Categories
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.

 

Categories
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.

 

Categories
Government

COVID used as vector to attack teacher’s unions

A disturbing pattern is beginning to emerge in the local newspaper I read, the Savannah Morning News. They just published a second piece by a conservative Republican blaming the lack of school openings on teacher’s unions (and by association, Democrats).

The piece (also found here), written by Scott Jennings, segues like a pinball between a doctor being charged for vaccine misuse, N95 masks that were stuck in warehouses for months, and the notorious January 6 “Shaman” rioter getting organic food in prison.

Then, after softening up the reader with this confusing melange of unrelated incidents, he focuses like a laser on his real complaint: the seeming confusion at the CDC related to school openings and COVID, and how all of it must be due to teacher union interference with President Biden.

In Washington, President Biden sits in the White House after promising to “listen to the science” in beating the coronavirus. He would never interfere with scientists, he said, over and over and over.

And yet, less than a month into his term, that’s exactly what his White House is doing. His Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said on Feb. 5 that “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that … vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.”

Bold move, Rochelle. You just got between Democrats and the teachers’ unions. Immediately, Biden’s spokesperson issued a statement saying Walensky was “speaking in her personal capacity,” a nonsensical smackdown of a top government scientist.

The Biden administration has taken the gags off the people of the CDC and encouraged them to speak to the media. That they’re not always in sync with each other, much less the administration, is a natural consequence of them being able to speak at all. They weren’t allowed to when Trump was President.

When you allow all the people to speak, sometimes they won’t agree. Sometimes it can even cause some confusion. Something Jennings seems to have forgotten.

The problem with Jennings writing is that it is a hack piece, notable only for its leaps of logic when it somehow manages to make teacher’s unions the end-all be-all evil villain in his fictional scenario. And he managed to do so in such a way that the reader sees the union as somehow separate from the teachers, because teachers are good…unions are bad. Yet you can’t talk about school openings without talking about teachers, and their very real concerns.

School openings are a complex and frequently emotional topic. That teachers are worried about being impacted by COVID should be understandable, even to the most self-centered parent.

Teachers have died from COVID. They’ve died in Georgia. The whole premise about opening schools is whether the school can implement necessary safeguards, and we know many schools can’t.

In particular, public schools are frequently more crowded than private schools, which are held up as some sort of ‘model’ for how it’s done. It is going to be tougher to ensure safety when the school barely has the money to buy books, much less safety gear. Our starved public schools can only do so much.

The writer of this piece somehow thinks it was teacher’s unions who changed President Biden’s opinion, and hence created the confusion in the CDC.

No, the confusion is coming about because there literally is not enough data to form a conclusion about whether it is safe to open schools or not. So the experts are taking what they do know—infection rates, mask wearing, spacing, and hygiene—and trying to morph this into a cohesive school opening policy, which they know too many states and communities will ignore.

In the end of his writing, Jennings finally brings all his disparate pieces together.

What is our nation’s future if we continue down this unserious path? Punishing doctors. Locking up medical equipment. Treating the “QAnon Shaman” better than we treat our children. Regressing into political adolescents. Putting union bosses ahead of scientists.

What is our nation’s future if we continue to discount a teacher’s worth and a teacher’s life?

In a lose/lose situation, the CDC is doing the best it can. So are the teacher’s unions. And so is President Biden.