ABBA As Norm Ornstein

Let a Swedish supergroup be our guide….

Where else but Wide World of News are you going to get a 1975 clip of ABBA on “American Bandstand,” with a(n actually) youthful Dick Clark — and with lip syncing that would make Milli Vanilli jealous?

Also, the vintage clothes all around are to die for.

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Last Wednesday, I built Wide World of News around some Carpenters songs, producing a lot of reader reaction, including from the great Michael Smerconish, on whose SiriusXM radio program I appear every Wednesday at 10am ET for a weekly segment on all things news.

Although both host and guest were stone-cold sober during last week’s segment, we somehow agreed that today’s WWoN would be signposted by ABBA songs.

So read and sing on, dance in the aisles, and join Michael and me Wednesday morning at 10am for our chat.


1. “The Winner Takes It All”


The Wall Street Journal ed board correctly says this:

The biggest question in Washington for the next two years isn’t about a single policy or whether President Biden will expose himself to a press conference. It’s whether Democrats use their narrow Senate majority to kill the legislative filibuster rule requiring 60 votes in order to ram a radical agenda into law with a mere 50 votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris.

President Biden meaningfully said this to ABC News:

President Biden said Tuesday he wants the Senate to overhaul the filibuster, embracing for the first time a major change to the chamber's rules that could make it easier for him to enact a far-reaching agenda that is blocked by Republicans.

“I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview to be aired Wednesday. “You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking . . . so you’ve got to work for the filibuster.”

“So you’re for that reform? You’re for bringing back the talking filibuster?” Stephanopoulos said.

“I am. That’s what it was supposed to be,” Biden replied. “It’s almost getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning.”

Mitch McConnell meaningfully said this:

🎼 HALPERIN SINGS 🎹: The Biden and McConnell statements are rising action placeholders.  The 101st Senator meaningfully says this:

Also, if you are someone who thinks that compromise is better than confrontation (either in general or when it comes to the Biden agenda), you should focus on what could be more meaningful than all of the above, courtesy of a short, essential reading Politico story:

A bipartisan group of senators who successfully pushed for a second coronavirus aid bill last year will meet on Wednesday as they weigh whether to wade into another thorny topic, such as immigration or the minimum wage. 

This Gang of 20 could write the history of the Biden administration or never be heard from again.  I really don’t have a strong sense of which it is yet. Maybe somewhere in between?


2. “Money, Money, Money”


🎼 HALPERIN SINGS 🎹: Actually, the filibuster debate is in some ways a process sideshow; the question of how Democrats decide to approach the next giant piece of legislation is probably as big a deal, with 1,001 decisions to be made by Biden-Harris-Klain-Pelosi-Schumer – and none of those choices looms larger than the question of revenue.  

The long-running battle between the two parties to define the contours of the debate over taxes (and to gain political advantage) has been won over the last few decades more often than not by Republicans, but Democrats are trying to be the Charlie Brown who kicks the football (finally!) by shaping a plan that truly only raises taxes on the wealthy (and taxes the heck out of the wealthy, as polls of the American people suggest is quite popular).

As they say in Stockholm, “Game on.”


3. “Mamma Mia”


The Wide World of News immigration event of the day:

On Wednesday, March 17th, the Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), will hold a hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas on the future of the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the Trump Administration’s four years of mismanagement and misuse of the Department. This will be Secretary Mayorkas’s first appearance before Congress since his confirmation.

This virtual hearing will stream live on YouTube and on our website.

Event details:

WHAT: Full Committee Hearing: The Way Forward on Homeland Security

WHEN: Wednesday, March 17 @ 9:30 amEDT

WITNESS: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas

Updated info and livestream available here.

Your Wide World of News immigration essential read of the day is a New York Times story about Team Biden’s short-, medium-, and long-range plans to get control of the border.

🎼 HALPERIN SINGS 🎹: There are a lot of good intentions embedded in the Times story, as there are in the president’s words in that ABC News chat on the matter, but Wednesday will not be the day the administration solves the challenge/crisis.  

Conspiracy theorists might argue that Biden purposefully created the situation on the border in order to not have to try to pass comprehensive immigration reform anytime soon.  

I don’t buy that as the motivation, but it would seem to be the effect.


4. “Waterloo”


No one who has spent a New York minute following the career of the governor of the Empire State will be the least bit surprised by the New York Times exclusive that Team Cuomo aggressively sought to discredit Lindsey Boylan when she first made her sexual harassment accusations.

🎼 HALPERIN SINGS 🎹:President Biden telling ABC News that if the allegations against Cuomo are confirmed as true he would need to resign and likely face prosecution is being treated as a paradigm shift in some quarters.  

To my ears, it is the opposite of that.

Cuomo himself would likely say the same thing!  (Even if he doesn’t believe it….)

The charges won’t be confirmed as true anytime soon.

What Cuomo wants now is time to find a way out (and stay in…) and to brandish public opinion polls showing enough support to survive. Biden’s answer allows for both; the presidential reply doesn’t put more pressure on Cuomo to quit – it puts on less.


5. “Take a Chance on Me”


🎼 HALPERIN SINGS 🎹: Unclear as of now what this development means, but it has the potential to change the wide world for some of us in ways both profound and enduring. 



Associated Press

Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs Tuesday evening left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said.


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