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Sharing power is hard in a place built for fighting over it

President Joe Biden pines for unity, but actually sharing power is basically impossible in a place where politicians build their careers fighting over it.

That’s why, weeks after Democrat Chuck Schumer became Senate majority leader, Republicans are still chairing committee meetings.

That will now end after Schumer and now-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a power-sharing agreement. The Democrats technically have the majority, counting the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, but with the chamber split 50-50, Republicans — united — could hold up legislation in committees.

McConnell dropped his demand for an iron-clad in-writing guarantee that Democrats will not end the filibuster. (Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, crushed that Democratic dream).

Now Democrats can move more quickly on confirming the new Cabinet. Even nominees with bipartisan support, like attorney general nominee Merrick Garland — who is not expected to face opposition despite being blocked for the Supreme Court in 2016 — have not yet gotten confirmation hearings.

From CNN’s report:

It was unclear as of Wednesday morning what was holding up the deal. Party leaders had been haggling over a final few points, including how to structure committee budgets, before finalizing the power-sharing agreement that will officially allow Democrats to take their chairmanships, Senate officials familiar with the talks told CNN earlier this week.

The delay was already having an impact on Biden’s Cabinet nominees going through the Senate confirmation process. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rejected a Democratic request on Monday to schedule Garland’s confirmation hearing on February 8, arguing that the Senate needs to focus on the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, which is set to start the following day.

A Rorschach test for the GOP

Suddenly Marjorie Taylor Greene is infamous. Before January 20, I had very little knowledge of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Now she’s everywhere. She’s everywhere for all the wrong reasons.

Another wedge between the parties. Democrats’ attempts to strip her of committee assignments for her history of threatening behavior will introduce partisanship because Republicans, still perhaps afraid of former President Donald Trump, seem disinclined to do anything meaningful about it.

This is also about Rep. Liz Cheney. Greene carries the torch for the Trump era. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is the standard-bearer for an earlier GOP and “won’t apologize” for voting to impeach Trump.

Read Stephen Collinson’s analysis about this:

Real-time reckonings for third-ranked GOP House leader Liz Cheney and Greene, a freshman congresswoman who has espoused outlandish and dangerous conspiracy theories, will help establish the extent to which a loyalty oath to the ex-President remains the party’s dominant principle.

Cheney is expecting to confront a venting session over her vote of conscience to impeach Trump in the House Republican Conference on Wednesday. In the coming days she faces a fight to hang onto her leadership post. She is also confronting a potential primary challenge at home over her decision.


Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is the epitome of the old school, ultra-conservative but internationalist Republican Party that disdains Trump’s assault on democracy. Greene is a proponent of the QAnon conspiracy theory and is an avatar of the wild fringe welcomed into the GOP by Trump.

How this South Carolina mom escaped QAnon. Here’s the story of a woman trying to claw her way out of the social media rabbit hole and get back to reality after QAnon. Again, social media is like an addiction and conspiracy theorists act like cultists.

Insurrection or coup?

There’s a group at the University of Illinois, the Coup d’etat Project, that says the January 6 Capitol insurrection was in fact an attempted dissident coup. Further, it was not the first, but the second (maybe the third!) in US history.

Previous attempt. A 1948 incident in which members of Communist Party USA conspired to violently overthrow the government. It’s not easy to find good information about this, but the Supreme Court eventually used the “clear and present danger” test to uphold the convictions of 11 members of Communist Party USA.

Under review. The 1996 slaying of an Arkansas family by White supremacists who, according to federal court documents, sought to “establish an independent nation of white members of the Christian Identity faith.”

  • Coup attempt criteria, per the academics:
  • Someone must initiate the coup.
  • The target “must have meaningful control over national policy.”
  • “There must be a credible threat to the leaders’ hold on power.”
  • Those involved must use illegal or irregular means to seize or remove the target, or render it powerless.
  • It must be organized.

Neither the Communist conspiracy nor the White supremacist murder featured a storming of the US Capitol. This insurrection is in its own league.

From CNN’s report: A CNN analysis showed 14% of the first 150 arrestees are current or former members of the American military.

Related: ‘QAnon Shaman’ rioter should be given organic food while in jail after going on hunger strike, federal judge says

Reverse deep state

A motivating force of Trump’s paranoia as President was his complaint that the government he led was trying to bring him down, which led him to do inappropriate things — which in turn led the government he led to shudder.

But while Trump is gone, not all of his loyalists have left the building. This is the idea of burrowing, or putting political people in permanent positions. The New York Times writes Wednesday about how the DHS, in particular, could be an area where now-President Biden and newly installed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will run into resistance.

From the Times: “both parties say Mr. Mayorkas will struggle to get buy-in for Mr. Biden’s immigration agenda from the thousands of border and immigration agents in his sprawling, 240,000-person department.”

And …

“Mr. Biden and his secretary of homeland security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, are already encountering their own pockets of internal resistance, especially at the agencies charged with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, where the gung-ho culture has long favored the get-tough policies that Mr. Trump embraced.”

Trump-supporting unions vs. a Democratic President. The most interesting piece of evidence the Times offers up is that unions that supported Trump’s candidacy signed an agreement with his administration in its final days that would require DHS to consult with the unions on policy decisions. Biden could fight the agreement.

Meanwhile, Trump gets a win in battle with Palm Beach. The attorney for Palm Beach, Florida, thinks Trump should be able to live at his Mar-a-Lago resort because he’s a “bona fide employee” of the club. The town council will hear the review Tuesday.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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