Sunday, December 19, 2021

Last Call For School Of Hard-Right Knocks, Con't

Let's be perfectly clear about what Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is doing to Texas abortion clinics: shutting them down permanently by criminalizing what they do on a daily basis, putting cash bounties on everyone's heads, and having them sued out of existence in civil courts by wingnut assholes.

Now let's recall that Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis apparently wants to do the same to Florida public schools.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing a new bill that would allow parents to sue school districts if their children are taught critical race theory in classrooms, which mirrors how Texas' abortion ban is enforced.

DeSantis announced the "Stop W.O.K.E. Act" in Wildwood, Florida on Wednesday, alongside state Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez and Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. "Our legislation will defend any money for K-12 going to CRT consultants," the governor said. "No taxpayer dollars should be used to teach our kids to hate our country or hate each other."

Chris Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, also spoke at the event with DeSantis. In a tweet earlier this year, Rufo promised to make the concept of critical race theory "toxic" in the public imagination.

Under the proposed measure, parents would be granted a "private right of action" to enforce the state's ban on critical race theory in schools. The bill also takes aim at such training in companies, allowing individuals the right to sue businesses if they are forced to learn critical race theory.

There's scant evidence that critical race theory — an academic area of study that examines the modern-day impact of systemic racism in law and society — is actually being taught in Florida public schools or in any other public school system, but it has become a conservative flashpoint. CRT, as it's sometimes known, is often used as a catch-all phrase encompassing diversity trainings and other anti-racist efforts criticized by conservatives.

DeSantis' new plan comes after he directed the Florida Department of Education to ban critical race theory in schools in June.

The Florida State Board of Education unanimously voted to ban teaching ideas related to critical race theory, making it one of the largest public school systems to fall in line with conservative efforts across the country to regulate certain classroom instruction of American history.

As an example of critical race theory being pushed by educators, DeSantis cited an “Equity Toolkit” posted online by the Arizona Department of Education, which he said claimed that “babies show the first sign of racism by three months old.”

The graphic posted by the Arizona government actually cites studies, conducted by researchers in the U.S., the United Kingdom and China, which found that three month olds of all ethnicities prefer to look at the face of someone from their own ethnic group.

The governor called "woke ideology" an attempt to erase the country's history, referencing the removal of statues in recent years. The bill would also let parents collect attorneys fees if they are successful with their lawsuits, DeSantis said.
Consider the overly broad definition of "Critical Race Theory" that DeSantis himself has cited.  The entire point of this exercise is to frighten teachers -- and corporations -- into leaving. DeSantis can simply call any company or teacher who leaves a racist, and he wins.

I suspect the courts will have a field day with this law on First Amendment grounds, but the damage would be done as soon as the law would be passed. How many teachers will quit knowing that angry parents will sue them for teaching basically anything in American history or culture? How many businesses will just leave the state?

The more fights DeSantis can pick on this front, the more popular he gets among the Trump CHUD crowd, and he knows it.

There's no downside for him if this passes, unless Florida voters are going to exact a toll, and frankly, the majority of them will support this.

Pretty soon, I suspect we'll see calls for public schools to be eliminated completely in states, and that day is coming sooner rather than later in places like Florida and Texas.

President Manchin Finally Kills The Bill

Merry Christmas to Joe Biden, as President Manchin went on FOX News this morning to announce he will now vote against the Build Back Better plan, effectively killing the legislation.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he will not be voting for President Biden's Build Back Better Act on Sunday, citing his continued concerns on inflation.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Manchin said his concerns surrounding the massive social spending and climate bill have not been assuaged.

"I've always said this Brett, if I can't go home and explain to the people of West Virginia I can't vote for and I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't. I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there," Manchin told host Bret Baier.

"This is a no
This is not only Manchin saying he's a no right now, this is Manchin giving up on getting to yes.
He's prepared to be the bad guy here, along with all 50 Republican senators.
So what happens now?  There certainly won't be a vote on the bill with Manchin a hard no now, and if you noticed, I called this months ago. Once the Senate infrastructure bill was passed and signed into law, Manchin was going to kill the BBB bill. He went on FOX News Sunday specifically to drive the knife in Biden's back.

Biden won't give up completely, but at this point any more cuts in the legislation destroys its chances completely in the House, which is the point. Ideally for Manchin, the chopped bill ends up failing on the House floor, and the game ends where House Progressives are the bad guys for making the good the enemy of the perfect.
Again, the real bad guys are the GOP, but Manchin benefits personally from joining them here.  His nuclear option of switching parties remains in play, too. He was always holding the high hand, and he played it to perfection. Dems need to operate under the assumption that they need 52 Senate seats in 2022, minimum. The only way to remove Manchin's (and Sinema's)  power is to make his vote symbolic and irrelevant to passing actual legislation.

It's still possible that Manchin does cut some sort of deal with one or two "priorities" but of course those will be fashioned the way President Manchin wants. Again, the most likely outcome is "nothing." Manchin's position is untenable with 48 other Democrats. He got 100% of what he wanted in the Senate bill he helped create five months ago. Everything else has been kabuki.

Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework “in good faith.”
On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.
Senator Manchin claims that this change of position is related to inflation, but the think tank he often cites on Build Back Better—the Penn Wharton Budget Institute—issued a report less than 48 hours ago that noted the Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures. Many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better.

Build Back Better lowers costs that families pay. It will reduce what families pay for child care. It will reduce what they pay for prescription drugs. It will lower health care premiums. And it puts a tax cut in the pockets of families with kids. If someone is concerned about the impact that higher prices are having on families, this bill gives them a break. Senator Manchin cited deficit concerns in his statement. But the plan is fully paid for, is the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years, and reduces the deficit in the long run. 

The Congressional Budget Office report that the Senator cites analyzed an unfunded extension of Build Back Better. That’s not what the President has proposed, not the bill the Senate would vote on, and not what the President would support. Senator Manchin knows that: The President has told him that repeatedly, including this week, face to face. Likewise, Senator Manchin’s statement about the climate provisions in Build Back Better are wrong. Build Back Better will produce a job-creating clean energy future for this country—including West Virginia.

Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.

In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine. He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need. Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone—we cannot.
I was right all along, folks. The bill as it is now is dead. If the BBB passes at all, it will be much smaller.

Anyone surprised at coal in everyone's stocking from the coal state senator was never paying attention.

Nobody say that you weren't warned.

Sunday Long Read: The Journey And The Destination

This week's Sunday Long Read comes from Slate Magazine's Henry Grabar, who takes a look at that most American of obsessions, speeding. We're always in a hurry, even in the COVID era, and an entire cottage industry, not to mention billions of dollars in tickets, fines, police funding, speed traps, red light cameras, and more have sprung up as a direct result of us wanting to shave a few minutes off the trip.

Not to mention the injuries and deaths.

One Tuesday morning this fall, I strapped on a Kevlar vest and slid into the passenger seat of a gray Ford Interceptor sedan, the souped-up Taurus that replaced the Crown Vic as America’s default police car a decade ago.* (And has since been replaced itself: Ford no longer produces police cars, only SUVs and pickups.) This model has several features that are not available for civilian use, including a siren on the roof and a V6 Mustang engine under the hood.

That came in handy when Kevin Roberts, a talkative, thoughtful third-year cop, steered us onto Connecticut’s Interstate 84 for the day shift. We were heading toward Waterbury, whose interlocking expressways are his to patrol. Roberts was in the left lane going 80, and I had the uncanny experience of surveying the highway from his point of view. How many times have I been on the other side—overtaking some slowpoke, 12 over the limit, only to see a rack of siren lights in the rearview mirror and ask myself: How slowly can I complete this pass?

Roberts and I were waiting for that moment of panicked recognition. He knows people resent that the police are always speeding, but he says it’s the only way to do the job. You can’t drive the speed limit or below, because no one wants to pass a cop. The highway’s self-organizing system would disintegrate and traffic would slow to molasses. “Everyone’s at 10 and 2,” he said as we made our way past another stone-faced commuter. It’s the morning rush, and drivers are on their best behavior. “You’ve got to wait for people to spread their wings.”

Roberts is not out to ticket every last speeder, because that would be impossible. “We know not everyone is going to go 55, 65, we’re realistic,” he said. “Not everyone is going to go the speed limit.” When he’s not responding to an accident or a crime, he sees his role as corrective. Sometimes that means loop after loop on the city’s highway landmarks, the Mountain (a steep slope to the east) and the Mixmaster (a decked highway near the city), without stopping to set a trap at all.

But sometimes that means making good on the threat that’s implicit in all that driving. Roberts rolled into the grass alongside an on-ramp, hidden from oncoming traffic by a sign and a bend in the road. He pulled out a TruSpeed S, a top-of-the-line radar gun that permits him to gauge the speed of passing cars from any angle. We sat there for about 30 seconds before he clocked a blue Buick doing 90, and then we were off, racing down the highway until we were right behind the car in question.

Speeding is a national health problem and a big reason why this country is increasingly an outlier on traffic safety in the developed world. More than 1 in 4 fatal crashes in the United States involve at least one speeding driver, making speeding a factor in nearly 10,000 deaths each year, in addition to an unknowable number of injuries. Thousands of car crash victims are on foot, and speed is an even more crucial determinant of whether they live or die: The odds of a pedestrian being killed in a collision rise from 10 percent at 23 mph to 75 percent at 50 mph. And we’re now in a moment of particular urgency. Last year, when the pandemic shutdowns lowered total miles traveled by 13 percent, the per-mile death rate rose by 24 percent—the greatest increase in a century, thanks to drivers hitting high velocities on empty roads. “COVID,” Roberts said, “was midnight on the day shift.”

In the first six months of 2021, projected traffic fatalities in the U.S. rose by 18 percent, the largest increase since the U.S. Department of Transportation started counting and double the rate of the previous year’s surge. “We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a press release.

But we do. Such carnage has not prompted a societal response akin to the movement elicited by drunk driving in the 1980s. Part of the reason is that Americans love driving fast and have confidence in their own abilities. About half admit to going more than 15 over the limit in the past month. Meanwhile, drivers do generally regard their peers’ speeding as a threat to their own safety, and so we have wound up with the worst of both worlds: Thousands of speed-related deaths on the one hand, and on the other, a system of enforcement that is both ineffective and inescapable
For my part, Weebledad taught me to keep it at 5 over, and I admit to doing, say, 80 in a 70 zone once in a while on the interstate, but I work from home these days and it amazes me just how much of my time I used to spend in my car. I don't miss it, and I see why people would rather speed and save time, even a few minutes. I used to be that way myself.
These days, not so much. Especially when cops and civil forfeiture are involved.
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