Friday Talking Points -- Jim Crow In The 21st Century

[ Posted Saturday, March 27th, 2021 – 08:27 UTC ]

[Program Note: Yesterday, my ISP had massive problems with the server that this website actually lives on. So all day, all you could get was "403 -- Forbidden." As you can see, it has now been fixed and is up and running once again. I just wanted to let everyone know that: (1) the problem was external and beyond my control, and (2) no, I wasn't "forbidding" anyone from accessing the site. As usual, I apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks to everyone for their patience.]


We're going to start off in a rather inane fashion today, by noting that we were slightly confused at one point during President Joe Biden's first formal press conference yesterday. Biden was speaking about the alarming movement in over 85 percent of the states to curtail voting rights. But he tried to introduce a new term or metaphor and we have to admit we're still not sure what he really meant. Here's what Biden said about the voter-suppression efforts: "This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle." Which begs the question: is "Jim Eagle" a good thing or a bad thing?

Perhaps we're being overly pedantic (certainly a possibility), but when we first heard it, we thought Biden just tangled his metaphor a bit. Usually in the construction of "makes X look like Y" comparisons, the Y is something tame and harmless, like: "a walk in the park," or: "a picnic." So we thought maybe Biden should have said something like: "What's happening now is like Jim Eagle -- Jim Crow's bigger and meaner cousin." After all, Biden followed that line with: "I mean, this is gigantic what they're trying to do, and it cannot be sustained." But that's all assuming "Jim Eagle" is a bad thing. But perhaps instead of "bigger and deadlier," Biden really meant some sort of reference to a noble and patriotic image, the bald eagle? In that case "Jim Eagle" would be a good thing, perhaps the nemesis of Jim Crow? You can see why we're confused. (Last week, this column suggested using "Jim Crow 2.0," since we're firm believers in political slogans being adopted faster when they rhyme.)

And we have to admit: isn't it nice to be able to split hairs about what a president said to the press without being disgusted by his language or demeanor? This, America, is the boredom you voted for -- and we certainly welcome the change.

Of course this is all pretty silly, since what's crystal-clear is that Biden is so obviously against all of the new Jim Crow measures. After Biden concluded his press conference, the state of Georgia passed (and the governor signed) a sweeping rollback of voting accessibility designed to disenfranchise as many possible Democratic voters as they thought they could get away with. Biden put out a statement today denouncing the changes, in which he introduced a better Jim Crowism:

Yet instead of celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas, Republicans in the state instead rushed through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote. This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience. Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can't cast their vote after their shift is over. It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters. And it makes it a crime to provide water to voters while they wait in line -- lines Republican officials themselves have created by reducing the number of polling sites across the state, disproportionately in Black neighborhoods.

This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act. I once again urge Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to make it easier for all eligible Americans [to] access the ballot box and prevent attacks on the sacred right to vote.

Biden made news during the press conference by cracking the door open to supporting the elimination of the filibuster, and his strongest statement came when he was talking about passing these voting rights measures. After expressing his support for going back to the Mr. Smith Goes To Washington talking filibuster (which, Biden waggishly pointed out, was in place when he "came to the Senate 120 years ago"), Biden warned he might also be open to bigger changes when it came to voting rights legislation:

So I strongly support moving in that direction [talking filibuster], in addition to having an open mind about dealing with certain things that are just elemental to the functioning of our democracy, like the right to vote -- like the basic right to vote. We've amended the filibuster in the past.

. . .

I -- we're going to get a lot done. And if we have to -- if there's complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we'll have to go beyond what I'm talking about.

This last bit was a subtle theme that ran throughout the press conference, that the inside-the-Beltway political press has largely missed. Biden sold himself as a pragmatist. A realist. And that is indeed an enormous political draw to a large part of the country. While pundits tie themselves in knots over the arcane nature of parliamentary procedure and the eternal elections horserace, the average voter just turns away in disgust. What they want to see, at the end of the day, is that something got done. And that's exactly what Biden swears he's going to make the focal point of his presidency.

He returned to this subject numerous times, in fact:

I got elected to solve problems.

I've been hired to solve problems -- to solve problems, not create division.

But here's the deal: As you observed, I'm a fairly practical guy. I want to get things done. I want to get them done, consistent with what we promised the American people.

Successful electoral politics is the art of the possible. Let's figure out how we can get this done.

I mean, look, this is -- the way I view things -- I've become a great respecter of fate in my life. I set a goal that's in front of me to get things done for the people I care most about, which are hardworking, decent American people who are getting -- really having it stuck to them.

All of this made us wonder whether Biden will be able to pull off a rather remarkable feat. Unlike Donald Trump, Joe Biden authentically does know what middle-class families go through in life. And so far he's been doing a pretty good job of communicating that consistently and directly to the American people. There's a reason why Biden's job approval rating is higher than Trump's ever was right now -- a lot of people who didn't vote for him are giving him the benefit of the doubt. Biden delivered on the COVID-19 relief bill, vaccinations are accelerating, schools are reopening, and $1,400 checks are arriving. And as Biden announced during the press conference, his next big agenda item will be to pass a massive infrastructure bill. These used to get bipartisan support in Congress (because it's hard to be against such a job-creating bill), but Republicans might withhold their support out of spite. In which case, it certainly sounds like Biden won't have any problem passing it the same way he passed the pandemic relief -- with only Democratic support. Because Biden rightly knows that the American public is only really going to care whether it happens or not -- they could care less how it happens. Biden knows this to his core, but the pundits (who swim in the waters of Washington infighting daily) haven't really come to grips with it yet.

That's a little unfair, though, because some do. Here's an extremely clear-eyed look at how Joe Biden plans to lead his party in the near future:

This is the Democrats' basic plan: Propose something ambitious with benefits spread throughout the public, meant to achieve ends even Republicans say they want. Invite the opposition to help, and listen to their ideas. But rather than chasing them for months, make visible but finite efforts to negotiate with them, while assuming that in the end they won't support the bill. Do whatever is necessary to pass it, then take all the credit.

That sounds like a recipe for success, to us.

Biden did make some other news during his press conference. He opened it by doubling his original goal for vaccinations -- Biden is now aiming for 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office. And now that an average of 2.5 million shots are going into arms each week, it looks like he'll make it. When Biden entered office, around 15 million people had gotten at least one vaccine shot. That number just hit 90 million, with over half of them (46 million) fully vaccinated. This is over one-fourth of the population of the entire country. Even better, it is one-third the number of people eligible (children so far have no approved vaccine, and will be the last people vaccinated). We've still got a long way to go, but we're getting there a lot faster now.

Astoundingly, there was not a single question from the media on the pandemic at all. None of the journalists thought it was worth bringing up the number one issue the public cares about right now. Perhaps this is due to the fact that even Republicans still haven't found a way to attack Biden's American Rescue Plan politically. After all, it is wildly popular -- and what, exactly, are they going to complain about? People getting vaccinated faster? Main Street -- not Wall Street and giant corporations -- actually getting some government money for a change? Biden's handling of the pandemic response so far is going so smoothly and efficiently that the White House press corps didn't have a single thing to ask Biden about. That's either a condemnation of the vapid nature of the reporters or it's a big vote of confidence for Biden's first big success story.

Biden revealed two other newsworthy items as well: he's committed to getting all our soldiers out of Afghanistan this year (although he'll miss the upcoming deadline), and he has every intention of running for re-election.

The other big news Biden made this week was when he reacted to the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado by calling for an assault weapons ban. This may be too ambitious for Congress to accomplish, however. But it's good to see Biden tackling the most contentious part of the gun safety debate, at least. We saw one headline this week that should be appearing in lots of Democratic campaign ads soon, because it is such a perfect way to sum up where the two parties are: "Republicans Want To Make Voting Hard And Gun Ownership Easy." It also has the benefit of being true.

In other political news, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy introduced his plan to save the United States Postal Service this week, which consisted of promising slower delivery, higher prices, and shorter hours at the post office. Because that's sure to get people to use the U.S.P.S. more, right? In response, House Democrats filed a bill named the: "Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act," or (you guessed it), the "DEJOY Act." But it's not actually a bill of attainder (which would be unconstitutional) but a way to force the post office to keep their current standards long enough for the postal governing board to get rid of DeJoy.

Also in the House, Nancy Pelosi announced she'd be moving forward with a House investigation into the 1/6 insurrection attempt, since she got tired of Mitch McConnell stalling on the plan to form a joint (independent) investigation instead. This means Democrats will control the entire proceedings, of course, so maybe they can actually get to the bottom of what happened and what went so very wrong in the police response.

Our final item this week isn't normally thought of as being an extension of voting rights, but it really is. The push to make almost all of Washington, District of Columbia into a new state is growing fast. It's easy to see why -- they have more people than several existing states, and yet they cannot control their fate or have the same representation in Congress that every state-residing American citizen does. The mayor couldn't call out the D.C. National Guard during the insurrection, for instance, because she does not have that power (as all the state governors do). There really are all kinds of reasons why D.C. statehood is an idea which is long overdue, but the biggest one may be how high a proportion of Black voters live there. Why should they not have the same voting rights (in Congress) that everyone else has?

Of course, this terrifies Republicans. Adding a single seat to the House wouldn't be that big a deal, but adding two senators would. Think about it -- if the bill were to pass and the new state of "Washington, Douglass Commonwealth" (the name they have selected) were created, it would almost guarantee two more Democratic senators. The makeup of the Senate would go from 50-50 to 52-50 immediately. Democrats could then even lose one of their votes and still manage to pass legislation.

Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota tweeted his fears:

The Founding Fathers never intended for Washington D.C. to be a state. #DCStatehood is really about packing the Senate with Democrats in order to pass a left-wing agenda.

Twitter users then swiftly educated Rounds about all the other things the Founding Fathers never intended, such as Black people being free or having the right to vote. Another fun theme was to point out that the Founders never intended South Dakota to be a state, either.

But the real irony is that South Dakota was created specifically to pack the Senate with more Republicans. This is historical fact. The Dakota Territory was split in two precisely so Republicans could pick up four easy Senate seats instead of just two. The St. Paul Daily Globe, pointed this out, in 1885: "There is no such territory as South Dakota. It is a fiction. South Dakota is a mythical political organization and for all practical purposes may as well be called the territory of Timbuctoo as to speak of it as the Dakota state or territorial government." In the election before the Dakotas (as well as Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming) became states, the Republicans took the Senate, but only with a 39-37 majority over the Democrats. When the states were allowed to join, the GOP added all twelve new senators, to achieve a much more robust 51-37 split. Nine out of those twelve seats are still reliably Republican, it's worth mentioning.

So a senator from a state created solely as a power grab in the Senate now has the temerity to complain that Democrats are doing the same thing? Sorry, Senator Rounds, but you don't really have a leg to stand on for this particular issue.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

Well, whichever House staffer that came up with the "Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act" certainly deserves at least an Honorable Mention award. [Full disclosure: we are suckers for amusingly-named bills].

But this week the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to Georgia state representative Park Cannon, who tried to attend the governor's signing of the new Jim Crow 2.0 law the legislature had passed, and was subsequently arrested and reportedly charged with a felony. For the crime of knocking on the governor's door.

So while the Georgia governor signed the bill surrounded solely by other White men, a Black woman legislator was unceremoniously hauled off to jail for knocking on his door. That's a pretty good way to sum up the new law, at least visually. At least she did manage to disrupt his signing ceremony's media coverage.

Cannon is also the youngest state legislator (at 24), and one of only three openly gay members of the House. After her release Cannon responded that she was not the "first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression. I'd love to say I'm the last, but we know that isn't true." She also compared the law to the recent Atlanta shooting spree, stating they "are both products of a white supremacist system. Different tactics, same goal. We will not live in fear and we will not be controlled. We have a right to our future and a right to our freedom. We will come together and continue fighting white supremacy in all its forms."

Senator Raphael Warnock visited Cannon in jail and stated: "she did not deserve this. I want to know what makes her actions so dangerous. [It is a] very sad day for the state of Georgia and a very desperate attempt to lock out and squeeze the people out of their own democracy."

The daughter of Martin Luther King Junior called the arrest "despicable." Chuck Schumer tweeted:

Since 2012 -- the GA GOP has closed more than 200 polling places. Voters in mostly Black precincts now wait 8X LONGER to vote than voters in mostly white precincts. Now the GOP makes it a crime to give water to people standing in long lines THEY CREATED. Despicable! We will act.

In other words, as political theater, it was all an enormous success. The way Republicans have been allowed to get away with all the voter suppression laws they've been passing over the past two decades (and more) is that each one of them makes no more than a tiny splash in the national political dialog. This time around, however, their overreach -- the sheer number of states (43) and bills (253) they've introduced -- have drawn outsized attention on these moves. And the Democrats are fighting back at the national level. It's going to be a lot easier to succeed in this effort if each of these laws is given national prominence when passed. These aren't just small outrages, in other words, it is the ongoing gigantic outrage of Jim Crow 2.0.

Cannon showed how to highlight the injustice. For doing so in dramatic fashion, she is easily our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. Keep fighting the good fight, Representative Cannon!

[Congratulate Georgia state Representative Park Cannon on her official contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We tried to swear off giving the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the grounds that we had already given him enough of them for his ongoing two scandals (the nursing home COVID numbers fiasco and the growing number of sexual harassment claims against him), just because it was getting so repetitive.

But this week a brand-new crisis erupted:

As the coronavirus pandemic swept through New York early last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration arranged for his family members and other well-connected figures to have special access to state-administered coronavirus tests, dispatching a top state doctor and other state health officials to their homes, according to three people with direct knowledge of the effort.

As part of the program, a state lab immediately processed the results of those who were tested, the people said, even as average New Yorkers were struggling to get tested in the early days of the pandemic because of a scarcity of resources. Initially, the lab was capable of running only several hundred tests a day for a state with 19 million residents.

This is a clear abuse of power, if true. It sounds like a minor thing, but in terms of political liability it is not. Family and friends of the governor get to go to the front of the line during a pandemic that affects everyone? That is cronyism, or nepotism, or favoritism (take your pick). It is despicable, in fact.

But, really, is it surprising? When the news broke, our reaction was: "Because of course he did," personally. You can totally see someone like Cuomo demanding access for his buddies and abusing his governmental power to make sure it happened.

First there was only one woman accusing him. That number has hit at least eight (we haven't checked today, perhaps it has gone even higher...), so far, and he still won't even consider resigning. But now even the number of scandals is increasing.

Hey hey, ho ho, Cuomo's got to go.

[Contact New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on his official contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 611 (3/26/21)

As we sometimes do (when Democrats are in the White House), we're going to pre-empt our own talking points this week, to instead examine some excerpts from Joe Biden's press conference (from the official White House transcript).

These aren't all the most important quotes, and we certainly had to leave a lot of subjects that Biden covered out (it's long enough as it is). Instead these were the quotes that just kind of struck us for one reason or another.

If you're interested, yesterday we wrote up a general overview of the press conference right after it happened. But for now, we'd like to concentrate on both what Biden had to say, and how he chose to say it.

The president surprised us by only giving very brief introductory remarks -- most presidents take at least three or four times that long (since they've got a captive audience and they know that any time spent tooting your own administration's horn is time they don't have to spend answering questions). So the questions began almost immediately after Biden appeared.

His first answer was pretty obviously rehearsed, and could have been given in answer to a number of different questions. The actual question he got was: "How far are you willing to go to achieve those promises that you made to the American people?" Biden took the opportunity to lay out his priorities and how he thinks he'll achieve them:

When I took office, I decided that it was a fairly basic, simple proposition, and that is: I got elected to solve problems. And the most urgent problem facing the American people, I stated from the outset, was COVID-19 and the economic dislocation for millions and millions of Americans. And so that's why I put all my focus in the beginning -- there are a lot of problems -- put all my focus on dealing with those particular problems.

And the other problems we're talking about, from immigration to guns and the other things you mentioned, are long-term problems; they've been around a long time. And what we're going to be able to do, God willing, is now begin, one at a time, to focus on those as well, and — whether it's immigration or guns or a number of other problems that face the country.

But the fundamental problem is getting people some peace of mind so they can go to bed at night and not stare at the ceiling wondering whether they lost their health insurance, whether they're going to lose a family member, whether they're going to be in a position where they're not going to be -- they're going to lose their home because they can't pay their mortgage, or that millions of people are going to get thrown out of their homes because of the inability to -- to pay their rent.

So we're going to move on these one at a time, try to do as many simultaneously as we can. But that's the reason why I focused as I have.

And here's the deal: I think my Republican colleagues are going to have to determine whether or not we want to work together, or they decide that the way in which they want to proceed is to -- is to just decide to divide the country, continue the politics of division. But I'm not going to do that; I'm just going to move forward and take these things as they come.

Biden was prepared for questions about the border, and answered the first one by fact-checking the way that the media has been portraying things. Republicans have pushed the "crisis at the border" line hard, so it was good to see Biden pushing back on the narrative. He started by launching off part of the journalist's question ("the perception of you that got you elected -- as a moral, decent man -- is the reason why a lot of immigrants are coming to this country and entrusting you with unaccompanied minors") to compare his record to Trump's:

Well, look, I guess I should be flattered people are coming because I'm the nice guy; that's the reason why it's happening -- that I'm a decent man or however it's phrased. That -- you know, that's why they're coming, because they know Biden is a good guy.

The truth of the matter is: Nothing has changed. As many people came -- 28 percent increase in children to the border in my administration; 31 percent in the last year of -- in 2019, before the pandemic, in the Trump administration. It happens every single, solitary year: There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. That happens every year.

In addition to that, there is a -- and nobody -- and, by the way, does anybody suggest that there was a 31 percent increase under Trump because he was a nice guy and he was doing good things at the border? That's not the reason they're coming.

. . .

And those who are coming across the border, who are unaccompanied children, we're moving rapidly to try to put in place what was dismantled, as I said. For example, of all the children who are coming across the border, over 70 percent are either 16 or 17 years old. We're not talking about people ripping babies from mothers' arms or little three-year-olds standing on the border. Less than -- I think it's one and a half percent fall in the category of the very young.

So what we're doing is we're providing for the space, again, to be able to get these kids out of the Border Patrol facilities, which no child -- no one should be in any longer than 72 hours.

And today, I went to -- for example, I used all the resources available to me, went to the Defense Department, and -- and the Secretary of Defense has just made available Fort Bliss -- 5,000 beds be made easily available. Five thousand beds on the Texas border.

So we're building back up the capacity that should have been maintained and built upon that Trump dismantled. It's going to take time.

We talked about this earlier, but here was Biden's full answer the first time he was asked about the filibuster:

Filibuster. Filibuster. You know, with regard to the filibuster, I believe we should go back to a position on the filibuster that existed just when I came to the United States Senate 120 years ago. And that is that -- it used to be required for the filibuster -- and I had a card on this; I was going to give you the statistics, but you probably know them -- that it used to be that, that from between 1917 to 1971 -- the filibuster existed -- there was a total of 58 motions to break a filibuster that whole time. Last year alone, there were five times that many. So it's being abused in a gigantic way.

And, for example, it used to be you had to stand there and talk and talk and talk and talk until you collapsed. And guess what? People got tired of talking and tired of collapsing. Filibusters broke down, and we were able to break the filibuster, get a quorum, and vote.

So I strongly support moving in that direction, in addition to having an open mind about dealing with certain things that are -- are just elemental to the functioning of our democracy, like the right to vote -- like the basic right to vote. We've amended the filibuster in the past.

But here's the deal: As you observed, I'm a fairly practical guy. I want to get things done. I want to get them done, consistent with what we promised the American people. And in order to do that in a 50-50 Senate, we've got to get to the place where I get 50 votes so that the Vice President of the United States can break the tie, or I get 51 votes without her.

. . .

I -- we're going to get a lot done. And if we have to -- if there's complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we'll have to go beyond what I'm talking about.

Biden pushed back on the notion that immigration policy under Donald Trump was somehow better, framing it in moral terms:

Well, look, the idea that I'm going to say -- which I would never do -- "if an unaccompanied child ends up at the border, we're just going to let him starve to death and stay on the other side" -- no previous administration did that either, except Trump. I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to do it.

On the question of when our troops will completely exit Afghanistan, Biden was vague, but he did make a (sort of) commitment at the very end of the exchange:

[PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:] But it is not my intention to stay there for a long time. But the question is: How and in what circumstances do we meet that agreement that was made by President Trump to leave under a deal that looks like it's not being able to be worked out to begin with? How is that done? But we are not staying a long time.

[Q:] You just said "if we leave." Do you think it's possible that we–

[BIDEN:] We will leave. The question is when we leave.

[Q:] Do you -- sorry -- do you believe, though, it's possible we could have troops there next year?

[BIDEN:] I -- I can't picture that being the case.

Biden got most animated when expressing his disgust at the assault on voting rights state-level Republicans are in the midst of. Once again, Biden turns it into a moral argument.

What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick. Deciding in some states that you cannot bring water to people standing in line, waiting to vote; deciding that you're going to end voting at five o'clock when working people are just getting off work; deciding that there will be no absentee ballots under the most rigid circumstances.

It's all designed -- and I'm going to spend my time doing three things: One, trying to figure out how to pass the legislation passed by the House, number one. Number two, educating the American public. The Republican voters I know find this despicable. Republican voters, the folks out in -- outside this White House. I'm not talking about the elected officials; I'm talking about voters. Voters.

And so I am convinced that we'll be able to stop this because it is the most pernicious thing. This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. I mean, this is gigantic what they're trying to do, and it cannot be sustained.

I'm going to do everything in my power, along with my friends in the House and the Senate, to keep that from -- from becoming the law.

Biden's final word on the filibuster was interesting, but we'll have to see just exactly what "the abuse" really means to him, and how far the Republicans will have to push him before he decides enough is enough:

Successful electoral politics is the art of the possible. Let's figure out how we can get this done and move in the direction of significantly changing the abuse of even the filibuster rule first. It's been abused from the time it came into being -- by an extreme way in the last 20 years. Let's deal with the abuse first.

The funniest thing Biden said (other than that quip about arriving in the Senate 120 years ago) was when he was asked again about re-election. Specifically, whether he thought he'd be running against Trump again.

Oh, come on. I don't even think about -- I don't -- I have no idea. I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you? I know you don't have to answer my question, but, I mean, you know, do you?

"No idea if there will be a Republican Party" -- that's an interesting way to put it, but not completely farfetched, when you consider how low they've now sunk.

Biden made a very historical argument in the middle of a very long answer on what his China policy will be. This will likely be remembered, at least by historians (one would assume):

Look, I predict to you, your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy? Because that is what is at stake, not just with China.

Look around the world. We're in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution of enormous consequence. Will there be middle class? How will people adjust to these significant changes in science and technology and the environment? How will they do that? And are democracies equipped -- because all the people get to speak -- to compete?

It is clear, absolutely clear -- and most of the scholars I dealt with at Penn agree with me around the country -- that this is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies.

If you notice, you don't have Russia talking about communism anymore. It's about an autocracy. Demand decisions made by a leader of a country -- that's what's at stake here. We've got to prove democracy works.

And finally, at the very end of the presser, Biden put the entire immigration experience in very personal terms. In fact, we kind of wonder why he didn't lead with this, because it truly is a great point:

When my great grandfather got on a coffin ship in the Irish Sea, expectation was: Was he going to live long enough on that ship to get to the United States of America? But they left because of what the Brits had been doing. They were in real, real trouble. They didn't want to leave. But they had no choice. So you got -- we can't -- I can't guarantee we're going to solve everything, but I can guarantee we can make everything better. We can make it better. We can change the lives of so many people.

Thus endeth the first Joe Biden press conference, and this column as well. See you all next week....

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


60 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Jim Crow In The 21st Century”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    My apologies again to everyone for the "day of darkness" yesterday. I've been using this ISP for almost 15 years now, and I think that's the longest outage I've ever experienced... anyway, as always, thanks for your patience, everyone!


  2. [2] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    Good to see you back...

    So far, Biden seems to be putting pragmatism in service of good governance. Let's hope this continues, successfully.

  3. [3] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Some very nice excerpts from Biden and good comments on how and why his statements important.

    I took the 'Jim Eagle' to be a well-meaning but clumsy attempt to say this attack on voting rights, and primarily black voting rights in states like Georgia with large black minorities, is so bad that even the old system of Jim Crow looks good next to it.

    It's not even close to true, of course. Under the real Jim Crow, voting wasn't an option for almost all southern blacks, even before 5 PM or at inconveniently located polling stations. But Biden's point is good all the same, just as Michelle Alexander's is in her book about black incarceration: Jim Crow, or systematic state discrimination against and/or oppression of America's black population, is not dead yet. To have a president who admits and condemns that is a key part of moving forward to, somehow, finally really and truly kill Jim Crow.

    Thanks for the note explaining the lock-out. I was sure I'd been banned, and spent the day trying remember what the heck I'd recently posted here that was sufficiently trollish to incur the wrath of the famously indulgent and open-minded Chris W.!

  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Speaking of Rep. Cannon's stand at the statehouse door, so to speak, other commenters noted that the Governor and his associates signed the Georgia voter-restriction bill in front of a painting on the wall behind them. The painting, it was quickly found by inquiring minds, was of an infamous antebellum Georgia plantation that is now a museum.

    Of course, some critics of Jim Crow (and its predecessor that dislikes being named) prefer not to call such places plantations, a word which graciously evokes the Lost Cause with its genteel lifestyle. Their term of choice for Tara, and Monticello, and Mount Vernon, etc., is "slave-labor camp". I'm still waiting to see if that proposed terminology will eventually replace its time-honored but euphemistic cousin.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hehehehehehe ...

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Instead of Jim Crow 2.0, how about Jim Qrow (with or without the 2.0)?

    Wish I could take credit for it, but I saw it in the comments section of WAPO and loved it!

  7. [7] 
    andygaus wrote:

    You don't have to apologize for yesterday's outage. I certainly didn't take it personally or think that you had done it on purpose to insult me. It was obvious that your server had been taken over by a cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Have a great weekend, Chris!

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:



  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    That was a good one!

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    indeed. but it has to rhyme AND fit on a t-shirt or bumper sticker.

    must go

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    something like this maybe?

    (my sadly deficient design skills notwithstanding)

  13. [13] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    This article was written before passage of the COVID-19 relief bill, but is just as relevant today. Now that it is now law, Democrats MUST craft - and stick with - a strong message about what THEY have done for every American (and of course contrast it with the do-nothing Republicans).

    IMO, *every* FTP until November 2022 should include a talking point about a single benefit - you'd never run out of the progressive-dream measures that the Democrats - er, excuse me - that this historic legislation included in itself. (VA funding, Native American funds, schools, local government, etc.)
    'Already, there’s talk about midterm attack ads portraying Republicans as willing to slash taxes for the wealthy but too stingy to cut checks for people struggling during the deadly pandemic. And President Joe Biden’s aides and allies are vowing not to make the same mistakes as previous administrations going into the midterms elections. They are pulling together plans to ensure Americans know about every dollar delivered and job kept because of the bill they’re crafting. And there is confidence that the Covid-19 relief package will ultimately emerge not as a liability for Democrats, but as an election year battering ram.'

  14. [14] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    And another article in the same vein
    'Trying to undermine the widely popular $1.9 trillion legislation, Republicans are denouncing the bill as “the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation.” They call it a spending spree that amounts to “a massive expansion of the entitlement system,” funds a longstanding “list of liberal priorities” and was muscled through on a party-line vote by Democrats unwilling to lower its price tag in drawn-out negotiations with Republicans. Democrats proudly own every word of that description.

    “If you are a Democrat charged with that, you’d better prove yourself guilty,” said Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania.'

  15. [15] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Deserving honorable mention (and generating whispers that Ms Young will be "elevated' to Director).
    'It is the kind of delicate agreement that has earned Ms. Young bipartisan trust on Capitol Hill, where she was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, 63 to 37, to serve as President Biden’s deputy budget director.

    As the first Black woman to serve as staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, Ms. Young played critical roles on Capitol Hill in negotiating not only the dozen annual spending bills, but also a series of five pandemic relief packages that together totaled $3 trillion and represented the leading edge of a sweeping federal response to the crisis.

    Now she is headed to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to become the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.'

  16. [16] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Once again, the Virginia legislature and governor *should be* in the running for this week's MIDOW.
    'Governor Ralph Northam said the repeal would stop a "machinery of death" with a history of racial disparities.

    It comes at a time of renewed national debate on the topic of executions.

    Virginia has executed more people than any other state except Texas since capital punishment was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1976.
    At the bill signing, Mr Northam noted 296 of the 377 people executed by the state in the 20th century were black.

    The last two men on death row in the state, both black, will now see their sentences converted to life in prison without parole.'

  17. [17] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Ms Levine deserves MIDOW not only for her history-making confirmation, but also for shutting down Sen. Rand Paul's red-meat "culture wars" blather with a reasoned *science-based* response, REFUSING to stoop to his level.
    'The vote was 52-48. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Democrats in voting yes.
    Levine, a pediatrician, previously served as Pennsylvania's secretary of health and as physician general — the state's top health official and top doctor.

    "The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness and depression than almost every other group, it's important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who by virtue of being in the public spotlight will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear."
    "Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed," Levine responded to the senator's question. "If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I will look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine."'

  18. [18] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    You've probably seen a lot of pearl-clutching in the liberal-leaning media, including HuffPost and MSNBC, about moderate Democratic Senators not ending the filibuster. I received an email from "MoveOn" (I think) asking for $$$ to run ads AGAINST Sen. Sinema - I'm surprised that an entire two months have passed before progressives begin turning on their allies.

    A more sensible and effective strategy would be to allow House-approved bills to stack up, as they are now. Persuasive rhetoric, such as the several articles highlighting how the filibuster became the segregationists' most effective tool to block Civil Rights legislation, will apply more pressure on both President Biden and the reluctant Senators.

    Once the American people see that the GOP intends to continue its decade-long 'do nothing' campaign, Senators Manchin and Sinema will have clear evidence to support changing their position.

    Outside money and friendly fire will instead force them to dig in their heels, resisting "Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer" to THEIR constituents.

  19. [19] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Chris, I'm astonished that New York didn't win MIDOW this week. Is it because it's not a law yet? Or is it possible that a pro-pot action escaped your attention? LOL.

  20. [20] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    I don't recall that foreign policy news often breaks through to reach these FTP columns. But it's worthwhile to note that Biden *immediately* demonstrated the difference between himself and 'the former guy'.

    This week was further proof that Biden's foreign policy is NOT "transactional" and his administration will NOT push aside human rights concerns to mollify autocrats.

  21. [21] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    The Guardian shows how it's done!
    'Almost 70 million children will be included in the scheme – that’s more than 90% of all American kids. And the impact, social scientists believe, will be transformative.

    The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University has calculated that about 5.5 million children will be lifted out of poverty – more than half those currently plagued by it. The injection of cash support will have a stunning effect especially in communities of color.

    One in five Black children are currently locked into poverty in America; they are projected to see a 55% drop in poverty rates. Hispanic children too are expected to see a boost, with 53% lifted out of poverty.'

  22. [22] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I rank this FTP in the top ten...and I’ve been following your column for a long while.

  23. [23] 
    TheStig wrote:

    After 4 years of Trump and and a couple of months of Biden I have learned the following:
    Both have speech pathologies that make them effective speakers.

    Biden has a mild stutter. It slows his delivery and makes him effective at conveying ideas.

    Trump has aphasia. It allows him to deliver word salad that effectively conveys emotions and beliefs that can seem like ideas.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Maybe FTP columns should always be posted on Saturdays?! :)

  25. [25] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    since i'm the one who proposed the topic, here's my lead-off song, richard shindell's "fishing"

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, alright ... come on!

    The CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party has begun!

    Joshua, hope you can stick around for the duration or, at the very least, pop in and out, as I will need some help with this one ...

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I knew we'd be coming at this theme from different directions - that is a great emotional tune from RC. You've highlighted him before here and I really love his music!

    I've got some favourites from bands not from North America that I'd like to play tonight but, first ...

    ... here is a tune by KASHTIN, an Innu First Nation band from Quebec. Most of the land in Canada is unceded First Nations land and lately, when government officials are holding a news conference or other appearance they preface the event by saying that they are speaking from "the unceded land of the ______ First Nation."!

    In North America, we're all immigrants and we could learn a few important lessons on how to treat people from the first inhabitants of Turtle Island ...

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here is almost three hours worth of KASHTIN, singing in their native Innu language. For a few of their songs I actually wrote out the lyrics phonetically so that I could really sing along with them ... saw them live in concert a few times ...

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Be back after I grab some dinner ...

  30. [30] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i know i already shared this earlier in the week, but here's a version with english translation in the info:

    "superman es ilegal"

    He doesn't have a green card nor a license to fly,
    and I bet he doesn't even have a social security card.

    We have to deport Superman from this region
    and if possible return him to Krypton.

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Very nice.

    I guess we should say a few words about the theme for this evening ...

    It's about songs with an immigration/emigration theme and let's just leave it at that.

    Welcome, everybody and please join in on all the fun!

  32. [32] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    well there's always santana - migra

    Me necesitas tú a mi más y más que yo a ti

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here is Arlo Guthrie and Emmylou Harris singing Deportee, a poem written by Woody Guthrie ...

    "Sí: the incident that inspired this Woody Guthrie poem (he never recorded it) didn't specifically deal with illegal immigrants but rather braceros who died in a tragic plane crash in 1948, whose Mexican victims were never even identified until very recently–because, as Guthrie erroneously wrote–they were “deportees.” Doesn't matter: no song gets at the human tragedy that is Mexican immigration to the United States better than this song, from farmers letting the orange crop rot in creosote dumps while their pickers starve to said pickers being tossed when no longer needed to Americans not even bothering to learn the names of those at the bottom of our food chain. Many versions of the song exist, but none are better than this version by the Byrds in their alt-country phase. One of the few songs that brings tears to my eyes, and I'm not ashamed to say it."

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Across the Borderline,

    Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks with Jackson Browne

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    More Santana featuring Mexican rock band Mana ...

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, Don! Very nice!!!

    It's been a while - and your songs are always welcome around here, absolutely, postively, unequivocally ... as my favourite pol used to say all the time. :)

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How about a little inter-planetary immigration tune, otherwise known as the first climate apocalypse song, Take Me To The Kaptin!

    Well, no one thought I wasn't gonna sneak in a PRiSM tune somewhere, right? :-)

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, Joshua, it was a great idea for a theme and maybe we can revisit it again.

    I'm about done for tonight but it has been fun having you along for the ride.

    And you, too, Don!

    I'll leave you with one more song - it's about that lovely Pacific resort town, Vladivostok ...

    Good night everyone and, until next time, take good care!

  39. [39] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    not bad at all! when i say your talents are wasted on politics, it's not just because you suck at activism, it's also because you're a damn solid musician.


  40. [40] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller
    26 (brought forward)

    There is a pandemic happening

    Kind of obvious...

    and it is in the clear self-interest of the high income countries to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

    ... but I'm sorry (not sorry) that Joe Biden isn't living up to your global and moral expectations of/for him.

    I'll get my vaccine after all of the healthworkers and most vulnerable on the planet get theirs!

    ~ Elizabeth Miller

    While I obviously won't/cannot monitor "the planet," I promise you that there are already thousands of "health workers" and millions of "most vulnerable" in America that have refused to take the vaccine. On following up with them, many have subsequently been convinced to change their mind and get vaccinated, and some haven't ruled it out entirely and say they "might" eventually take it.

    Please don't be obtuse and allow your feelings regarding moral superiority and "equitable distribution" to health workers and the most vulnerable preclude you from taking a vaccine when it becomes available and when you become eligible. The "on the fence," mind changers, maybes, ask me laters, misinformed, scared, misinformed/ignorant, and/or obstinate persons in America (or anywhere else on the entirety of the planet) shouldn't be a factor in whether or not you participate.

    The wisest thing you can do is to take the vaccine when it is offered to you in Canada since (quite honestly) the alternative is to remain one of the people who are refusing to take the vaccine... it matters not whether the reasoning behind your refusal is moral, ethical, misinformed/willful ignorance, or obstinance.

    That is the only way to end this pandemic. Dr. Fauci knows that but won't say it.

    Not indicative of the ridiculous idea that I presume to read the minds of others or purport to know what someone will or will not say, but I promise you that Dr. Fauci knows there are multiple ways that a pandemic can end and multiple reasons it won't. If everybody refused to take the vaccine -- whether for virtuous/moral reasons or willful refusal -- the pandemic would nevertheless eventually end... just a heck of a lot slower.

    So to recap: Take the vaccine when it's offered, and if you're able and can help the cause, volunteer to vaccinate others and to help convince those who're refusing (for whatever reason) into getting it done. There's more than one way to skin a cat. :)

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Please try to stop missing the point.

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    not bad at all! when i say [Don's] talents are wasted on politics, it's not just because you suck at activism, it's also because you're a damn solid musician.

    Couldn't agree more! Love, love, love his music videos!

  43. [43] 
    John M wrote:

    [43] Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "Please try to stop missing the point."

    Elizabeth, if I am not mistaken, the Biden Administration has already announced a plan to offer to share surplus Covid vaccine with both Canada and Mexico (AstraZeneca I believe) as a first step, though with no timetable concerning the rest of the world yet outside North America.

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    The concerning aspect of the inequitous distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally is that we are all in a race against time. The more opportunity the viruses have to transmit, the more likely they will mutate into something that will render the vaccines we currently have ineffective.

    Wealthy countries who put all of their citizens first before low and some middle income countries will reap the whirlwind of the deadly variants that develop in countries where there is no vaccine.

    The simple point is that most rich countries have enough vaccine right now to vaccinate their healthworkers and their most vulnerable populations. The excess vaccines should be shared so that all countries can do the same.

    Rich countries won't be safe until all countries are safe. If we want to bring an end to this pandemic, we can't do it without equitable distribution of vaccines, now!

  45. [45] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Got my first shot of Moderna on Friday, finally! Devon called me and said the drive up vaccination event at the local high school had a bunch of no-shows, so I had 20 minutes to get there before they shut down. I had just started shaving my head when Devon called, so I’m thankful for ballcaps!

    Liz, get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself and others. I admire your wanting to give those at greater risk the chance to go ahead of you, but we are well past the day that essential workers are unable to find vaccines.

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's also important to increase the manufacturing capacity to boost the supply of vaccines. It's encouraging to see how the Biden administration is working in this regard but, again, much more needs to be done if we are to avoid living within this pandemic for years instead of months.

    Here's another excerpt from Michael Osterhoms great piece in Foreign Affairs this month, The Pandemic That Won't End,

    "Beyond supplying funds, governments and international aid institutions must figure out how to boost the supply of vaccines. Countries in Africa, Central and South America, and much of Asia have limited pharmaceutical manufacturing capability. To compensate for that lack, countries and corporations already making vaccines must coordinate in helping accelerate the production and distribution of the vaccines.

    "This endeavor should include China, India, and Russia, as well as other Western countries, all of whom should work to develop capacity in allied or client countries. Member states of the World Trade Organization should consider its rules on intellectual property to see if special adjustments or waivers could be used to help increase supply. Private pharmaceutical companies must be willing to share knowledge and technology that in normal circumstances they might have kept to themselves. In an encouraging start, U.S. President Joe Biden announced in March that the pharmaceutical giant Merck has agreed to partner with traditional rival Johnson & Johnson to boost the supply of the latter’s newly authorized single-dose vaccine."

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Liz, get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself and others. I admire your wanting to give those at greater risk the chance to go ahead of you, but we are well past the day that essential workers are unable to find vaccines.

    What country are you talking about?

  48. [48] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Liz, get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself and others.

    I will.

    But, for now, I am protecting myself and other by following all of the health protocols while working in retail, no less!

    My point is that I want this pandemic to end by the end of this year, not three years from now.

    What rich countries are doing now is only prolonging the pandemic and all of the suffering that goes along with it. Hope they wake up and smell the coffee, and soon!

  49. [49] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    At the last WHO virtual press conference on Friday, the DG, Dr. Tedros went into some detail about the need for the equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries in his opening remarks ...

    "At the beginning of the year, I issued a call for countries to work together to ensure vaccination begins in all countries within the first 100 days of the year.

    "177 countries and economies have started vaccination. In just one month, COVAX has distributed more than 32 million vaccines to 61 countries. COVAX works.

    "There are now just 15 days left before the 100th day of the year, and 36 countries that are still waiting for vaccines so they can start vaccinating health workers and older people.

    "Of those, 16 are scheduled to receive their first doses from COVAX within the next 15 days. That leaves 20 countries who are ready to go and waiting for vaccines.

    "COVAX is ready to deliver, but we can’t deliver vaccines we don’t have.

    "As you know, bilateral deals, export bans, vaccine nationalism and vaccine diplomacy have caused distortions in the market, with gross inequities in supply and demand.

    "Increased demand for vaccines has led to delays in securing tens of millions of doses that COVAX was counting on.

    "But getting all countries started by day 100 is a solvable problem. COVAX needs 10 million doses immediately as an urgent stop-gap measure so these 20 countries can start vaccinating their health workers and older people within the next two weeks.

    "So today I’m asking countries with doses of vaccines that have WHO Emergency Use Listing to donate as many doses as they can to help us meet that target.

    "And I’m asking manufacturers to help ensure these countries can rapidly donate those doses.

    "There are plenty of countries who can afford to donate doses with little disruption to their own vaccination plans.

    "The more countries that donate A.S.A.P., the more doses we will have to share with countries who need them desperately.

    "Sharing doses is a tough political choice, and governments need the support of their people. I’m encouraged by surveys in high-income countries showing widespread support for vaccine equity.

    "10 million doses is not much, and it’s not nearly enough, but it’s a start.

    "We will need hundreds of millions more doses in the coming months.

    "There are many countries who invested in COVAX in good faith, but have been left frustrated because of the bilateral deals that have left COVAX short.

    "WHO and our partners are continuing to work around the clock to find ways to increase production and secure doses.

    There are four more vaccines at different stages in the process of being assessed for WHO Emergency Use Listing, and we hope to approve at least one of them by the end of April."

  50. [50] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    Get vaccinated, Liz, for the sake of people you come into contact with as much as for yourself. Then give a donation to a charity helping to provide and deliver vaccines in a poorer country.

  51. [51] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, one more thing, Mezzomamma ... you should not rely solely on vaccines to protect yourself and others.

    In the words of Dr. Tedros and his wonderful team of colleagues at the WHO, I "do it all" to protect myself and others.

    If everybody did that we wouldn't be living in a COVID-19 pandemic right now, vaccination or no vaccination!

  53. [53] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    I'm not relying solely on the vaccine, Elizabeth, and will be taking precautions for some time to come, for the sake of older friends, and others generally, as much as for myself.

    I was an adult education teacher, most of my students had young children, and we saw again and again how quickly viruses could spread through a group, adults as well as children. I spent a few years with compromised immunity as a result of chemotherapy--there are plenty of people around whose immunity has been compromised for one reason or another.

    One thing we can all do, besides lobbying our political representatives, is to donate to reliable health charities who will help with the world-wide effort. And help break the chain of infection in our own areas.

  54. [54] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I've donated to the WHO Foundation.

    Much more is needed if we want to end this pandemic in months instead of years.

    There are 20 countries that have yet to receive ANY vaccines!!! If this doesn't change very soon, then we will ALL be in big trouble.

  55. [55] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    I get it... but your actions seem like someone saying that they want to do something about the starving children in Africa, but that something ends up being them not eating the veggies their Mom made for dinner.

  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    No. No, I don't think you do.

  57. [57] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    Please try to stop missing the point.

    This crap again? You don't seriously believe the utter nonsensical proposition that your point is complicated!? *laughs* It isn't. *still laughing*

    Neither was mine so I repeat and reiterate: Your refusal to take a vaccine on moral or ethical grounds, no matter how virtuous, makes you no different than a gullible Trumpanzee, MAGA moron, or QAnon nutcase who refuses to take a vaccine because they are misinformed or willfully ignorant.

    The simple point is that most rich countries have enough vaccine right now to vaccinate their healthworkers and their most vulnerable populations.

    Incorrect... but at least you do admit your point is simple. We all get it, EM.

    The excess vaccines should be shared so that all countries can do the same.

    There aren't any excess vaccines, right now, EM; just excess idiots and people dragging their asses refusing to take the vaccines available to them for a myriad of reasons ranging from moral/ethical to conspiracy theory nonsensical bullshit. Those refusing to take the available vaccines for whatever reason are the ones slowing things down by their refusal.

    Rich countries won't be safe until all countries are safe. If we want to bring an end to this pandemic, we can't do it without equitable distribution of vaccines, now!

    Question: What part of "there are thousands of health workers in America and millions of 'most vulnerable' Americans who are refusing to take the vaccine" is confusing to you? There is no excess, EM. Thousands of health workers in America and millions of others are refusing to take the vaccine.

    They have all kinds of dumb ass excuses, and any excuse for waiting like they are makes you part of the delay of which you're whining. There are no excess vaccines in America at the present time... there are a shit-ton of people refusing to take the vaccine that are delaying progress. Anyone telling you there are excess vaccines in America at the present time is full of BS.

  58. [58] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, everyone, my comment the other day about not taking the vaccine until all healthworkers and the most vulnerable to developing severe disease across the world have access to those vaccines was to make an important point about vaccine equity, without which this pandemic will be significantly prolonged ... for ALL of us!!!

    Is this so hard to understand?

    To repeat, there are 20 countries who have not had access to any vaccines yet. The more opportunity this virus has to transmit and mutate, the more likely that very dangerous variants and strains will develop that will render the vaccines we have less effective or not effective at all.

    I don't about y'all but I want to shut this virus down and get back to doing the things I love to do.

    So, of course, everyone, I will take the vaccine when my country and province tells me it's my turn. But, I will keep donating to the WHO Foundation and talking about COVAX and equitable vaccine distribution because we won't, as a world, win this fight against this virus without it.

    As for excess vaccines ... it's all in the way you define excess and, of course, context. Let me try to further explain. For now, when vaccines remain a rare resource where demand far outweighs supply, it is good enough for wealthy countries to ensure that all of their health workers and most vulnerable populations have access to the vaccine and to share the vaccines they have acquired for citizens beyond those groups with low and middle income countries who don't have any vaccines.

    And, yes, I know that is a tough political sell, especially for countries like the US. But, an effort must be made to inform citizens that vaccine equity is the only way to shut down this virus and that no country will be safe until all countries are safe. Most importantly, we are in a race against time - time that we give the virus to mutate into dangerous variants.

    And, more work needs to be done to increase manufacturing capacity, including the need for sharing of information and technology to save lives.

    Hope, that's clear as mud, everyone! :)

  59. [59] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I have long observed that it seems hard for Americans to think of themselves as anything beyond Americans and to understand the larger world and their place in it.

    This health crisis has exposed that kind of inward thinking as a great obstacle to overcoming a global health crisis and to resolving the other existential challenges of our time.

    I can only hope that critical lessons have been learned and are being learned and that all countries will be strong partners in the new treaty for pandemic preparedness announced today at the WHO virtual press conference ...

  60. [60] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Below is an op-ed signed by 25 world leaders, including from South Korea, Germany, UK, Italy, South Africa and France to announce a new Treaty on pandemic preparedness and response that will be founded upon the principles of the WHO constitution - health for all and non-discrimination. The hope is that this treaty will be ratified by all 194 WHO member states including China, US and Russia ...

    "The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s. At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, namely peace, prosperity, health and security.

    "Today, we hold the same hope that as we fight to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic together, we can build a more robust international health architecture that will protect future generations. There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone. The question is not if, but when. Together, we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly coordinated fashion. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.

    "We are, therefore, committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for this and future pandemics. Immunization is a global public good and we will need to be able to develop, manufacture and deploy vaccines as quickly as possible.

    "This is why the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) was set up in order to promote equal access to tests, treatments and vaccines and support health systems across the globe. ACT-A has delivered on many aspects but equitable access is not achieved yet. There is more we can do to promote global access.

    "To that end, we believe that nations should work together towards a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response.

    "Such a renewed collective commitment would be a milestone in stepping up pandemic preparedness at the highest political level. It would be rooted in the constitution of the World Health Organization, drawing in other relevant organizations key to this endeavour, in support of the principle of health for all. Existing global health instruments, especially the International Health Regulations, would underpin such a treaty, ensuring a firm and tested foundation on which we can build and improve.

    "The main goal of this treaty would be to foster an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. This includes greatly enhancing international cooperation to improve, for example, alert systems, data-sharing, research, and local, regional and global production and distribution of medical and public health counter measures, such as vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.

    "It would also include recognition of a “One Health” approach that connects the health of humans, animals and our planet. And such a treaty should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms.

    "To achieve this, we will work with Heads of State and governments globally and all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector. We are convinced that it is our responsibility, as leaders of nations and international institutions, to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "At a time when COVID-19 has exploited our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and come together as a global community for peaceful cooperation that extends beyond this crisis. Building our capacities and systems to do this will take time and require a sustained political, financial and societal commitment over many years.

    "Our solidarity in ensuring that the world is better prepared will be our legacy that protects our children and grandchildren and minimizes the impact of future pandemics on our economies and our societies.

    "Pandemic preparedness needs global leadership for a global health system fit for this millennium. To make this commitment a reality, we must be guided by solidarity, fairness, transparency, inclusiveness and equity."

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