President-elect Joe Biden has begun announcing his cabinet picks and so far, they are a welcome departure from the Trump era’s toxic mix of incompetence, inexperience, and apathy for the plight of Americans. We begin today’s roundup with Stephen Collinson at CNN:

[E]ven before [GSA head] Murphy’s belated move [to release transition funds], Biden had engineered a tangible shift in implied power from the current administration to the next, unveiling a slew of high-profile Cabinet appointments. In the process, he turned his White House from a theoretical proposition into a tangible glimpse of the policies and leadership style that will set America’s course from January 20 next year.
Biden’s choices, including longtime aide Antony Blinken as secretary of state, signaled that the President-elect plans an era of serious, unostentatious governance after years of Trump’s dictates by tweets and a Cabinet assembled from appointees who can be relied upon to pay him homage. Biden also plans to pick former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary, according to two sources familiar with his plans. […]
Many Americans will not have heard of Blinken, new national security adviser Jake Sullivan or Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines. But among the people who will matter to a new government, foreign leaders, diplomats, intelligence officers and congressional power brokers, all three of the trio are well-known and respected after years building their experience, notably in Obama’s administration. By nominating Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an African American, as UN ambassador, Alejandro Mayorkas, a Latino American, to head the Department of Homeland Security and the first female leaders of the Treasury and the intelligence community, Biden is keeping his promise to frame a Cabinet that looks like America.

Graeme Wood at The Nation:

Blinken, Flournoy, and Sullivan are not widely remembered by ordinary, non-Beltway people, because they were hypercompetent public servants who tended not to make hilarious, unforced errors. They did not, like the current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, joke about canceling the result of a U.S. election, or swear at a journalist while quizzing her about world geography. They knew their job and took it seriously—unlike, say, Rick Perry, who discovered only after his nomination as secretary of energy that his main task was to oversee a nuclear arsenal capable of rendering the planet uninhabitable. At any point in the past eight years or so, you could have shaken Blinken, Flournoy, and Sullivan awake in the middle of the night and appointed them to these positions, and they would have been at their desk and ready to do their job by sunrise.

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post on the status of Trump’s attack on the election:

It’s all over but the pouting.

At The New York TimesJamelle Bouie highlights the racism underscoring the Trump team’s legal challenges:

Donald Trump is exiting political life much the same way he entered it, pushing conspiracy theories for personal gain. Now, as then, these aren’t just any old conspiracy theories, but ones that hinge on the fundamental illegitimacy of a whole class of Americans. […] 

Trump made his first serious foray into national politics with “birtherism,” the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born outside the United States, making him an illegal president. It was a public expression of Trump’s belief that citizenship is tied to blood and ethnicity — that some Americans are Americans, some are less so and some just aren’t.

The voter fraud conspiracy to which Trump hitched his attempt to hold onto power falls under the same umbrella, an attempt to write millions of Americans out of the electorate on the basis of race and heritage, instead of just one person out of the office of the presidency.

Back to the Biden transition, Saikat Chakrabarti at The Nation highlights moves Biden can make even with a Republican Senate:

As it turns out, Biden can directly and swiftly implement almost all of his plan to “Build Back Better” and renew the American economy without Congress—using only his presidential powers and responsibilities. A new memo sent to the Biden transition team by my colleagues at New Consensus lays out exactly how he can do so. In a nutshell, just like Bush and Obama did in 2008–09, Biden would work with his secretary of the Treasury and the chair of the Fed to make available trillions of dollars in low-interest loans. Only this time, instead of lending only to banks, the Fed would make long-term, productive investments to help small businesses struggling because of the pandemic, modernize existing industries, and build the industries of the future.

On a final note, don’t miss this update on the Georgia Senate run-off election at The Daily Beast:

Conservative operatives and a super PAC with ties to infamous GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone are calling for Trump supporters to punish Republicans by sitting out Georgia’s crucial Senate runoffs or writing in Trump’s name instead. And though their efforts remains on the party’s fringes, the trajectory of the movement has Republicans fearful that it could cost the GOP control of the Senate.

The most aggressive call to boycott or cast protest ballots in the two runoff races has, so far, come from a dormant pro-Trump super PAC with ties to Stone, which unveiled a new initiative to retaliate against the Republican Party’s supposed turncoats by handing Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

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