It Begs the Question


From Thom Hartmann’s rant on August 6

The first real test of the [National Voter Rights Act of 1993] came in 2018, when Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, went on a voter-purge binge (that hit Black, student and elderly neighborhoods particularly hard) and was sued by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute for violating Ohio citizens’ right to vote.

In a bitter 5-4 decision, the conservative majority ruled in Husted v Randolph that purging voters because they failed to return a junk-mail-like postcard was entirely legal.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

It’s a practice once called “caging” back when Karl Rove’s guy [George W. Bush] was allegedly doing it and it was illegal but that has, since that Court ruling, spread to pretty much every Republican-controlled state in the nation.

Justice Alito’s decision was particularly biting, asserting that the arguments made by the citizens who’d lost their right to vote were “worse than superfluous” and their argument that they shouldn’t have to regularly check  in with the Secretary of State’s office to stay on the voter rolls represented logic “no sensible person” could agree with.

Justice Alito’s comments fly in the face of the multiple declarations of the right to vote prominently displayed in the Constitution. That document doesn’t say anything about the need to send in a post card or “check in” with any government or agency in order to retain the right to vote. We just have to be citizens.

If Alito wants autocracy, minority rule and race and class oppression, he might consider moving to another country with just such a foundation. Maybe I missed something, but I thought that all justices took an oath to the Constitution of this country.

In acting to suppress the right of citizens to vote, Alito pushed back on democracy itself. Given that Alito’s Supreme Court vote and his comments are in opposition to both the Constitution and democracy, it begs the question of why he’s on the Supreme Court.

It Says Hope, But It Isn’t

The State of Florida continues on its path to become the place most intentionally disinterested in the welfare of its citizens. In the face of stiff competition from Texas, Arizona and several other states, Florida has codified its refusal to allow schools to protect students from Covid-19 and its variants by issuing an Emergency Rule.* Please download it. You’ll be amazed at the lengths to which the Florida Board of Education goes and the tortured un-reason it uses to attempt to make their prohibition of mask mandates sound like they’re delivering safety from this deadly virus.

Their logic is forehead-slappingly illogical, sort of like saying they are promoting good by ensuring bad.

Almost as shocking is that the state’s Board of Education offers an alternative to mask mandates. It invites students and public money to go to private schools. This smells very bad, like the public schools in the south in the 1950s and 60s that suffered because white students left for private, expensive (read: segregated) schools, as did the public money for education, leaving nearly nothing for Black kids.

And the Florida Board of Education is doing this under the banner “Hope.”

Here’s a startling headline from the Tallahassee Democrat on August 9 showing DeSantis’ disregard for Floridians:

Florida Gov. DeSantis to school officials: Enforce mask mandate, get your salaries withheld
.

I have no clue how that could be legal. It’s much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott declaring that he’s going to arrest the Democratic legislators who left the state to prevent horrid voter suppression laws from being enacted. He proudly boasted that he would arrest and hold these Democrats in the state capitol building In Austin for the duration of the special legislative session. That’s quite a statement from the Texas Governor, in that the Democrats have broken no laws and he has no power to incarcerate them in the capitol building or anywhere else.

Note that both of these governors are threatening opponents with exactly the same kind of king-of-the-hill bravado as despots and cruel dictators who imprison political opponents (think: Putin in Russia; Orbán in Hungary; Xi in China). The same goes for all the rest of the “I’ll show you!” tough guy governors and legislators. Tough guy stuff plays well with the alt-right, the MAGA hat wearers. Normally, that’s a “who-cares?” but in the face of Covid and civil unrest, it’s deadly.

Expect stupid litigation to follow DeSantis’ tough guy announcement. The reason that’s important is that we have an epidemic of people in power doing similarly anti-welfare-of-the-people things, as well as taking anti-democracy shots.

This Florida Board of Education Emergency Rule and DeSantis’ threat of withholding educators’ salaries are just the most recent actions that beg the question of why Gov. Ron DeSantis has been allowed to be anywhere near public office.

While DeSantis is the poster boy for selfishly bad governing, for our purposes he is a placeholder for all the governors, legislators and bloviators who chest thump and try to position themselves for more MAGA votes, even at the cost of the health and the lives of our fellow citizens. Future generations will look at our time with puzzlement and derision, because we voted for this. And that begs yet more questions.

Actual Hope

Dr. Chad Gestson, Supt. Phoenix Union High School District

A refreshing contrast to knuckle dragging governors like DeSantis and Abbott is Dr. Chad Gestson, Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, AZ, with 32,000 students. He is a profile in courage, defying Gov. Doug Ducey’s “no mask mandates” order by requiring masks for students, teachers and staff in his schools. Apparently, the superintendent thinks the health of everyone in his schools is really important, a concept not comprehensible by certain elected officials.

What’s truly, self-destructively weird is that a teacher in his district is suing Gestson over his mask mandate, claiming it’s an infringement of his freedom to become infected, then infect others and finally to gasp and die (the sarcasm is mine – JA). Nevertheless, Gestson is standing strong. I bet he’d appreciate a note of support from you. [email protected]

Meanwhile, the Florida Board Of Education Emergency Rule, the various governors’ no-mask-mandate orders and the teacher’s lawsuit all beg the question of when self-serving temper tantrums replaced good sense.

Covid Corner

Please click the graph above and read the full thread.

The United States of America has

– 4.25% of the world’s population

– 18% of the world’s total Covid-19 cases – 36.8M/204.3M

– 14.7% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19 – 633K/4.3M. Before the vaccines that number was closer to 25%, but 71.9% of seniors are now fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we have over 633,000 total deaths and the two week moving average is now 480 per day – and rising. See the STAT chart below.

– The distinction of being the only country in the world where mask mandates can be prohibited.

20% of new U.S. Covid cases are children – see here and here. Babies and young children are dying.

A new case of Covid-19 in the U.S. is reported every 0.7 seconds. The two-week moving average is a new case every 1.2 seconds. See the STAT chart below.

The U.S. has the largest supply of Covid vaccines in the world, but

– Only 58.1% of vaccine-eligible citizens in the U.S. is fully vaccinated.

– The U.S. is the only country where citizens have to be bribed to be vaccinated, even as citizens of other countries beg for vaccines.

Covid Cases as of 8-10-21

All of this Covid information begs so many questions, like,

What has happened to us and why did we let this craziness happen?

Where did our sense of civic duty go?

What happened to our caring for one another?

How did so many of us become so shockingly angry that our good sense has left us?

Why are we rationalizing so much avoidable suffering and death?

Why aren’t we shocked by a Covid death equivalent of the crash of a jumbo jet every day?

It begs these questions and so many more.

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* Thanks go to JN for forwarding the Florida DOE Emergency Rule.

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Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
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2 Responses to It Begs the Question
  1. Anna Boehm Reply

    Hi Jack, I appreciate your take on this. Do you know about the recall of the Gov of California? I didn’t really understand what this will mean in terms of fascists possibly taking the governorship until I read this article on revcom.us — https://revcom.us/a/712/on-the-california-governor-recall-election-en.html

    also: here is their take on what the Republifascists governors are doing: https://revcom.us/a/712/crippling-role-of-republi-fascist-governors-in-the-fight-against-covid-en.html

    And one more from the Univ of Chicago on the violence of the insurrectionists: https://cpost.uchicago.edu/research/domestic_extremism/why_we_cannot_afford_to_ignore_the_american_insurrectionist_movement/

    Take care, Anna