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Technicalities in service to a different outcome

Mitch McConnell is all a-flutter that them Yankees would dare to besmirch his honor because he is defending the filibuster. The latest controversy is about some of the Democrats saying that the filibuster was created by racists.

Technically this isn’t true. According to historians:

McConnell pointed to the rule’s origin as not being rooted in race-based laws. Historians have said the rule wasn’t created to protect discriminatory legislation, but that it was associated with segregationists for over a century.

“These talking points are an effort to use the terrible history of racism to justify a partisan power grab in the present,” McConnell said in his speech. McConnell, noting the times it has been used by Democrats, asked in his speech if it “magically became an offensive relic the instant Democrats came to have a majority?”

Oh lawdy, if there’s one person in the whole wide world who should never throw accusations of gratuitous power grabs around, it would have to be Mitch McConnell.

But I see his point. I was never under the impression that the filibuster was created to further the cause of racism. But the fact that it was actually used by segregationists to obstruct legislation makes that a distinction without a difference. Is that the right phrase? Must look it up.

I think we can all see that at work. Well, anyway, within my lifetime I’ve seen it at work. And it’s usually very pernicious. You don’t even realize a filibuster is going on most of the time. It’s done silently. So as to preserve the dignity of the initiator? So, bills die a quiet death in the Senate. It’s sort of like the hospice of legislation.

The last person I can recall who used the filibuster as intended was Bernie Sanders when he protested a tax cut bill I think. It was called the filibernie and you could buy copies of it as gifts for people who enjoy listening to Bernie making some fine arguments- for nine hours straight.

But I digress.

All I can say is this is 2021 and for some f{#*ed up reason beyond my personal comprehension, this nation’s laws are clearly, CLEARLY, shaped by a history of segregation. Oh yes they are. There is no legitimate, rational, fair or just reason why do little legislation has been passed in the last 40 years that positively influences so many people of black and brown skin. Come on, people, it’s a couple base pair differences in a gene for melanin generation in the skin. Are we really denying people justice, fairness and opportunity over a couple of genetic variations that don’t amount to a whole Hill of beans? Or are black people just surrogates for keeping working class people always struggling and permanently aggrieved? Is it really used to enforce an unacknowledged form of segregation or is it used to create a permanent underclass in general? Golly, who would benefit from that?

Is that what they mean by a distinction without a difference?

Racism, segregationism, sure seems to be popular among those who use the filibuster. It’s like they stomped around mad after the Civil War until one of them remembered they could hold everything up by using the filibuster. And to make it even more efficient, all they had to do was waft an eau de toilette of a filibuster around to shut down debate and euthanize legislation they did not like.

Isn’t that what Mitch intends to do with the filibuster and the voting rights bill that got passed by the house that would make harder for white guys to stand in the way of black people to vote in a quick, efficient and non threatened manner?

I think that is what Mitch intends.

Bless his heart.

Rate Limiting Steps

I was listening to Morning Joe on the way to my doctor’s appointment this am (don’t judge me), when Eugene Robinson started questioning a senior Biden admin official about migrant children at the border.

If I recall correctly, the Biden admin made tackling Covid its main priority. That doesn’t mean these other things aren’t also very important but it does mean that the scope of the Covid problem is so large that it might require a lot more attention – from everyone. It affects all aspects of government right now. Still, it’s possible to delegate. Presumably, you need to get your nominees approved by the senate. This takes time. I think Xavier Becerra, secretary of HHS, which has a lot of oversight and responsibility for migrant children at the border, was just approved last week and I’m betting that a lot of his time is wrapped up with Covid policies.

I worry about kids at the border too. I don’t like the fact that they might be sleeping in Mylar blankets in a less than comfortable shelter and that they have been there longer than they should have been. That’s disturbing. And I’m not going to say that there’s nothing Biden’s Homeland Security or CBP or HHS could have done to mitigate this problem.

BUT I’m not hearing “journalists” asking the right question. They come off as bored badgerers. They ask “how come they’re still there after 72 hours” and “why haven’t you done something by now?!” and “I thought you were going to be more humane but you haven’t fixed this problem right this minute”, all with a note of disappointment because naturally, every problem is THE MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM THAT HAS EVER FACED THE NATION.

I never get anything out of these exchanges. The hapless advisor is left saying “the situation is not ideal but we are doing the best we can in the time we have had”, which is very non-informative. It just devolves from there.

What journalists should be asking is:

  1. What is the process you inherited?
  2. What is the process you are trying to create to achieve your goal of humane treatment of child immigrants?
  3. What are your rate limiting steps?
  4. What do you need to do to remove those impediments?

I never went to journalism school and I don’t think I was born into the right class to get into one now. But if I were a journalist and I wanted to stop annoying my audience so she doesn’t shut the damn program off in frustration, I’d be trying some other strategy than the one that seems to be typical of journalism today.

Maybe everyone forgot how to do this because Trump news just wrote itself. Ok, well, those days are behind us.

Please do better.

Guns

I was watching NCAA tournament basketball today. I did not watch any news, and read nothing. Until I hit the wrong button, and a headline popped up, about a man with a gun who apparently killed ten people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. One of the fatalities is a police officer, the rest were likely shoppers in the market..Propetius lives in Boulder, and I assume that he is all right.

No motive is yet known, blah, blah. There is no coherent motive that has any meaning, except insanity combined with guns to act upon it. Did we ever find out the motive of the person who killed dozens of people in Nevada a few years ago? Does it matter? The human mind searches for order and for reasons, but it is not going to help us to find out what this man’s particular madness was. Race? Religion? People had not been nice to him in his life? What matters is that he had a gun, we will find out which kind. He probably had a lot of guns, and other weapons, too. They usually do.

Guns are the problem. There have always been twisted people, or people who have been treated badly by parents, or maybe no one did anything to them, but they had grievances. The thing is, that now they can easily get one or many guns, and then kill many people at the same time. “People kill people,” is the stupid slogan the NRA tried to pound away with, but people who have no access to guns kill a lot less people. And you can’t fix the mental states of millions of people, but you an try to keep them from having assault weapons when they do pass their own breaking point, or when they think that they are doing something great by shooting as many people as they can.

Thoughts and prayers to the people and the families will not do it. All the tears and eulogies will not bring these people back. The only thing which we as a nation can do, is to try to prevent these mass killings, by enacting gun control legislation. When the assault weapons ban was passed under President Clinton, the number of gun killings dropped in a significant way. Then President George W. Bush let the legislation lapse, and the numbers rose again. Now each year is a new record level.

It does not take more than the barest degree of intelligence to figure out that we have a growing epidemic of sick and perverted people who for whatever reasons their mind gives them, want to make a major statement, and kill as many people as they can. And it is so very easy for them to get the weaponry to do it. But those politicians and their paid-for media people who are figuratively or literally owned by the gun lobby, would do anything to avoid gun control. They would take a thousand of these shootings, and make a bunch of utterly meaningless statements, to avoid anyone passing a ban on assault weapons, or more background checks, so that they can retain the one right which they value above all,, the right to buy and possess as many weapons as one wants.

It is so tempting to see gun legislation as a version of castration for them, because they will fight against it with just as much fervor. It did not use to be this awful, even fifty years ago, but somehow guns are now their religion and their salvation and the only way in which they can hold on to their fragmenting personalities, and the sense of chaos which envelops them.

Somehow this has to stop, but will it? Maybe with Democrats having at least nominal control of three branches of government, something can be passed, unless the Republicans, filibuster it. We cannot live in a country where this mayhem becomes an ever more frequent occurrence.

I wonder if the Republicans will somehow try to politically profit from this, it would not be beyond them. They try to profit from anything,, even horrible tragedies. They will blame Biden, or immigrants, or liberals. What they most want is for this to dissipate, and then they can go back to talking about Potato Head and Dr. Seuss. We must stand up as a country, because if we do not, it will get worse and worse. I wish I could say more, but it has all been said before, and it will all be said again and again, if no changes are made. I am sorry for even feeling compelled to write this, but we cannot just hope it goes away by itself, or just try to live as best we can in a shooting gallery.