists have know for some time that a deficit has a place in the policy box and that it’s necessary to run them up in desperate times.   What the deficit chicken hawks showed was that even in good times deficits can be run up as long as it’s the name of tax cuts to businesses in the wealthy. This is anathema to any serious student of economics. But then, the proved what we though all along. Deficits are fine with they comport with Republican values like unnecessary. They’re just not to help regular Americans.  That’s Roosevelt socialism!

Anyway, I’m off to grade and praying that my little laptop survives Dinah’s leap into my coffee cup disaster.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


7 Comments on “Monday Reads: House Floats and Senate Trials”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Here’s something else on the Biden agenda …

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I hope your laptop will be OK.

  3. quixote says:

    Deficits for the Repubs, going all the way back to Deficit-Exploder-in-Chief, Ronnie Raygun, were always nothing but a cudgel against Dems passing anything that might make them popular.

    It was always nothing but a way for Repubs to keep power and feed money to their campaign contributors and corps with cushy post-Congress jobs.

    it’s been obvious for going on forty goddamn years. Either Dems are ridiculously slow learners or it was just talk with them.

    The only difference I see now is that the Dems have finally realized something has to be done or we don’t have a country anymore. Repubs apparently still don’t care. Mindblowing.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Maybe we can get Doug Jones back in the Senate.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Trump Tent Towns