Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Who Ron DeSantis Is


A comedian active on Twitter whose tongue is in his cheek:

With DeSantis’s appointment of loyalists to a board overseeing Disney, mirroring how he is deconstructing FL education to suit his white supremacist world views, how long until there’s a ‘whites only’ day at Disney World? Ron is a racist.

As far as we know, DeSantis' views do not constitute classic "racism," though he may be a white supremacist and surely is trying to increase racial antagonism. However, even that objective is probably not among the governor's one or two major objectives.  CNN reports

Students and faculty at the New College of Florida are planning to demonstrate during a board of trustees meeting Tuesday after Gov. Ron DeSantis launched a conservative takeover of the small public liberal arts college.

In January, DeSantis replaced six of the 13 members on the college’s board of trustees with conservative allies, including Christopher Rufo, who has fueled the fight against critical race theory. The new board forced out the college’s president and appointed DeSantis ally Richard Corcoran as interim president. Corcoran will earn a base salary of $699,000.

DeSantis’ office insists that the New College of Florida in Sarasota has seen declining enrollment and focuses too heavily on diversity and inclusion, critical race theory and gender ideology.

But the ideology goes well beyond race and gender for Rufo, about whom Salon last April explained 

Earlier this week, the man who's been widely credited with single-handedly willing the "critical race theory" panic into existence (even if the truth is a bit more complex), laid out a new set of marching orders for the right: Defund public universities, discard academic freedom, remove credentialing requirements for K-12 teachers and generally foster so much anger against public schools that it drives a nationwide popular movement to privatize education.

For Ron DeSantis, governor of "where woke goes to die," the attacks on school libraries, gay individuals, and racial minorities are largely a diversion, intended to rouse the passion of the GOP primary voters he will be courting in a presidential race. In the phrase a half century old, this is where it's at: 


The President should not be able to control every federal government "bureaucrat," as the Florida governor contemptuously calls them. If they can be fired at will, unions would be undermined- much to the delight of the donor class- and a President DeSantis would amass far more power than a President currently has. Government- except for employees spared DeSantis' scalpel- would be eviscerated. As government shrinks, he'd be able to exercise ever more control.

Above all, this guy wants to amass power. If liberals peer at the shiny object of race- he's a racist!- they will not understand what Ron DeSantis really is after. 

 



Monday, February 27, 2023

An Interview Turned to a Chat



Bryan Cranston is an actor, so he has an excuse. But what is Chris Wallace's excuse?

On Sunday night's "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace?" the host asked Bryan Cranston "You got into a tussle recently with Bill Maher about critical race theory and 'wokeness'. When you look at the political discourse today and the role that media plays in it, what do you think?" Cranston replied

It's difficult to try to find truly unbiased reporting, news that really is straight shooters. You know, this conversation I had with Bill, we're talking about critical race theory and I think it's imperative that it's taught, that we look at our history much the same, I think that Germany has looked at their history, involvement in the wars, one and two, and embrace it. This is where we went wrong, this is how it went wrong. 

When I see the Make America Great Again, my comment is "do you accept that could possibly be construed as a racist remark?" And most people- a lot of people- go "how could that be racist? Make America great again?"  I said "so just ask yourself, from an African American experience, "when was it ever great in America for the African American? When was it great? So if you're making it great again, it's not including them.


 


Wallace should have asked Cranston whether America is great- even "exceptional"- despite its brutal treatment of African-Americans or if the oppression of a large minority of American citizens precludes it from being considered exceptional. It's a fundamental question upon which proponents (think Joe Scarborough) of the first view are invariably given a pass.

More obviously is Wallace's failure to pursue clarification of the first and third statements Cranston made. The actor claimed "it's difficult to try to find truly unbiased reporting." Well, no, it's not, given that media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal (on the news side), and a few others still exist. Whether Cranston was referring to them- a hard-right trope- or to cable news networks was left unexplored. If the actor was referring to cable news, it would have been edifying to hear whether he was thinking of Fox News, which reportedly promoted election denialism while knowing it was fictitious, or CNN and MSNBC. It's important.

Still, that was not Wallace's most serious oversight. Cranston maintained 

I think it's imperative that (CRT) be taught, that we look at our history much the same, I think, that Germany has looked at their history, involvement in the wars, one and two, and embrace it. 

Beside invading the U.S.S.R.,  the Third Reich invaded and occupied Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece. The Nazi regime persecuted Jehovah's Witnesses, Roma (Gypsies), homosexuals, disabled individuals, and others- including blacks, many of whom were sterilized or put into concentration camps. 

And Jews, six million or so who were exterminated because Adolph Hitler erroneously believed they constituted a separate race and unworthy (as he believed of others) to co-exist with the Aryan super race. For those who are confused by abuse of the term "genocide:" that was genocide.

Yet, our history and that of World War II-era Germany are analogous, according to Bryan Cranston, who believes that his superior understanding of American history must be taught to all Americans. Nonetheless, Cranston can be dismissed as being merely ignorant, though as an actor, it might have been an effort to impress fans with a false impression of open-mindedness.  

Chris Wallace, however, is a well-paid, long-time journalist, and Jewish, which can be expected to make him slightly more alert to comparisons with Nazi Germany.  A veteran of ABC News, Fox News, and now CNN, he has in the past proven to be a fairly skilled interviewer with the leverage of a respected veteran. 

Yet, confronted with two highly questionable remarks as well as support for the controversial Critical Race Theory, Wallace pivoted to asking Cranston about "Breaking Bad."  If Wallace freely chose to discuss entertainment rather than the nation's racial past, it was his choice. If his bosses at CNN or Warner Bros. Discovery have set that priority, it's a case of a cable news heavyweight cheating his audience.



Sunday, February 26, 2023

Not Homophobia (Gayphobia?)



I like Aaron Rupar and Donald Trump Jr. is reprehensible. But Rupar is simply wrong here.


A "phobia" is a fear and there is no indication that Donald Trump Jr. fears gay people. Presumably, Rupar simply means that Junior's tweet reflects hostility toward homosexuals. (The term is "homophobia," not "gayphobia.") 

On December 3, 2020 President-elect Biden

said he had a meeting scheduled with the NAACP on Tuesday. NAACP President Derrick Johnson told CNN Wednesday that his organization and other civil rights groups had requested time with Biden and Harris to discuss the incoming administration and ensuring minority and civil rights representation in their agenda.

“Their job is to push me,” Biden said, noting every advocacy group is “pushing for more and more and more of what they want. That’s their job.”

“My job is to keep my commitment to make the decisions,” Biden said. “And when it’s all over people will take a look and say, I promise you, you’ll see the most diverse Cabinet representative of all folks, Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, across the board.”

As of that date, he had made four nominations to his cabinet. They were a black woman as UN Ambassador; a Cuban-American to be the Secretary of Homeland Security; a South Asian as director of the Office of Management and Budget; and a black woman to be chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisors.  The diversity, as Biden's statement suggested, was not coincidental.

After the former vice president's pivotal victory in the South Carolina primary, Buttigieg withdrew from the presidential race, after which Amy Klobuchar did the same. Klobuchar then endorsed Biden and within hours Buttigieg had done so, also.

To be sure, when Biden announced the nomination of Buttigieg twelve days after boasting there would be a Cabinet of Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, across the board," he did not cite the sexual preference of the former mayor and presidential candidate, Instead, he described him as "a patriot and a problem solver."  Buttigieg is indeed a patriot. However, he had never established himself as a problem solver and clearly has not done so as transportation secretary, ineffectually responding to deceptive practices and flight cancellations of airlines and insufficiently regulating railroad safety procedures.

He did, however, offer something Klobuchar, whom it appears was not offered a cabinet post, could not. The President-elect had Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos covered; also, obviously, women. Yet, something was missing. 

If Buttigieg wasn't selected in part because he is gay, the nation's news media was thoroughly fooled. On February 2, 2020, The New York Times reported

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Pete Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, to be transportation secretary, putting in place the official who will help oversee President Biden’s overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure.

By a vote of 86 to 13, the Senate made Mr. Buttigieg, 39, the nation’s first openly gay cabinet secretary to be confirmed by the upper chamber and Mr. Biden’s youngest cabinet member.

The Times, recognizing the importance of the Secretary's challenge to help transform the nation's infrastructure, waited until its second sentence to note that Buttigieg was "the nation's first openly gay cabinet secretary." ABC News and NPR eagerly noted in their very first sentence that he had "made history" as "the first openly gay" individual to win Senate confirmation to run a Cabinet department. 

Pete Buttigieg's failure thus far to be an effective Transportation secretary has nothing to do with his sexual preference and if he succeeds in the future, it will have nothing to do with his sexual preference.  It's unclear whether Aaron Rupar nor Donald Trump Jr. fully understands this, and there is a tremendous amount of things to criticize the latter for. However, when he asserts that the former South Bend mayor was selected because he is gay, he is not homophobic and very likely not wrong.



Friday, February 24, 2023

Tim Scott Accidentally Calls Out Hero


On November 2, 2002, Steve Benen, editor of MaddowBlog, wrote

In December 2015, then-candidate Trump was asked about Putin’s habit of invading countries and killing critics. “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader,” Trump replied, “unlike what we have in this country.” Reminded that Putin has been accused of ordering the murder of critics and journalists, Trump added, “Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also.”

In a July 2016 interview with The New York Times, the Republican went on to argue that the United States lacks the moral authority to lead, because we’re just not a good enough country to command respect abroad. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger,” he said.

There’s never been a president, from either party, who’s been so cavalier about America lacking in credibility. Sentiments such as “When the world looks at how bad the United States is...” are usually heard from America’s opponents, not America’s president. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg noted during the 2016 campaign that Barack Obama “has never spoken as negatively about America as Donald Trump has....

That's not because it would be risky for a black man to be as critical of the USA as has Donald Trump. No Democrat would be allowed to question the nation's moral authority to lead or to draw a moral equivalence between our nation and Putin's Russia.

Benen had written in response to Trump's Truth Social post in which the former President exclaimed

The Witch Hunt continues, and after 6 years and millions of pages of documents, they’ve got nothing. If I had what Hunter and Joe had, it would be the Electric Chair. Our Country is Rigged, Crooked, and Evil — We must bring it back, and FAST. Next stop, Communism!

Writing six days before the November election, Benen noted that the media had not been so rude as to ask Republican candidates their opinion of Trump's assessment of our nation as "evil."

The price for this abject failure may now be coming due.  Previewing the "Faith in America" tour of South Carolina Republican senator Tim Scott leading up to the announcement of his presidential candidacy, Politico Playbook wrote

“Pretend you were our nation’s greatest enemy,” he’ll say, per the prepared remarks. “Say you wanted a blueprint to ruin America. What would you put in it? First, you’d take aim at our patriotism. [Y]ou’d amplify attention-seekers who say America is an evil country. Make it easy to get rich and famous by feeding the empty calories of anger to people who are starving for hope. In other words … you’d keep doing exactly what JOE BIDEN has let the far left do to our country for the last two years.”

First, you'd take aim at our patriotism. He could have been speaking of Joe Biden if Biden were the President who said of his own State of the Union Address

You're up there, you've got half the room going totally crazy, wild -- they loved everything, they want to do something great for our country. And you have the other side, even on positive news -- really positive news, like that -- they were like death and un-American. Un-American. "Somebody said, 'treasonous.' I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much.



Take away the last sentence of the quote in Politico, and you'd figure that Senator Scott was talking about the man who in July of 2019 tweeted

I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country. They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!

Not only the squad but also center-left Adam Schiff:


No one- except for Marjorie Taylor Greene- has sought attention as has Donald J. Trump. No known Democrat has referred to the USA as "evil," as has Donald J. Trump. No Democrat has as consistently run down this country- his own country- as has Donald J. Trump.

Scott delivered the GOP rebuttal  to President Biden's State of the Union message in April, 2021. He stated that he had "experienced the pain of discrimination," including being "pulled over for no reason; "followed around a store while I'm shopping;" and "called 'Uncle Tom' and the n-word by progressives, by liberals."   Having thus described a racist country, he then declared "hear me clearly: America is not a racist country."


Aside from observing that the Senator is fond of embracing victimhood, I pulled my punches and acknowledged merely that "he is not being candid."  Scott, a faithful supporter of Donald Trump, remains a supporter even now that he evidently has decided that he wants to be President of the United States of America. If either man developed an ounce of integrity, it would be an ounce more than he has.



Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Two People, Two Ideas



As a presidential nominee, Joe Biden stated “America was an idea, an idea. We hold these truths to be self evident.’ We’ve never lived up to it, but we’ve never walked away from it before. And I just think we have to be more honest. Let our kids know, as we raise them, what actually did happen. Acknowledge our mistakes so we don’t repeat them."

On September 1, 2021 the President remarked "this is where America made its Declaration of Independence to the world more than two centuries ago with an idea, unique among nations, that in America, we’re all created equal."  And on the first anniversary of the attempted coup, Biden declared

And with rights come responsibilities: the responsibility to see each other as neighbors – maybe we disagree with that neighbor, but they’re not an adversary; the responsibility to accept defeat then get back in the arena and try again the next time to make your case; the responsibility to see that America is an idea – an idea that requires vigilant stewardship.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, whom Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he "will never leave,"  has a competing idea. She won't accept defeat and won't compete in the arena of ideas and yearns for a land of exclusivity. Not surprisingly

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) resurrected her calls for a “national divorce” on Monday, arguing that Republican and Democratic states needed to be separated and the federal government needed to shrink, although it is unclear what prompted the thought.

“We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government,” Greene said on Twitter on Monday. “From the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done.”

Eight days ago, the Georgian previously most derided for believing in Jewish space lasers unloaded on "lazy and sorry" black people and white people. A week later, she would warn Democrats who move to a Republican state "you can live there, and you can work there, but you don’t get to bring your values that you basically created in the blue states you came from by voting for Democrat leaders and Democrat policies.”  Tuesdays are a busy day for Mrs. Greene.

This past December, at the annual gala in New York City of the New York Young Republicans, Greene had given her full-throated support to the attempted coup of January 6, 2021. Moreover

It was not the first time that Greene has suggested the idea of a “national divorce.” In late 2021, Greene said voters who brought “ruin” to California shouldn’t be allowed to do the same to a state like Florida.

“I will tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I organized that, we would have won,” she said, as attendees erupted in cheers and applause. “Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.”

Biden conceives of the idea of the USA as "all men are created equal."  That idea in the Declaration of Independence did not include women; or blacks; or men who didn't own land. It would be more accurate to illuminate the idea of representative democracy or of a democratic republic; a self-governing people.

Nonetheless, Biden's is the vision of a country which can and- with two steps forward and one step backward- gradually move toward a more perfect union, which coincides with Biden's ongoing optimism about the country. 

Responding last May to Democratic concerns about white supremacy in the wake of the mass shooting at a Buffalo, NY supermarket, Green commented "we should go after criminals that break the law and not pursue people based on their skin color and how they vote. But that's what the Democrats want to do."

Alas, it turns out that pursuing people and purging them from the country because of how they vote is a fundamental belief for Marjorie Taylor Green. It's an idea of two nations, divisible, with liberty and justice for anyone registered as Republican. It's ideal for someone who believes this nation was not founded on an idea but on a people: Christian, economically comfortable, and white if at all possible. 

 


Monday, February 20, 2023

No Equivalence


CNN This Morning is a train wreck and as Heather Schwedel of Slate explains, last week Nikki Haley announced 

her presidential run. In her speech, the former governor of South Carolina called for “mandatory mental competency tests” for politicians older than 75, and Lemon responded that this made him “uncomfortable.” He then said that Haley, who is 51, should stay away from criticizing politicians for being past their prime—because she’s already past hers. A woman’s prime, he went on, includes her “20s and 30s, and maybe 40s.” Lemon has since apologized for what he said—calling it ”inartful and irrelevant, ” which is not the same as “wrong”—but the moment was so bizarre that it’s worth lingering on.

Lemon’s two female co-anchors reacted immediately to his initial comments, asking what exactly he meant, but he doubled down with the following bit:

I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it. Everybody at home, when is a woman in her prime? It says 20s, 30s, and 40s. I’m just saying Nikki Haley should careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime, and they need to be in their prime when they serve, because she would not be in her prime according to Google or whatever it is.

Schwedel found that Google "does not, in fact, have an authoritative answer to when a woman is in her prime" which means it may be  "Her sexual peak? Her most beautiful? Her most fertile? Her most satisfied with her life? Her most capable in her career?"

Lemon's rant rivals in ludicrousness the comment from Nikki Haley which prompted it and Schwedel observed "it was jarring that Lemon made his point so confidently, like it was an open-and-shut case." Regrettably, "he 100 percent just heard that old saw about how a woman reaches her sexual prime in her late 30s (which is itself ill-defined and of unclear origins), took it as fact, and decided it also applied to politics."



However, Schwedel then went ludicrous herself, remarking "This also isn’t his first instance of making chauvinist comments on air—in December, he got in trouble for arguing male athletes should get paid more than female athletes."

"Chauvinist?" On that December 1 show

Lemon adamantly argued that the U.S. men’s national soccer team should get paid more than the women’s team despite their lack of comparative success, telling his female co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins that the men are simply “more interesting to watch.”

Co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins disagreed with Lemon, as did CNN data reporter Harry Enten, who argued

The women’s World Cup titles—they have won four since 1991. The men’s World Cup titles? They have won zero since 1930. So yes, the men’s tournament brings in more money, but when it comes to the U.S., I make the argument the women’s team is far more responsible for the boost in popularity in soccer.

The women have been more successful against their competition- much weaker competition- than men have been in theirs and Enten believes they have boosted the popularity of soccer more than have the men.

The latter claim is questionable, and virtually irrelevant to salary, as is the success of the women's national soccer team.  Lemon noted that the men are better than the women, also of little significance. However, he pointed out

But the men’s team makes more money. If they make more money, then they should get more money,” the veteran CNN host stated. “The men’s team makes more money because people are more interested in the men!

That would have been understood by Harlow, Collins, and Enten, had they maintained a semblance of objectivity. If they had decried the situation as unfair, they would have on firmer footing (especially as compared to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ) but instead chose to deny the obvious. 

In the private sector, employees aren't paid for being successful against lesser competition or for making all the other industries in the industry more popular.  They're paid more when they make more money, in this case greater revenue for the team. 

Americans commonly complain about professional athletes in the major sports- football, baseball, basketball and, to a lesser extent, hockey- are paid a huge salary.  In concept, those complaints are completely justified. Professional athletes are paid tremendously ell for adding nothing to the welfare or benefit of the country.  Sports are a game, and we all would survive without it.

Nevertheless, the owners are fabulously wealthy and become far wealthier once they buy a team while the players make them more money.  They produce for the owners, making them gobs more of money and are handsomely rewarded. Given the profit of the owners, the employees (players) probably are paid insufficiently, at least those who have not signed the most recent contracts. However, boosting their pay if they increase the profit of the owner and value of the business is the rational response of the business owner, however displeased it makes individuals who believe women and men should be paid equally no matter the circumstances.

Don Lemon should have kept quiet about women's prime time, whatever "prime" he was referring to. Women's soccer- and women's sports generally- are less profitable than the equivalent men's sport and therefore women are paid less than the men.  When Lemon compared salaries in women's and men's soccer, he was merely making an observation, and one which should have been offensive to no one. Facts matter, and so does accuracy.

 


Sunday, February 19, 2023

The Fox News Difference



In its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox and its parent company, Dominion Voting System maintains that

In the days and weeks after the 2020 elections, the Fox News Channel repeatedly broadcast false claims that then-President Donald Trump had been cheated of victory.

Off the air, the network's stars, producers and executives expressed contempt for those same conspiracies, calling them "mind-blowingly nuts," "totally off the rails" and "completely bs" - often in far earthier terms.

The network's top primetime stars - Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity - texted contemptuously of the claims in group chats, but also denounced colleagues pointing that out publicly or on television.

Ingraham called Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell "a bit nuts." Carlson, who famously demanded evidence from Powell on the air, privately used a vulgar epithet for women to describe her. A top network programming executive wrote privately that he did not believe the shows of Carlson, Hannity and Jeanine Pirro were credible sources of news.

Even so, top executives strategized about how to make it up to their viewers - among Trump's strongest supporters - after Fox News' election-night team correctly called the pivotal state of Arizona for Democratic nominee Joe Biden before other networks. A sense of desperation pervades the private notes from Fox's top stars, reflecting an obsession with collapsing ratings.

So it was an amazing case of bad timing (or chutzpah/gall) that the very night after this revelation, the host of "Dan Abrams Live" commented

One of the reasons so few trust the mainstream media is that so many refuse to accept and admit their biases. They're just neutral observers focusing on the fact. At least Fox News, their prime time folks admit that they're basically in the tank for the GOP. They speak at conservative events and many outright admit that they support Republicans and they'll bask President Biden at every opportunity.

But most of the left-leaning media and the left wing media insist they just play it straight. They play this game of just trying to pretend that they're not biased, even on a network as left-leaning as MSNBC.

Abrams, who presents himself as opinionated yet balanced, objective, and non-partisan, charged

Transparency is the foundation upon which journalism is built, except when it applies to them. And this lack of transparency or self-awareness about their own beliefs is a big part of the problem why the public's trust in media has eroded so much.



It's a misconception that erasing the line between journalist (or media personality) and partisan political hack constitutes transparency. And if there is any truth to Dominion's argument, prominent Fox News personalities knew Trump had lost but promoted the lie that the presidential election had been stolen. They were "in the tank for the GOP," honesty and transparency be damned.  Until Dan Abrams- or anyone- credibly suggests that MSNBC or CNN engages has allowed its bias even to approach that level of deception, Fox News stands alone among the three major cable news networks in its contempt for truth and accuracy.




Friday, February 17, 2023

"Genocide"


It shouldn't even be necessary to explain this, but is.

As a good comedian and not-so-good person would say, "what's the deal with I will not apologize for....'"?

On Thursday, President Biden said “I expect to be speaking with President Xi,. And I hope we’re going to get to the bottom of this, but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon.” Nobody asked him to apologize, and there was no need to apologize.

The same should be said for the remark of Ritchie Torres, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from the Bronx, New York.  The tweet below includes a video which, typically from this platform, does not establish what immediately preceded nor the ending of the exchange. However, at the tail end of what we see as a discussion of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, Torres states "I will not apologize for supporting technology that protects civilians from rocket fire."

There is no need to apologize because as the congressman explained (interrupted periodically by critical members of the audience) to constituents unaware- or not- of the nature of the system

So you said ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinians....

Can we all agree that when there's ethnic cleansing or genocide, there tends to be depopulation? That if you count genocide against the people.... The Palestinian population in Israel has gone from somewhere in the range of 200,000 in 1948 to over two million in Israel and the terror....

Torres cuts himself, for whatever reason, before completing the word "territories," and picks it up at

And then overall, it's about fourteen million. And that's based on numbers that have been reported by the Palestinian Authority. So if there were genocide, there would not be a surge in the Palestinian population. There would be systematic depopulation.

A moment later, Representative Torres adds "It is true that we fund Iron Dome technology. Iron Dome is defensive, not offensive, technology. Iron Dome does not attack anyone. It protects civilians from rocket fire."

It's hard to believe that anyone who expresses a fervent opinion, as a few audience members were, about what is unfortunately labeled the "Palestinian issue" (better understood as the conflict between Jewish Palestinians and Arab or Muslim Palestinians) do not know that the Iron Dome is a defensive system. 

More likely, Torres was only being kind to his constituents who accuse Israel of "ethnic cleansing" or genocide. He is, of course, right about that. A major premise of the anti-Israel or anti-Zionist crowd is that the country is a major power brutalizing weak, defenseless non-Jews.  But if that were the case, Palestinians would be shot dead, regularly and daily.  There would be a drastic decline in the Arab population in Israel proper and the occupied territories, worldwide horror, and unparalleled demonstrations by non-Jews and Jews alike in the streets of the nation.

Torres told people, whether they truly are ignorant about Iron Dome or are anti-Semites spewing nonsense about the country employing it, what they need to be told and told more often- Israel does not engage in genocide, and it's not even close. 

 



Thursday, February 16, 2023

Self-Absorbed Nikki


Some politicians are impressed with themselves. Some are very impressed with themselves. And then there is Nikki Haley.

Most obviously, in her announcement speech, Haley boasted

I've been underestimated before. That's always fun! And I've been shaking up the status quo my entire life.

As I set out on this new journey, I will simply say this.... May be best woman win. All kidding aside, this is not about identity politics. I don't believe in that. And I don't believe in glass ceilings, either.

Does Nikki Haley believe a glass ceiling never existed? Or did it once, and no longer does? Or does she think it still exists but she will burst through it?  

As someone who brags "I've been underestimated before," Haley probably believes the glass ceiling will be no obstacle for her.  The self-esteem resembles braggadocio bursting through any ceiling.

Haley does not believe in identity politics, she assures us. However, the "brown girl growing up in a black-and-white world" made sure to point out

I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.

My parents left India in search of a better life. They found it in Bamberg, South Carolina- population, 2,500. Our little town came to love us, but it wasn't always easy. We were the only Indian family. Nobody knew who we were, what we were, or why were there. But my parents knew.

This is by way of telling tell the Republican base that she doesn't believe in identity politics- a thing which no one claims to believe in- and then proceeding to use the race/ethnic card with the "may the best woman win" gender card. It's her own twist of the politician's ploy of elevating himself with "my parents were great; they were poor and I beat the odds!" (To hear them, no politician on the national stage, highly successful and usually wealthy, ever came from a financially secure background.)

Later in the day, Haley appeared on Fox News and Sean Hannity asked the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador whether she disagrees with Donald Trump about anything. Before spending one minute and 35 seconds (from :20 to 1:55 of the video) not answering the question, she claims "the thought of me getting in the race makes the liberals' heads explode because it shows we're doing something right."

Of course, the worst thing about Nikki Haley is wanting to undermine Social Security and Medicare, force childbirth upon women, wanting to gut the public school system, and believing socialism is running rampant in the USA  Her extremist views may be the only thing authentic about an individual who would be a serious threat for a presidential nomination if voters were as interested in her as she is in herself.




Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Bad Ideas


Nikki Haley to the US Constitution: Drop Dead.

The ex-governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations under President Donald J. Trump, Haley on Wednesday launched her campaign for President of the United States of America. She did so while condemning "trusting politicians from the 20th century," claiming "America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs," and declaring "America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs.

But Haley did not ooze contempt for the elderly without also suggesting roadblocks to politicians she deems old. She stated

And when it comes to our politicians, we’ll light a fire under them… Their job is not to say things on TV. Their job is to do things in DC – like solve problems instead of ignoring or creating them!

In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire… We’ll have term limits for Congress – and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old!



Haley didn't say who would determine whether the aged politician is "competent," let alone what constitutes "competency" (traditional term: "competent").  Evidence suggests she has no clue.

Term limits are a terrible idea because they would empower the permanent bureaucracy at the expense of elected officials. Lobbyists would have a field day while officials with accumulated wisdom are shown the door. Also, readily available are term limits: elections.

Haley may not realize that the qualifications for U.S. Representative and for U.S. Senator are enumerated in the Constitution, which would make her- what- not competent?

More likely, she is aware that Article 1, Section 2 indicates that a Representative must be at least 25 years of age, an American citizen for at least seven years, and a resident of the state in which chosen. Section 3 of that Article establishes that a Senator must be at least 30 years of old, an American citizen for at least nine years, and a resident of the state in which chosen.

That's it- meet those requirements, and you can serve. There is nothing about a "competency test" nor an upper limit for age. 

There were worse- far worse- remarks in Nikki Haley's announcement speech.  But an individual aiming to be her party's presidential nominee should have a basic regard for the United States Constitution, as well as the right of the American people to select their own officials subject to the limitations set out in that document.



Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Tweet of the Day- Tough Gal Nikki


Nominations are closed for "Comedy, Political Class" and the winner is Nikki Haley. In what speakers of Yiddish would call "chutzpah":

“You should know this about me. I don’t put up with bullies.” — Nikki Haley, who served nearly 2 years in Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

Once an opponent (it would appear) of Donald J. Trump, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley jumped onto the Trump train when Donald J. had become Big Man on Campus as presidential nominee. She joined the new Administration in February 2017 as Ambassador to the United Nations and put whatever doubts she had behind her. Shortly before the incumbent was re-nominated in August of 2020, Haley insisted "Donald Trump has always put America first. And he has earned four more years."

In October of 2021, the individual who now says "it's time for a new generation of leadership," stated "we need him in the Republican Party. I don't want us to go back to the day before Trump." But the most revealing- for a reason not immediately clear- of Haley's remarks had come six months earlier when she vowed "I would not mind if President Trump runs, and I would talk to him about it."

Notice "President Trump." The "ex-President" or "Donald Trump" or "Mr. Trump" would have been accurate and inoffensive. However, not only had Trump left office nine months earlier but Haley was referring to the possibility of her ex running in the future. It was a remark of brazen ignorance of English grammar unless the speaker believed, or wanted the public to believe, that the subject was still President of the United States of America.

Alternatively, Haley is living in the world of reality, knew Trump legitimately President and didn't care whether we believed he was. In that case, the ex-governor was worried that referring to Mr. Trump as anything but "President Trump" would offend him because Trump is a unique mixture of hubris and insecurity.

That would explain Haley's assertion "I don't put up with bullies."  Instead, evidence suggests that if you spun Nikki Haley around and glanced where you shouldn't, you'd read the large "Please Kick Me" sign.



Monday, February 13, 2023

Two National Anthems?


If you thought The Star Spangled Banner is the National Anthem, the NFL wants to abuse you of the notion: As The Hill explains

The performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at Sunday’s Super Bowl marks the first time the Black National Anthem has been performed on-field at the NFL’s championship game.

Actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph belted out the song prior to kickoff on Sunday.

“It is no coincidence that I will be singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing at the Super Bowl on the same date it was first publicly performed 123 years ago (February 12, 1900),” the “Abbott Elementary” star wrote on Twitter prior to her performance.

“Happy Black History Month,” Ralph added

The historic performance was the first time the song has been performed in an official capacity on a Super Bowl game field. Two years ago, Alicia Keys first performed the ballad during a pre-recorded Super Bowl broadcast. In 2022, singer Mary Mary gave a performance of the song from outside of the Super Bowl stadium in Inglewood, Calif., notes Billboard.

The anthem, written by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, rose to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement when it was commonly used as a “rallying cry,” notes the NAACP.

The song was performed on Sunday prior to the National Anthem, which was sung by country star Chris Stapleton.

The Black National Anthem, superior lyrically and musically to The Star Spangled Banner, is not The national anthem  And it .would more appropriately be called the Negro National Anthem as Time magazine implied upon noting

Before long, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” would become, in Perry’s words, “a universal signifier of Black identity.” It was sung at church services, civic organization meetings, pageants and graduations; it anchored Emancipation Day and Negro History Week celebrations and daily school rituals.

“I sang the Negro National Anthem when I was hungry,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters wrote in Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Celebration of the Negro National Anthem, edited by Julian Bond and Sondra Kathryn Wilson. “I sang the Negro National Anthem when my tooth was hurting because of an exposed cavity—I sang the Negro National Anthem when I did not know there was a future for a little black girl with twelve sisters and brothers.”

Demonstrating that wokeism and hyper-nationalism do mix, the National Football League can promote the Pentagon in a pretentious flyover by the US Navy featuring an all-female cast of pilots. It has the same right to feature Lift Every Voice and Sing, even in the same context as the Star Spangled Banner.

But as this corporate decision exemplifies, legal is not always wise.  The Black National Anthem, the Negro National Anthem, or the African-American National Anthem (the song is not a response to the experience of Jamaicans or Haitians in the USA) is not a national anthem. It is no mere semantics to note that there is no nation of Black, neither here nor on any continent; the song applies to a people, not a nation.  Similarly, there could not be a Protestant or Catholic national anthem, nor a woman's or men's national anthem.

The song was sung immediately before, and juxtaposed, with the Star-Spangled Banner. Yet, it is not akin to the USA's national anthem, nor to the national anthem of Canada, played adjacent to The Star Spangled Banner at some National Hockey League games.

The purpose of any nation's national anthem is to offer a unifying message, one meant to unite individuals of all ethnic and economic backgrounds- in this case, to bring together all Americans as Americans. It shouldn't be left to the likes of Lauren Boebert, of all people, to point out the obvious: "America has only one NATIONAL ANTHEM" (emphasis hers). If a stopped clock can be right twice a day, Representative Boebert can be right at least once a year.

There is not, cannot, and should not be any white national anthem, Italian-American national anthem, Norwegian-American national anthem, or Black National Anthem. However imperfect a vehicle The Star Spangled Banner is to unite Americans. it is presently the one and only national anthem in the United States of America.  Live with it.


 


Saturday, February 11, 2023

Harmful Trend


Malcolm Nance, the former Navy officer, counter-intelligence expert, and most recently, volunteer with the Ukrainian armed forces, got the Tyre Nichols question (at 6:29 on the video below) on Friday night's Real Time overnight segment. After remarking that Nichols would have been treated differently had he been white, Nance commented

You know, the issue here isn't about the color of the policemen. The issue is that the tactics, techniques, procedures and training of these law enforcement officers on these special team, uh, you know way back when I went through a SWAT officers' course with Capitol Hill police and some other police forces that were there to learn how to be SWAT cops. The techniques that we were shown back then were not always guns forward all the time. Now the average police officer is trained to believe that his, you know, number one job is to come home at night. I agree with that a thousand per cent. But there are jobs, there are things there are just clearly require an intervention that does not require you to draw your weapon.

After host Bill Maher responded, Nance noted "there is a color issue within law enforcement, altogether." Maher asked "even though they're cops?" and Nance answered

Yeah, because they're cops. It's a mindset- the same way we have in the military. We have a mindset, right? I think policing has moved so far away from community service toward self-preservation. Uh, they go to courses like the "on killing program" on how to do self-preservation, how to battle like a special forces soldier. What they need to do is to start thinking more along the beat cop. You know, protecting the community by knowing the community and not seeing. I don't understand...



As Nance obviously would understand, the departments could begin by not attaching to specialized street crime squads intentionally ferocious names such as the Memphis Police Department's "Scorpion." The

aggressive tactics are so notorious – and so similar – that in many cities they're known as "jump-out boys" for the way officers spill out of their cars to accost people during stops. In Chicago, such units have contributed to residents seeing the police as "an occupying force" that make some neighborhoods feel like "an open-air prison," the Department of Justice found in 2017.

"They patrol our streets like they are the dog catchers and we are the dogs," one Chicago resident told investigators.

If it's understood, as Nance does, that reconnecting with the community is critical, the problem is broader than the apparently brutal tactics of some street crime units. However, some authorities seem not to understand this as

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said on Thursday he supports Police Chief CJ Davis’ decision to reassign SCORPION Unit officers after she said Tuesday at Memphis City Council that at least 30 officers have been reassigned to other specialized units.

“They’re moving into other organized crime units, such as auto theft, task force, and those other areas,” Davis said. “These were individuals not involved in this incident.”

The “incident” Davis referred to was the Jan. 7 traffic stop by SCORPION Unit officers that led to the death of Tyre Nichols....

Mayor Strickland said under Chief Davis’ leadership, the city has asked the Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police to do an external review of the department’s operations and make recommendations.

The solution for medium and large cities is embedded in Nance's assertion "What they need to do is to start thinking more along the beat cop. You know, protecting the community by knowing the community."

Breaking up much of a large police department into specialized units runs completely counter to the concept of knowing the community.  If officers are assigned to auto theft and other units, they are necessarily not being assigned to a neighborhood. Neither they nor the other officers will become as familiar with a particular neighborhood as they would if they were assigned by area, not function.

These units are specialized and the root of "specialized" is "special." Put police into specialized units, and they will come to think of themselves as special.  Most of them will not consider themselves above the law, nor will more than a small minority impose the beatdown on a citizen akin to that of Tyre Nichols. But many will consider themselves better than their colleagues and the residents they should be expected to serve and protect.

If "community policing" is to be more than a cliche, major police departments can begin by reversing the trend toward specialized units or squads and encourage the immersion of their officers in the community.

 


Friday, February 10, 2023

Sunset


This is how politicians should be interviewed- not only Republicans but also Democrats, and not only by CNN's Kaitlan Collins. But in this case it was she and in the wake of President Joe Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday, Scott was the a prime, and deserving, target.

In this interview, Florida senator Scott insists that President Biden has cut Medicare, though he is careful not to say “cut Medicare benefits.”In a fact check on Thursday, CNN noted that deputy director of the Medicare policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Mark

Cubanski explained that the Inflation Reduction Act’s projected prescription drug savings of $237 billion will largely come from three particular provisions. None of these provisions cuts Medicare benefits.

One provision allows the federal government, starting in 2026, to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over the prices of certain high-cost drugs for Medicare. Another requires the drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if the price of certain drugs rises faster than inflation. A third provision delays, until 2032, the implementation of a Trump administration rule that had never taken effect and already been postponed until 2027. That rule, which would have effectively banned rebates from drug companies to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, had been expected not only to increase Medicare spending but to force Medicare beneficiaries to pay higher premiums.

So, again, not even the cost-saving parts of the law are Medicare cuts. And then there are the additional provisions Cubanski mentioned above, which will add expenditures to the government but save seniors money – such as the new $35-per-month cap on out-of-pocket spending on insulin and a new $2,000-per-year cap, starting in 2025, on out-of-pocket prescription drug spending in Medicare Part D.

Scott insists that he hasn't endorsed benefit cuts. At 6:10 of the video with Collins, he states

I've been clear. I will not reduce Social Security or Medicare benefits. Alright? I've been clear. And I was in my plan. Congress needs to fix Med- make sure that Medicare and Social Security survive.



It is an article of faith- or at least, it seems to be- of Republicans that Medicare and Social Security will die on the vine (i.e., not survive) unless benefits are slashed. There is a little bit of logic there. Scott, as with some of his GOP colleagues, says he will never vote to raise taxes. If Congress does not increase the maximum annual wage- now $160,200- that's subject to Social Security tax, the trust fund eventually, in a matter of decades, will run out.

The cap, as Senator Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have long advocated, could be increased or (as it should be) eliminated altogether. That's a bridge to decency Republicans will not cross.

Senator Scott knows that cutting, or decreasing, benefits won't fly politically. Therefore, he wants to sunset "entitlements" (earned benefits) which- in the short term- does not necessarily cut benefits.  A lot of voters don't know what sunsetting is (and it's not an actual word). Elderly individuals, the Florida senator believes, may believe it wouldn't happen for awhile, and Republicans have been trying for years to condition young people to accept as inevitable that Social Security, if not Medicare also, won't last forever. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, if he's not lying through his teeth, is not keen on Scott's plan. That's for now, though. Republicans in the House of Representatives, which the GOP controls, are unpredictable, and ghastly.  So it becomes essential for President Biden, as he did in his State of the Union address, to tell the public that some Republicans want to sunset the program and tie that to a decrease in benefits. And it can only help if journalists, such as Kaitlan Collins did one fine Thursday morning, persist in asking the uncomfortable questions.



Racehorse Genes

Credit the discovery to Michael D'Antonio.  He conducted a series of interviews with Donald J. Trump in 2014, of whom Donald Trump Jr....