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Political

Biden and the McConnell ‘deal’

Update and edited 

Slate has more on the Devil’s deal. Evidently Biden will be ‘allowed’ to appoint two people to US Attorney positions in Kentucky, and McConnell will not block him.

That’s it. That’s the ‘big’ deal. Two positions tied solely to the President’s tenure for a judgeship that’s for life.

It’s a fool’s deal.

Earlier:

Yesterday, a story quickly spread on social media that President Biden was going to appoint a McConnell-backed anti-abortion Federalist lawyer to a permanent position on the bench in Kentucky. This, even after SCOTUS completely killed Roe v Wade the week before, and people in the country were still reeling from the impact.

Those of us alarmed at the news were told—in less than polite terms—that we were traitors to Biden, harmful to the Democratic party, and our concerns were unfounded because there were no judicial openings in Kentucky, anyway.

Well, that was true yesterday, but not today.

Today, Judge Karen Caldwell announced her intent to retire and take senior status, leaving an opening for Biden to make a nomination.

The McConnell Setup

The possibility that Biden would appoint someone like Chad Meredith in a supposed ‘deal’ with McConnell positively reeks of the latter’s connivance.

McConnell gets a judge that even Trump couldn’t stomach. In exchange, McConnell doesn’t use the ‘blue slip’ to hold up two US Attorney positions in Kentucky.

What’s a blue slip? It’s a courtesy extended to the Senators of the state where the appointment is made. The senator can either approve or disapprove of the appointment. It has no real power, and Trump and the Republicans routinely ignored them during his tenure.

That’s it. That’s the deal.

It’s a win/win for McConnell. By making this deal, he undercuts Democratic efforts not only for the 2024 Presidential bid, but also for the mid-term election this fall. Why? Because it confuses the message about  Biden’s, and hence, Democratic commitment for abortion rights.

Biden’s appointment says to the world (likely parroted by gleeful Republicans) that the Democratic party ‘talks’ about abortion rights…but that’s all it is. Talk. When it comes to politics, well, people’s basic right to control our own bodies has to take a back seat.

All of the candidates that have pro-choice strongly embedded in their campaigns for the fall now have to fight an unconscionable, undermining, ill-conceived ‘deal with the devil’.

We’re put on the defensive. Again.

Having faith in our candidates

If Biden follows through on this deal, he also sends a message that he has no faith in our candidates this fall, or the Democratic voters.

It says to all of us that he assumes we’ll lose the Senate and the House, and that if he wants to pull any kind of legacy out of the last two years in office, he’ll have to have all sorts of deals with McConnell in order to do so.

This is a pretty horrid message to send to the party and the people, especially when we’re freshly galvanized by an awful, terrible, no-good SCOTUS.

As party leader, he should have faith in the candidates. They’re a great group of people. And he should have faith in us.

Telling us we don’t matter

Worst of all, if Biden follows through on this appointment, he’s telling women and members of the LGBTQ+ community that we just don’t matter.

We just lost a fundamental right. We just got forced into a second-class citizenship. Where Biden was Presidential by encouraging the Senate to carve out a filibuster exemption to pass abortion support in the Senate, he would be anything but by making this extraordinarily bad appointment.

One and Done

I’m older and I’ve been through so many must-win political campaigns. I consider myself a ‘centrist’ and also pragmatic about how politics works.

But there are lines I won’t cross. Support for abortion is one of those lines. If President Biden crosses this line with this appointment, then he’s One and Done to me.

 

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Political

Putin: Russia’s Trump

Whatever we want to say about Putin from this moment forward, let’s all agree to no longer use the word ‘shrewd’ to describe him. Because his invasion of Ukraine was anything but shrewd.

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Political

The next tea party: water bottles at 25 feet

Georgia Republicans in the state legislature just passed a voting omnibus bill that will effectively restrict voting access for many people in the state of Georgia. I say many ‘people’ using a generic term, but the real effect, and the intended recipients of the voting restrictions, are Black Georgians.

The text of the bill tries to ‘both sides’ it by referencing concerns expressed about the 2018 election, and comparing it equally to the lies former President Donald Trump mouthed whenever he had a microphone. Any thinking person would understand the two are not comparable. The two aren’t even on the same planet. But that doesn’t stop the Republican legislators from implying their actions are to help ‘both sides’, even if they can’t answer a simple, direct question: would you be pushing these laws if Trump had won in Georgia.

snapshot of tweet

There are very disturbing elements in SB 202 including the fact that the Georgia legislature has given itself significant control over country election boards, in addition to undermining the Secretary of State’s traditional authority over election procedures and processes. This is the same legislature that invited Trump cronies to ‘testify’ in committee hearings on the ‘rampant fraud’ in the state and how most of our votes should be tossed and the state just anoint Trump.

(It takes a lot of chutzpah to, on the one hand, undermine the very democracy on which this country is based, and on the other, call your voting restriction bill the “Election Integrity Act of 2021”.)

Over time, I’ll get into more detail in exactly why this new bill is bad, but for now I want to focus on one measure that is extreme—not in its danger to democracy, but in its sheer pettiness.

It is now a crime to hand a bottle of water to a person standing in line to vote.

Water Bottles at 25 Feet

Just to assure you that I’m not taking any section of SB 202 out of context, I’m reprinting the passage associated with water bottles:

Section 33 (a): No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast

(1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established;
(2) Within any polling place; or
(3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.

I highlighted the addition to the existing law.

Basically, it states you can’t give food or water to any voter standing in line, regardless of where they are in the line and how long they’ve been in line. If you give a voter a bottle of water, you will be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.

Turning an act of kindness into a crime

In the past we’ve seen voters standing in long lines in order to cast their votes. Frequently, these voters are people of color, and the polls are located in largely urban areas. To encourage voters to remain in line, and to thank them for voting, people have taken to sending pizza, meals, and bottles of water to those waiting. Contrary to the delusional imaginations of the Georgia Republicans, doing so is not a bribe nor will it impact on how a person votes. It is a celebration of democracy, and a simple act of human kindness.

The fact that someone has to be in line over 15 minutes at any time is bad enough, but now the Georgia Republicans, in their infinite capacity for petty meanness, have determined that no matter how long you wait, no person can give you a drink of water.

snapshot of tweet

By any human standard, what does denying water or food to voters have to do with election integrity and fraud? Do Republicans believe we’ll slip microchips into water that will somehow manipulate voting machines? Do they really think a voter is going to change their mind because someone hands them a slice of pizza or a cup of coffee?

(Don’t let Donald Trump know of this new change in the law, or that will be the topic of his next twitter-like press release: “Microchips in the water! Steal!”)

Giving someone a bottle of water when they’re in line to vote won’t change votes. What will change votes is making this simple act of kindness into a crime.

Optics, Guys. Optics

I’m astonished not only at the level of pettiness represented by this new rule, but also its stupidity.

I already know of dozens of people who intend to show up with bottles of water to give out during the next election. I can just see the optics of police moving in to arrest people solely for this act of human kindness. I can guarantee the arrests will show up on the evening news. Even Fox News will telecast it.

Why on earth would anyone incorporate something so blatantly idiotic in a voting bill?

It could be that the food and drink addendum is a distraction, intended to focus people on this new rule rather than some of the more insidious, and dangerous, modifications to the state’s voting laws.

However, the regulation fails miserably as a distraction because it demonstrates that none of these changes to our voting law were really about solving a problem. The real reason for the changes are because when an election is a fair fight, Republicans are losing. Not even Sydney Powell at her most idiotic, or Rudy Giuliani at his most desperate, made any claim that handing out water to people in line is why Donald Trump lost.

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Political

Biden’s Immigration Plan and ICE FUD

I just finished reading another poorly done conservative piece in the Savannah Morning News; this one full of hearsay and innuendo. It was published at the same time as another piece that formed the point of this particular point/counter-point.
 
Both writings are supposedly about Biden’s immigration plan, but only the positive one really discusses it. The conservative opinion, written by Ryan Smith, a communications professional, seemed to be more focused on ICE, as defined under Trump, rather than Biden’s plan. He writes:
 
‘Many of these changes are cosmetic. But according to Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a fundamental change in immigration is underway, a change that members of America’s border security agencies say could bring even more changes to our immigration system.
 
“I’ve heard from multiple sources that dismantling ICE and ending its enforcement role was discussed by [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] Alejandro Mayorkas at a town hall meeting for ICE staff in San Antonio,” Vaughan told InsideSources. “The apparent purpose of this reorganization is to abolish immigration enforcement by starving the agency of resources, personnel, and authority, and at the same time stifle internal resistance by busting the deportation officers union.”’
 
Hearsay and innuendo.
 
Hearsay from multiple sources about dismantling ICE and ending its enforcement role. There could actually be truth to half of this: there has been significant discussion about dismantling ICE. ICE was a knee jerk reaction to 9/11 that was hastily contrived, and has been poorly managed ever since. Even many ICE agents have recommended it be dismantled.
 
But then we get the innuendo: the sole purpose for dismantling ICE is to abolish immigration enforcement, something that no one with any intelligence should find credible. Even less credible is a asserted secondary purpose: to bust the deportation officers union. We assume the writer picked this up from an article published by the Center for Immigration Studies, about a nefarious plot to abolish deportation officers.
 
(How does one abolish deportation officers? Does one wave a magic wand and with a “bippoty boppity boop” they vanish in a sparkly cloud?)
 
ICE was originally intended to be a small organization whose sole purpose was to prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities. It then morphed into this large blob of an agency that is re-defined by whoever is President to do whatever the President deems it should do.
 
Under Trump, it became such a symbol of hate and fear that the officers within ICE who are actually tasked with enforcing ICE’s original duties cannot do so because police agencies would no longer work with them.
 
As we have painfully discovered over the last several years, no agency with sweeping police powers should operate with such ill-defined boundaries. The potential for abuse is enormous.
 
I can truly believe that there was a meeting in the DHS about dismantling ICE. There have been meetings in the DHS before Trump was President about doing the same. And there have been calls from groups outside the government, both conservative and liberal, to eliminate the agency and return both people and duties to the agencies originally tasked to manage both.
 
But this opinion was supposed to be about Biden’s immigration plan, wasn’t it?
 
As if reminded of the fact, Smith casually tosses in a couple of indifferent paragraphs about the plan, but only after he’s sufficiently stirred up enough fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to ensure a negative reaction to anything anyone might read about it. He also manages to work Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s into the piece, because you can’t have a conservative writing without mentioning her least once.

 

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Political

The Software Ate My Vote

I had no idea when I moved to Georgia that I’d be moving to the center of the political universe. Nor that I would be spending my time deflecting vicious comments away from a Republican Secretary of State. But here I am.

Sample from SoS Raffensperger Facebook Page comments

I’m not surprised that Trump is spending his time crying “Fraud!” when the election didn’t go his way. I am surprised that Georgia’s senators, Perdue and Loeffler, would parrot him; especially considering they’re up for a special election come January 5.

Consider this: Perdue and Loeffler are spreading baseless rumors, attempting to discredit the votes of people they need in order to hold on to the Senate seats that have been such a lucrative bonus for them. They turned against Georgia state Republicans to do so, standing firmly behind Trump who lost by over 12,000 votes in our state.

Trash the voters you need in defense of a man the voters don’t want. It boggles the mind.

Perdue and Loeffler put themselves into this position because they’re terrified of the Trump supporters, such as the mental wizards displayed in the comments in the image at the start of this writing. I’d feel sorry for them if I weren’t enjoying watching them try to fancy foot their way off the ice of their own making.