Monday, August 24, 2020
The Lesser of Two Weevils
On the first night of the Democratic Convention I tried to watch it on the ABC feed provided free by Hulu (I don't have TV, just streaming on Hulu or Netflix or Prime). The talking heads immediately annoyed me beyond watching so I turned it off... coming back late the catch the last half of Michelle Obama. The second night I checked in with the NYT feed, which had the advantage of not being interrupted in any way by talking heads, except for the common-taters who opined in the comment section and were easily ignored. Chuck Schoomer bored me into returning to the comforts of ER, so I caught the rest of the convention by looking up the speeches I wanted to hear on YouTube.
I was not particularly impressed. I guess this is what we have, and I will be out there, phone in hand, dialing up potential votes for the party. On the whole it is not a lot better than 2016. It's hard to sell the sizzle when there is not a lot of steak.
The party is offering the same old solutions to some problems and will., with a Democratic Congress, spend a butt-load of money on everything. Big priorities will be infrastructure (who doesn't love construction jobs and big money for Halliburton and Fluor?). They will fix Obamacare and maybe lower the Medicare age to 60 (that solves one of my personal problems.) It does not solve the problem of most working Americans and small business people who make more than the poverty wage and still can't afford healthcare. It will not address what has become by now a national insecurity over the cost of health care.
The party version of the Green New Deal is a also a jobs bill. Like all Democratic bills it prefers to throw money at the problem while ignoring the carbon tax, a common sense approach that has long been supported by thinking Conservatives (as opposed to most of the Republican caucus). Not that there is anything wrong with throwing money at the problem, but the current situation calls for all reasonable measures, not just those that are politically correct.
Likewise money will be thrown at education. It will be the kind of money that prefers teachers' unions (a good thing) and institutionalized solutions that may not be so good. Charter schools may be put in their place as solutions that are no better than the people who run them, not as a panacea... and not as a tool to destroy teacher unions. Not a bad outcome overall. There are still outrageous levels of poverty and inequality in the black and Latino communities as well as in the cracker communities... small towns and rural areas where populations are thin, money scarce, services severely limited. The Democratic Party is not solving problems, it's just making itself feel better.
So I'm fine with the party doing what it can, and I'm more fine with the fact that it is not Trump. We can expect Biden to quickly take back the bureaucracy and set it straight. Fix the EPA, NLRB, Labor Department, CFPB and other agencies crippled by years of ignorance and neglect. Appoint some decent judges. Still, it's just the lesser of two weevils. Not a choice I'd like to have to make.
Sunday, July 26, 2020
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Monuments and other public honors should recognize real heroes who represent the real ideals on which the nation is founded. Lets have a monument to Robert Smalls, an enslaved American who stole a confederate ship that was supplying Ft. Sumpter,loaded up his family and friends and escaped to freedom. He became a captain in the Union Navy. and, after the war, a successful businessman and politician serving in both houses of the South Carolina legislature. Harriett Tubman belongs on the $20 bill.
History needs to tell the truth about slavery (that it was mostly harsh and cruel), reconstruction and the return of Jim Crow, and lynching (how many times did the U.S. Congress refuse to address anti-lynching legislation), Incidents of racial cleansing (there is al lot more than Tulsa, OK) discrimination in housing, (barring blacks from government loan programs, the negative and long lasting effects of redlining.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
I was in kindergarten when they added God to the Pledge of Allegiance. The change annoyed me. First because I had just learned the damned thing, and then because I kept having to pause to add God in the right place.
I Pledge Allegiance to the United States of America,
To the republic of the people, by the people and for the people
regardless of race, creed, national origin or sexual presentation;
to one indivisible nation that warrants our right to the pursuit of happiness
and guarantees opportunity, liberty and justice for all.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Some stuff to read while thinking about this:
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriett Beecher Stowe. The first popular attempt to depict life under slavery. It's rife with stereotypes and a little preachy, but it is the book that started it all and surprisingly readable.
Reconstruction, Eric Foner. 600 pages of hard work and real history.
Contempt of Court, Mark Curriten and LeRoy Phillips Jr., Saga of the first Supreme Court case to defend the rights of a black citizen... sort of. The real issue was whether a Tennessee sheriff was under the jurisdiction of the federal courts and could be held in contempt for failing to abide by a federal court order. The order involved a directive to protect a black man from lynching in 1901.
Trouble in Mind, Leon Litwack. More than you want to know but everything you should know about lynchings in the USA.
Lost Battalions, Richard Slotkin. Chronicles two regiments that valiantly fought in WWI. One comprised mostly of Jewish immigrants known as the 77th "Statue of Liberty" Division; and the 369th Infantry Division, known as the Harlem Hell Fighters. One came home to some recognition, the other to lynchings and ethnic cleansing.
The Children, David Halberstam. The front line troops of the civil rights movement were children. Their leaders were college kids, their shock troops were as young as 10 years old. They stood up to fire hoses and police dogs and the worst the crackers could bring.
Simple Justice, Richard Kluger. The complete story of Brown v. Topeka BOE.
Blood at the Root, Patrick Phillips. The story of ethnic cleansing in one Georgia County.
Monday, June 22, 2020
(Two days later) And speaking of the NYT, this morning I picked up a copy of the Times Sunday Review from June 23, 2019 that I had put aside to read later (and never read). Happened t glance at an article called Stonewall and the Myth of Self-Deliverance by Kwame Anthony Appiah. The article cites a famous SCOTUS decision that placed consensual behavior by adults out of the jurisdiction of the government as Lawrence v. Kansas. Well that caught my eye. The correct cite is Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). Kansas is, of course, the whipping boy of choice for East Coast pundits citing outrageous Bible Belt regulation.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Monday, June 8, 2020
Friday, June 5, 2020
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Monday, June 1, 2020
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
The Voice published Ward's last column as a tribute. It's worth a read. Note, Ward did not cease his gadfly role after he retired. He was especially focused on the humor to be extracted from the presnut, and was among the first people to be banned from the presnut's twitter feed.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Monday, May 18, 2020
Monday, May 11, 2020
Saturday, May 9, 2020
Monday, May 4, 2020
Friday, May 1, 2020
- Everyone, including unemployed people, landlords, corporations who need assistance because of the virus get in the form of forbearance. All mortgages, credit card payments, car payments rent payments, bond payments will be delayed until this is over. Payments resume when the economy returns to normal and loans are extended on the back end. No interest accrues in this period. No balloon payments.
- People who have no money for food will get direct government support up to 80 percent of income.
- Everybody takes their losses. Banks lose interest income, landlords lose rent. Concert goers don't get a full rebate on those concert tickets.
- No one gets a windfall. People holding those concert tickets share with the musicians and vendors and venues. \
- Everyone is eligible for interest free government guaranteed loans to be paid back on a schedule. Health care is free. The government will subsidize the hospitals until this is over.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
- First, nursing homes are for profit and care about the money before they care about the people.
- Second, nursing homes are created for the most vulnerable populations. People who cannot take care of themselves because of dementia or heart disease or physical disability or diabetes, kidney failure and other mostly age-related infirmities.
- Third, people packed into close environments are more likely to get Covid 19 than people who are not. Airline passengers, cruise shippers, convention goers are high on the list of early affected populations. (I don't think we have begun to see the actual numbers from jails and prisons.)
- Fourth, nursing home employees are overworked, underpaid and vulnerable themselves. Minority communities (most low-paid nursing home employees are African American) have less access to health care and are more likely to not have health insurance. Thus less able to miss work days and more motivated to come to work sick. My experience with Harry's nursing home stay last year was that the employees are tired, abused by their bosses and resentful. Few are willing to go above and beyond to care for their charges and many to the bare minimum required.