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Half of all Republicans want Trump playing a “major role” in the GOP

Maybe all of this attention on Donald Trump by the Senate might turn out to be counterproductive — at least if the point is to force Republicans to cut ties. According to a new Morning Consult poll, Trump’s standing has increased within the GOP over the last three weeks. Support for Trump playing a “major role” in the party has gone up almost by double digits since the Capitol riots.

Overall, however, the picture looks quite different:

In a 55-45 vote, all but five Republican senators voted with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to declare the whole process unconstitutional. It was a signal of fealty to the former president that comes as his nationwide popularity improves among Republican voters, who increasingly want him to play a major role in the party going forward and said they would strongly disapprove if he were convicted for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.

According to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, the share of Republican voters who say the 45th president should play a “major role” in the future of the GOP increased 9 percentage points, to 50 percent, compared to a survey conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot. The shift was driven by a 15-point increase among women in the party (41 percent to 56 percent).

At the same time, Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking of Trump’s intraparty favorability rating, conducted Jan. 23-25 among 4,296 Republican voters, found 81 percent hold positive views of Trump, including 54 percent who do so strongly. It marks an improvement from a 76 percent low measured Jan. 10-12, when the share who strongly favored him bottomed out at 49 percent on the eve of his second House impeachment.

That’s inside the GOP. What about outside the GOP? That hasn’t changed much since the riot, in either direction:

The shifts within the GOP evident in this chart are most interesting. The percentage of Republicans outright rejecting Trump hasn’t changed at all, statistically speaking, and the difference in percentage of those allowing for a minor role also falls within the margin of error. The six-point shift from those who had no opinion seems to be the driving force for the increase in backing a “major role” for Trump. That could very well be an instant circle-the-wagons impulse, a reaction to the impeachment and trial that would indicate that those might have backfired, at least if the purpose was to sever Trump from the GOP.

That doesn’t apply to the electorate as a whole, however. Support for a Trump conviction has remained steady at 55% over the past three weeks, although there have been slight drops among independents (-3 points to 47%) and Republicans -2 to 18%). That’s not exactly the kind of broad consensus that one would expect in proceeding to a conviction of an impeached president, especially one no longer in office.

However, it does demonstrate a really big problem for the Republican Party. They might be getting more MAGA, but the rest of the electorate decidedly isn’t. When 56% of the electorate is sick of your preferred leader, you’re not going to win too many close elections with him or her at the top. Trump’s unpopular enough among independents that roughly half of them want him convicted for his role in the riot. What will that look like for Trump-endorsed candidates outside of deep-red districts and states? Launching a “MAGA Patriot Party” will only make that problem worse, as it splits that vote and leaves the GOP with all of the organizational power without any of the MAGA and Trump baggage.

However, don’t read too much into this poll, especially because of that circle-the-wagons impulse. Wait about six months for the furor to die down and for Trump to stop being the center of attention in DC. If these numbers still hold up at that point, then the GOP has a very big problem. It seems far more likely that voters will have moved on by then, looking forward rather than backward — especially if Trump doesn’t make any organizing moves in the meantime beyond a few rallies.

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When Joe Biden said only dictators legislate via executive orders

Politicians saying one thing and doing another is a story as old as, well… politics. Some examples are a bit more egregious than others, however. Take for example the burgeoning raft of executive orders being signed by President Biden during his first week in office. Did you know that there was a time when Status Quo Joe didn’t really sound like a fan of circumventing the normal legislative process and ruling by the pen and the phone? Yes, yes… I know what you’re thinking. It’s really not fair to dig up some dusty old quote from a politician that was given when they were much younger. People’s opinions and attitudes can change over time, right? So let’s see. When did Joe Biden complain about how wrong it was to take such actions? Oh, here it is. It was way back in… last October. (Trending Politics)

But one Democrat did speak out: Joe Biden, the candidate, in October.

“I have this strange notion, we are a democracy … if you can’t get the votes … you can’t [legislate] by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We’re a democracy. We need consensus,” he told George Stephanopoulos.

So much for consensus in a democracy, I suppose. But the story actually gets even worse from there. Breitbart has been tracking not only the executive orders of President Biden during his first week in office, but those of his predecessors. By the end of his first full week, Biden had signed 32 executive orders, and that’s not even counting all of the proclamations and memoranda. (NBC News has the full list here as of last night.) And he’s promising many more in various “themes” in the days to come.

So how does that stack up against the previous “dictatorial” president he complained so bitterly about and those who came before him? During their first week in office:

  • Donald Trump signed four executive orders in 2017
  • Barack Obama signed five executive orders in 2009
  • George W. Bush signed zero executive orders in 2001
  • Bill Clinton signed one executive order in 1993.

So Joe Biden signed three times as many executive orders during his first week in office as his four most recent predecessors combined. The linked report goes on to note that the American Presidency Project at the University of California Santa Barbara confirms that no American president has ever signed this many executive orders during their first week in the history of the country. Biden is even ahead of FDR, who was unusually “active” during his first week.

So if Joe Biden felt that Donald Trump’s use of executive orders made him a “dictator,” what do these numbers say about him? Should we be calling him “the new Pol Pot?”

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A bill of attainder instead?

Well, maybe not explicitly instead of, although it’s hard to see the value in this proposal to Republicans otherwise. Rand Paul’s collection of 45 votes to sustain a point of order rejecting the Senate’s authority to conduct an impeachment trial against a former president may have had more impact than first thought. Axios reports that bipartisan pair of senators has begun talking up censure as a way out of the dead end the Senate is rapidly approaching:

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

What we’re hearing: Some Democrats are interested only if at least 10 GOP senators publicly commit to a censure, thus ensuring the 60-vote margin needed to pass major legislation in the chamber.

I’d bet that won’t be too much of a problem. If you give 50 Senate Republicans an opportunity to condemn Trump rhetorically rather than apply any kind of substantive legal penalty for his actions before, during, and after the January 6th sacking of the Capitol, I’d bet Kaine and Collins could get … fifteen, maybe? Mitch McConnell might be willing to come along on that just to avoid the trial, and you can bet that anyone else who voted for censure will argue to Trump fans that that’s what they intended, too.

There are still a couple of twists, however. “It’s still unclear whether a resolution would be in lieu of or come after a trial,” Axios notes, which makes zero sense at all. Why would Senate Republicans vote to acquit and then turn around and censure? The GOP caucus would insist that Democrats chose the trial as the Senate’s action and that the matter is now closed. I’d doubt Kaine and Collins could even get the five Republicans who voted against Paul’s point of order to come along on a post-trial censure as some sort of consolation prize for Chuck Schumer.

Censure wouldn’t be the end of machinations either. Kaine still wants to pursue a disqualification bill based on the 14th Amendment bar on office for anyone who took part in an insurrection or sedition, The Hill notes, and that opens up another can of worms:

Kaine is also among a group of Democrats floating trying to bar Trump from future office through the 14th Amendment. That, like a censure resolution, could pass the Senate with only 60 votes compared with impeachment’s two-thirds requirement. That means that if every Democrat voted for a censure resolution, they would need the support of at least 10 Senate Republicans.

This is even more problematic than a Senate trial. In order to invoke a 14th Amendment bar on office, seditionists would have to be found guilty of that crime — but in court, not in Congress, which has no authority to try anything other than impeachments. Attempting to use this mechanism against a private citizen would explicitly be a constitutionally prohibited bill of attainder. The only authority granted to Congress in the 14th Amendment is the power to waive that restriction:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

An impeachment trial for a president impeached while in office but whose term ended shortly afterward might be an innovation forced by circumstance, but arguably within the Senate’s authority. However, the Constitution’s explicit bar on bills of attainder flat-out rejects this kind of maneuver by the Senate. It’s precisely why the founders wrote the provision, after watching Parliament attaint people of treason without any sort of judicial process involved. An attempt to pass such a bill would be every inch the kind of abuse of power and institutional degradation that Democrats accuse Trump of committing.

The only way the Kaine-Collins censure proposal works is if it replaces all of the above. It’s a way out for both Republicans and Democrats, a way to find at least enough unity to close out the Trump years.

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Come on, give the man a break

I want to offer my sincere congratulations this morning to Trump and his supporters on having almost completely broken the “reasonable” wing of this collapsing party. There are still a few pockets of resistance led by Liz Cheney but MAGA’s just mopping them up at this point. Once Cheney and the pro-impeachment House Republicans are successfully primaried in 2022, the anti-Trump guerrillas will have been overrun and exterminated. Well, except for Romney and Murkowski. But at the end of any war there are always a few soldiers left alive on the losing side.

One way to understand Trump’s candidacy in 2016 and his term as president was as an experiment to see which Republican politicians, if any, actually believed the things they say. Do they care about deficits or do they not? Does personal responsibility and good character matter or doesn’t it? Do we defend the Constitution at all costs or don’t we? Which red lines are the “leaders” of this party prepared to draw and enforce even if enforcement requires them to lose their jobs and sacrifice their ambitions for higher office?

Hardly a man or woman has survived that experiment with their credibility intact. Trump exposed them all. It’s his greatest service to America, by far and away.

Which brings us to this creature, the nominal establishment favorite for the GOP nomination in 2024. If anyone should be expected to take a firm moral stance against a two-month coup attempt punctuated by an attack on Congress, you’d expect the great centrist hope to do it. All she has to say for herself here, though, is that Trump’s behavior was “not great” and that we should “give the man a break” regardless, which has to be the single lamest soundbite about uttered by any politician since January 6. At least Senate Republicans have farted out some BS jurisdictional excuse to justify voting against conviction. Haley’s actually going so far as to make Trump the victim in all this.

She wants to be president someday and now here she is surrendering unconditionally to MAGA, making clear that she’ll say anything to improve her chances. Her capitulation looks all the more servile considering that she criticized Trump more pointedly on January 7:

“President Trump has not always chosen the right words,” Haley said during an appearance at the RNC’s winter meeting on Amelia Island, Fla., according to a person familiar with her remarks. “He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time. He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”

Maybe she’s saying one thing to party apparatchiks like RNC attendees and another to Fox-watching Republican voters. Or, more likely, she misjudged how much of a backlash there’d be to Trump’s behavior on the right in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack. On January 7 it looked like there might be some momentum for convicting him. By January 25, that momentum had all but totally dissipated. Haley reworked her message accordingly.

She stands for nothing except her own ambition and now everyone knows it, in case there was any doubt. Another spectacular victory by Trump and MAGA. I’m genuinely impressed.

She’s not the only establishment hero who’s humiliated herself over the impeachment trial in the last 24 hours either. Remember whom she endorsed in the 2016 primary? Well, that guy’s busy making himself a laughingstock whom no one respects either:

Total moral collapse, which is striking in Rubio’s case because he’s an unusually moralistic politician. Whether discussing foreign policy, immigration, sending new COVID stimulus checks to American families or what have you, there’s always a humanitarian component to his arguments. By the final days of his 2016 campaign against Trump, he was making an all-out moral case against his opponent. Very presciently, too:

“This boiling point that we have reached has been fed, largely, by the fact that we have a frontrunner, in my party, who has fed into language that basically justifies physically assaulting people who disagree with you,” a clearly shaken Rubio said, referring to events at Trump rallies in Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere last week…

“Leaders cannot say whatever they want,” Rubio explained. “Because words have consequences. They lead to actions that others take. And when the person you’re supporting for president is going around saying things like, ‘Go ahead and slap him around, I’ll pay your legal fees,’ what do you think is going to happen next? Someone is actually going to literally believe it.”

He was worried about … incitement to violence. He was right to worry. And now, empowered as a senator to render a verdict on it, he’s lost his moral compass and taken to whining about the “radical left.” For four years I’ve cut this guy slack by assuming that he says what he says for cynical electoral reasons, not because he believes it. But … maybe he does believe it now. As a Twitter pal said, “If you have to eat sh*t every day for five years, it is easier to learn to like sh*t than to pretend for that long.” In any case, what’s the argument for preferring him to a stalwart MAGA type like Matt Gaetz in a primary at this point? They’re both going to vote the same way. They’re both going to say the same things in defense of their votes. The only difference is that Rubio *might* not be sincere. Wouldn’t you prefer someone who is? Accept his surrender, remove him from the battlefield, and let’s move on.

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Just 20 of 128,000 vaccinated Israelis got COVID one week after second dose

Just passing along some exciting news this morning as America inches towards herd immunity. Estimated time of arrival: Uhhhhh, 2028?

Israel’s going to get there much faster. Scientists are being cautious about celebrating this study too much, as there was no control group and there are reasons to think there might be some sample “bias.” But knocking down infections to a “one in 6,400” clip would be tremendous progress. The end of the pandemic is on the horizon:

Israel’s Maccabi Healthcare Services revealed Monday that only 0.015 percent of people are getting infected in the week after receiving their second shot…

Leading immunologist Cyrille Cohen told The Times of Israel that among the general population, around 0.65% are infected in a given week

“These are very good results, and if it continues this way it could even be that the vaccine is more effective than Pfizer thought it would be based on clinical trials,” Anat Ekka Zohar, the Maccabi analyst behind the research, told The Times of Israel.

A larger study conducted by Israel’s health ministry found a similar rate of infection among 428,000 people who’d received both doses, with just 63 confirmed cases among that group. Israel had 7,870 confirmed cases of COVID yesterday, a rate of 0.08 percent across the population — eight times higher than the vaccinated population in Maccabi’s sample. But confirmed cases are misleading, since of course there are many people who contract the virus and never get tested. That’s where the 0.65 percent estimate is coming from, I assume: Best guess is that there are eight times as many unconfirmed infections as there are confirmed ones. Put it all together and the average person may be something like 60 times more likely to be infected than someone who’s received both shots from Pfizer.

But even that’s not the best part. After all, America would still be seeing 50,000 confirmed cases a day if the Pfizer vaccine is as effective among our population as it is among Israel’s. At the end of the day, infections aren’t that important. Serious illness resulting from infection is what we’re concerned with, and the Maccabi study had good news there too. Of the 20 vaccinated people who tested positive, not one needed to be hospitalized even though half the group suffered from chronic diseases, according to Reuters. The old canard from last spring that COVID is “just the flu” was never true but it may become more or less true by the end of 2021, depending upon what percentage of Americans get vaccinated.

Still, there’s cause for caution with the Israeli results:

The early Israeli numbers are based on the first people to get the vaccine. Such people, experts say, are likely to be more concerned or informed about the virus and therefore more careful about social distancing and mask wearing. They could also differ from those who did not rush to get the shot by location and socio-economic status.

Also, experts say, the disease changes over time. Prof. Ran Balicer, the chief innovation officer at Clalit and a leading Israeli epidemiologist, said that two-week-old data can be like evidence from a different era or “about a million vaccines ago in Israeli terms.”

Moderna announced yesterday that while its vaccine appears to produce enough antibodies to overcome the South African strain of COVID, the vaccine isn’t quite as strong against that variant as it is against common COVID and the British strain of the virus. Hence the urgency in vaccinating the population as quickly as possible. The more the common strains continue to spread and mutate, the greater the odds that a vaccine-resistant variant emerges.

There’s good news here at home too. Sleepy Joe finally mustered up the courage to raise his expectations for daily vaccinations from one million per day, which we’ve topped every day for the past six days, to 1.5 million per day. That goal also seems too modest, frankly, as we already topped 1.5 million on January 20 and the rolling average stands at 1.3 million. We want to be at two million per day at a minimum and ideally somewhere north of that, and we should be able to do it before too long: Pfizer announced this morning that they expect to supply the U.S. with 200 million doses two months earlier than expected (due to the practice of “overfilling” vials so that they hold six doses instead of five) and the White House plans to tell governors today that they’re shipping 10 million doses to the states next week instead of the expected 8.6 million. There won’t be a shortage — at least, not in the next few weeks.

For cripes sake, even America’s worst governor has some progress to report:

I’ll leave you with yet another piece of good news, not having to do with the vaccine this time but related instead to the “stopgap” vaccine known as antibody treatments. That’s what Trump got when he was hospitalized with COVID in October, but antibody drugs don’t need to be limited to people who’ve already been infected. One other obvious application is to give them prophylactically to people who are at high risk of infection, e.g., an uninfected husband or wife who has to care for their infected spouse. Do they work as a prophylaxis? Sure do, according to Regeneron, as you’ll see below. The question, as usual, is whether there’s sufficient supply to temporarily immunize a meaningful number of people and whether administering the drug, which is delivered via IV, is feasible en masse. But it’s another option on the table to reduce infections.

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MAGA Patriot Party files FEC report, incorporates in Texas

What is going on with this? On Monday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) posted a notice of organization of the “MAGA Patriot Party National Committee” in San Antonio, Texas. Documents state that the committee will fundraise exclusively for the “Donald J. Trump for President” political action committee (PAC).

The FEC filing lists James Davis of Punta Gorda, Florida as treasurer. The filing, at first glance, looks like the formation of a third party. Supporters of Trump have tossed around the idea of a Patriot Party as a third party option if he decides to run for president again and it has been reported that Trump has spoken about another run in 2024. However, there is no mention of a third party, per se, here but it looks like this is solely a fundraising operation.

This committee collects contributions, pays fundraising expenses and disburses net proceeds for two or more political committees/organizations, none of which is an authorized committee of a federal candidate. Committees Participating in Joint Fundraiser 1. DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT, INC.

When I saw a tweet last night noting “a new conservative political party in the Lone Star State”, it caught my attention. The selection of San Antonio seems odd as its base of operation and the fact that a Florida man is listed as the treasurer raised an eyebrow.

There really isn’t much information about this. James Davis, the organizer of the MAGA Patriot Party National Committee, as it turns out is a 57-year-old man who is trying to organize a grassroots movement for those conservatives who feel abandoned by the Republican Party after the November election. He left the Republican Party over the treatment of the president, he says, by “those people who fought against him”, “those who voted to impeach him.” Wasn’t Mitt Romney the only Republican to vote to impeach Trump, though, and on only one of the two articles of impeachment? Anyway, he says there are groups of the MAGA Patriot Party in all 50 states. Texas is the fastest-growing group with 450 members. There are about 12,000 members nationwide.

There is a catch here. Donald Trump, the Trump family, or Trump campaign staff have not endorsed any of this. Davis says he’s reaching out to Trump and his people. He just thinks there are enough people out there to make what will be a “swing party”.

“The people who are joining us, the people who are conservatives, the people who feel like they’re being censored, they want to do something and it’s not all going to rest on one man,” Davis told Fox San Antonio’s Ryan Wolf.

Their goals include elevating candidates in local and state campaigns to ultimately earn political leverage as a swing party. Davis said he feels there’s enough defectors from the 74 million plus people who voted for Trump to rapidly grow as a viable party in the years to come.

It almost sounds like the group that Stacey Abrams started in Georgia after she lost the gubernatorial race in 2018. Only this man is trying to do it on a national level and make it into a separate party. Abrams was smart enough to know that third parties aren’t successful in our two-party political system. There are indications that Trump isn’t pursuing a third party option anyway. Maybe Davis is going more of the Ross Perot route.

Davis says it is about trust in the election process and transparency. He’s a former Marine and sees this effort as a calling to defend the constitution.

“Is this trust in the election process?” Wolf asked. “Was this started because you feel the election was stolen from Former President Trump, which are words he has mentioned himself? Or is this more about the treatment of the president, and fellow Republicans who turned their backs on him? Is this movement to reinvigorate those who feel like they’re left out?”

“I think it’s a good mixture of all those things,” Davis replied.

At first, I thought this was a grifter looking for a way to cash in on disaffected Trump voters – like the Lincoln Party after the 2016 election is doing to disaffected Republican voters. But maybe that is too cynical. We’ll have to see where this goes, if anywhere.

Team Trump quickly squashed any attempts to connect them with this effort.

“To be clear: DJTFP has no affiliation with Patriot Party, which is not authorized by Mr. Trump or DJTFP,” Trump’s team said.

“DJTFP is placing this disavowal notice on the public record out of concern for confusion among the public, which may be misled to believe that Patriot Party’s activities have been authorized by Mr. Trump or DJTFP—or that contributions to this unauthorized committee are being made to DJTFP—when that is not true.”

Trump has remained very quiet since he moved back to Florida. He’s been photographed playing golf and did speak briefly to a Washington Examiner reporter on a golf course but not extensively on his future plans.

Meanwhile, the MAGA Patriot Party is planning to be able to accept donations by March 1. They anticipate filing in 13 states, including Texas this week with another 10 by next week. With only 12,000 members out of the 74 million Trump voters, it is hard to imagine anything much coming from this. Organizing a third political party requires a herculean effort and is fraught with legal requirements that can vary from state to state. Without the support of Trump, it is hard to picture the committee will have the resources to get very far.

Trump has established his post-presidency office in Palm Beach County, Florida. It is being called “The Office of the Former President”.

“The Office of the Former President” will manage Trump’s correspondence, public statements, appearance and official activities, according to a press release from the office.

“President Trump will always and forever be a champion for the American People,” the release said.

For now, he is concentrating on his second impeachment trial in the Senate.

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What will Joe Biden say when he talks to Vladimir Putin?

President Joe Biden is scheduled to have his first official phone call as president with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming days. Of all the world leaders Uncle Joe has to talk to, aside from possibly Xi Jinping, this one may be the most fraught with tension and possible complications. The Associated Press is describing it as a situation where Biden will be performing “a high-wire balancing act.” Everyone who accused Donald Trump of being some sort of Kremlin mole should obviously be expecting a major change in foreign policy as Joe Biden takes Putin out to the woodshed, right? We shall see.

President Joe Biden has been quickly thrown into a high-wire balancing act with Russia as he seeks to toughen his administration’s stance against Vladimir Putin while preserving room for diplomacy in a post-Donald Trump era.

The relationship is sure to be different from the one Putin enjoyed with Trump, who was enamored of the Russian leader and sought his approval, casting doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 elections and involvement in a massive hack last year. Despite this conciliatory approach, his administration toed a tough line against Moscow, imposing sanctions on the country, Russian companies and business leaders for issues ranging from Ukraine to energy supplies and attacks on dissidents.

Unlike his immediate predecessors, Biden has not held out hope for a “reset” in relations with Russia but has instead indicated he wants to manage differences with the former Cold War foe without necessarily resolving them or improving ties.

It’s rather hilarious the way Biden is described as not holding out hope for a “reset” with Russia when you consider that he was part of the administration that literally delivered a reset button to Putin at one point. If there’s any balancing act to be done, it will involve figuring out a way to look tough with Putin while not screwing up the New START deal. We’re learning that just today Moscow and Washington “exchanged documents” relating to the deal, but that doesn’t mean that anything is set in stone yet.

People are expecting Biden to “get tough” with Putin over a number of things. One is the poisoning and imprisonment of dissident Alexei Navalny, along with the detention of some of his followers and family members. Biden is also supposed to straighten Putin out on a massive hacking incident from last year and claims that Russia offered the Taliban bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

I’m trying to picture Biden getting on the phone, laying out all of those allegations, and then following it up by saying, “So… how about that New START agreement, buddy?”

We’ve already seen how Putin reacts in public when these issues are brought up and I wouldn’t expect him to behave any differently on the phone with Biden. He’ll claim that the charges against Navalny are all legitimate and the idea that he ordered the poison attack is just malarkey. (It would be hilarious to hear him say “malarkey” to Uncle Joe.) He’ll deny any involvement in the cybersecurity breach and dare Biden to prove otherwise. It’s what Putin always does.

And what is Joe Biden going to do in response? Hit Russia with more sanctions beyond the one that Putin’s supposed “buddy” Donald Trump already smacked them with? That should really set the tone and put Vladimir Putin in the mood to generously sign a new arms deal, right?

As with all other matters of policy, this is the job that Joe Biden wanted and now he’s got it. Taking care of the situation with Russia is his responsibility now. He was happy to criticize Donald Trump’s relationship with Putin, so now it’s time for him to step up and play the tough guy. Let’s see how that goes.

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‘Little evidence’ that in-person schooling contributes to community spread of COVID

As I mentioned earlier today, Chicago is trying to reopen schools and the teacher’s union is refusing, in what some see as tantamount to a strike. The official explanation for why teacher’s are doing this is fear of the pandemic, i.e. they don’t want to be required to come to work because that could put them at risk. But will it?

Today the CDC released a paper saying a survey of data shows “little evidence” that school are contributing to community transmission of the virus:

The CDC team reviewed data from studies in the United States and abroad and found the experience in schools different from nursing homes and high-density worksites where rapid spread has occurred.

“The preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring,” wrote three CDC researchers in a viewpoint piece published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “There has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

In addition to this review of other studies from around the world, CDC researchers also released their own study today which looked at 17 schools in Wisconsin and came to the same conclusion:

“The conclusion here is with proper prevention efforts … we can keep transmission in schools and educational settings quite low,” said Margaret A Honein, the lead author of the JAMA report. “We didn’t know that at the beginning of the year but the data has really accumulated.”

She said that even in places with infection rates, there is no evidence that schools will transmit the virus at rates that are any higher than those seen in the general community and that they can operate safely as long as precautions are employed.

I wasn’t able to track down the full study involving Wisconsin schools but in searching for it I did come across another recent study based on schools in North Carolina. This study involved 11 school districts which had reopened for in-school learning. Over 9 weeks, more than 90,000 students and staff attended school in these 11 districts. The results were pretty striking [emphasis added]:

Across the 11 school districts, 773 community-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections were documented by molecular testing; however, there were only 32 adjudicated cases of secondary transmission across the 11 districts combined in 9 weeks of instruction. Six districts had 0 secondary infections, 2 had 1 case, and 3 had multiple cases. There were 6 cases of secondary transmission in the pre-K setting; 11 in elementary schools, 6 in middle schools, 5 in high schools, and 4 in K–12 schools. There were no cases of child-to-adult within-school transmission.

The point here is that only a small handful of COVID cases were attributed to spread within schools. And none of those were child-to-adult transmission. So the fear that faculty will be infected by being around a bunch of students all day is not supported by the evidence. So long as students are distancing and wearing masks the risk appears negligible.

All of this matches with other data I wrote about here. A review of COVID transmission in New York schools found it was about the same or slightly lower than the rate of community transmission. In other words, schools do not add significant risk so long as appropriate precautions are taken. Here’s the graph the Post published back in November. The dashed line represents the rate of community spread. The dots represent the rate in schools.

The “party of science” is in charge nationally and locally in almost every case where large teacher’s unions, like the one in Chicago, are digging in their heels to avoid returning to schools. Democrats need to get these unions in line. There’s no reason not to be reopening schools. It’s clearly much better for the kids, who are currently struggling and months behind, and it’s no worse for the teachers.

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Filibuster draw, defamation law, impeachment declaw, media-bias craw, and more!

Today on The Ed Morrissey Show (4 pm ET), we have another great lineup for the news of the day! The show will be streamed on Hot Air’s Facebook page and embedded here and on the show page for those who are not on Facebook.

Join us as we welcome:

  • Andrew Malcolm is on assignment, but Jeff Dunetz joins us to talk about the day’s top stories! We’ll go over Mitch McConnell’s new deal with Chuck Schumer, the latest on impeachment, and what Pete Buttigieg has in mind for the nation’s drivers.
  • Does Dominion Voting Systems have a case against Rudy Giuliani, or will discovery be as beneficial as his supporters think? We’ll ask plaintiff attorney Christa Ramey from Ramey Law in California about litigant privilege, damages and standing, and more!

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How can Republicans and conservatives keep the momentum going? Find out in GOING REDpublished in April from Crown Forum!

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I will go scorched earth on your asses if you nuke the filibuster

The funniest thing on social media over the past 48 hours has been liberals complaining that McConnell may love the filibuster now but if he were back in charge of the Senate he’d nuke it ruthlessly to clear a path for Republican policies.

As if we didn’t just spend six years watching Cocaine Mitch steadfastly refusing to nuke the filibuster as majority leader, even when Republicans had total control of government in 2017 and 2018, even when the leader of his party was barking at him to do it.

I know political attention spans post-Trump have atrophied almost completely but McConnell was in charge of the Senate as recently as 24 days ago. You don’t even have to look back past this calendar month to remember a time when he was in position to go nuclear!

If you’re a Dem who’s spoiling to find some unfairness in the endless filibuster kabuki, here’s the best you can do: The filibuster is a bigger hindrance to the left than to the right because the few things that the right still wants to do with power can now be done with 50 votes. There’s not much of a “Republican agenda” anymore, especially now that Trump is gone, but the two old reliables are cutting taxes and confirming judges. Well, the filibuster was nuked for judges several years ago and tax cuts can be passed via budget reconciliation. Even ObamaCare repeal in 2017 was a simple majority vote via reconciliation that ended up being tanked by John McCain.

If you want to pass Medicare for All or a mass amnesty for illegals or an assault-weapons ban or the Green New Deal, the filibuster is an insuperable obstacle. But if all you want to do is fill SCOTUS seats, it’s no biggie.

Cocaine Mitch warned Schumer this morning that if Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema turn out to have been lying to him and Dems end up going nuclear, they should prepare for a nuclear counterstrike. Full release:

Republicans, he said, would exercise their rights to object to routine business and demand frequent quorum calls — procedural feints that would grind business to a standstill and require senators and Vice President Harris to be on constant standby for roll-call votes.

“None of us on either side want to live in a scorched-earth Senate,” McConnell said. “This gambit would not speed the Democrats’ ambitions. It would delay them terribly. And it would hamstring the Biden presidency over a power grab which the president has spent decades warning against and still opposes.”…

“At some point the shoe would find its way to the other foot,” McConnell said, saying Republicans would move forward with abortion restrictions, elimination of business regulations, a border wall, and attacks on union organizing, among other items.

“You get the picture,” he added. “Taking that plunge would not be some progressive dream. It would be a nightmare — I guarantee it.”

“You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” McConnell famously said to Harry Reid’s caucus in 2013, after Senate Democrats nuked the filibuster for all presidential nominees except SCOTUS nominations. Less than four years later, Republicans went nuclear to confirm Neil Gorsuch to a seat on the Supreme Court, with Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett shortly to follow.

Maybe they’ll take his warning seriously this time.

Anyway, it seems highly unlikely that the filibuster will be ditched anytime soon. Manchin and Sinema (especially Manchin) have no electoral incentive to put themselves on the hook for the success or failure of a far-left agenda. They’re happy to hide behind the filibuster. And Democrats probably aren’t looking at pick-ups in the midterms with a Democrat in the White House. They’re facing one or both chambers of Congress flipping red again in 2022, followed by an unpredictable election in 2024 in which Biden may or may not run. It’s entirely possible that a Republican succeeds him that year and the filibuster isn’t realistically back in the left’s crosshairs until 2028 at the earliest. Presumably that’s why McConnell felt obliged to deliver this warning today: Manchin and Sinema may realize that now is the last, best chance for them to get anything done for the rest of the decade and conclude that it’s worth doing that in spite of the risk to their careers. Especially if Cocaine Mitch starts filibustering every Biden initiative in sight.