The Methods and Madness of March…

…are about more than basketball….

If you would like to participate in an upcoming Thursday early evening focus group I will moderate by Zoom on the news of the week, please send an email to mhfg@walkingduck.com and declare your interest.

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MONDAY MORNING’S BREAKING NEWS

LONDON — Oxford University reported on Monday morning that its "vaccine for the world" was safe and 79 percent effective overall according to data from long-awaited clinical trial in the United States, alongside Chile and Peru…. and 100 percent effective against severe illness.

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The Wall Street Journal summarizes:

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended his department’s handling of a surge of migrants at the southern U.S. border, blaming the Trump administration for much of the current situation and saying that the department is building capacity to properly house unaccompanied children as quickly as possible….

[United States Customs and Border Protection] said Sunday evening that, to expedite the process of releasing families from government custody, some families are being released without an immigration court date. Typically, when migrants are released, they are given a date and time to report back to immigration authorities.

So far, the Biden administration reaction to the challenge/crisis seems to be to spend more money doing more of the same along the border; pursue long-term changes that rely on progress being made by Mexico and Central American countries; blame the Trump administration; deny the media access to cover the story; and spin the current situation.

While Donald Trump’s Sunday statement decrying all this got some coverage, pay attention to the suggestions of Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who has long made immigration policy a priority and has the capacity to galvanize public opinion (not just conservative opinion….) on this issue:

Cotton said Biden should reinstate a "public health" restriction that he lifted for minors reaching the border. Cotton said Biden should also embrace Trump-era policies intended to keep pending asylum seekers in Mexico and force migrants to make asylum claims in the first country they pass through. (Politico)

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Choose your own hypothetic adventure in gaming out how Team Biden-Harris-Klain-Pelosi-Schumer will move their next big piece of legislation:

1. Per the Washington Post: Use earmark spending to get Republicans on board for a bipartisan carousel of spending.

Reality rating: low.

2. Per Politico: Load the bill up in the $1-$4 trillion dollar range, use the Democrats-only reconciliation process, and make the ultimate package too big to fail by including infrastructure, immigration, drug pricing, climate change, and more.

Reality rating: Higher than #1 but still low.

3. Per the Guardian: Democrats nix the filibuster and pass whatever using a different Democrats-only route:

“The filibuster as is, the status quo, is not sustainable and it will not be like this in 12 months,” said Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago mayor who served as Barack Obama’s chief of staff. “The thing we don’t know is what changes are palpable to the senators.”

Reality rating: Higher than #2 but still low.

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No need to go overboard in Wide World of News and seem to suggest a belief that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a mortal lock for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

But an underappreciated aspect of the Sunshine State topper’s sunny chances and of the race for the nomination overall is the party establishment’s need for an option that it finds palatable (or even exciting). 

Yes, the establishment still exists – and from DC pols to the donor class to, yes, even the grassroots, it has some influence over events and outcomes.

So don’t miss this tea-leaf-as-big-as-the-Everglades in an NBC News story about DeSantis’ rising national profile, quoting Mr. Establishment, Jeb Bush:

"I am out of the punditry business, but I am a fan of Ron DeSantis."

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Remarkable paragraph from a New York Times story about Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson:

The drumbeat of distortions, false theories and lies reminds some Wisconsin Republicans of a figure from the state’s past who also rarely let facts get in the way of his agenda: Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose witch hunt for communists in and out of government in the 1950s ruined lives and bitterly divided the country.

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