This morning it's 47 degrees warmer than last Monday...so there is...that. Welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee my weekly look at the politics you may have seen, or missed, all laced with my commentary. It's what I get to start writing long before the sun comes up...and at 27 degrees...who's complaining? Let's go!
They Really Don't Care...
It was both funny and sad. When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) decided to abandon his duty and jet off to Mexico for a vacation, lied about why he went and then returned all "sorry and stuff" it was yet another reality check on what/who the Republican Party....is. They really don't care for you or the issues you are facing. They flat-out do not care. They don't give a damn about health care or the pandemic or struggling families. Nah, can't be bothered. It's sad that so many people still think the GOP is a party that has some sense of duty. Of course they don't keep up and are stuck thinking that somebody like Regan is in charge. Nope...that boat has sailed...directly to Cancun.
Not long ago the proud citizens of Texas had enough of a Black President and there were rumblings of secession going around. After all, they thought, the state had a large enough economy and "going it alone" is sort of baked into their DNA. If you want proof of that all you need do is look the the latest man-made calamity that engulfed the Lone Star State. In 2008 power disruptions that left thousands in the dark. 2011 another cold snap that sent millions seeking shelter as the power grid, once again, failed. The federal government, thinking that they might find some responsible Texans in the GOP controlled...everything...issued some "recommendations" about winterizing their power structure.
True to form Texas told the feds to buzz off. They knew better because, hey...they are Texans. So they doubled down and retained their proud heritage of ignoring science. And they proudly held up the fact that Texas is the only state in the nation to not share a power grid with other states. "Take that you snowflakes!"
And then, last week the snowflakes...fell and Texas froze. Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) was quick to point fingers at the very commission that he appoints and said the problem really lies with Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortex (D-NY). You see, you don't have to be very smart to be governor of Texas...you just need somebody to blame. Weary....
The legal issues for the former president are starting to pile up. Investigations from New York to Georgia are happening. There is a lawsuit citing "45" with inciting an insurrection that has been filed by the NAACP and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). Which is really fun because the base of the lawsuit is what is called the Ku Klux Klan Act. Anyway...should be a great show.
It looks like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is going to oppose President Biden's choice, Neera Tanden, to become the next head of the Office of Management and Budget. This is the same guy who said he opposed the $1.9 trillion Save America proposal because it was too costly. This really isn't about anything else but the survival of the political future of Joe Manchin. Biden was able to beat some sense into Joe and he backed off his opposition to the Save America proposal but, because of some tweets, he is opposing the Tanden nomination. My bet is that it's political and the White House said, "Look Joe, get behind the Stimulus/COVID19 proposal and we'll let you dump on Neera." Anybody with me on that?
As Iowa continues it's march to out Mississippi itself when it comes to educational attainment, family support, gun laws, abortion, LGBTQ issues, tax law and school vouchers. I could go on...but I need to get to my point. The state legislature and its governor are directly opposing the organized business community.
Let me make my point.
Let's start with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry. Their top legislative priority is: "ABI supports legislative efforts to recruit, retrain and retain talent in the state." Now, that sounds like a cool idea but what the hell is the Iowa Legislature doing to foster that climate? Oh...let's see:
- Restrict Voting - Republicans hate it when you vote so let's screw down the process and say it is because of "voter fraud";
- School Vouchers - Let's take fund away from public schools and allow parents to pull their kids and spend state tax dollars on Catholic, Lutheran and Islamic religious schools. Oh, wait...strike that Islamic reference;
- Punish Public Schools - If the school district ignores science and opens up for all in-person education you get cash...if you don't you get punished;
- Underfund Education - This has been an ongoing problem for years and years and it's why we're losing teachers at an astonishing rate;
- Sideline Gender Identification - Nothing says "Welcome" better than bashing young people who have a gender ID different than their birth certificate. It makes our schools...safer. That should open up workforce opportunities for sure;
- Deny Choice - Look, we all understand that men know better when it comes to reproductive choice...ask them;
- Glock Love - Nothing says strength and safety more than making sure all employees are fully armed;
- Right to Be Poor - Well, this is one thing business groups really do love. The Right to Work laws that keep "The Man" in control and the worker begging for crumbs;
- Protect Intimidation - When it comes to the police make sure that they are allowed to beat and arrest as many folks of color as possible and then send them to prison so they can make furniture for the state at slave wages;
- Ignore Science - "Masks? We don't need no stinkin' masks!" Come on to the Legislature and breath on us and while you're at it please disregard that Iowa ranks last in the nation in vaccine distribution. That will impress future talent.
I know, I'm missing a few...feel free to fill in the blanks. One of the reasons I'm even in Iowa is because of the, once, outstanding educational system the state enjoyed back in the day. Today, my brother (the retired doctor) who has been teaching in several colleges in the Des Moines Metro, tells me that a vast majority of his students find it difficult to read, do simple math and actually string a set of sentences into a coherent paragraph.
Y'all is doin' a great job. Git 'er done boyz!
Meanwhile I was on a call last week with the Democratic Leadership of the Third Congressional District and I was struck at what brave people are doing to salvage any hope of a better life for Rural Iowans. Let's face it, the GOP has a strangle hold on rural counties. They maintain that hold using fear. Spreading lies about "illegal's" taking jobs. That only lazy people get government help. (Meanwhile 33% of the record farm income in 2020 was due to government support.) And so on... So, what issue can win back these folks?
How about the School Voucher program? Just like rural hospitals (which are also in trouble) public schools in these rural counties are large employers and serve as a real connection point for the population . From sports to academics rural schools are a critical bridge between parents and grandparents. But, now the Iowa Legislature wishes to siphon dollars away and give public funds to private schools. And, at last check, their ain't many private religious schools in Adar County...to name just one.
Last night, after the Sabbath, my brother and I were on the phone talking about memories and synagogues. I guess it's what old Jewish men do. We were discussing the many, many synagogues that we'd visited over the years. Whenever he, or I, traveled for business (or pleasure) we both would seek out the local synagogue and attend either Friday night services or Shabbat services on Saturday morning. What a travelogue of experiences. I'm not going to list them all but such fond memories I have of the shul in Regina and Toronto. The orthodox shul in Nashville, Sherith Israel, (image) where I was so lucky to hear (and share several L'Chaim's after services) with the great Rabbi Zalman Posner z"l. The congregation in Little Rock where they were so welcoming. The shuls in St. Louis and in Kansas City and in Phoenix and of course those in Israel. I'm leaving out many.
Meanwhile my brother spoke about his shul in Odessa, Texas where he ran into Elliott Gould. His parents were patients of his. He spoke about the great teachers he has met in the U.S. and in Israel.
It was a fascinating conversation that stretched nearly two hours. The bottom line is how fortunate we are to have, and continue to have, this rich experience of learning and connection to a faith that is so diverse, enlightened and so full of life. Oh, and the people we've met along the way. Yeah...that was cool.
Oh, one other thing. My bride bought a...truck. Don't ask....but it is really cool as well.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Sunday!