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On the roster: Biden tries to go from normalcy to relevancy - Pelosi bides her time on sending impeachment - Graham challenger likely pick for DNC boss - Yang gang announces run for NYC mayor - The Jack Donahue of pigeons
BIDEN TRIES TO GO FROM NORMALCY TO RELEVANCY
Is it cruel fate or condign punishment that Joe Biden, a man of such considerable ego that he is prone to shouting matches and lavish boasting of his intellect, has needed to seek the presidency and accept its high honor in a posture of pronounced humility?
Biden’s self-regard has no doubt mellowed since his youth, but even approaching 80, he still has a short fuse when it comes to criticism. After almost 40 years of seeking the presidency, though, he found the best way in was to not make the contest about himself or his policies, but rather a promise to just be cool.
Normalcy may have won him the White House, but as he prepares to assume office Biden still finds himself out of the limelight.
President Trump’s self-destruct sequence and the rupture of the Republican Party in the wake of Trump’s efforts to prevent Biden from taking office have absorbed the nation’s attention in the way that a grandfatherly moderate Democrat from Delaware ever could.
Now, Biden is ready to get on with it and have his turn at the top of the page. Tonight, the president-elect will lay out an ambitious spending package that includes a new welfare program in addition to $2,000 checks for most Americans and who knows what else in a proposal that seems designed to be bold.
Working on his behalf is the alarming second dip of the pandemic recession as nearly one million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. While optimism about the economy may be on the rise since the beginning of coronavirus vaccinations, nobody seems to have told the economy itself.
Working against his ambition is another new report that describes the size of the astonishing pace of deficit spending. In the last three months of 2020 alone the federal government borrowed almost $573 billion to fuel a record-setting $1.38 trillion in spending.
This isn’t Biden’s biggest problem, though. It will take Republicans a long time to draw anything but laughter if they object too strenuously to increasing the debt. The Trump administration, having presided over a $7.8 trillion increase in the debt ($23,500 for every man woman and child living in our great land today), talk of fiscal probity will have to wait. When it comes to deficit spending, we are a long way from any serious conversation.
The biggest problem Biden faces is that congressional Democrats are just not that into him. Their focus is still on Trump, their partner in a mutually beneficial yearslong feud.
We hear more and more from Team Biden about their concern that the bipartisan measures being considered to punish Trump for his efforts to subvert the election and the riot he incited at the Capitol will derail Biden’s hope for a unifying, productive opening act.
As Biden takes the oath of office he will look out and survey a ghost town guarded by tens of thousands of troops – the aftermath of the Trump riot. As he looks to Congress for enthusiasm for his first 100 days, it looks just as empty.
It will be possible for Congress to both address Trump and Biden in the coming weeks, but if he can’t generate a little more fierce urgency the new president may find himself living in the wreckage of his predecessor’s term for some time.
THE RULEBOOK: READY FOR ACTION
"Should such emergencies at any time happen under the national government, there could be no remedy but force. The means to be employed must be proportioned to the extent of the mischief." – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28
TIME OUT: CRIMSON AND CLOVER
Garden & Gun: "[Nick Saban] has now won seven national titles, the most ever in the modern era, breaking a tie with [Bear Bryant]. Six of those championships have come in the last twelve years. Under Saban, Alabama has never gone more than three consecutive years without one… Saban is now, undeniably, the greatest coach in college football history. … Saban remains a somewhat divisive figure. Success creates enemies, and his past actions, most especially his abrupt departure from the Miami Dolphins, have left scars that will never heal. But the edges have been softened as he’s aged… There is a realization that we are witnessing true greatness in real time, a greatness that, perhaps, will never be replicated. And there is a sense, one feels, that his excellence and constancy should be appreciated because, as these tenuous recent times have brought into greater relief, nothing should ever be taken for granted."
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GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought "From the Bleachers" to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.
PELOSI BIDES HER TIME ON SENDING IMPEACHMENT
Fox News: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn't indicated when she will send the latest article of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate even as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, her chief deputy, publicly advocates that the article be sent ‘as soon as possible.’ Pelosi, when asked Wednesday whether she would send the impeachment article to the Senate on that same day, responded that ‘I will not be making that announcement right now.’ … Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are publicly quibbling about whether or not the Senate should be immediately brought back to start an impeachment trial before President-elect Biden takes office on Jan. 20. McConnell's office said Wednesday that he would not invoke a 2004 resolution that had been pushed by Democrats as giving him and Schumer joint power to reconvene the Senate, without unanimous consent, for what would essentially be an emergency session."
An uncertain future for Republicans on both sides of impeachment - National Journal: "While [Rep. Madison Cawthorn] and other Republicans who fanned the flames of unrest have condemned the violence, the political fallout has been unforgiving. President Trump became the first president to be impeached twice Wednesday, while GOP members of Congress have lost book deals, been stripped of honors and titles, and are weathering calls for their resignation from local editorial boards. Others are facing serious reprimands from their colleagues in Congress and have lost influential allies. … But Republican strategists who spoke with National Journal said the minority of representatives who did not object to the results could face the harshest political penalties in the short term. Several said House Republican Caucus Chair Liz Cheney opened herself up to a primary challenger from the right after she said she would vote to impeach. Trump carried Wyoming, home to her single at-large congressional seat, by 45 percent. Of the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment, eight represent districts that Trump carried."
Freshman House Republican says she will seek to impeach Biden - The Hill: "Newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Wednesday said she plans on filing articles of impeachment against President-elect Joe Biden on his first full day in office next week. … ‘I would like to announce on behalf of the American people, we have to make sure our leaders are held accountable, we cannot have a president of the United States who is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments, foreign Chinese energy companies, Ukrainian energy companies, so on Jan. 21, I will be filing articles of impeachment on Joe Biden,’ Greene told Newsmax’s Greg Kelly. Greene did not specify what the articles might charge Biden with."
Feds rack up arrests of rioters, probe targets lawmakers who gave access - NYT: "One week after an angry mob stormed the Capitol, Congress struggled on Wednesday to make sense of the most serious incursion on its home in more than two centuries as lawmakers called for new investigations and federal authorities fanned out across the country, taking into custody several more suspects, including two police officers from Virginia and a firefighter from Florida. … Led by Representative Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot, more than 30 lawmakers called on Wednesday for an investigation into visitors’ access to the Capitol on the day before the riot. In a letter to the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the U.S. Capitol Police, the lawmakers, many of whom served in the military and said they were trained to ‘recognize suspicious activity,’ demanded answers about what they described as an ‘extremely high number of outside groups’ let into the Capitol on Jan. 5 at a time when most tours were restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic."
The Judge’s Ruling: Impeachment for incitement is unconstitutional - This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano provides a brief history and philosophical nuance on the freedom of speech: "Did Donald Trump commit a crime by exhorting the crowds on Jan. 6? In a word: No. … The essence of criminal incitement is immediacy. On Jan. 6, because there was time for more speech to rebut what the president said, his words are protected. He cannot be prosecuted or even sued for them. If he were impeached for uttering words that are not obviously criminal, Congress would be violating the Constitution." More here.
GRAHAM CHALLENGER LIKELY PICK FOR DNC BOSS
NYT: "President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to name Jaime Harrison as his pick to lead the Democratic National Committee, part of an effort to bolster the committee ahead of what are already expected to be challenging midterm elections for the party, according to two people with knowledge of the selection. A former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Mr. Harrison became a national political star last year as he shattered fund-raising records in his race against Senator Lindsey Graham, who was up for re-election. While Mr. Harrison lost in November, drawing 44 percent of the vote to Mr. Graham’s 55 percent, he developed a broad bench of support across the party. He is also well-known to staff and members of the D.N.C., a result of his work heading the South Carolina state party and a failed bid to become chairman of the committee in 2017."
Biden picks Trump appointee to bridge the gap at Pentagon - Politico: "President-elect Joe Biden is tapping current Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist to temporarily run the Pentagon while the new team works to confirm a permanent DoD chief, according to four people familiar with discussions. Norquist, the Pentagon's No. 2 since July 2019, will take over after the inauguration and be in charge until the Senate confirms retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin for the position. Austin's confirmation has been delayed as the next administration seeks a waiver for him to serve, which must be approved by both houses of Congress. Retired officers are required to be out of uniform for seven years before becoming Defense secretary, and Austin retired in 2016. As the No. 2 at the Pentagon who has served under three of President Donald Trump's Defense secretaries, Norquist was the expected choice to lead the Pentagon through the transition."
YANG GANG ANNOUNCES RUN FOR NYC MAYOR
CBS News: "Former Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang has officially announced his campaign to become the mayor of New York City. The move sets him up to join a crowded Democratic primary that will likely determine the next mayor of the city, which has taken a severe economic hit during the coronavirus pandemic. The 46-year-old tech entrepreneur said in a Twitter video posted Wednesday night that ‘seeing my city the way it is now breaks my heart.’ He pledged to improve access to high-speed internet, ‘take back control’ of the subway system and ‘reopen intelligently.’ ‘I'm running for mayor for my two boys, for you, and for every New Yorker,’ Yang said. ‘Let's fight for a future New York City that we can all be proud of.’ Dozens have filed paperwork for the mayor's race, including several with tech and finance backgrounds."
Nikki Haley lays groundwork for long-expected presidential bid - The Hill
Snapchat joins big tech peers in Trump ban - Politico
AUDIBLE: BEEP … BEEP ... BLEEP
"I am sorry some of my colleagues are being a**holes." – Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., to Capitol Police officers after Republicans complained about metal detectors off the House floor.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
"My parents talked politics all the time. I am the oldest of 6 children. As we got older we were included in the conversations and ask our opinions on subjects that could or would impact us e.g., college tuition, the military draft, car insurance, taxes, voting, etc. … To this day all of us read and listen to both sides of an issue and then make our choice as to which way to lean. Yes, sometimes we talk to each other about a particular issue. We are teaching our grandchildren the same methodology. Last thought, as a part time college professor with a daughter that is a principal at a public school we know firsthand that U.S. Civics is not being taught as it once was. Our young American high school and college students are not receiving the history of America's founding and how and why we are democracy. Hence, these young people get their info from their cell phones or computers and much of what they absorb is not accurate and in many cases B.S. e.g., The 1619 project from the New York Times is an example." – Patrick J. Conroy (USAF Retired), North Fort Myers, Fla.
[Ed. note: A good example, too! The 1619 Project and the Trump nationalists’ 2020 Project are indeed alike. While it bears mentioning that one came from a newspaper and the other came from the president of the United States, both involve a lie that FEELS true to those who believe it. As historians debunked the essential claim of the NYT’s project – that the American Revolution was driven by a desire to perpetuate slavery – its enthusiasts were undaunted. It just feels correct to them that America was founded not as a country that contained racism but rather for the purpose of being racist. Once you have this belief, you have the power to reject the American system of government and all of the fruits of liberty as illegitimate. With the 2020 Project the feeling is that Trump must have won the election because he is a winning winner who wins bigly and he is beloved by a silent majority. Before he presented any evidence, Trump declared the election rigged. As the past two month provided overwhelming proof of his defeat, Trump and his followers responded by expanding their list of enemies and forcing those who were lukewarm supporters to choose between obedience and being branded enemies for life. These American Jacobins on the left and right are not interested in debate or compromise, but rather forcing everyone else to live in their Manichean surreality in which feelings trump facts and choices are binary absolutes.]
"I too love your ‘take’ on things, and usually agree with you, Chris. I must say I'm up for more than a bit of accountability holding and responsibility taking for the recent events BEFORE we come together. … But perhaps because of the blood of my peeps I'm just of an Old Testament justice mindset and you are of the New Testament one of love. In any case, if we're going to be throwing so much money around, how about this for a relatively cheap way for us to come together? (Proceeds going to charity?) lottery chosen all-expense paid but still somewhat roughing it trips for self-defined families to National and say State Park campgrounds, so long as you go outside of your state. And with tents and meal fixings provided there for relatively close quartered living and joint prepared and consumed meals. This would bring North and South and East and West together, and perhaps our faithful Park Rangers could organize ‘battles’ of sack races, egg tosses, and that spin your head on the bat and subsequent so funny wild list to the left or right wonky run back to the starting line thing, so long as the teams are mixed? Then our friends in the media could find out what or if we learned anything about/from/with our fellow Americans? Maybe this could be the basis of a (please G-d let it be so!) feel good reality show?" – Reed M. Benet, Birmingham, Mich.
[Ed. note: I think I love it, Mr. Benet! But on one condition: No cameras!!! Let it not be a platform for people to seek celebrity, please. The really good stuff happens when people aren’t performing for an audience but engaging with each other in their full humanity. And as for justice and mercy, they aren’t opposites but rather worthy goals that must be held in balance. One member of my tribe, the great Anglican theologian John Stott famously put thusly: "Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love." We should seek to speak the truth to all our countrymen in a loving way, even when that truth includes consequences for misbehavior.]
"Hate is what drives Pelosi. She started her campaign to make President Trump term as disruptive as possible. With the Russia ruse and the perfect phone call she used up two years of the House agenda on that alone. She is the one not fit for the position she holds. Her time is coming and don't be surprised when and how it does!" – Michael Carter, Erlanger, Ky.
[Ed. note: Maybe you should think about storming the Capitol…. Wait, wait – that’s no good... I’m sorry to tease you, Mr. Carter, but geez louise. One would think after seeing the consequences of this kind of myopic, overblown, existential partisan dread play out in terrifying fashion last week that you would have had a bellyful. I have been in Erlanger and its surrounding communities on many occasions, and I can promise you that there is far more urgent and useful work to be done where you live than emailing out empty threats against the speaker of the House. Let me let you in on something: All of our times are coming. The days we get on this earth are finite and few. The members of Congress have jobs to do, and so do we. You may be a pillar of the Northern Kentucky community -- a stable footing on which your family, friends and neighbors rely. They may say of you when your time comes that you truly loved your neighbors as yourself and served them with gladness. But even if that is sso, would you want to look back and lament the moments you wasted on this kind of partisan foolishness? Would you want it to be said that you sowed discord to no good purpose? You have a congressman, Thomas Massie, and two senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. Your work in shaping Congress is pretty much done until 2022. In the meantime, I would encourage you to take this empty rage at strangers and direct it toward making Erlanger and Kenton County as fine as they can be for your fellow citizens.]
"What are the reasons good or bad [for President Trump to] resign now as president?" – Vince Judge Listowel, Ontario, Canada
[Ed. note: There is only one reason necessary: To heal the nation. His term is practically over. Accepting his guilt and stepping down would not only put an end to the discussions about impeachment and censure but would set the right example for future presidents. There is little fear now that a captive Trump can do much more harm, especially with Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell prepared to bounce him like an overserved sophomore on penny draft night. Trump would also make himself the inevitable subject of upgrades in popular opinion. Richard Nixon’s resignation was greeted as a triumph for his foes, but over time his choice and the choice of Gerald Ford to pardon him came to be seen as patriotic acts. Such a move would put the stamp of permanent disapproval on Trump’s efforts to steal a second term and allow both parties to move on with the urgent business at hand. But don’t hold your breath...]
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THE JACK DONAHUE OF PIGEONS
BBC: "A pigeon that travelled across the Pacific Ocean is to be put down after running afoul of Australia's strict quarantine rules. The bird reportedly went missing during a race in the US state of Oregon in late October, before turning up in Melbourne almost two months later. But officials say the pigeon, which has been named Joe, poses a ‘direct biosecurity risk’ to Australia's bird population and poultry industry. The bird will be caught and euthanised. Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird says he found the pigeon in his back garden on 26 December. … Some internet research led Mr Celli-Bird to discover that the bird, which is registered to an owner in Alabama, was last seen during a pigeon race in the western US state of Oregon. … The pigeon has not yet been caught, but the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment says it will have to be put down because of the danger of infection to local birds."
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
"Even Rome is no model for what America is today. First, because we do not have the imperial culture of Rome. We are an Athenian republic, even more republican and infinitely more democratic than Athens." – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) while accepting the 2004 Irving Kristol Award on Feb. 10, 2004.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.