Monday, February 28, 2022

Concealed Aim


There has been insufficient analysis of the education "reform" movement in the USA, with both the intent and the genesis of the effort little explored. Of the latter, John Oliver, delivering a pro-Critical Race Theory commentary (most of which I disagreed with) on the 2/20/22 episode of Last Week Tonight, explained (beginning at 12:41 of this video)

Conservative organizations that have long pushed for school choice like the Heritage Foundation and Freedom Works have pored money into this fight. And of course no school choice push would be complete without lifelong rich person and occasional education secretary Betsy DeVos, who wrote an op-ed titled "Let's Liberate Kids from Race Indoctrination with School Choice."

And you should know this is just nothing new. Thee is a long history of responding to racial panic with a push for school choice. In fact, the roots of the school choice movement trace back to the Brown vs. Board of Education decision when southern states adopted voucher programs to facilitate the creation of private schools called segregation academies.



A few decades ago, conservative elites motivated tens of millions of "pro-life" Christians with rhetorical emphasis on abortion. However, as historian Richard Balmer has noted

In fact, it wasn’t until 1979—a full six years after Roe—that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools.

The leaders were prompted far less by support for "life" than by opposition to school integration.  Currently, conservative parents are concerned about critical race theory because they fear race will be overemphasized in explaining American history and society. Yet, like the Christian right movement, the leaders harbor a different set of motives.

On the "Overtime" segment of the 2/25/ 22 episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, New York Times anti-Trump, Republican columnist Bret Stephens criticized Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs, which are more than tangentially to related critical race theory and are increasingly used by corporations to train their employees.. He remarked

And the Democratic Party became the party- at least at the state levels- of school closures, of being beholden to unions, of not giving parents choices to get out of failing public school systems which they deserve, particularly  underserved minorities. And that's a huge issue and...

Those of us of a certain age (and over) remember the days when conservatives scolded liberals for allegedly believing that society was to blame for everything and thereby failing to hold individuals accountable. Nowadays, cultural conservatives typically blame society while corporate-enamored conservatives (such as Stephens) aim their fire at institutions such as the public school. The drive for school choice completely negates the impact of individuals such as students or their parents.

Stephens, decrying "being beholden to the union," is targeting unions. Closing out the serious discussion (before brief repartee at the end about parenthood), the columnist argues

Well, then, why don't we just expand access for kids who can't afford it to go to better quality schools that are local, that are able to govern themselves, set their rules, are independent of the unions if that's what- if that's the choice they make.



The qualifier "if that's the choice they make" is unnecessary. Stephens knows that cutting out unions is intrinsic to charter schools and, more broadly, to the campaign for "school choice." The harm done to teachers and their students is immense, however much the reformers claim to care about students.

 


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Not Exactly Clear



On Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher, the host (beginning at 28:22 of the video below) can be seen remarking

So let's talk about our new Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.  I was surprised it took Biden a long time to come  up with the name. I guess he just want to go in and do his due diligence. She seems incredibly qualified. Yeah, I don't know why it to be such a big deal to say- you know, why he couldn't have just said "I'm going to look at everybody and then pick a black woman.

It's simple. As a candidate, Joe Biden said that he'd choose a black woman. He was nominated, then elected, with overwhelming support from black women. And black women are the base of the Democratic Party. The base. Maher continued

You know, because this way- this astounding poll- it was a reliable- seventy-six percent of Americans wanted Biden to consider all possible choices. They didn't like that, including only 28 percent of non-white Americans wanted Biden to consider only black women.


This is a problem, if it is a) true and b) respondents were reminded that Mr. Biden had pledged if elected that his first nominee for the Supreme Court would be a black woman. 

It's even worse than Maher indicated. In a survey of the "general population"  (18 years of age and over), respondents were asked whether

to fill the opening on the U.S. Supreme Court, do you think Joe Biden should: Consider all possible nominees (or) consider only nominees who are Black women, as he has pledged to do.

Maher's reference to the poll findings as "astounding" was not hyperbolic.  People believe not only that the President should considered more than black women, but that he should not have limited the choice even though he had pledged to do exactly that.

As Stephen Stills wrote over 55 years ago, "there's something here; what it is, ain't exactly clear." 

Staffing the Supreme Court and behavior of law enforcement are two different issues. Still, President Biden, determining it is past time for a black woman to be on the nation's highest court, implied that racial discrimination has stood in the way. A few months after he did so, millions of individuals protested the killing of young (mostly male) blacks, they strongly implied that racial discrimination was pervasive throughout law enforcement.

But was that really he message that was received? Less than two years after protests seemingly inspired by the notion that blacks have been treated as second-class citizens, the American people believe that a President should break his campaign promise of considering only black women to fill the impending vacancy on the Supreme Court.

There are two possibilities. Either the mood of the electorate has turned dramatically right on the issue of race or the black lives matter movement set off by the murder of George Floyd was far, far less popular than it seemed. What it is, isn't exactly clear, but it is a major problem for Joe Biden's Democratic Party.

 


Friday, February 25, 2022

Pro-Putin And Not Pro-Putin

Senate Republicans are less reprehensible than House Republicans, whose third highest ranking member has now blamed the war in Ukraine on "Joe Biden's foreign policy of war through weakness."

However, if they were actually pro-America, they would immediately denounce this vile individual:

Only hours before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, former President Donald J. Trump again praised the cunning of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia while lashing out at the intellect of President Biden.

“I mean he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin to donors and Republican lawmakers at Mar-a-Lago, his private club, on Wednesday. “I’d say that’s pretty smart.”

The kind words a former president gave a foreign adversary locked in a geopolitical showdown with the United States — and committing the most egregious act of aggression in Europe since World War II — would be virtually unprecedented, except that Mr. Trump himself had praised Mr. Putin only a day earlier, saying his aggression was “genius” and “very savvy.”

If, as is likely, that would require more courage than they choose to muster, they could deal with one of their 50, who evidently didn't get the memo:

 

"America stands with the people of Ukraine" is almost as anodyne as "we are for God and apple pie."  It is bad form to oppose people, and the statement allows any Republican to attack President Biden on any basis for any aspect of his foreign policy. Still, it stands in contrast with the sentiments of Tuberville, Trump, and Representative Elise Stefanik, who have chosen to root for Vladimir Putin and undermine their own President and country at an unusually dangerous time.

 


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Mitch McConnell's Suspicion


John Berman is a fine anchor person (anchorman, anchor, whatever) who generally listens to the guests he interviews and responds accordingly, at least compared to most of his peers on our two cable news networks, MSNB and his own CNN.

Not always, however. In the video below, Berman, responding to Donald Trump's latest pro-Putin remarks, can be seen asking CNN legal analyst Gloria Borger

I want to lay Trump aside here and talk about what Mitch McConnell said. How much do you think the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan is shaping the Administration's approach here?

That would have been a good question had the Senate Minority Leader been attributing the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the "messy withdrawal from Afghanistan?"  Rather, the clip shown immediately before Berman's query depicts McConnel stating

I don't believe Vladimir Putin would have a couple hundred thousand troops on the border of Ukraine had we not precipitously withdrawn from Afghanistan last August.... It looked not only chaotic but it looks weak and so they are pushing the limits everywhere, reacting to the perception of American weakness and loss of resolve.





Weakness and loss of resolve. McConnell did note that the withdrawal looked chaotic. It was easier for television news, cable and over-the-air, to focus on the 13 USA service members (and dozens of Afghans) murdered during the withdrawal by Islamic terrorists than on the 120,000 Americans, civilian and military, and Afghans who were safely evacuated.

The media knew there were many tens of thousands brought out safely and characterized the mission as chaotic. They learned of the killings and had pictures of hundreds or thousands of Afghans desperately trying to get on the airplanes so they could get out of the country. The media were not impressed by the impact of American withdrawal- unavoidably leaving thousands of Afghans to the whims of the murderous Taliban. Instead, after 19 years of war which ended in an American defeat, the media were exorcised by our inability to rescue everyone without the appearance of a fire drill gone haywire.

Something was out of whack there and Berman, who actually believes it was the "messy withdrawal" which may have shaped President Biden's response to Putin's aggression, seems not to have noticed. While the decision to leave Afghanistan may have had no impact. the nature of the withdrawal almost certainly had none, and the Minority Leader knows it.  Otherwise, he wouldn't have cited "weakness" and "lack of resolve," which he likely believed would resonate with many voters.

Neither the war in Afghanistan, the American withdrawal, nor the manner of withdrawal probably has had any influence on Vladimir Putin's strategy or tactics in Afghanistan.  But if it did, it wasn't the hyped "messy withdrawal," whose importance the media has exaggerated ever since the exit of the US forces.  The policy decision was of far greater importance but was unexamined and largely downplayed by the media, perhaps because it was presumed to be universally popular. Not with Mitch McConnell it wasn't, and he may speak for far more people than is assumed.




Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Not-Great Scott


Following President Joseph Biden's address to a joint session of Congress on April 28, 2021, I maintained that Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina was either "lying or stupid." Three days later I reconsidered, suggesting he is "someone who loves and reveres this country as the greatest but has only distaste for those of us living here." Now I have to reconsider again (or perhaps re-reconsider) his inspiration because on February 20, the Senator, asked by Trump TV's Maria Bartiromo whether he'd like to play second banana to Donald Trump, replied

Well, I think everyone wants to be on President Trump's bandwagon without any question. One of the things I've said to the President is that he gets to decide the future of our party and our country because he still is the loudest voice. What I hope happens is that we rally around the principles that lead to our greatest success. I am not looking for a seat on the ticket at this point. I'm looking to be re-elected in South Carolina. So my hope is you win next Friday's football game before thinking about any other one. So that's my primary responsibility.

Oh, get a room. Obviously, Scott, wants to be selected by Donald Trump as the party's vice-presidential nominee. He qualifies his interest only by stating "not at this point" and by maintaining that he is not looking to be on the ticket. Trump knows where to find him.

Scott is not worshipping the ex-President because of principles of the supporting corporate interests over the public interest, unlimited funding of the Pentagon, low taxes for the wealthy, or even one of the GOP's current enervating principles, destruction of public education.  He is not recommending the Party "rally around" principles that have led to its success. He is speaking instead in the present tense, "principles that lead to our greatest success."  The Party's current dominating principle is faith in authoritarianism.

President Trump has no "bandwagon" currently because the guy with the bandwagon is not President.  Nor has Scott said anything to the President because, as far as can be determined, he hasn't spoken to Joe Biden. That's not nitpicking; Scott is raising Trump's stature while he reinforces the GOP myth that Donald Trump is the real President.

Scott reinforces his implication that Trump is President Trump also by arguing that the real estate mogul and actor "gets to decide the future of our party and our country because he still is the loudest voice." However, the United States of America is not the Trump family or the Trump business empire. As an ex-President, a coincidentally failed ex-President, he does not get to decide the future of the country.

For the Senator, Trump "gets to decide the future of our party" not because he has the right values, is a principled individual, or is the last Republican president. He gets to decide the future of the Republican Party because he has the loudest voice. Assuming Scott is not dense enough to believe that whomever talks loudest talks best, he is asserting that might makes right. Trump is pushy, mean, and vindictive, and that's good enough for Tim Scott.




Sunday, February 20, 2022

The China Which Isn't The Republic Of China


Bill Maher is wrong about a few things, such as people, whom he likes significantly less than dogs, and failing to understand that Medicare and Social Security are earned benefits. However, he's right about others, including the value of free expression (hence the title of his long-cancelled show, "Politically Incorrect") and race. He put the latter two perspectives together in noting how Americans and the USA have submitted to the influence of mainland China (or "China," as he and virtually everyone else refers to it), especially in recent years. On Friday's Real Time, Maher explained (beginning at 5:40 of the video below)

So can you really blame 18-year-old Eileen Gu, who's already made over thirty-one million dollars as the face of 23 brand products in China, for following in the footsteps of other American celebrities? Some of Gu's defenders say it's racist to ask if she's still an American citizen and she herself won't say.

Why is that racist? Why is it racist to think that Covid might have originated from a lab leak as opposed to eating bats , besides the fact that the idea that Covid came from eating, gross, weird food seems way more racist than that it came from a high-tech lab?

Besides that, the definition of woke was supposed to be being alert to injustice in society but because the woke now see race first and everything else never, fear of being accused of racism has given free pass on human rights abuses to China and any other places that are perceived as non-white. If China was in Europe, would they get away with having concentration camps without more of an outcry from America?

The answer is an emphatic "no," and only in part because they'd be called "concentration camps," which the ones in Xinjiang too infrequently are. Maher continues

If men were forcing women to wear this (women wearing Muslim attire, seen at 7:00), in, say, Massachusetts, would that go on as unremarked on as it does? The Chinese classified transgender as a mental illness. They just edited "Friends" episodes so that Ross' wife is definitely not a lesbian. How would that go over here? Someone has to tell me where we got this rule that you can't criticize China because I suspect that we got it from China- because after all, it's where we get everything else.

Maher then quoted the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which is the most politically correct thing anyone anywhere in the USA can do because all Americans think MLK believed exactly what they believe.



Still, Maher was willing to identify by name- LeBron James, John Cena, Tom Cruise- a few of the celebrities who have sold out to the Butchers of Beijing, as well as the double standard wherein criticism of mainland China is muted because the Chinese are Asian. He noted also that Cena was forced to capitulate and bow down to the regime after he "referred to Taiwan as  a country as if it was a separate country from China- which it is."

Nonetheless, the central issue is how policy toward Beijing can and should be changed. An immediate and fairly obvious step would be to strip the International Olympic Committee of its tax exempt status in the USA.  Additionally, legislation requiring nation of origin information on all products sold online would allow the consumer to pass over an item made in mainland China for one made elsewhere. Though sometimes there is no alternative because of the extraordinary penetration of Chinese products in the domestic market, as more consumers select products not made in that nation, demand would grow for products to be manufactured in the USA. and supply would respond to demand.

Taming the demonic beast of the east is a gigantic challenge for the USA, reputedly the most powerful nation on earth. However, as with all other problems which should have been confronted yesterday, the best alternative is to begin acting now.



Friday, February 18, 2022

The Irony Of It Alll


Michele Tafoya, who has quit NBC Sports to work on the gubernatorial campaign of a culturally conservative, underdog candidate for the Republican nomination for governor of Minnesota, remarks

My son’s first best friend was a little African-American boy. They were inseparable. Get to a certain age they start having what’s called an affinity group, which means you go for lunch and pizza with people who look like you … At kids in school, there is a big, big focus on the color of your skin and my children … Why are we even teaching that the color of the skin matters? Because to me, what matters is your character and your values. …

The growing trend toward racial segregation should be disturbing. However, Tafoya then confirms the adage "let a Republican talk long enough and she will make no sense." She comments


She's not trash- but the "business decision" wasn't a matter of choice.  TMZ reported last July that 

Colin Kaepernick is still not giving up on his dream of returning to the NFL ... saying he's still up at 5 AM and training 5 or 6 days a week in case a team finally calls.

The quarterback -- who hasn't played a down in the league since the 2016 season -- made the revelation in a recent interview with Ebony ... explaining he still has a goal of winning the Lombardi Trophy.

"I am still up at 5 a.m. training five, six days a week," Kaepernick said, "making sure I’m prepared to take a team to a Super Bowl again."

The 33-year-old last played for the 49ers on Jan. 1, 2017 in a loss to the Seahawks ... and never signed on with a team again after that.

Kap claimed repeatedly that he believed the league was blackballing him over the way he started kneeling demonstrations during pregame national anthems.

In fact, the QB sued the league a few years ago ... and the parties settled out of court. The NFL didn't publicly admit to blackballing Colin.

That's the way these things are commonly done. The defendant agrees to settle out of court on the condition it doesn't have to admit responsibility and the plaintiff's attorney, who wants a payday and to move on to other cases, persuades his/her client of the relative insignificance of the principle involved.

Chatting with Tucker Carlson, Tafoya pointed to "the most terrifying thing in the world to me right now that people are afraid to talk" while attributing Colin Kaepernick's absence from the National Football League to disinterest on his part.  Asked a moment earlier about her son's situation, Tafoya had remarked (seen at 5:02 of the video below) 

I don't care if I'm attacked. I really am not afraid of that and I guess I feel like so many people now are afraid of that and I guess I feel like so many people now are afraid, and I'm not. Listen, I know there are repercussions for whatever I say....



Tafoya might have said that Kaepernick was overrated (which I always believed he was), although it would be difficult to convince anyone he didn't deserve even a tryout in a league with such starting quarterbacks as Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, and Davis Mills (Davis Mills?). Instead, she argued that a quarterback still working out four years after being blackballed, and whose stated goal is to win a Super Bowl, is insufficiently committed to the game.

It's very likely that she disagreed with the aims of the quarterback's protest, a legitimate albeit controversial, position. However, she won't acknowledge that. Instead, she boasts of being unafraid of going against the grain in expressing her political beliefs. It remains unknown whether she realizes that sacrificing career for principle quite neatly defines Colin Kaepernick.

 


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Vaccination As Priority


As Merrit Kennedy of NPR reports

Voters in San Francisco recalled three members of the school board on Tuesday following a tumultuous period that included fights over remote learning, renaming schools, a First Amendment lawsuit and changes to the admissions process at the city's most elite public high school. Early results showed that voters overwhelmingly supported removing the three members of the board, with people voting yes in each measure by at least 72%.

School Board President Gabriela Lopez, Commissioner Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison M. Collins lost their seats on the seven member panel. Moliga conceded, and Lopez vowed to run again in November.

Mayor London Breed had supported the recall while she

had questioned the school board's priorities. In January 2021, it spent time debating a plan to rename 44 public schools - among them those named for Abraham Lincoln, and current U.S. Senator and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein. Breed, at the time, said she could not understand "why the school board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn't a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then."

Near the end of the report, NPR acknowledges "Breed will now select three new commissioners to fill the new vacancies." That might have had something to do with her support, especially given that the Mayor has not opposed renaming schools, at one point remarking "this is an important conversation to have."  Sadly, the school board played into the hands of the opportunistic mayor as it tried to rush its plan into effect. A rookie mistake.



Getting schools completely reopened is an immensely difficult, but not insurmountable, problem. And the solution should not involve mandatory, universal masking.

Since October, covid-19 vaccines have been required for all schoolchildren in California, absent (according to The New York Times) a "personal or religious" objection (the latter a loophole to drive a Dodge Ram through). Nonetheless, as of a couple of weeks ago, slightly fewer than two-thirds of 12- to 17-year old youngsters, and only one-fourth of elementary school children, had been fully vaccinated.

That owes in part to the reticence of many parents. Additionally, vaccines for older children come in vials with six doses, and pediatric vaccines come in vials with 10 doses which must be administered in a 12-hour period. And there is an insufficient number of sites which administer vaccines to young people.

Nonetheless, that problem probably would be overcome if there were a commitment, absent despite the bill signed by Governor Newsome in October, to vaccination. Every child would have to be vaccinated. Those who secure an exemption would be excused but would have to wear a mask. Vaccines for the young would become widely available.

It would not be simple to require most, but not all, children to wear a mask, and California legislators and the governor would have made it easier if they had excluded the religious exemption. (I'm waiting to learn of the religion that forbids masks or recommends death by communicable virus.) Numerous other vaccines are required for all schoolchildren without a medical objection.

California should require children who are not vaccinated to wear masks. Others, whose parents are responsible enough to get their children vaccinated, should not be penalized. Wearing masks is not conducive to learning. It was necessary sans vaccination. If we were serious, it would not be now.

 


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Three-Fifths Of An Asset



In the 1980s, Partnership for a Drug-Free America ran a commercial featuring a fried egg and the tagline "This is your brain on drugs." If this were run today, it could replace the egg with Tulsi Gabbard.

For one, Gabbard seems to believe that Hillary Clinton is now President, and a very bad one, at that. In the chat with Fox's Jessie Watters, she cites "people who are integral in making this happen, people like Jake Sullivan, now holding very influential positions of power....." because of, evidently, the Wicked Witch of Chautauqua, New York. From that venue, she is pulling strings "undermining our democracy." (Imagine if she actually held a political office!)

The Durham investigation makes clear that Hillary Clinton and the power elite spied on the Trump campaign and White House.  But no such thing was found by the investigator hired by Attorney General Bill Barr to undermine the apparent legitimacy of the investigation into the connection between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia. Instead, as The New York Times' Charlie Savage explains

filing never said the White House data that came under scrutiny was from the Trump era. According to lawyers for David Dagon, a Georgia Institute of Technology data scientist who helped develop the Yota analysis, the data — so-called DNS logs, which are records of when computers or smartphones have prepared to communicate with servers over the internet — came from Barack Obama’s presidency.

Michael Sussman, the cybersecurity lawyer with connections to the Democratic Party, has been charged by Durham of lying to the FBI about information that he had received from a client, a technology executive named Rodney Joffe, whose spokesman, according to Savage, maintains

After Russians hacked networks for the White House and Democrats in 2015 and 2016, it went on, the cybersecurity researchers were “deeply concerned” to find data suggesting Russian-made YotaPhones were in proximity to the Trump campaign and the White House, so “prepared a report of their findings, which was subsequently shared with the C.I.A.”

The alleged connection, let alone any actual connection, to Hillary Clinton is tenuous. But so is it to the "warmongering" Gabbard charges when she claims

And what they're doing is telling the American people, they're telling us that, hey, you've got to be ready to go to war with Russia or other countries to "spread democracy," to "protect democracy...."

While severe economic sanctions have been threatened by President Biden, the Administration has not suggested sending American troops, or even bombing Russian or Ukrainian territory, or urging citizens "to be ready to go to war with Russia." It was unavoidable that, with anyone but Donald Trump as President, that the Russian

threat is being taken seriously because Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and seized its territory....

An estimated 100,000 Russian troops have been deployed close to Ukraine's borders and a reported 30,000 more are engaged in exercises in Belarus, close to its 1,084km (674 miles) border with Ukraine. The Belarus exercises are scheduled to end on 20 February.

There is significantly less evidence that Tulsi Gabbard is an asset (of the Kremlin) than there is of Donald Trump.. Merely taking away the "et" from "asset" is a better fit.


 



Sunday, February 13, 2022

Two Senate Races


As can be seen at approximately 6:34 of the video below, Jake Tapper popular Maryland governor Larry Hogan, who is admired in the media as a "moderate Republican," whether he is "losing the soul for the battle of the Republican Party." Hogan responds "I think we've made tremendous progress because we went from about 80-some percent (e.g., of Republicans) that wanted to re-elect Donald Trump to 50. That's a huge drop."


Assume for the moment that Tapper believes, as he has made fairly obvious, that the benign "soul" of the GOP is the far-right party as it has been for many decades, absent the racism, misogyny, and crudeness of Donald Trump. With that the case, the answer to Tapper's question is fairly obvious, as two primary campaigns for Senate (and much else) demonstrate. Those campaigns also may signal the end, or at least the decline, of what we once thought was a significant social movement.

Eric Greitens last March announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for the US Senate seat currently held by the retiring Richard Burr. The following week, Mother Jones' Madison Pauly, noting that Greitens had resigned as governor in 2018 "amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted and blackmailed his former hairdresser" but now claims he was exonerated, summarized

Greitens is accused of sexual assault and blackmail, and a recording of his victim speaking about the abuse is the basis for a local news investigation. A jury finds the evidence solid enough to indict him on related charges. An investigator flubs a deposition, and the prosecutor is forced to pull back. The criminal cases against Greitens may have gone away, but he was hardly “exonerated.”

Eleven months after the former governor entered the race, blogger Steve M. notes

Eric Greitens has been credibly accused of financial crimes and sexual assault and was forced to resign as governor of Missouri a few years back; he now leads in primary polls and has internal polling from a reputable pollster showing him with significant leads against both unnamed and named Democrats.

Steve M. points out also that in Georgia, "Herschel Walker, who threatened his ex-wife's life on more than one occasion and has other baggage, is slightly ahead of incumbent Raphael Warnock in most polls."

Georgia until fairly recently had been a solid Republican state. However, it was carried by Joe Biden in the presidential race, by Warnock and Jon Ossoff in their successful bids to become US senators, and Democrats are hopeful that Stacey Abrams will win the Statehouse this fall. By contrast, Missouri, once a swing state, has grown increasingly Republican.

But Greitens and Walker have a couple of things in common. Walker has been endorsed by Donald Trump while Trump has made no endorsement in Missouri, though Greitens' campaign is staffed by veteran Trump hands. Moreover, Greitens, The Washington Post reports, has "gone all in on Trump’s false claims of election fraud, even embracing the idea that a new ballot count in Arizona and other states could lead to President Biden being replaced by Trump before the next presidential election."

The two candidates appear corrupt but that is an old, if extremely serious, problem with individuals in, or seeking, political office.  However, they've both been seemingly threatening toward women- Greitens with a woman with whom he was having an affair and Walker toward his ex-wife. Politically, both are sitting pretty less than five years after the height of the "Me, Too" movement.  If you have a good memory, you remember those heady days of the empowerment of women.

Trying to sound optimistic, Larry Hogan is whistling in the wind if he believes that the Not Trump effort is viable in the Republican Party.  Additionally, the Me, Too" movement has failed in what presumably was one of its goals, keeping abusive men out of powerful positions.  The concurrent weakness of both efforts may not be coincidental.



Friday, February 11, 2022

Tweet Of The Day- An Archetypal Republican


Nancy Mace's adoration of Donald Trump is not unique in the Republican Party. Moreover, her timing . characterizes the approach of her Republican Party toward legislating and other aspects of governing.

Mace claims President Trump lowered taxes, increased wages and employment, made America safer, confronted China, and presided over an increasingly strong nation and free and democratic world.

In 2020, the murder rate rose to its highest level since 1997. Admittedly, the President of the USA has little influence over the incidence of murder, a reality GOP pols and pundits are neglecting as they trumpet the increase in murders over the past year or so. Joining them is the mainstream media, which assists the GOP by ignoring context- the decline in many categories of crime and the far greater roles played by local and state governments and others in fighting crime.

Public health obviously didn't improve in the Trump Administration, most obviously through the spread of Covid-19, much of which was preventable. We all know that the President told Bob Woodward, author of Rage, in February, 2019 that he "wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic." Instead, Americans died.

Trump told Woodward at the time also that the coronavirus "goes through air" but didn't see fit to inform the American people.  After publication of Woodward's book, the President stated in September in a White House briefing

This is stuff that everyone knew. There’s a report that I have here someplace where China said it was airborne earlier than the statements I made. People knew it was airborne. This was nothing. When I say it was airborne, everybody knew it was airborne. This was no big thing. Read the reports. China came out with a statement that it was an airborne disease. I heard it was an airborne disease. I assumed it early on.

As explained by CNBC, Beijing made conflicting statements as to whether it was airborne. However, this was not the only time that Trump, whom Mace argues "took on China directly," shilled for mainland China on the disease.  The President praised the Asian behemoth at least eleven (11) times for its handling of the coronavirus.

But then, Trump shilled for dictators maybe as often as he flushed classified documents down the toilet. Though freedom and democracy declined, rather than expanded, around the world during Trump's tenure as President, that was a continuation of a 15+ year trend. Rather, Trump's larger contribution was to express his love and respect for dictators  across the world.

Similarly, Representative Mace's impeccable timing contributes to an understanding of her Party.  The previous day, Trump had lustly endorsed the incumbent's primary challenger, stating "Katie Arrington is running against an absolutely terrible candidate, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, whose remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal."

Mace's obsequious remarks were not made despite Trump's criticism but partly because of it. Intimidated by and enamored of, "strength," Macy employed the adjective "stronger" twice and once claimed the President had "taken on China directly."

When in September, 2020 President Trump rationalized his minimization and trivialization of the novel coronavirus as "leadership," he remarked "Certainly I'm not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We have to show strength."

The obsession with strength exhibited by Donald Trump and Mace characterizes, to a lesser extent, the Republican Party generally. Republicans are not seeking agreement with Democrats or trying to solve the nation's problems. The interests of the country are not secondary for them, nor even tertiary. The more America falters, they reason, the greater their electoral prospects, bipartisanship be damned.  Winning is their business and their only business. Neither Democrats, nor what there is of the liberal media, understand this.

 


Thursday, February 10, 2022

"Crack Pipes"


 



There is indeed stiff competition and it is intended to score a cheap political point. But it doesn't seem to be made out of whole cloth.

The rumor began when the right-wing Washington Free Beacon maintained

The Biden administration is set to fund the distribution of crack pipes to drug addicts as part of its plan to advance "racial equity."

The $30 million grant program, which closed applications Monday and will begin in May, will provide funds to nonprofits and local governments to help make drug use safer for addicts. Included in the grant, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, are funds for "smoking kits/supplies." A spokesman for the agency told the Washington Free Beacon that these kits will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and "any illicit substance."

HHS said the kits aim to reduce the risk of infection when smoking substances with glass pipes, which can lead to infections through cuts and sores. Applicants for the grants are prioritized if they treat a majority of "underserved communities," including African Americans and "LGBTQ+ persons," as established under President Joe Biden's executive order on "advancing racial equity."

If a report ends with "President Biden's son Hunter is a longtime user of crack cocaine," which is probably both inaccurate and irrelevant, it should be taken with a grain of salt- or at least subject to strict scrutiny.

As specified here, one of the five indicators grant recipients must report on a quarterly basis are twelve "harm reduction materials purchased with grant funds." Among these is "safe smoking kits/supplies," to which some drug treatment professionals are partial.  An Indian publication notes

Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit that advocates for drug law reform, likened the strategy to approaches people are more familiar with, like using condoms for sexual health and wellness.

“What research has consistently shown us is that when we give people access to safer smoking equipment, it’s resulted in increased health risk awareness for people that are using drugs,” Frederique told HuffPost.

“People are using drugs. It’s really important for us to give people information and educate folks about ways they can moderate their drug use or reduce the risk that can happen with some kinds of drug use,” she explained.

Nonetheless

“No federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits,” ​​Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and White House drug czar Dr. Rahul Gupta said in a statement, adding that they plan to prioritize the use of life-saving medications like Narcan, fentanyl test strips and syringes.

“Federal funding will not be used to put pipes in the kits or distribute them,” a senior administration official also told HuffPost. “Today, [HHS] clarified that no federal funding can be used for some specific elements that may be included in those kits. The contents of kits often vary by state based upon federal and state law.”

It was a mistake, both politically and programmatically, to encourage "safe smoking kits/supplies" in the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Harmful Reduction Program Grant.   However, the federal government, though providing no direct funding, now is encouraging local jurisdictions to establish or continue programs which provide glass (considered safer than copper, plastic or aluminum) pipes for individuals to smoke methamphetamine or crack cocaine.

This is not relatively benign marijuana. This is the real deal, and not in a good way. The surrender to a drug culture of crack, opioids, and prescription drugs is off and running. This may not sincerely concern most Republicans. Yet, as the tweet from Senator Rubio indicates, they will find a way of tying drug use around the necks of Democrats unaware of how their sympathy toward drug users will be perceived by voters and disingenuously exploited by Republicans.

 


Tuesday, February 08, 2022

The Unexpected


Is Sunny Hostin, ABC legal analyst and The View panelist, less politically correct (old term) or woke (contemporary term) than Joe Rogin, the nation's most popular podcaster by views?  In June, 2015 CNN reported

President Barack Obama used the n-word during an interview released Monday to make a point that there’s still plenty of room for America to combat racism.

“Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” Obama said in an interview for the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron.”

“That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

That evening, when the following exchange on CNN took place, Hostin took a sensible position which far too few individuals are afraid to voice. (Her perspective on the role of journalists, seen in the latter part of the video, was far less defensible.)  At the time, Hostin was a legal analyst for the network and when asked by Wolf Blitzer whether the President was "right" to use the term, stated

I don't think so. I was surprised. I was shocked. I was disappointed. I think language matters, especially when that language is coming from the leader of the Free World, the President of the United States, especially as an African-American man.

I think what it does, quite frankly, Wolf, is give people the feeling that they, too, can use it. We hear that argument being made oftentimes.  Well, rappers use it, so I can use it, too, and I think that the President was sort of ill-advised in thinking that he either was going to be  provocative or be instructive and nuanced because we all know he's a wordsmith. We know that he chooses his words carefully. So I don't thing this was an accidental use of the term but it now opens up the fields for others using it....



It gives people license. If the term is verboten because blacks are offended by it ,and  people observe or hear a black man himself using it, can it really be so offensive?

In contrast, Joe Rogan, who a few years back believed as a white man he was entitled to say "n_ _ _ _ _" repeatedly, now seems to believe that it is precisely because he is white that he cannot. Rogan

used the word more than 20 times in the clips from different podcast episodes, which he said were compiled over a span of 12 years. In his apology, Rogan said it's the "most regretful and shameful thing" he has ever had to address publicly.

"I know that to most people, there's no context where a White person is ever allowed to say that, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that," he said. "Now, I haven't said it in years," Rogan added.

"I know that to most people, there's no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that... and I agree with that." This is the true politically correct, or "woke," position.  Whether it's because she's African-American (on her father's side, Puerto Rican on her mother's side) or for some other reason, Hostin felt free to tell the truth.

For others, the n-word is a horrible, toxic word and blacks may use it publicly- which naturally encourages non-blacks to use it. Privilege, indeed




Monday, February 07, 2022

Tweet Of The Day- Bipartisanship



Bunch did not cite one particular example, of which there are many, but it could apply to this:

In a resolution formally censuring GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the Republican National Committee on Friday described the events surrounding the January 6, 2021 insurrection -- which have been at the center of a House probe -- as "legitimate political discourse."

A copy of the resolution obtained by CNN claimed that the two lawmakers were "participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse" from their perches on the House select committee, which has conducted interviews with close to 400 individuals -- from members of former President Donald Trump's inner circle to organizers who helped plan the "Stop the Steal" rally on the morning of January 6.

As Bunch recognizes, there can be no bipartisanship where there is no agreement on what the issues, let alone the facts. And when there is no agreement on basic values, including democracy and the rule of law, bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship can mean only surrender to proto-fascism.



 


Saturday, February 05, 2022

Affirmative Action, Not Affirmative Action



Let's be honest. A few days ago, NBC News reported

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., compared President Joe Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court to affirmative action, prompting the White House to defend Biden’s move as building on past presidential promises that elevated women to the high court.

In an interview on a local radio show, the senator was asked if Biden was demeaning his future nominee’s qualifications by using race or gender as a criteria.

“The irony is the Supreme Court, at the very same time, is hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination and while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota," he said on "The Paul Gallo Show.” “The majority of the court might be saying, writ large, it’s unconstitutional. We’ll see how that irony works out."

“I’ll guarantee you this, Paul. This new justice will probably not get a single Republican vote," Wicker added.

I don't think he meant "irony." It might be "because" or more likely "coincidentally." Instead, irony would be were I to criticize a United States Senator because he uses (incorrectly) one of my favorite words.

Nonetheless, if President Biden's nominee, a black woman, fails to get a single Republican vote, it will not be because of her race or gender.

Wicker is being disingenuous. The irony is that Emma Vigeland, co-host/second banana on Sam Seder's The Majority Report (video below), also is being disingenuous in criticizing the Senator.  On Biden's three-woman shortlist is J. Michelle Childs, a former corporate lawyer being promoted by House Majority Whip and kingmaker Jim Clyburn, and Vigeland usefully points out

I don't know if that's in representing companies who were the subject of discrimination complaints, not the people making the discrimination complaints. And so the left and the people who are actually talking about these three candidates who are mostly being discussed. Unlike what the right tries to portray, we are actually talking about, the substance of their qualifications. But they want to pretend that that's not the case because it's an easy straw man and it's an easy way to drum up racial resentment.

It is an easy way to drum up racial resentment, though partisanship is far more critical to GOP opposition than is race. However, is dismissive about victims of employment discrimination, adding

If you got a job or you lost a job as a white person and you feel like it's, oh, because my company has to make these racial quotas, etc. That's easy chum for them because there's no obscure way they can say this is too close to an election. I mean, this is what they've settled on.

This is not what they've settled on. I don't know what Judiciary Committee Republicans will settle on, but it won't be affirmative action. And that's only in part because it accounts for the nomination, thus eventual approval, of Amy Coney Barrett (gender), Clarence Thomas (race), and Sandra Day O'Connor (gender). "There's no obscure way," Vigeland says, that the GOP can pull up the Merrick Garland dodge because it's not close to an election. Nor can the Party claim that Biden has resorted to "affirmative action" without making the issue explicitly about race.

No, Republicans will make some other charge the centerpiece of their campaign.  And they will do so even though Joe Biden already has done his best to make race the central issue

Let's be fair- and honest. It was former vice-president Joe Biden, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President, who privately promised South Carolina's Clyburn that his nomination for the first vacancy on the Supreme Court would be a black woman. It was Biden who was reminded by Clyburn backstage during intermission of a debate before the South Carolina primary of the promise. It was the Delawarean who the next day was endorsed by Clyburn, who then swept to victory in the primary and went on to sweep away and all challengers on his way to the nomination. 

It was Joe Biden and Joe Biden alone who made race the primary. gender the secondary, issue in the Supreme Court selection.  Having made that promise, he will properly nominate a black woman for the tenured, extraordinarily desirable position. She will be very well qualified because there are  many black women who are. In all likelihood, she will be relatively young (as is necessary) and probably will help rectify the ideological imbalance of the Court. 

It was Joe Biden who, dead in the water before South Carolina, decided to exploit the racial divide already promoted by the Republican Party, the entertainment industry, and others.  Youth and health, principles and beliefs are far more crucial than race or gender to the effort to maintain the republic and promote laws and policies which will benefit the nation.  Republicans realize that, and that is what they most despise.

 

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Resist The Temptation


Stop apologizing. For the love of God, stop apologizing.

This post is not directed at Republicans. They have learned over the past several years that refusal to apologize can get one a) elected to the presidency; b) great financial riches while President; c) ability to remain free from indictment while some people get indicted for possession of marijuana and occasionally less; b) considered the individual most likely to become the 47th President of the United States of America.

Democrats and the left, having failed to make the connection, have learned none of that. And so it was that Whoopi Goldberg, who on Monday contended that the Holocaust was not about race, made amends on Tuesday in the best way possible when

“So yesterday on our show, I misspoke,” said a contrite-sounding Goldberg, 66, adding that she wanted viewers to “hear it from me directly.”

“I said that the Holocaust wasn’t about race, and it was instead about man’s inhumanity to man — but it is indeed about race, because Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race,” she finally acknowledged.

“Words matter, and mine are no exception,” said Goldberg, who had confusingly repeated many of her initial claims during a late-night TV chat hours after first apologizing Monday.

“I regret my comments, and I stand corrected. I also stand with the Jewish people,” she told her viewers Tuesday.

That was her mistake. "Words matter, and mine are no exception," coupled with "I regret my comments, and I stand corrected" did her in. Whoopie G. was not suspended despite having apologized; she was suspended in part because she did apologize.

She expressed regret not only for the impact of her words, which often takes the place of apology. Instead, she stated "words matter" and "I stand corrected," thus acknowledging error. Then The View gave several minutes to Anti-Defamation League National Director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt to remind us of the horror of the Holocaust and lay out the perspective of the Jewish community.

Deeply appreciate @WhoopiGoldberg inviting me on to @TheView today to have an important discussion on the importance of educating about the Holocaust. Whoopi has been a long-time ally of the Jewish community and @ADL and her apology is very much welcome. twitter.com/ADL/status/148…

Whoopi's was a wide-ranging statement of regret followed by an opportunity, which Greenblatt made the most of, for a representative of the opposing viewpoint to educate the audience.

In today's cancel culture, that sort of thing is a mistake, one Democrats are wont to make.  Once someone concedes error- the principled response- few people have reason to rally to her cause because she herself has admitted being in the wrong.  And opponents see it only as a sign of weakness.

Moreover, as this tweeter noted, "Whoopi apologized. Said she was wrong. Said she will change her thought and still was suspended. What is the point in apologizing and realizing you are wrong? Horrible precedent...."

It does no good for the individuals who made the mistake, nor for their supporters.   They appear weak, pandering to people who are  encouraged to continue their purge of opinions which are hurtful to their sensitive souls. It has gone too far- America knows it, and voters know it.



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