Is Joe Biden the news Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Is Joe Biden the new FDR?  That’s one of the questions that has been percolating in the news media over the last few weeks, as we contemplate Joe Biden’s first 100 days.

Biden has proposed a lot of spending so far. Among other things he has:

That’s a lot of spending, my friends.  (About $5.7 trillion, give or take a few hundred billion.)

Is that too much spending?

I have no idea.

Here is what I do know: the Republicans lost all their credibility on the deficit in 2017 when they enacted their Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, thereby blowing a $2.3 trillion hole in the deficit. It turned out to be a tax cuts but no jobs act, and while the corporate tax cuts were permanent, the income tax cuts for individuals were temporary, and they are already starting to go back up.

That’s why we now have major corporations like Amazon not paying any income tax at all.

These tax cuts were all premised on the trickle down theory, which might have worked back in the 1920s when capital was not yet global and corporate boards didn’t go around and buy back all of their own stock.

At least Biden’s spending proposals will have the benefit of the multiplier effect, where real jobs are actually created.

Take, for example, the “Big Dig,” where the city of Boston took their elevated Central Artery and brought it under ground, freeing up a lot of traffic. The Big Dig project lasted roughly from 1991 to 2007, and brought literally thousands of construction workers into the city of Boston. These construction workers had to:

  • Find housing
  • Buy food
  • Buy clothes
  • Pay for utilities
  • Go to restaurants
  • Get their cars repaired
  • Buy new cars
  • Get furniture
  • Go to the movies

All of that had to be done locally, in the Boston area. 

Then, the people working in real-estate, and food stores, and retail stores, and restaurants, and in car repair shops and dealerships, all benefited from the extra business these construction workers were bringing in. This, in turn, allowed them to spend more at various shops and establishments, which brought in more business for those places and their employees, and so the impact of this economic activity “multiplied” throughout the economy. 

That’s how the multiplier effect works.

That’s what President Roosevelt did to help pull America out of the great depression. Among other things, he created the Public Works Administration, which built billions of dollars worth of roads, and bridges, and dams, and airports, and other infrastructure.

And that’s where  the Biden comparison to Roosevelt comes in.

How will it all work out? Who knows. But at least Biden is trying very hard to pull the United States out of the pandemic-caused depression that we’ve been in, and if he succeeds, he may go down as one of our better Presidents.

But there is still a long way to go.

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Acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide is about 105 years overdue

On Saturday President Biden acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, and acknowledging the genocide is still considered controversial.

In fact, he was the first President to do so.

Good grief!

I’m 2nd generation German, and my people had to acknowledge the Holocaust 76 years ago. The Turks, by contrast, have had about 105 years to acknowledge theirs, and they still haven’t managed to get there.

Background

Armenians have been in Anatolia, or present-day Turkey, since about 6th centuries before Christ, or around the same time that the Jews were suffering through the Babylonian captivity. Crucially, they may have  been there in significant numbers before the Turks themselves emerged as a recognized peoples. The Kingdom of Armenia adopted Christianity as its national religion in the fourth century CE, establishing the Armenian Apostolic Church. On the other hand, by the 8th century Turks began to convert to Islam. The Ottoman Empire was established in 1299, and ruled the region until 1922. Over the centuries, Armenians and Turks lived as neighbors, but not without significant conflict. 

Around two million Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of World War I. By then, the Young Turk Revolution had been in full swing, and in 1912 First Balkan War resulted in the loss of almost all of the empire’s European territory, and the mass expulsion of Muslims from the Balkans. When parts of previously lost territory were reoccupied by the Ottoman Empire during the Second Balkan War in mid-1913, local Greeks, and Armenians were forcibly deported by Muslim militias. 

World War I

With the outbreak of World War I in July of 1914, the Ottoman empire chose the side of the Central Powers. Ottoman armies invaded Russian territory, and tried to encircle the Caucasus Army, but, unprepared for the harsh winter conditions, the Turks were routed. The retreating Ottoman army indiscriminately destroyed dozens of Ottoman Armenian villages, massacring their inhabitants. Enver Pasha, the military leader for the Turks, publicly blamed the defeat on Armenians in the region, claiming they had actively sided with the Russians. As a consequence, some of the Turkish provinces descended into lawlessness, and massacres of Armenian men became a common occurrence.

Things continued to escalate, until, by the night of 23–24 April 1915, at the orders of Talaat Pasha (along with Cemal Pasha, another of the dictatorial triumvirate known as the “Three Pashas”), hundreds of Armenian political activists, intellectuals, and community leaders were rounded up, tortured, and eventually executed. 

The Genocide

Under the cover of World War I, the Young Turks sought to cleanse Turkey of its Armenian population. The Turkish leadership ordered the closing of all Armenian political organizations, and ordered most Armenians relocated to the Syrian Desert. The Young Turks thereby hoped to permanently eliminate any possibility that Armenians could achieve autonomy or independence in the empire’s eastern provinces. In words that eerily presaged the subsequent Nazi claims relative to the Jews, Turkish leadership claimed this would be the “definitive solution to the Armenian Question.” 

Along these “death marches” to the 25 concentration camps set up in the Syrian Desert, men and boys were executed routinely, with tens of thousands of Armenian bodies often simply left on the sides of the roads, causing typhus epidemics, among other public health crises. Casualties among the Ottoman Armenians between 1914 and 1923 are estimated to range between 800,000 to 1.5 million. 

In addition, a program of Islamization was carried out as a “systematic state policy,” through which some 100,000 to 200,000 Armenians were Islamized. 

The Aftermath

After World War I, the effort to prosecute Ottoman war criminals was taken up by the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The Ottoman government even organized a series of court martials in 1919, but these failed on account of both incompetence and political pressure. The Turkish courts-martial were eventually forced to shut down during the resurgence of the Turkish National Movement under Mustafa Kemal.  Also, in 1920, the Allied Government even sent sixty seven war criminals to Malta in a prosecution attempt coordinated by the British forces. But these failed as well. Unlike for the Nuremberg Trials, there was no international mechanism to hold the perpetrators of war crimes or genocide accountable.  

In the genocide’s aftermath incriminating documents were systematically destroyed, and denial has been the policy of every government of the Republic of Turkey as of 2021. Denial rests on the assumption that the “relocation” of Armenians was a legitimate state action in response to a real or perceived Armenian uprising that threatened the existence of the empire during wartime. 

Among other things, the claim is that the death toll was exaggerated, and the deaths that did occur were the result of disease, bad weather, rogue local officials, or bands of Kurds and other outlaws. According to historians, one the most important reasons for denying the Armenian genocide is that it actually helped to enable the establishment of the Turkish nation-state. Recognizing the genocide would contradict Turkey’s “founding myths.” 

Unfortunately for the Turks, there is far too much evidence of what happened to make the denial credible, just as denial of other historical events usually gets overwhelmed by evidence that is already there. That, of course, has not kept the Turkish governments, for more than a century now, from refusing to formally acknowledge what happened.

American Recalcitrance

So why the recalcitrance of American presidents to acknowledge the genocide? That pretty much has to do with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Turkey’s membership in it. NATO was ratified on August 24th 1949, and originally consisted of 12 members, including the United States. Turkey was admitted on February 18, 1952, along with Greece. It’s been a member of NATO for a long time, and it’s resisted any breach of its founding myth in all that time.

Well, tough shit, Turkey.

Armenia is tiny, and Turkey is huge. Armenia has a population of about 2,956,900, whereas Turkey has a population of about 83,614,362. Geographically, Turkey is much  bigger than Armenia. There is no danger to Turkey in admitting its past. There will be no disintegration of the country; if anything there may be a raising of consciousness.

It’s 2021, time to get in step with history.

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Policing is Complicated: there are Good Cops and Bad Cops and sometimes they are the Same Cops

I have never fantasized about being a cop. Not even a little bit. Not when I was a boy, not when I grew older, not at any point in my life. It just doesn’t interest me at all.

If anything has been demonstrated in spades over the last few months, it’s that policing is complicated and there are good cops and there are bad cops, and sometimes they’re the same people.

On the Good Cops front

Recent examples of “good cops” include:

  • Eugene Goodman, the capitol police officer who led insurrectionists away from the Senate chamber and helped save Senatorial lives during the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol.
  • Brian Sicknick, the capitol police officer who died defending the Capitol complex during the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
  • Eric Tallie, the officer responding at the recent mass shooting at the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, who was shot when he charged into the supermarket.
  • Billy Evans, another capitol police officer, this time killed when a psychopath pinned him against the north barricade in an attempt to ram into the capitol complex on April 2, 2021.
  • Adam Wilson, who was injured in a school shooting at the Austin East High School in Knoxville TN on April 12, 2021.
  • The (unidentified) officers responding to the massacre at the Fedex plant in Indiana on April 15, 2021, and who were too late to rescue anyone.

On the Bad Cops front

Recent examples of “bad cops” include:

  • Officer Derek Chauvin, the Minnesota cop who killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for 9:29.
  • Officer Kim Goodman, the 26-year veteran officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, who killed 20 year old Duante Wright during a traffic stop.
  • Officer Joe Gutierrez, who pepper-sprayed army medic  Lt. Caron Nazario while he was in uniform, because he had temporary license plates on his new SUV.
  • Officer Eric Stillman, who killed 13-year old Adam Toledo after a foot chase in the Little Village neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago.

Derek Chauvin

When I first saw the video of George Floyd being kneeled on by Derek Chauvin, it was obvious to me that Derek Chauvin just didn’t give a shit whether Floyd lived or died. I don’t think he was intending to kill him. I think he was intending to send Floyd a message:

  • You don’t matter.
  • You’re nothing.
  • I don’t give a shit about you.

If you’ve followed the trial at all, you know that Floyd was being arrested for passing a counterfeit $20 bill; you know that it’s likely that Floyd didn’t even know the bill was counterfeit; you know that Floyd was compliant in every way until they tried to shove him into the back seat of the police cruiser, where his claustrophobia acted up; you know that Floyd was handcuffed and completely under control, and there was no need to kneel on his neck; and you know that many bystanders, including a trained firefighter, were begging Chauvin to get off of Floyd because they could see that he couldn’t breathe.

And if you look at the video of Floyd in Cup Foods, he doesn’t look like a person who is about to be dead. He looks like a goofy guy who is having fun, not someone who is overdosing or in the middle of committing a crime.

Derek Chauvin just didn’t consider him to be a real human being.

Chauvin must be convicted. He must be convicted, or another generation of black and brown people will conclude that there is no way that they can ever get justice where the police are involved.

Kim Goodman

Can an experienced officer really mistake a gun for a taser? Isn’t the taser bright yellow? Isn’t it carried on the left side of your belt if the gun is carried on the right side?

Goodman isn’t the first officer to make this claim, and she probably won’t be the last. But it is hard to believe.

Officer Goodman is the 26-year veteran (and former police union President) in Brooklyn Center Minnesota, who shot Duante Wright while trying to arrest him. At the time Goodman was training another cop. And Brooklyn  Center is literally 10 minutes from where the Derek Chauvin trial has been going on.

  • Yes, Wright had a warrant for his arrest, but it was for misdemeanor offenses where he hadn’t shown up in court.
  • Yes, Wright tried to escape, but weren’t there other ways that they could apprehend him? They had his license plate number and knew where he lived.

Many other people have asked the question whether it was necessary to tase Wright, and whether Goodman would have attempted than if Wright had been a white person.

Joe Gutierrez

This idiot pepper-sprayed an Army medic who was in uniform, because he had a temporary license plate on his new SUV. The medic — Lt. Caron Nazario — drove a couple of miles after seeing the blue lights, because he wanted to stop in a well-lit place, so he pulled over into a gas station. 

  • Caron turned the video on in his cell phone and told the officers, “I’m honestly afraid to get out of the car.”
  • “You should be,” was Officer Gutierrez’s response. 
  • And then he pepper-sprayed the Lieutenant.
  • Why? Just to show him who’s the boss?

The police officers did not arrest Lieutenant Nazario and have not filed charges.

At least they didn’t kill him.

But Lt. Nazario has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the officers and the town, so maybe he will actually have the last laugh.

Eric Stillman

This is the officer who shot 13 year old Adam Toledo after a lengthy foot chase. A lot has been made of the fact that the kid was only 13, and that at the moment that he was shot he actually had his hands up and appeared to be complying with commands. To be fair, Officer Stillman’s situation has many more extenuating circumstances than the others:

  • This was after a lengthy foot chase.
  • Shots had been fired.
  • It was 2:30 in the morning.
  • Toledo did, in fact, have a gun, which he dropped at the moment that the Officer asked him to put his hands up.
  • There was no way the officer could know the kid’s age at the time he shot him.
  • Stillman was visibly distraught after he shot the kid.

Did Officer Stillman make a serious mistake here? No question. But he was dealing with a kid who had a gun, and it’s possible that the sound of the gun hitting the ground made the cop believe that a shot had been fired. 

Who knows?

But this one, to me, is very different from the other three cases. It’s still problematic, but it is different, and those differences should, at least, be acknowledged, lest we paint all cops with the same brush.

Good Cops and Bad Cops can be the same people.

It should also be noted that sometimes good cops and bad cops are the same people. That was illustrated back in the 2004 movie “Crash,” where the fictional Officer “John Ryan” (played by Matt Dillon) both harasses a bad couple during a traffic stop, and then saves the woman from that couple from her exploding vehicle after a serious traffic accident.

Was Billy Evans, the capitol police officer who was recently killed by Noah Green at the north barricade a good officer? What did he do during the insurrection? Whose side was he on?

I have no idea.

He was at his post, where he was supposed to be, when he became another police victim, killed in the line of duty.

Is it the System or the Officers?

Is the problem that there are so many cops who are “bad apples,” or is the problem the system. Is it a small miracle that the police system produces as many “good apples” as it does?

It’s a legitimate question, I think.

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah recently posited that question, and suggested that the problem is police culture. In a more academic vein, Georgetown law professor (and former federal prosecutor) Paul Butler  has made a similar set of suggestions, and emphasized how much “extraordinary” power police officers hold over black men and women at traffic stops.

One suggestion — which I completely agree with — is that police should, at a minimum, keep their weapons in their holsters during a routine traffic stop until or unless something happens, that requires a weapon to be unholstered.

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Count me among those who think it’s a mistake to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that they are jointly recommending a “pause” in the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. They’re recommending this pause after that six women (out of the almost 7 million persons who got the vaccine) developed rare blood clots within a week or two, with one of them dying and one in critical condition.

That, my friends, makes developing a blood clot post-vaccine less likely than being struck by lightning.

Still, the two agencies are recommending the pause out of an “abundance of caution” while a thorough review is being conducted.

Wrong.

Bad idea.

In a country where there is so much vaccine hesitancy already, making an issue out of this will just compound the problem.

We already had the previous problem with AstraZeneca and their vaccine, and the question of link to blood clots, which risk was also found to be incredibly small. Better that one or two people die of blood clots — which may or may not be related to the vaccine — than that thousands more die of Covid while hesitating to get vaccinated.

I mean they should go ahead and conduct their investigation, and do it as intensely and quickly as possible, but don’t pause the vaccine roll-out, and don’t scare more Americans unnecessarily.

Let’s keep things moving, for crying out loud.

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CDC Director Rachelle Walensky is prophesizing a “4th wave” of the coronavirus.

Earlier this week Dr. Rachelle Walensky prophesized “doom” and a the eruption of a 4th wave of the coronavirus.

Dr. Rochelle Wallensky warning of “impending doom”

Fantastic, everybody!

Great work!

Earlier this week I mentioned that we really “aren’t smart enough to stay alive” as a species, and I stand by that observation.

We’re so close to the finish line, but we just can’t control our impulses.

We should be so grateful that we’re living in 2020-2021 and not 1918-1920, when the “Spanish Flu” was ravaging our planet right after World War I.

They didn’t have vaccines.

We have at least four, not including the Russian and Chinese vaccines.

So here’s what we have:

  1. The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine.
  2. The Moderna vaccine.
  3. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  4. The Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine.

In addition:

  1. The Russians have the Sputnik V vaccine.
  2. The Chinese have the Convidecia vaccine.

Honestly, that is effing amazing!

Six vaccines, plus several others in development in countries like India and South Africa.

All that we have to do is stay patient a little longer, not open everything up, put the fire out now and not keep giving it oxygen.

That’s all we have to do.

For Christ’s sake, not even Germany (Germany!), a country famous for its orderly and efficient processes, can get this right.

People, we have to do better. I’m as tired of all of this as all the rest of you, but I’ve got one dose in my arm and will have a second one soon. When I do, I’m not going to go out and celebrate, because we’re not out of the woods yet. I will continue to wear a mask in stores or crowded settings — even though I personally will be almost completely out of danger — because stores aren’t going to know who and who isn’t vaccinated, and I want to do my part to get us out of the woods. That’s all.

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The Republican Effort to Suppress Voting, part 4 (the Filibuster)

If we can all agree that the filibuster has become problematic (frankly for both sides, for both Democrats and Republicans), the question is, how do we reform the filibuster? There seem to be two options:

  1. Eliminate it entirely.
  2. Return to a “talking” filibuster.

Mark me down in agreement with the “two Joes” — Biden and Mancin — that completely eliminating the filibuster carries with it certain risks. There may come a time in the future, such as in 2017-2018, where the Republicans could hold the House, Senate and Presidency together, and at that point there would be no limiting the mischief they could make.

A talking filibuster isn’t much of a brake, but it’s a little bit of a brake.

Bernie Sanders refusing to yield in 1992 discussion of military spending (although not actually a filibuster)

On the other hand, nothing prevents the Republicans from blowing up the filibuster the next time they are in the majority.

And one of the ironies of the “For the People” Act is that without the voter suppression that the Act would limit, the Republicans might never get back the House, Senate and Presidency, at least not until they abandon their current strategy of running on race baiting and the culture wars.

In any case, the reform that I would support is going back to the “talking” filibuster, the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster, the Wendy Davis Texas filibuster, the Strom Thurmond 24-hour filibuster, the one where you have to put on your adult diapers, hydrate yourself, and then keep the floor without going to the bathroom, without drinking, without eating, or without engaging in any other bodily function.

I mean, Strom Thuromd was completely on the wrong side of history, but at least he had the courage of his convictions.

On behalf of a much better cause, former Texas State Senator (and one-time gubernatorial aspirant) Wendy Davis spent 13 hours in 2013 filibustering a Texas bill that banned abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization and added other restrictions. (This bill was eventually enacted.)

Discomfort is supposed to be the point.

In the meantime, the “For the People” Act may be the defining issue for the Congress for the next few years if not the next decade. 

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The Republican Effort to Suppress Voting, part 3 (the Filibuster)

For the last couple of days we’ve been talking about the Repubican efforts to suppress the vote in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The Democrats have the perfect response with the “For the People” Act, but they have to get around the filibuster first.

Ah, the filibuster.

The filibuster has been a problem for quite some time. I wrote about it way back in 2013.

At that time I noted the history of the filibuster and how Strom Thurmond famously filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

Now, that was a filibuster! 

(Okay, it was for a terrible cause, but at least Thurmond put his money where his mouth was.)

https://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/filibuster-timeline-20210324

Over the course of the last half century, there were three important changes made in the filibuster:

  1. Congress lowered the threshold from two-thirds to three-fifths of Senators present and voting to pass a cloture vote.
  2. Congress passed laws that limited filibusters on certain kinds of bills, including budget reconciliation bills, fast track consideration of trade acts and votes related to the war powers act (because these were all “must pass” legislation).
  3. The Senate began to allow Senators to put “holds” on legislation by “threatening” a filibuster, instead of actually having to get up and keep the floor by talking.

It’s this last change that proved to be an effing disaster. It was intended to relieve Senators from some of the discomfort and annoyance of having to actually filibuster something instead of just placing a hold on it.

Since then, the filibuster has been eroded, first by the Democrats under Obama when Mitch McConnell used it to block just about every federal judicial appointment, and then by McConnell himself so that he could get the conservative justices that he wanted on the Supreme Court. 

Now, the Democrats are threatening to eviscerate it completely so that they can get things like the “For the People” Act signed into law.

McConnell has, of course, threatened to turn the Senate into “scorched earth” terrain if the Democrats revoke the filibuster. 

Here’s one of the ironies about the filibuster: it can be changed with a simple majority vote, because the Senate rules themselves can be affirmed with a simple majority vote.

(We’ll be looking at how to reform the filibuster tomorrow.)

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The Republican Effort to Suppress Voting, part 2

In response to the more than 253 bills that would restrict voting access that have been introduced in 43 states and efforts like the recently signed  “Election Integrity Act of 2021” in Georgia, the Democrats in Congress introduced the “For the People” Act.

Let’s take a quick look at what the “For the People” Act would do. Among other things it would:

  1. Require states to offer same-day voter registration for federal elections and to permit voters to make changes to their registration at the polls.
  2. Require states to hold early voting for at least two weeks and would establish automatic voter registration for citizens who provide information to state agencies (such as state departments of motor vehicles) unless they opt out of doing so.
  3. Make Election Day a federal holiday.
  4. Require states to offer online voter registration.
  5. Authorize 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote in advance of their becoming 18.
  6. Limit states’ ability to remove registered voters from the rolls, and set conditions for when they could do so.
  7. Prohibit voter purges from taking place less than six months before an election.
  8. Restore voting rights to felons who complete prison terms.
  9. Mandate the use of paper ballots that can be marked by voters either by hand or with a ballot marking device.
  10. Require state officials to preserve paper ballots for recounts or audits, and to conduct a hand count of ballots for recounts and audits.
  11. Require the voting machines used in all federal elections to be manufactured in the United States.
  12. Impose stricter limitations on foreign lobbying.
  13. Require super PACs and other “dark money” organizations to disclose their donors.
  14. Require the president and vice president, as well as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, to publicly disclose their previous ten years of income tax returns.
  15. Thwart gerrymandering by requiring states to use independent commissions to draw congressional district lines.

That’s a lot of good stuff in there. Frankly, in a rational world, these are proposals that — for the most part — should be supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

But, as we all know, we don’t live in a rational world.

By the way, it should be noted that the Democrats don’t just have the “For the People” Act, but they also have the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which, among other things, would restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, especially those provisions that were struck down by Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013), requiring certain states to “pre-clear” changes to their voting laws with the Attorney General of the United States.

Which brings us to the next issue: how to get the “For the People” Act (and the John Lewis Act) into law as long as we have the filibuster.

Ah, the filibuster.

(That will be tomorrow’s topic)

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The Republican Effort to Suppress Voting, part 1

Last week Governor Brian Kemp1 of Georgia signed the “Election Integrity Act of 2021” as part of the opening salvo in the Republican efforts to suppress the votes of minorities, liberals, progressives, and anyone else who isn’t a conservative white man. Among other things this bill:

  • Restricts absentee voting to voters over 65, with a disability, in the military or who live overseas;
  • Reduces the time that voters can request mail-in ballots from 180 days to 11 weeks;
  • Requesting and returning a ballot will also require a driver’s license number or state ID number;
  • State and local governments are no longer allowed to send unsolicited applications;
  • Caps the number of drop boxes at one per 100,000 active voters or one for every early voting site (whichever is smaller);
  • Prohibits rural and urban counties from receiving grant funding from philanthropic outlets such as the Center for Tech and Civic Life; and
  • Establishes that the secretary of state will no longer chair the State Election Board, becoming instead a non-voting ex-officio member.

Then, finally, there was the provision that got the most attention because of its extreme pettiness, and that is the one that:

  • Prohibits anyone (except poll workers) from handing out water to voters in line, and criminalizes passing out food and water to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line.

(Now, to be fair, it must also be pointed out that there are some provisions in the bill that appear to actually strengthen the voting process, such as one that allows local election officials to begin processing (but not tabulating) absentee ballots starting two weeks before the election.)

What is very interesting about all of this is what the Republican legislature cited as their reason for wanting to enact these changes. It was not to combat fraud in the voting process. No, it is “significant lack of confidence in Georgia election systems,”  with “many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter suppression and many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter fraud.”

It’s right there in their whereas clause, in their statement of legislative intent.

Of course, the bill doesn’t address voter suppression at all. But it sure addresses allegations of voter fraud. Allegations which were put forth by Trump and the Republicans as part of the big lie. So, to recap:

  1. Republicans sow doubt about the election system with false allegations of voter fraud and the big lie that the election was stolen from Trump;
  2. Republicans use the doubt that they sowed as the reason for enacting laws that are designed to suppress the vote.

Nice self-supporting feedback loop there.

It’s not just Georgia. As of February 2021, more than 253 bills that would restrict voting access have been introduced in 43 states across America.

These bills aren’t just trying to disenfranchise my black and brown brothers and sisters. They’re also trying to disenfranchise me. Because I’m a progressive, and if my friends can’t vote in places like Georgia, then my progressive voice won’t be heard in the federal Congress. And I don’t like that at all.

The Democrats in the federal Congress have, as many of you know, proposed H.R.1, the “For the People Act” as a way to protect against these Republican efforts at voter suppression. (More on that tomorrow.)

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I’m sorry to report that, as a species, we really aren’t smart enough to stay alive

We’re supposed to be the “smart” species on the planet, but I’m sorry to report that as a species, we really aren’t smart enough to stay alive. Or, in any case we don’t have the needed self-control.

Forget, for a moment, about our inability to accept, handle or effectively deal with climate change. Let’s just look at Covid-19 for the moment.

We are so close to the finish line.

We are so close to the finish line.

But we just can’t keep ourselves from opening up too soon, even here in progressive Massachusetts. We’re seeing a renewed uptick, this time in the more dangerous and infectious versions of the virus, especially among people under 30 (who are largely unvaccinated).

Why, oh why, can’t just wait for two or three more months when it really will be safe to reopen. How does sort of kind of quasi-reopening help anybody now?

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