Monday, November 23, 2020


Don't even talk to her if you didn't do the homework. Photo by C-Span via The Guardian.

So beastly Emily Murphy has caved, apparently in terror of being questioned by Katie Porter. First she attempted to postpone it for a week and get somebody else to do it for her, per CNBC,

the head of that agency, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, will not be leading that briefing, despite the demand from House Committee chairs that she “personally” explain herself.

Rather, a GSA spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC that Deputy Administrator Allison Brigati will “host a 30 minute briefing on Monday, November 30” — a week later than Democrats had asked for in a frustrated joint letter sent to Murphy last Thursday.

and then, after the congresscritters turned this option down and ordered her to show up tomorrow, changed her mind and forestalled the ordeal by releasing the presidential transition funding, informing Biden in a pretty remarkable letter, in which she seems to suggest she is releasing the funds because the election results have been challenged:

(I assume she meant to say this is why she waited so long, not why she did it at all, but her grasp of sentence structure is less than masterful). She also notes that she has devoted much of her life to public service, protests that she has acted entirely independently and without pressure from "any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision", which is what I think she also said about refusing to allow the FBI headquarters to move, though as you know we've been aware for two years of evidence showing that she did that at the president's behest, to protect his hotel across the street from competition—
The IG has now provided Cummings with additional documents, and The New York Times, using the Freedom of Information Act, on Wednesday published for the first time a Jan. 24, 2018, official White House photo showing Murphy and FBI Director Christopher Wray in the Oval Office. The documents contain references to “the project the president wants” and show that top GSA officials promised to “hold our ground” on this proposal “per the president’s instructions” to not sell the downtown property to a commercial developer.
—complains about having received threats, including to her pets (which is harsh but I don't see why she feels Biden needs to know, unless she's making a play for some of his famous empathy), and asks him if he has any questions to please call somebody other than her, transition coordinator Mary Gilbert. And as you might have expected, Trump shows up to call her a liar by claiming that he did instruct her, and her decision wasn't independent at all:

And Emptywheel is complaining (not without reason) that she still hasn't "ascertained" anything, as the job requires her to do, leaving the question sort of open.

In other local news, Junior is sounding a little panicky:

which has me just about fainting with the smell of flopsweat around this joint.

Still building castles in Spain on the possibility that Trump and Republicans will handle this so badly as to get Warnock and Ossoff elected, and stuck in my head is this Times column from Friday by Jamelle Bouie ("If Biden Wants to Be Like F.D.R., He Needs the Left"):

We now know that Biden will be president, but he won’t have the votes for F.D.R.-size legislation. This doesn’t mean he’s dead in the water, but it does mean that Biden will have to marshal every resource and rely on every possible ally to win whatever victories he can. And he should know, as Roosevelt did, that this means grappling with the left — all of the left, including its most radical edges.

And then he takes us through the great story of what "the left"—mostly Communists and labor-union activists—did to push Roosevelt into position to pass the great social insurance programs, unemployment and Social Security, by organizing around more radical proposals, setting up demonstrations and getting bills introduced by the more radical members of Congress, providing the president with cover for pushing through more modest bills of his own. Which is terrific as far as it goes, and actually true, but missing an important corollary, in my opinion: that if the left wants a Newer Deal, it needs Biden.

And that maybe he should be talking to us rather than talking to Biden in the pages of the newspaper, advising us how to "go out and make him do it" in the words of fictional FDR. That anecdote doesn't seem to be true, by the way, but the person in question, the heroic socialist leader A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, did in fact go out and make him do it—ban racial discrimination in government and defense industry employment, as Randolph later recalled in an interview:

Anyway, it's something I've been wondering about since the Clinton administration, why "the left" such as it is doesn't just regard itself as part of the coalition and start making demands with the assumption that the president would want to do it. Instead of sitting by the phone waiting for a call, just go over and let him know what you want, and what kind of pressure you can apply.

I'll have more thoughts on this at some point.

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