To Fly or Not to Fly? That is the question.

Commentary

Delta, that is!

I’m sitting in the Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale passenger terminal waiting to board my Allegiant flight to Knoxville, Tennessee. This flight will be my first one in almost 18 months. Given my travel history, this flying hiatus will be my longest in over 40 years.

And yes, this momentous flight will be to Knoxville, not Tokyo or London or San Francisco. And, on Allegiant, the airline that charges you $5 to issue a boarding pass and $3 for water (and not just when they’re flying over Georgia – more on that in a bit).

Why did I choose Knoxville and Allegiant on my first return to the air in a year-and-a-half? Knoxville, easy – family. Allegiant, because they’re the only airline offering non-stop flights between FLL and TYS.

Of course, I could have chosen a more recongnizable carrier to make the flight. And, if I did the most obvious, direct and quickest would have been Delta, which would have required only quick 45 minute change of planes in Atlanta.

Ah, but there’s the rub – Delta!

By now I’m sure you’re aware of the egregious voter suppression law passed by the Georgia legislature and then signed by Governor Brian Kemp in world record time. In fact, I wrote about this sham of a law a few days ago in a post I called, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” https://around-the-block.com/2021/03/27/the-night-the-lights-went-out-in-georgia/.

Since that law was enacted it has faced a groundswell of opposition. And along with opposition to the law, there have been major campaigns to boycott some of the most important Georgia-based corporations in the hope that these powerful companies could pressure the Republican governor and GOP dominated legislature to repeal the law.

While Georgia is home to companies like UPS, Aflac, Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, it has been Coca-Cola and Delta that have been subject to most of the backlash.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Social media posts carrying the hashtags #BoycottDelta, #BoycottDeltaAirlines and #BoycottCocaCola proliferated on Twitter as critics of the Republican-backed legislation accused the two Atlanta-based companies of not having done enough to stop its passage.” The AJC went on to report that over the weekend, #BoycottDelta was one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter.

Why is #BoycottDelta being out tweeted by the others?

Because the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian issued a statement to employees last Friday saying the bill had “improved considerably during the legislative process” and noted some elements for praise.

In Friday’s statement, Bastian said Delta “engaged extensively” with Republicans and Democrats in the state to “express our strong view that Georgia must have a fair and secure election process, with broad voter participation and equal access to the polls.”

Bastian highlighted some elements of the bill, including expanded weekend voting, the authorization of drop boxes for all counties and the ability of poll workers to work across county lines.

“Nonetheless, we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort,” the statement said. “We are committed to continuing to listen to our people and our communities, and engage with leaders from both parties to ensure every eligible employee and Georgia voter can exercise their right to vote.”

“Improved significantly?” What, did the original bill not only ban water from the voter lines, but make voters stand on one-leg while waiting to vote? Or, did the original language not just empower the state to take over local elections but throw out every third Democratic ballot?

The bigger question is why did Delta “engage extensively” in this process. And, if they did, how did they let this travesty of a law get passed without more pushback? Sure, their “concerns” about some “provisions” of the law are nice to hear, but those concerns are a little late. It’s law Mr. Bastian. And, as I’m sure you, as the outstanding citizen you are, recognize that “laws are laws.”

I guess Delta should be given some credit for their updated statement, issued today, that repudiates their original praise, saying in another Bastian memo to employees that the law was “unacceptable” and “based on a lie” of widespread fraud in last November’s election. 

As the AJC reported, “Bastian said the new voting restrictions will make it harder for underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect representatives in the state.”

“’I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,’ Bastian wrote.”

Why did it take the threat of a boycott to come clean. Did Bastian finally read the law? Because nothing changed. Nothing but the #BoycottDelta campaign and the fear of passenger defection, loss of revenue and bottom erosion? Is that the only thing that moves them to do the right thing?

Well, Mr. Bastian, you might still have some things to worry about. As the AJC also reported today:

“Several Republican legislators said they expect Delta to face retribution for its stance, though it was not immediately clear how that would play out.” 

And, in a classic example of “he said, he said, the esteemed Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, said he was blindsided by Delta’s position, saying that at “no point” did the airline raise objections with his office about some of the controversial provisions in the measure before he signed it into law.

With that, I ask, where is that great TV show “To Tell the Truth” when we need it? Because, somebody isn’t.

“The Filibuster Journals” The worst thing Aaron Burr did.

Commentary

No, it wasn’t that he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton

Many of you have seen “Hamilton,” the breakthrough musical that elevated our most underrated Founding Father to cult status. For those of you who haven’t seen it, do. (Since no one knows when it will be performed live again, you can watch it on Disney Plus – $7.95 for one-month access; cancel after that if you desire.)

While Alexander Hamilton is the hero of the show, like in many other shows, he’s surrounded by a large cast of characters, some good and others bad.

Continue reading ““The Filibuster Journals” The worst thing Aaron Burr did.”

The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

Commentary

‘This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century’

It’s not often that a song by a man named Bobby Russell, written in 1972, becomes a number one hit for Vicki Lawrence on the 1973 Billboard Hot 100, a hit again in 1991 when Reba McEntire recorded it, reaching number 12 on Hot Country Songs and then is so prescient that it could foretell what would happen in Georgia in 2021.*

You see, folks, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, thanks to the fine Republicans in Georgia’s legislature and to that model governor, Brian Kemp, the lights went out in Georgia.

Continue reading “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”

One of these things is not like the others…

Commentary

Unless they are…

Note: This is the first Around the Block post in over a month. Why? For a number of reasons. I’ve been busy doing research for a collection of short stories I’m writing. I’ve also been catching up on both my leisure and educational reading. But most of all, the lapse in posting Around the Block commentary is that I’ve discovered that there’s not much I can add to what’s already been written and/or discussed in the past several weeks. Perhaps it’s fatigue. Perhaps it’s because Trump is gone. Perhaps it’s simply that the litany of GOP/right-wing lies, duplicity, mendacity, not to mention down-right stupidity, is just numbing. Maybe a break was just what I needed. Having said all that, the events of the last few days changed things. While I can’t promise that today’s post will herald a new, more consistent Around the Block – which might be good news for many of you (although there might be a second one to be posted in the next day or so – which might be bad news for many of you). But, perhaps it will herald a new chapter in this blog: occasional musings on what piques or, rather, discomposes my interests.

Continue reading “One of these things is not like the others…”

February 23, 2021 – a date that will live in disgrace, shame, disrepute and odium!

Commentary

Thanks, Ron Johnson, for not making our day.

On January 7, 2021, I posted an Around the Block headlined, January 6, 2021, a date that will live in ignominy!

It began,

“December 7th will forever be remembered as ‘a date that will live in infamy.’”

“September 11th will forever be remembered as the ‘9/11 attack.’”

”January 6 will forever be remembered as ‘a date that will live in ignominy.’”

Now, February 23, 2021 will be known, at least regarding the Senate of the United States of America, as the date that will live in disgrace, shame, disrepute and odium!

Why?

Continue reading “February 23, 2021 – a date that will live in disgrace, shame, disrepute and odium!”

DeSantis, Scott and ‘Liddle’ Marco – the Florida grifts that keep on giving.

Commentary

Small consolation: At least we don’t have Tommy Tuberville and Marjorie Taylor Greene!

As incredible as it may sound, there were three stories and one Op-Ed in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel yesterday reporting on the undemocratic, lawless, deceitful and frankly, egregious activities of Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis.

Let me start by listing the headlines:

The Undemocratic: Election integrity – DeSantis pushing voting changes that could help his reelection chances

The Lawless: Hotel gets warning for hosting maskless DeSantis crowd

The Deceitful: COVID-19 vaccines for votes: DeSantis’ shot-in-the-arm strategy

The Egregious: Democrats – DeSantis’ order to lower flags in honor of Limbaugh ‘an embarrassment’

Let me give you a minute to allow all this to sink in. In one edition of one newspaper, it was reported that the governor of the third largest state in the Union:

  • Was trying to rig the next election to “help his reelection chances;”
    • Doing so after touting that the 2020 election in Florida was a “voting success story;
  • Held a news conference in which a crowd of 100 to 150 people, 80% mask-less, including the governor himself, violated the Palm Beach County COVID-19 mask ordinance.
  • Was chastised in an Op-Ed for:
    • Dishing out COVID-19 vaccines to voters the way Florida politicians used to serve up barbecue;
    • Showing up at vaccination facilities, all home to high-priority 65-and-up residents, at the front of the vaccination line electioneering these be reliable voters, paid for with your tax dollars, piped into your living room on TV in, what may be, an unbeatable re-election formula.
  • Ordered flags to be flown at half staff in Florida to mark the death of Rush Limbaugh:
    • Politicizing an honor usually reserved for the death of prominent government officials, police officers or firefighters who die in the line of duty, members of the armed forces or tragic events such the mass shootings;
    • Doing so based on the request of a Republican Florida lawmaker because Limbaugh was a “relentless champion of America and of civic engagement.”

Minute’s up…yours and mine. No need to beat a dead horse. Just a reminder, in the next Florida horse race, there’s a horse named “Repugnant Ronnie” running; we need to beat “double R” as hard as we possibly can!

But before I move on to Florida’s junior senator, let me say this to my California readers: “And they’re trying to recall Gavin Newsom?”

So, what about Florida Senator Rick (Not So Great) Scott?

After Scott’s vote to acquit Donald John Trump (D.J.T.), otherwise now known as “The Former Guy” (T.F.G.) earlier this month, I sent an email to him saying in part, “… to say I was embarrassed by your vote would be a huge understatement. Disgusted might be more appropriate. Did you actually listen to the arguments today? I think not. Because if you were listening you could not have voted to convict…Thank you, Senator Scott, for making me ashamed to be a Floridian and ashamed to have you represent me.”

Since most communications to our elected officials are answered with a boiler-plate, non-specific reply, I was astonished today to receive this from Senator Scott:

“Dear Mr. Block, Thank you for contacting me regarding the second impeachment trial and subsequent acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump.”

My God, I thought, Scott’s reply actually had something to do with my email, so I read on.

Scott continued, “The attack on the Capitol we all witnessed on January 6 was horrific and the lawless thugs who are responsible for the disgusting violence we saw do not represent America. They should all be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. “

Wow, I actually said out loud, I can’t believe this. Have I misjudged our junior senator?

And then, the return to form.

“For weeks, instead of addressing the serious issues facing our nation, Democrats in Congress put our work for the American people on hold and pushed forward with an unconstitutional impeachment trial. It’s time to move our nation forward and get back to work…Blah, blah, blah, blah blah.”

In my response to Scott’s reply, I intend to remind him:

  • As trite as it is, Congress can “walk and chew gum at the same time.” The trial lasted about a week. During that time the House continued working on as many of 19 different initiatives, bills and/or committee meetings according to the House’s legislative activity web site – https://www.house.gov/legislative-activity;
  • Regarding the Senate, the trial took up a total of five days, one of which was a Saturday which wouldn’t have normally been a working day. Not that any of that matters. Accusing the Democrats of putting “our work on hold” is incredibly disingenuous when the record of the Senate is truly inspected:
    • According to a study by Common Cause, only 1 percent of nearly 15,000 bills were enacted into law between January 2019, and September 2020;
    • During that time frame, “the House of Representatives passed nearly 10 democracy reform bills, often with bipartisan support, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked debate and markups on all of those bills and refused to allow a vote.”
  • Regarding the “unconstitutional impeachment trial,”
    • The Senate voted 56-44 that putting Donald Trump on trial again is constitutional;
    • The constitutional question would have been moot if McConnell (yes, him again) had not said that he would not take up the trial before Trump left office;
    • Hundreds of constitutional scholars from ardent conservatives to liberals and progressives went on record stating the impeachment trial was, in fact, constitutional, writing, “Now that President Trump has left office, may the Senate take up an article of impeachment, and try, convict, and disqualify President Trump from holding future office? We, the undersigned constitutional law scholars, conclude it can.”
    • With all due respect, although you obtained a law degree and passed the Texas Bar, before entering politics you were an executive in several health care enterprises. As a busy executive whose main purpose was to make as much money as possible for yourself and your cronies, er, shareholders, you probably didn’t have much time to study and reflect on the Constitution. Given that, I would venture a guess that your opinion on the constitutionality of the Trump impeachment trial is based less on the Constitution and more on your politics and your need to assuage your base.

And what about the third Florida Amigo, Senator “Liddle” Marco Rubio? I sent the same email to Rubio. As of this writing the only response I’ve received was that the correspondence was received. I’m not holding my breath.

Ivanka and Marco sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g

Commentary

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make your day

I have never felt a greater sense of relief than the one I felt this morning. I mean it was palpable, resulting in the deepest relief sigh I’ve ever breathed.

What was it that caused this solace, this comfort, this calmness?

Ivanka Trump won’t run for Rubio’s seat!

Continue reading “Ivanka and Marco sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g”

“Why can’t Democrats work with Republicans?”…Wait, what?

Commentary

Around the Block responds to an Op-Ed published in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

(Note: A 150-word version of this post was sent to the Sun-Sentinel as a letter to the editor.)

Just when I thought I’d read it all, the Sun-Sentinel publishes a syndicated (Tribune Group) Op-Ed from Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg Opinion, “Why can’t Democrats work with Republicans?” I actually had to read the headline three times before I realized that it wasn’t a typo; that “Democrats” and “Republicans” hadn’t been somehow juxtaposed by the typesetter (yes, I know typesetters have gone the way of the steam locomotive fireman, but I digress). Despite the baffling headline, I read the article.

Continue reading ““Why can’t Democrats work with Republicans?”…Wait, what?”

Something is rotten in the state of America

Commentary

It’s the GOP – and it’s really starting to stink!

In Day 3 of the Trump Impeachment Trial, House managers concluded their case. Their arguments were as powerful as the ones on Day 2. But, to quote the great legal scholar Yogi Berra, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” So, if you were an independent juror with an open mind, you would wait until the defense attorneys made their case to make your decision. You’d only make that decision after you heard the defense rebuttal of the prosecution’s case.

Continue reading “Something is rotten in the state of America”