Sunday, January 9, 2022

1-9-2022 - Last Year’s Attempted Coup, Voting Rights, the Constitution, Covid19 and College Football

 

Thoughts on the January 6, 2021 Insurrection, One Year Later

The following comments were made to a joint session of Congress the evening of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection:

"I want to say to the American people the United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution and for our nation. And we're going to do it tonight.

This afternoon, Congress began the process of honoring the will of the American people and counting the Electoral College votes. We have fulfilled the solemn duty every four years for more than two centuries. Whether our nation has been at war or at peace, under all manner of threats, even during an ongoing armed rebellion and the Civil War, the clockwork of our democracy has carried on.

The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We've never been deterred before, and we will not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed. They failed. They failed to attempt to obstruct the Congress. - This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic. Our nation was founded precisely so that the free choice of the American people is what shapes our self-government and determines the destiny of our nation – not fear, not force, but the peaceful expression of the popular will.

Now, we assembled this afternoon to count our citizens' votes and to formalize their choice of the next president. Now we're going to finish exactly what we started. We'll complete the process the right way by the book. We'll follow our precedents, our laws and our Constitution to the letter. And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong. - The American people deserve nothing less."

These were the words of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who a year later, is strangely silent.  His refusal to continue to speak up leaves the Republican Party in the hands of liars and fascists.  Any Republican who doesn't join with Congresswoman Chaney in denouncing the defeated former president is an overt or covert ally of Gaetz, Greene, Boebert and the other right-wing nut-jobs now controlling the G.O.P.  They are, along with the January 6 insurrectionists, and those that inspired them, including the defeated former president, no less at fault than the Secessionists who fired on Fort Sumter in 1861Guantanamo Bay must be refurbished to house them all.

It is good, however, to see that President Biden at last seems to be giving up on the idea that he can be willing to compromise with, or at least talk to, those who oppose him and who even challenge his legitimacy as President.  If you hold a serpent to your breast, as the Aesop fable goes, you may be bitten fatally.  Better to not welcome it and possibly to even cage it.  And attempting to defang it can be dangerous.

Verbally, at least, Biden has started calling Republicans out for the un-democratic obstructionists they are.  He at last has started to blame his predecessor in office for his transgressions. Up to now, he has avoided mentioning him.  Now he does, as “the former president.”  I would prefer that he referred to him as “the defeated former president.”  In order to maintain majorities in both the Senate and the House, Biden must get much tougher and take off the gloves. As Maureen Dowd wrote the other day in the Times, “This is not a moment for punch-pulling.” 

And that goes for Kamala Harris as well.

 JL 

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Voting Rights, the Filibuster and the Constitution

I am certain that many Americans agree that first priority of Congress should be the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. They are the doors that must be opened, but the key to the lock on them is doing away with or modifying the filibuster. Without that, voting reform won't be passed. It is a poison pill to Republicans guaranteeing defeat for many of them so they universally oppose changing it. But the fact that the SCOTUS was able to weaken the 1965 Voting Act in 2013 in Shelby vs. Holder, strengthening States' ability to restrict voting, suggests that even such progressive legislation is not the final answer.

The "Founding Fathers," in order to get the Constitution ratified in 1789 bought the votes of Southern States by avoiding the slavery issue. Reversing that through the very demanding Amendment procedure was difficult (13th, 14th & 15th Amendments) and still allowed States to restrict voting in various ways throughout the ‘Jim Crow’ period even up to now.

Lurking behind this is the simmering need for a new Constitution to replace the patched-up 1789 document which gives far too much power to States, resulting from that trade-off regarding slavery. The existence of State laws regarding tax avoidance, guns and abortions are, for example, obvious results of this. It isn't just voting rights, but that's where it must start.

 JL 

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We Cannot Forget About Covid19 – Even in Florida

My layman’s approach to Covid19 testing, based on newspaper reports of a  Palm Beach County “positivity rate” ranging from 17% to 20%, is as follows: 

1.      In my opinion, those testing positive should maintain a quarantine period (five days is the latest CDC recommendation but ten is better, especially if Covid19 symptoms are present) and afterwards, should observe social distancing, avoid crowded public places, wear a mask and schedule a future test.  

2.      In my opinion, those untested should do the same, on the chance that they would be among that significant percentage which would have tested positive if they had been tested, but without the necessity of a quarantine period unless they had been in contact with an individual known to be infected or are manifesting symptoms. A test to confirm their status would be reassuring, but not an immediate necessity so long as they behave as if they were positive.  

3.       In my opinion, testing negatively should not be taken as a license to return to pre-pandemic behavior patterns, which would make one vulnerable to infection. 

4.  Florida Gov. DeSantis’ feels that the more people who are tested, the more will be found to be ‘positive,’ increasing the number of cases and justifying the arguments for masking mandates and vaccinations, both of which he does not support, preferring antibody treatments for those already sick. I liken this to discarding fire prevention measures and replacing them with more fire engines. Governor DeSantis and his Surgeon General are politically motivated educated imbeciles. Take pride in ignoring whatever they say.  And of course, in my opinion, the governor should be voted out of office in November.

 And if you are among those who like to cruise ...   

I wouldn’t vacation on a cruise ship at this time.  All the cruise lines are reporting positive Covid19 tests among passengers and crew  (all of whom are supposedly vaccinated or recently tested negatively) although the number of those infected is really miniscule compared to the number of people on the ship.  (The numbers in the letter below translate to about eight tenths of one percent.)  Nevertheless, so long as such susceptibility, however tiny, is present, masking and social distancing is being practiced on board these vessels.  Frankly, I wouldn’t enjoy being on a cruise ship and having to wear a mask when out of my stateroom. Takes all the fun out of it.  Here’s my letter to Palm Beach Post on this subject published about a week ago.

"COVID testing, masks and vaccines needed  -  -  - 

From what I have read, It is clear that vaccinations, while reducing the chance of COVID-19 infections and minimizing the disease’s severity for those infected, are not the equivalent of a negative COVID-19 test. The Dec. 21 Post article reports that 98% of the 48 passengers and crew who tested positive on a recent cruise ship, a minuscule number considering that there were over 6,000 passengers, and crew on board, were fully vaccinated. So long as vaccination is not 100% protective, wearing masks and social distancing in public places should still be practiced. Until frequent, inexpensive, self-administered COVID-19 testing becomes the rule, vaccinations are the best safeguard we have."

 

JL 

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Close the Portal

Local sports pages recently indicated that football players have transferred to Florida State University from the following colleges: Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona State, Louisville, Oregon and Lamar (part of the Texas University System). It should make FSU alumni proud that these students felt that they could receive a better education at the Tallahassee college than they apparently were getting at the schools where they had been studying and chose to transfer.  

Of course, this is nonsense.  Academics have nothing whatsoever to do with it.  All colleges do it, but that doesn’t make it right. Colleges must abolish the “transfer portal” for athletic purposes, allowing “students” to switch schools.  Otherwise, all that we’ll have left will be the SEC, the Big Ten and the ACC, the only conferences which play to full stadiums, while the athletes they don’t hire, oops, I mean ‘need,’ find lesser ‘second choice’ schools to attend and play for.  The Big Twelve and the PAC12 are already stumbling.  Closing the portal would spread the top level ‘talent’ more widely and create more equality among college football teams.  True, it enables lesser schools to  pick up players originally drafted by the top schools, but who didn't work out well there, but the real benefit is in enabling better athletes, like the cream in the days before homogenized milk, to rise to the top.

Really, when one checks the colleges many NFL players attended, there are many from such lesser schools whom the NFL spots and drafts.  All the “transfer portal” accomplishes is enriching the already rich schools.  Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral is a good example.  His one year at the University of Central Florida, two years at the University of Nebraska and two years at Rutgers illustrate the situation where the gridiron takes precedence over the library.  Adding to this tragedy is the presence of a similar “transfer portal” among high school athletes, particularly in backward parts of the country such as Florida.

 JL 

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