There Will Be No Reckoning

I have rebutted the talking point that Democrats are uniquely the “party of science” by noting their support for abortion on demand, buttressed by soundbites about “clumps of cells.” After COVID, the largely Democrat-led opposition to opening schools during COVID will be the second data point proving their weak devotion to science and data.

The latest teacher-led temper tantrum in the face of potentially opening schools is taking place in Chicago, where 71% of teachers voted to maintain distance “learning.” In other school districts, teachers are threatening not to return to school not only until they have vaccines, but all the kids are vaccinated as well. The latter threat is absurd for a couple of reasons. If the teachers are vaccinated, why would they be concerned about the kids getting vaccinated? More importantly, the vaccines haven’t even been tested on children, and may not be for another year. Considering that an otherwise healthy child’s chances of dying of coronavirus are a tad less than their chance of being struck by lightning, it makes sense for them remain at the bottom of the vaccine waiting list.

The party of science and data continually ignore the data showing that schools have not been a major source of COVID transmission. To the extent that there have been any mass transmission events, they have occurred in schools where safety protocols have not been safeguarded. But in the places which have observed the safety protocols, transmission has been almost non-existent.

No matter.

Christine Rosen expresses her frustration, and suggests some ways to deal with these intransigent teachers.

Joe Biden should take a page from Ronald Reagan: In 1981, when the nation’s 13,000 air traffic controllers went on strike after Reagan issued an executive order (backed up by a federal judge) demanding that they do their jobs, he fired the 11,359 who refused to return and issued a lifetime ban on their ability to work in the field again. Air traffic came to a standstill for a short time, but by calling the union’s bluff, Reagan diminished their power and hired a new generation of controllers to replace them. Biden should encourage school districts to do the same.

Some already are. Chicago officials threatened to withhold pay from teachers who refused to show up to work in their classrooms. In the process, the city exposed the utter corruption of many of its teachers, who complained that it was “cruel and illegal” for them not to get paid even after they refused to return to work.

If the Biden administration won’t deal firmly with the unions, parents need to organize and start lobbying their school boards (and, if necessary, recall public officials who put the demands of teachers’ unions ahead of the wellbeing of children.) Those who can afford to are already voting with their feet by withdrawing their children from the public school system. An increasing number of state legislators are considering proposals for school reform that would allow states to fund students (and allow more options for school choice) rather than continuing to throw taxpayers’ money at underperforming schools and their unionized teachers. Lawmakers in Virginia are considering legislation requiring public schools to teach in-person to receive funding.

This is all well and good, but I expect no pushback. The problem is the teachers are supported in their actions by a good chunk of the parents – most parents, in some regions. Most schools which have been open to in-person instruction since the beginning have offered a virtual option, and the number of kids who are attending school virtually in these settings often hovers around 50%.

If parents are quite content to treat their children like veal, where is the mass uprising going to come from? Well-heeled suburbanites aren’t about to raise much a fuss. They either support school closures or can otherwise provide alternative teaching arrangements for their children. Urban parents who most desperately need their children to be in school (and whose children most desperately need to be in school) are too busy trying to provide ends meet to organize protests. So they are stuck and unheard.

When Montgomery County, Maryland threatened to (unlawfully) prevent private schools from re-opening, they were met by the fury of thousands of angry suburban parents. Well, that, and a competent governor concerned more about children’s welfare than placating teachers unions. The schools opened, and have been opened without interruption or breakout. I fear urban parents do not wield that kind of clout.

And so teachers continue to hold children hostage to their political games. I have been reluctant to blame teachers to this point, and instead rather have focused my ire on politicians and unions. But I’ve had it with the teachers as well. Certainly not all of them. A good number are as frustrated by this situation as parents. But it is evident they are a minority. As for the rest of them, they have proven themselves to be less essential to society than grocery store employees.

They should be fired. They will not be.

There will be no reckoning.

Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss.

At least on trade and protectionism, which represented the worst policy aspects of the Trump administration.

These policies do nothing to help the people they are purported to help, but instead just cause added pain to the American consumer. But they cheer up jingoistic anti-free traders on both sides who are happy to pay more for stuff just so they can feel like they’re sticking it to the man.

Republican Again

As of 12:01 PM yesterday, January 20, 2021, I was once again a registered Republican voter, as I had been all of my adult life until July 2016. It does not take much imagination to figure out the significance of these dates and times.

Why would I, at this time, rejoin the mess known as the Republican party. Isn’t this a bit like jumping to WCW in February, 2001? If wrestling is not your bag, then it would seem to be like choosing to be a Mets fan over the Yankees in the late 80s and have that set the course of your future fandom for decades to come (sigh).

There are a couple of reasons. I could just sit on the sidelines and say to hell with all of it, as I have been inclined to do quite often. But because I am a political animal, I feel compelled to remain engaged on some level still.

Maryland is a closed primary state (which every state should be), and so if I am to have a say in the primary process and if I am to have any influence in the future course of a party, I must choose one of the two political parties. The Democrats are a non-starter for ideological reasons (confirmed by President Biden’s rash of odious day one executive orders, highlighted by reversing the Mexico City policy – some uniting moderate he showed himself to be). That leaves the Republican party. As much damage as Trump did to the party and the people within it, I can do more to change it from within than without.

Moreover, though I live in a very blue state, I will soon be moving from a super-duper blue county to a more 50/50 county (which used to trend Republican, but then Trump happened). Therefore, the Republican party where I live is actually meaningful, so it may be worth my time to influence it as much as possible.

This is not a lifetime commitment, and my change of party registration does not mean I endorse every idiotic thing said or written by other people with an R- next to their name. It is, rather, a meek sign of hope that change is possible.

Arizona GOP: RIP

Barry Goldwater’s state is now represented by two Democratic Senators, and cast its electoral college votes (legitimately) for Joe Biden. The Republican party is run by Kelli Ward, someone who Lin Wood looks at and says, “Whoa, slow down there.” And as though eager to take its place alongside Colorado and Virginia in the “formerly red but now pretty deep blue” category, the state GOP is seeking to censure Republicans in the state who haven’t lost their minds.

The Arizona Republican Party will vote next week on a measure that would censure GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain, the latest sign of infighting in the state party.

The resolutions, which if passed would express disapproval but have no formal consequences, come as the state GOP is distancing itself from many of the Republican Party’s longtime establishment figures. The three censure resolutions easily passed the party’s resolution committee and will be brought before the entire state committee on Jan. 23.

The proposed censures for each person refer to what some party members say is executive overreach by Mr. Ducey in his response to the pandemic, Mrs. McCain’s support for same-sex marriage, and Mrs. McCain’s and Mr. Flake’s endorsements of President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election, among other things.

I have no particular love for Jeff Flake – who, I would suggest, helped fuel the incidences of last week by his own kowtowing in the face of the anti-Kavanaugh mob. I have no opinion of Cindy McCain, but Governor Ducey is one of the best governors in the country, and is one of the good guys trying to steer a middle course during the COVID pandemic by taking the threat seriously but also not shutting down his state’s economy.

If a censure is needed it is for Ward and whoever runs the state’s Twitter account (probably Ward) for such gems as asking people if they are willing to sacrifice their lives to #StoptheSteal. Ward and her minions have run the party into the ground, and yet they have the temerity to consider censuring an elected statewide official who is actually competent and popular (or at least was popular).

The GOP could do less with the likes of Jeff Flake, but banishing the likes of Ward from its midst will be essential for its survival. For now, it looks like we can start safely putting Arizona in the blue column, and all because the state GOP couldn’t maintain a semblance of sanity.

Throwing Away the Last Shreds of Credibility

In the wake of the Black Lives Matters protests and the increasing calls to “defund the police” (whatever that means), it’s not encouraging to read reports like this one from the Manhattan Institute. As explained by Robert Verbruggen at National Review Online, several provisions in collective bargaining agreements have made it more difficult to investigate police officer wrongdoing. This doesn’t justify the over-the-top anti-police rhetoric, but these are all items which should be carefully re-considered.

As difficult as it has been for police officers and their unions over the past year, no one has discredited themselves more than teachers unions. Their intransigence against re-opening public schools flies in the face of science and has relegated many children – especially the most vulnerable – to a year of almost worthless virtual “learning.” And now, even as vaccines begin to rollout, some don’t seem to be that much of a hurry to get back into the classroom. The same Robert Verbruggen relays his experience in Fairfax County, Virginia:

 I recently got an email from the school district saying that “access to the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all FCPS employees” and “will be administered . . . beginning as early as Saturday, January 16.” Meanwhile, the district just delayed in-person instruction again for at least a month, at which point a new, to-be-determined plan will be announced.

He also relays news out of California where, despite impending teacher vaccinations, there doesn’t seem to be a rush to re-open school.

But vaccinating teachers may not be enough to earn support for a quick reopening of all schools from teachers’ unions, who must consent to reopening plans.

“It’s certainly an important part, but remember, right now there’s no research evidence that the vaccine alone eliminates or reduces transmissions,” said Claudia Briggs, spokeswoman for the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union. “It reduces illness.”

Who are we protecting by refusing to open schools even after teachers are vaccinated? If the teachers are vaccinated, they don’t need to worry about transmission. As for the children, I am at the point where I think there’s no substantive difference in the mental capacities of those who refuse to accept the election results and those who fret about COVID transmission among children. The risk to otherwise healthy children from COVID is just about zero. Moreover, when schools follow basic CDC guidelines, the amount of transmission has been miniscule.

Schools are not anywhere close to being a major source of COVID transmission. Even without vaccinations being widely distributed, their continued closure has been a national disgrace. If vaccinated teachers still refuse (or the unions which represent them refuse on their behalf) to return to school, then it will be way past time (if it isn’t already) to question their oversized political power.

They Can’t Even Get This Right

If you’re wondering how the GOP continues to survive despite the drama surrounding President Trump, the answer is pretty simple: Democrats.

WASHINGTON—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif) said the House will move to impeach President Trump as soon as this week if Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s cabinet don’t act to strip him of his powers over the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Mrs. Pelosi, in a letter to House colleagues, said Democrats on Monday will first introduce a resolution calling for the vice president to use the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove Mr. Trump from office. The resolution would come to a vote by Tuesday. If it is approved and Mr. Pence doesn’t act to remove Mr. Trump from office within 24 hours, the House will proceed to impeachment, Mrs. Pelosi said.

I have already said the 25th Amendment is not appropriate. Moreover, a Congressional resolution demanding the Vice President and the cabinet invoke it seems highly inappropriate. Congress has a mechanism for removing the president – it’s called impeachment. Maybe they can get around to that.

“We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

He’s such an imminent threat they’re going to waste another 24 hours on a pointless resolution. Meanwhile, the third highest ranking member of the Democratic House caucus is hinting they might not even bother sending articles of impeachment to the Senate until Biden’s first 100 days are up.

House Democrats are currently circulating one article of impeachment against the president for “incitement to insurrection,” and could vote on the article before Trump leaves office. However, Clyburn indicated that the House may wait to send the article to the Senate for a trial and vote.

“We’ll take the vote that we should take in the House, and [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.)] will make the determination as to when is the best time to get that vote and get the managers appointed and move that legislation over to the Senate,” Clyburn told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union.

Clyburn added, “It just so happens that if it didn’t go over there for 100 days, it could — let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we’ll send the articles sometime after that.”

I hope I am never in a life threatening situation surrounded by Congressional Democrats. By the time they got around to deciding to administer aid I would be six feet underground.

The Democrats could have voted on articles of impeachment last week, and I don’t think too many people would have batted an eye. As it is, by the time they do vote it will have been at least a week since the invasion of the Capitol, and Trump will have only a few days left in office. Even if the Senate were inclined to move right away on the articles of impeachment, there is no way a vote for conviction and removal will take place much more than two days before the end of his term.

No, impeachment doesn’t have to take place while President Trump is in office, and I said as much last week. But Congressional Democrats’ actions belie their assertions of urgency.

Only the modern Democratic party could screw up something this much when public opinion is more on their side than it is likely to be again.

25th Amendment No, Impeachment Yes

I am in about 90 percent agreement with Andy McCarthy here. The 25th Amendment is meant to apply to a president who is incapacitated. Donald Trump may not be completely stable, but invoking the 25th Amendment against him would set a dangerous precedent. A president unwilling to discharge his duties properly – and Trump’s dereliction of duty in refusing to grant additional support to the DC police was disgraceful – is not the same thing as a president who can’t discharge his duties.

Impeachment and conviction is the only proper remedy in this case. I am sympathetic to McCarthy’s pragmatic considerations that removal would only inflame the situation. At the same time, should we permit the mob to hinder us from taking appropriate action? Moreover, failure to act now would itself be a terrible precedent. The president of the United States just about called for a coup. If this isn’t the time to impeach and remove a president, when is the right time?

I thought impeachment was not the right call after the Ukraine imbroglio (and may have weakened the chances of impeachment and removal now), but here there should be no doubt of its appropriateness in this circumstance. That Donald Trump will be out of office in twelve days should not factor into Congress’ considerations. Congress needs to reclaim its authority, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Practically speaking, it won’t happen overnight. The House could probably deliver articles of impeachment within 24 hours, but even if every Senator wanted to vote to convict – and that certainly won’t be the case – there are certain procedural protocols that would prevent the Senate from simply voting to convict. If the House got the ball rolling right now, President Trump would probably not be removed (assuming a conviction, which is admittedly a 50/50 proposition at best) for another 5-7 days.

Keep in mind that impeachment is not limited to current office holders. President Trump could still be impeached and convicted after January 20, and there is merit to a post-presidency conviction.

Whether any of this will come to pass is an an open question. Impeachment is a near certainty, but as I said, removal may not be likely. Regardless, it is what should happen.

Do They Give Senators Pocket Guides to the Constitution?

My question is prompted by Senator Josh Hawley, who just had a book contract cancelled by Simon and Schuster for his part in the Wednesday’s disaster. The book publisher said it could not “support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.” In response, Hawley went to Twitter:

On Twitter, Sen. Hawley called Simon & Schuster’s decision “Orwellian” and “a direct assault on the First Amendment,” saying his work representing his constituents was redefined by the publisher as sedition.

Simon & Schuster may be wrong to cancel Hawley’s book deal – as a matter of fact, that’s where I lean right now – but I was not aware that a book publisher refusing to publish someone was a violation of the first amendment of the Constitution. Unless Simon & Schuster has become a part of Congress without any of us knowing it, then I don’t think this touches the first amendment at all.

This is the same Senator, mind you, who is leading an assault on the first amendment in his pointless jihad against “big tech.”

Senator Hawley has been helpful in at least one regard – he’s helping reduce the field of candidates I will have to consider supporting in 2024. His fellow Senator from the great state of Texas has also been useful this way.

Delicious Irony

It’s hard to take away anything positive from the attempted sedition that took place on Wednesday, but hopefully there will be consequences for those who stormed the Capitol building. Some have already been fired, and many will face possible prosecution as police sort through the video evidence and track down the mutineers. The great irony, though, is that had the protesters been wearing masks, it would be difficult if not impossible to track them down.

Republican Governors

Interesting analysis from Dan McLaughlin that shows a couple of things. First, Republicans have had a lot more recent success winning elections in blue states than Democrats have had in red. I can attest to the joys of having a Republican governor in a deep blue state (even if said governor has jumped the gun and already started running campaign ads for the 2024 election). It also demonstrates that Donald Trump has not had the sort of disastrous electoral effect on the GOP some feared.

The latter point is worth considering. Obviously, I am no fan of Trump, but he has not wrecked the Republican party electorally as previous presidents have done to their parties. Now, there are a couple of caveats to this. He only had one term, so that may have mitigated some of the potential damage. Also, it’s possible his presidency precipitated a decline in the suburbs that will reverberate in years to come.

Regardless, it’s worth looking at how presidents’ parties have done at the beginning at the end of their terms. I’ll just take a look at the most four recent presidencies.

Bill Clinton took office with a 258-176 Democratic advantage in the House and a 57-43 edge in the Senate. Moreover, Democrats had held a majority in the House since the middle of Eisenhower’s first term. Bill Clinton left office with Republicans in control of both chambers: 223-211 in the House, and 50-50 in the Senate (with Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote until “Jumping” Jim Jeffords switched parties during the summer of 2001.) That is a net loss of 47 House seats and 7 Senate seats over eight years. The Democrats actually picked up seven seats in the House compared to the post-1994 Congress. Considering the long history of Democratic Congressional majorities, this relatively narrow party split (which almost exactly mirrors the one the 117th Congress will have) doesn’t really tell the full story. Democrats also lost governorships in states like New York and New Jersey, and Republicans made steady gains in local races in the southeast, where Democrats lost majorities they had held since the Civil War, or at least the process began which culminated over the next decade. And Democrats lost the White House, albeit in as close an election as we have ever seen.

George Bush entered office with the above-noted narrow majorities and left office with Republicans seemingly on the brink of extinction. The 111th Congress (2009-2011) saw Democrats with a 257-178 House majority and a 59-41 Senate majority (technically 2 Independents, but both caucused with Democrats), for net loss of 45 House seats and 9 Senate seats for the GOP. Again, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Bush’s presidency was the mirror image of Clinton, as Republicans gained seats in the 2002 and 2004 elections before being wiped out in 2006 and 2008. Republicans held their own in the states, although they were overall in a weaker position.

As for Obama, he entered office with the above-mentioned majorities. After the 2016 election, Republicans held a 247-188 House majority and a Senate majority of 51-47 (or 49 with the Independents). That’s a net loss of 69 House seats and 11 Senate seats (factoring in the Democrats having 60 seats after Arlen Specter’s party switch). Democrats were also decimated on the state level over the course of Obama’s presidency, losing over a thousand state legislative seats and multiple governorships. Obama’s presidency was just a complete electoral disaster for the Democrats – except for Obama himself.

So now the House is looking like it will be a 223-212 Democrat majority, and we don’t know yet about the Senate. That’s a net loss of 35 House seats and anywhere between one Senate seat lost to a net gain of one seat. And Republicans lost several governorships in 2018, but gained a couple back in 2020. All in all, not terrible.

Again, Trump only had four years, so who knows what the party compositions would have looked like with another four years of Trump in the White House. It’s quite possible, and maybe likely, that Republican losses in the suburbs would have left the party in dire straits four years hence. On the other hand, maybe gains in other demographics would have offset those losses. There’s no way of knowing for sure. What is certain is, if nothing else, the Trump presidency did not decimate the Republicans electorally as much as previous presidencies – even two-term presidencies – did for previous parties. And if I had extended my analysis back another thirty years, it would have shown more of the same.