Tag Archives: joe biden

LibLink: Christine Jardine – Biden has changed the narrative

Writing in the Scotsman as the G7 summit takes place in St Ives, Christine Jardine breathes a sigh of relief that we have a grown-up in the White House again and looks at how Joe Biden has been a good friend to the UK. Sometimes, she says, your best friends tell you the truth.

She compared this summit to the Atlantic Charter, Churchill and Roosevelt’s vision for the post war world:

Eighty years later, Biden referenced that moment as he cast the other leaders in his shadow to declare that the United States will donate half a billion dozes of Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle income countries.

“America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19, just as America was the arsenal of democracy during World War Two”, he promised.

This was the statement of intent that the world needed.

A commitment from a US President to those who had begun to doubt his country’s engagement with foreign affairs. Leadership.

The UK and others have made similar vaccine commitments but this was America’s moment to step forward and begin to lay the foundations of a post-Covid international order.

Christine also sees hope in the fact that we now have Joe Biden in power after four years of someone who inspired contempt, protests and blimps.

America got rid of Trump, and maybe we can get rid of our equivalent:

Three years ago, every utterance of the then President brought fresh waves of disillusionment bordering on despair.

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Capital punishment: A Liberal opposition

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Between 14 July 2020 and 16 January 2021, the United States government executed its first thirteen criminals since 2003 – in fact, this was the most people ever executed in such a short space of time by the federal government.

However, fourteen states continue to execute people on a regular basis. President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, seeks to end the death penalty at a federal level, but this does nothing to stop states or the several other countries around the world that still employ the method.

Indeed, several high-profile cabinet members in this country, such as Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Home Secretary Priti Patel, have expressed the view that we should reinstate the death penalty in the United Kingdom. With all this in mind, let us remind ourselves why, as liberals, we firmly reject this development.

First of all, consider how it must feel on that day, both for the prisoner and the family. On the prisoner’s side, your last day is meticulously planned out, as revealed in this protocol from Montana. You will receive your last visitors at around 8am, and make your last phone call around 10:30. You may choose to spend all day with a chaplain, but all day the increasing knowledge of what is coming at the end will loom over you.

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Observations of an expat: High hopes, low expectations

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Trump is gone. He boarded Air Force One on Wednesday and flew off into the Florida sunset.

Biden is now the President of the United States and has called for an end to the “uncivil civil war” of the last four years.

In his departing speech before a diminished crowd, the outgoing president promised (or was it threatened) that he would be back “in some form or another.”

And he probably will. Perhaps not the “The Donald” personally. His legal and financial problems ranging from the impeachment trial, to tax evasion, to fraud, to money laundering, attempted subversion of election results and massive debts could occupy his attention – and the courts – at the expense of any planned political comeback.

But Trumpism will be back. In fact, it is a solid political factor on the American scene. Donald Trump did not create Trumpism. The conditions for his hate-fuelled politics of anger and fear existed before Donald entered the White House. Trump’s trick was to spot the political advantage in this political undercurrent and exploit it.

In his first day in office, President Biden used presidential decree powers to reverse 17 Trumpist policies. He rejoined the World Health Organisation and the Climate Change Accord. “The Dreamers” were given back their path to citizenship and the Muslim travel ban was lifted. The Keystone XL pipeline and a host of other environmentally damaging Trump pronouncements were scrapped.

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How fragile is our democracy?

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“Democracy is precious.  Democracy is fragile.” – Joe Biden reminded us in his inauguration speech. The ceremony was a cheering celebration of constitutional democracy, with the three branches of the federal government interacting to mark the change of administration.

British democracy remains fragile, without much prospect of strengthening its institutions or healing its divisions before the 2024 election.  Our prime minister wields executive ‘prerogative’ powers inherited from the Tudor and Stuart monarchies.  The queen appointed Boris Johnson prime minister, a day before Parliament rose for its summer recess.  He then attempted to prevent Parliament from sitting for an extended period, to allow himself to govern without scrutiny.  And, of course, he, many of his MPs and the right-wing press labelled the Supreme Court ‘the enemy of the people’ for ruling that he lacked the prerogative authority to do so.

The Vote Leave campaign fought the 2016 referendum with the cry of restoring parliamentary sovereignty.  Johnson scarcely conceals his contempt for Parliament and its scrutiny: whipping his backbenchers to support whatever ministers propose, pushing through bills which allow ministers to fill in the details later (under what are called ‘Henry VIII powers’), and packing friends, relations and donors into the Lords.  Ministers insist that the 43.5% vote they received last year represented ‘the will of the people’. Local government continues to be weakened, starved of funds, bypassed by contracts given to consultancies and outsourcing companies.  No wonder so many voters are disillusioned and alienated from conventional politics.  Ministers are also trying to bully the Electoral Commission, and to raise spending limits for campaigns to favour their well-funded party.

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Georgia on my mind – is it too early to do cartwheels?

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Political Wire’s Taegan Goodard wrote a few hours ago:

It Appears Democrats Have Won Control of the Senate

As of this post, there is still no official projection in either U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia, but the New York Times’s needle is very confident that both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will win.

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Is it safe to come out now?

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With the certification of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes yesterday, Donald Trump finally bowed to the inevitable and signalled his administration to co-operate with the incoming transitional team of Joe Biden.

No concession though, you’ll note.

John T Bennett, Washington Bureau chief of the Independent writes today:

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ICYMI – Biden and Harris offer comfort and joy in first speeches

I did sigh a bit when it was announced that Kamala Harris and Joe Biden would be speaking at 8pm local time that night. After four days of sitting up till the wee hours waiting for that count to move off 253, I could have done with an early night.

There was no way I was going to miss it though. Especially as I’d sat up on Thursday to listen to Trump’s outburst. I had planned to go to bed at 11pm but at 10:50, he outgoing President (how lovely it is to write that) announced a press conference at 11:30.

I knew I’d regret if if I missed it almost as much as I’d regret it if I watched it. It was worth it for the reaction of the media. I don’t think we’ve talked about how huge a thing it was for MSNBC to actually pull away from him, saying that they weren’t going to broadcast his speech because what he was saying was false. CNN’s banners basically saying that he was alleging electoral fraud without evidence were a delight to see.

I knew that the Biden and Harris speeches would be much more edifying. Friday night’s hilarious episode of Gogglebox helped me stay awake and I poured myself a weird cocktail of maraschino cherry liqueur and amaretto. It’s kind of like a cherry bakewell… Strangely, I was so preoccupied that I didn’t even find out the Strictly spoiler.

Harris and Biden did not disappoint.  Kamala Harris’s speech which I mostly sobbed my way through brought so much joy. Her touching reference to Joe Biden’s son Beau, a friend of hers who died in 2015 was particularly poignant, as was the way she talked about the history she was making and how it should encourage girls to ‘dream with conviction and lead with ambition.

But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message:

Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.

Watch here:

Read the whole text here.

Joe Biden was much more inspiring than I expected, reaching out to all of America, including those who supported Donald Trump. We haven’t seen any of that these past four years. He has a good idea of what he wants to do at this challenging point in history:

Folks, America has always been shaped by inflection points, by moments in time where we’ve made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be.

Lincoln in 1860, coming to save the union. FDR in 1932, promising a beleaguered country a New Deal. JFK in 1960, pledging a new frontier. And 12 years ago, when Barack Obama made history, he told us “Yes, we can.”

Well folks, we stand again at an inflection point. We have an opportunity to defeat despair, to build a nation of prosperity and purpose. We can do it. I know we can.

I’ve long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. And what presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail.

Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe. We will not lead … we will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example.

I’ve always believed — many of you’ve heard me say it — I’ve always believed we can define America in one word: Possibilities.

That in America everyone should be given the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them.You see, I believe in the possibilities of this country.

Watch the whole thing here.

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Does unity require amnesty?

What will America do with Mr Trump when he ceases to be President? There will be those who believe that the relatively narrow margin of Biden’s victory means that America is still a bitterly divided country and that the healing process means that any question of prosecution would be a non-starter because it would ‘re-open the wounds”. Trumpism will not go away even in the unlikely event of the man himself disappearing into the sunset sometime in January. But national divisions are nothing like as simple as the binary choices of a two-horse race or a yes/no referendum.
Going against a majority view can be difficult for politicians but if it matters so much the voters have the option of sending them packing in due course. MPs who voted for the abolition of the death penalty were not, for the most part, punished by their constituents. We didn’t have council elections in the Mets in the May following the UK referendum but in 2018 many of us in the North were happy to be elected or re-elected in wards which voted heavily Leave, myself included. Because voters are human beings their political views can be more complex (sometimes contradictory) than we might like them to be.
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Thank heavens for that! Tears all round as Harris and Biden finally win

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.

When I went to bed at 4:30 am on Wednesday I was so utterly miserable and depressed. It was looking like Trump might actually have won a second term with all the suffering and irreversible damage to the planet and division that would entail.

But, since then, it’s been looking like it was increasingly a matter of time until Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the victors. That moment happened just before 4:30 pm this afternoon. I turned on the telly after an afternoon of delivering leaflets and dog walking just as the declaration was made. I would like to thank all my friends in various WhatsApp groups for helping me to say sane. The Scottish Lib Dem Women chat and the  chat which Steve Jolly set up must have had 3 million messages by now at least, and all of them have been therapeutic.

I’m not going to lie, the tears have not stopped much since then. And every time they seem to be about to stop, something like this happens:

Like many others, I’ve been addicted to CNN for the past 4 days. What a brilliant team they are. They are not afraid to call out the bullshit when they see it. John King, Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Abby Phillip, Alisyn Camerota and many others have all managed to make sense of what is going on. We are all more familiar with places we had never heard of. I feel like I need to visit Maricopa County, Eyrie County, Fulton County and the like, as the places where history was made.

One of the most powerful moments came from Van Jones this afternoon. Someone who has been on the sharp end of Trump’s divisive, racist actions over the past four years. It makes you realise the damage Trump has done. President and Trump are two words which should never have gone together.

Ed Davey has sent his congratulations to the winners

People around the world will now be breathing a huge sigh of relief. Over the past four years Donald Trump has fed a new divisive form of politics, testing American democracy to its very limits. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s victory isn’t just democratic, it may have saved US democracy.

“I’d like to congratulate Joe Biden and urge him not only to deliver on his promise to restore liberal values in the United States, but also to ensure the US will play a constructive role in the international battle to beat Coronavirus. The virus, like all of the world’s biggest problems, can only be solved if we work together as an international community.

“I hope Joe Biden will be a president who fights alongside progressives for social justice and climate action at home and abroad.”

Other Lib Dems also welcomed the news:

Typical Jamie

This day belongs not just to Kamala and Joe but to people like Stacey Abrams. Narrowly beaten in the Georgia governor’s race two years ago because of voter suppression, she served her revenge cold by trying to bust down the barriers Republicans put up. And she’s helped secure not one but two Georgia Senate run-offs on 5th January. One of the Democrats, Jon Ossoff, is a mate of Alistair Carmichael’s from his days trying to save Troy Davis from execution. And there’s also the Crooked Media team, former Obama staffers whose media and activist network has given us hours of pleasure over the past four years since they formed in the wake of Hillary’s defeat.

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Observations of an expat: THE Election

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Hope is a terrible emotion. It too often leads to despair. But an almost overwhelming hope is the dominant emotion for all those supporting a Biden victory in the US presidential elections.

As I write this the election remains in the balance. No bookkeeper will give a Trump victory any odds. Biden is almost certain to win, but the emphasis is still on the words “almost” and “hope”.

Just when Biden can give his uncontested victory speech is unknown. Trump will not concede. The president has made it clear that he will contest the election result in the courts—right up to the Supreme Court; even though almost no respectable legal eagle believes Trump has grounds for his claims of a fraudulent election.

But the president’s business success was largely based on highly suspect legal triumphs and he will use his unrivalled experience in the courts to keep Biden out of the house and job which he claims as his exclusive preserve.

Then there is the cloud of violence hanging over America. So far there have only been a handful of incidents. But the fact is that Trump supporters are dramatically extreme – and often armed – in support for their man.

Biden has asserted that he will be a unifying president for all Americans. The problem is that rural and small town America have felt ignored for years. They believe that their way of life has been marginalised, under-valued, and under-represented by a coalition of patronising degree-wielding urbanites and non-whites who threaten their values.

If Biden wins, the man from Delaware may also face problems with Congress. America’s checks and balances system means that for an administration to be effective it needs a majority of support in the House of Representatives and Senate. The Democrats have held onto their plurality in the lower house but, for the time being, The Republicans have control of the Senate. This may change in January when there will be two Senate run-offs because of Georgia’s convoluted election laws.

A defeated Trump is unlikely to take the accepted route of retiring to his Florida mansion to work on his memoirs and presidential library. During the campaign, son-in-law Jared Kushner, was busy organising a future platform which is likely to become Trump Television. This will enable Trump to broadcast vitriol, personal insults and dangerously false conspiracy theories to undermine a Biden Administration, and prepare a 2024 bid for the White House either for himself or one of his children.

If Biden does succeed then there is hope. Joe is recognised as one of the most honourable politicians in Washington who strongly believes in the rule of law as laid down in the US constitution. In contrast, Trump twists the law to work only through friends prepared to swear feudal fealty to him personally.

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LibLink: Vince Cable on Biden and Trump post election

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Vince Cable has just published an article on The Independent: “Biden faces a war on many fronts – Trump has the tools to make the presidency a poisoned chalice“.  He considers the worrying consequences of Trump losing but still able to call upon substantial support.

Trump’s career in the New York property market owed much to the deployment of batteries of lawyers to intimidate and out-manoeuvre his competitors. Every legal argument in the book will be deployed to block or invalidate the postal ballots which have tipped the balance in key states. If he can get a case in front of the Supreme Court, he calculates that the justices will forget their oath of impartiality and remember their political debt to the president who appointed them.

It is rumoured he then plans to challenge the make-up of the electoral college. There is also the possible scenario I described in this column three weeks ago, where uncertainty generated by the legal challenges leads to people taking the law into their own hands, leading to a state of emergency and – in effect – a coup d’etat.

However, Republicans like Mitch McConnell …

… will have no truck with legal chicanery designed to frustrate the election result.

Even if Trump’s attempts to reverse the result fail, and he reluctantly agrees to leave the White House, he has plenty of options to make life for the new president somewhere between very difficult and impossible.

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Alistair Carmichael’s Commons First “President-Elect Biden”

Alistair Carmichael had a Commons first today. He was the first person in the UK Parliament to refer to President-Elect Biden.

He was presenting his Bill to tackle plastic pollution. When Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton asked him when it would be debated, he said “Nine days after President-Elect Biden’s inauguration.”

If he has tempted fate, he will be in massive amounts of trouble…

So what is his bill about?

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Election USA: Brace yourself for delay, frustration and confusion

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Those of a nervous disposition look away now.

TRUMP DECLARES VICTORY AS EARLY VOTE COUNTS FAVOUR HIM

-That could well be the headline you wake up to on Wednesday morning.

Donald Trump is preparing a podium to walk up to and say that he has won the US Presidential election, after a few votes are counted in swing states.

And he may well have some evidence to support him, to a small extent.

The way the votes are being cast in the USA, and the ways in which they will be counted, verified and challenged, is like no other American election.

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Why I voted for Joe Biden

For the first time, I have voted for a Democrat for President.

In doing so, I cast my vote more for the party than for the candidate. Joe Biden was not my first, second, third, or fourth choice in the primary contest. I will not pretend that voting for Biden is exciting, compelling, or particularly virtuous. But he is a competent representative of the values of the Democratic party, which I have supported in local and state level contests for some time.

As an Iowan, my vote has considerable weight. Iowa is one of the perennial swing states, and the only state which pollsters correctly and consistently predicted would switch from Obama to Trump in 2016. Four years later, it has a real chance of flipping back.

On top of the very competitive Presidential race, Iowa is home to a competitive Senate race (over $13 million has been spent on the Iowa senate seat alone) and three competitive House races. But this is nothing new to Iowans, who are used to their airwaves being saturated by political ads.

Though much of the advertising is of an attacking nature, there are a couple stand-out positive messages: increased access to healthcare, and, on a more intangible note, the tenor and reputation of our highest political offices. On the former, the top of the Democratic ticket is not as ambitious as many Iowans might want. It does not look like Iowans will be free from the grip of insurance monopolies anytime soon. But on the other, there is no question that Theresa Greenfield and Joe Biden are the best exemplars of American values.

And on both counts, the Democratic Party has been the only reliable source of competence and positive change in recent years. This is not to say it is faultless. Many of the things we deride about Trump and his administration – such as mass deportations, neoliberal economics, an empowered health insurance lobby, and corporate welfare – have been enabled and supported by Democrats of the past. I do not pretend that positive change will be immediate or fast. But Joe Biden has cast himself as a listener. I hope that he will listen to the burgeoning voices, not only in his party, but across the country, calling for a rediscovery of social democracy in the US. Americans living in America deserve fair access to healthcare, a comprehensive liberal education, and a positive conversation on minority rights – things many Europeans take for granted.

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Observations of an expat: If Biden wins

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It is looking good for Joe Biden. He is racing ahead in the polls as foot-in-mouth Trump slumps under the weight of the pandemic, economic woes, legal problems and a growing credibility gap.

But what would a Biden win mean? In terms of the tone of political conversation it would mean a dramatic change. We would also see some big differences on the domestic political front. In foreign policy, an evolving international situation plus difficult to change actions which Trump has started, means shifts could be less dramatic.

Compared to Trump’s stream of consciousness rants, Biden is practically mute. Throughout his career, he has been known for his gaffes, but nearly half a century in Washington has taught him that there are times when it is best to say nothing, or to leave it civil servants to do the talking. Don’t expect a daily tsunami of tweets or cleverly-worded personal insults.

One of Joe Biden’s biggest tasks would be to close the national divide that a Trump presidency has created. He must find a way to push the hate-mongers and conspiracy theorists back into the woodwork from which they have crawled while at the same time avoiding the trap of forcing them underground.

Gun Control is a key flashpoint between the former vice-president and Trump’s dedicated base. Biden was heavily affected by the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and is a keen advocate of gun control. Among his past proposals has been a buy-back scheme for owners of assault rifles. And if the owners refuse to sell they will be required to register the weapons under the National Firearms Act. Needless to say, the powerful National Rifle Association opposes his candidacy.

Biden comes from what has been termed the “sensible centre” of the Democratic Party. The problem is that in recent years the party has moved to the left with the rise of figures such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden’s “sensible centre” position is looking more like that of right-wing Democrat. This could create difficulty for him in Congress with issues such as welfare and defence spending and healthcare,  even if the Democrats hold onto the House of Representatives and win control of the Senate.

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Why Bernie Sanders is our best hope

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With Super Tuesday done we’re now in a two-horse race between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination with Joe Biden now the frontrunner. Many Liberal Democrats welcome this shift which I think is short-sighted. We need Donald Trump removed from office and a clear-eyed analysis suggests that Sanders has a better shot at this than Biden.

Many US moderates believe that Sanders, as a self-described socialist in the land of the rugged individual, cannot win. But the data shows that he can. Sanders can take advantage of increasing numbers of younger voters, as well as votes lost in 2016 by Hillary Clinton to Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, in the crucial swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin to flip them back. He’s also got much greater appeal to independents than other Democrats, who will be crucial in November. So the ‘Sanders can’t win’ line is not rooted in actual evidence.

Conversely anyone who see Biden as a safe bet needs to take a much closer look. He is a legacy candidate whose success so far has been through trading on his name recognition and association with Barack Obama. Watching the Biden of just four years ago (here explaining Sanders’ appeal) underlines how much he has declined since then. Only this week he called it ‘Super Thursday’ and confused his wife with his sister at a rally. Perhaps most significantly the corruption allegations against Biden’s son Hunter – still to be fully ramped up by the Republicans- give Trump an easy reprise of the ‘Crooked Hillary’ line and will neutralise any Democrat attacks on this corrupt presidency.

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Joe Biden appreciates Nick Clegg’s friendship

From a White House press release this week:

Readout of Vice President Biden’s Call with Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Nick Clegg

Vice President Biden spoke to Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Nick Clegg today to thank him for his congratulatory message following last week’s U.S. election. The Vice President expressed appreciation for Deputy

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