Friday, December 31, 2021

You Don't Have To Be A Puritan To Know Which Way The Wind Blows


Call it Trump's Revenge.

The President who encouraged the spread of Covid-19 has good reason to be smug while

Next week's New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square will be "scaled back," with fewer revelers and everyone required to wear a mask, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's office said Thursday.

The celebration in Times Square typically holds around 58,000 people in viewing areas, but this year it will be limited to 15,000 people and visitors will not be allowed entry into the area until 3 p.m., the office said in a news release.

Additionally, everyone will be required to wear a mask and show photo identification at the fully outdoor event, de Blasio's office said.

As previously announced, all visitors to the Times Square celebration are required to show proof of vaccination if they are older than 5. Any unvaccinated children younger than 5 must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult to attend, the mayor's office said.

Proof of vaccination will be required- notwithstanding forgeries and the exception made for handicapped persons.  Everyone will be required to wear a mask- although if an individual takes off a mask after entry, there is little chance of any sanction.  Moreover, the 15,000 people will not be typically landing in Manhattan, going to Times Square, and returning immediately afterward.  Restaurants and bars will not want for customers.

The partygoers who catch a Covid-19 variant won't be keeping it to themselves. They'll be taking it back to family and friends in the city, in the New York suburbs, to adjoining areas in Connecticut, to northern New Jersey, and to more far-flung locales.  When the asymptomatic return to work next week, many of them in Manhattan, their colleagues commuting in from Connecticut and New Jersey will be treated to an unwelcome, in some cases undetected, surprise.

It is not essential work being conducted Friday night, but rather something Americans seem unable to resist: a party. The "tsunami is here," Dr. Atul Gawande observes. First, however, there is fun to be had, perhaps most egregiously at the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl festivities on December 31.

The fault lies not only with authorities in New York City and the accessories to the death and disease they is encouraging. There probably would be few if any celebrations without cheerleading from Inside Edition and others in the popular media who, whatever their remarks about mask wearing or social distancing, are thoroughly upbeat about the arrival of the new year and the celebrations which, apparently, must accompany it.


The price will be paid but only after the eating, drinking, shouts of unbridled joy, and hugging of the "holiday season" end. With January 2 a Sunday, it will begin on January 3, with little acknowledgment, and even less regret, that we knew in late December what would await us in January of 2022.




Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Objectivity In Short Supply


It is- or should not- be the role of the President's Chief Medical Advisor to play the role of the politician, to take the pulse of the public and respond accordingly. He should offer the advice of an expert in the field, of a scientist. But that is where we are. Fauci, too, saw the election returns in Virginia and New Jersey and knows which way the wind blows. He always has been comfortable in the role of weathervane.

Fauci never proclaimed to be the Oracle of Scientific Truth but did not argue when he was treated royally by MSNBC, CNN, and much of the traditional, centrist media. 

It was always fairly obvious that Fauci, talking carefully and sensibly while occasionally lying (i.e., about masks and about the degree of infection needed for herd immunity), has been a politician during his service in the Trump and Biden presidencies.  With a Republican or a Democratic president, he has done what is necessary to survive.

It has been a reflection of our political times that the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been so wildly popular with the left while reviled by the right. Demonized in some quarters, the President's Chief Medical Advisor has gone unquestioned in others, neither group of partisans dialed into reality.  On MSNBC, the interviews consistently have been deferential, occasionally even reverential, and rarely clarifying. 

If they look beyond the network's sexy stars- Wallace, Reid, Maddow, and O'Donnell- viewers can catch a discerning, even probing, dialogue with Anthony Fauci. Or at least they could on Wednesday evening:


 


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Mendacity

Responding to the effort of Vladimir Putin to whitewash Russian history, Putin critic Gary Kasparov remarks "To invent a new history, the old one must be erased, painted over with Putin’s thick black brush. The evils of the past must be recast as necessary, even salutary, before they are imitated."

In the USA, we have Trump apologists such as a former Fox News propagandist:

The Washington Examiner article to which Hume approvingly linked was written by staunchly conservative journalist Byron York, who criticizes several individuals, among them David Frum (video below), who recognize that the association between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russians was no hoax. 

Mueller chose not to charge the then-President with a crime because, he explained, it "was not an option." Rather, he asserted, "if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so."

Deeply dishonest, York invokes the term "collusion" twelve times, despite knowing that Robert Mueller, a lawyer, never used the word nor considered the concept because, as the latter emphasized, it "has no relevance to the criminal law arena." York, a gifted and clever writer, even once placed the term (i.e., "collusion") in quotations, thus making it appear that critics of Trump had used it.

Collusion need not rise to the level of conspiracy but be mere cooperation, and if collusion is what York, Hume, and other apologists want, Frum's summary seems apt:

It remains fact that Russian hackers and spies helped his campaign. It remains fact that the Trump campaign welcomed the help. It remains fact that Trump’s campaign chairman sought to share proprietary campaign information with a person whom the Senate report identified as a “Russian intelligence officer.” It remains fact that Trump hoped to score a huge payday in Russia even as he ran for president. It remains fact that Trump and those around him lied, and lied, and lied again about their connections to Russia.

A Republican huckster doesn't have to be one of the usual suspects. It can be the likes of York, Hume, or any other professional journalist who yearns for Trumpism without Trump or perhaps Trump with Trump.  They know that to escape ignominy, history must be rewritten, and they are hard at it.


 



Monday, December 27, 2021

Slanted History


Byron Donalds, a former Tea Party activist who as a Republican now represents in the US House of Representatives a portion of southwest Florida, maintains

The number one thing that we all agree on is that history should be taught- objective history should be taught- at all times.  I went to an elementary school where they taught history about our nation- from slavery, through Jim Crow, through the civil rights era. So I learned that in elementary school. Every child should have that.

So you're the one. Representative Donalds was raised in the Crown Heights section in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.  The education he received probably differed from that taught in the largely conservative, Republican states which have become the battleground in the effort to ban the teaching of critical race theory.  He continued

The issue with critical race theory is that it is a subjective view of American history and American law  using race as the lens to focus. And when you bring subjectivity into the classroom, that is what has parents upset, that is what leads to, unfortunately, to children being divided in certain class segments based upon race. That is what's happened in some schools across our country, not all. But when you have something like that occur, that is when parents jump up and they oppose it. We shouldn't have subjectivity. We should definitely teach objective history in our country.

We should, we often have not, and Jelani Cobb interjects to remark "I happen to be an historian and historians really don't believe there is such a thing as objective history."

Oh, dear. We have the ultra-conservative politician being disingenuous about the teaching of American history. And we have the leftist historian arguing that objectivity should not be an aim in teaching history because there is no such thing as objectivity-which is, in the most technical of all terms, poppycock.

History can be taught objectively. If not, the instructor starts with a conclusion she then works backward to defend. Cobb confuses the role of teacher and student because  an objective foundations should be laid by the teacher or professor, whose student then may adopt a particular perspective she is entitled to defend. By contrast, American history presented from a particular vantage point leaves little room for disagreement.

Though the label of "Critical Race Theory" is avoided by educators, "applied CRT" has reached many public school districts such as in Evanston, Illinois and Cupertino, California. Objectivity is abandoned and debate discouraged because there is presumed to be one way, and only one way, to view history. The Atlantic's Anne Applebaum recognizes

Critical race theory is not the same thing as Marxism, but some of its more facile popularizers share with Marxists the deep conviction that their way of seeing the world is the only way worth seeing the world. Moreover, some have encouraged people to behave as if this were the only way of seeing the world. The structural racism that they have identified is real, just as the class divisions once identified by the Marxists were real. But racism is not everywhere, in every institution, or in every person’s heart at all times. More to the point, any analysis of American history or American society that sees only structural racism will misunderstand the country, and badly. It will not be able to explain why the U.S. did in fact have an Emancipation Proclamation, a Civil Rights Act, a Black president. This is a major stumbling block, not so much for the legal scholars (some of whom actually merit the title “critical race theorist”) but rather for the popularizers and the scholars-turned-activists who want to force everybody to recite the same mantras.

I would cite instead the Emancipation Proclamation, a Civil Rights Act, plus Brown v. Board of Education and other judicial decisions. Still, Applebaum realizes that the objective of most of "the popularizers and the scholars-turned-activists" is to force everybody to recite the same mantras. 

That bears what is- or should be- an uncomfortable resemblance to America the Exceptional, the classic educational approach that Byron Donalds may have been fortunate enough to have avoided in his own upbringing. But replacing one set of preconceived notions with another does not create an informed populace. The answer to a sanitized view is not to circumvent objectivity and replace one set of biases with another, but to present American history honestly, accurately, and thoroughly.



He Has No Regrets



While the year's arguably most famous trial was taking place, USA Today opinion writer Carli Pierson remarked

Kyle Rittenhouse's crocodile tears broke the internet Wednesday.

In a nauseatingly melodramatic performance he choked back snot as he appeared to sob about how he feared for his life the day he shot and killed two people at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Many tweeters were similarly critical, including: "Kyle Rittenhouse makes crying noises while his eyes mysteriously stay dry";  Did he attend the Brett KavaNO school of acting?"; "I love how he tried to sneak a look at the jury after he 'broke down.'"

However, after the trial ended, the NBC affiliate in Chicago reported

Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorney spoke candidly about the trial and the moments leading up to it after his client was acquitted by a jury Friday, at one point addressing whether or not the intense emotions Rittenhouse expressed on the witness stand were genuine.

Addressing questions over the moment Rittenhouse took the stand, Mark Richards noted that "there's been so much talk about whether the tears were genuine."

"All I can say is when we prepared Kyle, and we worked on his testimony, there were things we couldn't talk about in my office because it got too emotional and he couldn't handle it," Richards said. "He's in, you know, counseling for PTSD, so he doesn't sleep at night."

A jury on Friday found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts in his murder trial connected to the shootings of three people during unrest in Kenosha during the summer of 2020.

And "worked on his testimony" they did. If Rittenhouse was genuinely overcome with grief during his testimony, it wasn't evident recently when

Kyle Rittenhouse was met with standing ovation and deafening cheers as he took the firework-filled stage at the Turning Point USA conference in Phoenix on Monday.

The 18-year-old waved to his adoring audience as he strutted onto the huge stage at the event on Monday night for a panel discussion on the 2020 Kenosha shootings which saw him kill two protesters last year.

Lavish pyrotechnics signaled Rittenhouse's arrival, with loud rock music playing and deafening cheers erupting from the thousands of young conservatives who'd paid to see him, and who got on their feet to signal their approval.

Crying at his trial, and an attorney claiming PTSD for his client.  This year's award for best dramatic performance: Kyle Rittenhouse. 

 



Friday, December 24, 2021

Promoting White Santa


Santa Claus is white.

Of course, he's a fictional character and therefore no more white than he is black, brown, purple, or the best color of all, midnight green. I therefore criticized Megyn Kelly when in 2013 she remarked.

In Slate, they have a piece on dotcom, "Santa Claus should not be a white man anymore." And when I saw this headline I kind of laughed and I said "this is so ridiculous. Yet another person claiming it's racist to have a white Santa," you know. And by the way for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But Santa is what he is and just so you know, we're just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.

But the years since then have demonstrated that Kelly was condemned for a different reason. Though she was derided for maintaining "Santa just is white," few commercials and ads in the mass media since then have depicted the big guy as anything but white.

Surely, marketing departments have known for a long time that blacks, Latinos, and others buy gifts and are susceptible, as are whites, to advertising programs imploring them to buy, buy, buy. Yet, it is clear that marketing executives believe that consumers relate, for whatever reason, to a white Santa.

Nonetheless, when Megyn Kelly declared "Santa is just white," she was showered with torrents of complaints.  Admittedly, her remarks pertaining to Santa were misguided because she seems a little too pleased that he is portrayed as white. Nevertheless, there must be an explanation(s) for the vitriol that she was subjected to, given that white Santa had been (and continues to be) the industry norm,

With psychologists, sociologists and others evidently choosing not to weigh in with an explanation, foolish is the man or woman who would speculate. So I will.

Megyn Kelly is an individual and represents low-hanging fruit. She thus is vulnerable to accusations of "racism" and the like. By contrast, the assorted business owners, entertainment honchos, and other moguls who control our largely capitalistic system are less exposed to criticism. Criticizing them would be to question a system of what could be described as institutional racism.

That would cut to the core of the underpinning, and nature, of our economic system, which would come under unwanted scrutiny. It would challenge assumptions about the core of the economic system and be uncomfortable for those with copious money and power.  Better to characterize someone as racist; it was in fashion then, is in fashion now, and is not abating.

 

 And to all Christians, a....

                                                       MERRY CHRISTMAS



Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Eric Tha God




"I'm Eric Adams and you're not." MSNBC host understands:


But you can do that, or believe you can do that, if convinced you've been sent on a divine mission.  On November 29, I noted that incoming New York City mayor Eric Adams was embarking on a "spiritual journey" to Ghana for "spiritual cleansing" because "the people of Ghana, just like Obama when he ran for president, they're waiting for me to go."

Of course, Obama was serving early in his first term as the first black President of the most powerful nation on Earth. Eric Adams is not. However, he evidently is on a more important mission than was President Obama because earlier this year

During an Easter Sunday visit to the Church of God of East Flatbush, Mr. Adams cited a biblical passage that describes a test of courage under duress.

“I believe in all my heart that this is an Esther 4:14 moment,” Mr. Adams, 60, told the parishioners. “God made me for such a time as this.”

If you have been chosen by the Almighty to be mayor, there can be no dissent because you are lord of all, a Christ-like figure.  Adams vows "I'm going to protect my correction officers," as if they are his personal property, serving him rather than the residents of New York City.

I wrote in November "Eric Adams is a poseur, and bad news." It's going to be quite a ride for New Yorkers to have a mayor who believes he is much more than a mere mortal.



Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Compelling Fear


"The times they are a-changin', wrote Robert Zimmerman some 55 years ago.  This can be seen particularly clearly in the nation's third largest city, in which

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is calling for Cook County judges to stop putting alleged violent offenders on electronic monitoring and has asked for more federal agents to come to Chicago for gun investigations.

The mayor made those calls during a Monday speech about public safety — a speech made as violence has skyrocketed in Chicago and across the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chicago has seen more than 780 homicides so far this year.

“The time for talk is over,” Lightfoot said. “We need concrete and definitive steps to be taken.”

Much of what Lightfoot called for has been in the works: She renewed a push to pass an ordinance that would make it so the city could sue gang members to seize their assets, and she said the city will invest in communities to create opportunities for residents and prevent violence.

I've never been fond of civil forfeiture, and am not about Lightfoot's order, either. However

the mayor announced she’ll also ask for Cook County judges to put a moratorium on electronic monitoring for people charged with serious, violent crimes like murder, attempted murder, rape and carjacking. She said 51 people have been arrested for a shooting or murder while on electronic monitoring this year, and there is “often [no] meaningful supervision” for people in the program.

Local judges have let “almost 2,300 offenders with these charges back onto our streets, in our neighborhoods, on our blocks,” Lightfoot said. “It defies common sense, it is not safe, and this practice must be stopped immediately.”

Lightfoot said she’ll send a formal request for the moratorium to begin immediately for people charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated gun possession, felons in possession, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, carjacking, kidnapping or attempted kidnapping.

Fifty-one people have been arrested for a shooting or murder while on electronic monitoring this year. If that's accurate, it's an indictment of the city's electronic monitoring Program. Nevertheless

Sharone Mitchell, Cook County public defender, said the solutions Lightfoot outlined in the speech are “based on fear” and criticized her call for the moratorium.

“The mayor’s regressive proposal calls for the pretrial detention of thousands of people who haven’t been convicted of anything and the plan could only be achieved by exploding the population of Cook County Jail in the middle of a pandemic,” Mitchell said in a statement. “It’s clearly unconstitutional, given that everyone is entitled to an individualized hearing on the specifics of their case, but more importantly it would result in the incarceration of an untold number of people who did nothing but get accused of a criminal offense.”

Those criminal offenses- aside from "sex crimes," an umbrella term- are murder, attempted murder, rape, and carjacking. These are not misdemeanors. They are not minor felonies. They are major, violent offenses.

The role of the public defender's office is to pursue the legal interests of their clients, so it may not be surprising that the agency in Chicago is representing the rights and privileges of individuals who appear to present a serious threat to the community.  Whatever: the suspects still would get their day in court, including trial by jury if they choose to plead not guilty

But the state must not carry the burden of proof in determining whether an individual arrested for such a grotesque illegal act should be released without having to put up bond or bail.  The bail should be set sufficiently high that he (or she, in a minority of cases) is deterred from missing court and the citizens of Chicago (and elsewhere) need to be protected as much as legally possible.

The public defender's office will be, I suppose, the public defender's office, and there are many people who are still caught up in the anti-law enforcement mania of summer 2020.  Lori Lightfoot herself never has been known as a law-and-order fanatic or hardliner. If she recognizes that major crime should not be tolerated, sensible criminal justice policies may be just around the corner.

 


Monday, December 20, 2021

50 To 2



On Sunday, West Virginia's Democratic senator, Joe Manchin.came out against Build Back Better, stating in part "This is a 'no' on this piece of legislation. I have tried everything I know to do." Manchin's definitive stance begged for a rebuttal from the White House and it was delivered, eloquently and emphatically, by Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 

As President Biden was about to sign into law the Infrastructure and Investment Act in November, Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger lauded the legislation as "the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (which) will pave the way for real improvements to Virginia's physical infrastructure." Similarly, Spanberger responded to Manchin's remarks about the social infrastructure bill by asserting

During this process, we should not ignore that Members of the Republican Party have wholly refused to work with Democrats on these priorities. But after months of negotiations, one Democratic U.S. Senator has now summarily walked away from productive negotiations.

The congresswoman neglected to mention that it is not "members" of the GOP who are blocking Democrats on Build Back Better, but all members of the Senate GOP caucus. Hailing from a swing district whose House seat was held by a Republican from 1971 until she was elected in 2018, she refers to the approved legislation as "bipartisan" and emphasizes Democrat Joe Manchin as the roadblock to Build Back Better.

This is apiece with a passage from Sunday's Politico article written by an MSNBC show host in which Jonathan Lemire wrote

The stunning decision by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday to announce his opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better legislation handed the president a stinging defeat. And unless the White House can turn the senator around, the result will not just be a profound failure to combat climate change and expand the social safety net, but also undermining the president’s central premise of competence and the vow that he could forge consensus in times of partisanship and tribalism.

And  unless the White House can turn the senator around, the result will be a profound failure....

Joe Manchin is only one Democratic senator, though at 6'3", a rather large one. There are 50 Republican senators. None has spoken in favor of Build Back Better and every one will vote against it.  There are at least 48 Democratic senators, or 96% of the caucus, who will be voting for the proposal. Forty-eight beats zero by a factor of- well, infinity.

Senator Manchin is working against the interests of his state and of the country. However, he can at least claim- perhaps disingenuously- that he "has tried everything I can do" and has "tried everything humanely possible. I can't get there." Negotiations, however fruitless, have taken place, which explains why his claim of victimhood (below) is bogus.

There are 50 Republican senators who will not admit even to have seriously considered the legislation and Senate Minority Leader has not proposed discussions with Majority Leader Schumer. There is no chance they will "get there" because their strategy is "just say no." They were always assumed to be opposed to this Democratic president's initiative, and that has been treated as expected, even normal.

Lemire argues the President must "turn the Senator around" so Biden can uphold his "vow that he could forge consensus in times of partisanship and tribalism." The impediment to achieving bipartisan peace and love thus becomes the Democratic Party, with its two holdouts (Manchin and Senator Krysten Sinema), and not the Stepford Republicans.

Representative Spanberger and other Democrats must not continue to assist the media in framing failure of this initiative. Voters are hearing about Joe Manchin and, to a lesser extent, Krysten Sinema, and the inability of Democratic leadership to knock sense into them.  Hearing far less about Republicans, they are prone to believe it is Democrats who are the stumbling block to the valuable benefits in the bill. Worse, if the bill goes down, they will conclude the Democratic Party is responsible for nothing being accomplished in Washington.

Ironically, as- and because-  the GOP is steadfastly negative and partisan, it is the Democratic Party which is fingered as being the primary agents of partisanship and failure. The media shouldn't aid them, and neither should Democrats.



Saturday, December 18, 2021

Tweet Of The Day- Hypocrisy And More



On Friday night/Saturday morning, the US Senate approved the nomination of Rahm Emanuel to be Ambassador to Japan (video below from 2011).  The 48 votes in favor included eight Republicans while the 21 votes against included three Democrats.

Although Emanuel's worst sin was the destructive privatization of services he foisted as mayor upon the residents of Chicago, his nomination was controversial primarily for the cover-up of the murder of city resident Laquan MacDonald by a police officer, who was later convicted of second-degree murder.  The Chicago Tribune reminds us

In November 2015, a Cook County judge ordered the mayor to release the graphic police dashcam footage, which showed Van Dyke shooting McDonald in the middle of a Southwest Side street as the Black teen walked away while holding a small folding knife. On the same day Emanuel made the video public, then-State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged Van Dyke with murder, and it soon was revealed that several officers’ accounts of the shooting in police reports varied dramatically from the video.

Those reports and the delay in the murder charge, combined with the fact that Emanuel’s administration and aldermen paid the settlement to the McDonald family before a lawsuit was even filed, led to accusations of a City Hall cover-up, calls for Emanuel’s resignation and weeks of street protests during which the chant of “16 shots and a cover-up” was born.

Yet, the death of one young black man, as tragic and appalling as it was, is not as significant as the symbolism conveyed inherent in appointment of the former mayor.


The idea for several prominent Democrats on June 8, 2020 to kneel while adorned with kente cloth in a  show- of solidarity, of cultural affinity, or just plain "show"-

came from the Congressional Black Caucus, according to its leader, Karen Bass. Members of the C.B.C. wore stoles in silent disapproval of Trump at his State of the Union address in 2018. “The significance of the kente cloth is our African heritage, and for those of you without that heritage who are acting in solidarity,” Bass said on Monday. What was projected was limp domestic diplomacy, akin to historical images of white political leaders preening in the exotic “garb” of people living in countries that they are exploiting. Inadvertently, the cloth emphasized the sense that black Americans are foreigners in their own land.

At that time, the Congressional Black Caucus was joined by a few Republicans, the vast preponderance of the mainstream media, and virtually every Democrat in the land in promoting the "black lives matter" movement and, with it, needed police reform and if necessary, unneeded police reform. Democrats marched in the streets, preened on the floor of the Capitol by request of the CBC, and flooded MSNBC and CNN with their expressions of support for the movement.

Alas, those days are past. When the President announced his choice of Emanuel, "Squad" members, Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, Cori Bush, and Rashida Tlaib blasted the nomination. Opposing it in the Foreign Relations Committee (as he did on the floor), the great senator from Oregon, Jeff Merkley, asserted “Black Lives Matter. Here in the halls of Congress, it is important that we not just speak and believe these words, but put them into action in the decisions we make.”

Efforts to reform police over the past eighteen months have floundered in several states, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has died, a megalomaniacal supporter of stop-and-frisk was elected mayor of the largest city in the nation, and Rahm Emanuel was approved (with the help of Republicans) for a plum ambassadorship.

When Rahm Emanuel was tapped for the post in Tokyo, Representative Tlaib tweeted in part "if you believe Black lives indeed matter, then the Senate must reject his appointment immediately." The Senate did not do so and it appears that nineteen months after Derek Chauvin acted in Minneapolis, Tlaib has been proven disturbingly correct.



 




Friday, December 17, 2021

For Country, Party, And The Republic



A few days before President Joe Biden, on December 17, was to give a commencement speech at South Carolina State University, Interim President Alex Conyers exclaimed "This is an exciting and historic time for South Carolina State University."

It turned into an historic time not only for South Carolina State University but also for Kamala Harris because, as Van Jones would put it, she "became President of the United States in that moment, period."

From the official transcript at whitehouse.gov:

Though I’m from Delaware — I’ve got to put Delaware State up there — the President of Delaware State used to work for me.  He went and got his doctorate and said, “This is not the good job; I’m going to be president of the university.”  (Laughter.)

But, all kidding aside, of course, [Vice] President Harris, who’s a proud Howard alum, she might have something to say about Delaware State.


Nine months ago, the New York Post had reported

President Biden on Thursday called his vice president, Kamala Harris, “President Harris” while celebrating the US nearing administration of 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Biden said, “Now when President Harris and I took a virtual tour of a vaccination center in Arizona not long ago, one of the nurses on that, on that tour injecting people, giving vaccinations, said that each shot was like administering a dose of hope.”

Harris joined Biden for his remarks at the White House, but her reaction to the slip was not recorded in the official video feed.

It’s not the first time Biden has given Harris an oral promotion.

In December, Biden referred to Harris as the president-elect while discussing how they publicly received COVID-19 vaccine shots.

“I took it to instill public confidence in the vaccine. President-elect Harris took hers today for the same reason,” Biden said at the time.


If we politely disregard Biden's error last December- before he became President of the USA- Biden now has twice referred to Kamala Harris as "President Harris."  Earlier in the week, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, a center-right anti-Trump Republican, had argued that President Biden should soon announce that he will not stand for re-election. He noted that Harris' poll numbers currently "are the worst of those of any vice president in recent history" and "if she winds up as her party's default nominee if Biden pulls out late, Democrats will have every reason to panic."

Biden will not do so because he wants most what any incumbent, first-term President wants: a second term.  But Stephens is right. "Middle-class Joe," as he has periodically called himself, is not getting any younger and he shows signs of getting older, dangerously. 

Neither Stephens, nor I, nor anyone who has not examined Joe Biden can make a valid diagnosis of the incumbent's health. However, if the Democratic Party and the mainstream media  continue (except for the right) to pretend that this is not a problem for either party or country, they are doing no one, except the Republican Party and its Project For Authoritarianism, any favors.

 


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Not Yet Denying The Science


Dr. Mehmet Oz, who demands to be called "Doctor," has been generally a supporter of reproductive rights, as revealed in the video from David Doel below. However, he now is running for the GOP nomination for US Senator from Pennsylvania, and so he had a problem when interviewed by Fox News' Will Cain..

Cain is seen asking "when should we draw the line when abortion is legal" and Oz responded "As a doctor, I appreciate the sanctity of life and for that reason I'm strongly pro-life with the three exceptions I've mentioned. That's how I would vote."

He's a Republican, and so he would. However, Cain followed u with "and when does that life begin" and Oz replied "you know, again, if I'm pro-life, then it's a decision that comes back to the sanctity of when you think life does begin and I think it begins in the mother's womb."

If I'm pro-life. As if that weren't obvious enough, "appreciate the sanctity of life" comes off a little defensive, a statement even a pro-choice individual could make. Moreover, Oz need not declare himself "pro-life" more than once- arguably not even once- if he is against abortion rights, as he wants primary voters to believe.

I think it (life) begins in the mother's womb. That is a statement, incompatible with the belief that life begins at conception, that all pro-life individuals would make, This startling comment prompts Cain to ask "When you're in the mother's womb? But that carries you all the way up to nine months of pregnancy."

Of course it does, so Oz is left with "no, of course that life's already started when you're in your'e mother's womb but it's a rat hole to get trapped into different ways of talking about it."

Speaking of a "rat hole"- Oz continues floundering, also again pleading he is "pro-life" and that such "feelings (be) respected," which is not much of an ask.

We need as a nation to make sure the constitution is appropriately followed and people like me- and you may be in the same camp who are pro-life have our feelings respected and this is something that should not be taken away from us by judiciary legislating from the bench.

As against the judiciary legislating from the nearest Ace hardware store or Applebee's restaurant, I guess. Cain then mercifully ends the exchange and David Doel remarks

I have to laugh because Dr. Oz is clearly a fraud, as I'll get to, but now that he's running as a Republican candidate for Senate he has to play this game but even in playing this game he is unable to say that life begins at conception.

Unfortunately, if he is nominated and elected, Oz will be publicly and staunchly pro-life because it is part of the GOP litmus test, Still, Oz' inability to to declare forthrightly that life begins at conception is telling.

The reason the candidate was unwilling to lie about that one specific point was foretold in the first phrase he used in this portion of the interview.  As a doctor.

As a doctor, Oz may know As Gregg Easterbrook, who advocated prohibiting abortion in the third trimester, explained in January 2000:

- Regardless of abortion, two-thirds of conceptions fail;
- Lungs become able to function at about the 23rd week;
- Kicking, which begins at about the twentieth week, is probably a spasm; and
- Complex brain activity exists from the third trimester on.

If Oz does not know all that specifically, he probably is at least aware that the notion, whether religiously based or otherwise, that life begins at conception is factually unsustainable. 

The popular base of the Republican Party demands its nominees be anti-abortion rights and Oz therefore continually states that he is "pro-life." However, the public as a whole always has been more inclined to believe "life"- however defined- begins at conception than to be generally opposed to abortion rights or, especially, Roe v. Wade.  As Dr. Oz already (now) is on the record as being "pro-life," he must clean up his answers and declare, with fingers crossed behind his back, that life begins at conception.




    

 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Vaccine



Along with the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure (Amendment IV), for a speedy and public trial (Amendment VI), to worship freely (Amendment I), and to arm bears (Amendment II), we now have the right to eat cheesecake where and when we please.   On Tuesday evening in Queens, NY, according to an employee of the Cheesecake Factory, a "large group" of people

walked into the restaurant and asked to be seated, at which point she requested that they show proof of vaccination, per NYC's indoor dining mandate.

The group, however, refused, and then barged into the restaurant, sitting down at several tables, videos show. They still refused to leave after being asked several times, according to the NYPD....

One of the protesters responded by saying that the group was not trespassing but just trying to "access the business and the services" of the Cheesecake Factory.

After some back and forth, police began escorting protesters who refused to leave out of the restaurant, as people shouted that the police were "Nazis" and that they were enforcing "segregation;" the protest had been called a "sit-in," in reference to civil rights protest in the 1960s.

"The manger is asking you to leave, that's their decision. If you guys refuse to leave we're going to give you every opportunity to leave but if you eventually refuse to leave when we tell you to leave we will be arresting you," one officer told group members in a video of the incident.

One of the protesters responded by saying that the group was not trespassing but just trying to "access the business and the services" of the Cheesecake Factory.

After some back and forth, police began escorting protesters who refused to leave out of the restaurant, as people shouted that the police were "Nazis" and that they were enforcing "segregation;" the protest had been called a "sit-in," in reference to civil rights protest in the 1960s.

Evidently, the lawbreakers were not constitutional law experts and

Footage posted to Twitter showed the demonstrators telling police that they were not trespassing on-site and that the arrests would be illegitimate. In one clip, the protesters seemingly compared the police to "Nazis" and described the actions as "segregation" and "discrimination.


Police arrested, peacefully, six men almost three hours after responding to the incident, which attested to their extreme patience, commitment to de-escalation techniques, and willingness to be compared to Herman Goebbels. Also, to the aptly named Bull Connor:


 

 


Monday, December 13, 2021

Fuel For GOP Fodder


Kyle Kulinski correctly criticizes Democrats for using terms such as "Latinx" and "BIPOC", despite their unpopularity among voters. He notes (beginning at 8:12 of the video below) that in a recent poll, President

Biden gets 44% from Hispanic voters and Trump gets 43. This is supposed to be Democrats 70 or 80, Republicans 30 or so. Now, it's almost dead tied. By the way, when you talk to Hispanic voters, I saw there was a great article about this after Trump had massively increased his vote share with Hispanics and, for example, Hispanics in a border town in Texas there was a big flip to pro-Trump in those areas, some of them cited immigration. A lot of these people are just as hardline on immigration as white voters, but one of the things that was cited the most was actually the stimulus checks. They were like "I got a check with his name on it so I voted for him."

See, that's what I'm talking about. You want to win, you do s_ _ _ like that. Now look, Biden did the $1400 checks early on and you know what? At the time he had a f _ _ _ _ _ _ 54% approval rating. Now he's down to 38. So do you want to win back votes? Materially, deliver to them. You don't virtue signal to them and use weird elite academic language. That's what you do. Give people stimulus checks, give people health care, give people free education, abolish student loan debt, actually do universal child care or universal pre-k.....



There are "woke" or "politically correct" ways for Democrats to alienate large swath of voters other than by use of New Age language. On December  9, the day after Kulinski delivered his remarks stressing the need for Democrats to deliver materially rather than linguistically, the New York City Council

approved a historic measure on Thursday to grant hundreds of thousands of non-citizens the right to vote in local elections, setting the stage for a broader battle between supporters who want to expand immigrants’ voting rights and critics who think the move devalues citizenship.

The new measure, which will become law within 30 days if it’s not vetoed or earlier if the mayor signs it before then, is expected to apply to more than 800,000 non-citizens who will soon be able to cast a vote for mayor, public advocate, city council members and other municipal candidates. It covers legal permanent residents who have lived in the city for at least 30 consecutive days and are green card holders or are legally authorized to work in the U.S. They will not be permitted to vote in state and federal elections....

New York City is set to be the largest U.S. jurisdiction to allow non-citizen residents to vote in local elections regardless of citizenship or immigration status, joining about a dozen smaller cities and towns in the U.S., including several towns in Maryland and Vermont. A handful of other major cities, including Washington D.C. and Portland, Maine, have recently considered similar changes.

Please don't tell Donald Trump and his acolytes. Unless the satanic ex-President has been radically transformed, this is right in his wheelhouse.   Attacking critical race theory is no longer fashionable- its moment has passed, mysteriously vanishing after November 2, 2021.

But the GOP will continue its main thrust, now accurately labeled "The Big Lie," arguing that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate, and in the future maintaining that selected (or more) election victories by a Democrat were rigged. 

Enter a system gaining traction in cities dominated by Democratic officials.

Democrats will plead that the non-citizens cannot vote in state or federal elections. That defense will fall on deaf ears in a country which once voted Donald J. Trump in as President, in which he is probably more popular than his replacement at this moment, and one in which most Republicans still believe their guy had the election "stolen" from him.

Moreover, the Republican proclivity for hypocrisy is nearly unlimited.  Allowing non-citizens to vote obviously dilutes the votes of everyone else, all of them citizens. However, Republicans, eager to create a rift between Democratic constituencies, will charge that Democrats intentionally devalued the votes of blacks.

It's both bad policy and bad politics. Most Democrats have learned such terms as "Latinx" and "defund the police" are tactical losers while delivering material benefits is an electoral plus.  But they will have to learn, also, that they will usher in a Republican majority if they institute not only divisive language, but policies that signal to voters that their own values are to be completely disregarded. 




Sunday, December 12, 2021

Aggressive Messaging


Heather Digby Parton ("Digby") argues persuasively that Democrats "need to go nuclear about" the Republican effort to end democracy and

must engage in a party-wide effort, from the president on down, to make the case for democracy reform and raise alarms about Republican intentions to subvert democracy.  It means real pressure on Manchin and Sinema and a very public push to eliminate the filibuster. Democrats cannot make the case that they will protect democracy if they haven’t clearly fought like hell to do so.

Moreover

We must also clearly and specifically call out the Republicans. Because if Democrats don’t, we can be damn sure the media won’t do it for us. You lose 100 percent of the arguments you don’t make and not enough Democrats are making the argument that Republicans are a danger to democracy.

As luck would have it, the Democratic President had a great opportunity the day before to try this approach. In prepared remarks Saturday on the weekend's tornados which had hit several states, Joe Biden emphasized

whatever is needed, it’s within the authority of the President of the United States and the federal government to provide that help.  And we’re going to provide whatever is needed....

Whatever is needed — whatever is needed, the federal government is going to find a way to supply it.

Yet the Democratic President wouldn't say that only the government will provide this help. States are not calling on large corporations to rescue them; they are calling on government.  The President could have noted that when assistance is needed most, when tragedies strike, it is the people of the United States of American- through the federal government- which steps in. And Republicans stand in the way.

Digby recommends that Democrats recognize the "negative partisanship (which) is the zeitgeist of the In so doing, Democrats should undermine GOP sacred cows. One is sainted ex-President Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6), who once stated "I think you all know that I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'."

The President could have helped. He might have recalled those words and noted they are terrifying only to Republicans such as Rand Paul who consistently try to block federal aid to states in other natural disasters.  Such obstructionism, Biden should stress, is inconsistent with the values of the American people, who through their government help those most in need, especially when they are most in need.

For better and for worse, Democrats are recognized by voters as the party of government. It's time that, led by the President, they explain that there are things the private sector is unable to do. When times are most difficult, it's government alone which can step in and lead the nation.




Saturday, December 11, 2021

Beyond Smollett


On January 29, 2019 gay actor Jussie Smollett had

told Chicago police he was physically attacked by two men in downtown Chicago while out getting food from a Subway restaurant at 2 a.m. The Black and openly gay actor tells authorities the men used racial and homophobic slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an "unknown substance" on him. Police say Smollett told detectives that the attackers yelled he was in "MAGA country," an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. Police say Smollett had scratches on his face and bruises but no broken ribs or serious injuries.

There was no broken bone while there were scratches and bruises. Scratches and bruises, self-inflicted or otherwise, can heal and police unavoidably were skeptical there was such an attack.

Nonetheless, prominent celebrities and politicians were seemingly certain there had been a serious assault.  On the 29th, the tweet from national Democrats went up the political food chain, in chronological order from Representatives Eric Swallwell, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; to Senator Cory Booker; then from Senator Kamala Harris and, finally, former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden.  The attack, the account of which smelled like four-day old fish, was promptly and uncritically accepted (video below from 3-4 weeks later).

The incident was condemned by these individuals as "vile and tragic" (ES); "racist and homophobic" (AO-C); an "attempted modern-day lynching" (CB); an "attempted modern day lynching" of "one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know" (KH); "hate" given "safe harbor" (JB).

On Thursday, December 9, 2021 a Chicago jury found the actor guilty "on five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report to Chicago police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019 ." It evidently took the jury a little over nine hours to conclude that Jussie Smollett was, literally, unbelievable, an observation most Americans probably made upon hearing of the alleged attack.

It doesn't take a genius to realize- notwithstanding apparel that is worn- that supporters of Donald Trump and of "Make America Great Again" do not refer to themselves as from "MAGA country."  Critics may- they don't. And it didn't take a genius to realize that two pro-Trump right-wingers, racists, or any such persons who would wrap a rope around a man's neck, yell out a political slogan, pour an unknown substance on the victim, would manage to break no bones. Few people are so inept at the art of violence.

This thing obviously was a hoax from first report. Yet, several of the most well-known Democrats seemingly failed to recognize that Smollett's account deviated substantially and materially from objective reality. It may have been naivete, a rush to judgement, or combination thereof; or something even worse, a sorry impulse characterizing today's Democratic Party.

It's unclear why these politicos decided to jump in and endorse the story of an individual so obviously a huckster and unclear they'll be asked, given the lack of serious journalism in the USA today. However, in a time when the Republican Party has disturbingly made clear what it is all about, the public deserves to know the same about the other Party.



 




No Hoodwinking Allowed

On Friday evening's Overtime segment on Real Time with Bill Maher , guest Vivek Ramaswamy tried to equate the refusal of Stacey Abrams ...