A first encounter with extraterrestrials would probably be a big deal-- even bigger than the machinations of Senate conservatives like McConnell, Manchin, Sinema seeking to undermine the well-being of working class Americans on behalf of their wealthy donors. Or would it? Early this morning NBC News reported that "Later this month, the Pentagon is expected to deliver a report to Congress from a task force it established last year to collect information about what officials now call 'unexplained aerial phenomena,' or UAPs, from across the government after pilots came forward with captivating videos that appear to show objects moving in ways that defy known laws of physics... Suddenly, senators and scientists, the Pentagon and presidents, former CIA directors and NASA officials, Wall Street executives and Silicon Valley investors are starting to talk openly about an issue that would previously be discussed only in whispers, if at all."
The omertà has been broken thanks to a new generation of more professional activists with more compelling evidence, a few key allies in government and the lack of compelling national security justification for maintaining the official silence, which has failed to tamp down interest in UFOs.
In a deeply polarized country where conspiracy theories have ripped apart American politics, belief in a UFO coverup seems relatively quaint and apolitical.
Interest in UFOs waxes and wanes in American culture, but millions have questions and about one-third of Americans think we have been visited by alien spacecraft, according to Gallup.
But that story isn't a headline anywhere other than at NBC.com and in a roundup by Ravi Shankar in the New Indian Express, Are aliens real? Close encounters of many kinds, which begins "People believe that the sky is the home of the gods. Every night when the sun goes into hiding in the great shadow of our planet, the Universe reveals itself as a glorious repository of miracles, and an invitation to explore the mysteries that lie beyond our galaxy."
The bigger story seems to be this:
Remember, the Democrats were forced to use reconcilation to pass Biden's pandemic relief package-- without a single Republican vote. Susan Collins voted against it. Lisa Murkowski voted against it. Bill Cassidy voted against it, Pat Toomey voted against it. Ben Sasse voted against it. Mitt Romney voted against it. Rob Portman voted against it. The legislation was immensely popular before the Democrats used reconciliation and it is immensely popular now.
McConnell is once again trying to stall and block Biden's infrastructure and jobs bill and the voter protection bills, also immensely popular with the public, which favors using reconciliation to thwart McConnell and his increasingly fascist-oriented party and pass them.
On Friday, a new HarrisX poll for The Hill found Biden's approval ratings in the kind of approval territory Trump never approached in the whole miserable 4 years he occupied the White House:
Job approval overall- 61% (39% disapprove)
Handling of the economy- 58% (42% disapproval)
Handling job growth- 58% (42% disapproval)
Fighting the pandemic- 67% (33% disapproval)
A YouGov poll released at the same time for The Economist found 42% of Americans want to make it easier tp vote while 28% want to make it harder to vote (which includes 55% of voters who admitted they cast their 2020 ballots for Trump. Half of all Republican voters think it should be harder to vote-- as opposed to 9% of Democrats and 33% of independents.) The poll also asked respondents how they feel about the political parties:
Democratic Party- 44% favorable, 45% unfavorable
Republican Party- 36% favorable, 51% unfavorable
Clearly, the Republican Party is the lesser evil. That same YouGov poll shows Kevin McCarthy with a 28% approval rating and Mitch McConnell with a 25% approval rating (58% disapproval-- even worse than Trump's 52% disapproval).
And yet Biden and his conservative allies in the congressional Democratic Party are still ready to sacrifice the Democrats' popular progressive agenda on the alter of fake bipartisanship McConnell is pretending to worship nearly as mochas Joe Manchin does. Even this, or especially this:
This morning, Alexander Bolton wrote that the wily McConnell is pursuing a divide and conquer strategy in dealing with the Senate Democrats. Senators with enough brain power to remember where the Capitol bathrooms are, understand that McConnell is "aiming to string Democrats and Biden along with signals of support for a bipartisan [infrastructure] deal crafted by 10 senators," even though he has no intention of allowing anything to pass that in any way makes Biden look successful.
"Senate Republican aides," wrote Bolton, "say McConnell is daring Biden to split with progressives who want to shut down the bipartisan talks and pile as much of Biden’s $4.1 trillion spending agenda as possible into a budget reconciliation package, which under complicated Senate rules could bypass a filibuster and avoid the need for GOP support-- if Democrats stick together."
Progressives in the Senate and House have been ramping up calls to drop negotiations with Republicans and move forward with the reconciliation package.
McConnell by contrast has encouraged moderate Republicans to come up with a bipartisan deal-- as long as it’s focused on traditional infrastructure and doesn’t cost much more than $600 billion in new funding or raise taxes.
...“McConnell’s strategy is divide and conquer. He wants to drive a wedge between Biden and progressive Democrats and he knows if he can do that, one, he creates big problems for Biden, and, two, he limits Biden’s ability to pass transformative legislation,” said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution.
The early indication from the White House is that Biden and his senior staff don’t like some of the bipartisan group’s proposals for paying for their spending plan, such as adjusting the gas tax to inflation and requiring a mileage fee for electric vehicles.
That may be enough of an excuse for Biden to come out against the bipartisan framework, or simply withhold his support.
Shooting down the bipartisan proposal would make it more likely Democrats move only one infrastructure package this year, which would be welcome news to progressive Democrats.
Progressives such as Sanders, Warren, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) want hundreds of billions of dollars for expanded child care, universal pre-kindergarten and long-term home health care, as well as authority for the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and new incentives for clean energy production.
They think those proposals stand a better chance of becoming law if combined with traditional infrastructure in the reconciliation package.
Progressives worry that passing a scaled-down package focused on core, physical infrastructure with Republican votes in the summer or early fall will diminish the appetite within their party for passing the rest of Biden’s social infrastructure agenda.
“The trillions are starting to add up. Each trillion in new expenditure makes it more difficult to do anything else,” West said. “It just becomes harder to keep Democrats on the same page.”
Bolton also reported that the right-wing Senate Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- Democraps like Manchin, Sinema, Carper, Warner, Hassan, Shaheen, Coons, Feinstein, Rosen, Tester (plus independent Angus King)-- are echoing and amplifying phony GOP talking points about a recent uptick in inflation. The worst of the Republican economists pretending to be a Democrat, Larry Summers, who has a primitive and conservative view of economics: "We are printing money, we are creating government bonds, we are borrowing on unprecedented scales. Those things that surely create more of a risk for a sharp dollar decline than we had before. And sharp dollar declines are much more likely to translate themselves into inflation than they were historically." Summers is McConnell's favorite economist. Manchin's too.