Starting Over

December 20, 2021


In West Virginia folklore, the Mothman is a humanoid creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area from November 15, 1966, to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register, dated November 16, 1966, titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something”.[1] The national press soon picked up the reports and helped spread the story across the United States.

Yes, Joe Manchin is a monster. Now what?

Best take I’ve seen so far.

David Rothkopf on Twitter:

I feel your contempt & loathing for Manchin. He’s earned it. I’ve been seething all morning. It’s far from the first time he has me feeling this way. But justified as our disgust & anger is, I’m not sure they’re constructive. A thread on why hating him is right but not enough… 

First, railing at what a heartless, corrupt, hypocritical, jackass Manchin is wont change anything. And if you’re angry at him for the right reasons-which is seeking a better life for Americans in need, protecting democracy, etc.-the real issue isn’t him. He’s not going away. 

He’s part of a political reality for now in which just one intransigent, ignorant, greedy, yacht-residing, motherfucker of a “Democrat” can ally himself w/50 similarly craven, cold-hearted, power-hungry, one percent-serving, conscienceless Republicans to control our Senate. 

Imagine what our situation would be if Democrats had not won those two Georgia Senate seats in 2020. We’d be getting nothing. Not the $1.9 American Rescue Package, not the infrastructure bill, not the record number of judges who have been confirmed. Nada. 

The upper chamber of our legislature would be suffering from acute McConnellitis, which is to say heart-failure, brain-failure, and conscience-failure. It would effectively be an obstacle to anything the president or the House of Representatives sought to get done. 

Manchin has actually made a difference for the better. He’s a monstrosity as a politician and responsible for the needless suffering and deprivation of millions. But without him even less would have gotten done this year. 

He’s also probably the best the Democrats are likely to get out of West Virginia. That shouldn’t be the case. The state depends on Democratic driven programs and would have been a big beneficiary of BBB. But it’s conservative and that is not changing overnight. 

So our focus needs to be on a.) playing the legislative hand we have been dealt and b.) adding to the Democrats margin of power in the Senate. These two things are not unrelated. 

Even more important than BBB is voting rights reform. In the past week there have been modest signs that progress might be possible there. But it will require filibuster reform. And that will require not just Manchin but Sinema and other waivering Dems as well. 

If Biden can work a deal that can get meaningful voting rights legislation through it will stem the massive, systematic, coast-to-coast efforts of Republicans to gut our democracy and rig future votes in their favor. What’s more, it’s probably our last best hope in that regard. 

So, step one needs to be trying to find the path to that filibuster reform and voting rights legislation. It might mean reinstating the talking filibuster or other such changes. But getting it passed will require Manchin and Sinema to reverse their stands. 

This should be the top legislative focus of the president and the Dem leadership now. If there is a shred of hope, we must work toward this goal. Because the risk to our democracy is so great. And because only with fair elections can we add to the Dem majority in the Senate. 

Building that Dem majority should be another focus of Dems who are incensed by Manchin. We must identify and work to flip vulnerable seats. If you care, donate to Dem candidates. Volunteer. 

Do whatever you can to produce Georgia-like results in key states like Penn., Ohio, NC, Mo., Fla and Wi. And protect vulnerable Dem seats like Ga., Ariz., Nev. and NH. (This is especially vital if Manchin &/or Sinema screw the country and don’t do what’s right on reform.) 

The other thing we can do if we care about the huge environmental and human benefits BBB would have produced is find ways to structure those elements of the bill that will work for Manchin, etc. He wants 10 year programs that pay for themselves. Give it to him. 

If you care about the child tax credit (you should) or the environment (you should) or free child care and preschool (you should)…then let’s find the form in which they can get passed or do whatever we can trying. 

Finally, we need to encourage our leaders to step back and do the other things that will be essential to winning those additional seats in 2022. First, that means redoubling efforts to control the pandemic…and messaging better. 

(Speaking of messaging…as an aside…one reason the failure of BBB as it is will have less of an impact is the public never understood what it was. Breaking it into component parts and passing them may help better communicate why these programs are so important.) 

Next, it means pushing for accountability for the Trump Administration and the coup plotters and funders. The January 6th Commission has only a year of life left if the GOP wins back the House in November. But it is less likely to win back the House if… 

…there is voting rights reform, big pieces of the Dem agenda pass, the economy continues to recover, COVID is better controlled (and where GOP leaders fight that…call ’em out clearly and repeatedly), and if the GOP attack on democracy is seen for what it is. 

That last point will be best achieved if (and when) Trump and those around him and members of Congress who colluded with the insurrection (all GOP, of course) are charged and convicted. The 1/6 Commission needs support…not just from us but from the DOJ. 

All these things–filibuster reform, voting rights reform, winning back the Senate, protecting our majority in the House, passage of key legislation, holding Trump & the GOP accountable–are more important and better uses of our energy than fuming about Manchin. 

Yes, he betrayed his voters, his oath, the president, his party, and the American people. Yes, he was deeply dishonest about his rationale for doing so. Yes, he is so odious that even writing his name makes me want to bathe in a tub full of Purell. He’s a turd. 

But, he is not the first turd in US political history. In fact he is part of a great turd alliance w/some of the foulest smelling turds we’ve ever seen (the current vanguard of the GOP). But vent and move on. We don’t have the luxury of indulging in our own feelings about this. 

There is work to be done. The priorities are clear. Let’s keep our eye on the ball. And we can take some comfort from the fact that a strengthened US political system and Democratic Party is one in which Joe Manchin will be assigned again to the obscurity he so richly deserves. 

4 Responses to “Starting Over”

  1. jimbills Says:

    “Even more important than BBB is voting rights reform.”

    Umm, any voting rights bill would require 60 votes in the Senate. How is that going to pass when we can’t get 50 for BBB?

    Step one would be ending the filibuster, but it’s not just Manchin who has said they wouldn’t do that. Sinema is also a definite no, and there are over 10 Democratic Senators who only want to modify it (for instance, by bringing the majority count to 55 instead of 60):

    So, the easier thing didn’t pass, but now let’s hope the much tougher thing passes?

    “The other thing we can do if we care about the huge environmental and human benefits BBB would have produced is find ways to structure those elements of the bill that will work for Manchin, etc. He wants 10 year programs that pay for themselves. Give it to him.”

    Where has Rothkopf been? Apparently he hasn’t been watching the negotiations the past two months.

    • jimbills Says:

      Joe Manchin Dealt Mortal Blow to Voting Rights Legislation as He Killed Build Back Better

      Americans have the long-term tendency to vote for the opposing party to the President in Congressional races. Inflation is already a powerful political weapon for the GOP. Those tides will be VERY hard to beat, and it’s not big news yet, but the Republicans have all but captured the 2022 House already by gerrymandering:

      Which means – if it doesn’t pass before fall 2022, it won’t pass for many years to come. Full Democratic control of both Congress and the Presidency is a very rare occurrence. It only happens after either very long Republican control of the Presidency or an exceptionally bad Republican President, and it’s a fleeting event.

      We can take the recent events as the Democrats didn’t really have full control in the first place (as Manchin and Sinema themselves have suggested), but the window is now, and it’s closing soon.

  2. Paul Whyte Says:

    A number of Australia’s Coal Fired Federal Politicians have resigned this year after it became too unpleasant for them. Others have doubled down.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Ah, that’s just the culling of the weak, those not gutsy enough to squeeze out those last dollars of sweet, sweet coal money from their donors.

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