Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Last Call For Shutdown Countdown, Clown Town Edition, Con't

Senate Republicans and Democrats reached agreement on Tuesday on a stopgap spending plan that would head off a government shutdown on Sunday while providing billions in disaster relief and aid to Ukraine, but the measure faced resistance in the Republican-led House.

The legislation cleared its first procedural obstacle Tuesday night on a bipartisan vote of 77 to 19. It would keep government funding flowing through Nov. 17 to allow more time for negotiations over yearlong spending bills and provide about $6 billion for the Ukraine war effort as well as approximately $6 billion for disaster relief in the wake of a series of wildfires and floods.

Senate leaders hoped to pass it by the end of the week and send it to the House in time to avert a shutdown now set to begin at midnight Saturday. But there was no guarantee that Speaker Kevin McCarthy would bring the legislation to the House floor for a vote, since some far-right Republicans have said they would try to remove him from his post if he did.

Still, in putting the legislation forward, Senate leaders in both parties were ratcheting up the pressure on Mr. McCarthy, who has failed to put together a temporary spending plan of his own.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said the Senate agreement “will continue to fund the government at present levels while maintaining our commitment to Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs while also ensuring those impacted by disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, urged her colleagues to support the plan, warning that shutdowns “do not accomplish the goals that people who advocate government shutdowns think will be accomplished.”

“I’ve been through two government shutdowns,” Ms. Collins said, “and I can tell you they are never good policy.”

The Senate proposal would meet stiff resistance from House Republicans because it includes assistance for Ukraine that many of them oppose and maintains federal funding at current levels. Many House Republicans are demanding steep cuts in even an interim funding plan. As a result, Mr. McCarthy would need Democratic votes to pass it, and leaning on Democrats would stir a backlash from his own party.

Mr. McCarthy on Tuesday told reporters at the Capitol that he would not address “hypotheticals” about whether he would put a stopgap plan passed by the Senate to a vote on the House floor. He and his deputies were toiling ahead of a scheduled vote on Tuesday evening to round up support to allow a group of yearlong spending bills to come to the floor for debate, even as a group of hard-right Republicans vowed to continue blocking them.

“I heard all this time, they’re going to pass appropriations bills all month,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at a separate news conference later in the day. “Remember, you all wrote about it? They were the good chamber. So when they pass something, come back and ask.”
Boy, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the circus boxcar hammock, didn't he?
Still, McCarthy has nobody to blame but himself. He's no longer Speaker but in name only, and if he tries to bring the bill to a House floor vote, he may get removed before he can do it. I don't expect Hakeem Jeffries will help McCarthy out of the Big Top until after the Senate stopgap bill gets passed in the House, but that leaves us with six weeks to figure out who's replacing him.
Of course, McCarthy's a coward, and that means he may let the government shut down anyway.
We'll see. The Senate bill has to pass first before anything happens.

Of course, then we get to have the new fight with the new Ringmaster.

In A Family Way

Gallup polling finds that the percentage of Americans who define the "ideal family" to have three or more children to be the highest in my lifetime.

Americans are about evenly divided in their views of whether smaller versus larger families are preferable. When asked about the ideal number of children for a family to have, a 44% plurality of U.S. adults think having two children is best, and 3% say a single child is ideal, totaling a 47% preference for smaller families.

At the same time, 45% of Americans favor larger families, including 29% who say having three children is ideal, 12% who think four is best, and 2% each who prefer having five or six or more children.

Just 2% think the ideal family does not include any children at all.

These findings, from aggregated Gallup polls in June and July 2023, translate to an average of 2.7 children considered ideal.

Gallup began periodically measuring Americans’ preferred family size in 1936 and found 64% favoring at least three children at that time. Support for larger families of three or more children peaked at 77% in 1945, at the end of World War II and just before the baby boom -- yet a minimum of 61% of U.S. adults favored families of at least three children through 1967. At the highest point during the baby boom, the average number of children per U.S. family was 3.6.

Between 1967 and 1971, preferences for larger families plummeted from 70% to 52%. This drop was likely fueled at least in part by concerns about a global population explosion, resulting from the 1968 bestselling book entitled The Population Bomb. Additionally, changes in societal norms -- such as women’s increased role in the workplace, a growing acceptance of premarital sex and economic concerns -- could have affected views.

In 1973, Americans’ preference for smaller families of one or two children became the standard, often significantly outpacing a desire for larger families of three or more children in the years that followed. These preferences were evident in U.S. birth rates, as the average number of children per family in the U.S. dropped to 1.8 by 1980 -- half of what it was at the peak of the baby boom.

After climbing to 64% in 1986, Americans’ preference for smaller families trended downward, but with more notable spikes in times of economic turmoil, including 57% in 2011 after the Great Recession. Conversely, amid stronger economic times, such as in 1997 and 2018, the gap between preferences for smaller and larger families narrowed.

Americans’ belief that the ideal family size includes three or more children has been rising steadily in recent years, currently up four percentage points from the previous reading in 2018 to its highest point since 1971. The latest measure is one of the few instances when preferences for smaller families (of one or two children) and larger families (of three or more children) are statistically tied in Gallup’s trend.
The reality of course is that having kids now is wildly expensive, to the point where a significant number of US parents define an ideal family to have fewer children than they currently, actually have.

U.S. adults’ views of the best family size have not always tracked with birth rates in the U.S., particularly in recent years. Since the Great Recession, Americans have been increasingly likely to say larger families are preferable, but birth rates in the U.S. have been declining. This suggests that while they may see larger families as ideal, other factors are preventing them from implementing this in their own lives.

In all, 31% of U.S. adults report that they have not had any children, while 14% have had one child, 28% have had two, 15% have had three, 7% have had four and 5% have had five or more.

A 48% plurality of those without children and a slim 51% majority of parents of one each see having two children as ideal.

The ideal for parents of two and three children generally conforms with what they have, as 54% of parents of two and a 46% plurality of parents of three say their own family situation is best. Those with four or more children are most inclined to favor larger families (43% say four or more children is ideal), yet slightly more of these parents, 49%, say between one and three children is ideal.
I don't have any kids, but grew up with three brothers and sisters. I have plenty of nieces and nephews, heck, one niece has a son of her own, meaning one of my younger brothers is a grandpa already.
It takes all kinds of families these days. For me, it's a found family of friends I've made through blogging, gaming, and being online in general.
Kids are still expensive though. Quarter-mil over 18 years last time I checked to raise one.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Black churches in Florida are stepping up with teaching lessons now that Black history has been outlawed in Florida schools.
They filed into the pews one after the other on a sweltering Wednesday night, clutching Bibles and notepads, ready to learn at church what they no longer trusted would be taught at school.

“BLACK HISTORY MATTERS” proclaimed television screens facing the several dozen men and women settling in at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. An institution in the predominantly Black neighborhood of Liberty City, “The Ship” had borne witness to many of the seminal events of the past century, shepherding its followers during Jim Crow and the heyday of the KKK, through the civil rights movement to the racial justice protests of recent years.

Now, as a new school year started, the Rev. Gaston Smith was standing at the pulpit with a lesson on one of those chapters. After months of controversy over new directives governing classroom instruction in Florida — changes that critics said sanitized or even distorted the past — he and other Black pastors across the state agreed their churches had no choice but to respond.

They would teach Black history themselves.

“Whenever there has been any kind of movement, particularly in the African American community, it started in the house of God,” said Smith, 57, a commanding presence with a resonant voice. “We cannot be apathetic, we cannot sit back, we cannot be nonvocal. We have to stand our ground, because the Bible says we have to speak up for those that cannot speak up for themselves.”

Their resolve has drawn a groundswell of support. A nonprofit coalition of religious institutions, Faith in Florida, put together an 11-chapter tool kit to guide the churches and suggest books, articles, documentaries and reports covering the Black experience through what it calls “the lens of truth.” The chapters, featuring content for all ages, cover a lot of ground. “From Africa to America,” one is titled. Another highlights “Race, Racism & Whiteness.”

Some 200 faith leaders quickly signed up to use it, representing African Methodist Episcopal, United Methodist and other denominations. Each committed to weave teachings on Black history into their sermons or Sunday school classes or Bible study sessions. That way, they’d be reaching parents as well as children.

The churches’ involvement harks back to the pivotal role many played in the struggle to end segregation and advance voting rights.

“There’s always been that connection,” said Loren Lyons, a spokesperson for the coalition. “And so, we pretty much said that because of what’s going on in the curriculum and what’s going on in Florida right now, it’s time that we took back that power.”
Cynical me wonders just how long Ron DeSantis's government will wait before Black churches become targets of investigation for being terrorist hotbeds, this of course coming from people who will tell you that white Christians are the most persecuted group on Earth and that religious freedom is the bedrock of American society.
Black communities taking education of kids and families into their own hands, often through Black churches, is nothing new. We've been doing it for decades if not centuries. From spirituals to Dr. King's SCLC to the Black Panthers to today, we survive and thrive though that community.
But Depressing Realist Me wonders why DeSantis would lift a finger when Black churches are technically making his case that public education is broken and that religious education for students is the answer. That this effort will be hijacked in order to push public education dollars going to churches and religious schools is inevitable.

So no, I'm not celebrating this at all. I fully expect Republicans to co-opt this movement for evil.

Black Lives Still Matter though.

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