Florida Latinos and Trump; Religion, SCOTUS and Amy Coney Barrett

Commentary

Around the Block’s take on two Washington Post Op-eds

I intended to take a little break from Around the Block for a while in order to focus on some of my other writing projects. I did not, however, take a break from reading my many news and information sources. And when I read, I tend to comment. So, here goes…commentary from two Op-ed columns in today’s The Washington Post.

(Links and PDFs to the Op-ed’s at the end of the post)

Why did the Florida Latino community swing to Trump? It’s complicated.
By Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat, represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She lost her bid for reelection in November.

As Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell writes, “My district, Florida’s 26th, is 68 percent Latino and stretches from southern Miami-Dade all the way to Key West. It’s a competitive seat: I won by almost two points in 2018 and lost by more than three points in 2020. In 2016, Donald Trump lost this vibrant, diverse community by 16 points. This year, he won by six — a stunning 22-point swing.”

The question is why?

Representative Mucarsel-Powell lists many reasons why – from the fear of socialism to not sufficiently addressing the needs of working-class Latinos. But in my mind, the answer is as simple as the one that she addresses in her Op-ed:

“As we learn these lessons, we have to remember that Republicans aren’t playing by the same rules: Latinos from South Florida to the Rio Grande Valley were targeted by a surge of disinformation against Democrats on social media that seeped into traditional outlets such as El Nuevo Herald and Spanish talk radio.”

What does this suggest? That Latinos from South Florida are no different than whites from the rest of the country; non-stop lying to them informs their decisions. The result: almost 74 million Americans voted for Trump.  Which leads to the obvious question: If in these GOP “disinformation campaigns” Republicans “aren’t playing by the same rules,” what rules should Democrats be employing to counteract the lies? That answer can’t wait for the 2022 mid-terms, it has to be addressed immediately in the two Georgia senatorial run-offs. If Georgia doesn’t come through, and the Senate isn’t flipped, any hope for a successful Biden administration over the next two years will be a pipe dream. As for 2022, if Democrats don’t find some new rules, as they say in New York, fuhgeddaboudit. I, for one, don’t have the answer. Do you? Anyone? Anyone?

The Supreme Court finally has a majority that will protect religious freedom.
By Henry Olson

Henry Olson is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Henry Olson wrote in his column today, “Amy Coney Barrett’s accession to the Supreme Court excited religious liberty advocates. They believed her originalist jurisprudence, combined with her evident devout faith, would make her a firm advocate of interpreting the Constitution’s free exercise clause to defend religious liberty. Her decisive role in the court’s opinion this week enjoining the overly strict regulations from New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on how many people can gather in a house of worship shows how right they were.”

As I read Olson’s piece I could almost feel his fingers quivering in excitement as he tapped out both his praise for the Court’s reversal of the previous decision on this case and Amy Coney Barrett’s ascension to the Court.

“This reversal was possible only because of Barrett. Without the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there were only three liberals to join the chief justice in support of the governor’s order. Barrett joined the four conservatives who had dissented in this summer’s cases to form the majority in this one. Liberals have often marveled at how religious conservatives could so fervently back a decidedly imperfect man in President Trump. This case, in which all three of Trump’s appointees formed the majority’s backbone, shows why they did.”

While I’ve decided that I wouldn’t take Olson to task for his “charitable” characterization of Donald Trump as “imperfect,” except for an incredulous “really, that’s it?”, I do take exception to the Court’s decision.

I respect the First Amendment freedom of religion. But, I also respect the power and the ease of the transmission of the coronavirus. The “Cuomo regulation” capped attendance at houses of worship to 10-25 people, depending on a region’s Covid severity. The question in my mind is, how does this cap really affect religious activities?

In most cases, Jewish devotion can be done privately. In some cases, however, devotion needs a “minyan,” 10 men for the Orthodox; 10 Jewish adults for the rest of us. Clearly, this fits into Cuomo’s rule. Catholics, as I understand it, receive holy communion at Mass. I may be wrong, but I do not believe there are any minimums on the number of participants at a Mass.

Given this, and given that we are in the throes of a pandemic, a pandemic that is getting worse, not better, wouldn’t it be appropriate for religious organizations to reflect on the dangers of these times, the dangers that large gatherings can exacerbate, by exercising a bit of flexibility. Flexibility like conducting their religious rites while simultaneously respecting the rights of the rest of us who might come into contact with participants of those large religious gatherings. And, with that contact, possibly get sick. Or die. I mean, isn’t religion all about reflection?

And, after that reflection, how might these religious organizations adjust their practices so that their flocks continue to be served, while the rest of us are shielded from the consequences of mass religious gatherings?

How about this? Perhaps conducting more services with fewer attendees might work? Or would that simple adjustment put too much burden on our religious leaders? Would that mean they’d have to work harder? Work harder to meet the demands of our fraught times? Or am I simply being sacrilegious?

Wait, how about this? Where does “Love your neighbor as yourself” kick in? Can you simultaneously love and infect your neighbor with disease? Where in scripture is that written?

Bottom line: SCOTUS made a grievous error in the name of religious freedom; an error that can, according to science, cause harm to the community. In times of crisis, even religion needs to make some adjustments for the common good. Doesn’t it?

Here are the links/PDFs to the referenced columns:

Why did the Florida Latino community swing to Trump? It’s complicated. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/11/27/debbie-mucarsel-powell-florida-latinos-trump/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_opinions&utm_campaign=wp_opinion

The Supreme Court finally has a majority that will protect religious freedom. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/11/27/supreme-court-finally-has-majority-that-will-protect-religious-freedom/

There’s no place like home?

Commentary

Or is there? Like Nova Scotia, where a journalist based in Halifax writes in the Times, “I Am Living in a Covid-Free World Just a Few Hundred Miles From Manhattan.”

Back in 2004 ( you remember 2004, when all we had to worry about was George W. Bush’s reelection?) I attended the quadrennial Presidential election party at the home of one of our dearest friends. Concerned about how the election would turn out, I brought with me a few dozen copies of the lyrics to “O Canada,” so in the event of a Bush win the mostly Democratic crowd could begin getting ready for the mass migration to “The Great White North.”

Alas, we didn’t leave, we weathered through another four years of Bush incompetence, the Great Recession and, finally, the ascension to the presidency of Barack Obama. As it turned out, the moving itch receded and we spent the next eight years in relative American bliss.

And then came the 2016 Presidential election.

As the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency might, just might happen, Canada opened it’s arms to Americans who could not fathom living in a country in which Donald Trump was president.

How were those arms opened?

You probably don’t remember but in late 2016, a Cape Breton, Nova Scotia disc jockey began promoting “The Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins” website with the idea, “We are experiencing a bit of a population problem at the moment. We need people. We need you!”

The idea – to give dislocated, Trump-horrified Americans a place to move to. It was, the disc jockey thought, a win-win. Cape Breton gets the population influx it needs; Americans get to move to a place that is not ruled by Donald Trump.

As the disc jockey said at the time, “Every American election, you have a group of people — usually Democrats — who say, ‘That’s it, I’m moving to Canada’ if a Republican wins. So, he thought, “Hey, if you’re going to move to Canada, why not move to Cape Breton?” 

Now, for perspective, Cape Breton is about twice as big as Delaware and has been working to rebuild its coal mining heyday with the tourism industry. What seems to have started as a joke morphed into a growing economy, thanks to those looking to escape either the 9 to 5 grind or a climate change-denying, immigrant-alienating, narcissistic, talking traffic cone hellbent on initiating the end of days.

Well, Trump won and we found, in reality, moving to Cape Breton, or anywhere in Canada, wasn’t that easy.

According to Andrew Griffith, a former director general of the citizenship and multiculturalism branch of Canada’s immigration department, “most of those suggesting they would leave because of Mr. Trump would not qualify as refugees and would have to go through a system that rates them based on factors such as education and job skills.

“Having a firm offer for a skilled job in Canada can make getting a visa a relatively fast process,” Mr. Griffith said. “But in general the process can be protracted, expensive and without guarantees.”

Summing it up, Mr. Griffith said, “It’s not an automatic process despite the Twitter posts saying ‘You’re all welcome here.’ Well, you’re not all welcome.”

O Canada?

So, why am I bringing this up now? Trump lost his reelection bid…or at least almost 80 million Americans believe he lost. And he’ll be gone on January 20…maybe. So why even worry about moving to Canada now. (Well, perhaps because another 74 million Americans voted for him. But that’s the subject for another column.)

Then why? Because of an Op-Ed in yesterday’s New York Times, “I Am Living in a Covid-Free World Just a Few Hundred Miles From Manhattan,” by journalist Stephanie Nolen.

Ms. Nolen writes, from her base in Halifax, Nova Scotia,

This morning, my children went to school — school, in an old brick building, where they lined up to go in the scuffed front doors. I went to work out at the gym, the real gym, where I huffed and puffed in a sweaty group class. And a few days ago, my partner and I hosted a dinner party, gathering eight friends around the dining room table for a boisterous night that went too late. Remember those?

Where I’m living, we gather without fear. Life is unfolding much as it did a year ago. This magical, virus-free world is just one long day’s drive away from the Empire State Building — in a parallel dimension called Nova Scotia.

This is one of the four Atlantic provinces that cling to the coast of Canada, north and east of Maine. In Canada, these are typically known as “have-not provinces,” economically depressed areas dependent on cash transfers from wealthier provinces to the West.

In the pandemic era, however, “have not” takes on new meaning.

“Have not” meaning, have not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic like the U.S. or even other Canadian provinces.

Why? Ms. Nolen talked to Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s public health chief, who told her,

Public health officials, not politicians, set the policy here about what opens. And people (mostly) follow the rules on closures and gatherings and masks. The message has been that we need to do it to keep each other safe. I think there’s something about our culture, our collective ethic, if you will, that means people accept that.

O Canada!

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/opinion/covid-halifax-nova-scotia-canada.html

“The Pfizers win the vaccine!The Pfizers win the vaccine!”*

News with a Twist

“The shot heard ’round the world!”

*New Pfizer Results: Coronavirus Vaccine Is Safe and 95% Effective – New York Times, November 18, 2020

Hello again, everybody. Tony Fauci** up here broadcasting from the TV booth high above the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Stadium. Along with me, my special broadcasting legends, Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto and Red Barber. Sorry for that little break in the action but that was quite a “rhubarb” out there, as the ol’ Redhead would say, after the Moderna’s pitcher hit the the Pfizer batter right in the “keister.” Thank goodness they don’t give those shots in the keister anymore.

Continue reading ““The Pfizers win the vaccine!The Pfizers win the vaccine!”*”

Moderna’s vaccine has a significant advantage over Pfizer’s

News with a Twist

Coming into the bottom of the ninth, Moderna – 94.5, Pfizer – 90

Hello again everybody, this is Tony Fauci broadcasting from the TV booth high above the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Stadium. Of course, we’re waaaaay high above ’cause we sure don’t want to catch that darn virus!

If you’re just tuning in, we’ve got a doozy going on here in the Covid-19 Vaccine World Series. After being shut out for a full eight innings, the Cambridge Modernas, down 90 to 0 to the defending champs, the New York Pfizers, and literally coming out of nowhere, scored a record-breaking 94.5 in the top of the ninth to take the lead, 94.5 to 90.

Continue reading “Moderna’s vaccine has a significant advantage over Pfizer’s”

Who says we’re “too wired?”

Commentary

After an 18-hour Internet and Cable TV outage, all I can say is, “You can never be too wired!”

You know how they’re always saying, “We’re too wired.” “We spend too much time looking at our screens.” “Things would be a lot less stressful if we would simply ‘unplug’ and begin to live in an unconnected world.”

Too all that, I say “hooey!”

And why, do you ask, do I say “hooey?”

Continue reading “Who says we’re “too wired?””

Pence: “Under the inspired, magnificent, exceptional, superlative leadership of President Donald Trump…”

Commentary

Not so fast adoring one – Trump had nothing to do with Pfizer’s potential Covid-19 vaccine.

Lame-duck Vice President Mike Pence broke his post-election silence today when he appeared to give credit to the Trump administration for the development of what might be an effective Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer.

In a tweet, Pence trumpeted the triumph this way:

Continue reading “Pence: “Under the inspired, magnificent, exceptional, superlative leadership of President Donald Trump…””

Who Said That?

Commentary

Welcome to the first Around the Block “Who Said That?” game.

Yes, welcome to the game. The rules are simple. We will post two comments from two different individuals. Your task is to determine who said that. This is not a multiple choice contest; answers are open-ended. But please note, in the interests of complete fairness, we have eliminated any specific references that might provide an obvious clue.

Now on to the game.

Quote #1

Who said this?

I am honored and humbled by the trust the…people have placed in me…

In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of…voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of….

With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation.

It’s time for…to unite. And to heal.

We are …of …. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.

Quote #2

Who said this?

The simple fact is this election is far from over. …has not been certified as the winner…, let alone…headed for mandatory recounts, or…where… campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.

Beginning Monday,…campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated. The…people are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots.

“So what is…hiding? I will not rest until the…people have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands.”

Send your answers in a “SASE” (“Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope” for those of you who didn’t watch Zoom with your kids on PBS back in the day). Contestants who correctly identify both “Who Said That?” quotes will receive an Around the Block commemorative refrigerator magnet.

Send your answers to the address above

And remember, your answers must be written with a black ball point pen on 3″x5″ index card. The card must be placed in the “Security Sleeve” included in the “SASE” and the “Security Sleeve” then needs to be placed in the “SASE” and mailed. Any responses not meeting these rules will either be thrown out or segregated in the “Provisional Answer” pile and reviewed either sometime in 2021, or whenever Steve Kornacki has some time.

America, the Beautiful…er Appalling

Commentary

The aftermath of the election is showing America’s true character. Led by the President and his enablers, and supported by almost half the population, this is a litigious, mendacious, deceitful, hypocritical nation.

Earlier this morning, as the results started trickling in showing Joe Biden taking slim leads in Georgia and Pennsylvania while maintaining similarly slim leads in Arizona and Nevada, combined with the expectation that the majority of the remaining votes to be counted in those states appear to favor Biden, I was asked by two people, “Are you feeling better now? Are you feeling good?”

Continue reading “America, the Beautiful…er Appalling”

The Divided States of America!

Commentary

How did this happen? How do we fix it?

Earlier today, I wrote in Around the Block:

Link: (https://around-the-block.com/2020/11/04/smile-though-your-heart-is-breaking/):

“So, after four years of Trump’s incompetence and lying, after nine months of a badly handled federal response to a pandemic that has killed over 225,000 Americans, after a presidential term that has lowered America’s standing among nations, what we’ve learned is that nothing has changed.”

Continue reading “The Divided States of America!”