Thursday, January 21, 2021

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter

Protests in Portland and Seattle continued again this week as demonstrators took to the streets to let the incoming administration know that they don't see a dime's worth of difference between Biden and Trump.

Protesters in the Pacific Northwest smashed windows at a Democratic Party headquarters, marched through the streets and burned an American flag on Wednesday in a strident challenge by antifascist and racial-justice protesters to the new administration of President Biden, whose promised reforms, they declared, “won’t save us.”

In Portland, Ore., lines of federal agents in camouflage — now working under the Biden administration — blanketed streets with tear gas and unleashed volleys of welt-inducing pepper balls as they confronted a crowd that gathered outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement building near downtown. Some in the crowd later burned a Biden-for-President flag in the street.

Another tense protest in Seattle saw dozens of people push their way through the streets, with some breaking windows, spray-painting anarchist insignia and chanting not only about ICE, but the many other issues that roiled America’s streets last year under the administration of former President Donald J. Trump.

“No Cops, Prisons, Borders, Presidents,” said one banner, while another proclaimed that the conflict over racial justice, policing, immigration and corporate influence in the country was “not over” merely because a new president had been inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

“A Democratic administration is not a victory for oppressed people,” said a flier handed out during the demonstrations, during which protesters also smashed windows at a shop often described as the original Starbucks in downtown Seattle. The communiqu├ęs used expletives to condemn Mr. Biden and “his stupid” crime bill, passed in 1994 and blamed for mass incarcerations in the years since.

Hours after the inauguration of Mr. Biden, federal agents in Portland used tear gas and other crowd-control munitions to disperse demonstrators who had gathered to protest the harsh arrest and detention practices wielded by federal immigration authorities under the Trump administration.

Mr. Biden has signaled that immigration is going to be a key issue of his presidency, using some of his first executive orders on Wednesday to end construction of the border wall and bolster the program that provides deportation protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children.

The conflict in Portland capped a day of demonstrations in the liberal city, where different groups of protesters either decried Mr. Biden or called for activism to pressure the new president to take forceful action on immigration, climate change, health care, racial justice and income inequality.
 
Again, fair or unfair, Joe Biden will get no honeymoon as President on racial justice, criminal justice, and social justice. He has taken actions already through executive actions and priorities, but it's going to take a lot more than that to deal with America's white supremacy problem.
 
We've been dealing with it for 400 years now, and there's people on the left that will never find Biden acceptable, and will continue to protest him. It's too much to fix in one day of a new administration, and it's ludicrous to think that it can be fixed so quickly.

But it's also ludicrous to think that the demonstrators are going to go away quietly, either. If there's something last summer proved, it's that large-scale protests get noticed, and that they change minds. Black Lives still matter, folks. Activism matters. Disruption matters. Coverage of protests matter. Being in the spotlight matters. The root cause is still 100% there.

The problem has not been solved because Trump is gone. Police are still racist killers with military surplus equipment used on civilian populations or a regular basis. What Biden's election has done is created the space where real work can begin, but that work is going to need to accompanied by pressure every step of the way.

How Biden decides to respond to these ongoing demonstrations is completely up to him.

Black Lives Still Matter.

No matter who is president.

Operation Nation Inoculation

The Biden administration (but damn, that still feels good to write) has basically discovered in the first 24 hours that the failed Trump regime had zero plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine other than "Let the states handle requests and distribution" and that the team hitting the ground today, led by pointman Jeff Zients, has basically nothing to work with, having to start over from scratch.

Newly sworn in President Joe Biden and his advisers are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration, sources tell CNN, posing a significant challenge for the new White House. 
The Biden administration has promised to try to turn the Covid-19 pandemic around and drastically speed up the pace of vaccinating Americans against the virus. But in the immediate hours following Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the new administration's Covid-related work told CNN one of the biggest shocks that the Biden team had to digest during the transition period was what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy under former President Donald Trump, even weeks after multiple vaccines were approved for use in the United States. 
"There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch," one source said. 
Another source described the moment that it became clear the Biden administration would have to essentially start from "square one" because there simply was no plan as: "Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence." 
The incoming White House now faces intense pressure to make good on the promises that Biden made during the campaign and the transition phase to drastically turn things around on the pandemic and conduct himself entirely differently from Trump when it comes to the virus and vaccine distribution. 
Prior to Inauguration Day, some of Biden's Covid-19 advisers had wanted to be careful not to be overly critical in public of the Trump administration's handling of the virus and vaccine, given that the Biden transition team was already having a hard time getting critical information and cooperation from the outgoing administration, the source said. 
The incoming White House now faces intense pressure to make good on the promises that Biden made during the campaign and the transition phase to drastically turn things around on the pandemic and conduct himself entirely differently from Trump when it comes to the virus and vaccine distribution. 
Prior to Inauguration Day, some of Biden's Covid-19 advisers had wanted to be careful not to be overly critical in public of the Trump administration's handling of the virus and vaccine, given that the Biden transition team was already having a hard time getting critical information and cooperation from the outgoing administration, the source said. 
Now that the transition of power has taken place, the Biden administration is hoping that they can quickly start to get a clearer picture of where things actually stand with vaccine distribution and administration across the country, going through something of a "fact-checking" exercise on what exactly the Trump administration had and had not done, they added. 
CNN has previously reported that the Biden team's most urgent concerns on Covid-19 include potential vaccine supply problems, coordination between federal and local governments, as well as funding, staffing and other resource needs for local governments. That is in addition to the emerging Covid variants, which the new White House -- in consultation with scientists and experts -- is watching warily.

Unfortunately, as unfair as the whole "pressure to make good on campaign promises" media and political attacks are on the first full day of the Biden Administration, this is a situation where thousands of Americans are dying daily of COVID-19. We lost a record 22,000 last week. Hell, we lost a record 4,600 just yesterday. Days matter. Hours matter.

So having to create a national vaccine program from scratch is going to cost lives measured in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. Like it or not, Biden's president now. It's Biden's job to fix it, and people are dying at well over a September 11, 2001 death toll every day now.

The good news is the Biden administration is already on the case, with President Biden making the executive orders that Trump refused to, orders we should have had in place eleven damn months ago.

Hours after being sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday, Biden signed more than a dozen executive actions in the Oval Office, including one requiring masks on federal property. He also plans to require masks on public transportation and negative Covid tests for anyone entering the country from overseas.

Biden will also use his executive powers to direct agencies to use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to prioritize manufacturing supplies that are necessary to the pandemic response. That could include protective equipment like masks, supplies needed to administer vaccines and testing supplies, the plan says. The Trump administration also invoked the act to make ventilators and other supplies.

The executive order, called “A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain,” will also “direct the development of a new Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy” in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing of critical supplies.

“It’s past time to fix America’s COVID-response supply shortage problems for good,” Biden’s plan says.

The administration will also seek to accelerate the rollout of vaccines by providing more funding to local and state officials, creating more vaccination sites and launching a national public education campaign. The plan says the administration will also “surge the health care workforce to support the vaccination effort,” which could include waiving some licensing requirements, for example.

The Biden mask mandate includes planes and trains as well as national parks, all federal buildings (including the US Capitol, this means you Republicans in Congress) and the White House. I fully expect to have Texas or Florida find a federal judge willing to block the mandate all the way up to SCOTUS to make sure the mandate never takes effect after this week, but it still needs to be done.

The adults are now in charge, folks. 
 

The GOP's Race To The Educational Bottom, Con't

Stephen Miller's last vile act is to unleash his Handy Guide to White Supremacy in K-12 Education for use in red state classrooms around the country, and I honestly hope that Biden's incoming Education Secretary, San Diego school superintendent Cindy Marten, has a plan to stop states from using this racist garbage.

A commission stood up by President Donald Trump as a rebuttal to schools applying a more accurate history curriculum around slavery in the US issued its inflammatory report on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 
Trump announced that he was establishing the commission last fall, following a slew of Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country. He blamed the school curriculum for violence that resulted from some of the protests, saying that "the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools." 
The commission is an apparent counter to The New York Times' 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project aimed at teaching American students about slavery. Trump, speaking last fall, called the project "toxic propaganda." 
A sitting US president typically has the power to dissolve existing presidential commissions and advisory councils, which sometimes provide reports and recommendations to the White House. 
It's not clear what action President-elect Joe Biden will take with the commission once he's in office.  
 
I hope he disbands it on day one.  But the bigger problem is this flimsy "report" consists of dozens of pages of white grievance politics, and horrific "recommendations" that gaslight entire decades of American history.

Trump's presidency has been marked by his racist statements and actions, including his incitement of a mob, which included White supremacists, to storm the US Capitol on January 6 in protest of Biden's victory. 
A White House statement calls the report "a dispositive rebuttal of reckless 're-education' attempts that seek to reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one." 
The report, released less than two weeks after supporters of the President stormed the US Capitol building, calls today's ideological divisions akin to those experienced during the Civil War. 
"Americans are deeply divided about the meaning of their country, its history, and how it should be governed. This division is severe enough to call to mind the disagreements between the colonists and King George, and those between Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War," the report states. 
The report's authors also argue that "the Civil Rights Movement was almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders," specifically criticizing affirmative action policies. 
"Today, far from a regime of equal natural rights for equal citizens, enforced by the equal application of law, we have moved toward a system of explicit group privilege that, in the name of 'social justice,' demands equal results and explicitly sorts citizens into 'protected classes' based on race and other demographic categories," the report states. "Eventually this regime of formal inequality would come to be known as 'identity politics.' " 
The commission is chaired by Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College. He drew criticism for his comments in 2013 when he said state officials visited the college to see whether enough "dark ones" were enrolled The commission's vice chair, Carol Swain, once wrote that Islam "poses an absolute danger to us and our children." 
The report argues that identity politics are "the opposite of King's hope that his children would 'live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.'" 
Commission members also took aim at feminists and the wide adoption use of ethnic and racial identities in American life, arguing that they were constructed by "activists." 
"A radical women's liberation movement reimagined America as a patriarchal system, asserting that every woman is a victim of oppression by men. The Black Power and black nationalist movements reimagined America as a white supremacist regime. Meanwhile, other activists constructed artificial groupings to further divide Americans by race, creating new categories like 'Asian American' and 'Hispanic' to teach Americans to think of themselves in terms of group identities and to rouse various groups into politically cohesive bodies," the report states. 
"While not as barbaric or dehumanizing," the report states, identity politics "creates new hierarchies as unjust as the old hierarchies of the antebellum South, making a mockery of equality with an ever-changing scale of special privileges on the basis of racial and sexual identities."
 
This is just a cascade of Angry White Millennial Male Grievance Politics. Unfortunately, I fully expect its recommendations to be adopted by a number of red states.
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