Saturday, March 27, 2021

Principles, Negotiable

A resignation is in order.  There is hypocrisy, and then there is hypocrisy.

This falls into the latter category. Over a week ago- with no additional explanation in the interim- we learned from the Daily Beast

Dozens of young White House staffers have been suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use, frustrating staffers who were pleased by initial indications from the Biden administration that recreational use of cannabis would not be immediately disqualifying for would-be personnel, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The policy has even affected staffers whose marijuana use was exclusive to one of the 14 states—and the District of Columbia—where cannabis is legal. Sources familiar with the matter also said a number of young staffers were either put on probation or canned because they revealed past marijuana use in an official document they filled out as part of the lengthy background check for a position in the Biden White House.

As far as we know, then, these individuals did not even violate the law. And they were the ones who admitted (thus making threat of blackmail less plausible) past marijuana use, in contrast to those who denied it and are still employed by the Administration.

Keep it classy, Mr. President:

In some cases, staffers were informally told by transition higher-ups ahead of formally joining the administration that they would likely overlook some past marijuana use, only to be asked later to resign.

“There were one-on-one calls with individual affected staffers—rather, ex-staffers,” one former White House staffer affected by the policy told The Daily Beast. “I was asked to resign.”

“Nothing was ever explained” on the calls, they added, which were led by White House Director of Management and Administration Anne Filipic. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed that only five persons staffers were "no longer employed as a result of this policy” and that

In an effort to ensure that more people have an opportunity to serve the public, we worked in coordination with the security service to ensure that more people have the opportunity to serve than would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. While we will not get into individual cases, there were additional factors at play in many instances for the small number of individuals who were terminated.

To ensure that more people have the opportunity to serve than would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use (would "not" have?)  Ihe premise is that because more individuals now admit to legal drug use than in the past admitted to illegal drug use, there were fewer staffers in previous Administrations who had used drugs. But if the naivete is astounding, it is true that drug use is- when convenient- inconsequential to this President.

These staffers probably- unlike a particularly prominent member of the Administration- believed having smoked marijuana (though not a badge of shame) is not a particular badge of honor.

As hard as it is to believe (given the recent news) that was the current Vice-President of the United States of America, fifteen months before presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden selected her as his running mate, giving her a leg up on her dream of being the first female president, first president of Asian background, the first president (aside, arguably, form Biden) who worked tirelessly for mass incarceration, or more firsts. Reinforcing the stereotype of Jamaicans as wacky weed aficionados was only the cherry on the top.

Below, Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks asserts "firing staffers over this is absolutely ridiculous." Noting the Administration's hypocrisy, she asks  (at 3:20 of the video below) for TYT's online poll

And you know what? We want want to know- should the Biden Administration fire Vice President Kamala Harris for her past usage of cannabis? The American people want to know. That's the whole question here.

Of course, the Vice President can no more be fired than can the President. Both of them were duly elected and in the absence of impeachment and conviction, can be removed only by voters at election time. So the answer to the question is either "no" or (the (unavailable) "not applicable."

However, it now is over a week since policy toward drug use of members of the Administration has been revealed. There has been no clarification of penalties, punishment, and/or dismissal of individuals for using marijuana. Meanwhile, a heartbeat from the presidency sits an individual giddily proud of her past drug use- at the time, illegal.

Clearly, President Biden cannot fire Kamala Harris, she will not resign, and she will not be asked to resign. It is just as clear, however, that without clarification (possibly, even with) by the Administration of its policy, President Biden owes it to the country to ask Kamala Harris to resign.

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This  is a reasonable question. If going to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to harass and intimidate Jewish people at a synagogue is no...