Friday Talking Points -- Is It January 20th Yet?

[ Posted Friday, December 18th, 2020 – 18:23 UTC ]

Once again, it's been a momentous week in American presidential history. Right as we were writing last week's column, the Supreme Court laughed President Donald Trump's last-ditch legal effort to overturn the will of the voters of multiple states right out of court. They were entirely correct in unanimously turning the case down, because it was so very laughable a concept to begin with. Texas was essentially arguing that it should be able to have a veto over any other state's election, because they didn't approve of that state's election process (in reality, what they really didn't approve of was who won those states). Coincidentally enough, they only complained about the states which, if their votes had been denied, would have handed the election to Trump -- even though several other states (including some red ones) had done exactly what Texas was complaining about in the four states they tried to sue. It was all nakedly transparent, and not based in any legal or constitutional foundation whatsoever. Which, again, is why it got unanimously laughed out of the highest court in the land.

Meanwhile, the first American (a nurse on Long Island named Sarah Lindsay) was successfully vaccinated against COVID-19, which was a real milestone. Another vaccine will likely get approved today, bringing the total so far to two vaccines approved for public use. But, as with any rollout, problems seem to be emerging in the distribution process. It's a good thing Donald Trump is still in office to preside over this, because it guarantees that he'll get the blame if anything goes wrong -- as he entirely and fittingly should. First, it was revealed that the Trump administration refused to buy another 100 million doses from Pfizer (the first vaccine approved), and now all of a sudden the amount of vaccine promised to each state for the second shipment was slashed by 40 percent -- with no explanation or warning at all. Trump and his minions immediately tried to blame "production problems" for the delay, but Pfizer wasn't having any of that:

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said on Thursday that it has "millions" of vaccine doses waiting for delivery instructions from the Trump administration after governors complained that their shipments would be drastically cut. Governors in more than a dozen states reported that the C.D.C. informed them that next week's shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be significantly smaller than expected. The agency did not offer any explanation.

Officials in California, Washington, Hawaii, and Nevada said that the C.D.C. notified them that their allocation would be slashed by about 40%, The Associated Press reported. Michigan, Missouri, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Indiana were also told to expect fewer doses than expected.

In other words, millions of doses are sitting in warehouses, ready to go, waiting for shipment orders, while the states suddenly were told they'll be getting only 60 percent of what was promised to them. Which means it's pretty obvious where to point the finger of blame on this one. If disruptions such as this continue, it will mean Trump's promises about how many will get vaccinated by the end of the year (which first was 100 million then drastically shrank to 20 million) may be proven wrong again.

And Joe Biden won't be responsible for any of it. Thank you, Operation Warp Speed.

Speaking of Donald Trump lying about what his administration has been up to, an explosive report in Politico revealed that there are actual emails proving that the Trump administration was indeed pushing the discredited "herd immunity" notion (or as Trump mistakenly called it, "herd mentality"). This is lunacy, because it would mean encouraging everyone to contract the virus as fast as possible so immunity (in the survivors) builds up to the point where the virus is stopped in its tracks. The problem is, this would require something like 70 percent (or more) of America to get sick. Which would translate into millions of unnecessary deaths. Which is why it is such an abhorrent idea, of course.

Science advisor Paul Alexander, described as "a part-time professor at a Canadian university," laid out his plan in no uncertain terms, as the (at times badly-spelled) emails show:

"There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD," then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote on July 4 to his boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.

"Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk... so we use them to develop herd...we want them infected....." Alexander added.

"[I]t may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let the kids and young folk get infected" in order to get "natural immunity... natural exposure," Alexander wrote on July 24 to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Caputo and eight other senior officials.

. . .

Alexander also argued that colleges should stay open to allow COVID-19 infections to spread, lamenting in a July 27 email to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield that "we essentially took off the battlefield the most potent weapon we had... younger healthy people, children, teens, young people who we needed to fastly [sic] infect themselves, spread it around, develop immunity, and help stop the spread."

Seriously? "Fastly"? No wonder he's just a part-time professor. But there's more...

"So the bottom line is if it is more infectiouness [sic] now, the issue is who cares?" Alexander wrote in a July 3 email to the health department's top communications officials. "If it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares... as long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes, we must go on with life... who cares if we test more and get more positive tests."

. . .

"I did not want to look like a nut ball and if as they think and as I think this may be true... several hard hit areas may have hit heard [sic] at 20% like NYC," Alexander added. "[T]hat's my argument... why not consider it?"

Um, well... because millions of people will needlessly die, maybe? Oh, but, right: "who cares?" And: "we want them infected." Trumpism really has devolved into a death cult, it seems.

Moving on to other disturbing subjects, Russia was identified this week as being behind a monumental hack of a certain brand of software that all sorts of federal agencies use. The list of departments and agencies who got hacked -- months ago, apparently -- just keeps growing: the Treasury Department (which includes the I.R.S., by the way), the Commerce Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, and just today it was revealed that the National Nuclear Security Administration -- entrusted with providing security for our nuclear weapons stockpile -- was also hacked. By Russia. Along with its parent agency, the Energy Department.

It is not overstating things to say that this is the greatest and most successful cyberattack on American government of all time. So what has President Trump said about it all? Absolutely nothing -- because he is still in the throes of his epic tantrum over losing the election to Joe Biden. We keep saying it, because it is so true: January 20th just can't get here fast enough.

Of course, the Republican Party -- traditionally and historically the biggest foe of Russia -- is paying attention, right? Well, no. Instead, many of them still have yet to admit that Biden won the election, and several of them are espousing dangerous ideas about what to do about the situation. How dangerous? Well, you be the judge:

On Facebook, North Carolina state Sen. Steinburg (R) paraphrased a conservative commentator to make a radical suggestion: President Trump should declare a national emergency, suspend civil rights and remain in power over his baseless claims of election fraud.

. . .

Steinburg, who recently won reelection to his state Senate seat in North Carolina, wrote an inflammatory Facebook post on Tuesday quoting an interview with retired Air Force lieutenant general Thomas McInerney earlier this month.

"President Trump must declare a national emergency," the 72-year-old state senator wrote in the post, which has since been deleted. "Trump should also invoke the Insurrection Act."

The Insurrection Act, which was signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, would allow the president to deploy military forces on U.S. soil.

Steinburg also suggested in the Facebook post that the president suspend habeas corpus, which allows people to challenge unlawful imprisonment, "as Lincoln and F.D.R. have both done in times of war." (President Abraham Lincoln did so during the Civil War; President Franklin D. Roosevelt did so during World War II so that officials could force Japanese Americans into camps.)

Steinburg stood by the post speaking to [local TV station] WRAL on Tuesday, while referencing a number of conspiracy theories about the election.

The state senator claimed that the Supreme Court justices had declined to hear the challenge last week because "somebody's got something" on the highest judicial officers in the nation. He claimed that unnamed F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents who live in his district had told him so. He also alleged that federal law enforcement officials have refused to intervene in a "coup d'état."

He also offered, unbidden, to take a psychological evaluation to prove that he is sound of mind.

"I'm not nuts," he told the outlet. "I'm not a conspiracy theory person."

. . .

Steinburg on Tuesday said he would support Trump if he suspended civil rights protections to detain his political enemies and change the election result.

"If that's what needs to be done, if there are people who have been identified as folks who are suspected of high crimes and misdemeanors, who are threatening the very security and foundation of our nation," Steinburg told WRAL, "for whatever period of time it takes to round them up, then yes."

Yes, you heard that right. A Republican North Carolina state senator is advocating that Donald Trump declare a national emergency, invoke the Insurrection Act (even though there is no actual insurrection in sight), deploy American troops all over the country, suspend habeas corpus, overturn a presidential election and anoint Trump the winner, and then just go right ahead and "round them up" -- with "them" assumably being anyone who didn't worship Dear Leader Trump sufficiently enough. Which at last count, was at least 81 million Americans.

This is perhaps the most un-American statement from a politician we have ever heard in our entire lives. And yet, it passes by with little notice, because while most Republicans won't actually come out and say stuff like that, plenty of them are so terrified of Trump's retribution that they have been aiding and abetting all sorts of attempts to -- and let's be crystal clear about this -- steal an American presidential election.

What else? Attorney General William Barr was either forced out in a Trump tantrum or decided to leave while the rats could still safely escape the sinking Trump ship, and will spend his last day in the job some time next week.

When Congress convenes on January 6th to officially accept the Electoral College votes, it is quite likely going to take longer than usual, since at least one Republican senator (a senator-elect, actually, Tommy Tuberville) has indicated that he will support challenging the votes from the states that Trump wants to steal. Each state challenged in this fashion will require two hours of debate as the two houses of Congress separately consider them, and it will all fail. The Democratic House is just never going to go along with this election-stealing scheme, so it's really a foregone conclusion. The only question is how long it will take. If the four states that Texas sued (Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) are all challenged, that would mean an extra eight hours of sheer Kabuki theater, just to please the Dear Leader one last time.

And as we head into the weekend, Congress still has yet to come to a deal to fund the government for the next year and send some desperately-needed pandemic aid to tens of millions of American families. Nobody knows what the outcome will be, but everyone's hoping for a deal some time this weekend.

As we titled this article: "Is it January 20th yet?" Can't get here soon enough, as far as we're concerned....


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We have to at least give Joe Biden an Honorable Mention, both for his official Electoral College victory and for the forceful speech he gave afterwards (which is only 13 minutes long and well worth watching, if you haven't seen it yet).

We also have a somewhat surprising Honorable Mention to hand out. After weeks of increasing threats and violence, Trump's brownshirt brigade held another pity party in Washington D.C. These threats have happened to elections officials and state government officials in Georgia, Arizona, Vermont, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Colorado, among other places across the country. In Michigan, a mob of people -- many of whom were armed -- terrorized the home of the secretary of state (who was about to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas with her 4-year-old son and instead had to listen to people yelling "you're murderers" at her house).

But our Honorable Mention goes to none other than Marianne Williamson, who had the perfect response to a video clip of the D.C. violence: "Tell me how this is not like Berlin in 1935. Really. Somebody tell me." Well said, indeed.

But this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week goes to Joe Biden's nominee to head the Interior Department, current Representative Deb Haaland. She will be the first Native American to hold a cabinet post in all of American history. And it is an entirely appropriate position, as well.

The oldest agency in the Department of the Interior is actually the Bureau of Indian Affairs. So the B.I.A. will, for the first time ever be accountable to an actual Native American boss. That's more than just appropriate, it is poetic justice and a huge step for equal treatment for all.

So we look forward to seeing Haaland confirmed in such a historic position, and for the time being we're giving her this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate Representative Deb Haaland on her House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

This one is beyond disappointing, really. But all we have is the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award to hand out, so it'll have to do. This week's goes to the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. Here's the background:

CBS2-TV released body camera footage on Monday night of officers forcing their way into the home of Anjanette Young nearly two years ago. The 50-year-old clinical social worker, who helps victims of violence and mentors people of color going into her profession, had just finished her work shift at a hospital and was undressing in her bedroom when a group of male officers broke down her door with a battering ram.

"It was so traumatic to hear the thing that was hitting the door," she told CBS2 in a televised interview as part of Monday's report. "And it happened so fast, I didn't have time to put on clothes."

In the disturbing Feb. 21, 2019, footage, officers appear to have their guns drawn while they yell for Young to put her hands up. She can then be seen in the video fully naked with her hands raised, looking terrified and confused (CBS2 blurred parts of the video in which Young was shown naked). One officer puts Young's hands behind her back and handcuffs her, leaving her with no way to cover herself as police search her home.

Young becomes increasingly and understandably distressed in the footage as officers refuse to tell her why they have raided her home. She asks them repeatedly to let her put clothes on and tells them she believes they have the wrong information.

According to CBS2, Young told police at least 43 times that they were in the wrong home. She said that officers responded to her distress in a way that amplified it, telling her not to shout when she'd ask questions.

"When I asked them to show me, when I asked them to tell me what they are doing in my house, and their response to me was just 'shut up and calm down,'" Young told the station, "that's so disrespectful."

The body cam footage reportedly shows Young had to stand there naked -- while policemen rummaged through her house -- for 13 minutes. Young remained handcuffed for 20 minutes. All because the cops had taken the word of a confidential informant without verifying the address and got a search warrant for a suspected criminal. Who not only lived next door to Young, but was wearing an ankle bracelet tracking device that the cops could have used to find him at any point in time.

This is all pretty horrific, but the reason for the MDDOTW award is what happened recently. Mayor Lori Lightfoot's lawyers not only tried to get the body cam footage suppressed -- which it had been, for nearly two years -- but they actually attacked Young in court by accusing her of releasing the footage to the media.

Young fought for nearly two years to get the footage of the raid on her home released. The Chicago Police Department initially denied her Freedom of Information Act request but eventually turned over the footage after a judge ordered it as part of Young's lawsuit.

Hours before CBS2's report on Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's lawyers filed an emergency motion in federal court to try and stop the station from airing bodycam footage of the raid. The lawyers also wanted Young punished, accusing her of sharing the video with a news outlet despite a confidentiality order.

Lightfoot tried to dodge responsibility, but it was a pretty poor dodge:

"I watched that video and I put myself in that poor woman's place and thinking about somebody breaking into your home... and the trauma that that causes," Lightfoot continued. "I think we have taken steps to address that issue. This case was litigated in federal court. The federal judge put in place an order. There's allegations she has violated that. But what I've directed my law department to is resolve any pending case with respect to Young's situation."

However, Chicago police have continued to ignore even the small search warrant policy changes Lightfoot made in February of this year, nearly two years after CBS2 began exposing botched Chicago police raids.

The mayor also dodged the question on Tuesday of why her law department tried to get a last-minute federal court order to stop CBS2 from airing its story.

This, of course, follows former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's notorious suppression of video of Chicago cops shooting an unarmed man for over a year. In other words, Chicago cops have a real history of not letting the public see what they do. And Lori Lightfoot not only enabled them to continue doing so, she actually fought for it in court.

Which is why she's easily our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on her official contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 600 (12/18/20)

Two program notes before we begin. First, everyone please take a look at that volume number. That's pretty amazing -- this is actually the six-hundredth of these columns! The very first (bare bones) column ran on September 14, 2007, in case anyone wants a trip down memory lane (George W. Bush was still president...).

Second, you will no doubt have noticed by now that this is not one of our year-end awards columns. Last week, it was unclear whether the first of these would run today or not. As you can see, it didn't. So, next week, the first awards column will run on Wednesday, which will be the last column of the week (except for, possibly, a few re-run Christmas articles from years past). The Wednesday after that is when the second awards column will run, and it will also be the final column of the week (and the year). The first Monday of the new year, new columns will resume on a regular basis (starting, no doubt, with the banished words for the year), and the next Friday Talking Points column will run on the eighth of January.

That's it for the housekeeping notes, so let's just move right along to the talking points, shall we?


   That's Doctor Jill Biden to you, kiddo

They attacked Hillary for all sorts of misogynist reasons (forcing her, at one point, to publicly announce she had baked some cookies). They attacked Michelle Obama for both misogynist and racist reasons. And now they're starting in on Dr. Jill Biden.

"The Wall Street Journal has apparently not noticed the past 50 years have gone by, or something. They published a hit piece on future First Lady Dr. Jill Biden that was downright disgusting. Don't believe me? Here's how it began:"

Madame First Lady -- Mrs. Biden -- Jill -- kiddo. A bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the 'Dr.' before your name? 'Dr. Jill Biden' sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.

"If you can believe it, it actually got worse from there. Jill Biden earned a doctorate in education, after raising her children. She earned it. It was not, as Sean Hannity later insinuated (he actually compared Biden to both Bill Cosby and Dr. Pepper), some sort of honorary degree -- she earned it. And while outside of academia one might argue that only medical doctors should use the title (as the Journal article explicitly did, stating 'no one should call himself [sic] 'Dr.' unless he [sic] has delivered a child'), Dr. Jill Biden is still in academia. She's a college teacher. And in the academic world, the use of 'Dr.' is not only common but usually insisted upon by anyone with any doctorate at all. That is the accepted norm, but apparently it was just too much for the boys' club at the Wall Street Journal. Our advice to Doctor Jill Biden: get used to it, because these misogynistic attacks are -- sadly -- only going to get worse, for the next four years."


   Slow clap

Anderson Cooper nailed this one. Six weeks after the election, and a day after the Electoral College officially voted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on the floor of the Senate and used the correct titles: "President-Elect" and "Vice-President-Elect." Anderson Cooper, on his Anderson Cooper 360 program, put this into the context it needed:

So, six weeks, dozens of court cases, two Supreme Court rejections, one fascist rally, four stabbings, countless threats against election officials who were just doing their jobs and more than $200 million in deceptive Trump fundraising since the election: A slow clap, everyone, for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.... A month he has been playing the game. In the meantime, the system... has been stretched to the breaking point. At the president's direction, to be sure, but with the majority leader's acquiescence. He could've helped ease that strain, but he didn't.


   Senate holds conspiracy theory session

Thankfully, this dog-and-pony show got little media attention, but it still was dangerous lunacy to even hold the hearing in the first place.

"Republican Senator Ron Johnson held a hearing in his Senate committee this week, ostensibly on 'evaluating information about election security.' In reality, this was just another forum for Republicans to parade all the cranks and tin-foil-hat-wearers who are arguing that somehow, in some unspecified way (which none of them has the tiniest shred of proof for), that Joe Biden and the Democrats fraudulently stole the election away from Dear Leader Trump. All of these claims, by the way, have already had their 'day in court' and have been dismissed by over 80 different judges (of all political stripes). The Republicans were simply not interested in hearing the truth, since they didn't bother to call in a single person actually responsible for running any state's election process. They just wanted to generate some video clips they can later use to brag about how they 'had Trump's back' in this stupid and seditious fight. In response, Democrats only put up one witness, Chris Krebs. He's the guy who oversaw the elections security effort of the federal government, and he's the guy Trump fired for telling the truth about how safe this election was. In the hearing, Krebs said what needed to be said: 'I think we're past the point where we need to be having conversations about the outcome of this election.' Krebs also castigated anyone buying into all the baseless conspiracy theories as 'ultimately corrosive to the institutions that support elections.' And, he might have added, to American democracy itself."


   Another one heads for the door

A Republican member of the House quit the Republican Party this week. Paul Mitchell just got so fed up with the dangerous nonsense that Trump has been propagating since the election that -- even though he is retiring anyway and thus his defection is essentially meaningless -- he felt he had to walk away from his own party. After stating that Trump's legal efforts have "failed to prove substantive evidence of fraud," Mitchell absolutely rips the party a new one at the end of his resignation letter. This is a bit long for an actual talking point, but as he says, the symbolism is important here:

It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote. Further, it is unacceptable for the president to attack the Supreme Court of the United States because its judges, both liberal and conservative, did not rule with his side or that "the Court failed him." It was our Founding Fathers' objective to insulate the Supreme Court from such blatant political motivations.

If Republican leaders collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and "stop the steal" rallies without speaking out for our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security said was "the most secure in American history," our nation will be damaged. I have spoken out clearly and forcefully in opposition to these messages. However, with the leadership of the Republican Party and our Republican Conference in the House actively participating in at least some of those efforts, I fear long-term harm to our democracy.

. . .

I believe that raw political considerations, not constitutional or voting integrity concerns, motivate many in party leadership to support the "stop the steal" efforts, which is extremely disappointing to me. As elected members of Congress, we take an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States," not to preserve and protect the political interests of any individual, be it the president or anyone else, to the detriment of our cherished nation.

As a result, I am writing to advise you both that I am withdrawing from my engagement and association with the Republican Party at both the national and state level....

I am also requesting that the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives change my party affiliation to Independent for the remainder of my term in office. While admittedly symbolic, we all know that symbols matter.


   I am fleecing you right now!

Let's just add this one to the things Trump could admit without losing any support from his rabid base, shall we?

"Donald Trump could stand up with a giant sign saying: 'I am ripping you off when you donate to me,' and it probably wouldn't make the slightest difference in the inflow of money. Just as he said when he predicted he could 'shoot someone on Fifth Avenue' without losing a single supporter, he probably would get even more saps and rubes to send in their hard-earned money even if he did so. Trump has recently sent out pleas for money to his mailing list with text like: 'Help us WIN both Senate races in Georgia & STOP Socialist Dems,' and yet all the money he has raised by doing so has gone straight to his PAC, while none of it -- not one red cent -- has been given to the two Georgia GOP senators who are fighting for their re-election in the upcoming runoff race. So it really is true, Trump's got so many people so well-trained to just fork over their cash to him that they really don't even care what ostensible reason he offers up to them. He could just as easily have blatantly admitted: 'This is a grift -- I am FLEECING you,' and the money would likely still pour in anyway."


   What if Pompeo gave a party, and nobody came?

The idiocy is strong in this one....

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blatantly ignored the multitude of warnings against hosting large gatherings of people and sent out 900 invitations to a holiday party at the department. But it turns out not everyone is so callous about their own health risks. Only a pathetic 70 people responded that they would attend, and the number who did so was only reportedly a few dozen, at best. Pompeo had one more holiday party scheduled before the break, but he had to cancel it because he's now in quarantine for contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. So it looks like the people who just refused to go to his super-spreader event were the smart ones after all, eh?"


   NIMBYism at its best

Too, too funny.

"The neighbors to Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida have filed a complaint with their local city government in an attempt to bar Donald Trump from making it his post-White House residence. The neighbors rightly point to a legal agreement Trump signed when he turned the property into a club which swore that nobody would ever use it as a residence from that point on. So maybe NIMBYism will prevail and Trump's 'Southern White House' will only be available to him for short stays rather than becoming his next legal residence."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


41 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Is It January 20th Yet?”

  1. [1] 
    John M wrote:

    Sorry this is from a while ago. Been dealing with a serious bout of arthritis recently....

    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    "The question you raise with that seriously bad comparison is, would you still feel the same way (about the danger of falling off a tall building), if you had heard of tens of thousands of people who HAD fallen off a tall building, with absolutely no adverse effects?"

    The short simple answer to that question is: YES

    Because: Needless, preventable deaths, no matter how few, are still of major consequence in comparison to their number. Please do not belittle their importance. They are all still human beings, and in many cases someone's loved one, gone before their time. It does not matter if they would have eventually died anyway. Nor does it matter that most who contract covid either don't get sick at all, or don't die. Or even if covid never affects most of the people you know or in your community. We still do all we can to mitigate deaths from tornadoes, after all. How many do they actually affect? Why waste all that money??? Because, in short, we are our brothers keeeper after all!!!

  2. [2] 
    andygaus wrote:

    If the use of Dr. as a title is now virtually mandatory in academic circles, then academia has gotten a lot stuffier than when I went to Wesleyan University in the '60s. We called our professors simply Mr., Miss, and Mrs. I know Jill Biden rightfully earned her degree and that "doctor" means "teacher", but calling yourself "Dr." on the basis of a PhD has always struck me as a bit pompous and still does. People writing about this issue have assumed that the Wall Street Journal author would never have complained about a man using the title, but we don't know that. If he could have stopped short of calling her "kiddo," I would be more sympathetic with his position. Fancy titles are something we can always use fewer of.

  3. [3] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Devon’s former police chief has made a name for herself as a “fixer” for bringing about change in departments that needed change. She’s turned around 4 major departments since we’ve known her... but she met her match in Chicago. She was not hired to be the chief, but was hired as one of the top commanders in charge of policy training — her greatest strength as an administrator by far.

    She was out of there in just over 6 months. They hired her to bring about change...they just wanted her to do it without ACTUALLY changing anything!

    Chicago has some real problems — from the top on down!

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    MDDOTW - when will they ever learn.

    You're right, Chris, this is beyond disappointing.

  5. [5] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    The only time it is necessary to address someone as “Doctor” is in a professional/formal/official setting when the person is being introduced or addressed.

    When you are on personal terms with the person, most will not want to be addressed formally in day to day interactions. How your professors chose to be addressed was their choice. We called them what they told us to call them when we were in class.

    But only when we were in class! As my friend Jeff Cole told a professor that he bumped into at a football game who corrected Jeff when he addressed him as “Mr.” instead of the “Dr.” he thought he deserved, “Your degree means nothing here. If you believe we are entitled to be addressed by our greatest accomplishment then you should refer to me as ‘A man with a 12 inch penis Jeff Cole’”.

    Jeff wisely dropped the class the following week.

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    However, Chicago police have continued to ignore even the small search warrant policy changes Lightfoot made in February of this year, nearly two years after CBS2 began exposing botched Chicago police raids.

    What policy changes have the police continued to ignore? They throw that out there without justifying the claim, so I was curious if you knew what they are talking about?

  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, just updated the pledge drive thermometer -- we're approaching 3/4 of the goal, woo hoo!



  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    andygaus [2] -

    I think it mostly depends on the university. There are some where everyone DEMANDS it and woe to the lowly staffer who doesn't remember. Others are looser.

    The main point, however, is that it is TOTALLY up to the person who earned it whether she uses it or not. That's the real rule of thumb, which is why the entire article was indeed "mansplaining." As someone pointed out, would he have written that about Dr. Henry Kissinger? I seriously doubt it, personally...


  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    Tell me about it...

    ListenWhenYouHear -

    Thanks for that, I don't follow Chicago politics that closely, but it certainly is interesting. Chicago police have had this problem approximately forever, from what I hear...


  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LWYH [5] -

    Ha! That's pretty funny. I kept thinking of "the Maestro" from Seinfeld, and "A Pimp Called Slickback" from the animated Boondocks (who absolutely demanded that the whole title be used each and every time...).

    The key is, it is totally up to the person who earned it to decide.


  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LWYH [6] -

    The article wasn't totally clear, but it kind of implied it was about verifying things like addresses before they actually got a search warrant, when the info came in from a CI. Seems like a pretty basic thing to do...


  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    speaking as someone whose title "doctor" has many times been ignored or spoken derisively, this ultimately says a lot more about the person who addresses me than it does about my own qualifications. in the case of students, most genuinely have no idea - nor would i expect them to, unless one has the sensitivity to ask. they are just used to calling male teachers "mister."

    in the case of colleagues and administrators, it's generally either ignorance or insecurity on their own part. it does sting a little, but i feel like going to the trouble of correcting someone calls more attention to their issues, whatever they may be, than the breach of protocol warrants.


  13. [13] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Sigh! Another FTP column that seems to be more like a click-bait list of Republican pettiness instead of critical issues facing the nation.

    Here are some suggested topics that COULD HAVE been included as 'talking points':
    * Despite the Democratically-controlled House TWICE passing COVID stimulation and critically-needed funding to address the myriad additional costs of the pandemic, the Republican-controlled Senate STILL hasn't passed anything. And the obstruction continues, and WILL continue in 2021 if, as expected, either Georgia Senator is Republican.
    * Related to #1, the Senate is finding time to confirm appointees, but not to extend eviction moratorium, unemployment supplements, extra funding for food stamps, preventing disconnection of water and electricity during a pandemic, etc.
    * Already there is a clamor to jump the line in vaccine priority. Who needs the vaccine more, an 'essential worker' in a meatpacking plant or Amazon warehouse -or- NBA player?
    * Florida alone is facing a $5 billion shortfall, resulting in the loss of thousands of state-government jobs. Already thousands of cuts at the state and local level have been implemented in 2020.

  14. [14] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    If and when you decide to resume real talking points to Democrats, here are themes to emphasize (one of which is tangential to your first talking point above)
    * The First Lady is a life-long educator and President Biden is a strong supporter of unions. American teachers must be elevated in this period, including increasing funding to the Dept of Education and strengthening the labor laws that protect teachers. (Did you know that many state contracts with the teacher union explicitly PROHIBIT walkouts, a egregious denial of a critical negotiating tool?)
    * It is heartbreaking to read that farmers in Trump country think of the Republican Party as 'good for farmers'. I grew up in a rural area and, once upon a time, the Republican Party was rightly identified as 'fat cats', interested in Wall Street over Main Street. The Democratic Party MUST call out this false idea. This includes highlighting a) the number of farms that failed during Trump's 4 years in office and b) the amount of the high-dollar 'farm support' checks that go to corporations and wealthy 'plantation owners'.
    * Obamacare provided much-needed funding to rural hospitals. Republicans of course for the past decade have worked tirelessly to end Obamacare. Democrats allowed them to convince rural voters that Obamacare was bad, remaining stunningly-silent about the basic facts. The pandemic has highlighted even more the paucity of affordable healthcare facilities for most of Trump's 'base voters', who live far from the nearest hospital and lack public transit options.

  15. [15] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    The MIDDOW confounds me. While it is admirable that Biden plans to nominate Rep. Haaland, what did SHE do? And even if you disagree with this point, this is very premature, as Biden hasn't officially presented any nomination to the Senate - and of course can't until 20 January.

  16. [16] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    I don't know if she identifies with any political party, but Ms Scott certainly deserves at least an honorable mention for something SHE actually DID.
    'A year after Scott, who is the 18th richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, signed onto the Giving Pledge, she announced she had donated $1.7 billion to 116 non-profit organizations. Since then, she has given an additional almost $4.2 billion in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.'

  17. [17] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    An honorable mention MUST go to Biden's selection for Transportation Secretary. Mr Buttigieg gave an insightful, moving speech at the announcement.

  18. [18] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: Two program notes before we begin. First, everyone please take a look at that volume number. That's pretty amazing -- this is actually the six-hundredth of these columns!


    You'll have to forgive me... been busier than an elf at Christmas. I'm catching up on a shit-ton of things, and I'm actually just starting to read 46 Minutes Of Festivus Grievances ... after I pry my eyes open and get coffee, of course.

    I don't see any kitties yet... but 600, you say?

    Dang. That's a lot of zeroes. ;)

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    I'm going to point out once again that this blog will never be free of advertisements as long as Don Harris is free to post his bullshit unabated.

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [13] et al

    Gotta agree with you. CW you went for the lowest hanging fruit this time around.

  21. [21] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    kittens were monday, december 7th. looks like we're already three quarters of the way there.


    it would certainly be nice if we got a real educator as education secretary. is diane ravitch really too much to hope for?


  22. [22] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    [20] Kick:

    I recently ran across some stuff I thought you (and others) might enjoy. While reading the WaPo article What Money Can’t Buy: The Post’s Guide to Gifts That Don’t Exist but Should, I ran across a brief contribution, “A Measure of Good Faith,” written by Ken Liu. There, I found this intriguing bit about a gift idea for sussing out and avoiding online sea lions:

    On the Internet, where any rando feels entitled to our full attention, where empathy is a weakness rather than a strength, the party that “wins” any argument is by default the one that cares the least. Out of self-preservation, we cease engaging with those who claim to want to converse but who are just as likely to be barking sea lions.

    Naturally, as I was unfamiliar with online sea lions or the rhetorical strategy of sealioning, I followed Liu's link above to David Malki's cartoon, "The Terrible Sea Lion." Hey, you can even buy a T-shirt!

    This piqued my interest further and I ended up at an interesting essay by Amy Johnson in a Harvard publication entitled "Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online: a collection of essays, August 2017." Her essay is entitled The Multiple Harms of Sea Lions, which this handy link will take you right to. I recommend this two-pager for everything you ever needed to know about sea lions and their impact on civil discourse and informal learning.

    Selected snippets:

    ...Sealioning, [...], may feel familiar: it evokes
    the toddler who incessantly asks why, the adolescent who has just discovered philosophy, the condescending family member who disapproves of your life choices. This familiarity is part of its power. These
    interaction patterns summon a set of responses geared toward well-intentioned questioning. Sealioning
    also fits into a larger set of rhetorical marginalization practices. Refusals to understand can be subtle
    forms of erasure.

    ...The harms of sealioning can seem relatively small: short-term annoyance when the practice is recognized, wasted energy when the practice goes unrecognized and the respondent gives sincere answers,
    the opportunity cost of the time spent. This assessment, though, comes from looking at each single instance or person targeted in isolation...

    ...[S]ealioning capitalizes on civility and conversation norms to demand debate and labor...

    ...In many ways, sealioning resembles the Gish gallop, a rhetorical strategy that creationists deployed
    when debating evolutionists in the late twentieth century. The Gish gallop—named for Duane Gish, a
    biochemist who became a famed creationist debater—careens through topics, rattling through half-truth
    after half-truth. It aims both to overwhelm opponents’ ability to respond and to introduce doubt into the
    minds of audiences...

    Interesting essay. The author has no firm answer for best practices with sea lions, but she does touch on alternatives, including "Don’t feed the troll," outlining a debate structure strategy that helped defang the Gish gallop, and the suggestion that "[f]rom a
    linguistic perspective, sealioning is noticeably patterned—perhaps platforms could automate discovery
    of likely sealioning attempts and interrupt them."

    There is always hope.

    Health and happiness to all in this holiday season.

  23. [23] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Fat Donny has finally spoken up about the Russian hack attack by, of course, defending Russia. Biden needs an administration that goes after this lying POS traitor and his crime family in every way possible. Lock him up!

    I voted for Ron Johnson for Turncoat of the Year. What was I thinking?

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    speaking as someone whose title "doctor" has many times been ignored or spoken derisively, this ultimately says a lot more about the person who addresses me than it does about my own qualifications.

    Couldn't agree more. Would just be a little more specific in that it says more about the lack of character and integrity in the person addressing and how they don't hold a candle to the light of you and Dr. Biden and I could go on.

    In any event, you and and the soon-to-be-First Lady are very good people and the contrast you make with the one who doesn't care to properly address couldn't be more stark. And, that will never change.

    I'm very tired right now and so I am sorry if this doesn't sound the way I maan it to sound but I know you know what I mean ... :)

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I know Jill Biden rightfully earned her degree and that "doctor" means "teacher", but calling yourself "Dr." on the basis of a PhD has always struck me as a bit pompous and still does.

    Well, this isn't really about what Jill calls herself, is it?

    What it is about is how others refer to her as a simple gesture of respect and common decency.

    It's kind of like why we wear a face covering these days when we can't be sure of keep our proper distance.

    The guy from the WSJ who gets his shirt in a knot over referring to the future First Lady as Dr. Biden doesn't understand the first thing about common human decency or about showing respect for others. He probably doesn't wear a mask when appropriate during a deadly pandemic, either.

  26. [26] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    whether pharmacy, psychology, law, theology or public health, what doctor actually "means" in the practical sense is that someone studied for a long time to officially become an expert in something. medical, dental and veterinary doctors just became the norm for everyday use because that's the only kind of doctor most lay people interact with in a professional capacity on a regular basis. it's more a reflection of the anti-intellectual nature of our society that many people consider it pretentious to assign the title to anyone who doesn't fit that "everyday" definition. just because i can't prescribe medication doesn't mean i don't deserve the title just as much as my sister, who can. nobody can force anybody else to grant them the respect of whatever title they've earned.

    i'd appreciate it if he addressed me as colonel or sir. i believe i've earned it.
    ~a few good men

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I haven't been following the covid stimulus bill but I'm wondering about the $600 cheques that will be sent out to people ... is this a per week amount?

    Where I sit, we received $2000 per month when we were in lock down and out of work ...

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, let's start this CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party with a Full Concert, more or less, featuring Rik Emmett (formerly of the great Canadian classic rock band, TRIUMPH ...

    A lot of rock'n roll with some blues thrown in for good measure. Hey, let's make the theme for tonight Full Concerts! I'm kidding. I'll be happy enough if somebody shows up. Heh.

    Anyways, enjoy!

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    OH, what the heck, since I'm in the mood for some power ballads, here's TRIUMPH from 1987 in Halifax ... a full concert ...

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, so raise your hand if you played air drums during that Gil Moore drum solo! :)

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'll end my portion of the evening with this Santana Supernatural concert, including Smooth w/ Rob Thomas ...

  32. [32] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  33. [33] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Isn't deliberately engineered "herd immunity" an obvious form of socialized medicine? I thought the political evolutionary chain of: Republicans>Tea Party>Trump was strongly, and I do mean strongly,against socialized ANYTHING. Excepting of course school prayer and The Star Spangled Banner, which are, for practical purposes, mandatory.

  34. [34] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    it's okay to kill people, just not fetuses.


  35. [35] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Department of Scratch Trump and You Find a close Connection to Putin:

    Academic bottom feeder Paul Alexander was hired by by lobbyist Michael Caputo, as assistant secretary of public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Caputo moved to Russia in 1994 and was advisor to Boris Yeltsin. By the year 2000 Alexander was working for the firm Gazprom Media to polish the image of Vladimir Putin.

    Does anybody else find this unsettling? Putin seems to have more clout in the USA than say, Puerto Rico. Enjoy it while it lasts Vlad.

  36. [36] 
    John M wrote:

    [8] Chris Weigant wrote:

    "As someone pointed out, would he have written that about Dr. Henry Kissinger? I seriously doubt it, personally..."

    Someone else pointed out would he have said the same thing about Dr. Marin Luther King JR. also? I doubt that either.

    I think he saw Dr. Biden as a target only as a woman.

  37. [37] 
    Kick wrote:

    Y'all want to know what's annoying as hell?

    You're playing "catchup" on reading columns and taking in all the comments, and then BAM... Stucki chimes in and types what you're thinking, causing you to question your mental fitness and physical well being.

    Should I take a drink or take my temperature? Both.

    I see kitties are next... and none too soon. I'm the farthest behind, amn't I? :)

  38. [38] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I have noticed that most people who have a PhD make much less of it than people who don’t. Academia is small world, if you have the credential, you know dozens and dozens of people who share the same. It’s just another specialized line of work with an apprenticeship. Few rockstars.

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    What do you think about Biden's choice for Secretary of Education. I know it wasn't who you had advocated for but maybe this is a good choice, too?

  40. [40] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    as of right now i think cardona is a decent choice. he's what i would expect from biden, somebody competent who is going to use soft power and isn't going to be a firebrand for any one issue.

    would i prefer someone a little less conciliatory to standardized testing and predatory charter organizations? sure. but he's also in favor of bilingual education and multicultural curriculum, which is good news. also, universal pre-k across the country would be huge if it's achieved.


  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    decent is good. :)

Comments for this article are closed.